Calais, Maine, a charming coastal city nestled on the banks of the St. Croix River, is a hidden gem waiting to be discovered. With its rich history, stunning landscapes, and friendly locals, Calais offers a unique blend of small-town charm and natural beauty that is sure to captivate any visitor. Whether you’re a history buff, an outdoor enthusiast, or simply looking for a peaceful getaway, Calais has something for everyone. Let’s embark on a journey to discover the hidden treasures of this quaint city.

History of Calais

Calais, pronounced “callous,” was first settled in 1779 by Daniel Hill and his family. The city was incorporated in 1809 and named after Calais, France, the last French town that American statesman Benjamin Franklin visited when he left Europe. Calais played a significant role during the War of 1812 as a smuggling hub for goods between the United States and British Canada. The city’s rich history is reflected in its well-preserved architecture and numerous historical landmarks.

Location and Population

Calais is located in Washington County, Maine, along the St. Croix River, which forms the border between the United States and Canada. The city is approximately 338 miles from Portland, Maine’s largest city, and 95 miles from Bangor, the closest city with an airport. As of the 2020 census, Calais has a population of approximately 3,000 residents, making it a close-knit community where everyone knows each other.

Landmarks and Attractions

Calais is home to several historical landmarks and attractions that offer a glimpse into the city’s past. The St. Croix Island International Historic Site, located in the middle of the St. Croix River, commemorates the early French presence in North America. The Whitlocks Mill Lighthouse, the last lighthouse built in Maine, offers stunning views of the river and surrounding landscapes.

For nature lovers, the Moosehorn National Wildlife Refuge is a must-visit. Covering over 28,000 acres, the refuge is home to a diverse range of wildlife, including moose, black bears, and over 200 species of birds. The city’s location along the St. Croix River also makes it a popular spot for fishing, boating, and bird watching.

Nearby Attractions

Calais’s strategic location makes it a perfect base for exploring the surrounding areas. Just across the river is St. Stephen, New Brunswick, a charming Canadian town known for its chocolate factory. A short drive away is the Roosevelt Campobello International Park, the summer home of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, which offers stunning views of the Bay of Fundy.

While Calais may not be a Hollywood hotspot, it has made a few appearances in popular culture. The city was mentioned in the Stephen King novel ‘Salem’s Lot as a place where characters sought refuge from vampires. Calais was also featured in the TV show Murder, She Wrote, in an episode titled “The Wind Around the Tower”.


From its rich history and stunning landscapes to its friendly locals and unique attractions, Calais, Maine, is a city that deserves to be discovered. Whether you’re exploring the historical landmarks, enjoying the natural beauty, or simply soaking in the small-town charm, Calais offers a unique and unforgettable experience. So why wait? Start planning your trip to this hidden gem today!

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