Maine: An Encyclopedia

Timeline of Maine History 08: Reform and Optimism


Eastern Manufacturing 1910, later Eastern Fine Paper Company

Eastern Manufacturing 1910, later Eastern Fine Paper Company

The beginning of the 20th century was marked by the expansion of pulp and paper mills, including the new Great Northern Paper Company mill in Millinocket. Eastern Maunfacturing in Brewer became Eastern Fine Paper Company.

Lakewood summer theater in Madison symbolized the growing summer tourist industry. The economy was strong enough for labor law reforms protecting women and children in the workplace, and for many unions to become organized to improve labor conditions.

Progressive reformers successfully introduced the initiative and referendum process, allowing Maine voters to propose, pass or defeat legislation. Later, direct primary elections were established to permit voter participation in the candidate nomination process, replacing nomination by political committees. Public participation in government was enhanced by the fact that the number of newspapers reached an all-time high in the late 1920’s.

Public health concerns of typhoid fever in Bangor and the general influenza epidemic in 1918, along with a rash of forest fires, had their impact. However, the responses drew more attention to public health policy and forest fire prevention practices.


Great Northern Paper Company, begins producing news print in Millinocket in the world’s largest paper mill.
James Healy, son of an ex-slave and an Irish immigrant, dies after 25 years as Bishop of Portland.
Population: 694,466.


Lakewood summer theater presents its first play, beginning a long tradition that lasted almost a century.
Lombard log haulers, invented by A. O. Lombard of Springfield and later Waterville, become available, revolutionizing woods work by allowing large loads to be hauled.
Incorporation of the towns of Crystal and Millinocket.


First issues of the Fort Fairfield Review newspaper, published by C. Harvey.
First publication of the Brunswick Record newspaper by the Brunswick Publishing Company.
Many unions organized, including the Houlton Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers, the Augusta Loomfixers’ Union, the Augusta Carders’ Union , and the Skowhegan Painters, Decorators and Paperhangers’ Union.


Forest fires burn 268,000 acres, most in unorganized townships.
Incorporation of the Town of Castle Hill.


Typhoid fever epidemic strikes Bangor, drinking from the Penobscot River is blamed.
Birth in Lewiston of Governor (1949-1953) and U.S. Senator (1953-1959) Frederick G. Payne.


Incorporation of the towns of Southwest Harbor and Westfield.
Maine Highway Commission created to improve rural roads.
First fire lookout tower in the U.S. constructed on Squaw Mountain by the Shaw Lumber Company of Greenville.


USS Georgia, the first and only Bath Iron Works-built battleship, is delivered.
State has 109 pulp and paper mills, up from 21 in 1885.


Initiative and Referendum provision adopted allowing citizen initiated ballot questions.
Unsuccessful attempt to move the State Capitol to Portland.
Incorporation of the towns of Bowerbank and East Millinocket.


Forest fires burn 142,000 acres, most in unorganized townships.
Aroostook State Normal School‘s [now the University of Maine at Presque Isle] first women’s basketball game is played between the senior and freshman classes.


Maine Forestry District established for fire protection in unorganized townships.
Incorporation of the Town of Portage Lake.
Bowdoin graduate Robert E. Peary reportedly reaches the North Pole.
Six-masted schooner Wyoming, largest wooden sailing vessel ever built, completed by the Percy and Small Shipyard in Bath.


Final boundary dispute with Canada settled.
The 58-hour work week established for women and children; minimum age for child labor raised to 16 from 14.
Artist Winslow Homer dies at his home in Prout’s Neck.
Population: 742,371.


Direct primary elections established for nomination of candidates.
Constitutional amendment declares Augusta the official seat of government.
Incorporation of the towns of Eagle Lake, Merrill, Stockholm.
Portland Museum of Art, Maine’s first non-college art museum, opens.


Kate Douglas Wiggin, author of many children’s books based on her experiences as a child in Hollis and Buxton, including Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm, dies.
Andrew Sockalexis of Indian Island is first Mainer to compete in an Olympic event, finishing fourth in the marathon in Sweden.
The Maine Cooperative Extension Service is established at the University of Maine.
L. L. Bean sells his first hunting boots by mail order from Freeport.
Maine voters choose Woodrow Wilson in the presidential election, the first Democrat since Bowdoin graduate Franklin Pierce won in 1852.


