Maine, state in northern New England in the United States. It is bounded by the Canadian provinces of Québec on the northwest and New Brunswick on the northeast. To the southwest lies New Hampshire, and to the southeast, the Atlantic Ocean. Maine entered the Union on March 15, 1820, when it was separated from Massachusetts to form the 23rd state. The name Maine probably originated as the word used by English explorers to refer to the mainland; it may also be derived from the province and region of Maine in northwestern France. Augusta is Maine’s capital. Portland is the largest city.
Because of Maine’s proximity to some of the finest fishing grounds in the Atlantic, most early settlers turned to fishing for their livelihood. Later, Maine became an important shipbuilding and trading center. Its ruggedly beautiful coast, indented with many natural harbors, has made the state a popular summer resort area and a haven for artists. Maine’s rich supply of lumber has also influenced the course of the state’s development, perhaps even more than the sea. Nicknamed the Pine Tree State, Maine continues to be largely woodland, and its leading industries rely on wood as a raw material.
Maine ranks 39th in size among the states, with an area of 91,647 sq km (35,385 sq mi). The area includes 5,864 sq km (2,264 sq mi) of inland water and 1,588 sq km (613 sq mi) of coastal water over which it has jurisdiction. It is by far the largest state in New England and has an area nearly equal to that of all the other New England states combined. The state’s greatest east-west distance is 325 km (202 mi); the greatest north-south distance is 500 km (311 mi). The mean elevation is about 180 m (600 ft).
All of Maine was once covered by glaciers, the last of which receded about 10,000 years ago. Because of the glaciers, much of Maine is covered with stones, boulders, and clays. Many of the hills and mountains have been rounded, lakes have been formed, and river courses have been changed. Although glaciers covered all of Maine, there are nevertheless substantial physiographic differences in the regions of the state.
Maine can be divided into three major physiographic areas, or natural regions: the White Mountain section, the New England Upland, and the Seaboard Lowland. These three regions are part of the New England province, which in turn forms part of the Appalachian Region.
The White Mountains occupy much of the western and central parts of the state and are the most rugged and thickly forested area of Maine. Elevations of the mountains are mostly between 750 and 1,200 m (2,500 and 4,000 ft). Mount Katahdin, in the central part of the state, is Maine’s highest mountain, with an elevation of 1,605 m (5,267 ft). The mountains are composed largely of granite and have been severely worn down by glaciers or otherwise eroded. Hundreds of lakes are located within this region, and most of Maine’s rivers rise there.
The New England Upland occupies northern, eastern, and central Maine and is the largest natural region in the state. It is a rolling plateau, with elevations reaching 600 m (2,000 ft). Like the White Mountain section, this natural region is dotted with hundreds of rivers and lakes. It also has fertile soil, and state’s sizable potato crop is grown and harvested here.
The Seaboard Lowland in Maine lies between the New England Upland and the Atlantic Ocean. It varies in width from about 30 km (about 20 mi) near the New Hampshire border to about 100 km (60 mi) near the New Brunswick border. This natural region rises to about 120 to 150 m (about 400 to 500 ft) near its border with the New England Upland. The Seaboard Lowland has mostly gently rolling terrain, but in isolated spots rugged mountains and steep hills are found. An example is Cadillac Mountain (466 m/1,530 ft), on Mount Desert Island. It is the highest mountain on the Atlantic coast north of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
|B||Rivers and Lakes|
Most of Maine’s large rivers rise in the mountains in the northern and western parts of the state. The Penobscot River rises in the lakes of north central Maine and flows to the east and south to empty into Penobscot Bay south of Bangor. The main tributary of the Penobscot River is the Piscataquis River, which joins the main stream just south of Howland in central Maine. The Kennebec River is the outlet of Moosehead Lake in central Maine and flows south into the Atlantic Ocean near Bath. The Androscoggin River rises at the New Hampshire border and flows southward. It joins the Kennebec River at Merrymeeting Bay about 30 km (about 20 mi) from the Atlantic Ocean.
In the northern part of the state the most important river is the Saint John, which flows through northwestern Maine and along Maine’s northern border with New Brunswick before entering the Canadian province. The Allagash River is the principal tributary of the St. John in Maine, and the Aroostook River joins the St. John soon after leaving the state. The Saint Croix River forms a significant part of Maine’s eastern boundary with New Brunswick.
The largest lake in Maine is Moosehead Lake, an irregularly shaped lake that covers 300 sq km (116 sq mi) in the central part of the state. Other large lakes are Sebago, Chesuncook, Chamberlain, Grand, and Spednic lakes. The Rangeley Lakes in southwestern Maine are a popular vacation area.
The coastline of Maine extends for 367 km (228 mi). However, it is deeply indented with bays, inlets, and river estuaries, and when all these are taken into account, the shoreline is 5,597 km (3,478 mi) long. Many of the larger inlets were formed when the ocean flooded the river valleys after the glaciers melted. The largest harbor is at Portland, on the southwestern coast. Other important harbors include Boothbay, Rockland, Bar Harbor, and Eastsport.
The coast is generally rocky, but there are many miles of beaches on the southwestern coast. More than 1,300 rocky islands lie just off the coast. The largest is Mount Desert Island, much of which forms part of Acadia National Park. Other large islands are Vinalhaven Island, Islesboro, Swans Island, Deer Island, and Isle au Haut. Monhegan Island is also well known.
Maine has a humid continental climate with a moderate summer and a long winter. The climate is generally milder along the coast, particularly in the winter. Average January temperatures in Maine range from about -12°C (about 10°F) in the northern part of the state to about -4°C (about 24°F) along the coast. Average July temperatures range from 17° to 21°C (62° to 70°F) with the southern interior being the warmest and the east coast and north the coolest. However, daytime summer temperatures may reach the lower 30°s C (lower 90°s F), and temperatures in winter have fallen as low as -44°C (-48°F) in the interior.
Precipitation (rainfall and snowfall) in Maine is evenly distributed throughout the year. Most areas receive from 860 to 1,020 mm (34 to 40 in) yearly, although parts of the coast are somewhat wetter. Heavy winter snowfalls are common in central and northern Maine.
The growing season, or period from the last major frost in spring to the first major frost in fall, ranges from about 110 days in the north to 180 days along the southern coast. The first killing frost occurs in late September in most parts of the state, and the last killing frost usually occurs in May.
Most of central and northern Maine has spodosolic soils, which are generally gray, highly acidic, and poor for farming. Southern Maine has mostly gray-brown spodosolic soils, which can be made productive with the proper use of fertilizers. Sandy soils occur in the extreme northeastern part of Maine, which is an important potato-farming region.
Forests cover 90 percent of Maine’s total land area, the highest percentage of forest coverage of any state. The northern two-thirds is covered mostly by spruce and fir. Also in this area are maple, beech, birch, and white pine, which is the state tree. In the south are birch, beech, maple, hemlock, and white pine. Nearly all of Maine’s commercial forests are privately owned, primarily by large lumbering and paper companies.
