Maine: An Encyclopedia

Timeline of Maine History 09: Depression and World War


CCC men near Acton

CCC men near Acton

The 1930’s and 1940’s were difficult for most Americans. During the Great Depression, several projects set the stage for recovery in Maine, such as the Wyman Dam on the Kennebec River, the beginnings of Baxter State Park, the Moosehorn National Wildlife Refuge in Washington County, and the temporary but productive Civilian Conservation Corp, which provided many young men with jobs and produced public improvements both in the Maine woods and in communities throughout the state. The completion of the Central Maine Power Company dam on the Dead River in 1949 added to the power resources needed for economic reciovery.

During World War II two major firms, International Paper Company and Scott Paper Company, began operations that were to provide thousands of well-paying jobs for decades. Dow Air Force Base in Bangor in 1942 and Loring Air Force Base in Limestone in 1947 provided both national security and an economic boost to northern Maine.


All deer hunters required to purchase annual hunting licenses, except landowners hunting on their own land.
The University of Maine’s Stein Song is the number one hit nationally as Rudy Vallee’s version soars in popularity; the University’s School of Education is established.
Population: 797,423.


Percival P. Baxter gives parcel of land to the State to form a state park.
Wyman Dam, the state’s larges, is complete in Moscow on the Kennebec River.
Mollie Spotted Elk of Indian Island, performs the opening dance for dignitaries at the Paris Exposition.
Dial telephones replace hand-cranked models in Bangor.


First issue of the newspaper the Modern Maine Farmer in Winthrop, published by Maine Printing Corporation.
Shipwreck of the two masted fishing schooner Lochinvar off Portland Head Light in thick fog; the crew escapes just before it sank.
Maine’s delegation in the U.S. House of Representatives shrinks from four to three.


Louis J. Brann of Lewiston, is first Democratic Governor in twenty years.
Maine’s received its first quota of 1,800 men for the Civilian Conservation Corp (CCC), beginning a ten year presence in the state.
Twenty percent of Maine manufacturing workers are unemployed.
Birth in Waterville of U.S. Senator (1980-1995) and Senate Majority Leader George J. Mitchell, a former U.S. District Court Judge.
Baxter State Park established with 5,960 acres of land donated by Percival Baxter.


Birth in Portland of Maine Attorney General, Governor (1979-1987), and Congressman Joseph E. Brennan.
“The Maine Law” creating prohibition is repealed.
Maine Indians get the right to vote in federal elections.
Strikes by textile workers in Augusta, Lewiston, Waterville and other cities, part of a national effort, are controlled by the National Guard, sometimes with violence.


Poet Edwin Arlington Robinson, born in Alna, who wrote about the fictional “Tilbury Town,” modeled on Gardiner, dies in New York.
Enrollment in the CCC peaks at 3,425 in nineteen camps.
Last passenger steamship between Boston and Bangor via the Penobscot River.
Work begins on the short-lived Passamaquoddy Tidal Power Project, which was ended by a U.S. Senate vote in 1936.


Only Maine and Vermont vote against reelection of President F. D. Roosevelt.
Moose hunting closed, remaining closed until 1980.
Molly Spotted Elk appears in the film Last of the Mohicans, followed by appearances in The Good Earth and Lost Horizon in 1937.
Vacationland first appeared on automobile number plates (Public Law 162 of 1935).


Moosehorn National Wildlife Refuge in Baring established.
The Ranger, a yacht built at Bath Iron Works, wins the America’s Cup race.
Two members of the bank-robbing Brady Gang were shot and killed by federal agents in Bangor; a third member was captured.
A large and violent strike by shoe workers in Lewiston and Auburn required 500 National Guard troops to restore order.


Town of Argyle, like many during the Depression, deorganizes, becoming an “unorganized township.”
Franco-Americans in Lewiston found Maine’s first credit union.


Margaret Chase Smith’s political career begins as she succeeds her late husband, Clyde Harold Smith, in the U.S. House of Representatives.
State Department of Mental Health, under various later names, is established.
Shipwreck of the two masted Gloucester fishing vessel Annie & Mary on the rocky ledges off Richmond Island.
Twelve year old Donn Fendler, lost for over a week on Mount Katahdin, gets national attention and is the subject of the book Lost on a Mountain in Maine.
Mane’s first open-air theater, the Saco Drive-In, opens.


Cape Elizabeth-born movie director John Ford wins Academy Award for The Grapes of Wrath.
Birth in Bangor of U.S. Congressman, U.S. Senator (1979-1997), and Secretary of Defense William S. Cohen.
Population: 847,226.


International Paper Company, an out of state corporation, first files to do business in Maine.
Maine Maritime Academy established.
President Franklin D. Roosevelt lands at Rockland Harbor after conferring with British Prime Minister Sir. Winston Churchill on the “Atlantic Charter,” a statement of shared objectives even though the U.S. had not yet entered World War II.


Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) is no longer a presence in Maine.
Dow Air Force Base established at Bangor’s former Godfrey Field.
Petroleum pipeline built from Montreal to Portland to protect supplies from German submarine attack.
First attempts to reintroduce wild turkeys to Maine are unsuccessful.


Kimberly-Clark Tissue Company, also known as Scott Paper Company, an out of state corporation first files to do business in Maine.
German prisoners of war are held in camps at Houlton, Princeton, Seboomook, and Spencer Lake, picking potatoes and cutting pulp.


FBI captures two German spies in New York City after they were set ashore from a submarine at Hancock Point.
State’s worst air disaster to date occurred as an Army bomber crashed into a South Portland mobile home park killing the crew of two and 17 others, and destroying 16 mobile homes.
Birth of Angus S. King, Jr., Governor (1995-2003).


In a final accounting, of the 112,962 Mainers who served in World War II, 2,551 died.
Trolley car service, begun in 1889, ends in Bangor.
Birth of Congressman Thomas H. Allen, 1st Congressional District (1997- )


Edmund S. Muskie’s political career begins as he wins a seat in the Maine Legislature from Waterville.
State’s first vocational technical institute opened in Augusta.
Howland native Percy Spencer invents the microwave oven and later becomes senior vice president of the Raytheon corporation.


Birth in Augusta of U.S. Senator (1995- ) Olympia J. Snowe, a member of the U.S. House of Representatives (1973-1976).
Bar Harbor area decimated in fire, most buildings lost, Acadia Park burned.
U.S. Senator Wallace H. White, Jr. from Auburn serves as U.S. Senate Majority Leader.
Maine Turnpike completed to South Portland.
Loring Air Force Base established at Limestone in Aroostook County.


Margaret Chase Smith elected as first woman U.S. Senator.
Completion of Andrew Wyeth’s famous painting Christina’s World, set in the town of Cushing.
First commercially successful chain saw demonstrated at a logging conference at Sebago Lake.
Birth in Bangor of Governor (1987-1995) John R. McKernan.
Farnsworth Art Museum opens in Rockland.


Town of Flagstaff inundated with water from the Central Maine Power Company Dam on the Dead River, after a complete relocation of its population.
Severe polio epidemic strikes.

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