|Maine House||District 111|
|Maine Senate||District 3|
|Area sq. mi.||(total) 51.1|
|Area sq. mi.||(land) 49.8|
Total=land+water; Land=land only
[NAUR-ij-wok] a town in Somerset County was incorporated June 18, 1788 from Norridgewock Plantation. Other than ceding land to Skowhegan in 1828, when it was known as Milburn, and in 1856, the town annexed land from Fairfield (1834, 1841), Smithfield 1836 (then East Pond Plantation) and 1852, Madison (1846), Mercer (1849, 1852), and finally Starks (1907).
The name is apparently not derived from Native Americans, but of Norse origin meaning “A tribe located below the falls.” Early interpretations leaned toward an Indian term meaning “little falls and smooth waters above and below.”
An Indian community, the “Norridgewogs,” on the Kennebec River was attacked by the British in 1724 and killed the French priest Father Rasle.
The British later settled the area in 1773, though Benedict Arnold’s army passed through heading up the Kennebec River in 1775. According to Mary Calvert, Arnold stayed at the “widow Warren’s home” in Norridgewock.
The expedition reached Bombazine Rips after miles of calm water. These rapids signaled the beginning of some very hard going. The river was to get wilder and wilder as they progressed.
Otis Spaulding, one of the earliest settlers, purchased land here in 1815. He built the “Spaulding House” (photo below) about 1835 in the Greek Revival style. The house is considered an excellent example of the style in a rural setting.
Norridgewock became the shire town (county seat) of the newly established Somerset County in 1809, though it later lost that honor to neighboring Skowhegan in 1865. The county court followed in 1872.
Three granite quarries operated in the town during the 19th and early 20th centuries: Dodlin, Lawton and Taylor. All were located in the area of Dodlin Hill, south of Norridgewock village. A local organization of the Granite Cutters’ Union was formed in 1890. The Garment Workers’ Union, formed in 1900, represented people in the textile industry.
The Sophie May House, now on the National Register of Historic Places, was the home of Rebecca Clark, 1833-1906, (Sophie May) and Sarah Clark, writers of nineteenth century children’s books.
The house has been described as a “Greek Revival Temple house that beautifully displays the style of architecture which was popular in Maine during the thirty years before the Civil War.” It was built in 1845 by Cullen Sawtelle, a Norridgewock native and Bowdoin graduate, who sold it to Asa Clark, Rebecca’s father.
The village straddles a bend in the river at the junction of Maine Routes 8 and 139, and U.S. Routes 2 and 201A. The Sandy River empties into the Kennebec at the northern boundary of the town.
The old Norridgewock Bridge was constructed in 1929 to replace a 600-foot covered bridge, the second longest in Maine, following the 792-foot Bangor Covered Bridge. After many years of deterioration and repairs, the 1928 cement bridge over the Kennebec was demolished and replaced in 2010.
Benedict Arnold’s Expedition Route – click a Bateau
Allen, William. The History Of Norridgewock: Comprising Memorials Of The Aboriginal Inhabitants And Jesuit Missionaries; . . . . Norridgewock, Me. Edward J. Peet. 1849.
Bond, Native Names of New England Towns and Villages.
Calvert, Mary R. Dawn Over the Kennebec. 1986. p. 336.
Chadbourne, Ava Harriet. Maine Place Names and The Peopling of its Towns.
Cowie, Ellen Ruth. Continuity and Change at Contact-Period Norridgewock. 2002. (Thesis (Ph. D.)–University of Pittsburgh, 2002.)
Crane, Pamela. Historical Archaeology of Norridgewock Mission. 1997. (Thesis (M.A.) in History–University of Maine, 1997.)
Danforth, Florence Waugh. “Sophie May (Rebecca S. Clarke).” Lewiston, Me. The Journal Printshop. 1924. (Extracted from: Just Maine Folks, by the Maine Writers Research Club.)
Eckstorm, Fannie Hardy. “The Attack on Norridgewock, 1724.” New England Quarterly, September, 1934.
Emmons, Sidney Lyman. Growing up between the Bridges : Recollections of a Different Time in Norridgewock, Somerset County, Maine. edited by Amy Hequembourg. Maine. S. Emmons. 2008.
Hanson, J. W. History of the Old Towns, Norridgewock and Canaan, comprising Norridgewock, Canaan, Starks, Skowhegan, and Bloomfield, from their early settlement to the year 1849; including a sketch of the Abnakis Indians. Boston, Mass. The author. 1849.
Hetherly, Pam and Keith Wood. “A New Landmark for Norridgewock.” Structure. April, 2009. http://www.structuremag.org/article.aspx?articleID=891 (accessed March 30, 2013)
Maine. Historic Preservation Commission. “Sophie May House.” Augusta, Me. 1974. Photo credit: Earle G. Shettleworth, Jr. Photo date: 1974. Image source: National Register of Historic Places: http://pdfhost.focus.nps.gov/docs/nrhp/photos/76000114.PDF (accessed December 15, 2014); “Spaulding House” Augusta, Me. 1978. Photo credit: Frank A. Beard. Photo date: May 1978. Image source: National Register of Historic Places: http://pdfhost.focus.nps.gov/docs/nrhp/photos/78000201.PDF (accessed December 15, 2014). Information about the Spaulding House from http://pdfhost.focus.nps.gov/docs/nrhp/text/78000201.PDF (accessed December 15, 2014).
Norridgewock Historical Society. Bicentennial Book Committee. Norridgewock 200 Years, 1788-1988. Norridgewock, Me. The Society, 1988. (Norway, Me. The Oxford Group)
Sleeper, Frank. Madison, Norridgewock, and Smithfield. Dover, N.H. Arcadia Publishing. c1998. (pictorial)
Wood, Henrietta Danforth. Early Days Of Norridgewock. Skowhegan, Me. Skowhegan Press. 1941.
National Register of Historic Places – Listings
Douglas, C. F., House, Maine Route 8
Eaton School, junction of Main Street and Mercer Road
May, Sophie, House, Sophie May Lane
Norridgewock Female Academy, US 2 N side, .05 miles west of junction with Maine Route 8 [now the Norridgewock Historical Society, see photo above]
Norridgewock Free Public Library, Sophie May Lane [see photo above]
Spaulding House, Main Street