July 16, 2012

Maine – “the Pine Tree State”

Maine map



Just the Facts…

bird – Chickadee
flower – White Pine Cone
tree – Eastern White Pine
capital – Augusta
union – 23rd state on March 15, 1820
population – almost 1.5 million




The Basics 

For a long time, Maine was part of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.  But, you probably have seen the map enough during this project to realize that they are not right next to each other – New Hampshire and Vermont are in between.  So, how did it work to have two separate parts of one state?  Not very well!  For a number of years, the people who lived in Maine wanted to form a separate state – that finally happened in 1820.

Maine was initially explored and claimed by the French, and some people think the state is named after a French town called “Le Maine-Gue” (in the northwest part of France).  England won most of the land that is now Maine in the French and Indian War.  However, a few islands off the coast of Maine are still the subject of a border dispute with Canada – both countries think they own the islands!

Most of Maine is covered with dense forests.  Long ago, glaciers carved Maine’s rugged, rocky coastline and its many lakes as they moved through the mountainous territory.


Its Claim to Fame

The Appalachian Trail begins at Mount Katahdin in Maine.  It is a hiking trail that goes through 14 states and ends at Springer Mountain in Georgia.  The trail is over 2,000 miles long and extends the whole length of the Appalachian Mountain system.  It was founded in the 1920’s and now is protected by the federal government.  Some people take many years to hike the whole trail, and some people (called thru-hikers) try to tackle the whole trail in one season!

Over half of Maine – mostly up in the “North Woods” – is unorganized territory.  That means it does not have any local system of government!  It is not part of a city, county or other local government that takes care of things like:  police and fire departments, emergency medical services, schools, and public works (like sewer, streets, snow removal and signs).  The state of Maine is responsible for all these functions in the unorganized territory – there is no one else to do it.


What Makes it Tick

Maine has a rich maritime tradition.  The deep waters in its bays, coves and coastline made it the perfect location for building big ships.  Maine shipyards have built any and every kind of ship – from canoes and rowboats that were used to navigate Maine’s many rivers and lakes, to the large clippers, schooners, and steamers that sailed on the high seas.  Maine shipyards have even built submarines!

Maine is a leading producer of lumber (and lumber byproducts) in America.  By the way, paper is a lumber byproduct – and there are a lot of papermills in Maine.   In the 18th Century, Maine claimed to be the lumber capital of the word.  The town of Bangor alone was home to over 300 lumber mills.  Sometimes a person could walk from one side of Penobscot River to another on top of the logs that were waiting to be cut into boards.   Maine’s lumber industry declined in the 19th Century, however, when people moved west and other areas closer to the new settlements could provide the needed lumber.   But, it has remained an important part of Maine’s economy, especially those byproducts (paper!).

Maine lobster!  Lobster has been fished off the coast of Maine for generations.  In the 1800’s, no one really fished for lobster – they were so plentiful that all you had to do was walk down to the beach and grab one.  About the middle of the 19th Century, lobsters were caught by trap.  Now, more lobsters are caught in Maine than any other state – especially in fall and winter when lobstering is at its peak.  Even today, many Maine lobstermen claim their own territories along the coast and there is an unspoken agreement among most lobstermen to respect these territorial lines.

Maine is the largest blueberry producer in America!  It supplies over 25% of all blueberries consumed in America.  Next time you are at the grocery store, check the blueberry package – maybe they were grown in Maine!


If You Visited

If you visited Maine, you will probably spend a lot of time admiring the natural beauty of the state.  Or, admiring the animals – by going on a Moose safari!  If it is water you are looking for, there are unlimited options.  A number of Maine’s rivers have rapids that are perfect for white water rafting.  And, of course there is always sailing on a windjammer.  Some say that the coast of Maine has some of the best sailing in America.

If you like lighthouses, Maine is for you – there are over 50 lighthouses in Maine.  All those lighthouses are open to the general public one day per year on “Maine Open Lighthouse Day,” which is usually in the middle of September.  Some people think that the famous pirate, Blackbeard, buried his treasure along the coast of Maine!

Or, you could take a horseback ride through the Acadia National Park using its famous “carriage paths.”  John Rockefeller Jr. had 45 miles of road built over the course of 25 years (starting about 1915) so that he could view the scenery on his horse or by a horse drawn carriage.  No vehicles allowed!  The roads took a long time to build because they were planned very carefully – making sure the roads fit within the landscape, scoping out the path that provides the best view, providing for drainage, and building bridges where necessary.  The roads are made almost entirely of granite – that’s a lot of stone!


Want to Know More? 

Check our Maine state scrapbook for an industry map, state symbols and information we received from the Governor and Board of Tourism.

Do you live in Maine? Or, maybe you have visited Maine?  We want to hear from you!!  Post a comment at the end of this page.

  • What is your very favorite thing about Maine?
  • What is your favorite thing to eat?
  • What is your favorite thing to do?
  • What other special or unique facts do you want to share about your home state?

Do you have any photos of Maine to share? Email them to: info@grandtourkids.com. Or, post them to our Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/GrandTourKids

Our tour includes just a few things that are interesting and special about Maine.  Visit these websites to learn more: