It doesn't really make sense that there would be a desert in Maine considering its rocky terrain and proximity to the ocean. Contrary to that notion, however, there is - and it exists in the town of Freeport. The strange thing about this desert isn't the fact that it exists, however, it's the way in which it was formed. Or, rather, the way in which it was eventually uncovered.

This final remaining part of the ice age was unearthed completely by accident and not by human hands, either. While the desert itself is not massive, it's still large enough to be a tourist attraction for those interested in witnessing this dry, barren landscape for themselves. While it is planked on most sides by the evergreens and lush forest that everyone in Maine is familiar with, the sheer amount of sand on the ground is quite the striking scene against the rest of Maine's traditional landscape. So how did all of this sand get there, why was it there, and what purpose does it serve now? And, more importantly, how is it possible that there are actually structures buried underneath? The story of Maine's desert is quite an intriguing one.

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How The Heck Did This Massive Sandpile Get There?

It turns out that this desert was there for some time before it was even discovered. And by 'some time,' that actually means it dates back to the Ice Age and has prehistoric origins, as far as experts can tell. What began as a sandpile soon fell victim to the winds of Maine as it was blown to where it sits now before it was covered with layers and layers of snow and ice and, underneath all of that, a thin layer of soil.

The desert was discovered during the 1860s when sheep actually grazed on the land so much that they ate down to the natural soil level, exposing the sand awaiting underneath. The problem with this was that by the time one area was exposed, it was too late to cover the sand and no one had any idea how extensive this 'sandpile' actually was - therefore the hole exposing the sand just grew bigger. By the early 1900s, so much of the sand had been exposed and blown around by the northern winds that it created dunes that were so tall they buried trees that were at least 50 feet high, according to Roadside America, and along with it, buried homes and farms that once utilized the land.

The Buried Spring House

Yes, there is a house buried underneath all of that wind-blown sand, and it was once called the Spring House. It was built in 1938 and served as a way for people to get water from an underground source before it was eventually buried (along with everything else) by 1962.

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Since then, efforts have been ongoing to unearth the early 1800s structure as it is a piece of history, and excavating has been quite interesting for those who have never seen or dealt with sand such as this in rugged Maine. This house once sat over a natural spring before the entire area was turned into a desert, and it's believed that the spring may have boasted healing properties at one point in time. Visitors would have come back to drink or utilize water flowing from its source and now, the house is being dug out once again to show off its former glory.

The Trouble With Deserts

While archeologists have been doing their best to shovel out as much as possible, deserts are a tricky thing, especially in a place as windy as this. As some bits of sand get shoveled out, the wind doesn't need to exercise much effort in order to bury half of that shoveled-out area with new sand once again. Additionally, this area of Maine does see up to 52 inches of rainfall annually, contradicting the classic climate of a legitimate 'desert.'

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Added to the mix is the fact that a foundation of sand makes most structures unstable, which is always a risk and a danger to digging out anything that sits on this 23 acres of sand-filled land. Af for the Spring House, it's estimated that roughly 15 feet of sand have covered it over the years. That means the potential for a sand cave-in is always there, no matter how much the sand has been packed away at the sides, exposing the structure beneath. Winter also poses a threat as sand doesn't stop snow from coming down and in Maine, winter lasts much longer than the typical four-month chill much of the country experiences.

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