Interesting Things To Know Abour Auburn, ME

This very good FAQ is from the Auburn Libraries staff. I wanted to do my part in getting these interesting facts out there.

1. When was the city of Auburn settled?

Auburn was first settled as a shire town in 1786. The town became part of Minot, but later separated from Minot and was incorporated as the city of Auburn in 1842. Auburn annexed the town of Danville in 1867. Auburn’s charter was adopted and its government was organized in 1869. (Source: Maine Register, 2001 ed. Standish, Maine: Tower Publishing Co., 2000.)

2. What is the current population of Auburn? of Lewiston?

The 2002-2003 population of Auburn is 23,203, of Lewiston 35,690. (Source: Maine Register, 2004 ed.)

3. What is the longitude and latitude of Auburn, Maine?

Auburn, Maine is located at 44.05 N. latitude, 70.15 W. longitude. (Source: DK World Atlas, Millennium Edition. London: Dorling Kindersley Ltd., 1999.)

4. Who was Edward Little?

Edward Little was a descendant of one of the original settlers of what is now Auburn. He was born in 1773 in Newbury, Massachusetts and graduated from Dartmouth College in 1798. He became a successful lawyer and businessman in the city of Newburyport, but a disastrous fire in 1811 destroyed the assets he had built up. In 1815 he moved to Portland, and in 1826 he moved again to what is now Auburn. When his father, Josiah, died in 1830, he inherited land in this area.

Little was a quiet, scholarly person who was known for his devotion to the community. He donated land for the building of a Congregational Church, contributed generously to Bowdoin College, and in 1834 founded the Lewiston Falls Academy, which later became Edward Little High School. He died in 1849 at the age of 76. (Sources: Ralph B. Skinner et al, Auburn: 100 Years a City, 1869-1969. Lewiston, Maine: Auburn History Committee, 1968; also: vertical file materials from the Auburn Public Library.)

5. What’s so special about Mt. Apatite?

In the early 1900s, Mt. Apatite, which is located on the outskirts of Auburn, housed quarries that produced large amounts of commercial feldspar. Mining activities in these quarries also turned up rare minerals, colorful tourmaline crystals, and large crystals of smokey quartz.

Today, Mt. Apatite Park is owned and administered by the City of Auburn and is one of the best places in Maine for members of the general public to go mineral hunting. For directions to Mt. Apatite, plus an excellent summary of its history and geology, see the Maine Geological Survey’s Geologic Field Trips Page.

6. What were some of the worst disasters to effect the Lewiston-Auburn area?

The New Auburn Fire of 1933 – On May 15, 1933, a windswept fire sped through downtown New Auburn and destroyed 249 buildings in four hours. The fire moved so quickly that reporters from the Lewiston Journal, trying to report on the story, were forced to rush from telephones in buildings that had not caught fire when they entered. Over 2000 people from 422 families were left homeless, and the resulting damage was valued at over $2 million in 1933 dollars. (Source: Lewiston Journal Illustrated, Magazine Section, May 27, 1933.)

The Flood of 1936 – In March of 1936, heavy snowfall, record rains, and a sudden thaw combined to unleash record-breaking floods in many parts of the eastern United States. By the time the flooding was over, the nation’s death toll stood at 136, over 200,000 people were homeless, and total damage was estimated at $300 million in 1936 dollars. In Maine, five people were killed, approximately 200 bridges were washed out, and damage was estimated at $25 million. No one was killed or injured in Lewiston-Auburn, but New Auburn was completely marooned when South Bridge swept away and the Main Street Bridge was submerged. (Source: “The Flood of ’36,” Lewiston Daily Sun, February 3, 1986, p. 9.)

The Blizzard of 1952 – On February 17, 1952, a blizzard dumped 26 inches of snow on southern Maine while gale force winds whipped snow into towering drifts. Across the state, five people were killed and thousands of motorists were stranded as most of the state’s roads were completely blocked. In Lewiston, shoe shops and textile mills kept operating, but many of them closed early for two days in a row – a very unusual occurrence. The snowfall from the storm pushed Lewiston-Auburn’s snowfall total for the winter to nearly ten feet. The blizzard was the single heaviest snowfall in Lewiston since 30 inches reportedly fell during the blizzard of 1888. (Source: The Lewiston Daily Sun, February 19, 1952, p. 1.)

The Flood of 1987 – On April 1, 1987, four days of rain combined with melting snow to create the worst flooding of the Androscoggin River since 1936. The river crested at a height of 23.66 feet, ten feet above flood stage and high enough to send water surging just below street level at the Longley Bridge. Although the flood did heavy damage in low-lying areas, no injuries were reported. The worst flooding in the state was in Augusta along the Kennebec River, which crested at 36 feet. (Sources: Lewiston Daily Sun, Lewiston Evening Journal, April 1 & 2, 1987.)

