History is made everyday. Since the article on the Airline was written back in 2000, things have happened and I’ve learned of events that took place before that date. This addendum allows me to share some of those events, both recent and ancient. I hope that others will use this document and add to it. My thanks to those who shared with me, but any errors are mine. John Dudley


Several topics about Airline history remain for someone to research. They include other mines or quarries are in the townships along the Airline, who is the ghost of Wilderness Lodge, the story of schools and religious history, and was this road part of the Underground Railroad. Recent history might include when did clean chips from the Chip & Sawmill in Woodland get shipped by Carrier Trucking to Rumford? How many loads a day, how many in all? And what are the details on the New Brunswick hog fuel [wood chips] getting shipped to Deblois to be turned into electricity that was sent back to NB?

Many travelers and all roadside residents have tales to tell. Enjoy what little has been written!

THE AIRLINE ROAD  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.

Concerning the road that most know as the Airline, and the State of Maine calls Route 9, it too had historic names. The first was General Cobb’s Great Road from the Penobscot to the Schoodic. General Cobb was William Bingham’s agent here in Maine. For many years in the middle of the nineteenth century it was called the Black’s Road after John Black, agent for Baring Brothers Bank. It eventually came to be called The Airline, after the Airline Stage Company that we will describe later. Of course, the road has had many local names. On early maps of Baileyville it is called the Alexander Road, and the folks of Clifton still refer to it as the Bangor Road. We will call this the Airline.



This section is based, in part, on a report created by Park Holland for William Bingham and Baring Brothers Bank, owners of a million acres between the Penobscot River and the St. Croix River on the east. The report was in the Bangor Historical Magazine, Volume V, July 1889. Maine Historic Preservation Commission supplied the article. The map above likely was created by Holland to accompany the report. The original map is with the Baring Brothers Bank in London.

Apparently a plan had been proposed that Passadumkeag Township be acquired by Bingham and the Passadumkeag River be used via a portage to the west branch of the St. Croix to create a way west to east across the million acre purchase. This was the route explored, with Passamaquoddy guides, by Joseph Chadwick in 1764. This plan had a major weaknesses, the ends of this route were too far up river from each the head of navigation and it was a water route, not a land route.

Another problem was stated by Holland. TWP 26 BPPMD [now Amherst] had been contracted for by a Mr. Parsons, but he had not fulfilled his contract. So Holland avoided both concerns by following what we see on the manuscript map. Mr. Parsons did not follow-up on the contract.

Holland did this survey in 1797 to connect the existing mill village town of East Orrington on Sedgeunkedunk Stream to Township #6 PS [Baring], a mill town on the Schoodic or St. Croix River.

The site visited next after East Orrington was on the West Branch of the Union River, a place “proposed to be occupied” and called today Mariaville Falls. The settlement was to be on the West Side of the river.

Holland’s next site “In the Northwestern part of No. 17 is the Great Falls of the [Narraguagus] river, at which it is proposed that a mill should be erected. TWP 17 MD BPP had been run out into 160-acre settlers’ lots. It would be named Annsburgh after Bingham’s daughter who married Alexander Baring. Today it is the town of Deblois and the village on Route 193 is by the ‘Great Falls’. Phil White told of another set of rips on the West Branch of the Narraguagus in Townships 10 and 16. These rips at about a mile long would have been a good place for a mill settlement, but was not chosen. Today TWP 16 is wildland and TWP 10, served only by Route 182, is much unchanged in 200+ years. Decisions made in the past affect conditions today.

TWP 24 ED BPP [now Northfield] was the next mill site selected by Holland. It is located on the West or Main Machias River. This site, either at Holmes Falls or at Getchell Riffles, was never developed probably because mills already existed on this river at Machias.

“On the Eastern branch of the same river it is likewise proposed to erect a mill on No. 19, East Division.” This site appears to have been on Northern Stream and was never developed. Logs on the East Machias watershed were driven to existing mills in the village of named for the river.

Concerning Baring, Holland questions if the occupied site in No. 6 PS should be improved or to erect a mill at the rapids in No. 7 PS [Baileyville] at Sprague Falls in Woodland village or farther up river at Grand Falls.

These sites were called “hot house” communities. Each was to have a sawmill, a gristmill and housing for the sawyer and the miller plus for farmers as they prepared home sites on land purchased from Bingham.

The map and article from Holland’s field notes establish the proprietors’ desire to settle these million acres. The opening of General Cobb’s Great Highway from the Penobscot to the Schoodic further solidified the plan to fill the land with farms. It was John Black, agent for Baring Brothers and son-in-law of David Cobb, who determined that the lumber industry was more likely to succeed in land sales than farming

STAGES OF CONSTRUCTION ~ A spotted line that might follow the boundary between two townships 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 stage required even a better-maintained road. 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 dollars 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 Interstate 395?


Was this road surveyed in the mid-1760s? It was at this time, after the Treaty of Paris gave the English control of Maine, that the government in Massachusetts had roads surveyed from the Kennebec to the Penobscot, and from the Penobscot to Quebec. Joseph Chadwick did the latter survey. We have found no evidence of a survey of a land road between the Penobscot and the Schoodic, but a water route is mentioned by Park Holland.

William Bingham acquired two million acres of Maine land in 1793. He hired Revolutionary War General David Cobb to be his agent. His job was to make Bingham’s investment in the two million acres of wild land pay a profit. One million acres parcel was on the upper Kennebec River and is called Bingham’s Kennebec Purchase. The second block of land is between the Penobscot River on the west and the Schoodic (St. Croix) River on the east. This was called Bingham’s Penobscot Purchase [BPP]. Coastal townships were not included in the purchase.

We can imagine Bingham and Cobb meeting in Bingham’s fine Philadelphia home and discussing how this land could be turned into money. This was in 1795 and the American Revolutionary War was over. The old coastal communities were crowded (by standards of the time) and young men needed land for farming. Thus the plan was for Cobb to market these lands to young farmers. And we can imagine the two men studying a map, maybe Osgood Carlton’s 1795 map, then taking a pencil and drawing a line from the Penobscot River easterly through these lands and agreeing to build a road along that route for the settlers to use. The map – plan exists at the Baring Brothers Bank in London is shown above along with Park Holland’s notes.

General Cobb built a great house at Gouldsborough and soon found some unhappy truths. Cobb listed these truths between 1795 and 1800.

First, as we all know, the land and climate of eastern Maine were not and are not suitable for farming. Cobb describes another natural feature of eastern Maine that did not promote settlement. “… those who come to view the country … have as frequently returned almost blind by the bites of flies and mosquitoes. You have no conception of the hosts of these devils that infest the thick forest at this season.”

Next, Cobb was to find that “the great body of the people of this country possess no regard to the rights of private property.” Cobb blamed the region’s slow development on “the vicious inhabitants who disfigured its landscape. Every inhabitant here is now a trespasser, a plunderer. They live by it, and therefore they will not cultivate the finest soil in the world. Their not doing this is the chief cause why the reputation on the country has been damn’d. If the people who live by lumbering, are indulged in cutting the forests wherever they please, they will have but little … appreciation of the soil.”

And finally Cobb wrote, “The greater part of the inhabitants of [Gouldsborough] follow lumbering and fishing, … and they are very intemperate, very lazy and very poor. It may be said in truth, altho’ disgraceful to the town, that the majority of the inhabitants are drunkards.” Cobb is referring to residents of the coastal towns, as well as some of his very own settlers]

Cobb must have been discouraged. However, he attempted to attract a different breed of settlers from New Hampshire, Massachusetts, and Connecticut. He built houses in Gouldsborough for settlers’ families to live in while the men prepared homes in the wilderness. He surveyed and built a road up the Union River valley to Great Falls, near the south line of Amherst. Here a “hot house settlement” was created. In 1800 one of the best double saw mills in eastern Maine was built as well as several other buildings. In 1803 a gristmill was added. The community was named Mariaville after Bingham’s daughter, Maria.

Cobb advertised to attract young farmers. It is in a handbill dated September 1800 that he states that the road from Gouldsborough to Mariaville is complete and that “another road will be opened in the … spring to the Penobscot River….” This road ended at Eddington on the Penobscot, where today the Airline meets the river and turns sharply south to follow the river to Brewer. Thus it appears that the first stretch of the Airline was opened in 1801. A History of Aurora, Maine by Herbert T. Silsby, 1958, is the source of information in this paragraph.

Silsby goes on to tell that in 1802 the road from Aurora to Beddington was started. By 1810, the road from the Penobscot to Beddington was passable and on August 22 of that year a contractor started working on the rest of the road. And when in 1814 (on July 11th), the British threatened Moose Island (Eastport) the militia from Aurora and Amherst mustered under Goodell Silsby and started to march east to protect their fellow Americans. They got only as far as Beddington when word came that Eastport had fallen into enemy hands; the battle being over, the men returned home.

From all this we might assume that the Airline was complete and open to traffic by 1814. Obviously, the road was not plowed in winter and was deep with mud in the spring. Check out the maps to see if they reflect this hypothesis. A map published in 1815 by Moses Greenleaf does, indeed, show a line from the Penobscot to the St. Croix representing the ‘Airline.’

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 that order.

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)

MAPS ~ 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.


Here are a few more notes about this SURVEY, An unknown modern day surveyor has noted the “plotting is poor in places”.

Of course, measurement is never exact.

In Penobscot County the road was a county road [Brewer – Eddington – Clifton] and was 17 miles 24 rods long.

In Hancock County [Amherst – Aurora – Osborn – TWP 22 - TWP 28 – TWP 22] this was a private road and was 25 miles 100 rods long.

In Washington County [Beddington – Devereaux – TWP 30 – TWP 24 – TWP 30 – TWP 31 – Wesley – TWP 26 – Crawford – Alexander – Baileyville] this also was a private road and measured 39 miles 36 rods.

and a couple of observations,

The brooks and streams in Penobscot County were mostly crossed on bridges. At East Eddington Mill Brook was bridged and the name Stockwell appears as the next word.

In Hancock County no bridges are mentioned for crossing any of the three branches of the Union River. Near Pine Hill was Francis’ Gate. The Little Narraguagus and the Narraguagus were not bridged.

In Washington County east of Noble Rock over what might be Canoe Brook was a bridge. After travelling past Lowden’s Gate and a spring, Mopang Stream and all rivers and streams to the east have no mention of bridges.

and a guess for our readers to think about.

To cross a brook or a stream without a bridge seems reasonable, but to cross the Narraguagus, Carlton {Machias] or the East Machias rivers would not be easy except at a ford. Was the original Airline crooked because the road was from suitable stream crossing to suitable stream crossing, from ford to ford?


[in order, west to east] We know others were living along the surveyed way.

BREWER - start opposite mouth Kenduskeag Stream – Bill Hayes and David Hanna, historians of Brewer, both feel the site is near the Brewer end of the upper bridge to Bangor, near the Joshua Chamberlain statue.

EDDINGTON – Eddington Bend - Luther Eaton, Esq. – Ebenezer Davis – Ware Eddy – heirs of Davis Sibley - ___ Patridge - ____ McMahon - pound – bridge, Stockwell

CLIFTON – the Penobscot/Hancock county line

AMHERST – Union River [West Branch, no bridge] – Ellsworth road [rte 181] – Amherst/Aurora town line

AURORA – middle branch [Union River, no bridge]

TWP 28 – Francis Gate [does anyone know what this was?] – and 24 rods beyond the aforesaid East branch [Union River aka Starvation Brook. House Rock is between the gate and brook, but not mentioned.

TWP 22 – Little Narraguagus river [no bridge and no mention of county line]

BEDDINGTON – Narraguagus [no bridge, its just 26 rods east of the 39 mile marker]

TWP 29 – DEVEREAUX – Noble Rock [43 miles 200 rods from start] stake at bridge [14 rods east of rock, likely Canoe Brook] – Lowden’s Gate

TWP 30 – Mopang [no bridge] – three unnamed brooks within 104 rods [no bridges, camps near easternmost brook] – Dead Stream [?] – brook – camp – 57 miles from start

DAY BLOCK – TWP 31 – Carlton Stream 3 rods wide [no bridge, must be West or Main Machias River] – Carlton East Branch [about ½ mile from Machias River, Pembroke Stream] – stake near Stream [Old Stream]

WESLEY – Niles, [Robert, 88 rods east of 61 mile marker]

CRAWFORD – Machias [East Machias River] – stream [Rocky Brook] - Cooper Road – [today goes to Love Lake] - Stevens [Deacon Jacob likely lived at jct. Crawford Arm Road] - Seavey [by 1830 we find Aaron, Edward, Jacob, John, Joseph and William]

ALEXANDER – Bohanon [Annaniah] – County Road [today the Cooper Road] – town line [Alexander/Baileyville]

BAILEYVILLE – “standing on the Westerly side of the Houlton road, about 180 rods northwesterly of the line between the town of Baring and late Plantation No. 7 now Baileyville…” The total distance between downtown Brewer and the Houlton Road [Route 1] in Baileyville being 81 miles 160 rods.

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 Library, USM.

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.


Between 1976 and 1986 Maine Department of Transportation put up mileposts all along Route 9, starting with #2 near the New Hampshire border in Berwick. In those days, Route 9 ended [or started] at the junction of the Houlton Road [Route One] in Baileyville. In those pre GPS days, these markers were to help locate high accident places for better signage or road realignment.


Even numbered signs [left] are often found on each side if the road. Odd numbered signs are smaller and harder to read. Listed here are the locations where-ever we saw a sign. If one did exist, we would see sign 194.5 near Chamberlain’s Statue.

Column #1 = mile marker; these start at the New Hampshire border in Berwick

Column #2 = distance in miles from start at west end in Brewer

Column #3 = distance in miles from east end – Route One in Baileyville

Column #4 = location by town(ship)

Column #5 = what you might see at or near the mile marker

#1 #2 #3 #4 #5

0 87.5 Brewer start near at jct. by Chamberlain’s statue

206 11.5 76 Clifton west of Eddington town line

208 13.5 74 Clifton east of Rt. 180

210 15.5 72 Clifton east of Parks Pond

214 19.5 68 Amherst near Archer Corner

216 21.5 66 Amherst near Haynes Brook – let your horse drink here

217 22.5 65 Amherst near intersection of Tannery Loop Road

218 23.5 64 Amherst Rt. 181 on south – to Mariaville Falls

220 25.5 62 Aurora Rt. 179, south to Ellsworth

221 26.5 61 Aurora Old Airline by URT office

223 28.5 59 Aurora west end of Whaleback

224 29.5 58 Aurora Whaleback

225 30.5 57 Aurora Whaleback

226 31.5 56 Aurora Hardwood Ridge

228 33.5 54 Osborn near Middle Branch Rd

229 34.5 53 TWP 28 by road to House Rock

230 35.5 52 TWP 28 top 28 Camp Hill – camp on south - steel gate on north

231 36.5 51 TWP 28 Lower Pinnacle Rd.