Most of the wildflowers and shrubs common to the northeastern United States are found in Maine. Wildflowers include the lady’s slipper, black-eyed Susan, jack-in-the-pulpit, meadow lily, and arbutus. The alder, Canadian yew, witch hazel, and hawthorn are common shrubs.
Maine has one of the most varied wildlife populations in the eastern United States. Among the larger animals are white-tailed deer, black bears, and moose. Mice, rats, voles, and rabbit are probably the most numerous mammals. Also are found the chipmunk, raccoon, beaver, lynx, bobcat, eastern coyote, muskrat, squirrel, otter, fox, mink, weasel, skunk, and porcupine.
Most of Maine’s birds are also found throughout the rest of the northeastern United States. The black-capped chickadee, which is the state bird, is common in Maine throughout the year. Grosbeaks, crossbills, sparrows, and other finches commonly nest in Maine’s woodlands, meadows, and swamps. Other birds that can be seen in Maine during parts of the year are robins and other thrushes, killdeer, bluejays, gray jays, starlings, crows, phoebes, kingfishers, common grackles, and warblers. Predatory birds found in Maine include owls and hawks, such as ospreys and red-tailed hawks. There are many sea birds, including herring gulls, cormorants, red-breasted mergansers, wood ducks, mallard ducks, terns, and herons. Game birds include ruffed grouse, woodcocks, turkeys, and pheasant. Common loons are frequently found on northern lakes and ponds. The bald eagle, whose numbers were declining, can once again be seen in most parts of the state.
The rivers and lakes of Maine contain such fish as trout, salmon, perch, bass, and pickerel. Important saltwater fish and shellfish found in Maine’s coastal waters are lobsters, clams, scallops, shrimp, sea urchins, pollack, herring, haddock, mackerel, cod, and flounder.
Maine’s primary conservation activities aim at the preservation of its forest, wildlife, and fishery resources. The Maine Department of Conservation includes the Maine Forest Service, the Bureau of Parks and Recreation, the Maine Geological Survey, the Bureau of Public Lands, and the Land Use Regulation Commission. There are a number of federal agencies that participate in Maine’s conservation activities. They include the Fish and Wildlife Service, the National Park Service, the Forest Service, and the Natural Resources Conservation Service.
In 2006 the state had 12 hazardous waste sites on a national priority list for cleanup due to their severity or proximity to people. Progress was being made in efforts to reduce pollution; during the period 1995–2000 the amount of toxic chemicals discharged into the environment was reduced by 11 percent.
Fishing, lumbering, farming, trapping, and shipbuilding were the leading economic activities of Maine from the 18th to the late 19th century, when the state began to develop a more broadly based manufacturing industry. In the second half of the 20th century Maine’s economy began making another transition. While manufacturing remained the biggest contributor to the state’s gross product, jobs in manufacturing decreased, falling 14 percent between the early 1980s and the early 1990s. Meanwhile, the number of jobs in the service industries and retail trade showed substantial growth. Such growth is indicative of the importance of tourism to the state’s economy.
Maine had a work force of 711,000 in 2006. Of those the largest share—38 percent—worked in the service industry, doing such things as working in dry cleaners or data processing. Another 21 percent were employed in wholesale or retail trade; 17 percent in federal, state, or local government, including those in the military; 9 percent in manufacturing; 14 percent in finance, insurance, or real estate; 5 percent in construction; 21 percent in transportation or public utilities; and 2 percent in farming (including agricultural services), forestry, or fishing. Employment in mining was insignificant. In 2005, 12 percent of Maine’s workers were unionized.
Rocky soils and hilly terrain make much of Maine unsuitable for agriculture. Of the 554,419 hectares (1,370,000 acres) that is classed as farmland, about three-fifths remains wooded. Only 3 percent of Maine’s land area is used to grow crops. Many of the 7,100 farms are sidelines for operators who also have jobs off the farm.
Maine’s most valuable farm product in terms of sales is potatoes. In 1997 Maine’s potato production ranked eighth in the nation. The leading potato producing region of Maine is in Aroostook County. Nearly all the potato production is in the eastern part of the county, in an area about 50 km (about 30 mi) wide and a little more than about 160 km (about 100 mi) long. Aroostook farmers grow oats and clover in rotation with potatoes. Reliance on a single crop made Aroostook County farmers vulnerable to sudden price swings and competition from more efficient producers elsewhere. Consequently, attempts have been made to diversify agriculture with crops that may be canned or frozen, such as peas and broccoli. In an effort to reduce production costs potato growers introduced harvesters that dig the potatoes, discard the tops, and carry the harvest, including rocks, by belt to a crew of workers, who assist in the separation of rocks from potatoes.
The damp cool climate of Maine is ideal for hay and pasture, and because of the proximity of large consuming centers at Boston, Massachusetts, the state has developed a sizable dairy industry. Dairying and hay production are largely restricted to southern and central Maine. Apple growing is also important in this part of the state.
Maine’s poultry industry, which expanded in the middle of the 20th century, was basically comprised of two elements: broilers and table eggs. The broiler industry collapsed in the early 1980s, but eggs in the late 1990s remained one of the three leading agricultural items produced in Maine, along with dairy and potatoes.
In the Seaboard Lowland of Washington and Hancock counties at the north end of the state, blueberries grow abundantly on former forest lands that have been cut or burned. The area is sometimes referred to as the Blueberry Barrens.
Fishing has been an important industry in Maine since the colonial period. Dried and salted cod was Maine’s principal export until it was overtaken by lumber in the 19th century.
In the late 1990s, Maine’s annual catch ranked second to that of Massachusetts among the New England states, and fourth among the states overall, in the value of the catch. Lobster is by far the most valuable species caught. Marine worms, sea urchins, shrimp, clams, flounder, and cod are also caught.
The fishing industry has become increasingly mechanized. Large trawlers comb the ocean with nets, fishing the numerous banks that line the North American eastern coast. New techniques have enabled Maine to freeze, rather than salt or dry, most of its catch. Some of the fish is frozen on the trawlers as soon as it is caught.
Portland is the state’s largest fishing port, while other coastal towns remain important sources of lobster and other shellfish such as clams.
Maine’s original white pine forest has been almost entirely cut away. In colonial times, shiploads of timber were sent to England to be made into spars, masts, and bowsprits for merchant and naval ships. Later the vast forests enabled Maine to launch its own shipbuilding industry. The first ship built in the New World by the English was constructed by early settlers of Maine in 1607. Until the age of steel, Maine was a leading builder of wooden ships.
