Fort Kent, Maine Vacation Guide
Fort Kent is a small town on the border of Maine and New Brunswick. Part of the St. John Valley, the town is steeped in Francophone culture; many residents speak the “Valley French” dialect, which is similar to the French spoken in Quebec and New Brunswick. Fort Kent brands itself as “America’s First Mile” because it is the northern terminus of U.S. Route 1, a highway that stretches over 2,000 miles before ending in Key West, Florida. This welcoming town of 5,000 residents receives visitors who appreciate its military history, Francophone culture, and recreational opportunities. Visitors may also wish to explore the nearby towns of New Canada, St. John, St. Francis, and Allagash. Just across the St. John River in New Brunswick are the towns of Clair and Saint-François-de-Madawaska.
Attractions & Places of Interest
One of the principal attractions in the area is the Fort Kent Blockhouse. Located at the confluence of the St. John River and the Fish River, this blockhouse was originally built during the Aroostook War. From 1838 to 1839, Great Britain and the United States were engaged in a bloodless dispute about the proper location of the Maine-Canada border. Named after then-governor Edward Kent, the blockhouse housed troops to protect American interests, although they were never deployed in battle. Today, the two-story blockhouse made of square-hewn cedar logs serves as an excellent example of military architecture from the early 1800s.
The Fort Kent Historical Society maintains a small museum dedicated to collections from the town’s history. The museum is housed in the former Bangor and Aroostook Railroad Station, a building listed on the National Historic Register. Artifacts from the Aroostook War, equipment from Fort Kent’s logging days, agricultural memorabilia, and other items are on display at the museum. The Historical Society also maintains several small gardens reminiscent of 19th and 20th century gardening practices. The society recently acquired Dube House, a 160-year-old home that is one of the oldest original homes in the area.
One of Maine’s seven colleges in the University of Maine system is found at Fort Kent. The University of Maine at Fort Kent is home to over 1,000 students. French-American culture is a popular area of study at the university. Each year the university hosts a Fiddlers Jamboree, a well-attended event with over 40 fiddlers, banjo pickers, drummers, guitarists, and accordion players.
Outdoor Recreation & Events
A wide variety of recreational opportunities await you in the Fort Kent area. The town is the endpoint of the Northern Forest Canoe Trail. This water trail links the lakes, rivers, streams, and ponds of New York, Vermont, Quebec, New Hampshire, and Maine. The 740-mile route is popular among canoeists and kayakers looking for a challenge or those seeking solitude in the wilderness. Just southwest of Fort Kent is the small town of Allagash, the starting point of the Allagash Wilderness Waterway. This water route is another popular canoeing trail, stretching 92 miles before ending at Chamberlain Lake. Camping is available at numerous sites along the waterway, making it a great backpacking getaway.
Cross-country skiing enthusiasts will enjoy the world-class 10th Mountain Ski Club. This facility can accommodate cross-country skiing and biathlon participants, with a 30-station shooting range. The center has 25 kilometers of ski trails and 3 kilometers that are lit to accommodate night skiing. Roller-skiing and rollerblading are popular summertime sports at this facility.
Another popular event is the annual Can Am Crown Dog Sled Race, held each spring. Participants may choose from a 30-mile, 60-mile, or 250-mile race, each with a cash prize. As the most prestigious dog sled race in New England, it begins on Main Street in Fort Kent before finishing at the Lonesome Pine Ski Area. The event is a qualifying race for the Iditarod.
Fort Kent Area Directories
Visit the following directories to find lodging, dining, attractions, shops, services and recreational activities in the Fort Kent, Maine area.
Fort Kent Maine Map