Using Satellites to Track the Past

We’re very excited about our current project: finding our historic sites, noting their exact or former location, and then marking them on an interactive map of our town. This process, which records sites using latitude and longitude, will be just as helpful in the future whether properties change hands or road names evolve, and it lets us include basic information keyed to each site.

Our town is unique in having so many public and semi-public lands such as Camden Hills State Park, Coastal Mountains Land Trust parcels and four miles of shoreline. Because these lands haven’t been developed, signs of early days like cellar holes, stone walls, dams, bridge abutments, wells, lime kilns, pilings, quarries, roads, cemeteries—even single, stand-alone graves—are still relatively intact and undisturbed. These features are out there in the woods and along the shore, often familiar to hunters and hikers, but unknown to many of the rest of us. If we do come across them, we often don’t realize the significance of what we’re seeing. You may remember your grandfather or a neighbor talking about a certain old road or hearing about the family that lived in a house that’s only a cellar hole now. Time is running out to preserve these stories and, at the same time, somehow connect them to actual features on the ground.

That’s how Global Positioning System is a crucial tool for us. GPS, a technology familiar to some, uses signals from orbiting satellites to pinpoint the latitude and longitude of a site. Those “waypoints” can be downloaded to a computer and placed on a map. A plan to build a map of our early historic sites using GPS has been on the back burner for several years, and now it’s finally happening.

Maps of Historic Sites in Lincolnville, Maine

Our interactive map shows cemeteries, churches, old homesteads, schools, cellar holes, stone wall boundaries and other points of historic interest. Some sites were known, but other locations were in danger of being lost to time. It’s a work in progress thanks to the efforts of Cindy Dunham.

Cindy, an avid hiker, took our handheld Garmin GPS unit and began with the cellar holes. She'd come across several in her rambles, and those were the first waypoints she tagged. After that, it seemed every time she stopped in at our museum, there was someone there who knew of another one.

Two Map Choices

This map is interactive. Clicking on an indicator will bring up a balloon with information about the location. You can drag the map or zoom in and out. 

If you choose to view the map in Google Maps (by clicking here or the link under the map), you will have even more options. The panel to the left can be used to begin with a list of sites and then click to their locations on the map instead of going from map to information. (You do not need to download a program to use these features.)

Please note that some historic sites are on private land. If not marked private, the site is state-owned or part of the Coastal Mountains Land Trust, and can be accessed by the public. Historic sites should not be disturbed in any way.

If you have other sites for Cindy, more information on any she’s already found, or suggestions about how we can make these maps work better for you, please contact us.