Posts Tagged With: Maine history

Old Town Canoes

The Bangor Daily News had a nice piece on the Old Town Canoe Company today, and while the crux of the article was regarding the now closed original factory location, there is quite a bit of information regarding the history of this iconic Maine company. There are scores and score of companies that have built canoes, and still do, but few have risen to the reputation and excellence the Old Town Canoe Company has achieved. When a sportsman thinks or talks of canoes, most assuredly the name Old Town is forefront in nearly every conversation.

Of course, the company has new digs they are enjoying which are much more accommodating to today’s modern manufacturing methods, and the canoes they build are made of synthetic materials, and not the natural wood and canvas products used in the past. Time changes all it seems.

I came across a letter to the “trouble Department” column of Power Boating magazine[November, 1914], and the writer[B.B. of Portland Ore.] says he installed a four horsepower motorcycle engine into an 18 foot Old Town Canoe, and wanted to know what size propeller he should use to get the most speed from that motor. The reply was that he should reduce the 4100 rpm speed of the motor to a third of that and mount a two-blade 14×16 propeller on the shaft for the best speed. We men were daring in those days, weren’t we?

These advertisements shown here to the left were taken from several early 1900 periodicals, and they show the range of product this company was able to provide, even in the early days of Old Town’s life. One model in particular, the “Sponson” model even included air chambers along the sides to prevent capsizing and sinking of the canoe should an unsuspecting (or reckless) paddler get too close to danger.

Speaking of the early 1900s, I believe one of the reasons Old Town has persisted for over a century is its dogged resistance to the changing times, while at the same time being able to change with those very times as they change. WWI was no exception to the rule. As the war caused many companies to fold due to retracting sales, the management of Old Town Canoe grabbed the paddle and forged ahead by increasing their advertising and reaching out for new markets to conquer. Their strategy paid off, and because of their ability to adapt and change, is still around today.

That ability to persevere in spite of the circumstances seems common in Maine, or at least it used to be. A Mainer would see that something needed to be done, and he(or she) would get it done. There was no intent to gain glory in honor in doing a job, the job was done because it needed to be done. companies failed for many reasons, but others succeed for a very few reasons. The drive to carry on in spite of the obstacles is just one of those reasons.

Some would say that Old Town Canoe achieved success in the boating world because of their name and location, but we must remember that not only was Old Town Canoe not the only canoe maker in Maine, they were not even the only canoe maker in Old Town. In the early days they also competed against the E.M. White & Co., the Carleton Canoe Company, both of Old Town, Morris Canoes of Veazie, the Robertson and Old Town Canoe Co., formerly the Indian Old Town Canoe Co., of Old Town and a score or more of other makers, just in the state of Maine.

So what were the circumstances that caused Old Town Canoe to become such an iconic presence in the outdoors world, and why do they keep selling the world’s best canoes today? There are many answers to that, of course, but I believe we can summarize by stating that this company, which essentially began as a back room extra income business has stuck to its core standards, and while changing with the times in some respects, still adheres to the age-old mantra of pride and quality going hand in hand. They know what they do well, and they stick to it.

Many age-old companies have changed with the times, but the core values of the companies have changed as well. Take Abercrombie & Fitch, for instance. Once they were the premier outfitter of the world. If a sportsman wanted hunting, fishing or camping supplies, their first choice was Abercrombie. They were so prominent; the TV show MASH had an episode where Hawkeye Pierce even ordered a portable bathtub from the company. Today, they sell clothing of objectionable taste to teeny-boppers who obviously have no taste. Relegated to a few thousand square foot sales floors in the nations malls, this company today faces a prospect of extinction because they have wandered so far from their core audience.

Not so for Old Town Canoe, and I hope they never compromise their name, nor their reputation for the sake of easy money, no matter how trying the times become. Compromise begets many negative things in some instances, but never more so than in the manufacturing and retail scenes. Remember when Black and Decker was a name you could trust and respect? Sylvania? General Electric? Or even here at home, L.L. Bean? I remember when you could get top quality merchandise for the outdoorsman. Today, they have come to compromise their own core standards in favor of catering to big city wannabee sportsman who want to look the part as they tool around town in their pricey SUVs, wanting to look rustic, but not willing to pay the real price to be rustic. Don’t get me wrong, you can still get good quality merchandise, but it isn’t like it used to be. Time changes all things (but not necessarily), remember?

A brief piece in the April 25, 1909 issue of Motor Boat magazine perhaps says it best when it comes to the power of owning a canoe, and in particular an Old Town canoe. Those were the days when sportsmen were sportsmen, and getting away from it all was the real prize, although bagging a trophy was indeed icing on the cake.

THERE’S a great deal that might be said about Old Town canoes, a great deal more than can be spoken in this brief space. These canoes are built by the Old Town Canoe Company, at Old Town, Me. Canoes are about the most primitive craft; they were used by the early tribes of mankind, and throughout the ages the canoe has survived, until we find it, refined and perfected in the Old Town models. They are found in all parts of the world, thousands of them. To the owner of a motorboat cruiser the possession of a canoe will bring many hours of pleasure that could not be enjoyed by any other means. A canoe carried on deck enables one to explore out-of-the-way waters, to seek the beauty of shallow streams. The writer cherishes the memory of many happy hours spent in an Old Town, paddling leisurely upon almost hidden creeks, beneath the foliage of overhanging trees, in absolute peace. If you would know rest, and seek quiet, if you would meditate, would muse and dream, as you need to, get a canoe and take it with you when you cruise. The illustration shows the cover of the Old Town Canoe catalogue, and it is a book worth reading, it breathes the spirit of the thing in every line. A copy is free to any reader of Motor Boat.

