Rockport, Arkansas – The Prettiest Town in America



by Grace bailey,

There is nothing unique in naming a place in the United States Rockport. Indeed, there are at least 15 such places in the States. There is a Rockport in Arkansas, a Rockport in California, a Rockport in Indiana, a Rockport in Kentucky, a Rockport in Massachusetts, a Rock Port (the space in the middle will hardly fool anyone that it is a different name) in Missouri, a Rockport in Texas, a Rockport in Washington (as well as a Rockport State Park), a Rockport Colony in South Dakota, and two defunct and ghost towns of Rockport in Ohio and Utah. Certainly all of them have some unique charm or feature that would distinguish them from their namesakes, but here arguments will be laid in defense of the Rockport that is situated in Maine. More precisely, it is situated in Knox County, Maine.

First established in 1769 by Robert Thorndike, Rockport was part of the Megunticook Plantation in the beginning. Then, of course, it was known as Goose River Village, a rather less impressive name, until the population decided to raise the dignity bar and renamed it in 1852. Early industries includes shipbuilding, ice harvesting and the production of lime – Rockport lime was even used in the construction of the United States Capitol. On a side note, ice harvesting might sound a bit strange to you, but keep in mind that until the invention of the refrigerator in the form we know it today, ice was harvested, shipped and stored in much the same way that any crop would. Indeed, even in 400 BC Persians were already storing ice in deep underground caves isolated with special mortar. Another interesting fact that will bring us back on track is that Rockport officially separated from Camden because of a rather symbolic dispute over a bridge.

For a long time Rockport has had quite a reputation among artists and notable people from the art community have played an important role in the town’s social and economic life. Mary Louise Curtis Bok, for example, founded the Curtis Institute of Music and Bay Chamber Concerts. The latter is a non-profit organization that hosts a Summer Music Festival during July and August. The festival brings predominantly classical musicians to the Strand Theatre and the Rockport Opera House to perform and also engage in various discussions with the audience, therefore bringing better understanding and accessibility to the Mid Coast crowd.

The other Rockport symbol is Andre the Seal. Andre is a remarkable seal that was adopted by the loving Goodridge family back in the 1970s and have brought live and sparkle into rockportian souls right up until its tragic death in 1986. Devastated, Harry Goodridge, the seal’s owner, or, perhaps more appropriately, father wrote a book to assuage the pain, named ‘A Seal Called Andre’. In 1994 there was a film adaptation by the name of ‘Andre’, though in the film it was a sea lion that played Andre, and not a seal, as Andre was in real life. These days there is a monument of Andre erected in the harbor to forever immortalize the place he has in the heart of every citizen of Rockport and every lucky tourist that has been fortunate enough to glimpse Andre’s genius tricks and adorable ineptitude. Apart from ‘Andre’, the movie, Rockport has been the location of many other shots, including ‘The Man Without a Face’ with Mel Gibson, ‘In the Bedroom’ with Tom Wilkinson, and ‘Casper’ with Casper the Friendly Ghost.

The final and most compelling argument to be made in Rockport’s case is the place it was put on Forbes’ list of prettiest towns in America. First.

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