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Smoke Herring Sticks | McCurdy Smokehouse | Lubec, Maine
A collection of twenty-nine 20th century wooden smoked herring sticks from the McCurdy herring smoke house complex in Lubec, Maine. During the 19th and for much of the 20th centuries, there were dozens of herring smoke houses throughout the coastal border region between Maine and New Brunswick. Lubec had at least 13 herring smoke houses and Seal Cove on neighboring Grand Manan, New Brunswick had even more. The process of smoking the plentiful herring caught in the surrounding waters and bays was a centuries old process brought to North America from Europe. The half inch in diameter smoked herring sticks, some round, some square, average about 40 inches in length and are sharpened on one end. To this day they retain a pungent smell of smoked herring. The McCurdy complex operated between about 1906 and 1991 on the Lubec waterfront. It is last nearly intact early 20th-century herring smoke house complex in Maine and has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places since 1993. Others still exist in New Brunswick. Once the herring were brought to a herring smoke house operation by boat, they were soaked in a salt brine and then strung on the wooden herring sticks. Sticks full of strung herring were then brought inside nearby smoke houses and suspended in a series of vertical bays above smoldering fires on the building floor. In 1995, four years after the McCurdy herring smoke house operations closed, it was sold to Lubec Landmarks, an organization dedicated to preserving the McCurdy complex and history.