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Biddeford Pool

The history of Maine is riddled with a past that vacillates between tourism and industry as key components of our economic picture, and as such, we have collected boxes upon boxes of memories of what we think is the past. Our memories are not always faithful to the facts, however, and when we try to relive what we think is the past, it never really quite achieves satisfaction to our expectations. Today, as we seem to be looking to embrace the tempting vagaries of what has been dubbed “eco-tourism” by the UN, we are once again drifting away from a rich, industrial based economy towards that ever so fleeting economy of the tourism dollar.

Pondering the possibilities, I am reminded that Maine has enjoyed pockets of popularity that made us world leaders in the vacation industry in many ways. The Poland Spring House, Mt. Kineo, Old Orchard Beach, Bar Harbor, and many other communities have billed themselves as “the place to recreate” over the last nearly two centuries. Biddeford pool immediately popped into my mind as I was reflecting upon Maine’s history this morning, and so I pulled a few things out of the many resources available to share with you here.

Moses F. Sweetser writes about Biddeford Pool in his 1889 “Here and There in New England and Canada;”

Biddeford Pool, down near the mouth of the river, was in former days one of the pet resorts of the Maine seaboard, visited every returning summer by hundreds of city families. But a few years ago the chief hotels were burned down, and the remaining house (the SeaView) and cottages hardly suffice to accommodate their would-be patrons. For the place has great natural beauties and advantages, which should be more fully and freely developed. The Pool itself is a shallow salt-water lagoon two miles long, filled high by the returning tides, and affording capital opportunities for safe boating, while to the eastward is a long sandy beach, rolled hard by the surf, and to the north, beyond the famous Wood-Island Light, the eye rests contented on the curving lines of Old-Orchard Beach and the dim seaward projection of Prout’s Neck. On one side of the narrow outlet of the Pool rises the grim little Fort Hill, where the colonists erected their stronghold of Fort Mary, in 1708, after the truculent Indians had captured their stone fort up near the falls. For many years, from the early provincial times, the Pool was as beneficent as Siloam or Bethesda in the belief of the Maine farmers, who had a fancy that whoever bathed therein on the 26th day of June would be healed of all diseases. This is indeed the festival of Sts. Vigilius, Maxentius, and Anthelm, but what connection these Latin worthies may have had with the coast of Maine is not clear.

A steamboat runs from Biddeford to Biddeford Pool twice daily, and crosses also to Camp Ellis, the terminus of the Old-Orchard-Beach Railroad, where connection is made for Old-Orchard Beach.

Fortune’s Rocks and Goose Rocks, with their small hotels and clusters of cottages, are reached by stages from Biddeford; and their bold and rugged coast-scenery, and opportunities for fishing and gunning, attract many visitors. Fortune’s Rocks is a series of iron-bound promontories projecting into the sea from the lower end of the magnificent beach running north to Biddeford Pool; and has cottagers from Boston, New York, Washington, and other cities, with lakes rich in water-lilies, and comfortable old farms on the landward side. The rocks afford a wonderful marine garden, where star-fish, sea-anemones, sea-urchins, and other strange creatures dwell, with seals sunning themselves on the outer ledges.

Most people today look upon Biddeford Pool as a place where the elite live with their high dollar beachfront homes, but this really isn’t the case in relation to the history of Maine. Early on, the area had been a farming and fishing community, with no pretense towards being a tourist haven. Life in those days was hard, with most people just barely scraping by in the harsh wilderness of Maine. In the 1700s several rounds of war and depredation between the English settlers and the aboriginal populations created a need for garrison houses and forts to be constructed for protection. At one time the area was actually evacuated due to the Indian wars for a time.

But time progressed, and as the Biddeford/Saco area slowly grew into a viable and long lasting community, agriculture receded and industry took over as the power of the Saco Falls and other locations of water power caused manufacturing businesses to flourish. Sawmills, and gristmills grew and other facilities such as carding mills and various other manufactory’s were established, creating in turn a new source of income to the citizens of these communities.

During the early 1800s the value of the fresh and invigorating coastal air created an opportunity for businesses serving the tourism trade to flourish, and several hotels and boarding houses were erected to accommodate those travelers seeking refuge from the sweltering heat and pollution of the now growing industrialized cities of the interior. The Yates House and the Highland house, both shown here as woodcut reprints from “The Shores of Casco Bay” [J.S. Locke, 1880] became the big names in the trade, and accommodated several hundred guests at a time between the two.

The proximity of the sandy beaches of Old Orchard and Pine Point, a short carriage ride away, added to the lure of the Biddeford Pool location. It must have been a wonderful experience to visit the area in Maine’s bygone days, but unfortunately, a series of fires destroyed most of the larger hotels and boarding houses over time, and none of them were rebuilt, once gone. As the train and trolley systems came into being, it made other communities more attractive in their newness and lower costs, and Biddeford Pool succumbed to the cycle of growth and change that afflicts all communities.

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New Salt & Pines Presentation

I have done a video of my latest Salt & Pines presentation dealing with lumbering in Maine’s bygone days. It is a shortened version, the full length presentation includes more video and still shots, as well as additional narration. This piece works to satisfy the short attention span for most Youtubers, (actually it is still too long for most) But you’ll find it interesting. Enjoy, and if you’re interested in more, drop me a note!