  1. 37.5 50 TWP 22 truck stop at top of hill, with benchmark

  2. 38.5 49 TWP 22 top Smith Ridge, west of Snack Bar

  3. 39.5 48 TWP 22 near rte 193 to Cherryfield

235 40.5 47 Beddington east of Hancock/Washington County Line

236 41.5 46 Beddington edge BB field east Bridgham house

237 42.5 45 TWP 29 near road to Gray Pond

238 43.5 44 TWP 29 west of Canoe Brook and jct. of old road

239 44.5 43 TWP 29 west of URT communication tower on top Pleasant MT

240 45.5 42 TWP 29 east end of old road over “Lovejoy Hill”

242 47.5 40 TWP 30 west of Mopang and rest stops

244 49.5 38 TWP 30 rest stop, top of hill - Keep Your Ash Out of Wash. Co

246 51.5 36 TWP 24 Wilderness Lodge

249 54.5 33 TWP 30 near road to Fletcher Field on north

250 55.5 32 Day Block Near Machias River & Eben Bacon’s stage stop

251 56.5 31 Day Block west of Pembroke Stream

252 57.5 30 Day Block east of Pembroke Stream

253 58.5 29 Day Block Breakneck Hill – George McCurdy died here

254 59.5 28 Day Block near Breakneck Road - was Airline - Sam Day’s home

255 60.5 27 Day Block state warden’s house on north - Cloud 9 site on south

256 61.5 26 Day Block Chain Lake Stream – Quinby’s 1880 mill site

257 62.5 25 Wesley near Cedar Road & Wilbur Day homesite.

258 63.5 24 Wesley west of New Stream and Fox Hill

260 65.5 22 Wesley west of taller tower at top of hill

262 67.5 20 Wesley by TWP 26/Wesley town line & Clifford Lake road

264 69.5 18 Crawford Hanscom Mill and home site

265 70.5 17 Crawford Rocky Brook

266 71.5 16 Crawford foot Sally Hill

268 73.5 14 Crawford east of McLeods Convenience Store

271 76.5 11 Crawford east of Durlings Corner

272 77.5 10 Alexander east of Crawford/Alexander town line

273 78.5 9 Alexander Mr. Ed’s Blueberry Shed & site 1822 school

274 79.5 8 Alexander east of South Princeton Road jct.

275 80.5 7 Alexander Lanes Hill – Alexander Elementary School at top

  1. 81.5 6 Alexander near Church of the Open Bible

279 84.5 3 Baileyville Bear Cove Road – Robb Watering Hole

280 85.5 2 Baileyville east side Farrar Hill

281 86.5 1 Baileyville near Sunset Camp Road

282 87.5 0 Baileyville Route One - 200 yards toward Calais – across Route

One [Houlton Road] from the mile marker stands Irving Convenience Store and Truck Stop as it was called when it opened in October 1985, just 30 years ago from this time as I create this record.

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.


PENOBSCOT COUNTY – this part was Hancock County until 1816

Eddington – (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.

From Route 9, take Route 178 north toward Bradley and take the first left. There is a monument on Monument Drive, near the River. This apparently is where the Airline joined the River Road running between Bradley and Brewer. This is where we will start our journey. Here are the words on the granite monument.

Jonathan Eddy
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.


This image was likely taken just west of the village of East Eddington, at the top of the hill. It looks like Davis Pond in the background. Rural Free Delivery was established in 1896, before that year mail was delivered only to post offices.

image from Maine Folklife Center


image from Maine Folklife Center

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 administration.

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.

CLIFTON – CLIFFWOOD HALL [1892]                                   & HAROLD ALLAN SCHOOL [1863]

2015 images by jd

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 pitch.

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.


Some things don’t change. This image taken from just east of the Stage Road intersection gives a grand view of Peaked Mountain taken in 1958 likely by Marcia (Grover) Williams of Crawford. The road has since been rebuilt, but the view still remains. Where are the towers?

The cliffs of Clifton attract rock climbers. The cliffs of Peaked Mountain are often busy with these ant size creatures from spring to late fall. Susan Wallace, granddaughter of Marcia, shared this image.

Great Pond Maine Quadrangle [1932] showing the old road over Chick Hill north of Peaked Mt. and the newer road to its south. Topographical map from UNH site.

was 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 headlines.

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.



2015 images jd

The village of Amherst with its town hall and church is east of the West Branch Union River. When the bridge over that waterway was last reconstructed, traffic was routed over the Tannery Loop Road and over an upriver bridge. Mark Honey tells us “The Tannery Loop Road was laid out for the teamsters coming and going from the Amherst tannery. The road eliminated the need to climb up Tannery Hill, and avoided the hills bracing the Union River on the Airline."

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.

Mariaville – This town on the Mariaville Road (Route 181) was settled in 1802, and incorporated in 1836. It was named for William Bingham’s daughter.


If we travel 2.9 miles down Route 181 we see on the west the sign pictured below. The gravel road takes us to the trailhead, From the trail we may see Mariaville Falls, but not the settlement that was there over two hundred years ago.

To find out what was there, we will depend on the research of Mark Honey of Ellsworth. Mark has written five history books about Hancock County and specifically about the Union River Valley. Each carries the title KING PINE, QUEEN SPRUCE & JACK TAR, History of Lumbering on the Union River, 1762 - 1929.

In Volume 1, page 139 we find a section titled ‘A New Dam, Community, and Mill 1798 – 1803. From that we learn that, “John Fabrique, a sawmill owner from Ellsworth, was chosen to build a dam and establish a model community at Mariaville Falls by General Cobb. This task (building the dam) was completed in August 1800. The road from Taunton Bay to Mariaville Falls was also completed in 1803. Capt. John Peters Junior and his brother-in-law Sabin Pond were chosen by General Cobb to build a double mill at the Falls settlement. The mill was one of the finest in eastern Maine. The mill was completed in 1801.

“A store was built at the falls, along with a boarding house for the workers. Some of the supplies were probably brought up the river by boat, and some by oxen. It was a long and difficult passage through virgin forest.

“The road to the Penobscot settlements was completed in 1803, with the grist mill built in the same year. James Grant and his wife Dorcas Beal would establish themselves on the western side of the West Branch, running a small tannery, and possibly a shoe shop. Zelotus Grover came to the Falls as a merchant. Emerson Orcutt, accompanied by his brother Seth, came from Brewer as a blacksmith. A small cemetery was also established at the Falls.”

In a separate letter from Mark Honey, he states that it appears that the roads were located to avoid building bridges. This thought is backed by the 1829 survey that appears elsewhere in this paper. To accomplish avoiding bridges, the road from Mariaville Falls to Taunton Bay (completed in 1803) would have gone south (on route 181) to North Mariaville, hence southeasterly on existing roads to route 179, then southerly to Ellsworth Falls following somewhat the present day road. This would mean only one major stream crossing was needed, the East Branch of the Union River. By the way, Mark feels that the northern part of 179 was not built for several years. Use a DeLorme’s Maine Atlas; map 24 to find your way.

Back at Mariaville Falls – this was the site of a good ford on the West Branch Union River. To travel east, go north on 181 to Amherst Corner and turn right. Now to travel west to the Penobscot settlements requires looking carefully at the map. After fording the West Branch at the Falls, the road likely crossed Jellison Meadow Brook, Jellison Pond Brook and somewhere east of Debec Pond the road turned north. After passing near Archer Corner the road reached Chick Hill where it turned southwesterly connecting to the Stage Road in Clifton.

West of Parks Pond, the road turned south crossing Route 180 near Maplewood Cemetery, hence south of Woodchuck Hill and out to East Eddington via the Bangor Water Company Road. If you think the present day Airline is crooked, trace this out on a map!

Editor’s notes - David Cobb was William Bingham’s agent responsible for the million acres Bingham owned between the Penobscot and Schoodic (St. Croix) rivers. I am not sure whether the road to the Penobscot settlements was directly westerly from the Falls or followed the road the Williams brothers blazed from East Eddington to Great Pond. Either route would have established one part of General Cobb’s Great Road from the Penobscot to the Schoodic. It was the Frenchman Bay Conservancy and Kelly Bellis that led me to Mark Honey.

Census records show that the investments made at Mariaville Falls paid off in population growth. Mark Honey tells elsewhere that by the 1810 census about fifty families had settled in the townships around this “model community”. TWP 14 [Waltham] 12 families, TWP 20 [Mariaville] 16 families, TWP 26 [Amherst] 13 families, TWP 27 [Aurora] 4 families, TWP 33 [Great Pond] 2 families. Shortly later settlers arrived in TWP 15 [Eastbrook] and TWP 21 [Osborn].

