Our 10 Most-Read Stories of the Year

In a difficult year, we've found comfort, distraction, and hope in some great Maine storytelling. From a profile of the Maine farmer saving the world’s rarest seeds to a small-town sports saga for the ages to the strange tale of the COVID cruise ship marooned Down East, these are our most-read stories of 2020.

10. Could Cobscook Bay Be the Next Mount Desert Island?

By Brian Kevin | Photographed by Chris Shane

From our October issue: In Lubec, a media-shy multimillionaire has quietly invested $11 million in a new network of waterfront parks. We took a rare glimpse behind the curtain of the latest project by a global philanthropic foundation with an increasingly large Maine footprint — and an unconventional approach to conservation.

9. Hecklers Yelled Ethnic Slurs, But the 1944 Waterville Panthers Became Champs

By Ronald Joseph

From our March issue: Part of our year-long Timelines series, observing the Maine bicentennial, about a 1944 basketball team made up of the children of immigrants that stunned New England sports fans.

8. The CMP Corridor: Maine’s Most Divisive 53 Miles

Photographed by Pamola Creative | Text by Brian Kevin

From our November issue: At the heart of the public debate over the proposed power-transmission project known as the New England Clean Energy Connect is a remote swath of woods, mountains, and streams that 53 miles of newly cut corridor would cleave. It’s a rugged stretch of the state that few Mainers have laid eyes on. We sent a team of photographers for an up-close look at the embattled backcountry tract known as Segment 1.

7. The Moment That Presaged a Maine Senator’s Downfall

By Rachel Slade

From our May issue: Senator Margaret Chase Smith was a bipartisan hero — until suddenly she wasn’t. From our Timelines series, the little-known story of a tense address to student protestors at Colby College that presaged the downfall of a political titan.

6. Don’t Dis ‘Gusta

By Virginia Wright | Photographed by Michael D. Wilson

From our March issue: Our annual(-ish) Best Places to Live issue had a surprising (to some) cover girl in Maine’s capital city. Augusta has enjoyed a wave of new energy and ideas, and a crop of downtown entrepreneurs has a message: Don’t Dis ’Gusta.

5. Welcome to Maine’s Oldest Greasy Spoon

By Will Grunewald | Photographed by Joel Page

From our January issue: For our special issue devoted to Maine’s past, we pulled up a stool at Rumford’s Deluxe Diner, serving up bacon, eggs, and a whole lot of banter since 1929.

4. What Mainers Talk About When They Talk About “Going Up To Camp”

By Franklin Burroughs

From our July issue: Writer Franklin Burroughs on the anatomy of a phrase and the history baked into it. Reason #83 from our special bicentennial issue, “200 Reasons to Love Maine.”

3. The Tiny, Toxic Caterpillar Wreaking Havoc on Maine

By Laura Poppick

From our June issue: An outbreak of invasive browntail moth caterpillars — found almost no place else in the country — is vexing large swaths of the state. We checked in with the scientists, arborists, and other Mainers who are itching to find a solution.

2. The COVID Cruise Ship and the Maine Fishing Town

By Jaed Coffin | Photographed by Ryan David Brown

From our October issue: The strange tale of the little Down East city of Eastport, which tried for years to lure mega cruise ships to its docks. This summer, amid a global pandemic, it got one, along with a skeleton crew of coronavirus exiles.

1.  The Maine Farmer Saving the World’s Rarest Heirloom Seeds

By Laura Poppick | Photographed by Greta Rybus

From our April issue: Out most-read story of the year. Farmer Will Bonsall has spent a lifetime scattering rare seeds across the country. But will his efforts fall among the thorns?

Happy New Year from all of us at Down East!

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