THE AIRLINE ROAD – prepared in 2003 by John Dudley
What follows cannot be considered a history of the
Airline. It is a collection of eclectic information about the people
and the land along this infamous road that hopefully will give the
reader a sense of its history. This information is arranged in two
ways, geographically from west to east, where we tell something about
each town and township; and topically, where we describe events or
activities that affected the whole road. One such event, happening in
the summer of 2003, is the placing of mile markers along the Airline.
These are to aid the State Police in locating accidents.
This road was designed to attract settlers to buy
the lands owned by William Bingham and later by Baring Brothers Bank.
It was Revolutionary War General David Cobb, Bingham’s agent,
who felt that selling to farmers was the way for Bingham to profit
from his investment. Cobb was responsible for laying out most of the
roads associated with the Airline. Cobb retired in 1820. John Black,
agent for Baring Brothers Bank, felt that lumber was the wealth that
would provide his boss the needed profit. Black sold large blocks of
land and developed the roads that followed the rivers.
TERMS ~ In this paper we will use names that are familiar to today’s readers. All historic names will be referenced. Therefore, we will describe the towns by their present names even when telling of events that happened before the towns were incorporated. The section on Airline Communities will tell about the historic names of the towns.
STAGES OF CONSTRUCTION ~ We know that
Joseph Chadwick surveyed for a road running from the Penobscot to
Quebec City in 1764. It is likely that Jones & Frie ran a line
from the head of tide on the Penobscot to the head of tide on the
Schoodic (St. Croix). That was in 1763. They were Joseph Frie
(Fryeburg, Maine) and Samuel Jones who settled later in Robbinston.
That spotted line became a foot path through the woods and since has
gone through four stages of change. First a road was opened for use
by ox carts. Ox carts were single axle vehicles with wheels of great
diameter, usually six feet. This allowed them to pass over stumps and
rocks nearly three feet high.
Next, stumps and rocks were pulled,
high places were cut, and low areas filled and swampy areas filled
with logs laid crossways to the road, i.e. corduroy roads. All this
to allow for travel by horse-drawn wagon. Horses are faster than
oxen, and better roads were needed. A big change likely came in 1857
when the Airline Stage started using the route. The third set of
changes came as a result of the automobile. Parts or all the road was
designated State Road in 1905. Starting about 1910 the road was
widened and parts were graveled. Snow was plowed in some places
beginning in the 1930s and parts of the road were tarred so that by
the late 1950s the old horse road was all widened, tarred, and
cleared for year round travel.
I doubt that any of us realized about 1970 when
the state started rebuilding the Airline in Eddington and Baileyville
that we would end up with a high speed connector road between
Interstate 95 and New Brunswick. This road, that carries several
hundred trucks in each direction daily, also is changing Airline
communities into suburbs of Bangor-Brewer and Calais-Woodland. The
cost of this highway reconstruction has been huge. For example, the
last five jobs costs ranged from $1,350,207 per mile to $2,087,827
per mile. Six and ½ million was spent on the four projects
here in Alexander. What changes will the road bring in the future?
Will the east-west highway be four lanes? Will the route become
MAJOR CHANGES IN THE
ROUTE ~ All along the Airline, the roadway
has been moved over the years. Most moves are minor such as
straightening the old road. Some changes have been major, and those
we will try to describe here. The trip we will take down the Airline
will be from west to east, therefore, the changes will be treated in
In East Eddington, the original road
went along the Bangor Water Works Road, swinging east after passing
Bald Mountain (now called Woodchuck Hill), crossed Route 180 north of
Maplewood Cemetery, by DeBeck Pond and on to Mariaville Falls. We
have found no reason why this road was abandoned.
The roads over Chick Hill in Clifton
and Pine Hill on the line between TWP 22 and TWP 28 were both
abandoned in the 1920s because they were too steep for automobile
traffic. Pleasant Mountain in Devereaux and Breakneck Hill in TWP 31
have had major route changes during the past 30 years to reduce grade
and sharp corners. The road over Tug Mountain in TWP 30 was never
built. Several of the hills on the recently rebuilt road are still so
steep that modern traffic has problems. (Day Hill 10% grade, Schoppee
Hill 12% grade, Hardwood Hill 8% grade)
~ Finding early maps of the Airline presented several problems. Most
obvious is telling whether the line drawn on the map represents a
road or a planned road. Secondly, many old maps are not dated, and
some dated maps have had roads added at a later date. The third
problem comes from the mapmakers, some did not sign their work, and
some may have adjusted the map for their own benefit. A fourth
problem is where mistakes on one map are repeated by later mapmakers.
One example of this is the 1838 Lewis Robinson Map of Maine. This
map, on display at the Holmes Cottage in Calais shows a road from
Crawford through Cooper to Pembroke, but no road through Alexander to
Baileyville. There was a road from Crawford through Cooper, and there
was the Airline through Alexander. This mistake was repeated on
Colton’s Maine Map of 1875, and again on Grenville Donham’s
1905 Maine Map published in the Maine State Yearbook. All that being
stated, here is what we have found.
An 1802 map by Osgood Carleton gives no hint of
the Airline, but does have roads marked in coastal areas. This map
has a road marked from Hampden west to the Kennebec River at
Vasselboro. An undated map in the possession of Baring Brothers Bank
in London shows a road from Orrington to proposed settlements at
Mariaville Falls, Beddington Lake, Northfield, and at Northern Stream
in TPW 19. A later map also in the possession of Baring Brothers Bank
has a road from Orrington to the Davistown town line (Clifton) and a
planned road east through Mariaville Falls on to the St. Croix River
following roughly the present route.
Moses Greenleaf published a map in 1815 that showed the Airline going from East Eddington to Mariaville Falls then northerly to Amherst and hence easterly. John Black apparently copied that map in 1817 and on his map had labels for Mariaville Falls, Annsburg (Deblois), Beddington, and Alexandrea (in Frederick Allis book on William Bingham’s letters). John Brainard Mansfield’s Map of Maine (1855) shows the European and North American Railroad through Alexander, but no Airline. Of course the county wall maps generated about 1860, and the county atlases published about 1880 do show the Airline in its present location excepting Chick Hill, Pine Hill, Pleasant Mountain and Breakneck Hill.
Of particular interest
is a petition dated 1829 and found in the Hancock County deeds
office, volume 2, page 242. It is addressed to the Supreme Judicial
Court and asks for a four-rod road between Brewer and Baileyville. It
states that Rufus Gilmore, Samuel Lowder, Jr. and Andrew Strong were
appointed by the court as a committee to view the proposed route at
the expense of the petitioners. This committee was to make a plan for
the new road and determine the probable cost of construction. The
plan for the road covers 15 pages detailing the entire 81 miles, 160
rods. The bill for all this was $613.59 and was paid by the three
counties. “…thence E 1 dg S 20
rods to Carleton Stream, 3 rods wide… to a stake marked XXR…”
Carleton Stream and Little Carleton Stream
are both in Washington County. A stream 3 rods, or 51 feet, wide
likely is the main
Machias River and the other is likely Pembroke Stream. Tracing this
route on a modern map would be a great adventure.