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A week of Shipwrecks

The anniversary of the wreck of the Titanic was this past Tuesday, April 10, and there has been no lack of interest on this subject. TV specials were all over the place, as well as movies, interviews of researchers, lectures and more could be found all across the state. There were events held in many of Maine’s historical societies, from the mother ship on down.

The picture to the left of the Titanic is from The Loss of the SS Titanic, by Lawrence Beesley, published in 1912. You can download the book by clicking onto the title.

I have a few headlines to share today, as well as a MHS event and an excellent article on selling your collections by Harry Rinker. A link to the story can be found at the end of the blurb. Enjoy, and don’t forget to remember our service men and women on Monday, which is also Patriots Day.

Shipwrecks highlighted during next Belfast Historical Society meeting
Johansen is the publisher of Maine Coastal News, a monthly publication dedicated to covering the waterfront of the state of Maine. He has a lifelong interest in shipwrecks and maritime history. Belfast Historical Society meetings are free and open to

Stow Historical Society Chowd’a Fest April 14
First Annual Stow Historical Society Chowd’a Fest will be held Saturday, April 14, from 4:30 to 6:30 pm snow or shine at Saco Valley Fire Station (Route 113 in North Fryeburg). A challenge has been extended to the Cold River Valley and

‘Field School’ allows study of archaeological dig
Students, teachers and history buffs interested in archaeology have an opportunity this summer to join a field school led by archaeologist Neill De Paoli and sponsored by the Old Berwick Historical Society

A child’s account of the Titanic retold in Portland
Author and St. Joseph’s College Professor of Education Karen Marks Lemke speaks about the ill-fated Titanic at the Maine Historical Society on Tuesday, April 10, 2012. The ship sank 100 years ago this week…

New book upcoming on Isles of Shoals
An upcoming book about the Isles of Shoals off the New Hampshire and Maine coasts traces 6000 years of history at one of the tiny islands. Author and historian J. Dennis Robinson says 250000 artifacts were unearthed on rocky Smuttynose

Maine Historical Society

Thursday, April 19, 7pm

The Civil War of 1812

Speaker: Dr. Alan Taylor, University of California, Davis

This year marks the bicentennial of the War of 1812, a formative event in both Maine and U.S. history and the subject of Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Alan Taylor’s new book. Join us to learn more! This program is part of the Richard D’Abate Lectures: Conversations About History, Art, and Literature. Series details.

To see a full list of upcoming programs, please click here.

Rinker on Collectibles: Advice on Selling a Collection
When starting a collection, it’s all fun and games and the thrill of the hunt, locating that missing or surprising treasure that will no doubt be the group’s centerpiece. But at some point, when the collection becomes more of a hindrance than a hobby, a decision will be made to sell it off. When selling any collections, especially if assembled after 1980, there are several truths a seller has to face, says Worthologist Harry Rinker. Unfortunately, all have a “bad news” aspect and run counter to what the collector believes deep in his/her heart. Harry has some advice for those who decide to go through with the sale. Does it apply to you and your collection? Read “Rinker on Collectibles: Advice on Selling a Collection”

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Gov. William King

Headlines  

History comes to life … and, for the first time, is available online

“It brings history to life,” said Amoroso, a genealogy buff who is director of digital projects for the Maine Historical Society. Amoroso was one of many people who trolled through data on millions of mid-20th century Americans that became publicly…

Fires a part of Fort Kent’s history

“That section of town had never burnt,” Chad Pelletier, president of the Fort Kent Historical Society, said this week. “Those were some of the town’s original buildings from the 1880s.” Pelletier referenced a map from an old Roe & Colby atlas showing…

Events  

April event at Museums of Old York

15 Blue Grass Jam with Kevin Dyer and Friends. Join this lively bunch on the third Sunday of (almost) every month from 1-4 p.m. at The Parsons Center at Museums of Old York, 3 Lindsay Road, York. $4 donation appreciated. FMI, email or call 207-363-4974 ext 13.

18 – 20 April Vacation Camp – History of Science — KIDS PROGRAM 9:30am —1:30PM. Travel back through the ages to experience the world as people begin to understand scientific principles. $65 ($60 members) Ages 5-12. Preregistration is required. All activities take place at the Parsons Center on the corner of York Street and Lindsay Road in York, Maine.

Wednesday: Travel back to ancient Greece where Archimedes proved the use of the lever and pulley. Demonstrate these principles using our giant trebuchet to throw watermelons far into the York River and haul them back using pulleys!

Thursday: Meet 17th century scientist Sir Isaac Newton and help him prove universal gravitation and the laws of motion. Build a marble roller coaster, race toy cars, and build a bottle tornado.

Friday: Experience the world of color! Learn about natural dyes, perform some amazing science experiment, and Tie Dye a t-shirt with chemicals and plants.

20 Tavern Dinner. Traditional hearth cooked meal in a cozy, colonial tavern environment. Menu includes Baked Stuffed Clams, Assorted Pickled Vegetables, Herbed Cheeses, Crackers, and Nuts, Shaker Stew with Chive Dumplings, Fiddleheads Dijon, and Pecan Pie with Whipped Cream. Bring your Favorite Beverage. 6-8 p.m. at Jefferds Tavern, 3 Lindsay Road, York. Cost: $30 members / $35 non-members. Reservations are required. Please email early to reserve your space.