Tree farming in Maine has replaced the careless exploitation of forest resources that took place in the past. Large paper companies own much of the forests, especially in north-central and northern Maine, and utilize scientific management methods to ensure a steady supply of wood. Many farmers who have 40 to 80 hectares (100 to 200 acres) of woodlot select a portion of their timber for harvesting each year. Some of them earn more from selling wood than from selling crops. The leading forested regions include Franklin, Oxford, Penobscot, Piscataquis, Somerset, and western Aroostook counties. The principal industrial use of the forest resources is for the production of pulp and paper, industrial and domestic fuel wood, and saw timber. The major species harvested are spruce, balsam fir, a mix of hardwoods, and white pine.
Mining employs a small number of workers compared with other industries in the state. Some clays, garnet, peat, perlite, and gemstones are extracted. However, in the late 1990s, most of the dollar value of Maine’s mineral output came from sand and gravel, cement, crushed stone, and dimensional stone.
Maine is not a major manufacturing state from a national standpoint. Although manufacturing is an important source of employment, it ranks behind services in its contribution to the state’s gross product. Manufacturing has been dominated throughout most of the 20th century by the making of paper and paper products, lumber and wood products, textiles, leather and leather goods, food stuffs, and ships. Maine at one time had been among the leading states in each of these industries, except food processing.
Wood in one form or another has contributed the largest share of Maine’s income from manufacturing for many decades. In the 20th century, Maine has depended more on paper and pulp as an industry and less on lumber. The paper products industry was the leading source of industrial production in the late 1990s.
The construction of transportation equipment ranks as another of Maine’s large industries. The Bath Iron Works, at Bath, is a major shipbuilder, and various coastal boat yards manufacture yachts and small pleasure craft. The United States Navy’s Portsmouth Naval Shipyard is located on a group of islands at the southern tip of Maine, but the base’s economic links are with Portsmouth, New Hampshire. The manufacture of aircraft engines and parts is also a significant employer in Maine.
In addition to paper, the state’s forests provide raw material for the manufacture of lumber and wood products. Food processors also rank high in their contribution to the state’s gross product. A leading employer is the canning or freezing of vegetables, including the processing of the state’s potato and blueberry harvest. Seafood processing is also a major employer, as are firms preparing poultry and eggs for market.
The shoe industry was once Maine’s largest single source of industrial jobs, but has since fallen behind other industries. Associated with shoe manufacturing is the tanning industry, and together the two make up an important industrial sector for the state.
The significant decline in employment in shoe production, textiles, and food processing during the last quarter of the 20th century was only partially offset by major growth in the manufacture of electrical and electronic equipment, fabricated metals, and printed materials. Because ship building in Maine depends primarily on military contracts, employment in that industry has fluctuated greatly. The most stable of Maine’s manufactures has been the processors of the state’s most valuable natural resource—its forests.
Industry in Maine is not highly centralized geographically; no product or area dominates the industrial scene. Several types of manufactures are found in almost every sizable city. Androscoggin, Cumberland, Kennebec, Penobscot, and York counties are the most heavily industrialized. Cumberland County, containing Portland, is the leading industrial area.
In recent years the share of electricity generated in Maine by hydroelectric power has grown tremendously. Periodic water shortages and other factors had caused hydroelectric generation to fall to just one-fifth of Maine’s total electricity production in the early 1990s. In 2005, however, hydroelectric dams once again provided a significant share–22 percent–of all electricity. Two of Maine’s large hydroelectric dams are Harris and Wyman, on the Kennebec River. Ripogenus Dam, on the West Branch of the Penobscot River, was built by a large paper-manufacturing concern. Some 55 percent of Maine’s electricity output came from thermal plants burning petroleum in 2005. A nuclear power plant at Wiscasset was jointly sponsored by several electric power companies and in the mid-1990s produced about three-quarters of the electricity generated in the state; the plant closed in 1997.
Because of the termination of all railroad passenger service in the state and because of a shrinkage in railroad operations generally, Maine relies increasingly on its roads. Buses and automobiles carry a large share of the state’s passengers, and trucks transport much of the freight. Maine’s road network is dense in the relatively heavily settled southwestern part of the state and is sparse in the north. The sparsely populated region of northwestern Maine is served almost exclusively by private roads owned and maintained by large forest owners. Use of these roads is by fee. The two most important trunk lines are the American Realty, which runs between Ashland and Daaquam, Québec, and the Golden Road, between Millinocket and Saint Zacharie, Québec. In addition, miles of other passable private gravel roads give high accessibility to north Maine woods. Auto ferries offer service between Bar Harbor and Yarmouth, Nova Scotia; between Portland and Yarmouth; and to many of the offshore islands.
In 2005 Maine was served by 36,703 km (22,806 mi) of highway, of which 591 km (367 mi) was part of the federal interstate highway system. The principal route in the state is Interstate 95, which links most of the state’s main cities.
Railroad tracks totaled 1,848 km (1,148 mi) in length in 2004. Only regional and local railroads served the state. Some 60 percent of the tonnage of goods originating in Maine was pulp and paper, while wood products and lumber accounted for another 23 percent.
There is regular airline service from Maine’s largest cities to Boston, Massachusetts, and New York City, and there are direct connections between Portland and Bangor to many national locations. In 2007 the state had 3 airports, many of which were private airfields. The busiest airport was in Portland.
Waterborne commerce no longer plays a vital role in Maine’s economy. However, Portland, Maine’s leading port, handles a considerable volume of trade and ranks second to Boston among New England ports.
|IV||THE PEOPLE OF MAINE|
The earliest permanent European settlers in Maine came from western England. They were soon followed by the Scots-Irish and by a number of Quakers, or Friends, from the other New England colonies. In the 1740s Germans settled in Waldboro, and soon afterward many Irish Roman Catholics moved to York, Lincoln, and Cumberland counties. The French, who controlled much of Maine’s territory until 1759, were not active colonists. However, a number of families of French Huguenots settled along the coast.
Large-scale emigration westward in the mid-19th century aroused fears for the state’s future. As a result, in 1870, William W. Thomas, the state commissioner of immigration, brought over a group of Swedish immigrants who established the colony of New Sweden in northern Aroostook County. Although the French Canadians, who constitute the largest group with non-British ancestry, have lived in Maine since early colonial days, the greatest number of them came to Maine beginning late in the 19th century to work in industry. There still remain large numbers of people of French American descent in the Lewiston-Auburn, Biddeford-Saco, and Augusta-Waterville areas. They were eventually joined in the industrial centers by Finns, Russians, Poles, Italians, and others from southern and eastern Europe.
The population of Maine in 2000 was 1,274,923, according to the national census, ranking it 40th among the states. The population grew during the 1990s by 3.8 percent. Only 40 percent of Maine’s people live in areas classified as urban, making Maine the third most rural state in the nation, behind Vermont and West Virginia. The average population density in 2006 was 17 persons per sq km (43 per sq mi). However, the density in about one-half the state is about 1 person per 3 sq km (1 per sq mi). More than one-half the population lives in the southwest corner of the state.