What may be the first Maine State
Highway map is dated 1931. It has our road labeled Air Line Road and
indicated that some of it is graveled, and the rest is unimproved.
None of the road was macadamized. Places listed on this map are
Alexander, Crawford, Pokey, Pines, Wesley, Beddington, Aurora,
Amherst, Clifton, and East Eddington. All these were names of post
office sites, Pokey being in the south end of Crawford, and Pines
being that part of Wesley east of Day Hill. Source: Osher Map
The earliest State
Highway map with route numbers
is dated 1934. This map labels the Airline as Route 9, and shows the
following routes; 191, 192, 193, 179, 180, 181, and 175 (now 46).
The map shows Route 9 from Berwick on the New Hampshire border to
Route 1 in Baileyville. Source: Maine State Archives 1108-40, box 67.
A 1938 map of Maine bearing that stamp
CONFIDENTIAL shows only the principal Routes of Military Importance.
The Airline was one, as was coastal Route 1, and Route 2 from Bangor
to Houlton. Source: MSA 1108.0318, box 67.
From west to east -------- AIRLINE COMMUNITIES
Let’s start at the Penobscot
River and travel Downeast along the Airline Road, stopping along the
way to visit the various political units and some of the natural
landmarks, and to learn a little about each. We will venture north or
south of the Airline occasionally, so keep your map handy.
WARNING! THE AIRLINE
IS A HIGH SPEED HIGHWAY – DRIVE WITH CARE
this part was Hancock County until 1816
(Township #10) This town was incorporated in 1811 and named for
Colonel Jonathan Eddy, an Massachusetts born American living in Nova
Scotia on land taken from the Acadians. He tried to get the people of
Nova Scotia to join the other thirteen colonies in the American
Revolution, but failed. He came to eastern Maine and with John Allen
and the crew that won the 1775 naval battle that kept eastern Maine
part of the United States. Source: History of
Eddington by Carolyn Wood, 1976.
1726 – 1804
A Captain in the French and Indian Wars
A Colonel in the Revolutionary War
A Representative to the Massachusetts Great and General Court – 1783
First magistrate on the Penobscot River
The Town of Eddington was named in his honor and was part of a grant to himself and soldiers who had fought with him in the Revolutionary War
Memorial erected in 1892 by his descendants
This part of town was called Eddington Bend. The
early settlers cleared the first farms on the level land along the
Penobscot River. Also along the river was the first post office
(1800), the town (poor) farm, early businesses, and Riverside Grange
#273 (actually located in Brewer) and the North Brewer –
Eddington United Methodist Church.
As we start up General Cobb’s
Great Road (Hill Street), we pass by an Old Settlers’ Cemetery
where a granite marker shows where Eddy is buried.
After travelling six miles from
Eddington Bend through what was farmland and passing by the school
(1953 with later additions) and the fire hall and municipal office
(1974 with addition) we arrive in East Eddington Village. Here on the
right is Cumins Hall which was built by the East Eddington Farmers
Club in the late 1870s. Today it is home for East Eddington Grange
#301, established in 1889, and Boy Scout Troop 23.
On the left at the corner of Merrill Road is East Eddington Community Church. The first sermon preached in this village was by Sylvanus Cobb in 1823. The East Eddington Meeting House Corporation was organized in 1842, but the present church building was not put up until 1891.
Just before we reach Jarvis Gore Road, also known as Route 46 (Route 175 on the1935 map) we cross Mill Brook that runs from Davis Pond to Chemo Pond. Chemo also was called Leonards or Nichols Pond. Along this brook were numerous mills including A. F. Merrill’s spool turning mill, Stockwells’ saw and shingle mill, Stockwells’ axe factory, and Howe’s grist mill.
Beyond East Eddington, the original
road went along the Bangor Water Works Road, swinging east after
passing Woodchuck Hill, crossed Route 180 north of Maplewood
Cemetery, by DeBeck Pond and on to Mariaville Falls. This road was
laid out for General Cobb to bring settlers to his development at the
Falls. The reason this road was abandoned maybe that the Williams
brothers blazed a road from East Eddington via Aurora to Great Pond
(the present Airline).
Clifton – This land was part of Jarvis Gore, a large lot owned by
Leonard Jarvis of Boston, later Surrey. Some called the place
Hillsboro after settler Squire John B. Hill. It was incorporated as
the Town of Maine, and
months later in 1848 as Clifton for the colorful cliffs on the
mountainsides in town. Sources: History of
Jarvis Gore and Clifton, 1979, by Evelyn Gray
Huckins; Guy Campbell, personal memories:
The Union River Electric Co-operative
brought electricity into Clifton during the Second World War. Russell
Mace of Aurora was the man most active in this endeavor. Amherst and
Aurora also got power at that time. The Rural Electrification
Administration (REA) Co-op was a product of Franklin Roosevelt’s
Soon after we pass into Clifton we see R. Leon
Williams sawmill on the right, this mill that specialized in white
pine is being run by the third generation of that family. In the
woods beyond the mill the road crosses over Woodchuck Hill Brook.
Here in the late 1800s a man named McLellan had a water powered
sawmill. Later on Luther Penney had a spool bar mill at this site. He
sold the bars to Merrill in East Eddington.
At the intersection of the Scott Point Road was a
school. Later the present building was put up and Roland Butterfield
acquired it in the 1920s and ran a store here for many years. This
was the place where three youths shot Jim in a hold-up. The building
has fallen into disrepair.
Rebel Hill Road marks Clifton Corners, the
historic center of town. One of the old houses still stands here. On
the north side of the Airline was the home and store of W. F. Chute.
Chute bought barrel hoops and had a hoop shop. He also owned orange
groves in Florida. Guy Campbell and his brothers used to cut, split,
and shave hoop poles for Chute. The post office was almost always
located at the Corners.
The third building down Rebel Hill Road is
Cliffwood Hall. This building was designed and built by Calvin
Winfield Campbell for the Willing Workers. This group of women wanted
a place in Clifton where social gatherings could be held. The place
served for years as the town office and now is being renovated into
the Clifton Historical Society headquarters. Farther out Rebel Hill
Road is a gravel esker on which once stood the IOGT (International
Order of Good Templars) hall. Its demise likely lead to the
construction of Cliffwood Hall.
In the central part of Clifton is another collection of homes. On the north side is the home of Guy Campbell, who helped with this article. Guy was born on March 26, 1905 in Amherst. His family moved to this house in August 1909 after the death of his father. This was one of the places in Clifton that horses were changed for the stage. In Guy’s day, the stage ran only from Beddington to Bangor, and it was Guy’s job to have a fresh team ready for the driver, and to take care of the horses that had pulled the stage from Aurora.