Events at the Maine Historical Society

Tuesday, April 10, 12pm

The Titanic: A Survivor’s Story

Speaker: Dr. Karen Lemke, St. Joseph’s College

Thursday, April 19, 7pm

The Civil War of 1812

Speaker: Dr. Alan Taylor, University of California, Davis

Tuesday, April 24, 7pm

Gateways to Portland: Rebuilding Veterans Memorial and Martin’s Point Bridges

A panel discussion presented in partnership with Greater Portland Landmarks

Spotlight on Maine History

Gov. William Ring.

Portrait ca. 1806 by Gilbert Stuart

THE first Governor of Maine was a son of Richard King, of Scarborough, who is said to have been a man of surpassing natural ability. He was a merchant, and laid the foundation of his fortune from the profits he received as Commissary under Sir William Pepperell.

William King, the seventh child of Richard, was born in Scarborough, Me., February 9, 1768. He was half brother to Rufus King, the statesman, who took such an important part in the formation of our government. William had few advantages in his boyhood. While Rufus was fitting himself at Cambridge for the great eminence he afterwards attained in the nation, William was tending a sawmill in Saco. Notwithstanding his lack of early educational training, his wonderful native ability, his great natural resources, and his strong, energetic intellect forced him early to the front. He set his standard high, and his ambition was untiring and almost unconquerable. Being possessed of wonderful perceptive faculties and a sound judgment, he relied upon these to carry him through, and they never failed him. In native endowment, he was thought to have been superior to his celebrated brother, Rufus.

When a young man Mr. King removed to Topsham, where he lived for a time, but as the Kennebec River offered superior advantages for his lumbering and ship building operations, he removed to Bath in or about the year 1800, where he carried on business very extensively. He afterwards established the town of Kingfield, in Franklin County, of which he was at one time principal owner.

He was a merchant and ship-builder, in which he acquired a large fortune. At one time, he was one of the largest ship-owners in America. In politics, he was a Democrat, and being first in everything he was connected with, he was the leader of his party in Maine—the master mind that managed all the party machinery. He wielded an immense influence in favor of the separation of Maine from Massachusetts. He was President of the Convention that framed the Constitution of the State, and it was his great wisdom and good judgment that directed all the affairs in the formation of the new State.

Mr. King became immensely popular with the people, and was elected the first Governor of Maine by an overwhelming majority. He administered the office with marked ability and to the great satisfaction of the people. Before the expiration of his term, he was appointed a Commissioner under the Spanish Treaty at Washington. Upon receiving this appointment, he resigned the office of Governor of the State and entered upon the duties of his new office, which he also discharged with great ability. He afterwards accepted the appointment as Collector of Customs at Bath, which office he held from 183 1 to 1834. He was a prominent Free Mason and was the first Grand Master of Masons in this State.

Several writers have described his characteristics and personal appearance. John H. Sheppard, Esq., of Boston, said of him: “In his person he was tall and of a striking figure; and with a finely formed head, strongly marked features, high forehead, and black, impending brows, he had a natural and majestic air of command which impressed every beholder with respect.” Deane Dudly wrote; “The sound of his voice seemed to echo grimly from the deep concaves of his eyes, which from under their forest-like brows would sternly look a command that was not to be resisted by ordinary mortals. So conspicuous was he in every circle where he moved, that the most indifferent observer failed not to notice him.”

Mr. King was unfortunate in his last years, not only in the loss of a considerable portion of his property, but in the loss of friends and relatives, which broke down his once splendid mind so that at last his sun went down in darkness. He died at Bath, Me., June 17, 1852, and his wife died in Portland, July 4, 1857.

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The Territory of Perkins Maine

The Kennebec River at Swan Island ca 1900

1890 topographic map of Swan Island

Maine is unique in that we have more unorganized territories than most of the other states in the union, with the exception of Alaska. Most of these unorganized territories are uninhabited, and lie to the northern and western regions of the state. One territory in particular lies in the more heavily inhabited portions of Maine, that being what is known as Perkins Township, located on Swan’s Island in the Kennebec River.

Perkins was initially settled in the mid 1700’s and became an incorporated township in 1847 when Thomas Handasyd Perkins, a summer resident paid for the costs of incorporating as a community in the state of Maine. During the 1800’s, Perkins was a small but thriving community with a brisk trade in shipbuilding and ice harvesting. As the 19th century came to a close, industry and interest drew people away from the town and by 1918, Perkins had become an un-incorporated township. After the ravages of the depression and WWII, not to mention the increasing levels of pollution in the Kennebec, Perkins was left with few residents and the last family left by the mid 1940’s.

At the turn of the century (1900), the US census listed just 61 full time residents, and by 1920, the population had dwindled to just 20 full timers.

The1890 topographic map here shows that there was quite a bit of activity, so what happened to all of the residents? One may surmise that people tend to go where the money is, and with the world changing as rapidly as it was during the last few years of the 19th century, there just was not any money to be made on Swans Island.

Dresden and Gardiner, during the ice harvesting heyday contained some of the largest ice companies in the northeast. Much of the ice was harvested on both sides of the island, with houses lining the banks in both Dresden and Richmond. Very few were built on the island itself, but many of the residents were occupied in the labor end of the ice trade.

Shipbuilding was a larger part of the island commerce, and could be conducted year round to some extent. One of the main components missing from the community was a bridge linking the island to the mainland. A bridge is a connection to the rest of society, and a community can feel left out of the rest of society if that link does not exist.

