Maine: Page 1

See our full list of Historic Road Markers in Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont

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“Fryeburg: The Forest Fires of 1947”

Found on State Route 302 in Fryeburg

Inscription: “In 1947, the State of Maine suffered its largest forest fire disaster of the century.  The state experienced over 90 consecutive days of record breaking high temperatures with no rain.  By mid October, many small fires started and spread out of control.  This map indicates the major fires of October 1947 and an enlarged view of the major fires in this part of the state.  Statewide, these fires burned over 220,000 acres, burned 1,000 homes, left 2,500 people homeless and left 16 people dead.  The damages totaled over 11 million dollars at that time.  If the same area were burned today, the damages would total approximately 1.1 billion dollars.  Throughout the ages, fire has been one of humanities most useful tools.  Unwisely used, it has also been one of humanities greatest threats.  People cause over 90% of all escaped forest fires.  Please remember the hard lessons of our past and be very careful with fire!”

Picture of ME Historical Marker Fryeburg The Forest Fires of 1947

Fryeburg The Forest Fires of 1947

“Bryant Pond Telephone Company”

Found on State Route 26 in the Town of Woodstock, Maine near U.S. Post Office

Inscription: “The sculpture by Gil Whitman is dedicated to the memory of Barbara & Elden Hathaway owners of the Bryant Pond Telephone Company. The very last hand crank magneto telephone system in the U.S.A. They purchased the company in 1951 and operated it from their home as a family business until selling it to Oxford Networks Company in 1981, when it was integrated into the national dial system.”Picture of ME Road Marker Bryant Pond Telephone Company Woodstock

Picture of Bryant Pond Telephone Company Sculpture Woodstock Maine“Reverend Melville B. Cox”

Found on State Route 201 in Hallowell, Maine

Inscription: “This Hallowell native was the first American Methodist foreign missionary. In 1826, Cox was instrumental in building the Hallowell church that now bears his name. In 1833, he went to Liberia, Africa, a colony for freed slaves. He organized the Methodist Church and founded what is now the College of West Africa, modeled on Maine’s Kent Hill School. Within 5 months, Cox, 33, died of malaria. He was buried in Africa under his own epitaph: “Let a thousand fall before Africa be given up.”

Picture of ME Road Marker Reverend Melville B. Cox Hallowell

“Reverend Melville B. Cox”

 “Blue Star Memorial Highway”

Found on State Route 201 in Hallowell, Maine

Inscription: “A tribute to the Armed Forces that have defended the United States of America sponsored by The Garden Club Federation of Maine in cooperation with The Augusta Women’s Club and The Maine Department of Transportation”

“Blue Star Memorial Highway”

The River is a road, a road of life.

Within this road of life called the Kennebec River, currents flow north and south by Bath several times a day. On the rising tide, salt water runs up from the Atlantic, past Bath, and into Merrymeeting Bay where it mixes with fresh water of five other rivers in a rich stew of life. On the falling tide, fresh water in the Kennebec runs from its head at distant Moosehead Lake, and swirls with both the outgoing tide and other river systems into strong currents within the city limits. These tidal waters and wetlands together form an estuary, whose complex ecosystem sustains thousands of varied birds, fish, and plants.

Picture caption: The estuary, of which the Kennebec River constitutes a part, is a critical, interactive environment. The river is habitat for 66 species of finfish. Shoreline ledges and mudflats provide homes for nesting and migrating birds in the East Coast flyway. Osprey and bald eagles soar over fish schooling in the currents. Harbor seals prey upon fish and ducks. Goldeneye ducks court along Bath shores.

Picture of Bath Maine Historical Marker A Road of Life 2

The River is a road, a road of life.

The River is a road, a road of life.

Today the same “great fyshe” that amazed the European explorers in 1697 still leap and swim in these tidal waters. Once abundant in the Kennebec River, the now endangered Atlantic Sturgeon can grow to 12 feet in length and can weigh over 800 pounds, but are more commonly half that size. Females can live for over 60 years. Fossile records show that this primitive species with rows of exterior bony plates and the ventral mouth of a bottom feeder has remained relatively unchanged for millions of years. A smaller, endangered form of sturgeon, the Shortnose Sturgeon, lives year-round in the Kennebec. In part because the great fish o this river were plentiful and a valuable source of revenue, the Plymouth Company claimed the Kennebec Purchase in 1640.

Picture caption 1: Cyrus King (1816-1881)m the only son of Governor William King, drw the busy Kennebec River and Bath about 1844. The Penobscot in the center of this detail, went from Hallowell to Boston twice a week in 1844. The fare from Bath to Boston in the early 1840s was $2.50, but meals were extra.

Picture caption 2: Albion Kennerson Edgecomb (1872-1948) fished the waters of the Kennebec River all his life. In this photograph taken early in the 20th Century, “Kenney” stands proudly with a large sturgeon, while two others liew at his feet. His fishing operation was based just upstream on Sturgeon Island, a traditional location for the processing of fish for decades. Surprisingly, in July of 1900, Mr. Edgecombe netted a young whale, perhaps a beluga, in Merrymeeting Bay.

Picture of Bath Maine Historical Marker A Road of Life 1

The River is a road, a road of life.

