Maine: An Encyclopedia


Location Map for Alna

Location Map for Alna

Year Population
1970 315
1980 425
1990 571
2000 675
2010 709
Geographic Data
N. Latitude 44:05:23
W. Latitude 69:38:36
Maine House District 87
Maine Senate District 13
Congress District 1
Area sq. mi. (total) 21.4
Area sq. mi. (land) 20.9
Population/sq.mi. (land) 33.9
County: Lincoln

Total=land+water; Land=land only
Alna Population Chart 1800-2010

Population Trend 1800-2010

Clipper Ship Built Here

  • King Phillip–1856

[ALL-nah] in Lincoln County, was probably settled around 1760 and was incorporated as New Milford on June 25, 1794, changing its name to Alna on February 28, 1811.

Routes 194 and 218 run north-south through the town.

During its early history, it annexed land from Newcastle (1795), Jefferson (1816), and Whitefield and Jefferson (1824).

Later, Alna ceded land to Wiscasset (1839) and Dresden (1841).

Old Dam on the Sheepscot River at Head Tide (2004)

Old Dam on the Sheepscot River at Head Tide Village

Old Dam on the Sheepscot River at Head Tide (2004)

Old Dam on the Sheepscot River at Head Tide (2004)

According to Ava Harriet Chadbourne,

“The inhabitants of the town felt that this [New Milford] was not a satisfactory name, so in 1811, through the exertions of Josiah Stebbins and others, a special town meeting was called for the purpose of selecting a more truly descriptive name.

Alna Town Office (2007)

Alna Town Office (2007)

The name Alna was chosen, from the Latin word alnus for alder, since there were many beautiful alder trees growing along the banks of the Sheepscot River.”

In 1789 New Milford erected its now historic Meeting House.  Six years later the Alna Central School was built. Both are still standing and are on the National Register of Historic places.

Alna is also home to the Wiscasset, Waterville and Farmington narrow gauge railway museum.

Alna Meetinghouse (2004)

Alna Meetinghouse – Rear View (2004)

Alna Meetinghouse (2004)

Alna Meetinghouse (2004)

Home in the Head Tide Historic District (2004)

Home in the Head Tide Historic District (2004)

"The Old Head Tide Store" in the Historic District (2004)

“Old Head Tide Store” in the District (’04) @

Head Tide Village Historical Marker (2013)

Head Tide Village Historical Marker (2013) @

The village of Head Tide, birthplace of poet Edwin Arlington Robinson, has been described as a “small, picturesque river community with many excellent examples of well-preserved 19th century buildings.”

They include Robinson’s birthplace and the Old Alna Meetinghouse built in 1789.

The Sheepscot River runs through the town, forming its border in the northwest and south east.  The River is also a site for canoe trips from Whitefield to Wiscasset.

Farm on Route 218 (2013)

Farm on Route 218 (2013) @

Form of Government: Town Meeting-Select Board.

More Videos!


Additional resources

Chadbourne, Ava Harriet. Maine Place Names and The Peopling of its Towns

*Colonial Meetinghouses of New England. (accessed December 19, 2014)

Elementary School History of Alna, Dresden, Edgecomb, Pittston, Wiscasset, State of Maine: a school project. Organized by Randall F. Cummings. Head Tide School, Alna … [et al.]. 1933. [University of Maine. Orono and Farmington, Special Collections; Maine State Library; Bangor Public Library]

**Maine. Historic Preservation Commission. Augusta, Me.   Text and photos from National Register of Historic Places: and

Alna Meetinghouse: 70000079.PDF
Alna School: 75000101.PDF
Moses Carleton House: 02000783.PDF
Head Tide Historic District: 74000320.PDF
Parson’s Bend: 05001439.PDF

Palmer, Rundlette Kensell. A History of Alna, Maine. The Author. 1978.

Pingree, Margaret C. Alna, Maine 1760-1800: At the Time of the Writing of the Constitution. Newcastle, Me. Lincoln County Publishing Co. 1987.

Sewall, Rufus King. Centennial Memorial Services of Old Alna Meetinghouse, Alna, Maine, September 11, 1889. Wiscasset, Me. Emerson, printer. 1896.

Walker, Nell. (ed.) A Brief History of Old Alna. Alna, Me. Committee for Alna History. 1990.

