I've been driving up and down the "Airline" my whole life.

My family has a camp on a pond between Eddington and Holden, and since I was barely old enough to look out the windshield from the back seat of our Pontiac, we've used Route 9. It's been our primary travel route for all camp activities. Sure, you can get to camp from the Route 1A side, but contending with summer tourist traffic isn't fun.

These days we kind of take it for granted, but the Airline has an interesting story, and a lot of gossip behind it. But there was a time when the this "route" from Calais to the Bangor area was little more than a crude logging trail through the woods. Even today, the population of the entire region from Bangor to Calais, only numbers around 1000.

It got it's name a lot longer ago than most think.

Propeller plane flying on the cloudy sky background

There's a lot of old-school talk that the reason Route 9 is called the airline is because of planes flying to and from Dow Airforce Base in Bangor using towers along the route as a guide for travel. In reality though, the term precedes air travel by decades. In the 1800's, "airline" was used to describe a major shortcut.

white and orange cell tower with sky and clouds background
Vi Gregnol

So while the coastal route was seen as the more popular route from the Downeast region, the Airline was more direct. But naturally, in the early days, rumors were spread that the road wasn't safe because of wolves in the woods. Believe it or not, there were proponents of the Coastal Route, they were actively trying to verbally sabotage the new road.

Timber wolf in winter

And of course all through the 1800's, stage coaches were robbed, and mail was stolen. The whole process led to a lot of trials and tribulations before it became the road we know it as today.

The Airline these days...

Obviously, there's a lot going on with connecting Route 9 to I-395, which could bring Canadian traffic over to the tourist region more easily, and also offer locals a chance to get out of the tourist traffic, if they're trying to access the Airline. People won't have to go directly through the middle of Brewer anymore.

Of course, things will continue to evolve for the Airline over the years. It's already been straightened out a bit, it's been widened, and it's very well maintained. It's a long way from the crusty path through the Maine woods that it used to be. Although, take a drive all the way Downeast, and you'll still get that woodsy vibe. Maine rules.

There are certainly parts of the Airline that feel like they could be on this list...

BOO: These are the scariest haunted roads in America

Brace yourself for the next turn. Way.com breaks down the most haunted roadways in America. 

Gallery Credit: Stacker

LOOK: The longest highways in America

Stacker compiled a list of the longest interstates in the United States using 2021 data from the Federal Highway Administration. Read on to find out which ones are the lengthiest.

Gallery Credit: Hannah Lang

LOOK: Here are the states where you are most likely to hit an animal

Hitting an animal while driving is a frightening experience, and this list ranks all 50 states in order of the likelihood of such incidents happening, in addition to providing tips on how to avoid them.

Gallery Credit: Dom DiFurio & Jacob Osborn

More From WWMJ Ellsworth Maine