The Ice Storm of 1998 – During the week of January 4th, 1998, one of the worst ice storms of the century coated parts of New York, New England, and eastern Canada with between three and six inches of ice. The storm was the worst natural disaster in Canadian history, resulting in 24 deaths, over $1 billion in damages, and the loss of power for over 3 million people. In Maine, the storm resulted in four deaths and over $100 million in damages. Nearly 3000 utility poles and 3 million feet of power lines were destroyed. Four out of five Mainers lost power for at least a few hours, and some went as long as twenty three days without power as utility crews from Maine and states as far away as North Carolina worked to repair the damage. (Source: “Ice Storm ’98: When Maine Froze Over,” special supplement to the Maine Sunday Telegram/Guy Gannett Newspapers, January 1998.)

7. When did George Bush Sr. live in Lewiston?

President George H.W. Bush and his wife Barbara lived in Lewiston briefly while he was stationed at the Lewiston-Auburn Naval Air Station during World War II. During a return visit to Lewiston in 1991, President Bush recalled that he and Barbara were living here when he heard the news of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s death in 1945. (Source: Lewiston Sun-Journal, September 4, 1991, p.1.)

8. When did the Poland Spring House fire occur?

On the night of July 3rd, 1975, Poland Spring House was destroyed by a fire that could be seen as far away as Turner and South Paris. The five story complex, which dominated a scenic hilltop, had been closed for some time, but negotiations had been underway to sell it for $2 million. The building was nearly one hundred years old, and at the height of its popularity at the turn of the century was one of the nation’s most noted and luxurious resorts. It featured 300 rooms, dining and music rooms nearly 200 feet in length, and was the first resort hotel in the country to feature a golf course. By the 1930s, advances in transportation and the increasing popularity of vacations abroad had started the resort’s gradual decline. (Source: Lewiston Daily Sun, July 4, 1975, p.1.)

9. Who were some important inventors from Maine?

Freelon and Francis Stanley – Born in Kingfield in 1859, the Stanley twins invented the Stanley Steamer, a steam powered automobile, in 1897. It was the first mass-produced automobile in the United States. The Stanley Steamer was the first car able to reach speeds up to 120 mph, and the Stanley twins were notorious for speeding. In 1918, Francis was speeding along the Newburyport Turnpike on his way back to Boothbay Harbor when he swerved to avoid two farm wagons. He hit a pile of cordwood and was killed. The Stanley’s steam-powered car was eventually supplanted by the emergence of Henry Ford’s mass produced gasoline car, and the Stanley Steamer company went out of business in 1925.

Hiram Stevens Maxim – Born in Sangerville in 1840, Hiram Maxim invented the first practical machine gun, in which the gun’s recoil was used to automatically reload its chamber. Dejected by the rejection of his invention in the United States, Maxim moved to England, where in 1889 his gun was adopted for use by the British Army. Capable of firing ten rounds per second, the machine gun was a deadly weapon that was quickly adopted by other European countries and went on to revolutionize modern warfare. Hiram became a British citizen and in 1901 was knighted by Queen Victoria for his accomplishments.

Leon Leonwood Bean – Born in Greenwood in 1872, L.L. Bean developed the famous Maine hunting shoe, a rubber-bottomed boot sewn to a leather top which provided hunters with both comfort and protection from wetness. Bean began making the shoe for friends and selling them through the mail to holders of Maine hunting licenses. The Maine hunting shoe became the basis of a thriving mail order business, which eventually expanded to include outdoor clothing, camping gear, and hunting and fishing supplies. Today the L.L. Bean company employs over 4,000 people and has annual sales of over $1 billion*.

(Sources: Daphne Winslow Merrill, A Salute to Maine, Vantage Press, 1983; Bob Niss, Faces of Maine, Guy Gannet Books, 1981; Jim Brunelle, Maine Almanac, Guy Gannet Publishing, 1978; *L.L. Bean website.)

10. Where are the Maine Indian reservations located?

Maine has four Indian reservations:

  • Houlton Maliseet Band Council, Houlton. Tribe served: Maliseet. Population served: 250.
  • Indian Township Passamaquoddy Tribal Council, Princeton. Tribe served: Passamaquoddy. Population served: 385.
  • Penobscot Tribal Council, Old Town. Tribe served: Penobscot. Population served: 1,050.
  • Pleasant Point Passamaquoddy Tribal Council, Perry. Tribe served: Passamaquoddy. Population served: 700.

Please note: the population figures listed are from 1990 and are given as estimates only.

(Source: Barry T. Klein, Reference Encyclopedia of the American Indian, 5th ed. West Nyack, NY: Todd Publications, 1990.)

3 Responses

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