Maine 101: Everything You Wanted To Know About Maine and Were Going To Ask Anyway

Maine 101: Everything You Wanted To Know About Maine and Were Going To Ask Anyway

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by Nancy Griffin

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Including topics ranging from the Missouri Compromise and statehood to the Algonquin language and the origins of L. L. Bean, this comprehensive guide showcases the fascinating state of Maine. Inventions created in Maine, such as the doughnut hole and the earmuff, as well as state delicacies—blueberries and maple syrup—are discussed in detail. Profiles


Including topics ranging from the Missouri Compromise and statehood to the Algonquin language and the origins of L. L. Bean, this comprehensive guide showcases the fascinating state of Maine. Inventions created in Maine, such as the doughnut hole and the earmuff, as well as state delicacies—blueberries and maple syrup—are discussed in detail. Profiles of Stephen King, Joan Benoit Samuelson, George Mitchell, and the Wyeth family are also included. Thorough and engaging, this handbook will inspire a greater appreciation of Maine and all this state has to offer.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"A thoughtful repository of facts, opinions, lists, firsts, fiendish crimes and artists . . . superb and utterly enjoyable for one who has reviewed Maine books in this paper since 1975, Maine 101 represents something of a benchmark."  —Portland Press Herald

"This witty, fun book is packed with . . . information that you usually can only get from locals. If you're from Maine, or from away, you'll enjoy this book."  —Working Waterfront

"This little volume is destined to be a classic . . . buy several because not only are they perfect gifts, they will be stolen by any visitor-to-your-home who starts to read a copy."  —Lincoln County News

The Working Waterfront
This witty, fun book is packed with . . . information that you usually can only get from locals. If you're from Maine, or from away, you'll enjoy this book.

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MacIntyrePurcell Publishing, Inc
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Second Edition, Second edition
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5.00(w) x 6.90(h) x 0.70(d)

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Maine 101

Everything you Wanted to Know about Maine and Were Going to Ask Anyway

By Nancy Griffin

MacIntyre Purcell Publishing Inc.

Copyright © 2011 MacIntyre Purcell Publishing Inc.
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-927097-31-1


State of Maine Song

Written and composed by Roger Vinton Snow (1890-1952)

Grand State of Maine, proudly we sing
To tell your glories to the land
To shout your praises till the echoes ring
Should fate unkind send us to roam
The scent of the fragrant pines,
The tang of the salty sea will call us home.
Oh, Pine Tree State
Your woods, fields and hills
Your lakes, streams and rockbound coast
Will ever fill our hearts with thrills
And tho' we seek far and wide
Our search will be in vain
To find a fairer spot on earth
Than Maine! Maine! Maine!



A Timeline

21,000 years before present: The Laurentide ice sheet begins retreating from the Gulf of Maine and southern New England, cutting a formerly straight coastline into the jagged array of bays, inlets, and harbors and forming the 4,613 islands off the coast of Maine.

15,000 years before present: Glacial landforms still evident in Maine, especially Down East, are created by the glacier's retreat.

13,000 to 11,500 years before present: Paleo-Indians, nomadic "Red Paint" people who used fluted points to hunt big game, settle in Maine.

1000 AD: Norse sailors, led by Leif Erikson, arrive in Newfoundland and Nova Scotia. Although a Norse coin was found in Maine, and some believe the Vikings arrived here, others believe the coin was taken in trade.

1524: Giovanni da Verranzano, an Italian explorer sailing for France, is identified as the first European to explore the coast of Maine.

1604: The first recorded European colony is established at the mouth of the St. Croix River in northern Maine by a French group led by Pierre du Gua (or Guast) Sieur de Monts. A Huguenot nobleman, de Monts explored the New England coast with Samuel Champlain and helped him found Montreal.

1607: The first British colony, called Fort Saint George (also known as the Popham Colony), is established but fails to survive the first frigid winter. The town is now called Phippsburg.

Fort Saint George

In 1607 (just months after the colony in Jamestown, Virginia) English settlers with the Virginia Company of Plymouth established Fort St. George at the mouth of the Kennebec River, ten miles south of what is now Bath, Maine.

The colony was led by George Popham, a nephew of the colony's chief backer and England's chief justice, who hoped to establish a center for trade in fur and timber, and, of course, the other draw of the new world, which was gold and silver.

