Travel the world without ever leaving Maine

There's a reason why all the world seems to be hiding within the borders of Maine.

Walter L. Colburn's Maine Travelogue lists some of the world destinations contained within the Pine Tree State.

One of Maine's nicknames is 'the Switzerland of America'. That's underselling the Pine Tree State: all the world seems to be hiding within its borders.


The poem on this postcard lists the many Maine localities named after foreign countries and cities.

  • You could go on a tour of European capitals, past Vienna, Paris, Lisbon, Rome, Athens, Madrid and Stockholm.
  • Or sample some of the British Isles' most famous places, i.e. York, Bristol, Cornish (after Cornwall) and Leeds (in England), Belfast and Limerick (in Ireland), and Argyle (in Scotland—spelled Argyll these days).
  • Perhaps travel to illustrious places on (and near) the European continent: Calais (in France), Dresden (in Germany), Naples and Palermo (in Italy), Corinth (in Greece), Milo (presumably after the Greek island of Milos), Smyrna (now Izmir, in Turkey), Gilead (in Jordan) and Carthage (in Tunisia).
  • Or yet visit entire countries: Norway, Denmark and Sweden; Poland and Wales; Mexico and Peru; Egypt, Corea (sic) and China.

All of which you could do, as the postcard affirms, without ever leaving the state of Maine.

The poem, A Maine Travelogue, by Walter L. Colburn, is undated, as is the postcard. However, the card has a definite vintage feel. Perhaps it dates from the 1930s when Maine's most famous signpost was erected.

The so-called 'World Traveller Signpost' in Lynchville points to a number of international-sounding destinations in the vicinity. Norway and Paris are both located within 15 miles; Denmark and Naples each just 23 miles to the right. China is a bit of a slog, though: almost 100 miles, double the distance to Peru.

In its entry on the Lynchville signpost, Atlas Obscura explains why Maine has so many international-sounding place-names:

“In the late 1700s and early 1800s, notoriously independent Maine residents sought to honor peoples across the world fighting for independence. Denmark, Maine was named in solidarity with a British naval attack on Copenhagen in 1807. Mexico and Peru, Maine both got their names in celebration of those countries' separations from Spain. An outlier is Norway, Maine, which was a clerical error: the town had been registered as either Norwich or Norage, but was mistakenly recorded by the provincial government of Massachusetts as Norway in 1797.”

Both the postcard and the signpost are incomplete. They miss out on at least two dozen Maine towns named after foreign cities and countries, including Belgrade, Bremen, Canton, Edinburg (sic), Lebanon, Moscow and Oxford.

And there's more—much more: you can even travel our entire solar system along Route 1 in Maine (see #528 for more).


Travelogue postcard reproduced with kind permission of the Osher Map Library in Portland, ME. Signpost image found here on Wikimedia Commons.

Strange Maps #919

Got a strange map? Let me know at strangemaps@gmail.com.

A still from the film "We Became Fragments" by Luisa Conlon , Lacy Roberts and Hanna Miller, part of the Global Oneness Project library.

Photo: Luisa Conlon , Lacy Roberts and Hanna Miller / Global Oneness Project
Sponsored by Charles Koch Foundation
  • Stories are at the heart of learning, writes Cleary Vaughan-Lee, Executive Director for the Global Oneness Project. They have always challenged us to think beyond ourselves, expanding our experience and revealing deep truths.
  • Vaughan-Lee explains 6 ways that storytelling can foster empathy and deliver powerful learning experiences.
  • Global Oneness Project is a free library of stories—containing short documentaries, photo essays, and essays—that each contain a companion lesson plan and learning activities for students so they can expand their experience of the world.
Keep reading Show less

Four philosophers who realized they were completely wrong about things

Philosophers like to present their works as if everything before it was wrong. Sometimes, they even say they have ended the need for more philosophy. So, what happens when somebody realizes they were mistaken?

Sartre and Wittgenstein realize they were mistaken. (Getty Images)
Culture & Religion

Sometimes philosophers are wrong and admitting that you could be wrong is a big part of being a real philosopher. While most philosophers make minor adjustments to their arguments to correct for mistakes, others make large shifts in their thinking. Here, we have four philosophers who went back on what they said earlier in often radical ways. 

Keep reading Show less

Ashamed over my mental illness, I realized drawing might help me – and others – cope

Just before I turned 60, I discovered that sharing my story by drawing could be an effective way to both alleviate my symptoms and combat that stigma.

Photo by JJ Ying on Unsplash
Mind & Brain

I've lived much of my life with anxiety and depression, including the negative feelings – shame and self-doubt – that seduced me into believing the stigma around mental illness: that people knew I wasn't good enough; that they would avoid me because I was different or unstable; and that I had to find a way to make them like me.

Keep reading Show less

Sexual activity linked to higher cognitive function in older age

A joint study by two England universities explores the link between sex and cognitive function with some surprising differences in male and female outcomes in old age.

The results of this one-of-a-kind study suggest there are significant associations between sexual activity and number sequencing/word recall in men.
Image by Lightspring on Shutterstock
Mind & Brain
  • A joint study by the universities of Coventry and Oxford in England has linked sexual activity with higher cognitive abilities in older age.
  • The results of this study suggest there are significant associations between sexual activity and number sequencing/word recall in men. In women, however, there was a significant association between sexual activity in word recall alone - number sequencing was not impacted.
  • The differences in testosterone (the male sex hormone) and oxytocin (a predominantly female hormone) may factor into why the male cognitive level changes much more during sexual activity in older age.
Keep reading Show less
Scroll down to load more…