When the area was first visited by the Europeans, mainly the English, the island was occupied by the Canibis Indians, of whom the great Chief Kennebis (Sebenoa?), who was said to have resided on the island opposite of where the town of Richmond now lies [1]. There were an estimated 1500 braves living on the island at the time [2].

Varney writes[3]:

Perkins in Sagadahoc County, lies in the Kennebec River between Richmond on the west bank and Dresden in Lincoln County, on the east. Its length is about 3 miles and 4 miles in width. It bore the name of Swan Island almost from the time when it was first known until its separation from Dresden and incorporation under its present name in 1847. It lies 14 miles north of Bath, on the line of the Kennebec, Portland and Boston steamers. The nearest railroad station is at East Bowdoinham for the southern part and Richmond village for the northern. The town is mostly level, and is well wooded and fertile. When first discovered by Europeans, the island was the residence of Sebenoa, the sachem of the lower Kennebec. Col. Church and his men in 1692 had a conflict wjth a large body of savages at this place, in which the Indians were routed, some escaping to the mainland, and some to their fort at Teconnet, near Waterville.

The post-office for the town is Richmond. Perkins has one public schoolhouse, valued at $600. The valuation of estates in 1870 was $36,792. In 1880 it was $37,594. The population in 1870 was 71. In 1880 it was 78.

Having been obviously settled to a great extent by the whites prior to the 1800s, the island was at the time a sort of river-way trading settlement, with agriculture being the main industry. There must have been a great deal of traffic in fact, as we find a historical reference as to a Dr. McKechnie having treated a patient for small pox in 1764, blood letting other patients and supplying large quantities of drugs to the residents of the island [4].

The presence of a regular physician indicates a community at least large enough to provide an income for the doctor in residence.

It is unfortunate that such a treasure trove of history has been left to return to the wilds without extracting and retaining as much of our heritage as we can. The 1922 State Assessors Report claims that Swan’s and the smaller Alexander Island (Little Swan) that had made up the township of Perkins consisted of 1344 acres of Wildlands valued at a combined total for estates and Wildlands at 16,119,608. Much of the estate land consisted of cottages and farms, with the American Ice Company and the Crosby Navigation companies being the largest commercial owners of land on the island.

The Demaresq house, Swan Island ca 1900

The Barker House, at the foot of Swan Island ca 1900

  1. Varney, George Jones, Gazetteer of the State of Maine, page 295, pub 1881
  2. Ibid
  3. Ibid, page 440
  4. Kelly, Howard A., Burrage, Walter L., American Medical Biographies, Page 745, pub 1920
  5. Images ca 1900 from the New England Magazine, Ancient Pownalboro and Her Daughters, Charles E. Allen, pub 1901

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Categories: historic buildings, historic preservation, history, Maine, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Shipbuilding in Waterville Maine

When it comes to shipbuilding in Maine, the first community that pops into most people’s noggins is the city of Bath, home to the world renowned Bath Iron Works. Many other communities follow along behind Bath, all of them along the coastline of this state. Therefore, it may well come as a surprise that the city of Waterville, Maine also has a history of shipbuilding, however brief as it was. Long gone are the days when a boat could ply the Kennebec from Skowhegan all the way to its mouth betwixt Phippsburg and Georgetown, thence to points elsewhere along the coast.

As early as 1794 ships were built in what was then a small village along the river, and they were launched with the spring freshets, with many orders coming from Boston. Also scores of smaller boats, such as the flat bottomed shallow draft steamboats were built which plied the Kennebec on a daily basis, transporting freight and passengers up and down the river. Construction of a lock and dam was completed in Augusta in 1837, thereby increasing the ability of larger vessels to come and go along the river during the warmer months. During the winter this same river, especially below Augusta enjoyed a thriving ice industry.

Most of the shipbuilding firms were located between where Sherwin Street and the Dam below Bridge Street. A careful archeological search may find some remnant of this once vital industry.

The following excerpt from the Centennial History of Waterville, edited by the Rev. Edwin Cary Whittemore in 1902 describes some of the shipbuilding history of Waterville:

What was once a thriving and profitable industry has long since disappeared and been almost forgotten. That Waterville was ever a ship building port will probably be news to many. Not only long boats, for home use, but schooners, brigs and even ships, were built, some as early as 1794. The abundance of ship timber close at hand made it possible to build cheaply and orders were received from Boston and elsewhere. The shipyard of John Clark was at the foot of Sherwin St., next above the yard of Nath’l Gilman, then that of Asa Redington and next north W. & D. Moor’s built many steamboats. It was necessary to launch them, the sea-going vessels, on the spring or fall freshets; they were then floated down river to Hallowell or Gardiner, where they received their rigging and outfit and took their place in the commerce of the country, but never to return to the port whence they started.

The following is probably a complete list with masters and owners.

1794. Schooner Sally, 92 tons, master, Rillae; owner, John Getchell.

1800. Ship Ticonic, 268 tons, master, Geo. Clarke; owner, John Clarke.

1810. Ship Hornet, 214 tons, master Wm. Fletcher; owner, N. B. Dingley.

1818. Brig Dingley, 106 tons, master, Thos. Jones; owner, Nath’l Dingley.

1826. Brig Elizabeth, 182 tons, master, John Sylvester; owner, Johnson Williams.

1805. Brig William Gray, 156 tons, master, Gideon Colcord; owner, Geo. Crosby.

1807. Schooner, Ticonic, 123 tons, master, Daniel Smith; owner, Nath’l Gilman.

1807. Schooner Thomas, 70 tons, master, Levi Palmer; owner, F. P. Stilson.

1810. Schooner James, 117 tons, master, Gideon Colcord; owner, Jas. Stackpole.

1809. Brig America, 136 tons, master, Wm. Pattee; owner, Peleg Tallman.

1809. Brig Madison, 160 tons, master, Caleb Heath; owner, Wm. Sylvester.

18n. Brig Hiram, 142 tons, master, Jos. Lemont.

