Maine, The Pine Tree State

Maine, The Pine Tree State

by Sandra Merville Hart

Maine is known as The Pine Tree State for the white pine forests that used to cover a large portion of the northeastern United States. Logging in the 1700s and 1800s left only about one percent of the original trees.

Before colonial days, white pines grew as tall as 230 feet. Now they grow to 160 to 180 feet.

The early history of Maine

In 1607, George Popham led a group of English colonists to establish Maine’s first settlement, Fort St. George. Harsh climate conditions and Popham’s death prompted the colonists to return to England the following year.

York, originally known as Agamenticus and then Gorgeana, became the United States first chartered city in 1641. Gorgeana was renamed York in 1652, the year southwestern Maine was annexed by the Massachusetts Bay Colony.

France and England compete for Maine

For almost 150 years, both France and England competed for Maine beginning in the early 1600s. The conflict began at Mount Desert Island. Land title disputes between Native Americans, French, and English residents made settlement difficult.

The French and Indian War (1754-63) finally brought peace and English settlers came.

schooner-487800_960_720Maine separates from Massachusetts

Maine residents wanted to separate from Massachusetts after the Revolutionary War.

The Missouri Compromise allowed Missouri to become a slave state and Maine a free state. Maine finally became the 23rd state on March 15, 1820.

Shipbuilding

Throughout the 1800s, shipbuilding thrived in Maine with the abundance of forests. They built schooners, commercial ships, and clipper ships.

When the demand for iron and steel ships rose, the need for wooden ships slackened. Bath Iron Works opened and workers made the modern ships customers desired again.

Nation’s largest blueberry crop

blueberries-1031221_960_720Maine supplies the country’s largest blueberry crop. The berries grow on hillsides and rocky terrain. Over 100 years ago, Abijah Tabbutt, a Maine resident, invented a special rake to harvest blueberries, which happens from late July to early September.

Other fun facts about Maine

The nation’s most easterly city is Eastport, Maine.

Maine supplies around 90% of the nation’s lobsters.

Maine’s highest spot, Mount Katahdin, is the first place in the country to watch the sun rise.

The state supplies 90% of the country’s toothpicks.

The official state treat is the whoopee pie, which is actually more of a cake.

Sources

Gutman, Bill. The Look-It-Up Book of the 50 States, Random House, 2002.

“Maine,” History.com, 2016/07/14   http://www.history.com/topics/us-states/maine.

“Maine,” State Symbols USA, 2016/07/14   http://www.statesymbolsusa.org/states/united-states/maine.

“Maine Facts and Trivia,” 50 States.com, 2016/07/14  http://www.50states.com/facts/maine.htm.

 

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