FREEPORT, Maine — Long before outlets became Freeport’s draw, tourists journeyed to Freeport for two things: L.L. Bean and the Desert of Maine.
The 40-acre geological oddity, once featured in Ripley’s “Believe It or Not,” was historically part of the William Tuttle family farm and became a tourist destination in 1925.
Now Freeport residents Mela and Doug Heestand have purchased the Desert of Maine, with plans to renovate the entire property, update marketing and draw more visitors to the unusual sands of Freeport.
Master timber framer Aaron Sturgis will restore the historic barn on the property to serve as a performance venue and theater, and the Heestands plan to expand family-friendly activities already taking place there such as sand art projects, gemstone hunts and mining sluice.
“We want families in the area to think of the Desert of Maine as a place they can come to spend the day walking the trails, learning about history, or just taking in the view,” the couple said in a release announcing the sale.
As part of that strategy, admission to the site and the tour will be free to Freeport residents for the 2019 spring/summer season, which begins May 15.