Just east of Guy’s house is Clifton United
Baptist Church. It descends from the Free Will Baptist Church that
was organized in 1838. Across the Airline is Parks School or District
#2, now a home. At the corner of the Airline and Mill Lane, across
from the cemetery, is the place where Hoyt Parks had a fox farm in
the 1920s. Hoyt was a descendant of Thomas Parks who came here in the
1830s. Down Mill Lane are two mill sites on Parks Pond Brook, at one
site Crimmins Brothers and Chick made ladders with a water-powered
mill, and Fabian Archer and his son George had a water powered
sawmill at the other site. Mill Lane once connected the Airline to
Rebel Hill Road and then was known as the Cross Road.
At Parks Pond, where the campground now stands, Earl Campbell had a sawmill. Many will remember the pipe that carried sawdust over the road. Guy was the millwright, ran the planner, and made molding for his older brother. In later years it was called Campbell – Williams mill, after one of the Williams brothers stopped working at that family mill in the west-end of town.
Part way down the hill, Chick Hill Road forks to
the left (Stage Coach Road). This was the original Airline. The first
part of the road is still used and it once went to the north of
Peaked and Little Peaked Mountains. From west to east along this
road, a hundred years ago we would have found the following families
living; Judson Gray, The Parks brothers (Ernest, Dennis and Thomas),
Arthur Rankin (here is another place where the stage changed horses),
Triges at the top of the hill, Jim McKay, Calvin Campbell, and
finally Archers at Archer Corner back on the present Airline. The
road over Chick hill was abandoned in 1925 because the west side was
so steep that it was unsuitable for automobiles, and it kept washing
out. The steepest part of the hill, near the top, was called “Jack’s
Pitch”, and was named for Andrew Jackson “Jack”
Gilpatrick whose home was at the foot of the
On the new road, at the bottom of the hill, the road crosses Bradbury Brook, named for Elijah Bradbury, and the site of Archer Dam. The Airline now passes over the south side of Peaked on toward DeBec Pond, and then to Archer Corner. Earl Campbell had the contract to build the part of the road in Clifton in 1925. It has recently been rebuilt with passing lanes and no sharp corners.
incorporated on June 25, 1789, set off from Lincoln County.
Amherst was incorporated 1831 and named after Amherst, NH. Earlier it was
called Mariaville North or North Mariaville and that name referred to
parts of Aurora as well. Sources: Amherst,
Maine ~ Her Settlement and People ~ 1790-1975;
Along the Union River,
1997, both by Connee Hanscom Jellison.
As we enter Amherst we note that the
1925 road went straight toward DeBeck Pond, then took a 90-degree
turn toward the north. At the pond, a group from Bangor set up
buildings for lodging, dining, and entertainment. The 1925 road was
rebuilt after WWII and it was on this modified turn that an accident
happened on December 3, 1992. A Canadian tour bus with 29 senior
citizens had been headed to New York City for the Christmas Lights
Tour. It was snowing and slippery, and the bus driver was travelling
too fast. There had all ready been an accident at the scene, and the
bus crashed into vehicles, rolled onto its side in the ditch injuring
all aboard. One man later died as a result. Of the 60 accidents that
happened in Troop E area that day, the bus accident made the
About a mile north of DeBeck Pond was another of those 90-degree turns created in 1925. This was also modified after WWII , but we can still see the fields at the Archer place on each side of the Airline as we round a gentle turn toward the east. Brothers Anselm and Robert Archer came from Cherryfield about 1810. Some maps label this place Archer Corner. The Airline then passes over Jellison Hill and down to Guy Haynes Watering Trough, on the left at the first open area.
Next we come to the Tannery Loop Road
which goes north from the Airline, crosses the west branch of the
Union River, then runs southerly to rejoin the Airline at the center
of the village, by J. G. Dunham’s store. This road passed
several mill sites. Tisdale, Hewins, and Flowers of Boston set up the
first tannery in 1832. Buzzell’s Tannery was a long term
fixture here using 1500 cords of bark annually. Around thirty-five
men were employed here in better times. There was also a sawmill, a
box shook mill, and a gristmill located here at Governors Falls.
If we stay on the Airline we go down
a hill and cross the Union River where at one time eels were trapped.
Amherst also had a cheddar cheese factory. Imagine a snack of smoked
eel and cheese. Makes your mouth water. The present bridge is called
Sumner Bridge. It replaced one built in the 1920s and we can see the
embankment just up river. At the top of the hill we see the Amherst
Town Hall on the left with its Settlers’ Cemetery. At this
cemetery, the old stones were in such poor shape that all 28 names
found on them were placed in a new granite monument.
Next is the center of town with the
Tannery Loop Road coming in from the north and the Mariaville Road
on the right. On the left still stands the building that J. G. Dunham
built about 1860 for his store. When the telephone came in, Dunham
had the first and, for a few years, the only phone. When someone
would get a call, Dunham would step out his door and bellow his or
her name. He had a big voice. Still standing up the Tannery Loop Road
is a large two-story house which was the Amherst Hotel.
town on the Mariaville Road (Route 181) was settled in 1802, and
incorporated in 1836. It was named for William Bingham’s
After we pass this intersection, on the left is
the Amherst – Aurora Congregational Church built in 1844. The
site of the Good Will Grange is on the right and at the bottom of the
hill, on the north side, is the Smith Road. In 1839, John Black
petitioned the Hancock County Commissioners for a road from Amherst
to Passadumkeag. Was this the road? MDOT tore down the grange hall in
Stage Stop Clifton (Guy Campbell’s house) Stage Stop - Aurora (Union River Telephone)
Aurora – In 1822, Aurora was organized as Richards Plantation. It was incorporated in 1831 as Hampton, likely after Hampton, Massachusetts hometown of Sylvester Clapp, first teacher and a minister. This name caused confusion with Hampden just south of Bangor. Some claimed that mail was misdirected. So in 1833 the name Aurora, meaning Goddess of Dawn, was adopted. Sources: A History of Aurora, Maine by Herbert T. Silsby II, Robert Stevens
As we enter Aurora we come to Route
179, the Ellsworth Road. On the southeast corner of that intersection
is a white house with a red barn. This belongs to the Merrill
Furniture folks now, but in 1860 was the site of a cooper’s
shop. Up Route 179, on the side of Dunker Hill on the left is the
brick schoolhouse built in 1827, the oldest public building in
Hancock County. Across the road from the school is the cemetery.
Farther along this road we would come to the populated part of
Back on the Airline, as we turn left onto the old
road, we are looking directly at Silsby Hill with a big tower at its
top. Note as you drive along this section the large houses and barns.
On the left we come to the Town Hall, part of which is used as the
post office. The Airline Stage had a stop in Aurora where horses were
changed. This house and barn are now part of the Union River
Telephone Company headquarters.
As we leave the village, the road to Great Pont
goes off to the north. Near this intersection was a brickyard and a
series of sawmills, Llewelyn Silsby had the first, a horse powered
mill. The second was steam powered, it took 14 horses to pull the
wagon and the boiler for the steam engine. The present mill is
inactive. Up the Great Pond Road a bit is the Airline Community
School which today serves children from Aurora, Amherst, Great Pond,
and Osborn. Was this the start of the road that was to go to Winslow
Mills in Greenfield according to an 1837 petition?