Whites comprise the vast majority of Maine’s residents, representing 96.9 percent of the people in 2000. Another 0.7 percent are Asians, 0.6 percent are Native Americans, 0.5 percent are blacks, and 1.2 percent are of mixed heritage or did not report race. Native Hawaiians and other Pacific Islanders numbered 382. Hispanics, who may be of any race, represent 0.7 percent of the people. Native Americans in present-day Maine belong to either the Passamaquoddy or Penobscot tribe. The Penobscot reservation is on Indian Island, in the Penobscot River near Old Town, and the two Passamaquoddy reservations are in Washington County.
Portland, with a 2005 population of 63,889, is Maine’s largest city, as well as its chief seaport and transportation, trading, and banking center. The Portland metropolitan region (population 513,667; 2006) includes South Portland, Westbrook, Cape Elizabeth, and Falmouth. Lewiston, with a population of 36,050, is Maine’s second largest city. Together with Auburn, which had 23,602 residents, it makes up the Lewiston-Auburn metropolitan area (population 107,552; 2006). Other important cities in Maine are Bangor, with a population of 31,074, and Augusta, the state capital, with a population of 18,626.
The largest single religious group in Maine is the Roman Catholic church, with a membership of about one-third of all churchgoers. Major Protestant denominations include the Baptists and the Methodists.
|V||EDUCATION AND CULTURAL INSTITUTIONS|
Education in colonial Maine was slow in developing. For many years the only formal education available to rural children was the so-called moving school, which traveled from town to town, spending only a few weeks in each locality. In 1828 the state established a public fund to support education. Money was raised by selling timber from public lands. The interest from this fund continues to help support public schools in Maine, but most of the funds for public schools come from local and state taxes.
In 1957 the state enacted a law offering financial assistance to local schools wishing to consolidate with other nearby schools in what are called “school administrative districts.” Since that time most rural schools, especially small high schools, have been replaced by centrally located schools that serve several communities.
Schools in most Maine towns and cities, which are not part of school administrative districts, have popularly elected school boards. Each board is under the administrative guidance of a superintendent of schools, who serves one or more cities or towns. The department of education, headed by a nine-member board of education, is responsible for the administration of state laws relating to education and teacher certification and school construction standards.
Education is compulsory for children aged 7 to 17. Some 9 percent of Maine’s children attend private schools.
In the 2002–2003 school year Maine spent $10,288 on each student’s education, compared to a national average of $9,299. There were 11.5 students for every teacher, one of the smallest class sizes in the nation. Of those older than 25 years of age in the state, 89 percent had a high school diploma, compared to the national norm of 84 percent.
In 1968 all state degree-granting institutions except the Maine Maritime Academy in Castine were consolidated into the University of Maine system. In 2004–2005 Maine had 15 public and 15 private institutions of higher education. Institutions included the University of Maine, in Orono; the University of Southern Maine, in Portland; Bates College, in Lewiston; Bowdoin College, in Brunswick; Colby College, in Waterville; and Husson College, in Bangor. An important center for research in biology is the Jackson Laboratory, located in Bar Harbor.
The first library in Maine was founded at Kittery in 1751 by Sir William Pepperell, and the first public library was opened in Castine in 1855. Maine has 274 libraries, including the outstanding libraries of the University of Maine, the Maine Historical Society in Portland, and the Maine State Library in the capitol at Augusta. The library at Bowdoin College is also noteworthy. Each year the state’s libraries circulate an average of 7.1 books for every resident.
One of Maine’s notable museums is the Farnsworth Art Museum, and its Center for the Wyeth Family, in Rockland; another is the Portland Museum of Art, with collections of paintings by major 18th and 19th century American artists, as well as sculpture by Maine native Benjamin Paul Akers. The Bowdoin College Museum of Art also contains important American paintings and an impressive antiquities collection.
Maine also has a number of museums of special historical interest, such as the marine museums at Bath and Searsport, and the Abbe Museum, in Bar Harbor, which contains an extensive Native American collection. The Center for Maine History in Portland and the State Museum in the capitol building in Augusta also display a number of Native American relics. The town of Bar Harbor features a Museum of Natural History and in the nearby town of Southwest Harbor is the Wendell Gilley Museum of Bird Carving. The Peary-MacMillan Arctic Museum, at Bowdoin College, features polar artifacts and exploration lore.
Maine’s first newspaper, the Falmouth Gazette, was founded in 1785 in Portland (then Falmouth). In 2002 Maine had 7 daily newspapers. Influential dailies included the Kennebec Journal, published in Augusta; the Bangor Daily News; and the Portland Press Herald.
The first radio station, WABI in Bangor, was established in 1922 and the first television station, WABI-TV, in 1953. In 2002, Maine had 15 AM and 47 FM radio stations, and 13 television stations.
|VI||RECREATION AND PLACES OF INTEREST|
Maine’s scenic beauty attracts artists, writers, and photographers, and its many lakes, rivers, wooded areas, and mountains lure sports enthusiasts the year round. Its long coastline is noted for its picturesque coves, harbors, and islands. Numerous sheltered sandy beaches alternate with imposing rocky headlands where breakers crash against the shore. Maine’s coastal waters attract a steadily increasing number of saltwater sports fishing enthusiasts. Thousands of pleasure craft, from tiny sailboats to large yachts explore the coast. Camping, canoeing, mountain climbing, hunting, golf, and skiing are also available to vacationists.
The state’s only national park is Acadia National Park, which occupies most of Mount Desert Island, just off the coast. A small section of the park lies on Schoodic Peninsula, on the mainland, and another part is on Isle au Haut, 40 km (25 mi) out in the Atlantic Ocean. In the park, on the shore of Mount Desert Island, is Thunder Hole, a deep crevice where the crashing waves cause the water rushing into it to rise as high as 12 m (40 ft). One of the attractions of the park is Cadillac Mountain on Mount Desert Island, the highest mountain on the eastern coast of North America. Also on Mount Desert Island is Bar Harbor, one of New England’s most famous summer resorts.
Saint Croix Island International Historical Site marks the site of the first European settlement on the Atlantic coast north of Florida. The Franklin D. Roosevelt Memorial Bridge connects Lubec with Campobello Island in New Brunswick, on which is situated the Roosevelt Campobello International Park. The park contains the summer cottage of the former United States president and is jointly administered by the United States and Canada.
Near Mount Katahdin is the beginning of the Appalachian National Scenic Trail, which follows the Appalachian Mountains for 3,473 km (2,158 mi) from Maine to its terminus at Mount Oglethorpe, Georgia.
|B||National Forests and Rivers|
The largest alpine area east of the Rocky Mountains and south of Canada is found in White Mountain National Forest, a portion of which lies in Maine. Campgrounds, hiking and biking trails, scenic drives, and historic places can be found in the forest.