In February 1608, George Popham died, and Raleigh Gilbert (nephew of Sir Walter Raleigh, a favorite of Queen Elizabeth I, but under her successor, James I, he was imprisoned and eventually put to death) succeeded him. There is some speculation that Gilbert lacked leadership skills, but also that first winter he learned of a huge inheritance, and this only accelerated the colony's demise.

The Maine winter also was brutal on the new colonists, and after only 14 months a decision was made to abandon it. In December half of the colonists returned to England. The other half stayed on and somehow or another managed to construct a small ship, a 30-ton pinnace they christened Virginia. After depositing the former colonists, the pinnace Virginia of Sagadahoc crossed the Atlantic again, ironically as part of a supply mission to Jamestown in 1609.

1616-1619: Over 75 percent of Maine's Natives succumb to European diseases in "the Great Dying."

1622: The area is first called Maine by Sir Ferdinando Gorges, who along with John Mason is granted rights to lands that are now the states of Maine and New Hampshire. Although Gorges never set foot in the New World, his son, Robert, became Governor-General of New England from 1623 to 1624.

1634: Berwick becomes host to one of America's earliest sawmills, on the Piscataqua River.

1640s: Maine is already shipping house frames and barrel staves to the Caribbean.

1652: Maine is annexed by Massachusetts because officials consider it a strategic first line of defense against the French and Indians.

1675-1763: Maine suffers several attacks by French and Indian forces during this period that starts with King Philip's War and ends with France giving up all its New World holdings to the English when the Seven Years War concludes.

1707: The John McIntire house is built in York; it remains one of the oldest still-standing structures today.

1735: A small paper mill is built on the Presumpscot River near what is now Portland.

1740: Maine's European-descended population hits the 12,000 mark.




The Maine State Museum in Augusta collects, preserves, and presents objects and specimens of Maine's natural sciences, pre-history, and history. Staff, many of whom have been caring for and interpreting the museum's collections for decades, selected the top five exhibits by looking at those that regularly delight visitors, represent the museum's diversity, and tell unique stories about Maine's past.

1. The Lion, an 1846 steam locomotive, dramatically greets visitors in the Maine State Museum's lobby. Made in Boston by Maine native Holmes Hinckley, the Lion is among the oldest surviving American-built railroad engines. It is exhibited with its tender, a car pulled behind that carried the water tank and firewood necessary to keep the steam engine running. The Lion worked for nearly 50 years as part of Washington County's Whitneyville and Machias Railroad. The 8-mile railroad line and its locomotives (the Lion and its twin, the Tiger) transported over 100 million board feet of sawn lumber from the mills of Whitneyville to schooners in Machiasport for shipment to markets nationwide.

2. Paleo-Indian (Clovis Culture) Meat Cache: Paleo-Indians were the first humans to live in Maine over 10,000 years ago. They originally built the meat cache, which consists of seven boulders set in a tight circle, in the Magalloway River Valley of western Maine. Caribou migrated through the valley by the tens of thousands. Paleo-Indians hunted them and stored the caribou meat in the center of the cache, under a pile of additional rocks to keep out scavenging animals. The meat cache may be the oldest surviving human-built structure in North America. Also on exhibit, fluted spear points excavated near the meat cache provide additional evidence of hunting activities of the Clovis Culture people in Maine.

3. Peary Necklace: Maine resident Robert E. Peary marked his wife Josephine's fiftieth birthday by giving her a beautiful tourmaline necklace. The year was 1913, just four years after Peary's discovery of the North Pole, one of his several Arctic expeditions that would not have been possible without Josephine's devoted support. Peary carefully planned the necklace to be made completely of Maine materials by Maine people. The necklace's ten perfectly matched green tourmaline gemstones were mined at Auburn's Mt. Apatite and faceted by early Maine gemologist John S. Towne. A Portland jeweler made the necklace's chain and settings with gold panned from the Swift River near Byron.

4. The 20th Maine Battle Flag and Captured Confederate Revolver featured in the museum's Civil War flag exhibit inspires awe among museum visitors. Maine men died as they followed this flag in the fierce fighting on Little Round Top during the Battle of Gettysburg. Had the 20 Regiment Maine Infantry failed to hold the defensive line that day, the thinly stretched Union forces would likely have met defeat. His regiment out of ammunition, the 20th Maine's leader, Colonel Joshua Chamberlain, ordered a bayonet charge down the hill into the oncoming Confederate forces. Sword in hand, he led his men until confronted by a Confederate soldier wielding both a sword and a "big navy revolver." Chamberlain quickly captured his attacker. The pistol on exhibit is the one that Chamberlain described when he later wrote: "I passed him (the Confederate soldier) into the custody of a brave sergeant at my side, to whom I gave the sword as emblem of his authority, but kept the pistol with its loaded barrel, which I thought might come in handy soon, as indeed it did."