Pond (Township 33 MD BPP) was incorporated on
April 1, 1981. The west branch of the Union River, which crosses
under the Airline at Amherst, rises in Great Pond. Joshua Williams
and his sons Clark and Simon settled great Pond. They erected at
sawmill here. Several Great Pond families later moved to Clifton,
among them were Nathaniel Chick, and Alonzo Bragg.
After we have seen the built-up part
of Aurora, we get back on the new road and cross over the Middle
Branch of the Union River. The Richardson Road goes south from the
Airline for several miles. Of course, several of that name resided
here including Samuel who was a progressive farmer, had an electrical
system for his farm, and owned the first automobile in Amherst or
Aurora. This was the best farmland in town. There was a school in
this neighborhood in 1881.
New Bridges over the Middle Branch of the Union River 1933
& 1935 (MDOT)
The Whale’s Back, a two and
one-half mile long alluvial ridge made by the last glacier, pulls the
road in a southeasterly direction. When Louis Agassaz of Harvard
examined this during the 1860s, it measured from 250 to 320 feet
high. The middle branch of the Union River flows along the northeast
or left side of this geological feature. The original road was just a
set of wheel tracks. The last reconstruction was in 1982 when the
roadway was widened and leveled. A scenic stop allows travelers to
enjoy the panorama.
As we approach the end of the Whale
Back we see that the old road went straight for about ½ mile
to a sharp left corner, then uphill to a sharp right turn. Now we
leave the Whale’s Back on a gentle “S” curve and
start up a long grade that is Hardwood Hill. Its highest point is
actually Birch Hill and from there we can see low Pine Hill directly
ahead, and to the left is Humpback or Lead Mountain.
was incorporated as Plantation 21, MD BPP on March 5, 1895. On April
4, 1923, its name was changed to Osborn Plantation to honor its first
settler, Joseph Osborn, who came here in 1807. And on November 2,
1976, it became Maine’s 423 town. As stated before, the
populated part of Osborn is along Route 178.
The Airline passes along the northern
edge of Osborn on the eastside of Hardwood Hill. As we start down we
see that the road should have gone straight over Pine Hill which is
in Township 22. This hill was so steep that Model-T Fords and other
early cars had to back up it. So the road was built going around the
hill on the north side. The present road is the third one around the
Township 28 MD BPP –
The Airline passes through a corner of
township 22, then into TWP 28. On the northeast side of Pine Hill,
where the old road came off the hill, it continued to the northeast
and today this section has been abandoned. Up the old road a few
hundred feet is “ House Rock ‘, big as a house and with a
pole holding it from rolling into the road. Census records for all
these townships along the Airline are hard to find. When found, they
are often tucked on the last page of some incorporated town,
sometimes not even in the correct county.
House Rock in 1957 in TWP 28 Beddington Stage Stop (Schoppee House)
This story was published
in 1943 and may have
happened in TWP 28. Phyllis Norman, her sister-in-law, Mrs. John
King, Jr. and Walter Ellsmore, all of Milltown, were returning from
Portland at Christmas. They left Bangor on the Airline at 8:30
Thursday evening and drove until the car became stuck in the snow.
They spent that night huddled in the unheated car. In the morning
they started walking toward Bangor and came upon an old woods camp
which they broke into and built a fire. They ate some dirty pancake
flour and had to melt snow for drinking. They spent Friday night
there and were found on Saturday morning by State Police. They all
survived the 36-hour ordeal.
Township 22 MD BPP –
During the summer of 2003, the MDOT is
constructing a rest area on the north side of the road in the central
part of the unorganized township.
REPORT OF FOREST COMMISSIONER – 1904 gives
the following on TWP XXII. ‘The township is roughly bounded by
two roads. The Air Line Road crosses the northerly part of the
township, and the Cherryfield Road parallels the easterly line, that
also being the Hancock – Washington County line. The
Center-line Road is a logging road that runs about 3 miles
southeasterly through the township. The township is in two
watersheds, Rocky Pond (now visible from the Airline) drains into the
Union River. The easterly part drains into the Narraguagus. There
were five logging camps in operation in 1903 each having between one
and two dozen men. There are but two inhabited houses on the
township, these located about two miles from the northwest corner, on
the Air-Line Road.’ The site of these dwellings must be where
today are a couple of camps and a small field, at the top of a knoll.
There are a few camps and houses in #22 today, plus the Airline Snack Bar. Lois Tenan has been at the Snack Bar for years and was featured in a 1976 article in the Bangor Daily News when telephone service arrived for the second time in this area. (Union River Telephone Company)
Just east of the Snack Bar, the
Cherryfield Road or Route 193 runs off to the south.
Deblois – South of Beddington, on the Cherryfield Road, we find Deblois which was incorporated 1852 from Township 17 MD BPP. This is named for Thomas Amery Deblois who, along with John Black and Reuben Mitchell, acquired several townships from City Bank on May 19, 1845. These were Townships 31, 23 (now Beddington), and 17 (now Deblois), being 19840 acres. Excepted from the lands sold in Annsburg were 480 acres of settlers’ lots, 960 acres of lots reserved for public use, and 1760 acres with lottery rights. Deblois was once called Annsburg after William Bingham’s daughter.
WASHINGTON COUNTY was incorporated on June 25, 1789, set off from Lincoln County.
Township 23 MD BPP was incorporated on January 31, 1833. This name
was on Greenleaf’s 1815 map. Beddington is a suburb of London.
It was once the home of Alexander Baring’s family.
In 1829 a Petition from Inhabitants of TWP #23
asked for road from Cherryfield to “Great Road leading from the
Penobscot to the Schoodic River.”
Beddington has two
settlements. South Beddington is on the Cherryfield Road (Route 193).
It is the larger of the settlements. In the first half of the 20th
century, the Deblois and Beddington Telephone Company served this
area. One late 19th
century resident of South Beddington was E. E, Church, merchant,
owner of the Narraguagus House, and manufacturer of sole leather.
The new bridge and
approaches crossing the Narraguagus River pass near the E. E. Church
Tannery which was in operation from about 1883 until the mid 1890s.
One report states that the tannery burned in 1895, but The
Machias Union reports in August 18, 1896
that, “Albert Brown of Crawford has gone to Beddington to work
in the tannery.” After we cross the river a road to the right
goes to Beddington Lake and the site of many homes.
As we go up Schoppee Hill on the
Airline we find Beddington which at one time had five households, W.
Schoppee, B. D. Coffin, R. Coller, J. S. Peckham, and A. Schoppee all
on the 1861 map. William Schoppee was the first settler in this part
of town, walking from Machias. Today three of these sites still have
buildings, two at the top of the hill having been built in 1830. One
or both of these served as a stage stop and horse change place for
the Airline Stage. Beddington Post Office was at the top of the hill,
and among the postmasters we find Wm. Schoppee, I. C. Bridgham, and
Ella Schoppee. Ella Schoppee lived on the left. She called her place
the Schoppee House, took in lodgers and served fine Sunday dinners
which folks came from miles around to enjoy.