National Register of Historic Places – Listings

Alna Meetinghouse also known as Old Alna Church

[Maine Route 218 Alna Center] The Meetinghouse (see photos and video above), built by Joseph Carlton in 1789, was incorporated in 1796 as a Congregational church. An example of a traditional meetinghouse in Maine, it has family owned square box pews, a raised pulpit, original wide pine floor boards, and huge hand-hewn pillars and beams. It was remodeled in 1822, adding gallery pews, an entrance hall, and grain-painted woodwork.

In winter, members brought foot stoves filled with glowing coals. They were admitted to the Church after a detailed examination of their faith. In 1832, a temperance pledge to “abstain spirits as an article of drink” was added. Regular church services were held until 1876. Recently the building has been used for Town Meetings and weddings.* [See photos above.]

Alna School

Alna Center School (2007)[Alna Center]This small 1795 frame structure [See photos in video above.] with its graceful little cupola is the second oldest surviving one room schoolhouse in Maine. The oldest, at York, dates from about fifty years earlier. A comparison of the two reveals the crudeness of the earlier building when resources were scarce,  and a secure and increasingly prosperous era after the Revolution when buildings became more refined and “architectural” in presentation during the second half of the 18th century.

The earlier structure portrays a frontier existence where expediency determined form and style; the Alna School reflects a secure and increasingly prosperous era after the Revolution when buildings became more refined. A cupola was added a few years after the initial construction. The building served as a school well into the 20th century but was remodeled somewhat to accommodate the Alna Town Office for a while.**

Moses Carleton House

Moses Carleton House (2005)

Moses Carleton House (2005)

[Hollywood Boulevard, 0.2 miles northeast of the junction with Maine Route 94] (See photos above.) The Carleton property contains a Federal style house, with two barns, carriage shed and associated fields and orchards, on a high bluff overlooking the Sheepscot River, about three-quarters of a mile southeast of Head Tide Village. Built by 1810 by Moses Carleton, for his daughter and her husband, the complex is an intact, almost untouched, example of the  farmsteads that dotted the Sheepscot Valley in the earliest decades of the 19th century.

Carleton House Interior (2005)

Carleton House Interior (2005)

The home, changed little since its was built about 1810, reflects the wealth that many first generation of settlers in Alna and Lincoln county accumulated through shipbuilding, speculation and business. It is related in time and space to the historic homes at Head Tide. [Photos by Christi A. Mitchell, April, 2002.]

Head Tide Historic District

[both sides of Sheepscot River] Head Tide and the surrounding region were settled as to allow the Boston based Plymouth Company to develop their holdings in the Kennebec River valley. The Company decided in the mid-18th century to encourage settlement on its lands to keep out the French, to protect fur trapping, and to secure timber for the mast trade.

Head Tide Village (2013) @

House in the District (2014)

House in the District (2014) @

By the early 19th century, the village possessed most of mills in Alna. Water wheels were powered by the dam at Head Tide: two for saw mills, two for grist mills, one for a planing mill and one for a cloth finishing mill. its growing influence was apparent in the 1830’s when three-fourths of the town’s church services transferred to the 1838 Head Tide Church.

Today the tangible remains of Head Tide’s more than two centuries of history are its fourteen fine 18th and 19th century homes and buildings and its beautiful natural setting. With the exception of the now-vanished mills, they are representative of an old Maine village: ranging from a humble Cape to the minister’s parsonage, a store, a stable, a school, and a church.**

Parsons Bend

Parson's Bend (2005)

Parson’s Bend (2005)

[100 Nelson Road] Parson’s Bend is an early 19th century homestead farm nestled against the Sheepscot River. The property is roughly divided north to south with approximately 18 acres of fields and pasture in the west and 19 acres of mixed deciduous and coniferous woods to the east and south. The path of the southerly flowing river makes a right angle, or bend, around the property.

Parson's Bend Barn (2005)

Parson’s Bend Barn (2005)

The buildings are just to the south of the river and are accessed by a gently curving track that leads north from Nelson Road, a narrow, east to west dirt lane that forms the southern boundary of the farm. A gable fronted barn, a one story cape with attached ells, and a small seasonal cottage are at the head of the drive

Two stories in height with the main entrance under the gable end, the barn is a timber-framed building. Stylistically and structurally, the barn appears to date from the first decades of the 19th century when New England gable-front barns were first developed in Northern New England. [Photos by Christi A. Mitchell, July 11, 2005.]

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This entry was last modified: September 14, 2017 06:49 PM

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