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South Bristol
Christmas Cove

South Bristol, at the western tip of the South Bristol Peninsula, is one swing bridge away from Rutherford Island, but in some ways the side-by-side destinations are worlds apart. South Bristol is a working harbor; lobster boats and fishing boats unload crab, bluefish, and swordfish for delivery around Maine and south to Massachusetts and New York. The swing bridge that controls boat traffic into and out of the harbor is the busiest in the state. Boats have the right-of-way here - one toot on a foghorn and the bridge operator lowers a gate to stop traffic and engages the gears that swivel the bridge open, allowing boats to pass through the narrow passage called "The Gut", and enter the mouth of the Damariscotta River and the Atlantic Ocean. Children love the site of the bridge moving and while waiting for a boat to come along will study the pools of minnows in the shallow waters below.

Incorporated on March 26, 1915 from the western portion of the town of Bristol. Rutherford Island is dominated by the neighborhood of Christmas Cove, a small but well-protected harbor said to have been named by Captain John Smith during a visit on Christmas Day in 1614. Here you will find a community of old and stately summer homes passed from generation to generation.

The community is home to three nature preserves. Plummer Point is a 74 acre wooded peninsula with over a mile of shoreline on the Damariscotta river. The Tracy Property is a town park with public access to 800 feet on Damariscotta River. Partially forested, it features 33 acres of rocky ledges, cliffs, a tidal basin and a small marsh. The wooded 18-acre Witch Island Sanctuary provides views of Johns Bay. Two beaches offer picnicking, swimming and boating.

Thompson Ice House, right on Route 129, is on the National Historic Register. The building was first used to store ice from Thompson Pond. In 1990, the house became part of a working museum. The grounds are accessible and free year round.

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