|Maine House||District 118|
|Maine Senate||District 3|
|Area sq. mi.||(total) 35.0|
|Area sq. mi.||(land) 34.6|
Total=land+water; Land=land only
[BING-uhm] a town in Somerset County, formerly T1 R1 BKP, EKR, in William Bingham’s Kennebec Purchase, was incorporated on February 06, 1812. Named for William Bingham, the town was included in his second purchase of Maine lands, which consisted primarily of what is now Somerset County.
Settled in 1785, it was the one hundred and eighty-ninth town in the District of Maine. The records of the first town clerk, Ephraim Woods, are still available. Bingham was the home of author Arthur R. MacDougall, Jr., whose “Dud Dean” stories captured outdoor life in the area during the 1920’s and 1930’s. MacDougall also served as minister in the Congregational Church.
Located on the Kennebec River, U.S. Route 201, its Main Street, carries visitors to and from Quebec City, and logging trucks bound for paper mills down the River.
Until the 1970’s, the Kennebec and other rivers were clogged with logs floating down to paper mills in Madison and Winslow. A successful private lawsuit ended the practice and returned the resource to all the people of Maine.
The Quimby sawmill was a major employer for many years. After declining in recent years and closing in 2006, it was sold, dismantled, and shipped to Siberia. According to the Morning Sentinal newspaper, “All that is left of the former blue, 28,000-square-foot sawmill are several steel roof girders lying in mud and snow.”
National Register of Historic Places – Listings
Bingham Free Meetinghouse
[South Main Street (U.S. 201)] The Meetinghouse is the earliest church building used by the first religious organization north of Caratunk Falls on the Kennebec in Maine’s wilderness. It was an early ecumenical experiment when denominational lines were ordinarily very strictly drawn.
In 1805, a “Society Meeting” was formed by Mrs. Elizabeth Goodrich which met every Sabbath for religious observances. Soon a Congregational Church was organized. Meetings were originally held in homes of members. After 1815 the local schoolhouse was used. By 1835 the town had increased in size and prosperity. In response to Mrs. Goodrich’s frequent reminder, “You are building better homes for yourselves, but none for God,” the Union Free Meetinghouse Society was formed. It built the church on a hill south of the village in 1836, an entirely a local effort.
Timber was cut from the banks of the local Austin Stream. Builders came from nearby Bingham, Concord and North Anson. The influence of the passing Federal style appears in the doorways and both interior and exterior woodwork, while the emerging Gothic Revival style is seen in the pointed arch windows and the pinnacles at each corner of the tower. It was dedicated October 29, 1836.*
Chadbourne, Ava Harriet. Maine Place Names and The Peopling of its Towns: Kennebec and Somerset Counties.
History Committee of the Bingham Sesquicentennial. Bingham Sesquicentennial History, 1812-1962. Skowhegan, Me. Skowhegan Press. 1962.
*Maine. Historic Preservation Commission. Augusta, Me. Additional text and photos from National Register of Historic Places: http://pdfhost.focus.nps.gov/docs/nrhp/text/80000255.PDF and http://pdfhost.focus.nps.gov/docs/nrhp/photos/80000255.PDF
Records of the society for building a meeting-house in Bingham. 1835-1837. [Maine State Library]
Rhoda, Erin. “Bingham sawmill’s story ends in Siberia.” Morning Sentinal. March 21, 2011. http://www.onlinesentinel.com/news/sawmill-story-ends-in-siberia_2011-03-20.html (accessed September 14, 2011)