The River is a road, a road of opportunity.

Echoing with the clamor of hammers and saws building ships and homes, Bath was booming by the 1850s, as was the expanding American nation. 100 years before, the community of just forty families, known as “Long Reach,” separated from Georgetown as its second parish in 1753, but then ballooned to an incorporated city with about 12,000 residents by 1854. The resulting development hugged the shore as almost three-dozen wharves stretched into the Kennebec, providing multiple locations for the docking of vessels. Homes, both elaborate and modest, were often constructed to face the river, as eyes often turned to observe the many shipyards assembling various boats to watch the coming and goings of the numerous ships that brought travelers, necessities, and luxuries.

Picture caption 1: The bird’s-eye map was a very popular view of American cities in the nineteenth century. This detail, from the 1878 map of Bath, published by J. J. Stoner in Wisconsin, showed a community bustling with activity, a steam ferry crossing the river from Woolwich, and some of the many wharves.

Picture caption 2: Broad Street ran down from Bath’s main commercial thoroughfare, Front Street, to the City Landing on the Kennebec River. This image from about 1880 captured the entwined nature of city and river, where vessels were built for varied trade throughout the world an, in turn, brought the goods of the world to Bath.

Picture of Bath Maine Historical Marker A Road of Opportunity

The River is a road, a road of opportunity.

The River is a Road, a road winding back through history

The Wabanaki “Kennebec” translates to “long, quiet water.” That water was a means of travel and trade for native people, as well as a source of food, encouraging migration between seasonal camps for the “People of the Dawn.” Inevitably, here too was a route for exploration. The arrival of Europeans stirred those quiet waters.

Samuel de Champlain, the French explorer, explored the “Quinibequy” during July of 1605, just days before George Weymouth and his English shipmates kidnapped six Wabanakis near the Kennebec. In 1607 the English first attempted to establish a colony in New England at the river’s mouth. When the Popham settlement was abandoned a little over a year later, the colonists constructed the Virginia, the first ocean-going ship built in North America by the English, and returned home.

For over the next hundred years, the site of Bath, twelve miles upstream from Popham, was on the outskirts of the major settlement activities at the mouth of the Kennebec. by the 1750s, that four-mile straight stretch known as “Long Reach” began its development as the center of maritime activity on this river road.

Picture caption 1: Cyrus King (1816-1881), the only son of Governor William King, drew the busy Kennebec River and Bath about 1844. His detailed work was translated to this lithograph, a rare image of Bath as the community began a transformative period of expansion.

Picture caption 2: Champlain’s map of the Quinibequay, from his 1605 voyage, was originally published in Volume II of his 1613 Voyages of Samuel de Champlain, a work later translated by Charles Pomeroy Otis and edited by Edmund F. Slafter in their 1878 publication of Champlain’s work.

Picture of Bath Maine Historical Marker A Road Winding Back Through History

The River is a Road, a road winding back through history

The River is a Road, a working road of shipyards

Bath’s history, a singular voyage of 250 years, illustrates the rise and decline of wooden shipbuilding in Maine. While several private vessels were built along the Kennebec prior to the American Revolution, independence allowed shipbuilding  to grow substantially in the subsequent decades. In 1841, the Rappahannock, the largest vessel yet built in the United States must have astonished onlookers. The industry’s escalation culminated in 1854 when twenty-one shipyards lined Bath’s shores, producing the third largest tonnage of vessels in the nation. However, the tide of shipbuilding ebbed with the financial uncertainties after 1854 and was further drained by the Civil War’s strife. The later nineteenth century saw the revival of Bath’s shipbuilding, but never to the heights of mid-century. For Bath’s shipyards to survive, the modern technology of building ships in steel had to be embraced. The rebirth of one shipyard in particular, Bath Iron Works, in the early twentieth century, allowed the local shipbuilding heritage to continue and create new maritime benchmarks.

Picture caption: The 1805 Brig Minerva of 188 tons was constructed in Bath by builder Charles Clapp. This 1807 painting, by an unknown artist, is the earliest known painting of a Bath-built vessel.

Picture of Bath Maine Historical Marker A Working Road of Shipyards

The River is a Road, a working road of shipyards

If there hadn’t been a Kennebec River, there wouldn’t be a City of Bath

Vertical rock layers of varying hardness formed both the valley now drowned by the river and the banks that step gradually higher from the water. Bath’s topography today runs generally north and south because tectonic-plate collisions in the far distant past gave rock layers that orientation. In the last 200 million years, erosion by rivers and, more recently, by glacial ice sheets left ridges of granite bedrock, and valleys where the rock layers were more easily worn down.

These geologic processes left a long, deep, straight stretch of river with a sandy bottom and gentle slopes at the river’s edge, perfect for launching a small brig, a large 6-masted schooner, or a huge destroyer. This north-south stretch was part of a larger watery road, the Kennebec River, which connected the ocean with inland Maine.

Picture caption: Detail of the Bedrock Geology of the Bath Quandrangle, Maine.

Picture of Bath Maine Historical Marker If There hadn't been a Kennebec River There Wouldn't be a City of Bath

If there hadn’t been a Kennebec River, there wouldn’t be a City of Bath

See our full list of Historic Road Markers in Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont

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