In 1970, the Allagash Wilderness State Waterway, 148 km (92 mi) long, in northern Maine became a state-administered recreation area to be added to the National Wild and Scenic River System.
The 30 developed state parks in Maine boast extensive trails and year-round outdoor recreation. Grafton Notch State Park has unique roadside hikes and vistas, including Screw Auger Falls Gorge. Many areas in this park offer views of natural stone bridges and extensive cave systems composed of rock slabs. Many of the state parks in the interior are located on lakes.
Maine has a number of state parks located on the seacoast. These include the Two Lights State Park, at Cape Elizabeth; Reid State Park, near Popham Beach; Camden Hills State Park, near Camden; Moose Point State Park, at Searsport; Crescent Beach State Park, near Portland; Lamoine State Park, south of Ellsworth; Warren Island, at Islesboro; and Cobscook Bay, at Dennysville.
Baxter State Park, covering 81,000 hectares (200,000 acres) in north central Maine, is the state’s largest park. The land, given to the state by former governor Percival P. Baxter, is maintained as a wilderness area and wildlife sanctuary. Mount Katahdin’s highest peak, Baxter Peak (1,605 m/5,267 ft), is the highest point in the state, and lies in the southern section of the park.
|D||Other Places to Visit|
The Blaine House in Augusta, which is the executive mansion, was built in the 1830s and bought by Maine political leader James G. Blaine in 1862. The silver service in the dining room was recovered from the battleship Maine ten years after it was sunk in the harbor of Havana, Cuba, in 1898. This service was presented to the battleship by the state when the ship was launched.
Souvenirs, documents, and personal belongings of American poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow are displayed in Portland’s Wadsworth-Longfellow House, his childhood home. The Portland Head Lighthouse, on Cape Elizabeth on the south side of Portland Harbor, is one of the oldest and most recognized of the nation’s lighthouses. Another attraction is the Seaside Trolley Museum, in nearby Arundel, with the world’s largest collection of trolley cars.
The covered Sunday River Bridge, built in 1870 near Bethel, has been photographed and painted so often it has been nicknamed “Artist’s Bridge.” Life continues in the mode of the 19th century at the Norlands Living History Center, a stately Victorian mansion, granite library, church, and schoolhouse near Livermore. The famous seacoast village of Bar Harbor features the Natural History Museum. In Columbia Falls, the 1818 Ruggles House sports a flying staircase and intricately detailed woodcarvings throughout the interior. Acadian Historic Village in Van Buren consists of 16 reconstructed and relocated buildings preserving the unique French Acadian culture.
Burnham Tavern, in Machias, has been made into a museum. It was used in 1775 as a meeting place by local patriots planning the first naval battle of the American Revolution (1775-1783). Old Gaol, in York, was used as a jail from the time it was built in 1719 until 1860. It is now a museum and contains many colonial and Native American relics.
Fort Popham, on Popham Beach, is near the site of Maine’s first attempted English settlement, made in 1607. The present fort was begun in 1861, and although it was never completed, it was used by U.S. soldiers until World War I (1914-1918). A number of other historic forts have been preserved as memorials, including Fort McClary at Kittery, Fort Edgecomb near Wiscasset, and Fort O’Brien, near Machiasport. Maine’s largest fort is Fort Knox across the Penobscot River from Bucksport. Fort Western, in Augusta, was built on the site of a trading post constructed in 1628. The original garrison house has been restored, furnished with colonial antiques, and made a museum.
Maine has many annual sports competitions, including ski races in winter and sailing regattas, golf tournaments, and horse races in summer. Among the special summer events are the Great Kennebec Whatever Festival at Augusta and the Potato Blossom Festival at Fort Fairfield, which are both held in July, and the five-day Lobster Festival held at Rockland in late July and early August. Lobsters are also the focus on the Fourth of July in Jonesport, which hosts the World’s Fastest Lobster Boat Races. Agricultural fairs are held in more than 20 towns during the summer and early fall. The Litchfield Fair, in September, is a community fair that has been celebrated for almost 140 years. The many summer theaters in the state give regular performances from June to Labor Day. Winter highlights include the World Mogul Invitational at Newry and the statewide Maine Maple Sunday, which are both held in March. Numerous international skiing events are held from January to April at Sugarloaf/Carrabassett.
Maine has one of the oldest state constitutions still in effect in the United States. It became effective in 1819, when Maine was admitted to the Union. It has frequently been amended, but this has not changed the basic structure of the state government.
The executive branch of Maine’s government is headed by a governor, who is elected by popular vote. In 1957 a constitutional amendment was passed extending the governor’s term of office from two to four years. The governor is the only publicly elected executive officer. The governor is succeeded by the state senate president in the case of death or removal from office. The secretary of state, attorney general, treasurer, and auditor are chosen by the legislature. The heads of most of the other state departments and commissions are appointed by the governor. Until 1976, Maine also had an executive council, which acted with the governor on pardons, confirmed appointments, and had authority over many minor administrative matters. The executive council was a feature of government found in only two other states, Massachusetts and New Hampshire. The seven members of the council were elected every two years by the legislature. They met, usually twice a month, to advise the governor.
Maine has a bicameral legislature, consisting of a 35-member Senate and a 151-member House of Representatives. All delegates are popularly elected in even-numbered years for two-year terms. Both houses meet in regular session in January of every year and in occasional special sessions called by the governor. Senators and representatives are chosen on the basis of population, and both are elected from single-member districts. Bills may originate in either the senate or the house of representatives, but all proposals for raising revenue must come from the house. A two-thirds majority in both houses is required to override a governor’s veto of any bill.
The supreme judicial court, consisting of a chief justice and six associate justices, is the state’s highest court. It is the appeals court for all major civil and criminal cases. The next highest court is the superior court, which has original jurisdiction over all major criminal and civil cases and also hears appeals from lower courts. It is the only court in the state that handles cases requiring trial by jury. The justices of the superior court are assigned by the chief justice of the supreme judicial court to preside over cases in the various counties, one judge to a county for a specified term. Below the superior court are the district courts, which have replaced the municipal courts and trial justice courts. District courts have jurisdiction over divorce suits, minor criminal and civil cases, and juvenile offenders. Probate courts have jurisdiction over all matters concerning wills and estates and the adoption of children. Probate court judges are elected by popular vote in each county for four-year terms. The governor appoints all other judges to seven-year terms with executive council approval.
Each county elects three commissioners and an attorney, a sheriff, and a treasurer. Cities are governed by a manager and city council or by a mayor and city council. Most towns have a board of selectmen, a tax collector, town clerk, treasurer, assessor, a school board, and road commissioner. These officials are elected at an annual town meeting, in which all the voters participate and decide on such matters as taxes and appropriations for the year. A growing number of towns are turning to councils and town managers as more effective means of government.