1812. Sloop Aurora, 61 tons, master, Wm. Poole; owner, Asa Redington.

1814. Francis & Sarah, 290 tons, master, T. S. Winslow; owner, Rob’t G. Shaw.

1824. Brig Gov. King, 138 tons, master, N. Harding; owner, Nath’l Gilman.

1824. Schooner North Star, 107 tons, master, R. Crocker; owner, N. Gilman.

1825. Brig Waterville, 178 tons, master, N. Harding; owner, Johnson Williams.

1826. Brig Lydia, 178 tons, master, J. W. Lamont; owner, Johnson Williams.

1826. Brig Neutrality, 132 tons, master, R. Crooker; owner, Johnson Williams.

1827. Schooner Brilliant, 82 tons, master, R. Brown; owner, K. G. Robinson.

1829. Schooner Martha, 89 tons, master, R. Ellis; owner, Russell Ellis.

1835. Brig Wave, 47 tons, master, John Lewis; owner, J. M. Moor.

After the passing of shipbuilding came the era of steamboats. William and Daniel Moor under the firm name of W. & D. Moor were the leading captains of industry in this line. The first was the Ticonic, built at Gardiner. She made the first trip to Waterville, June 1, 1832, and was received with great demonstrations of rejoicing.

The Water Witch built by W. & D. Moor in 1842 was the first steamer launched in Waterville. It was quickly followed by others and soon a considerable fleet was plying between here and Augusta and Gardiner. In one season five steamers left the wharf daily. They were flat bottomed, of light draft, with stern wheels, and were of about 42 tons burden.

They prospered until the opening of the railroad to Augusta when the doctrine of the “survival of the fittest” relegated them to other scenes.

In 1890 an attempt was made by some of our enterprising citizens to restore steam navigation on the Kennebec. July 10th the steamer City of Waterville sailed from Bangor for this port. She has not yet arrived.

Near its close, the era of steamboats was marked by a terrible accident. May 23, 1848, the steamer Halifax, a new boat and the finest of the fleet, was making her record trip to Augusta; on leaving the lock the boiler exploded and six persons were killed and others severely wounded. Of the dead James Hasty, the pilot, and Vedo Micue, fireman, resided here.

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Norlands’ community, others mourn loss of leader

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Historian to give lectures on Maine Irish
This lecture will be held at the Androscoggin Historical Society. On September 22, he will discuss the St. Joseph’s and St. Patrick’s parishes, and in particular the art, architecture and history behind these two distinctly Irish strongholds…

Historic play about Hessians to be performed in Orono
The play is being produced in Castine in cooperation with the Castine Historical Society and Maine Maritime Academy. It is supported by a grant from the Maine Humanities Council. This will be the first time the play has been produced in English…

New Book Explores Maine’s Earliest Shipbuilding Tradition
The book can be found at Maine Maritime Museum in Bath, Maine Historical Society in Portland, BlueJacket Shipcrafters in Searsport, and Bowdoin College bookstore. John W. Bradford has a life-long interest in early Maine history and the Popham Colony in…

Historical Society’s calendars available
Send to: Dead River Area Historical Society, PO Box 15, Stratton, Maine 04982. There are many pictorial calendars left from previous years for sale at $2.50 each. Cook books may also be ordered from the same address, $6 each or two for $10…

Contractors discover 168-year-old tombstones during dig in Lincoln

LINCOLN, Maine — Old records, history texts and some forensic deduction helped town officials solve a 168-year-old mystery that was literally unearthed Monday on School Street and slightly delayed a $416,000 construction project. Subcontractors working for the Lincoln Water District replacing 87-year-old water lines behind Steaks ‘N Stuff discovered the…

Massacre site in Utah becomes national landmark

The southern Utah site of a pioneer-era wagon train massacre is being dedicated as a national historic landmark. The 760-acre Mountain Meadows Massacre site becomes a monument on Sunday. It marks the spot where 120 members of an Arkansas wagon train were shot and killed by a Mormon militia on Sept. 11, 1857. The Baker-Fancher wagon train was on a stop-over in the meadows on their way to California when it was attacked…

Winds fan flames that destroy landmark, other buildings in Grand Isle

GRAND ISLE, Maine — A huge fire, fanned by brisk winds, destroyed a local 90-year-old landmark and three other buildings Sunday afternoon and evening despite the efforts of more than 70 firefighters from 11 fire departments in northern Maine and Canada. Mike True, owner of Lille Antiques, said Monday that…

Norlands’ community, others mourn loss of leader

LIVERMORE — Members of the Washburn-Norlands History Center community and beyond are mourning the loss of acting Director Nancey Drinkwine, who died unexpectedly on Friday. Drinkwine, 63, of Hartford was at the Center when she had a heart attack, said her husband, Garnett Rutherford,…

The public is invited to a celebration of her life at 12:30 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 18, in the Meeting House at Norlands at 290 Norlands Road in Livermore.

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From Museums of Old York:

Upcoming Programs
For a complete and up-to-date calendar please see our website.