I especially thank Mark Honey for his phone calls with directions around his books and for all the time and effort spent in researching and writing this history. Through his work we see that Park Holland’s prediction in his 1797 report that the Mariaville Falls would “be occupied” was fulfilled.”

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 2002.

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 Osborn.

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.


What follows mostly is found in detail in a history of that company written by Herbert Trafton Silsby II and his son-in-law Tim Plouff. SOMEBODY’S A TALKIN’ was copyrighted in 2011. It is an important record of a family, a business and an area that includes a major part of the Airline Road.

We all know the telephone was invented by Alexander Graham Bell and patented in 1876. The authors tell us that the Maine legislature created guidelines for this invention in 1880. Small telephone companies appeared all over Maine including our Airline communities. A few such companies were:

Lakeside T. & T. Co. of Princeton to serve Alexander to Wesley [1899]

Washington Co. Telephone Co. to serve along Airline WEST to TWP 31 [1903]

Equalized Telephone Co. to serve Wesley [1908]

Forest T. & T. Co. to serve Washington Co. [1903]; in Alexander 1907 – 17.

These and the Narraguagus Telephone Company in Beddington disappeared during the Depression or following WWII. Some towns didn’t AGAIN get service for a decade or longer.

Three men were instrumental in creating the Union River Telephone Company [URT] including Herbert Trafton Silsby [1866 - 1936]. The company became a legal entity on February 3, 1905. By November 11th of that year Aurora and Amherst were connected to Ellsworth. The central office was at the Silsby 1819 home in Aurora.


Herbert Trafton Silsby [page 13]                               “Man on Pole” [page 37]

Through New England Telephone and Telegraph Company URT subscribers soon had connections with Maine and the entire country. But expansion in its home area was slow because the population was small and scattered. All of or parts of Clifton, Otis, Amherst, Mariaville, Waltham, Great Pond, Aurora, Osborn and Eastbrook became part of the URT territory. Automated twenty-four hour a day dial-up service was added in 1960.
Alice Silsby’s 1929 Model A shown restored in 2009 image. Alice became second manager in 1936.

In 1974 URT was granted by the Maine Public Utilities Commission a territory that included townships 21, 22, 28, 34 and 35 in Hancock County and townships 18, 19, 24, 25, 30, 31 and 37 plus the towns Beddington and Deblois in Washington County. In 1975 these two towns were again connected to the world by telephone. Since the Narraguagus Telephone Company ceased survive after the war, in emergencies locals had to depend on the Forestry Service line at Lead Mountain.

In 1976 the U. S. Air Force built an Over the Horizon Back Scatter Radar Station in Township 19 Middle Division. Access to this area was via the Shadagee Road that went from the Airline just east of Wilderness Lodge to Columbia Falls. URT provided the communications link between the OTH site and Dow Field in Bangor. The line, mostly buried cable, allowed URT to connect customers around Montegail Lake in #19 to the world. Later, after OTH closed and the cable failed, URT installed a tower by the Airline on Pleasant Mountain to keep the TWP 19 connected to the world.

Today URT offers a digital subscription line [DSL] Internet service through its subsidiary Rivah.Net as well as telephone service to over 1500 customers. Now in existence for 110 years, it remains a family business managed by a forth generation Silsby. Copies of the URT book may be obtained at the telephone office in Aurora.

Towns and townships on the Airline road that are in the URT service area include from the west: Amherst, Aurora, Osborn, TWP 28, TWP 22, Beddington, TWP 29 [Devereaux], TWP 24, TWP 30 and TWP 31. URT has been, is now, and will be an important part of the Airline Road

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?

Built in 1971

image from Maine Folklife Center

Great Pond Quadrangle [1932]- The Airline enters the map about half way up the west [left] side. Route 179 to Ellsworth goes up over Dunker Hill. The road to Great Pond heads off to the northeast, while the Airline swings southeast over the Whales Back. UNH map -

Great 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.


Old & 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.

Osborn – 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 hill.


Lead Mt. Maine Quadrangle1945 print showing at left the old and then new roads up Hardwood Hill. Those corners were 90-degree turns into the 1950s. In the middle of the map we see the old road over Pine Hill and the new road that skirts the north part of the hill. Before fuel pumps in motor vehicles, steep hills were only a problem for oxen or horses going down hill. Gravity fed fuel in cars and trucks could not go frontward up steep hill. Note here how the road follows the township boundary lines.

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)


John Dean’s 1862 map has the name BREWSTER affixed to TWP 28 MD. What is the source of this name? A search of deeds between 1851 and 1869 at the Hancock County Register gave no person, corporation or academy named Brewster owning land in TWP 28. Next door in Washington County TWP 29 carries the name Devereaux after its owner George St Devereaux.

Eli Oakes of TWP 28 was in the Civil War. He was in Company E of the 11th Maine Infantry. Was his home near where in 1928 surveyors placed Bench Mark “N 10 1928 ME” near an apple orchard? This information is from Ken Ross, author of Washington County, Maine in the Civil War.

Maps we have seen show no homes in TWP 28, but three possible sites exist. That the highway follows closely to the township boundary clouds the issue. First is the home of Eli Oakes, where did he live?

Second is the site of bench mark “N 10 1928” that was then described as being “at the top of a hill, in an old Apple orchard" and 532.748 feet above sea level. Rodney Hanscom recovered this benchmark in 2006 and documented it was located 0.10 mile north along gravel road leading to Middle and Upper Lead Mountain Ponds, right at old cellar excavation.” Who lived there?

The third possible home site was told to me by Phil White. According to the forest fire boss named Rodney Grant, at the top of 28 Camp Hill, on the north side was a farm that served as a winter stage stop for the Airline Stage. Long hills and steep hills existed between Silsbys in Aurora and Schoppees in Beddington. Deep snow made for hard work going up hill and slippery conditions made it hard on horses to hold back the sleds going down hill. Today a small open field indicates the former farm site. The driveway has a steel gate of horizontal bars. Who lived there?

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.

In 1858 Alexander Dallas Bache (1806 – 1867) was on top of Humpback or Lead Mountain with a survey crew and the most modern instruments. Bache was superintendent of the Coast Survey. He was finding the longitude of prominent locations all along the coast of the United States. In this day before the Trans-Atlantic telegraph cable, he was using astronomical measurements. He found the longitude of Thomas Hill Standpipe in Bangor and of the granite column behind the old Calais Grade School.

Jefferson Davis, who would become President of the Confederate States of America, was a classmate of Bache’s at West Point Academy. Davis had served the United States as Secretary of War and was Senator from Mississippi when, in the summer of 1858, he became ill from the heat and humidity of Washington, DC. He doctor suggested rest in a cooler place so Davis, his wife Varina and their two children came north to Bangor by train and east to Aurora by stage where they stayed the night at the Stage Stop. The next day they went to Humpback where an ox sled was used to drag them and their supplies to the peak.

Professor Bache was a very civilized man. An excellent cook, he prepared tenderloin steaks from Bangor, and fresh vegetables from local farms. The latest books were read and Bache even had a music box that played Verdi’s newest Italian opera. Davis and his family stayed at Humpback for three weeks.

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.


Between Route 193 and the Blacks Tannery Bridge over the Narraguagus River we find a stream flowing south under the Airline roadway. It is named the Little Narraguagus River and it flows through Chalk Pond on its way to the Narraguagus River. The 1829 Survey of the Airline Road lists the same names each of these two rivers.

East of this waterway is the County Line. South of that sign stood a sawmill owned by Walter Keith. He had a millpond that flowed into the Little Narraguagus between Chalk Pond and the Narraguagus River. That dam raised the water in Chalk Pond a little when the mill was in operation.

Chalk Pond is the site of an interesting development. The pond is about half-and-half in two townships and two counties, Beddington and TWP 22 MDBPP, Washington and Hancock counties.