Maine sends two members to the U.S. House of Representatives and two members to the U.S. Senate, giving the state a total of four electoral votes.
The first inhabitants of Maine lived there in about 10,000 bc. Archaeological evidence suggests that these peoples, called Paleo-Indians, hunted large animals such as caribou, musk ox, and probably other animals that are now extinct. After the Paleo-Indians disappeared from the region, most likely as a result of climate changes, a new culture, referred to as Archaic, emerged. During the Archaic Period (about 8000-1000 bc) changes in the climate resulted in changing plant and animal life, providing deer and fish for native diets. Evidence also suggests that Archaic people used a variety of stone tools for hunting, fishing, and woodworking.
The late Archaic Period (4000-1000 bc) produced a culture that has interested archaeologists for its burial practices. Differing from previous cultures, the so-called Red Paint people placed bright red ocher, powdered hematite, and unusual stone artifacts in burial pits, suggesting detailed funeral rituals. Archaeological remains of the Red Paint people exist throughout Maine and New Brunswick and indicate the culture disappeared about 1800 bc, for unknown reasons. The final culture during the Archaic Period developed around 1500 bc and is referred to as the Susquehanna Tradition. These people also hunted deer and fished, and they migrated farther into the interior.
Archaeological evidence indicates that the next population to develop, people of the Ceramic Period, also fished and hunted, but the making of ceramic pottery distinguished them from their predecessors. The Ceramic period occurred from about 500 bc until contact with Europeans in the early 1500s.
When the first Europeans arrived to fish the waters off Maine’s coast, they encountered the Wabanaki, native people of the Algonquian linguistic stock. The native inhabitants hunted and farmed, lived in dwellings resembling wigwams and longhouses, and used birchbark canoes. The Wanbanaki included a number of bands of Abenaki, such as the Penobscot, the Kennebec, and the Passamaquoddy, whom the Europeans named for the rivers by which they lived. The Mi'kmaq, another Wabanaki group, were enemies of the Abenaki.
Some historians estimate that Maine’s Wabanaki population was about 20,000 at the time white settlement began. By 1620, however, more than half that number had died, from epidemics introduced by European contact and from intertribal warfare.
Norse explorers came to North America about 1100 and settled in regions throughout Greenland and Newfoundland, but whether they ever came to the Maine coast is debatable. The only evidence for their presence, a single Norse coin discovered in Maine in 1961, probably came by way of trade among native people. The 15th-century European explorations proved to be more important in shaping the region’s history.
In 1497 King Henry VII of England sponsored an exploratory expedition to the region. Led by explorer John Cabot, the expedition might have landed on the Maine coast, although the records are unclear. It is certain, however, that the Italian explorer Giovanni da Verrazzano, sailing in 1524 for the king of France, arrived on the Maine coast and described the land and the people he found there. Also during this time, European fishing vessels arrived to work the rich fishing grounds off the coast. Early in the 17th century England sent several more explorers, including Bartholomew Gosnold in 1602, Martin Pring in 1603, and George Waymouth in 1605, all of whom provided further information on the region’s resources.
In the 17th century, both France and England turned their interests from exploration to settlement in the region. In 1604 French explorers Samuel de Champlain and Pierre du Guast, Sieur de Monts, established a French settlement on Saint Croix Island. However, the small colony had to endure a harsh winter, and in 1605 its survivors moved to Port Royal in what is now Nova Scotia. In 1607 the Plymouth Company, influenced by Waymouth’s reports, sent George Popham and Raleigh Gilbert to found a colony at the mouth of the Kennebec River, but that settlement also failed the next year.
French and English interests soon came into conflict at Mount Desert Island, the site of a French Jesuit mission established in 1613. Word of the mission reached Sir Samuel Argall, commander of a Virginia Company fishing expedition, who sailed north, ordered the French to leave, and destroyed their settlement. This conflict set the stage for intermittent warfare between the French and the English over the next 150 years in Maine.
In 1614 English explorer Captain John Smith traveled the region and later published his observations regarding the local geography and climate. Smith’s information stirred further interest among potential English backers, particularly Sir Ferdinando Gorges. King James I and later Charles I of England granted Gorges a patent for the Council for New England, a charter company with proprietary rights to much of New England stretching to the Penobscot River. Gorges also received a monopoly on fishing rights in the region. In 1629 Gorges and a partner, John Mason, divided their land holdings. Gorges took the eastern part, which he called the province of Maine, while Mason named his area New Hampshire. During the 1620s a number of semipermanent fishing stations were established along the coast, from which evolved the first permanent settlements in Maine. Though Gorges himself never visited the region, he attempted to maintain authority through his emissaries, who were not altogether successful in gaining control.
Besides the lack of a consistently stable government, early settlement in Maine was also hampered by disputes over land titles. Titles that had originated in the royal grants given to Gorges and others included vague and overlapping boundaries and inaccurate knowledge of Maine’s geography. In addition, squatters and Native Americans made their own claims to land, which complicated sales. Settling conflicting claims usually meant lengthy court actions.
As a result of these problems, settlement in Maine was slow while neighboring Massachusetts grew rapidly in the 17th century. With a growing population and a more stable government, Massachusetts maneuvered to gain control of Maine’s potential riches. In the 1650s Massachusetts construed its charter as including title to Maine lands and annexed a number of southern Maine towns. The claims of Gorges and his heirs conflicted with the Massachusetts claims until 1677, when Massachusetts bought the Gorges title. Massachusetts assumed control of Maine until 1820.
The first European settlers in Maine depended on fishing, farming, furs, and lumbering. As early as the 16th century, Europeans fished off the coast of Maine, salting or sun-drying the catch before taking it back to Europe. In the 17th century, the Pilgrims, colonists in Massachusetts, engaged in both fishing and fur trading in Maine to pay debts they owed in England. However, the fur trade declined by the mid-17th century when the beaver supply was exhausted. Settlements turned increasingly to farming, though the harsh climate, together with a lack of roads and markets, meant that farms remained at the subsistence level. By 1650 permanent settlements existed at Kittery, Wells, Scarboro, and York. Settlements extended along the coast but not far inland, except along rivers that afforded transportation to the coast. Early settlers felled trees, planted crops, and chopped firewood in a continuous cycle of work to produce food, shelter, and warmth in the Maine environment.
From the late 17th century to the mid-18th century, Maine experienced a series of wars that pitted the Abenaki and the French against English settlers. In the first of these wars, King Philip’s War (1675-1678), the English settlers fought native people throughout New England. The principal cause was English settlement on native lands, though local tribes also had specific grievances against the settlers in their regions. Fighting in Maine continued until 1678, two years after Philip’s death ended hostilities in southern New England.
