Maine: An Encyclopedia
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Brownville

Location Map for Brownville

Location Map for Brownville

Year Population
1970 1,490
1980 1,545
1990 1,506
2000 1,259
2010 1,250
Brownville Population Chart 1830-2010

Population Trend 1830-2010

Geographic Data
N. Latitude 45:21:46
W. Latitude 68:45:40
Maine House District 120
Maine Senate District 4
Congress District 2
Area sq. mi. (total) 44.6
Area sq. mi. (land) 44.4
Population/sq.mi. (land) 28.2
County: Piscataquis

Total=land+water; Land=land only

[BROWN-vil] Town in Piscataquis County, incorporated on February 3, 1824 from township T5 R8 NWP, known as Brownville Plantation.

Pleasant River East Branch from Route 11 (2012)

Pleasant River East Branch from Route 11 (2012) @

Named for Francis Brown, an early settler and mill owner, the village lies just north of Milo along the Pleasant River, a tributary to the Piscataquis River.

Famed for its slate (it won first prize at the 1876 Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia), Brownville’s quarry industry ended in 1917, though slate heaps remain on the west side of the river north of the village.

Railroad Yard in Brownville Junction (2014)

Railroad Yard, Brownville Junction (2014) @

The village of Brownville Junction is so named for the railroad junction of the Canadian Atlantic and Bangor and Aroostook railroads.

Brownville Junction village is located north of Brownville via Maine Route 11 on the West Branch of the Pleasant River.

The area was home to several railroad associated labor unions: Locomotive Engineers (1890); Locomotive Firemen (pre-1903); and Railroad Trainmen (1898).

sign: "Gulf Hagas, Katahdin Iron Works" on Route 11 (2014)

“Gulf Hagas, Katahdin Iron Works” on Route 11 (2014) @

Brownville is the eastern gateway to The Hermitage, 35 acres of stately 150-year-old-growth white pine on a bluff overlooking the Pleasant River. This National Natural Landmark includes five kettle hole remains of a retreating glacier, the largest of which is Pugwash Pond.

On the Appalachian Trail near Gulf Hagas and the Katahdin Iron Works, The Hermitage is managed by the Nature Conservancy.

Medal of Honor

Congressional Medal of Honor

Civil War

WALTER G. MORRILL

Form of Government:
Town Meeting-
Select Board-Manager.

Additional resources

Brownville Sesquicentennial Book, 1824-1974. Dover-Foxcroft, Me. Printed by the Piscataquis Observer. 1974?

Gerrish, Judson. History of Brownville, 1824-1924. Dover-Foxcroft, Me. F. D. Barrows. 1924.

Lewis, Susan M. A Little Book Of Village Verse: With Other Writings Of Interest To The Townspeople Of Brownville. 1932? Bangor, Me. Jordan-Frost Printing Co.

*Maine. Historic Preservation Commission. Augusta, Me.   Text and photos from National Register of Historic Places: http://pdfhost.focus.nps.gov/docs/nrhp/text/xxxxxxxx.PDF and http://pdfhost.focus.nps.gov/docs/nrhp/photos/xxxxxxxx.PDF

Brown House: 85000273 .PDF
Slate House: 95000217.PDF

Milo, Brownville, and Lake View. Milo Historical Charleston , SC Arcadia Publishing. 2009.

The Pioneer: Historical Sketches of Brownville, Maine. Edited by Susan Merrill. Brownville, Me. 1911-1912.

Sawtell, William R. Brownville Slate Quarries. W.R. Sawtell. c1998. (Old Town, Me. Howland’s Printing Co.)

Sawtell, William R. Ebeemee, North Brownville and the Prairie. Greenville, Me. Moosehead Communications. c2006.

Sawtell, William R. The Merrill Slate Quarry of Brownville. Milo, Me. Penquis Publishing. 2008.

Sawtell, William R. Of Brownville and the Junction. 1983. Milo, Me. Printed by the Milo Printing Company.

Sawtell, William R. Slate, Rails and Men: the History of Brownville. 1994?- .Dover-Foxcroft, Me. Printed at D & B Printing Services.

National Register of Historic Places – Listings

Brown House

Brown House (1984)

[High Street] In addition to being the home of the settler after whom the town was named, the Brown House is unique in Maine for this period. The construction of the “suspended” second floor ceiling distinguishes the building.  In the early years of the 19th century, Moses Brown, a prominent citizen of Newburyport, Massachusetts, purchased a tract in central Maine. In 1815 he sent his son Francis to build a lumber mill, to oversee the region and administer the town as it grew. With the growth of Brownville, the house grew, taking twelve years to complete. The hardware came from Boston, the foundation from quarries near the coast. The clay for bricks in the massive cellar arches and chimneys was dug thirty miles away in Charleston. When finally completed, Brown’s house was the grandest in town and an architectural wonder in what was still a very remote area in the Maine woods.* [Frank A. Beard photo]

Katahdin Ironworks

Northwest of Brownville Junction at Silver Lake [See Katahdin Iron Works.]

Slate House

Slate House (c. 1990)[123 Church Street] The c. 1860 Slate House is an Italianate style house, noted for its unique use of locally quarried slate in its foundation, entrance steps and sheathing of its exterior walls. It is the only known building in Maine that makes such a diverse use of the material.

The house was built for the superintendent of a local quarrying firm. Slate quarrying a commercial scale in Maine began in 1843 or 1844 at the Crocker Quarry in Brownville. Several quarries operated in town thereafter. By 1860 two large quarries dominated the local industry. The larger of the two, Bangor and Piscataquis Slate Company, employed an average of thirty men who produced 7,000 squares of roofing slate valued at $21,000. Within a decade the smaller Merrill quarry would surpass it both in the number of employees and volume of product.

As in all of the Maine slate quarries, the work force appears to have been comprised largely of Welsh immigrants who brought a knowledge of this particular type of quarry work with them from an internationally known slate region in Wales. The Bangor and Piscataquis Slate Company folded in 1871 and the quarry ceased to operate between 1876 and 1890. It reopened briefly but closed again in 1910.

According to local tradition, the Slate House was first occupied by William Sparrow (1811-1901) who became superintendent of the Crocker quarry in the early 1860s. Sparrow was a member of a large Portland family among whom was his architect brother Thomas J. Sparrow.

Slate for roofing was very popular locally; a 1987 estimate of existing houses with slate roofs in Brownville put the number at eighty. The inventive way it was employed on the Slate House is not known to have been repeated. In all likelihood this was due to the greater initial cost and the expense of heating such a house, reportedly needing thirty-five cords of wood annually.* [Janet Roberts photo]




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