Travel the world without ever leaving Maine

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

From Rome to Athens, and from Korea to Mexico: Maine has it all.
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

‘Designer baby’ book trilogy explores the moral dilemmas humans may soon create

How would the ability to genetically customize children change society? Sci-fi author Eugene Clark explores the future on our horizon in Volume I of the "Genetic Pressure" series.

Surprising Science
  • A new sci-fi book series called "Genetic Pressure" explores the scientific and moral implications of a world with a burgeoning designer baby industry.
  • It's currently illegal to implant genetically edited human embryos in most nations, but designer babies may someday become widespread.
  • While gene-editing technology could help humans eliminate genetic diseases, some in the scientific community fear it may also usher in a new era of eugenics.
Keep reading Show less

Octopus-like creatures inhabit Jupiter’s moon, claims space scientist

A leading British space scientist thinks there is life under the ice sheets of Europa.

Jupiter's moon Europa has a huge ocean beneath its sheets of ice.

Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SETI Institute
Surprising Science
  • A British scientist named Professor Monica Grady recently came out in support of extraterrestrial life on Europa.
  • Europa, the sixth largest moon in the solar system, may have favorable conditions for life under its miles of ice.
  • The moon is one of Jupiter's 79.
Keep reading Show less

Lair of giant predator worms from 20 million years ago found

Scientists discover burrows of giant predator worms that lived on the seafloor 20 million years ago.

Bobbit worm (Eunice aphroditois).

Credit: Jenny – Flickr
Surprising Science
  • Scientists in Taiwan find the lair of giant predator worms that inhabited the seafloor 20 million years ago.
  • The worm is possibly related to the modern bobbit worm (Eunice aphroditois).
  • The creatures can reach several meters in length and famously ambush their pray.
Keep reading Show less

What is the ‘self’? The 3 layers of your identity.

Answering the question of who you are is not an easy task. Let's unpack what culture, philosophy, and neuroscience have to say.

  • Who am I? It's a question that humans have grappled with since the dawn of time, and most of us are no closer to an answer.
  • Trying to pin down what makes you you depends on which school of thought you prescribe to. Some argue that the self is an illusion, while others believe that finding one's "true self" is about sincerity and authenticity.
  • In this video, author Gish Jen, Harvard professor Michael Puett, psychotherapist Mark Epstein, and neuroscientist Sam Harris discuss three layers of the self, looking through the lens of culture, philosophy, and neuroscience.
Keep reading Show less
Mind & Brain

Here’s how you know when someone’s lying to your face

When someone is lying to you personally, you may be able to see what they're doing.

Scroll down to load more…