In the early 20th century, Henry Moore
was a local teamster who hauled freight, mail, and occasionally
passengers to Bangor. He had a big voice that could be heard a mile
away as he urges his four horse team up the hills. He would walk out
onto the pole between the horses and tap them on the ears to keep
Devereaux – TWP 29 MD BPP. This name came from George St. Devereaux who bought this township, excepting the public lots, lottery rights lots, and settlers’ lots, from a group of Portland investors on August 29, 1835. St. Devereaux was from Salem, Massachusetts. The name Devereaux was not given by the Legislature.
Census records that we have show:
1830 = 28; 1840 = 36; 1850 = 18; 1860 = 9; 1870 = 8; 1880 = 7; 1890 =
5; 1900 = 2; 1910 = 5; 1920 = 3; 1930 = 1; 1940 = 4; 1950 = 1; 1960
and after = 0
The 1830 census lists 8 families including Stinson
Lovejoy. The 1850 census lists 3 families, two being headed by
Gilbert Gray, and by his son William Gray. The Orson Abbott family
lived in #29 from before 1860 until after 1930. This home site is in
the field, north of the road, just east of the town line. The old
house was taken down in 1997 or after. Across from the site are a
couple of log structures.
Pleasant Mountain tops out at 1374 feet above sea level. The Airline used to go farther north over the mountain and, if memory serves me correctly, the easterly hill was called Lovejoy Hill. It has been only recently that I found out the source of that name. William Schoppee told me that there are cellars up on that old road. The present road passes a short tower at its highest point. This is a microwave tower that allows customers of Union River Telephone Company at Montegail Pond to talk with the rest of the world. Down on the flat, on the left, we go by the road to Mopang Lake that starts in a gravel pit. Not far from that is an old picnic site (Devereaux) with a block of granite marking the place. Sewveral roads to Pleasant River Lake go off to the south. In 1935, Washington County Commissioners approved $855.00 for maintenance of the Airline in this township.
Township 30 MD BPP –
The Airline follows the #24 and #30 line for almost four miles. We
first come to Mopang Stream where there is a nineteenth century dam
and mill site north of road. Lester Crane of Machias had a sawmill at
this site for several years and planted the Norway pine about 1947.
Crane had a contract to log on TWP 24. Carl and Eleanor Day of Wesley
worked for him.
The MDOT recently opened a rest area east on
Mopang, on the south side of the road. Part way up the grade we pass
the 1880 site of J. Hayward’s logging camp. As we reach the top
of the ridge we can see on the left a woods road with a yellow gate.
This was the proposed site of an ash and FEPR dump. The front-end
process residue and ash was to come from the PERC incinerator, which
still operates in Orrington. (This material is now being made into a
mountain beside I-95 in Hampden)
From this height of land we see directly ahead Tug
Mountain. A straight line would take the road just to the right of
the nubble at its peak. This apparently was the plan for John Hayward
convinced his son Allen to give up his farm in Cooper and the two of
them settled briefly on the mountain near where the road was planned.
As we go down this long straight road we pass by the sites of two
logging camps from the 1870s belonging to N. Bowker. Next is the road
on the left to Lilly Lake and site of Teco Lodge, where many
Washington County kids had outdoor experiences from the 1950s through
Township 24 MD BPP – Across from the
last mentioned site we find Wilderness Lodge. Behind the building are
the Hadley Lakes, site of the Hadley Ranch which was a hunting lodge
about 100 years ago. The Airline Lumber Company, a Canadian outfit
sawed long lumber here late in WWII and shipped the finished product
back to Canada. Later, Lester Crane also had a mill near Wilderness
Township 24 (excepting public lots and a couple
small private lots) was owned by Clarence Bemis until 1964. Earl and
Sarah Harris acquired the big lot and built Wilderness Lodge, but did
not make their payments. David Cox of Bangor got the land, building,
and restaurant equipment in 1966 and in two years sold to Brewer Lake
Shores, Inc. H. Meriedith Berry was the president of this outfit in
1978 and this name is still associated with the lodge. The lodge has
not been open for business much during its years of existence.
About 1950 powers at be decided that the Airline
would be plowed in the winter. Leo “Mutt” Kneeland of
Wesley held the contract for well over a decade to plow and sand from
the Wesley/TWP 31 line west to the Osborn/Aurora line. He kept three
trucks at Cranes Mill, two with plows and one with a sanding rig. One
plow truck covered from the Devereaux/Beddington line west and the
other did the east part. At first “Mutt” did the east end
and Billy Griffin of East Machias did the west. Alton Norton took
over the west end when he got out of the service in 1956. Ellis
McArthur worked the east part for some years in the early 60s. Ellis
stayed in a camp on the north side of the Airline. In the mid 60s,
the MDOT took over plowing this part of the Airline.
Shadagee Road, a private dirt road which
takes off to the south and connects eventually with Columbia Falls.
Shadagee appears to be a corruption of the French word Chateauguay,
the site in Quebec of a battle during the War of 1812. Who brought
that name to Washington County? Also this township is the site of
blueberry and cranberry operations south of the Airline.
Township 30 MD BPP –
As we drive north along the side of Tug Mountain we see Camp Stobie.
This was built in 1931 under orders from George Stobie, Commissioner
of Inland fish and Game. It was to be a place where wardens could
stay when in the area. Raymond Harrington, a Game Warden from Deblois
and his cousin Sherman Harrington built the 12 by 18-foot log camp on
land leased from Seaboard Packing. The building was moved and turned
sideways in 1995 as a result of the highway construction.
As we swing around the end of Tug Mountain the
Fletcher Field Road goes off to the left. Up this road is a flat
piece of land that was burned over and was quite free of trees.
Locals called it the Race Ground. After WWII a military jet fighter
in trouble crash-landed there. The pilot was picked up by Porter
Kelton, driver of a supply truck for Standard Paper, taken to
Fletcher Field where they had dinner, and then the pilot was returned
to civilization. Back on the Airline, the Forestry Service had
several buildings on either side of the old road just west of the
Township 31 MD BPP – This unorganized township is at times called the Day Block.
Census: 1850 = 46; 1860 = 35; 1870 =
6; 1880 = 23; 1890 = 17; 1900 = 18; 1910 = 7; 1920 = 2; 1930 = 3;
1940 = 2; 1950 = 2; 1960 = 2 …
After we cross the Machias River, we
come to the Bacon farm on the left. Eben and Julia (Elsemore) Bacon
lived here with their eight children. Bacon produced hay and root
crops for loggers, made huge amounts of butter that he sold in
Machias or beyond, but most importantly, after 1857, he maintained a
stage stop where fresh horses were always ready.