September

18 Lost York: The History that Nature Has Reclaimed. Join Old York staff for a guided tour of the Highland Farm area off Rte. 91. Meet at the Highland Farm Preserve parking lot, which is located 2.9 miles from the intersection of Rtes. 91 and1 in York. Email rbowen@oldyork.org for details and reservations.

19 “The Country Heer is Plentiful” exhibit of Trade, Religion and Warfare and Southern Maine 1631-1745 resumes in the upstairs gallery at The Parsons Center during regular museum hours.

23 Dinner at Jefferds Tavern. Don’t let the end of summer get you down! Dinner at the Tavern can be the perfect antidote to the blues of shorter days. Enjoy the best of the harvest season in the charming candlelit rooms of the 18th century. Click here to view the scrumptious menu on our website. Guests are encouraged to bring their own beverages to accompany the hearth-cooked meal. Friday, September 23, 6–8 p.m. $30 per person ($25 members). Seating is limited to twenty and reservations are required. Please email Richard Bowen or call (207) 363-4974 to make your reservation by September 21.

26 Needle Wizards.Every Monday morning starting the 26th of September. Join our Needle Wizards as we socialize while sewing costumes for Old York’s education interpreters. Whether you are good at cutting out patterns, hand-sewing caps, piecing skirts or sewing on the machine, we could use your help. Come to The Parsons Center upstairs in the gallery for an hour or the whole morning. 9:30 a.m. – 12 p.m. For more information email Cindi at registrar@oldyork.org.

29 History Brought to Life. Watch the history of the Old Gaol come to life as amateur actors portray the prisoners kept under lock and key. Listen to stories of thievery, debt, embezzlement, murder and escape! Meet the Gaol keeper responsible for keeping these scofflaws locked away and his wife who cooked for and fed them. Meet at the Old Gaol. Program ongoing from 5:30 -7:30 p.m. Members free and nominal fee for non-members. Family rates.

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From the Maine Historical Society:

Mark Your Calendar for Fall Programs

Tuesday, October 4, 12pm

Book Talk:Our Game Was Baseball

Presenter: John Hodgkins, Author

Friday, October 7, 5-8pm

First Friday Art Walk: Fashion Exhibits

Thursday, October 13, 7pm

Book Talk: Brilliant: The Evolution of Artificial Light

Presenter: Jane Brox, Author

Saturday, October 15, 1-4pm

Maine Home Movie Day with Northeast Historic Film

Wednesday, October 26, 7pm

Book Talk: American Nations: A History of the Eleven Rival Regional Cultures of North America

Presenter: Colin Woodard, Author

Thursday, November 10, 7pm

In Partnership with the Colonial Dames in Maine
Tales from an Art Detective: Tracing Nazi-era Provenance at the MFA

Presenter: Victoria Reed, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

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The Old Orchard House

Maine has long been known or at least advertised as “Vacationland,” and with good reason. There once was a time when Maine’s picturesque coastline and rugged interior proved to be a haven for what we call “rusticators” today, as millions of people flocked to our shores and woodlands in search of rest, relaxation, and a bit of adventure. Old Orchard Beach was called by some the queen of the eastern coast, and was one of the most heavily visited coastal sites in America, surpassing even the famed beaches of California and Florida, even.

The Old Orchard house was one of the premier establishments of this coastal resort town in its day, boasting of a capacity of 500 guests, with amenities in abundance to be had by all.

Here are a couple of selections from an upcoming volume on vacationing in Maine’s bygone days I am working on;

1: Old Orchard— This is one of Maine’s most famous summer resorts and Old Orchard Beach is the most important Maine beach, and one of the best in the country. The Boston and Maine Railroad passes in close proximity to it, and its accessibility causes it to be visited by vast numbers of people. It has a number of large and several smaller hotels which are well patronized during the summer months. It was formerly a part of Saco, but it is now incorporated as a town. Its patronage is largely by persons residing outside of the State. The Old Orchard House is the largest among its hotels.

2: Old Orchard follows. This is the most noted place on the Maine Coast, as a resort, except perhaps Mount Desert. It is twelve miles south of Portland and ninety-six miles from Boston. The beach of this region is as fine as any on the New England coast. It stretches a distance of twelve miles, from Scarborough River to Saco River. It takes its name from an old apple orchard, in the midst of which the first hotel was erected.

This place is reached by the Boston and Maine Railroad, which runs between the hotels and the sea-shore. It may also be reached from the Eastern Railroad, from the Saco depot, but this is some miles distant by stage.

There are numerous hotels here, with accommodations for from 50 to 500 guests each. Some of the principal of these are the Belmont, Blanchard, Central, Piske, Gorham, Irving, Lawrence, Ocean, Old Orchard House, Pleasant House, Sea Shore and St. Cloud. The largest of these is the Old Orchard House, which has a capacity of 500 guests. Next is the Ocean, which will accommodate 400. The Blanchard and Sea Shore have room for 200 each. The Fiske and Central, Lawrence and St. Cloud have room for 150 each; the Gorham for 100. The capacity of the others is under 100. The charges at the Old Orchard are the highest; being from $3.00 to $3.50 per day, and from $10.00 to $21.00 per week. The Ocean House charges $2.00 to $3.00 per day, and $10.00 to $17.50 per week. The charges at the other houses vary, from $1.00 to $2.50 a day, and from $7.00 to $25.00 per week.

Between Old Orchard and Biddeford Pool is Ferry Beach. Here is a very good hotel called the Bay View House, accommodating 100 guests, and charging from $7.00 to $14.00 per week. It is best reached from Saco.

