Historic Downtown Walking Trail

Explore Gardiner’s History in an Hour!

As you wander through Gardiner’s historic district, you will see a series of charming and informative sign panels. Look for blue sturgeon fish painted on the ground to follow the historic walking trail to learn the story of the city, from Dr. Sylvester Gardiner’s 18th century development of the first mills on the Cobbossee Stream through the growth of a burgeoning fishing, shipbuilding and trade industry – and a dynamic city culture – in the 250 years that followed.

Beginning in Waterfront Park at the Kennebec-Chaudiere monument next to the boat launch, our new Historic Pathway leads you on a walk around our town. By visiting the stations along the path, the entire history of Gardiner unfolds – from the ice harvest, to pictures of the old bridge and photos of many serious floods in our downtown.

Start at the Waterfront and follow the sturgeon prints on the ground toward the pump station. The first station you stop at will tell about the settlement of this area of Maine by native peoples. (Some of the panels are two-sided, so look sharp!)

Continue on the path up the hill toward the pump station and watch carefully when you get to the top. On your left is a plaque that shows where the original bridge across the Kennebec was located. If you walk around the deck and look behind you, you’ll find a panel all about the bridges (and some about wildlife along the Kennebec River).

Continue toward town and cross the street carefully toward Harvey’s Hardware. Watch for the left turn that will take you to the Arcade Parking Lot and a story about logging and industry along Cobbossee Stream.

The pathway leads up through McKay Park (floods), then crosses Water Street and heads toward the Library. A double panel sits on the sidewalk at Dearborn Park next to Johnson Hall. Read both sides, then head up Church Hill to City Hall. Here, you can learn about the man our town is named after! Next, cross in front of the fire station (say hi) and to the front of the library, turning right. In front of the Peg Shaw Garden you will find out about music and poetry in Gardiner. Use the crosswalk and head uphill to Steamboat Lane and back down to the Waterfront to find out about ice and the river industry. Run in the grass and you’re back to the beginning!

gardiner historic panel map