Click this image to see
Bacon Stage Stop &
white tent; Looking west from Breakneck Hill
(Manley Bacon images 1905)
In the late 1940s the bridge over
Pembroke Stream was wood. The icy planks caused Conrad Woodruff’s
car to slid off the bridge into the water. Conrad was trapped in the
car, nearly submerged in ice cold water and could not get out. His
friend started off to the nearest farm for a team of horses, but that
farm was several miles away. Conrad realized that he would die of the
cold, so he took his hunting knife and amputated the leg. He crawled
out of the stream and to the road where they found him. He got a
wooden leg and worked as a guide and eel trapper until his death in
From Pembroke Stream we
go up a long grade that is Breakneck Hill. On the east side of the
summit, the road used to swing to the south and drop abruptly to a
sharp corner to the east at the Sam Day place. This part of the road
was bypassed in 1994.
According to Sam’s son John Wilbur in his autobiography, this
hill got it name when Airline Stage driver George McCurdy reached for
the brake lever, slipped, and broke his neck when he fell partially
off the coach one night. He was found hanging by one leg by Eben
Bacon when the horses turned into Bacon’s yard. Some remember
Claude Stewart living at the Sam Day place. More recently Jeff &
Judy Kiminski were there, calling it the Gypsie Wagon.
Up on the hill, across the old road
from the Sam Day place is a modern house with a hipped roof. A
hunter from away built, but his wife didn’t like it, so it has
set vacant for years.
North on the road to Chain Lake just a couple
hundred feet is the Day Cemetery. The first known buried here was
Sewall Higgins who died in 1851. Wilbur Day is buried here also.
John Blaisdell of Franklin came in
1947 and set up a sawmill on Second Chain Lake in TWP 26. In the
beginning he used 20 horses, and he operated for 17 years. At one
time he hired Dottie Metta of Wesley to dive for logs that had sunk
in the lake. This road leads to Blaisdell’s mill site.
Back on the Airline, we cross over Chain Lake
Stream where in 1880 Quimby had a dam and mill. Next is the Wesley
town line and remains of the old Pejobscot camp.
Wesley – Township 25 EDBPP was settled in 1822 and called Great Meadow Ridge, because the area was favored by meadows along the East Machias River. The name Dayton was also used because of the many residents with the Day name. It was incorporated on January 24, 1833 and named for John Wesley (1703) who landed in America on February 6, 1736 at Peeper Island near Savannah, Georgia. He preached at Christ Church in Savannah in 1736 – 1737. It is interesting to note that he was succeeded at that church by George Whitefield, from whence comes the name Whitefield, a town in Lincoln County, Maine. John Wesley was an English religious reformer and founder of Methodism. Many of the early settlers of Wesley were Methodists. Wesley is six miles by seven miles whereas most towns are six miles by six miles. The larger size is because in the petition for incorporation, they asked for a mile strip out of #26 so as to include many of the settlers' lots. Sources: Wesley Historical Society; The History of Wesley, Maine; WHS has a binder containing descriptions of the house sites along all Wesley roads.
Fox Hotel and Looking down Fox Hill
ca 1941 (both pictures from the Wesley Historical Society)
Not too far east of the Wesley line, the first
house we see on the left is the home of J. Wilbur Day. This white
house, with a closed in front porch, was the home of Wesley’s
most controversial character. He was a noted hunter and there are
many stories about his adventuresome life. Wilbur was a son of Sam
Day, the bear hunter we met back in Township 31. Wilbur Day:
Hunter, Guide, Poacher; An autobiography was published in 1986
and makes interesting reading. Part way up the hill is a red trailer
home on the left. It is the site of the Blacks Road School.
Carlows’ Restaurant and Cabins
on the right were established in the early 1960s by Otis and Georgia
Carlow. The business was run by their son Richard and his wife Kim.
They retired and closed the business at the end of the 2002 season.
The big house behind was the Hayward Hotel built about 1880 by Allen
At the top of Fox Hill stood John
Fox’s Hotel at the corner of Route 192, the Machias Road
(Junior Williams Road). This was a stage stop for the Airline Stage.
In 1834 this road, “commencing at the Penobscot and Schoodic
Road, commonly called the Blacks Road, near the house of John Averill
went on to Machias.”
Wesley Corner School was built in 1870. Behind it is the site of the 1910 fire tower, made of wood, which blew down in 1938. Across from the school was a dance hall or pavilion built in the 1950s. Locals called it “the paper bag” because of its poor construction. Guptills Blueberry complex is back from the road from the dance hall site. Hill Top Grange Hall #546 was built in 1931 and the dance hall, scene of the Wesley Dances, was added about 1959.. The Meeting House was built in 1845 and today is still used as a church and is home of the Wesley Historical Society.
On the south side of the road is Hillside
Cemetery. Across from it is an area with stone walls on three sides,
which was the site of the first church in town, it was log. Just
beyond this is a white garage standing by itself. This was where the
town stored its 1914 New Holland Stone Crusher.
Three public facilities are next on
the left, Maine Forestry Service (1967), MDOT (1966), and Wesley Fire
Department (1976). On the right, the tall tower was put up in 1995
and is for cell phones. The fire tower was built in 1938, but has not
been used in recent years.
As we come over the top of the hill
we start down Day Hill. Truckers never have liked this hill,
especially going up in the winter. Part way down on the right is
Hillside School, now a residence. Next is a dammed up pond. The small
stream that supplies water to that pond once provided power to
Herbert L. Day’s mill. His water wheel was an overshot wheel,
fairly rare in this area.
The fill at the bottom of Day Hill represents 25,000 truck loads of dirt, plus 3000 tons of chipped tires from Harry Smith’s establishment in Meddybemps. The neighborhood here is called Day Valley or “The Pines.” There was a Post Office by that name here from 1900 to 1929.
Beaver Dam Brook is the last place in Wesley we will note. In 1842, the town paid Leonard Day $50.00 to build a bridge over that water. How many bridges have been built since? Two mills on this stream were run by Day men, one made wooden pill boxes, and the other wooden paper plugs.
Township 26 –
ED BPP – No
one lives along the Airline here today and we know of only two home
sites. Among those living here as head of households were William Day
(1830), Daniel Travis (1850 & 60), Joel Day (1870 & 80), Mark
Dudley (1870), Harrison Crockett (1870), and Japtha Day (1880). Was
the third house on the Airline or up near Chain Lake? As noted earlier, Wilbur Day had hunting camp
on Chain Lake in #26 and John Blaisdall had a sawmill there.
1838 Washington County Commissioners met and approved a four rod road from Wesley to Crawford. Owners were awarded no damages but could remove timber within 12 months. And in 1935 the county had $23.10 set aside for road maintenance in #26.