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Salt & Pines is now available at your local bookstores.

Those who are fortunate enough to have grown up in Maine know that it has a way of life and sense of humor unlike anywhere else. Spend time on a lobster boat with Roy Fairfield or Tim Sample, or on Echo Farm in Auburn as Dave Sargent relates it. Phil Candelmo talks about life in Portland during World War II, and Luthera Burton Dawson teaches us a bit of “Mainespeak.” These are only a few of the stories told here and of the thousands cherished by Mainers. If you have ever wondered what it was like to live in Maine’s bygone days, follow along with our contributors and see what tales they have to tell about this state’s unique spirit.

Salt & Pines is now available at your local bookstores. It is now available through your local bookstore and on Amazon.com. Alternatively, you can order it direct by clicking the buy now button above, or following this link: https://historypress.net/indexsecure.php?prodid=9781609493684. You can paste the link into your browsers search window if it does not work by simply clicking it.

Categories: articles, Books, breaking news, events, headlines, historical societies, history, Maine, Maine Historical Society, Museums of Old York, Salt andPines project, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Along Maine’s Appalachian Trail

For Immediate Release

Media inquiries contact: Gervase Kolmos, Sales and Marketing Specialist

843.853.2070 x 181

gkolmos@arcadiapublishing.com

Take a Hike Through History With New Local Book

Local author pens book on Maine’s Appalachian Trail


The newest addition to Arcadia Publishing’s popular Images of America series is Along Maine’s Appalachian Trail from local author David B. Field. The book boasts more than 200 vintage images primarily from the MATC archives, Maine State Library, and the author’s personal files.

Maine native Myron H. Avery recruited friends from Washington, D.C.; Maine forest and warden service personnel; guides and sporting camp operators; and the Civilian Conservation Corps to extend the Appalachian Trail through Maine, despite questions of whether it would be possible to carve a trail through the state’s wildlands. Volunteers of Maine’s Appalachian Trail Club, created by Avery in 1935, have since maintained the trail, built shelters, relocated more than half of the original hastily constructed route, and taken on the task of managing the trail’s protection corridor.

Along Maine’s Appalachian Trail illustrates the rich history of the trail’s rugged mountains and vast forests, which have provided a livelihood for generations of workers and communities.

Available at area bookstores, independent retailers, and online retailers, or through Arcadia Publishing at www.arcadiapublishing.com or

(888)-313-2665.

Along Maine’s Appalachian Trail
by David B. FieldImages of America SeriesPrice: $21.99128 pages/ softcover

Available: June 27, 2011

Arcadia Publishing is the leading publisher of local and regional history in the United States. Our mission is to make history accessible and meaningful through the publication of books on the heritage of America’s people and places. Have we done a book on your town? Visit http://www.arcadiapublishing.com.

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The Navy in the Civil War

The Navy in the Civil War

Ellsworth Historical Society Meeting

The Ellsworth Historical Society meeting for July 11th, 2011 will be featuring a special guest speaker, Jack F. Battick, PHD, Professor Emeritus,University of Maine, who will be speaking on the topic of the Navy in the Civil War. The meeting will be held at the dining hall of the Meadowview Retirement Complex, 25 Tweedie Lane, at 7:00 pm, Monday evening July 11th.

Meetings of the Ellsworth Historical Society are open to the public and we encourage members and guests to attend this very special talk and remember the anniversary of the Civil War and its everlasting effect on our history.

For further information please contact the Ellsworth Historical Society at ellsworthhistory@yahoo.com or contact President Terri Cormier at 207-667-8235 or Vice President Linda Grindle at 207-667-5716. Membership is 20.00 per year and may be sent to The Ellsworth Historical Society PO Box 355Ellsworth, Me 04605 along with your contact information. Donations are also gratefully appreciated to help preserve our history.

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Unloved Antiques: Hummel Knockoffs Goebel Hummel figures—based on the original designs of innocent views of children created by Sister Maria Innocentia Hummel—have been popular since the late 1930s. Like most popular items, manufacturers are very quick to latch onto a new product and try and claim a piece of the market share. Original Hummels came flowing into North America after the Second World War, brought home by troops occupying Germany. But according to Worthologist Mike Wilcox, many “Hummel” figures are actually made in Japan. Mike has some tips on how to ID the genuine from the reproductions. Read”Unloved Antiques: Hummel Knockoffs”

Ask an Expert: What Did Abraham Lincoln’s Voice Sound Like? Civil War scholar Harold Holzer helps to decode what spectators heard when the 16th president spoke Read More »

Retired attorney-turned author to discuss early Maine law The author explains how the evolving law in Maine’s early years played out against the backdrop of old rules from the past running up against a society undergoing radical transformation brought on by momentous historical events, including the …

Waterford Historical Society announces events … he is coming to the North Waterford Church to share some of his Maine humor. Tickets are $15 in advance, $18 at the door, and will be available at Books ‘n Things in Norway and the Bridgton Bookstore and through members of the Historical Society…

CJ Pike: Willowbrook, Newfield Historical society to celebrate the Fourth The Newfield Historical Society and 19th Century Willowbrook Museum have an exciting Fourth of July celebration planned with music, firecracker ice cream, a children’s’ parade, and free admission on Monday, July 4. Families are invited to bring a…

Categories: antiques, Books, breaking news, civil war, collectibles, events, headlines, historical societies, history, Maine, Maine things to do, museum news, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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