Lead Mt. Maine Quadrangle 1945 print showing both rivers, Chalk Pond and the original Cherryfield Road near the Narraguagus River, now Church Farm Road. Beddington Lake is shown bigger than today, because ca 1970 the dam down river was removed to encourage fish passage. The lake today is ca 10 - 15 feet lower that pre 1970.


The earliest reference that was found on this was in Minerals of Maine (vol. 1) by Robert Tucker 1994. Professor Parsons of Cambridge exhibited a specimen of infusorial earth from the Bangor Maine neighborhood. Copper was said to have been detected in silica (hydrous copper silicate). This report apparently put Chalk Pond on the map of possible mine sites.

What follows is the editor’s explanation of what happened here. This may be wrong and corrections are welcome. The copper was there from igneous rock. The hydrous part is from water. That water came after (the last?) glacier, when the land was still depressed from the glacier's weight and the ocean was covering the coastal plain of Maine. So the earth under the ocean was infused with salt water. The salt water of the ocean contains life including diatoms, tiny plants whose cell walls are made of silica. The silica and the earth it is mixed with are called diatomaceous earth. This earth was valuable for making dynamite and pottery among other things.

The next paper reference is found in the Acts and Resolves of the sixty-first Legislature of the State of Maine. Section 1 reads, “J. C. Robinson, E. R. Adams and J. O. Robinson … are hereby made a corporation by the name of Chalk Pond Company, for the purpose of digging and raising the deposit under the waters of Chalk Pond, so called, in the town of Beddington and township twenty-two, east division, in the county of Hancock, known as infusorial earth , and the manufacturing and selling any article of commerce made therefrom.” The Act was approved on March 7, 1883. (Ben at the UMM Merrill Library provided a copy of the Act.)

The actual mine apparently was under the pond. The pond today is 30 feet deep in places. The earth was dug up in some manner, placed on barges that were taken to the west shore and unloaded. Today one may see three canals dug westerly from the pond used to get the barges to high ground.

Herbert Farnsworth (born ca 1910) of Beddington told Phil White that the earth was picked up by carts at the site on the west of the pond and hauled to Cherryfield. There the material was loaded onto ships that took it to Boston where it was used by a pottery manufacturer.


Lewiston Daily Sun – July 1, 1958 - A news story about Fats Baccelli of Boston who was owner of valuable diatomaceous land at Chalk Pond. Downeast Salmon Federation Newsletter -Spring 2015 – A report that anglers Jon & Darlene Furbush (of Mashpee, Mass) donated land on the east shore of the pond with access off the Church Farm Road.

WASHINGTON COUNTY was incorporated on June 25, 1789, set off from Lincoln County.

Beddington – 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 tannery was made up of three known buildings, the largest was 38 feet wide and 230 feet long, another was 23 feet wide and 49 feet long and the smallest was 26 feet wide and 40 feet long. The building sites were south of the present Airline except part of the long building is under the road. To the north of the Airline is the site of a blacksmith’s shop and a cellar that was likely a house.

E. E. Church was a merchant, the owner of the Narraguagus House in Beddington as well as a manufacture of sole leather. Earlier Church had been a partner in a tannery in Amherst. Like many tanneries, Church built his tannery at the source of two of the three necessary resources for leather manufacture, water and hemlock bark. The hides came from the American plain states via the Mississippi River or from Argentina. The ships were unloaded along the Narraguagus River in Milbridge or Cherryfield and the hides hauled up what is now Route 193 by horse or ox teams.

Church, of Cherryfield, encountered some financial problems. In June 1893 he conveyed to John Cassidy and Charles Emerson of Bangor real property located in Beddington. Included was the tannery with 23 acres of land, 3200 cords [hemlock] bark, a store and its stock, leather, hides, tools, carts, sleds, wagons and harnesses. Also sold was his 25-acre smooth plain mentioned below. E. E. Church of Cherryfield died February 1, 1914 leaving a widow Helen and a daughter Maud. The will and other documents indicate that he had few assets.

Today Church Farm Road leaves Route 193 about a mile of the Airline and essentially follows the original way up the west side of the river for a mile, becomes a recreation trail by the tannery and on to the Airline. The farm site, being described as “the smooth plain below the Little Narraguagus of 25 acres” today is a blueberry field west of the road near where the recreation trail starts,

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.


First let’s answer the question stated in the first paragraph about Beddington. Alexander Baring did grow up in the London suburb of Beddington. What’s in a name?
If one were to look southwest from the top of Schoppee Hill on a clear day, the windmills on Bull Mountain would be visible – electricity from the wind!

Camden House in Beddington. London has so many historic houses, many are not well maintained.

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 them moving.

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.


Bridge over Canoe Brook – June 27, 1924

About two miles east of the Beddington – TWP 29 MD line the present day Airline crosses over Canoe Brook. Just east of the brook, the original Airline swung northeasterly to pass over Pleasant Mountain, the official name for this landmark. The steep road was called Lovejoy Hill after settler Stinson Lovejoy.

In 1928 the U. S. Geological Survey ran a level line out the Airline and set benchmarks. That same year H. N Skofield in the State Aid Survey Group of the Maine State Highway Commission ran a profile from East to West of Lovejoy Hill ending at Canoe Brook. He suggested in his report to Augusta that “when a good gravel road is finished from Bangor to Calais…it might be better if they created a new alignment further to the south.” i.e. the route we now drive over.

The ‘new alignment’ was built in 1959. The quit claim deed from St. Regis Paper Company was recorded in 1961. A petition for Discontinuance for the road over Lovejoy Hill was prepared in 1975 and presented to the Washington County Commissioners.

Betina Martin of MDOT was on a project in this area and was having a coffee break by Canoe Brook, likely with Galen Costigan, resident engineer for MDOT and Denis Lovely, superintendent for DiCenzo. That was around 1995. They saw a bear trying to break into a shed by the camp on the south side of the road. The camp owner had bear bait in the shed and the bear, of course, was hungry.

The images and information in this section came from Harry Nelson of the Maine DOT. His knowledge and willingness to share is greatly appreciated.

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 the 80s.

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 Lodge.

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.


A phone call on March 25, 2011 from Matt Whitegiver of Otis informed me that Wilderness Lodge is open especially during bear hunting season. Matt is a bear guide and owned the lodge. I have observed more activity at the Lodge in recent years. Matt leases bear bait sites from St. Regis that owns considerable acreage in that area. Matt asked about famous people who had stayed at Wilderness Lodge, Jack Parr and Jackie Gleason being two. We have no records to confirm or deny such guests there. Matt also mentioned that Wilderness Corp. Trust owns 600 acres out back.


In the summers of 1990 and 1991 the Maine Department of Education conducted a Migrant School at Wilderness Lodge. The purpose was to have the children be educated in a natural environment, out of doors, instead of in a typical American style classroom. Many of the staff were Passamaquoddy and Penobscot. When they arrived for work at the school, the Native American held a smudging ceremony to purify the place for the task ahead. Aaron Shetterly was a teacher at the school and provided this information.


This story comes from Betina Martin, MDOT and is shared by Harry Nelson, also of MDOT.
“I actually stayed a short while at the Wilderness Lodge! It was the only time I saw it opened- it was owned by a couple from Maryland, and they had bear hunters there. We had little rooms and they provided the evening meal as part of the price, served family style and you didn’t get to place orders! I was told that the Wilderness lodge was haunted, and one night while we were eating, the owners’ four dogs suddenly jumped up, went into the corner of the room and started barking at what appeared to be NOTHING! “I never saw a ghost, but it was definitely eerie.

I really enjoyed staying there, but I refused to look at any dead bear. I was told that at one time it was a brothel and that one of the girls there went missing and they believe that she is the one who haunts it. When I said I was going to stay there, there were people from DiCenzo who warned me not to – they said that semi-trucks don’t stop there at night because one time a driver woke up feeling like he was being strangled, and he saw the ghost. They were serious! Of course, this made me want to stay all the more…. I stayed there with a woman and a couple of men from DiCenzo, and none of us saw the ghost.