Crawford – #20 EDBPP - Incorporated 1828, petitioned for incorporation as Liberty in 1828. Liberty in Waldo County incorporated in 1827, therefore the legislature changed the name on the petition to Adams. The male residents of #20 “begged leave to represent that said name does not suit us,” and asked for another name, scratched out and unreadable. The town was named for William Harris Crawford (1772 – 1834), US Senator from Georgia, Secretary of the Treasury, and Minister to France. Crawford was instrumental in Maine becoming a state by convincing Congress to repeal the Coasting Laws. Source: Alexander-Crawford Historical Society; A-CHS Newsletters have articles describing each house site along all the roads in Crawford.
We enter Crawford and pass by the
Harmon Mountain Road to the left, and next a MDOT rest area on the
bank of the East Machias River. About a mile farther, again on the
left is a cellar and an apple tree at the Barstow place, Hanscom once
had a mill on the river in back of this house site. Not far beyond
Rocky Brook is where the road to Pokey Dam heads to the north.
At the top of Sally Hill we find a
gentle curve to the left. This once was a four corners with the
Airline going north, the Nineteen road going south, and the road by
Love Lake to Cooper going east, or straight ahead. On the southwest
corner is a cellar next to the old road. Sally (Hatheway) Hanscom,
wife and later widow of Stephen lived here prior to 1850 and her name
is also applied to the corner. Their son Ellsworth Hanscom later
lived on the Nineteen Road, near the town line. One source states
that the corner was named for Sally Seavey, widow of Aaron who lived
here until the 1830s. Under the new road is the site of one of
Crawford’s first schools.
In 1823 a petition for a road from Blacks Road
near Aaron Hanscom’s to Cooper was submitted to the Washington
County Commissioners and in 1834 a petition for the Nineteen Road
ending at Blacks Road was approved. Many of these roads existed and
were used before the petitions. The petitions were for the county to
pay for the up-grades and maintenance.
After a long relatively level and straight
stretch, we see on the left the Old Crawford Cemetery on the side
hill. Civil War veterans Azor Bridges, Daniel Seavey, and Daniel
Augustus Smith are buried here. Dan Seavey was near Appomattox when
he got word that his wife Hannah (Fenlason) had died, likely a result
of childbirth. He later married Susan Dwelley. Gus Smith was married
to Susan’s sister, Emma Dwelley. The Smith monument is made of
metal. Azor looked to the Creamer family, marrying Mary in 1873. The
New Crawford Cemetery is at the foot of the hill next to a road that
once led to a Diamond National mill. The lake we see to our left is
Crawford Lake, although the northerly part was labeled
“Poke-Moonshine Lake” on the Richard Hayden’s 1840
The Crawford Bible Fellowship Church is next on the left. The building had belonged to the town until the residents transferred it to the Fellowship in 1995. A Baptist congregation formed in TWP 20 in 1825. They erected this building in 1837 in the center of town. It was torn down, and moved to this location in 1906. Once rebuilt, it was used as a Union Church. The Crawford Arm Road is across from the church; it goes through to Alexander. The last used school in Crawford was on this road.
Rose Seavey’s house beside the Crawford Union Church (Image from Pricilla Cushing Andrews)
Harold Cousins Black Smith Shop
in Alexander (1994)
The Airline swings sharply to the right part way
up the hill at Durlings Corner, the site where numerous truckers have
left the road.
– #16 ED BPP - Alexander was settled before 1810 by Samuel
Brown and incorporated 1825 as Maine’s 258th
town. It is named for Alexander Baring whose bank was a part owner of
William Bingham’s Penobscot Purchase. Alexander Baring married
Bingham’s daughter, Ann. Source: Alexander-Crawford Historical
Society; A/CHS newsletters contain articles telling of all the home
sites along the Airline.
Immediately after the town line, on the right, is Crawford Evergreen. This business was started in 1993 and made wreaths and other Christmas greenery. After a long flat, we go up onto the ridge where, on the left, we see the foundation of the first school in town. It was built of logs in 1822 and Mr. Barstoe was the teacher. Davis Road goes off to the right, intersecting the Arm Road, and running almost to Pleasant Lake.
At the Four Corners, the South
Princeton Road goes to the left and the Old County Road to the right.
These two roads became county roads in 1838. Today, the Old County
Road is a town road and the other road is a state connector road to
U. S. Route One in Princeton. A school, a store, and a baseball
diamond were on the left. Beyond the intersection on the left was
another store and “filling station” run by Will Strout.
On the right was Charles Hunnewell’s blacksmith shop, and
beyond the intersection was Charlie Aylward’s store. Busy
After we pass the Four Corners we start down Bailey Hill, named for Civil War veteran Isaiah Bailey. And then we go up Lanes Hill and enter the section of town that at the time of the Civil War was known as Lanes Brook. Rufus K. Lane arrived in Alexander before 1830 and had moved on before the 1840 census. He had come from Massachusetts to see his cousin, Clement Lane, in Milltown. Clement worked for William Vance. Rufus soon married Mrs. Mary A. Chase, widowed daughter of William Vance. The family later moved to Readfield, but son James (born February 10, 1824 in Baring) returned east to live in Crawford (1860) and in Baring (1865) where he died in 1909.
It was at Lanes Brook that the Airline Stage
changed horses at the farm of blacksmith Benjamin Strout. Eighty
years later, Arlene McArthur had a business across the road named
Stage Coach Motel and Restaurant. Today the motel building is Randy’s
At the top of the next
hill we see a unique advertising sign. Lawrence Lord has mounted an
old well driller on a post. This hill carries the Passamaquoddy name
of Wapsconhagan. The same name applies to the brook at its bottom. My
grandfather, Herbert J. Dudley of Calais had a camp on Pocomoonshine
Lake and a Model T touring car. Along about 1920, he would load into
this car his two children, Jack and Lois, and Dr. Walter Miner’s
children John and Ruth and head for camp. Ford cars in those days did
not have fuel pumps, and when they all arrived at Wapsconhagan Hill
on the Airline, Herbert would have to turn around and back up the
hill. The kids got out and walked. Walking was faster and more fun! Personal memory of John Miner, 04/2003
Alexander Cemetery, on the left, was
wisely located on Sand Hill. The record in stone indicates that, in
1830, Samuel Scribner was the first buried there. Manly Townsend is
buried here; he was president of the Maine State Senate in the 1840s.
There are at least a dozen family burying grounds scattered around
Alexander, most that we cannot find and only a couple with inscribed
stones. The first recorded death in town was Mary Young in 1814. She
is buried back near the Four Corners. Across from the cemetery is the
Flat Road that was named for the terrain through which it passes.
A town line road, on the left, called
the Robb Hill Road marks the end of Alexander, and the beginning of
Baileyville. Robb Hill was an active settlement in the mid- 1800s
with a school serving scholars from both sides of the town line.
Today, the road has but one resident.
The 1827 Petition for Incorporation requested the name of Albion.
This name had been given to the people in the Town of Fairfax (1804),
then Lygonia (1821), in Kennebec County in 1824. Township #7 PS
(Putnam Survey) was incorporated 1828 and named for early settler
Nathaniel Bailey. Baileyville has its Village of Woodland with its
forest products mills. The part of Baileyville along the Airline has
about two dozen homes and a restaurant. Sources: Alexander-Crawford
Historical Society, History Early Baileyville,
Maine by Albert Bailey; A/CHS is presently
publishing articles in its newsletters describing home sites along
the Airline in Baileyville and the roads that connect to it.
