Life’s a Beach

James Perkins Collection
LB2009.13.97

Looking at this photograph of bathers on Popham Beach in 1898 makes you smile. This is summering on the coast of Maine. Popham village is at the end of the peninsula stretching down from Bath at the mouth of the Kennebec River. Its sprawling sandy beach has long been a destination for summer visitors arriving by steamboat or carriage. It boasted a couple of large hotels and lovely cottages, but it was the beach itself that was the biggest draw.

The bathing costumes seem funny and old fashioned to us, but we can still relate to the joy of spending a lazy summer day in the surf and on the sand. The photo was made by James Perkins, a steamboat captain working the Kennebec River. He loved to photograph the various steamships and sailing vessels that plied the river and coastal waters, but he also loved to capture the coastal village life and people. Popham was and still is a special place.

Why Life’s a Beach?
While some photos make us cringe, cry, and give us pause, others like this one are just a joy to behold.

Audio Commentary