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.

Next, the 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.


Wilderness Lodge Site of Peat

The north end of the Shadagee Road is between the Lodge and site of peat

The reconstruction in late fall of 2000 of the roadway just east of the Wilderness Lodge in TWP 24 was not easy because of 3 to 4 meters of peat under the proposed way. The contractor [DiCenzo] removed as much of the peat that could be reached by backhoe. The following spring a sag was evident about 50 meters long and 4/10 meter deep. This was obvious to those of us who drove over this graveled stretch.

The solution to this sagging was to build up a surcharge about 1.3 meters deep, then to drill ~8 inch diameter holes in a 5X5 meter pattern to the bottom of the remaining peat. Seventy to one hundred forty pounds of dynamite was placed in each hole and the blast reduced the strength of the peat, build momentary gas pressure that blew the peat away from the roadway and allowed the gravel fill to settle on a solid base. The highway was closed to traffic at midnight on July 31, 2001. The blast was at 12:40 am and the road opened for traffic at 3:10 am.

Looking West Pipes in holes for Dynamite Drilling Rig

This information from articles written by Mike Moreau in the July and August 2001 issues of the Bureau of Project Development Newsletters [MDOT]. Thanks to Harry Nelson, MDOT.

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 Machias River.


Historic Proof

In August 1952 John P. Hayward, Sr. wrote the following as part of his memories of his Hayward family. He was writing at Township 26 Eastern Division at a place called Chain Lake Camp. The document is of greater value because he gave this information. The manuscript was typed by Harvey M. Hayward of 3 Lincoln Street, Calais on February 4, 1967. The letter was provided to ACHS by Ivan Hawkins of Wesley in 2013.

Allen C. Hayward, my grandfather, married Thankful Smith, in New Brunswick apparently before he came to Maine. They lived in Cooper, Maine for a time and then moved to a spot on Tug Mountain, which is situated about ten miles west of Wesley Corner and in Township No. 30 Middle Division, Washington County, Maine. There were no public ways in the Tug Mountain area at that time, just a tote road leading from Wesley, which crossed the Machias River by a ford at the foot of Bryan's or Brynes Rifflings so called. The move to Tug fountain, by Allen and Thankful with baby John Wesley, was prompted by the information that a highway was planned to pass through that way soon.
Allen cleared some land on Tug Mountain, planted apple trees and built a cabin. The remains of the fireplace and chimney are still there, a large birch now growing in center of split granite fireplace. I saw it there about 1945.

In due course the proposed highway road was built by Colonel Black of Ellsworth, who was agent for the Bingham’s of Philadelphia, who owned vast tracts of timberland in Maine (including Washington County lands). The Binghams, incidentally, had purchased about two million acres of Maine

timberland from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, soon after the end of the American Revolution at a price of about ten cents an acre. The District of Maine, as it was known then (until 1820), was a part of Massachusetts.

This new highway built by Black and known both as Black's Road and Airline Road, opened a "short route" overland between Calais and Bangor, and was to become a stage (mail) and passenger coach line.

However, the location of the new road did not follow the route in the Tug Mountain area as Allen had expected and instead of going through the notch or saddle in the mountain where he had settled, it came around the base of the mountain west and north of his cabin with the result that he found that his cabin with improvements were about a mile off the road. So, being disappointed, he pulled up stakes so to speak, and moved into Wesley, which was being settled quite rapidly. It is believed that Allen and Thankful, when they moved to Wesley, from Tug Mountain, may have moved to the Black's Road settlement in that town. Incidentally, Thankful, although married to Allen in New Brunswick, was born on Cape Cod, in Mass.

John P. Hayward’s memory of Tug Mountain gives evidence that rivers and streams were forded, not bridged in the early days. Steep hills were not a problem for slow moving oxen nor for horse teams, but deep water was. Thus ferry service over the Penobscot, but not along the Airline.

Tug Mt. Maine Quadrangle [1965]
showing how the road was built around the north of Tug Mt.


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 1990.

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.


During the first third of the twentieth century, the rural parts of America had been left behind by the process that electrified urban areas. The Rural Electrification Administration under the direction of Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal was created to solve that inequity. Rural communities banded together in cooperatives to build their own electric utilities using low interest loans from the REA. Dennys River Electric Cooperative, the forerunner of EMEC was form in 1940. On October 8, 1957 DREC members voted to change its name to Eastern Maine Electric Cooperative, Inc.

Eastern Maine Electric Co-operative grew in November 1957 by taking over the financially strapped St. Croix Electric Company that had served Calais. In 1964 EMEC merged with Kingman Electric Coop [Kingman area] and Farm Home Electric Coop [Patten - Island Falls area]. In 1976 EMEC consolidated its service area by absorbing Woodland Water and Electric Company and Princeton and Danforth Lighting Districts.

Today three forth of the American land mass is served by these local non-profits. EMEC is now the largest American owned electric utility in Maine and serves 76 townships, both organized and unorganized.

Information from December 1997 Echoes Magazine, ACHS files and EMEC


Zela Cousins of Alexander [1886 Airline Road] noted in her birthday book that she paid her first electric bill of $2.75 on February 22, 1945. Wesley Hawkins of Wesley [~ 4491 Airline Road] became a member on September 26, 1949. The western most home served by EMEC is the Gypsie Wagon at the end of Breakneck Road in Day Block.

Today Baileyville, Alexander, Crawford, TWP 26, Wesley and Day Block Township get their power from New Brunswick Power Generation Corporation over EMEC lines. Ca 1880 advertising map.

image of certificate supplied by Ivan Hawkins

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.

Back on the Airline we find the Game Warden’s house on the left. This is the site where William Higgins lived from before 1850 until after 1860. His brother Charles lived across the road in the cape that sets back from the road. Next on the right is Cloud Nine, a store, restaurant, and motel.


The Airline was tarred from end to end by the late 1950s and Dick Sullivan of TWP 31 saw an economic opportunity in the increased traffic. Tourists had started using this short cut from Bangor to the Maritimes and the forest industry had stopped river drives so that wood was hauled from the forest to the mills by trucks. All these people passing by would need items and food. Dick put up a building south of the road and opened his business in late 1959 or early 1960.

image from Maine Folklife Center

Dick had a small construction business and apparently preferred working out of doors to store clerking. In January 1964 he sold the business and 12 ½ acres east of his house to Philip and Cora Durling of Wesley. Also included in the deed was the right to water from the spring at Dick’s house, the old Dodge place.

In April 1969 Durlings sold to Nicholas and Lucy Metta of Billerica, Massachusetts. In 1971 they incorporated the business as Cloud 9 and sold a house lot on the northeast corner to Jerry and Patricia Torrey. And in June 1976 Mettas sold Cloud 9 to Leland “Pat” and Norma Day of Wesley. The deed specified store, lunchroom, motel, contents and a reference to water from that spring on the Dodge place. Pat had a wood trucking business; the motel was busy with hunters who returned annually; the lunchroom had a steady business from locals and travelers on the Airline.

But times change. Fewer local men were involved in trucking wood and the big companies got their fuel in Bangor. Wood harvesting jobs became highly mechanized meaning fewer men were needed, as a result people moved away from the area. The Airline was rebuilt, becoming a high speed through highway; travelers were interested in their destination, not the trip or anything in between. And the owners were growing older.

The Days leased the business to Sam and Mabel Roberts in the later 90s, Sam and Norma were siblings. Eventually Pat and Norma closed the business. Their heirs sold the land and buildings to Bob Cousins who took the buildings down in 2015. He plans to use the gravel that the glacier left ten thousand years ago

Material on Cloud 9 came from deeds and Debbie Day Ayers. The last hurrah for Cloud 9 occurred when part of the movie Anniversary was filmed at the site. Check out <>.