Imperial wars between European powers also influenced hostilities in Maine, which was located between the claims of the French and the English in North America. These conflicts along the frontier included King William’s War (1689-1697), Queen Anne’s War (1702-1713), King George’s War (1744-1748), and the French and Indian War (1754-1763). Linked to the wars between the European powers, fighting flared between the Wabanaki and English settlers during these same years, as the native people tried in vain to keep the whites from encroaching on their land, resources and sovereignty.
The wars devastated Maine’s towns and people, both native and European. Atrocities were committed on both sides. In 1691 there were only four English settlements left, all of them in the southern corner of the state, but settlers persisted in their efforts, returning again and again to build forts, blockhouses, stockades, and garrison houses. The Treaty of Paris, which finally ended the French and Indian War in 1763, ousted the French from North America and marked the end of the native peoples’ resistance in Maine. The Penobscot and Passamaquoddy remained in eastern Maine, and were eventually moved to reservations, while other groups moved to join Abenaki villages in Canada or continued to live in small groups in western Maine. After the wars, European settlers increased rapidly from 23,000 in 1765 to 47,000 in 1775.
After the French and Indian War, Great Britain increased taxes in the colonies to help defray the cost of the recent wars. In Maine, as elsewhere, the colonists’ response to the growing tensions with Britain was complex. Many people lived along the coast and were vulnerable to British attack. In addition, their livelihood often depended on trade with Britain, and they opposed an abrupt break with Britain. Their response ranged from cautious criticism to outright loyalty to the crown. But others, particularly those who lived farther inland and squatters who hoped war might allow them to own the land they occupied, willingly joined with Massachusetts patriots in 1765 in protesting the Stamp Act, a British measure to raise revenue that required tax stamps on various documents. Acts of resistance included burning tax collectors in effigy, signing petitions of protest against the stamp tax, and boycotting British goods. Later, in October 1775, the British navy burned Falmouth (now Portland) in response to that town’s acts of rebellion in refusing to supply the navy.
While Maine remained outside of the center of activity during the American Revolution, a few offensive actions did take place in the region. American military leader Benedict Arnold brought an expedition 193 km (120 mi) up the Kennebec River during his failed attempt to capture Québec from the British in 1775. In the same year, the people of Machias captured a British frigate, the Margaretta. However, Maine’s victories were few. When the British captured Castine in 1779, Massachusetts sent a fleet of 40 vessels and 1,000 men to retake the town. Although the American fleet outnumbered the British, the Americans suffered from indecisive leadership. While the Americans hesitated, more British ships arrived. The American fleet fled up the Penobscot River where the crew burned the ships to prevent their capture by the British. This event, known as the Penobscot Expedition, was one of the most disastrous naval episodes of the war. The coast of Maine remained under British control for the remainder of the war and became a haven for colonists loyal to Great Britain.
The American Revolution made clear that Massachusetts was unable or unwilling to protect its province of Maine against the British, and a movement for separation from Massachusetts gained strength after the war. Revolutionary rhetoric about freedom from Great Britain turned into arguments for freedom from Massachusetts. Many Maine residents argued that Massachusetts favored absentee landlords over people living on the land. Agitation for statehood grew further during the War of 1812, a conflict between the United States and Britain over the maritime rights of neutral nations; the British captured Eastport, Castine, Belfast, and Bangor. Finally, Massachusetts consented to separation, and a convention at Portland drafted a constitution. In 1820 Maine became the 23rd state as part of the Missouri Compromise, which allowed Maine to enter the Union as a free state to balance Missouri’s admission as a slave state.
|H||The Aroostook War|
Since the end of the American Revolution, the border between Maine and Canada had been disputed. In the late 1830s, lumber interests in the Canadian province of New Brunswick and in Maine both sought control of the area that is now Aroostook County. Maine and New Brunswick both sent troops to the area, but the so-called Aroostook War ended without bloodshed in 1839. The boundary dispute was resolved by the Webster-Ashburton Treaty in 1842 (see Northeast Boundary Dispute).
|I||Reform Movements of the 19th Century|
In Maine as in other places in the United States during the 19th century, many people turned their efforts to reforming society. Movements to abolish slavery and control the use of alcohol attracted much attention and support. In 1851 Maine passed legislation that outlawed the sale of alcohol and provided extensive powers of search and seizure to enforce the law. A number of other states adopted the so-called “Maine Law,” but critics in Maine pointed to overzealous law enforcers who abused their powers. By 1858 the Maine legislature revised the law, placing greater limits on the search-and-seizure clauses, but prohibition continued to be an important issue in Maine politics into the 20th century. Maine reformers also worked to abolish slavery, founding the Maine Antislavery Society in the 1830s and gaining strength in the decades before the Civil War (1861-1865).
|J||The Civil War|
During the Civil War, about 73,000 Maine residents fought in the Union army and navy. Maine regiments played key roles in many battles, notably the Battle of Gettysburg in 1863, a turning point in the war. Maine produced a number of political and military leaders in this period, including Generals Oliver Otis Howard and Joshua Chamberlain; Hannibal Hamlin, a former governor and U.S. senator who served as vice president under Abraham Lincoln from 1861 to 1865; and William Fessenden, a powerful U.S. senator who became Lincoln’s secretary of the treasury in 1864. Hamlin and Fessenden were prominent leaders of Maine’s Republican Party, which gained power in the Civil War era and remained dominant until the 1950s.
|K||Work and Workers in the 19th Century|
Throughout the 19th century Maine’s economy continued to rely on its resource-based industries, especially fish, granite, ice, and the wood industries. While these resources were abundant in the state, the industries were characterized by harsh and seasonal work for Maine’s people, limited capital investment, and dependence on erratic markets. By the late 19th century these industries tended toward monopoly capitalism controlled largely by out-of-state investors. Antagonism between Maine workers and nonresident owners did little to improve working conditions or low salaries.
Maine’s coastal geography and its vast woods supported another of Maine’s important 19th-century industries, shipbuilding, which was carried on in dozens of coastal towns. Workers in Maine built clipper ships, schooners, and large commercial ships known as “Down-Easters”; these vessels carried the state’s products such as fish, lumber, lime, and ice. Though competition from iron and steel ships in the late 19th century resulted in the decline of the wooden shipbuilding industry, the Maine shipbuilding tradition persisted at Bath Iron Works in southern Maine, where workers turned out 236 Liberty ships during World War II (1939-1945) and produced nuclear-powered submarines in the late 20th century.
While 19th-century Maine depended heavily upon resource-based industry and shipbuilding, industrial manufacturing had become more important by the middle of the century. One of Maine’s most important industries, cotton and woolen textiles, emerged in the 1840s in towns along the Androscoggin and Kennebec rivers. The mill towns boomed during the Civil War, filling government contracts for uniforms and tents. Lured by the prospect of work in the mills, many French Canadians migrated to Maine’s mill towns during the 1860s and 1870s, only to find harsh working and living conditions. Despite the efforts of the Knights of Labor, a labor union that flourished in Maine during the 1880s, industrial workers in Maine endured low wages and poor working conditions. In the 20th century, Maine lost its textile industry to southern competition, but the French American population remained a dynamic minority in Maine life and culture. In 1980 nearly one-fourth of the state’s population claimed French Canadian ancestry.
