A group of 45 northern Maine leaders, businesspeople and residents will tour the Grindstone Scenic Byway on Monday as part of plans to enhance the commercial potential of the 59-mile national landmark, officials said Friday.
Eastern Maine Development Corp. is hosting the trip also to help plan marketing and funding strategies and to help those who live and work closest to the byway understand how its development might improve their communities and businesses, said John Noll, a program manager at EMDC.
“We want a local organization to take over the reins of it and do the marketing for it and seek funds,” Noll said Friday. “The public funds are drying up so we want to make this more self-sustaining, and we also want the people from the area to take ownership of the byway.”
The route snakes from Grand Lake in Matagamon along Grand Lake Road and Route 159 through the Mount Chase and Patten areas along Route 11 through the Katahdin region to Township 2, Range 9 and the southern entrance of Baxter State Park south of Mount Katahdin.
The tour will start at an Old Town bus depot at 6:15 a.m. and is scheduled to conclude at about 4:30 p.m. with the bus disgorging several passengers at the Medway recreation area off Route 157 at the Penobscot River.
Several stops in Matagamon, the Seboeis River, Shin Pond, the Lumberman’s Museum, Ash Hill Scenic Overlook, Baxter State Park Headquarters, Millinocket’s North Light Gallery are among those planned.
The scenic byways program is a grass-roots collaborative effort established to help recognize, preserve and enhance selected roads throughout the United States. Since 1992, the National Scenic Byways Program has funded 3,049 projects for state and nationally designated byway routes in 50 states, Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia, according to the Grindstone byway’s website, sites.google.com/site/grindstonebyway/.
The U.S. Secretary of Transportation recognizes certain roads as All-American Roads or National Scenic Byways based on one or more archaeological, cultural, historic, natural, recreational and scenic qualities.
The Grindstone byway was designated in August 2007. Such designations afford their host communities wide international publicity that helps draw millions of tourists to them nationwide.