There was a picnic site by the old bridge over Old Stream. Next we come to a compound on the left with the chain link fence. This was called Colson Field. Herbert Colson, and then his son Fred were long time residents here before it was sold to Champion Paper Company. Robert Robinson (1810 – 1886) was likely the first settler of this site. After WWII, a Wiggans from New Hampshire had a sawmill here.

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 Hayward.

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.”


A word about Fox Hill. This is the name for the road that comes up from the west. The name for the road that goes down on the east is Day Hill. The topographical map and Attwood’s Length and Breadth of Maine have no name for the land mass between the two hills mentioned. Some call it ‘Wesley Hill’; others use the old name ‘Great Meadow Ridge’.

If one chooses to go south on Route 192 for a couple hundred yards, turn and slowly sneak back toward the Airline, at a point on a clear day one can see Katahdin off on the horizon to the NNW. It often has clouds hanging above it. That is the same Katahdin that Thoreau climbed on September 7, 1846.

Regardless, after we pass Route 192 we see a set of large blue buildings on the north. They were built by Billy Guptill to process and freeze blueberries. Wymans of Maine now own the property. Years ago Perley Gray’s three bay cape stood nearer the road. Note the dress of the child, the woodshed built on the north to break the wind, the banking [is that sawdust?], and the tar paper. Those were the good old days!

image from Wesley Historical Society

East of the blueberry buildings are three special buildings. The Grange Dance Hall [now a yard sale location], the Grange Hall [recently a restaurant, both now closed] and the 1845 church.


all 2015 images

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.

Census: 1830 = 8, 1840 = ?, 1850 = 8, 1860 = 11, 1870 = 11, 1880 = 6, 1890 = ?…

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.


The new fishway at Pokey Dam in Crawford was completed in the fall of 2014. Planning for the project started several years earlier when the Crawford Pocomoonshine Watershed Association realized the old wooden fishway needed to be replaced. The Downeast Salmon Federation, which has a fish hatchery in East Machias, also became aware of the problem.

There likely was a river-driving dam at the site before 1851 as there were mills at East Machias that depended on the East Machias River for getting logs to them. Log driving dams served a temporary need so were not well maintained. The last drive down the river was in 1919 according to Harvey Hayward. About 1925 Bangor Hydro Electric built a high storage dam that could hold water three feet higher than present levels. They generated power at the site in East Machias where Downeast Salmon Federation is today.

That high dam was burned in 1934 and in 1936 a roll dam was built there by Frank Magoon, John M. Dudley and Conrad and Perley Woodruff. Dudley’s interest was wildlife habitat and the other three needed a dam for their eel trapping. The Maine Fish and Game Department rebuilt that dam and fishway ca 1955. Thirty years later the watershed association was created and was given ownership of the dam by GP. Locals worked hard to make a concrete dam and the wooden fishway was rebuilt. The new fishway is concrete and aluminum. Now alewives, eels and maybe Atlantic Salmon will have access Crawford Lake, Lower and Upper Mud lakes as well as Pocomoonshine Lake.

On May 28 adult alewives were observed using the fishway and on July 16 schools of tiny alewives were observed circling Pocomoonshine Lake on their way to the ocean. Susan Hand Shetterly’s book Swimming Home tells the life story of the alewive.


Bangor Hydro dam – 1930                                                         New dam from west shore – 1985


                                 1999 showing rack for eel trapping                                                     2015 new fish ladder



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.

 ‘Sally Turn’ – Crawford’s Second Settlement

This 90-degree turn of the Airline was actually part of a four-way intersection. The Airline makes up the north and west branches, the Love Lake Road is the east branch and the #19 Road to East Machias heads off to the south. Fred Hanscom stated that the widow Sally Seavey lived on the southeast corner very near both roads. After the old house burned, the occasional speeder would end up in the cellar.

The Big Lake ME Quadrangle 1963 map shows Sally Corner at the bottom, the former Town Hall [it burned] is a mile north and at the Crawford Arm Road the abandoned church and site of the school. This was the third center of Crawford. Now residents are scattered along the lakes’ shores.

The Richard Hayden 1840 map of Crawford shows the parsonage on the northwest corner of Sally Corner, later a schoolhouse stood there. Next door was the site of the Pokey Post Office. The northeast and southeast corners were home sites.

Thyrle and Dolly Hanson built and operated a store here. Note the bars on the windows; not all travelers came during open hours. The first sale at the store was on August 17, 1955 when Jack and Audrey Dudley bought 5 pounds of sugar. Blueberry pie! The store was closed after Thyrle died in 1997.

In 1960 the Hansons had a 40X80-foot building erected across the road. Harold Howland and Orris McKeown were the builders. It was run as a dance hall under the name Hansons’ Pavilion until around 1980 when the town started using the structure for town meetings, elections, weddings etc. This is the only building of those described still standing in 2015.


Hanson’s Store                                                                                   Hanson’s Pavilion

Calais Advertiser – August 22, 1968

Oh yes; the first settlement in Township #20 [Crawford] according to Austin Gray was at the Barstow or Hanscom Mill site farther west on the Airline. Those buildings were burned in a forest fire between 1850 and 1855.


Pauleena MacDougall of Maine Folklife Center at the University of Maine gave a very short presentation on the Airline recently. Much of her talk was on the Eddington area, but she mentioned two well-known Washington County men who lived by the Airline.


We met J. Wilbur Day [1864 – 1924] back in Wesley. Here we will meet another whose way of earning cash was made illegal by the Legislature.

George Magoon [1851 – 1921] of Crawford was one of many who found the game laws ca 1900 oppressive. God put the animals here to feed the people. The state apparently wanted the game for ‘sports’ who would buy hunting licenses from the state. And the poor farmer who would shoot a deer to feed his family also needed this foolish piece of paper, and was limited to how many deer he could shoot, no matter how many mouths he had to feed.

One of my joys in this game of local history is to find connections between or among people, places and time. Sandy Ives of the Maine Folklife Center came Downeast to gather information about George Magoon. In Wesley he visited Alice Bacon. After a great interview, Alice told Sandy she had something he might find interesting. From her shed she produced a bunch of papers ties together with a piece of twine. She suggested Sandy take this back to Orono to read. That bundle of papers was Wilbur Day’s hand-written autobiography that he had dictated to his wife Mary.

Sandy Ives, as director of the Northeast Folklore Society, edited the book WILBUR DAY – HUNTER, GUIDE AND POACHER in 1985. He wrote the book entitled GEORGE MAGOON AND THE DOWNEASY GAME WAR that was published in 1988.

George Magoon’s House - 1986 image.


As you travel north along this stretch of highway, you will have an occasional view of Crawford Lake. If your eyes are clear and you have very good hindsight, you will see about 128 canoes headed southerly on Crawford Lake. It was on July 12, 1777 that Colonel John Allen started off from Meductic on the St. John River in British North America headed for Machias, Massachusetts. He led about 500 Malecites who had agreed to come live under the protection of “Father” Washington. They arrived at Hadley Lake in Machias on August 2 according to Allan’s Journal.

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 plan.

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.

Alexander – #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.

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 place!

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.


Readers might read about County Roads to better understand records of petitions concerning early roads to and from Alexander. The 1806 petition to find a shorter route from Calais to Machias marked a way from the top of Bailey Hill to the corner that today is of the Cooper Road with the Airline, but neither existed in those days. The survey followed the route of the present day Cooper Road to TWP 15 [Cooper] No mention of settlers until Waterhouse Farm at Grange Hall corner in Cooper. It appears that a trail or road to Machias from that farm existed in 1806. The early settlers arrived in Alexander via Baileyville, Eastport and [East] Machias around 1810, but petitions for road maintenance and improvement to the Washington County Commissioners were dated 1820 and 1821. The petition that appears to ask for the Airline road to be made public was in 1823.

That is a long explanation of why the place where Lanes Brook passes under both the Airline and the Cooper Road became and has remained the center of Alexander. Of course, readers know that the neighborhood was named after Rufus K. Lane who, along with his family lived in Alexander, likely near Lanes Brook ca 1827 - 1835.