In agriculture, Maine faced severe competition from Western states, where farmers enjoyed richer soil and flat lands. Maine farmers adapted by turning to dairy farming, market gardening, and specialty crops such as apples, blueberries, and sweet corn. With the coming of the railroad to northern Maine in the late 19th century, farmers there gained access to markets and received national recognition for their potato production. In the 20th century, Western farmers have challenged Maine’s leadership in potato growing, but the crop remains an important part of Maine’s economy.
Politically, Maine was a stronghold of the Federalist Party until 1805, when Federalists backed away from advocating statehood and the new Democratic-Republican Party took up the cause. Maine’s population was growing, bringing in many settlers who favored statehood and became Democratic-Republicans. The party’s successor, the Democratic Party, remained predominant until the national dispute over slavery caused major party realignments in the 1850s.
The Republican Party, which opposed the extension of slavery, came to power just before the Civil War and continued to dominate the state for nearly a century. Several party leaders rose to national prominence in the late 19th century. Among these men were James G. Blaine, who served as Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives (1869-1875) and U.S. secretary of state and who ran unsuccessfully for the presidency in 1884; and Thomas B. Reed, Speaker of the House (1889-1891; 1895-1899).
The Democratic Party made slight inroads during the Great Depression, the economic crisis of the 1930s. In 1932 voters elected a Democratic governor for one term. But Maine was among only six states to vote against Democrat Franklin Delano Roosevelt when he was elected president in 1932. Roosevelt won three more terms as U.S. president, serving until 1945, but Maine’s voters favored his opponent in every election. The state remained fundamentally conservative and Republican into the 1950s. Margaret Chase Smith of Maine became the first woman to serve in both houses of Congress when she was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1948. Her 1950 speech, “Declaration of Conscience,” boldly criticized the tactics of U.S. Senator Joseph McCarthy in his anti-communist investigations at a time when few dared speak out against him.
While most of the nation enjoyed an economic and population boom during the years following World War II, Maine’s economy faltered and the population declined as people left the state to seek jobs elsewhere. The loss of defense jobs hurt southern Maine, while out-of-state competition sent the textile industry and agriculture into further decline. The pulp and paper industry alone enjoyed growth. As a result of these economic woes, Maine’s government had limited resources from which to draw, crippling the state’s ability to deliver education, health, and other social services. Consequently, the Republican Party finally began to lose its hold. The election of Democrat Edmund S. Muskie as governor in 1954 and as U.S. senator in 1958 represented the return of two-party politics in Maine. Muskie later was nominated as a Democratic candidate for vice president (1968) and served as secretary of state in 1980 and 1981 under President Jimmy Carter.
Under Muskie’s guidance, job opportunities grew and the state rededicated itself to improving the educational system, but when he attempted to clean up Maine’s rivers, the state’s hydroelectric and paper companies opposed the effort. However, Muskie’s attempts encouraged a grass-roots movement that led eventually to environmental legislation in the 1960s and 1970s.
During the 1960s Maine’s environmental movement made some headway by publicizing facts about industrial and municipal pollution routinely dumped into the rivers, lakes, and coastal waters. In the 1970s the state legislature responded by passing laws regulating clean water and air, land development, pesticide use, protection of wetlands, and many other issues. Many of Maine’s environmental laws have become models for other states.
Despite these successes, environmental efforts have conflicted with business interests, particularly two of the state’s biggest industries, paper and tourism. Many industries have not been eager to pay the cost of cleaning up the environment. Opponents of environmental mandates frame the debate as “pickerel vs. payroll,” arguing that the choice is between environmental issues and jobs. Supporters argue that eliminating many pollutants, such as the paper industry’s most carcinogenic pollutant, dioxin, used in bleaching the paper, does not threaten jobs. The tourist industry, by its success, also puts pressure on the environment, particularly along the coast, where huge summer crowds strain everything from small-town septic systems to air quality. Yet, a pristine environment is clearly important to the tourist industry as most visitors come to Maine to enjoy unspoiled nature. While tourism has been an important part of Maine’s economy since the 19th century, the state faces a question of whether further development of the industry would be self-defeating.
Environmental concerns have also been raised regarding the generation of electrical power. In November 1997 the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission ruled that Edwards Dam on the Kennebec River near Augusta negatively affected water quality and the migration of spawning salmon and other fish. The agency ordered the owners to demolish the structure at their own expense. The dam was demolished in 1999.
|N||Native American Land Claims Case|
Another issue which emerged in the 1960s was a land claims case in which Maine’s native inhabitants pursued rights to some 5 million hectares (12.5 million acres) of ancestral lands. The Passamaquoddy and Penobscot peoples rested their claims on the Indian Nonintercourse Act of 1790, which stated that sales of Native American land must be approved by the Congress of the United States. Since Congress did not approve sales of the two groups’ land in the 18th and 19th centuries, these sales were invalid, lawyers for the Native Americans argued. In a 1980 settlement, the U.S. government paid Maine’s native peoples $81.5 million to give up their claims to the land. With the money, the two groups purchased 121,000 hectares (300,000 acres) of land, invested in a variety of business ventures, and put the remaining money in a trust fund. While some native people opposed the settlement, calling it the final sell-out and a threat to their traditional culture, most welcomed the opportunity to turn the funds toward solving persistent social and economic problems. Few Penobscots remain who know their ancestral language, and many cultural traditions have been lost. The Passamaquoddy codified their language in the 1970s and employed bilingual teachers to help preserve its heritage.
Like the native population, the state at large faced questions about how to take advantage of economic opportunities while preserving a way of life. From 1970 to 1980 Maine enjoyed a population growth of 13.2 percent, exceeding the national average. During the 1980s the population grew an additional 9 percent to 1.2 million people, and the state improved its place in per capita income from 41st in the nation to 31st between 1980 and 1987. Many newcomers point to Maine’s lifestyle and the availability of relatively inexpensive land as the main attractions. Ironically, the economic and population growth that eluded the state in the 1950s and 1960s may have helped preserve a lifestyle that now brings people to the state.
While Maine enjoyed growth in the 1970s and 1980s, the 1990s reveal that not all of its people shared in the prosperity. Many Maine residents are unemployed or underemployed, or depend on low-paying service jobs, many in the tourist industry. Perhaps the state’s biggest challenge is to preserve the natural beauty of Maine while bringing in better jobs for its people.
The history section of this article was contributed by Carol Nordstrom Toner. The remainder of the article was contributed by Eldred Rolfe.