Desert of Maine

Geological and Historical Tour of the Dunes and Old Tuttle Barn

Desert of Maine

Freeport, Maine 04032, United States

Created By: Desert of Maine

Tour Information

Learn how Maine's glaciers formed sand dunes in the middle of a coastal forest and discover how the dunes were reactivated when the Tuttle family farmed the land in the 1800s. Henry Goldrup had the vision to purchase the land in 1925 and create one of Maine's first roadside tourist attractions. Learn about the host of quirky characters who were involved in popularizing and capitalizing on the Desert of Maine throughout the years.

Tour Map

Loading Tour


What You'll See on the Tour

The Desert of Maine was a fertile farm from the 1820s until the early 1900s. Overgrazed and depleted, the topsoil started eroding around 1860, a process that exposed the glacial silt that was lying underneath.The silt was first carried here... Read more
According to Freeport lore, a farmer by the surname of Tuttle got mad about a heated remark at a town council meeting in the neighboring town of Pownal. The story goes that he dragged his barn across the line into Freeport with a team of ... Read more
Imagine seeing this land covered in sand dunes in 1925 and deciding to buy it. That's just what happened when a young man named Henry Goldrup purchased the property for $400 from his friend Everett Jamieson whose wife had inherited the prop... Read more
The trees you're looking at are not growing from the top of the dunes; they are partially buried by sand. If you were to dump sand on a tree all at once, it would die, but here the sediment has been blowing around since it was exposed u... Read more
Animals at the Desert of Maine The camel the Polakewich's brought to the desert in the early 1940s was named Toona. Perhaps they didn't realize that unless camels are very well socialied, they have a tendency to spit at and kick humans. Af... Read more
If you peak over the edge of the dune, you will see a slowly trickling stream. This view is a good illustration of how the desert has changed over time and what it might look like in the future. Notice the trees at the foot of the dune. The... Read more
In the early 1930s, Henry noticed a natural spring bubbling up from the sand. Taking a cue from Poland Springs Inn, Mark Polakewich decided to build a spring house that was completed in 1938. For a glass of spring water that supposedly had... Read more
What created the clay you see here in the clay mounds? Clay is defined by its very small grain size, and this clay was created through glaciation and wind erosion. The next smallest grain size is silt, which was also created here and deposi... Read more
From the top of the 90 foot dune, you will observe many interesting facets of the Desert of Maine. First, notice that if you are facing the barn, the wind has carved the dunes out into a tunnel-like shape. You'll also notice at the top, the... Read more
Notice the different species of moss and lichen of various shades of green and lavender. They are playing the important role of returning nutrients to the soil and helping create new topsoil. One day the forest will retake these dunes.  We... Read more


Leave a Comment



Download the App

Download the PocketSights Tour Guide mobile app to take this self-guided tour on your GPS-enabled mobile device.

iOS Tour Guide Android Tour Guide



Updates and Corrections

Please send change requests to