This month's Where in Maine location was the site of a midcentury boondoggle.
Photographed by Lovena West
The world’s largest manufacturer of frozen potato products operates a french-fry processing plant in the farm town that’s home to this barn. The plant is one of two major employers, both of which owe their facilities to a gregarious, cigar-chomping, cowboy-boot–wearing heir to a Texas industrial-agriculture empire. The Texan swept into town in 1960 to build a factory that processed potatoes, then built another to refine sugar beets. But Aroostook farmers didn’t take to beets — the meager yields delivered to the plant were said to contain at least 10 percent rocks — and the sugar beet facility was a headline-making failure, leaving behind a legacy of public debt and pollution.
A group of more recent arrivals, also attracted by the region’s agricultural potential, have carried on the town’s farming legacy, albeit with less swagger and on a decidedly non-industrial scale. Members of this simple-living sect are responsible for the proliferation of beautiful barns like this one, as well as for new signage along the state highway bisecting the community. That highway is one of the state’s loveliest pastoral drives, without so much as a Dunkin’ or McDonald’s to block the sweeping views of the countryside. (So you’ll have to get your french fries someplace else.)
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