5. The Spear Mill, the literal and thematic centerpiece of the museum's "Made in Maine" exhibit, is a spectacular 3-story water- powered woodworking mill, complete with a running stream. The mill came to the museum collection from Warren, Maine. Its working turbine, shafts, belts, gears, and large wooden pulleys vividly demonstrate how, in the mid-1800s, water was moved, and its energy transformed, to operate machinery of all kinds. A long ramp in the exhibit gradually winds around the mill, enabling close-up views of the moving parts. On the ramp's opposite side, historical settings such as a sewing room, blacksmith shop, wool carding mill, and shops for making furniture, shoes, and bamboo fishing rods reveal stories of Maine people at work and the amazing variety of products they created.

The Maine Law

The world's first total abstinence society was founded in Portland in 1815. By 1834, temperance societies throughout Maine banded together in a statewide organization that quickly developed enough political clout to pass the first ban on the sale of alcoholic beverages.

One of the standard bearers of the movement was Portland mayor Neal S. Dow, a zealous reformer who became internationally recognized as the "Father of Prohibition." By 1851, Dow was powerful enough to get Maine Governor John Hubbard to sign off on a law that pushed Maine to become the first state in the union to pass a total ban on the manufacture and sale of liquor.

The so-called "Maine Law" became known across the country, and was one of the building blocks on the road to prohibition. (The Civil War only served to interrupt abstinence's march to a constitutional amendment in 1919.) Prohibition's detractors looking to bring Dow to his knees found it in one of the provisions of the "Maine Law."

Under the law, a judge was compelled to issue a search warrant if any three citizens accused a person of having alcohol. Word quickly spread that there was a cache of spirits in a Portland building being overseen by Dow. By evening time on June 2, 1851, upwards of 3,000 rioters were outside the building calling for Dow's head. (By this time, it didn't matter that the liquor was legal, and was intended for doctors and pharmacists.)

After it was clear that the police could not handle the crowds, Dow spooked and ordered in the militia. He gave orders to shoot to disperse the crowd. One man was killed and seven more were injured in what became known as the Portland Rum Riots. For his part Dow would be prosecuted (he was acquitted) under the provisions of the Maine Law. Although he would run politically again and again, his heavy-handed tactics all but derailed his political ambitions. In 1856, the Maine law was repealed.

1755: The Acadians are deported from Canadian Atlantic coastal communities to Maine and other New England locations because of their supposed loyalty to France.

1775: On June 12, the first naval battle of the American Revolution is fought off the coast of Machias. Called "The Lexington of the Seas," the battle saw the Margaretta captured and the British flag "struck" for the first time in the Americas.

1775: Benedict Arnold, one of the American Revolution's finest generals, leads a band of revolutionaries through Maine but fails to capture British holdings in Quebec City and Montreal. Later Arnold is branded a traitor.

1783: Massachusetts, which includes Maine, abolishes slavery.

1785: Maine's first newspaper begins. The Falmouth Gazette and Weekly Advertiser is used to promote separation from Massachusetts.

1794: Bowdoin College becomes Maine's first post-secondary institution.

1800: A York novelist, Sally Wood, writes Julia and the Illuminated Baron, Maine's first novel on record.

1800: Maine's population reaches 150,000.

1800: The US government's oldest continuously-running naval shipyard opens at Kittery. The Portsmouth Naval Shipyard launches its first ship in 1815.

1820: Maine separates from Massachusetts and becomes a state on its own, following the Missouri Compromise.

1832: Maine's state capital moves from Portland to Augusta.

1836: John Ruggles of Thomaston, Maine, is issued Patent #1 by the US Patent Office for his "Locomotive Steam Engine for Rail and Other Roads." A lawyer elected to Congress in 1835, he helped reorganize the office and earned the title "Father of the Patent Office."

1839: Governor Fairfield makes Maine the first and only state ever to declare war on a foreign power when he declares war on England over a boundary dispute between New Brunswick and northern Maine. No blood was shed, however, and the dispute was settled peacefully.

