Quoddy Village is surrounded by Passamaquoddy Bay, just outside the main city area of Eastport. The location was originally the George Rice farm, on the Old Toll Bridge Road and Route 190.
Quoddy Village, Eastport, Maine - BOSTON PUBLIC LIBRARY TICHNOR BROTHERS COLLECTION
The Passamaquoddy Tidal Power Project's goal was to harness the power of intense ocean tides to generate electricity. 70 billion cubic feet of water flow in and out of the bay twice daily. Engineer Dexter Cooper began conceiving the project in the 1920s as he observed the power of the tides from his summer home on Campobello Island.
President Franklin D. Roosevelt who also spent summers on Campobello became a powerful supporter of the project. In 1935, the Passamaquoddy Bay Tidal Power Project received $7 million from the Public Works Administration, money FDR could allocate without the approval of congress. The Passamaquoddy Tidal Power Project became the world’s largest tidal dam project.
Funded by the New Deal Era Public Works Administration, the tidal power project brought many young men to Maine to work on it. Housing was erected to accommodate the influx of workers to the Eastport area.
Despite the support of FDR and the promise of inexpensive, sustainable energy, Congress voted to discontinue funding of the Passamaquoddy Bay Tidal Power Project and all work was stopped in August of 1936.
From 1938 to 1943 the National Youth Administration used Quoddy Village to train 800 city youth each year in vocational trades. It was also a Navy Sea Bee base, named Camp Lee-Stephenson during World War II.
The Roosevelt family spent summers at their Campobello Island home and Eastport was a favorite destination for Mrs. Roosevelt. She made a visit to Quoddy Village in 1941 and shared her thoughts in her “My Day” newspaper column.
My Day, Eleanor Roosevelt - June 23, 1941:
"EASTPORT, Maine, Sunday—We are having the most wonderful weather, but even for this cool spot, it is warm and almost breathless... Yesterday morning, on the water, it was cool and we had a grand breeze on our way over to Eastport, Maine. Once landed there, we visited various old friends in the fruit store, the drug store, and the bank. Then we took a taxi and went out to Quoddy Village to visit the NYA resident project."
The following story about Quoddy Village is shared in a sermon by Rabbi Susan Grossman. She tells of her “pilgrimage of memory,” to learn more about her father’s experiences there as a youth in the National Youth Administration Camp.
My Father and Eleanor Roosevelt:
"The Roosevelts had often taken the train from their home in New York to the terminus of the line in Eastport, Maine to reach their summer retreat on Campobello Island, just a short ferry ride away... They had been involved with Eastport’s Quoddy Village from its inception"
Another family history journey is this story of a father’s Seabee experiences in Quoddy Village:
“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.”
More about The Seabees:
The Camp Lee Stephens Monument at Quoddy Village
Quoddy Village post WW2 - From the Maine Jewish History Project
The Quoddy Village Proposal:
“The Quoddy Village proposal, formerly known as the Quoddy Village Displaced Persons Project, was a plan designed by New York entrepreneur Frank Cohen in 1947. Cohen’s plan would last over a four-year period and planned to bring 25,000 Jewish DPs and their families from the American occupied zone of Germany to Eastport, Maine.”
Although the exhibition and administration buildings are gone, some of the “temporary” houses still exist. See the working model of the planned Passamaquoddy Tidal Dam at the Border Historical Society in downtown Eastport.