QUODDY VILLAGE, MAINE
Naval Construction Training Center / SeaBee Base
Quoddy Village, Maine is a small residential area on the northwestern shore of Moose Island at the northeastern tip of Maine which really means it is at the northeastern tip of the United States. (If you are a bit directionally challenged like me – see the maps below.) Let’s just say that Moose Island is a long way from anywhere and not close to much. Canada is across the bay and the Atlantic Ocean’s waters flow around the island. But trust me – It’s a delightful area and it’s isolation adds to it’s charm.
Quoddy Village, Maine – The Extreme Northeastern U.S.
Located somewhat remotely as it is, people don’t typically just “stop by” Moose Island during their travels. No – if you go to Moose Island and Quoddy Village – it’s because they are your destination and you are willing to go out of your way to get there. So it was for me as I arrived on Moose Island. Having driven from Kansas City, some 1,700 miles to the west, I was on a bit of a personal pilgrimage. My father was in the Navy during World War II. He was a draftsman in the112th Naval Construction Battalion, the Seabees. In 1943 he was assigned to the NCTC (Naval Construction Training Center) at Quoddy for training.
The NCTC was located in what is now, Quoddy Village, After training, the 112th was posted in the Pacific, eventually helping to construct the enormous airfields on the island of Tinian which were used for air services in the Pacific Region including heavy bomber raids. The Tinian airbase grew to be, at the time, the largest airbase in the world with six gigantic 8,500+ foot runways capable of handling the largest of U.S. aircraft including the B-29 “Superfortress.” Tinian became best known as the airbase used by the Enola Gay when it flew it’s nuclear mission to bomb Hiroshima.
The Seabees established their training base at Quoddy Village in 1943. The official name – Camp Lee-Stephenson – honors Lt. Irwin Lee and Lt. George Stephenson, the first two officers of the Civil Engineer Corps killed serving with a Naval Construction Battalion.
Camp Lee-Stephenson was closed in 1946. Not surprisingly, Moose Island and the Quoddy Village area have changed a lot since then The fact that it even existed is not readily obvious to visitors today. As I drove onto Moose Island toward Eastport I was looking for anything related to the Seabee base. I drove and looked, drove and looked. Quite honestly, I saw nothing. Eventually I stopped and asked. (Yes, I’m a guy and I know that sort of violates “the code” – but hey – I was desperate!) Although they couldn’t give me information about a Seabee base, several folks were able to direct me to the area known as Quoddy Village. I had to backtrack – yes, I had already passed it. But with directions I was able to find a small residential area off the main road.
I wandered the small streets of Quoddy Village, wearing my Seabees cap – the one with the “Can Do” logo seen in the image at the top of this article. I saw some old buildings and some newer homes but I really had no idea what I was looking at. But then I had the immense good fortune of encountering Ross, a native of the area. He was driving by, saw my Seabee cap, and immediately turned around and kindly offered his help. He really knows the area and explained the history and showed me sights and places I would have totally missed without his assistance. With his help I explored the locations in the images that follow.
Camp Lee-Stephenson Memorial Park
Camp Lee-Stephenson Memorial Park, located off the main road to Moose Island, is home to a small memorial to the Seabee base.
Camp Lee-Stephenson Memorial
Camp Memorial Monument
The streets of the camp are named in honor of Seabees who died in service.
Reverse side of memorial – Streets named for the fallen
The original barracks building still stands in Quoddy Village. It is in a bit of disrepair to say the least.
Barracks Building – Front View
Barracks Building – Rear View
Seabee Emblem – Rear of Barracks
The original fire station building
Listing of Fire Alarm Box Locations On Base
The drill hall is the largest building remaining from the base. It has been refurbished and repurposed by the city.
Base Drill Hall
Quoddy Village sits on the shore of Half Moon Cove. It’s a very nice location close to the somewhat larger town of Eastport.
Shoreline of Half Moon Cover
Many single family homes in Quoddy Village were originally built by the Seabees. A variety of the homes have been nicely repaired, refurbished and updated making the village a very nice and tidy residential community.
Moose Island, Eastport and Quoddy Village have been home to some interesting pieces of American History. As is the case with so many locations across the United States, in the years leading up to, including and following World War II, the area contributed to the American war effort. A visit to the region is a bit of a nostalgic step back in time – an especially meaningful journey for those with connections to the Seabee base in Quoddy Village.
Many thanks to my guide, historian and friend Ross for taking the time to help me explore and better understand Camp Lee-Stephenson, NCTC Seabee Base and the Quoddy Village area.
Only after my return to Kansas City did I discover that Ross is the owner / developer of a delightful lodge and retreat adjacent to Quoddy Village – Rossport By The Sea. If you ever visit the Eastport area it looks like a great place to stay. Be sure to give my best to Ross!
Explore The History Of Quoddy Village …….. And Enjoy The Adventure!
© 2017, Bruce W Bean, Ph.D. All rights reserved.