1842: The Webster-Ashburton Treaty of 1842, signed by US Secretary of State Daniel Webster and UK Privy Counselor Alexander Baring, settles the Maine/New Brunswick border when both territories agree to compromise.

1851: Harriet Beecher Stowe starts writing her legendary novel, Uncle Tom's Cabin, in Brunswick, inspiring those who would abolish slavery before the Civil War. An instant best-seller and translated into 23 languages, it is considered the most famous antislavery book. The Harriet Beecher Stowe House at 63 Federal Street, Brunswick, is a National Historic Landmark owned by Bowdoin College but is not open to the public.

1851: The so-called Maine Law is passed making Maine the first state in the union to ban the manufacture and sale of alcohol. Portland rum riots ensue.

1853: The Grand Trunk Railway is built to connect Maine with the St. Lawrence River in Montreal and the Canadian Maritimes. Portland is the winter port for Canadian trade.

1856: Maine Law is repealed.

1860: Hannibal Hamlin, a native of Paris, Maine, becomes Abraham Lincoln's vice president. The first Republican party vice president, he first served in the US Senate, the House of Representatives, two terms in the Maine legislature, and briefly as Maine governor.

1863: Brunswick native Joshua Chamberlain successfully defends Little Round Top against Confederate troops at the Battle of Gettysburg during the Civil War. Chamberlain's actions arguably served as the turning point of that battle.

1866: Fire destroys much of downtown Portland in the district now called the Old Port. Only two people die, but 1,800 buildings are reduced to ashes and 10,000 people are left homeless.

1888: Melville W. Fuller, a native of Augusta, Maine, and a Bowdoin College graduate, becomes the Chief Justice of the US Supreme Court.

1920s: South Paris enjoys a national reputation as "Toy Town," the country's largest concentration of producers of toys, including wooden sleds.

1931: Governor Percival Baxter, a native of Portland, Maine, begins buying land in northern Maine for the purpose of establishing a game reserve. Over the next 30 years, Baxter purchases more than 90,000 acres. This land is generously donated toward the establishment of Baxter State Park.

1936: Maine experiences disastrous spring flooding, resulting in $25 million in damages.




Don Carrigan is a reporter for WCSH-TV in Portland. He has been covering news in Maine since 1973, as a reporter, anchor and news director for WLBZ-TV in Bangor, and as executive producer of public affairs for Maine Public Boadcasting Network (MPBN). He also served for three years on the staff of US Senator Bill Cohen. He grew up in the town of South Bristol, graduated from Lincoln Academy and the University of Maine at Orono. After 35 years as a Maine reporter, here are five out of many moments that stand out.

1. Fort Kent, May 1974: We're shooting my first documentary, about the controversial Dickey-Lincoln Hydro Dam proposed. The night before, we'd been up way too late, being apparently the only two English speakers in a bar full of French Canadian woodsmen and locals. Needless to say, a great time. We're staying at Rock's Motel and Hot Dog Stand, the only motel in town. I had asked for a 5:30 wake-up call. But there are no phones in the rooms. At the appointed time, we're awakened by a fist pounding on the door and a woman's voice with a wonderful Franco accent shouting: "Hey, five-thirty! Time to get up!"

2. Mars Hill Mountain, July 4, 1976: It's America's Bicentennial, and Mars Hill is believed to be the first place in the US to see the sunrise that day. Maine's Second District Congressman, Bill Cohen, is the featured speaker for the event. The sunrise ceremony is beautiful, we get it all on film, and everyone heads back down the mountain. My photographer and I fly back to Bangor with Cohen in a small chartered plane, landing around 6 am. Cohen is all alone, and has no car, so we drop him off at his mother's house. As we drive away he's standing on the doorstep, ringing the bell or knocking. He evidently has no key. Something about that scene reminded me of a kid in high school, after a long night out with his pals, trying to get in without being noticed. Bill Cohen, of course, went on to become a prominent US Senator and then US Secretary of Defense.


Excerpted from Maine 101 by Nancy Griffin. Copyright © 2011 MacIntyre Purcell Publishing Inc.. Excerpted by permission of MacIntyre Purcell Publishing Inc..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Meet the Author

Nancy Griffin is the editor of the Gulf of Maine Times, and as a freelance writer, she has written for the Boston Globe, the Free Press, and the Hartford Courant. She also taught workshops in writing, newsletter writing and editing, and desktop publishing for the University of Maine–Augusta. She lives in Thomaston, Maine.

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