Incorporation of the towns of Connor and Wade.


Outbreak of World War I; U.S. not involved until 1917.
Public Utilities Commission formed after voters approve it in a referendum.
Thorton Academy girls win the State Basketball Championship title, finishing the season with a 9-1 record.


First Workers’ (at the time “Workmen’s”) Compensation law enacted to compensate for injuries received on the job.
Incorporation of the towns of Chapman, North Kennebunkport, and South Bristol.
German army officer arrested attempting to blow up the Canadian Railroad Bridge between Vanceboro and Canada.


Machine gun inventor Sir Hiram Stevens Maxim, of Sangerville, who also invented smokeless powder, a gas generator and other items, dies in London.
Sieur de Monts National Monument (now Acadia National Park) was designated by Presidential Proclamation.


Shipwreck of the two-masted schooner Willis & Guy, built in 1873 in Belfast, on the ledges of Pemaquid Point in a dense fog.
Kittery-Portsmouth Naval Shipyard produces the first Navy-built submarine for use in World War I.


Theaters closed statewide to limit spread of the influenza epidemic in which 43,242 Maine people became ill. 2,554 died directly of the disease, 1,556 died of related pneumonia.
Birth of Congressman (1957-1961) and Chief Judge of the U. S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit (1972-1983) Frank M. Coffin.
Acadia National Park created.
World War I ends; 1,026 Mainers died of a total 35,061 who served.


Name of Sieur de Monts National Monument (now Acadia National Park) was changed to Lafayette National Park by an Act of Congress.
Mandatory deer registration begins. Residents must purchase “lifetime” licenses to hunt deer.
The state’s forest resources stand at a record low 80 million cords of timber, because of intense harvesting, recent fires, and clearing for farms.
First official airmail flight in Maine, from Portland to Augusta and return.


Population: 768,014.


Incorporation of the towns of Drew and Owl’s Head.
Medical School of Maine, located at Bowdoin College, closes after a century of operation.
Guy Gannet buys the Waterville Sentinel; as well as the Portland Press and the Portland Herald, creating the Portland Press Herald.
The first girl’s varsity game in any sport played at the U. of Maine is a basketball game with New Hampshire.


Incorporation of the town of Dover-Foxcroft.
Dora B. Pinkham wins election to the Maine House of Representatives as the first woman member of the legislature.
Maine Publicity Bureau formed by the tourism industry.


Shipwreck of the five masted schooner Robert W., built in 1847, when it was caught in a northeast gale and struck York Beach.
Shipwreck of the steamer City of Rockland on Dix Island at the mouth of the Kennebec River in a dense fog. All passengers were removed safely.
State adopts a gasoline tax to finance road building as automobile use grows.
Following a blizzard on December 28-29, 1922, a second arrived on January 23, 1023, making a snowfall of 70 inches for the season at that point in areas around Brunswick.


Resurgent Ku Klux Klan claims at least 20,000 members in Maine.
Birth of Congressman (1965-1973) and U.S. Senator (1973-1979) William D. Hathaway.
WABI in Bangor begins broadcasting as Maine’s first radio station and remains the oldest continuing radio station in Maine.


Ralph O. Brewster becomes Governor, with suspected sympathies for the Klan.
Bath Iron Works is sold at a public auction, operations are idled.
Limit set at one deer of either sex per hunter, statewide.
Guy Gannet acquires the Portland Evening Express and the Portland Sunday Telegram; his family controls them until 1998.
Bangor Hydro-Electric Company formed from several smaller companies, providing power to 20,000 customers and a trolley line.


The First Radio Parish Church of America began on WCSH AM radio in Portland.


Child labor laws strengthened to require an eighth grade education before children could get a work permit.


A high point for newspapers with ten dailies, two tri-weeklies, one semi-weekly, and forty-eight weeklies in the state.


Acadia National Park named by an Act of Congress, following two other designations since its origin in 1916.
Shipwreck of the three masted schooner Wawenock on Brimstone Ledge with a load of granite from Sullivan bound for New York.
Jackson Laboratory in Bar Harbor founded.
New York Stock Market crashes, signaling the Great Depression of the 1930’s.

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