Our trip through Baileyville follows approximately
the original road. On the right we see Bear Cove Road. Here once was
the Robb Watering Hole. Sources of drinking water for man and beast
were important in the days of ox and horse travel. This spring is now
under the new road. About a mile on we come to the top of Farrar
Hill. William DeLesdernier lived here on the left. His grandparents
had emigrated from Switzerland. His father Lewis, born in Nova
Scotia, wanted his neighbors to join the other colonists in the
revolution against the English crown. We know Nova Scotia remained
loyal, and that Lewis came to Eastport. William was the first state
senator to die in office and there is a memorial to him and several
others in Capitol Park in Augusta. Lewis lived his last few years
On the left, across from
the Sunset Camp Road, is a big green hipped roof house. The 1841 map
lists the site to Dennis Dawson. The proprietors of Baileyville “by
Samuel Kelley, our agent” sold this 100 acre lot with buildings
to Michael Claressey in September 1855. It was called the “Dawson
lot” in the deed. In May 1858 Michael transferred the property
to Thomas and Julia Ann Claressey. In October 1864 Robert Sheehan of
St. Stephen bought the place. On the 1881 Atlas we find J.
Sheehan PO. That J. is for John. John’s
wife was Sarah Dawson. Were these people all related? They were Irish
as were many from this neighborhood.
Lydia Huff and Mary Stephenson of Alexander, mother
and daughter and both widowed, acquired this place in June 1899. In
February 1910 Lydia Huff sold this farm to her daughter Mary L.
Malloy. Mary and her husband Augustus “Gus” lived here
until 1940. Ross and Eva Sadler acquired the place in June 1940 and
most today refer to it as the Sadler place.
The intersection of Route One marks the end of our journey. Although the stage started its journey in Bangor and ended in Calais, it is this part of the road that carries the name and the reputation of the Airline.
DROVERS ~ I would note here that this east-west road was used starting with the Civil War to transport livestock on hoof. During the War, horses from the Maritime Provinces for the Union Army were driven west. Later droves of cattle and sheep moved in whichever direction economics dictated. From the Machias Union of October 18, 1898 – Wesley: “Ferren & Son, drovers from West Levant, left this town last week with over 80 head of cattle.” (S. H. & C. T. Ferren). An unpublished account tells of Lincoln Flood and several other men from Alexander driving a flock of sheep across the Airline to Bangor. At one house they stopped for a meal, and the men had to share one spoon and one knife.
SOME UNANSWERED QUESTIONS ~ Was this road part of the under ground railroad? What shorter route would the run-away slaves have from Brewer to Canada? What role did this road have in rum running? Where is the documentation for the Jones and Frie 1763 survey? Who drove their car from Wesley to Beddington on the crust sometime around WWII? Who can put that 1829 survey onto a modern map? Wouldn’t it be neat to see how accurate that survey was and where the track was at the time.
TONY TAMMARO MEMORIAL HIGHWAY: On August 7, 2003, the Washington County section of the Airline was dedicated to Tony Tammaro for his efforts in support of reconstruction of this road.
AIRLINE STAGE ~
The first stage route between Bangor and Calais, or Schoodic Falls as
it was called in 1807, followed the postal routes No 28, and No. 87.
Mail service was weekly. This followed the coast, with an overnight
stop at Cherryfield, and was called the Shoreline
Stage Company. It took two days to travel
the 160 miles. Calais businessmen wanted faster service.
In 1857 one George W. Spratt of Calais got the
idea that he could get the mail contract and drive the mail over
Blacks Road in one day. The contract, worth $5000 per year, allowed
him to set up six post houses or stage stops where teams were
changed. They were in Alexander, Wesley, Bacon Farm, Beddington,
Aurora, and Clifton. Calais and Bangor were the starting and ending
points. This required the use of 28 horses each way. The stage left
Calais about 5 PM and was in Bangor the next morning at about 9. Ned
Lamb, grandson of Ben Strout, used the name “Airline Stage”
and wrote that among the early drivers were Martin Cone, Dan
Gardiner, Will Delano, and Albert Metcalf. Levi Henderson, a Civil
War veteran from Alexander, was another driver.
The contract for this mail route was signed on
April 25, 1857. The first trip of the Airline stage carried one
passenger and fifteen pounds of mail. Thus started the feud between
Route One businessmen and the Calais businessmen who favored the
Airline. Stories were spread about the wolves and bandits that
awaited anyone foolish enough to travel on Spratt’s Airline
Stage. In 1860, New York City’s leading paper carried a wood
print picture showing wolves slashing at the throats of four horses
pulling the stage. Tim Elledge wrote in the Maine Sunday Telegram
(June 4, 1978) about the five-man Miller gang that made off with
several bags full of loot before being caught during their fourth
trip back. He also described how a man almost mastered stealing the
mail pouch at the Amherst way station. In spite of the robberies and
wolf stories, the business succeeded.
In 1858 a petition was
presented to the Legislature by George W. Spratt, Thomas W. Horton,
Luther Beckett, Robert Noah Smith, George Downes, Francis K. Gray and
I. M. Hall. The petition requested that the date for collecting taxes
in the unincorporated townships be set at January 1st
of each year instead of May 15. In addition the petition requested
that the funds be used to repair roads
through said townships; repairs in lieu of taxes or taxes by January 1st. The reason behind the petition was to accelerate improvements on the road for Mr. Spratt’s stagecoach. The Legislature did not pass this. MSA 1858-GY-225.46
In 1860, New York City’s leading illustrated newspaper carried this woodcut of wolves slashing at the throats of four horses pulling the Air Line Stage. H. E. Lamb, Calais Advertiser April 27, 1949
ALONG THE AIRLINE ~ The populations shown on
the following page show several trends. First, the Airline was
settled from the ends. The earliest and largest settlements are
Eddington and Baileyville. Note that population reached a peak
sometime between 1840 (Beddington) and 1890 (Osborn). The towns were
then depopulated to reach lows between 1930 and 1970, except for
Baileyville that reached its low in 1900, just before the paper mill
was built. Today only Eddington, Clifton, and Osborn have more people
than they did in the nineteenth century. Baileyville reached its peak
in 1980. And today, most of the Airline is a bedroom community for
the Bangor – Brewer or Calais – Woodland.
POPULATION CHANGES ALONG THE AIRLINE
Based on census records from various sources
X = before settlement, ? = these two towns were settled about 1810, but we found no census records for them.
red indicates a loss of population green indicates an increase from the year before
ADDITIONS AND CORRECTIONS ~ While I hope there are no errors in this journey, I expect there are. Please send corrections so they can appear in a future edition of the newsletter. Also send along your memories, stories, and facts. John Dudley 216 Pokey Road, Alexander ME 04694