Our 10 Most-Read Stories of the Year

It's been a great year for storytelling in Maine. From a profile of a lobsterman still fishing at 96 to a ride-along with a tireless dog-rescuer to a gonzo analysis of every single Maine lighthouse, these are our most-read stories of the year.


10. The Future of Maine’s Restaurants is Female

Interviewed by Jesse Ellison
Photographed by Mark Fleming

From our April issue: Guest editor Sam Sifton helped us craft our special issue on Maine Food, including this wide-ranging group Q&A with a murderer’s row of culinary talent. Nationally, restaurant-kitchen culture is still dominated by men, but women chefs have a refreshingly outsize presence in Maine. We gathered a few of the state’s best chefs to talk about why.


9. Maine’s Mile-High Katahdin, As You’ve Never Seen It

Photographed by Chris Bennett, Andrew Drummond, Chris Shane, and Jamie Walter

From our February issue: In winter, as this photo feature showed, Maine’s mile-high Katahdin is a rugged, spectacular world apart. When four friends set out to ski it, the trip represented a physical challenge and a spiritual feat. A glimpse of “The Greatest Mountain” as few ever see it.


8. Belgrade Lakes: A Love Story

By Jennifer Finney Boylan
Photographed by Michael D. Wilson

From our June issue: In our special issue devoted to Maine’s lakes, Jennifer Finney Boylan offered a heartfelt ode to the Belgrade Lakes — and to living where others vacation.


7. The 68-Year-Old Maine Grandma Conquering the Oceans

By Will Grunewald
Portrait by Gabe Souza

From our February issue: Frigid waters, jellyfish hordes, riptides, and things that go bump in the night — it’s all here in this profile of sexagenarian Westbrook aqua-woman Pat Gallant-Charette, who’s out to beat marathon swimming’s ultimate globe-spanning challenge.


6. The 35 Maine-iest Foods

Photographed by Mark Fleming
Styled by Catrine Kelty

From our April issue: Essays and observations on the foods that define us, from lowbrow munchies to local delicacies.


5. Every Maine Lighthouse, Ranked

By Jesse Ellison, Will Grunewald, Brian Kevin, Frances Killea, Genevieve Morgan, Clark Shepard, Sarah Stebbins, Jennifer Van Allen, and Virginia M. Wright

From our September issue: No story garnered reader feedback this year quite like this categorical assessment of all 65 of Maine lighthouses, inspired in part by the 10th anniversary of Maine Open Lighthouse Day. How did your favorites do?


4. Lobstering at Age 96

96 Year-Old Lobsterman

By Suzanne Rico
Photographed by Chris Bennett

From our April issue: We checked in with lobsterman John Olson, a WWII vet with a link to Maine art lore, in his ninth decade on the water. Olson passed away in November.


3. How to Cook Lobster with Cannabis

Charlotte's Lobster

By Will Grunewald
Photographed by Michael D. Wilson

From our July issue: In 2018, Charlotte Gill, of Charlotte’s Legendary Lobster Pound, made the viral rounds for her attempts to kill lobsters without causing pain — by getting them high. We set out to tell the rest of her story.


2. This Cape Porpoise Fish House Is an Icon. But of What, Exactly?

By Brian Kevin
Photographed by Benjamin Williamson

From our December issue: We set out to tell the quirky tale of an Instagram-famous fish house and found a more intricate story about copycat culture and one fishing town’s struggles with community and authenticity.


1. How Southern Dogs Are Brought to Maine By the Thousands

By Kathryn Miles
Photographed by Cait Bourgault

From our July issue: In our most widely shared story of the year (thanks dog people!), Kathryn Miles joined 37 very good dogs on a 1,600-mile road trip to understand why the Pine Tree State welcomes so many southern rescue dogs — and how they all get here.

Happy New Year from all of us at Down East!