My aunt who lives in Central Maine (between Bangor and Millinocket) has this tree (see attachments) on her property. She calls it a Shaggy Bark Maple, but I can't confirm that that is correct. Can anyone provide any information:?
Definitely a maple, not sweetgum, as the leaves and branches are opposite.
Possibly Acer opalus (Italian Maple); the leaves are close to that, and the bark is described as "old trees with large plates adhering in the middle, curving away at each end, coarsely shaggy" (A F Mitchell, Trees of Britain and Northern Europe). Not 100% certain that this would be hardy in Maine though.
While not zeroing in on that species specifically, I also noticed the Acer opalus type of leaf shape and wondered if such a one would grow there. If that particular species maybe at least part of the wild population grows up high in the Italian Alps and is hardy enough to survive Maine.
It's hard to reconcile the branch and leaves shown here with the trunk, certainly not a familiar combination anyway. Probably a tree seldom seen outside of collections (and wild habitat). Big trunk of one variety of Italian maple shown at link below not nearly as extreme as yours.
According to http://www.hort.uconn.edu/plants/hel.../hardiness.htm, the area where the tree grows in Region 5a or 5b. Regarding a connection with people from central/southern Europe, she knows of no one in the immediate area, with the exception that some of the people who constructed the train line which ran on the other side of the lake were Italian. Of course, she's not native to the Schoodic Lake area, though she's lived there (or vacationed there) for over 50 yrs. (she's now 86 yrs. old.). She wanted me to tell you that she's very excited about some of the information you all have already contributed.
I Googled "shagbark" maple and "shaggybark maple" and got AA. griseum and triflorum, respectively--neither what this one is. Maybe you should ask Daniel about moving this to the Maples forum, in case that draws additional input.
In addition to the unusual bark the Tree of Mystery has some leaves with long, curving tips (like those of a sugar maple) mixed in with many more leaves that do not.