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July 5, 2018

Madawaska rolls out welcome for 'four corners' motorcyclists

The Four Corners park in Madawaska officially opened on June 23.

The County reported that founder Joe LaChance came up with the idea for the park in 2000, so that motorcycle riders touring the so-called "four corners" of the United States would have a spot to take pictures and commemorate their adventures.

"The reason we're doing this is to bring tourism to northern Maine," LaChance told the newspaper. "People will come and eat at our restaurants and stay at our motels. It is good for the town of Madawaska."

The other three corners are Blaine, Wash.; San Ysidro, Calif.; and Key West, Fla.

Madawaska's park, which is on U.S. Route 1, features a 12-foot-tall blue pearl granite monument, lighted water fountain surrounded by granite benches and tables, drinking fountain, fireplace, landscaping with flowers and trees to create shade and beauty, and paths paved with engraved stones celebrating Four Corners tour finishers and participants.

The park is the first of its kind dedicated to long-distance motorcycling.

In a blog post, LaChance wrote that after finishing the Southern California Motorcycling Association's Four Corners Tour with his wife, Diane, in 2000, he thought they might be able to bring tourism to northern Maine by popularizing that tour. "Prior to that, the problem had always been: what would bring people so far north?" he wrote. "They would need a reason. As an AMA [American Motorcyclist Association] member tasked with protecting the future of motorcycling and promoting the motorcycling lifestyle, I thought: what better way can we accomplish this than by creating the only motorcycle park in the world that honors the riders of long-distance motorcycling. They, in turn, would buy granite pavers to commemorate their achievement and that would pay the expenses incurred running the park."

The town of Madawaska offered land in return for back taxes on it.The park's grand opening is part of an overall upward trend in tourism throughout Aroostook County.

The County reported that an annual report, conducted by the research firm Davidson Peterson Associates in partnership with the Maine Office of Tourism, shows that Aroostook County has seen an upward trend of tourists who visit each year.

"We've seen an interesting trend of more younger individuals visiting this region. About 29% of day visitors in 2017 were under the age of 35," Alain Ouellette, planning and development division director for the Northern Maine Development Commission, told the newspaper. "Many of them were interested in hiking, climbing, backpacking, ATV and snowmobile trails."

The uptick might have been aided by the update and relaunch in 2017 of the Aroostook County Tourism visitors guide. The last major redesign of the visitor guide took place in 2009.

Aroostook County also expects to reap economic benefits from BikeMaine's annual ride, slated this September and expected to inject hundreds of thousands of dollars into local communities, as the route takes riders through Presque Isle, Caribou, Madawaska, Fort Kent and St. Agatha.

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