Aroostook County and Loring Air Force Base


Aroostook County and Loring Air Force Base were sites selected for visiting in the poll taken of students in the fall of 1977 when "The Maine Journey" program was being formulated. The objectives of this trip were twofold: First to expose the students to the main potato growing area of our state and second to provide them the opportunity to visit one of the Strategic Air Command's largest bases. [Following is contact info. Loring Air Force Base was closed in 1992].

Loring Air Force Base is located in Northeastern Aroostook County approximately six miles east of Caribou and four miles west of Limestone. By school bus, Loring is approximately five hours from the Bangor area via Interstate 95 to Houlton, Route 1 to Mars Hill, Route 1A to Fort Fairfield, Route 165 to Limestone and Route 89 to Loring Air Force Base. The 5 1/2 hours needed for the trip allow for a rest stop at the Medway Rest Area, I-95 and a picnic lunch at a nice picnic area on Route 165 approximately four miles from Fort Fairfield. The return trip can be made through Caribou and Presque Isle via Route 1 allowing for an alternate route to Mars Hill. [Restaurants] in Houlton would be an ideal place to have the evening meal with students having the option of bringing sandwiches for both the noon meal and evening meal. From Houlton, Route 2 would provide an alternate route through the Haynesville Woods to Lincoln, and then along the Penobscot River to Old Town.

A tour of Loring Air Force Base takes approximately four hours with various sites to visit depending upon the activity at the base when your visit is scheduled. The high point of any visit is a demonstration by the Security Police and trained guard dogs. Also involved in a typical tour would be a visit to the Crash Fire House where a demonstration may be arranged of the fire fighting equipment used to combat aircraft fires. A third point of interest is the high Arch Hangar in which aircraft such as the B-52 and the KC 135 tanker can be viewed. Visitors may be allowed to board the KC 135 for an inspection. Other possible sites to visit are the radar installation and fighter interceptor squadron.

In touring Loring Air Force Base, students are exposed to many different job training and career opportunities as well as receiving a first hand look at our country's military readiness to combat aggression from potential enemies.

As one traverses the countryside of Aroostook County there are many aspects of the agricultural activity that can be pointed out and discussed with students. To really see and appreciate Aroostook County one needs to spend more than one day there.

If your group desires to spend two days in Aroostook County, other activities might include a tour of the St. John River Valley and an exposure to the Franco-American people both past and present. On your return trip or while in the "Valley" make arrangements to visit a potato farm to learn of the potato industry.

During Maine Journey 1980 we planned an "overnight" trip to Loring Air Force Base, thereby enabling us to combine the Loring trip with the trip to King's Landing the following day.

We arrived at Loring at noon and spent four hours on a tour of the base. Loring personnel kindly allowed us the use of their picnic area for a cookout supper and the gymnasium for our sleeping quarters. Students were allowed use of the gymnasium and the pool for a nominal fee (50 cents). Locker room facilities were available; however students provided their own sleeping bags.

Breakfast the following morning was obtained at the Loring Mess Hall and we continued day two of our travels by 9 a.m.

By utilizing the overnight plan one may visit other areas of the County or King's Landing easily the next day.

Needless to say, the overnight trip is on of the summer's highlights.

The Heritage Vivant Village located a few miles northwest of Van Buren's Heritage Vivant Historical Society's depiction of an Acadian tour of yesteryear. The village is a collection of buildings which have been restored. Walking through the villag and inspecting the houses, shops and other buildings, one develops a felling of how life was lived by the residents of the St. John Valley in days gone-by. The oldest building is the Roy House circa 1785. Other buildings include a barber shop, general store, shoe shop, railroad station and a log chapel. One could easily spend a minimum of two hours at this site.

Traveling north along Route 1, you may wish to visit the Madawaska-Edmunston, N.B. area. By crossing into Canada and following the St. John River in a northerly direction you will find yourself on a hill overlooking the river. Here the St. John River Valley is dramatically pictured. With prior arrangements, you may wish to visit the Fraser Paper Company located in Madawaska.

Arrangement for a tour of a typical potato farm and a potato processing plant may possibly be made by contacting the Maine Potato Council.

Loring A.F.B.
Student Rating - 3.9
Staff Rating - 3.9

(Excerpt from The Maine Journey Field Trip Guide, 1980, p.10-12.)

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