Maine: An Encyclopedia

Somerset County

Map of Maine Counties and Baxter Park

Map of Maine Counties and Baxter Park

is the ninth most populous of the sixteen counties, located in north central Maine, formed on March 1, 1809 from the northern portion of Kennebec County. In 1838 substantial sections of the county were given up to form Piscataquis and Franklin counties. See an 1860 map of the county in the Map Cabinet.

A series of boundary changes in the 19th century came to an end in 1885 when a portion of Wellington in Piscataquis County was annexed to Cambridge in Somerset.

The county now consists of the towns of Anson, Athens, Bingham, Cambridge, Canaan, Caratunk, Cornville, Detroit, Embden, Fairfield, Harmony, Hartland, Jackman, Madison, Mercer, Moose River, Moscow, New Portland, Norridgewock, Palmyra, Pittsfield, Ripley, Skowhegan, Smithfield, Solon, St. Albans, Starks; and the plantations of  Brighton, Dennistown, Highland, Pleasant Ridge, The Forks, and West Forks; and the townships of Concord, and Rockwood Strip, among others.

The county contains U.S. Route 201 which extends about 100 miles from its southern most point to the border with the Province of Quebec.

Skowhegan is the most populous town and is the County Seat, hosting the county government, courthouse, and the county jail.

In 2010, Somerset County’s population represented 3.9% of the state’s total, with a census count of 52,228 a 2.6% increase over 2000.

National Register of Historic Place

Somerset County Courthouse

Somerset County Courthouse (2003)

[High and Court Street] Though obviously an architecturally distinguished building and the work of two out- standing architects, the Somerset County Courthouse has an interesting political history. Charles F. Douglas who designed his own house in Norridgewock, designed the original structure in 1873. The county outgrew the building by the end of the century. It was enlarged and remodeled in 1904 with sensitivity to the Douglas design by John Calvin Stevens, Maine’s most famous architect.

On March 1, 1809, the northern part of the Kennebec County was incorporated under the name of Somerset County with Norridgewock as the county seat. A later act of 1872 changed the county seat to Skowhegan provided that town would provide a suitable place for holding court within a very short time or the act would be void. Skowhegan immediately prepared temporary space, but the County Commissioners declared it unsatisfactory, because of the competition with Norridgewock.

Much litigation was only settled when ex-Governor Abner Coburn of Skowhegan, perhaps the wealthiest man in the state, offered to pay for a large formal courthouse in Skowhegan, an offer the county as a whole could not refuse.

People QuickFacts (updated November 4, 2010)
Somerset County Maine
Population, 2009 estimate 50,947 1,318,301
Population, percent change, April 1, 2000 to July 1, 2009 0.1% 3.4%
Population estimates base (April 1) 2000 50,888 1,274,915
Persons under 5 years old, percent, 2009 5.3% 5.4%
Persons under 18 years old, percent, 2009 21.6% 20.6%
Persons 65 years old and over, percent, 2009 16.0% 15.6%
Female persons, percent, 2009 51.0% 51.2%
White persons, percent, 2009 (a) 97.5% 96.1%
Black persons, percent, 2009 (a) 0.5% 1.2%
American Indian and Alaska Native persons, percent, 2009 (a) 0.5% 0.6%
Asian persons, percent, 2009 (a) 0.4% 1.0%
Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander, percent, 2009 (a) Z Z
Persons reporting two or more races, percent, 2009 1.1% 1.1%
Persons of Hispanic or Latino origin, percent, 2009 (b) 0.7% 1.4%
White persons not Hispanic, percent, 2009 96.9% 94.9%
Living in same house in 1995 and 2000, pct 5 yrs old & over 65.7% 59.6%
Foreign born persons, percent, 2000 1.7% 2.9%
Language other than English spoken at home, pct age 5+, 2000 4.3% 7.8%
High school graduates, percent of persons age 25+, 2000 80.8% 85.4%
Bachelor’s degree or higher, pct of persons age 25+, 2000 11.8% 22.9%
Persons with a disability, age 5+, 2000 10,590 237,910
Mean travel time to work (minutes), workers age 16+, 2000 24.2 22.7
Housing units, 2009 29,096 704,578
Homeownership rate, 2000 77.8% 71.6%
Housing units in multi-unit structures, percent, 2000 11.3% 20.3%
Median value of owner-occupied housing units, 2000 $70,100 $98,700
Households, 2000 20,496 518,200
Persons per household, 2000 2.44 2.39
Median household income, 2008 $35,277 $46,419
Per capita money income, 1999 $15,474 $19,533
Persons below poverty level, percent, 2008 18.7% 12.6%
Business QuickFacts Somerset County Maine
Private nonfarm establishments, 2008 1,223 41,7551
Private nonfarm employment, 2008 14,388 509,0931
Private nonfarm employment, percent change 2000-2008 -13.0% 3.5%1
Nonemployer establishments, 2008 3,567 113,522
Total number of firms, 2002 4,438 135,410
Black-owned firms, percent, 2002 F 0.2%
American Indian and Alaska Native owned firms, percent, 2002 F 0.5%
Asian-owned firms, percent, 2002 F 0.6%
Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander owned firms, percent, 2002 F S
Hispanic-owned firms, percent, 2002 F 0.5%
Women-owned firms, percent, 2002 29.0% 24.0%
Manufacturers shipments, 2002 ($1000) 1,210,281 13,851,915
Wholesale trade sales, 2002 ($1000) D 10,371,084
Retail sales, 2002 ($1000) 430,579 16,053,515
Retail sales per capita, 2002 $8,436 $12,370
Accommodation and foodservices sales, 2002 ($1000) 39,325 2,045,841
Building permits, 2009 71 3,1211
Federal spending, 2008 408,354 11,974,3611
Geography QuickFacts Somerset County Maine
Land area, 2000 (square miles) 3,926.50 30,861.55
Persons per square mile, 2000 13.0 41.3
FIPS Code 025 23
Metropolitan or Micropolitan Statistical Area None
1: Includes data not distributed by county.
(a) Includes persons reporting only one race.
(b) Hispanics may be of any race, so also are included in applicable race categories.D: Suppressed to avoid disclosure of confidential information
F: Fewer than 100 firms
FN: Footnote on this item for this area in place of data
NA: Not available
S: Suppressed; does not meet publication standards
X: Not applicable
Z: Value greater than zero but less than half unit of measure shown
Source: (accessed May 1, 2011)

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This entry was last modified: November 11, 2017 06:19 PM

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