On the Cooper Road in 2015 we have the sand/salt shed, the municipal building with fire department and the Grange Hall. What you won’t see today are the Methodist – Episcopal Church [built 1866 to 1869 – sold in 1975 and taken down soon after], State Senator Manly Townsend’s home [ca 1842 – March 1990] or the ca 1889 Alexandra post office in the background. The Hale school was closed in 1957, was used as a fire hall until 1994 and now is a private garage. We likely never see an image of Noland Perkins barbershop about across from Hale School. That disappeared during or after WWII.


On the Airline west of the intersection stand Pleasant Lake Auto, Joey Wallace’s Downeast Outboard and Alexander Elementary School opened in 1987. It serves scholars from Crawford and Cooper as well as Alexander.

Near the junction on the east is Randy’ Store where locals collect the news as well as needed supplies for the cooking, hunting and fixing the pickup. To the north of the Airline is the site of Ben Strout’s home, blacksmith shop and farm. Ben had the first stage stop west of Calais, or the last stop east of Bangor. Either way he was lucky, the stage came to his house about supper time or breakfast time, not in the middle of the night. Benjamin R. Strout was appointed Post Master on December 2, 1854. Next place up the hill was the Flood farm, now home of Lawrence Lord’s Old Time Farm Museum. Part way down Wapsaconhagan Hill is the Church of the Open Bible

In 1960 Randy’s was a motel. One won’t see the stage stop and stage coach as did artist John Foley, and we won’t see Clinton Flood’s house built in ca 1860. It went the same way as Manly Townsend’s in 1992. But the barn is still there as part of Lawrence Lord’s Museum!



images from A-CHS files

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 record shows that in 1829 a committee surveyed a road”… that passes through Alexander. “The inhabitants of Alexander have opened and put in repair a road partly in line of aforesaid road, but varying, and nearly parallel to said road for a distance of about two miles avoiding hills and bad ground, avoiding cultivated land and that no person had suffered damages in the laying out of this new road.”

1839 Petition to the Washington County Commissioners signed by John Gilmore Taylor and 69 others

The Commission accepted their request for the realignment of the road.

This is the 1881 Map from George Colby’s Washington County Atlas. The Airline goes northeasterly from the Crawford Post Office to Durlings’ Corner. Here in 1839 the official road turns easterly and followed dashed black lines to near the Alexander Post Office [pictured in Lanesbrook article]. Today we can find four house sites along that old road. A = Sam Scribner’s home, B = Ananiah Bohanon’s home, C = Solomon Strout’s home and D = Jeremiah Frost’s home and family cemetery.

The road opened by the inhabitants is north of the original official road and the present Airline follows this closely. When first on the ridge today we see G. S. S Scribners’ [son of Sam] house on the south and opposite it the foundation of the 1822 log schoolhouse. Mr. Barstoe was the teacher. Next on the right is the Davis Road to the camp ground on Pleasant Lake.



On July 21, 2014 a tower was erected at 1790 Airline Road in Alexander. The August 7 issue of the Calais Advertiser had an article about U. S. Cellular, the company that owns the tower. The site is connected to wires from EMEC and FairPoint.

We all know that this tower is the tallest structure in Alexander. How tall is it? Will its owner pay property tax in Alexander? What is its expected life span?

Events that happen every day become history. This tower, about 100 feet south of the road, became a new landmark. Earl Hill took images while the tower was put up. Skip Colson gave the height as 250 feet.

Baileyville – 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 with William.


Hiram Staples [1866 – 1945] had a farm at the end of this road. As may be seen on the map his name has been attached to a cove and a mountain. That mountain was granite that was quarried on either side of 1900, including some nice black granite for gravestones.

Calais Maine Quadrangle 1932 – Airline Road from Alexander through Baileyville to Houlton Road

What other townships on the Airline had mines or quarries?

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.



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. The stage, owned by the Shoreline Stage Company took two days to travel the 160 miles along the ocean shore, with an overnight stop at Cherryfield.

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. The stops were in Calais, Alexander [Ben Strout’s farm], Wesley [John Fox Hotel], Bacon Field [Eben Bacon’s farm], Beddington [Schoppee House], Aurora [Silsby Hotel], Clifton [Arthur Rankin’s farm], and Bangor. This required the use of 28 horses each way. The stage left Calais about 5 PM and was in Bangor the next day about 9 am. The Airline Stage Company (the name in contrast to the Shoreline Stage Company) carried the mail and many passengers until 1887 when steamships took over. At the turn of the century the Washington County Railroad, following the shore line route, connected Bangor and Calais.

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. [H. T. Silsby]. Stage drivers named by Ned Lamb included Martin Doyle, Dan Gardiner, Will Delano, Albert Metcalf and George McCurdy who died on Breakneck Hill. Civil War veteran Levi Henderson from Alexander was another driver.

In 1858 a petition was presented to the Legislature signed 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 as the current law required. 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]


The Airline Stage ceased operation in 1887 when faster and cheaper steamships operated between Calais and points south. In 1899, the Washington County Railroad got the mail contract with even faster and more reliable service.

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

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)

POPULATION CHANGES 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.


Based on census records from various sources


Year Eddington  Clifton Amherst Aurora Osborn Beddington Wesley  Crawford Alexander Baileyville
1800 167 x x x x x x x x 51
1810 225 50 ? ? x 16 x x x 51
1820 271 139 103 47 15 70 x 50 114 91
1830 405 115 109 127 19 75 106 182 336 189
1840 595 185 196 149 37 164 255 300 513 329
1850 696 306 323 217 42 147 330 324 544 431
1860 856 307 384 277 54 144 343 274 445 363
1870 776 348 350 212 56 134 336 209 456 377
1880 746 350 400 212 61 124 245 206 439 376
1890 729 284 375 175 63 134 227 140 337 226
1900 663 236 364 152 58 86 198 112 333 215
1910 611 217 275 114 39 58 172 114 374 1137
1920 527 185 198 95 41 40 146 119 371 2243
1930 487 156 163 86 34 35 170 120 312 2017
1940 571 168 140 81 40 31 157 136 292 2018
1950 664 193 151 91 49 26 149 83 282 1821
1960 958 227 168 75 36 19 145 80 220 1863
1970 1358 233 148 72 33 32 110 74 169 2167
1980 1769 462 203 110 47 36 140 86 385 2188
1990 1947 607 226 82 72 43 146 89 478 2031
2000 2052 743 230 99 69 29 114 108 514 1686

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



This image was created in 2012 by David Wolfe for Hugh French of the Tides Institute & Museum of Art in Eastport. It is based on an 1858 illustration in a New York newspaper that was to discourage use of the new stage route. The negative advertising backfired and the Airline Stage stayed in business until 1887. The Airline Road poster featured a text and map above the image. An adapted text follows this image. Compare the original to the modern art piece. The memory of the Airline Stage still lingers in Downeast Maine.

The Airline is a 90 mile stretch of road running through the forests between the Penobscot River [Bangor] on the west and the St. Croix River [Calais] on the east. Officially now known as Maine State Route 9, the road was originally developed in the early 19th century to attract settlers to buy wilderness lands owned by William Bingham of Philadelphia and later owned by the Baring Brothers Bank. The road was first known as General Cobb’s Great Road after William Bingham’s agent, David Cobb, who was responsible for laying out much of the initial road that was completed in 1822. Parts of the road were referred to as Blacks Road after John Black, agent for Baring Brothers.

The name Airline came about when the Airline Stage Company began to use the road in 1857 as a faster alternative to the longer coastal route. The coastal stage was known as the Shoreline Stage.

Today the Airline serves as a vital transportation link between the US and Atlantic Canada. Although the Airline has changed considerably over the years, its mystique as a wilderness road remains. Beware the wolves, bandits and ghosts!

Likely the earliest extant Concord Light Stage Coach, this is owned by David Woods of Wyoming. The image appeared on a 2001 tour guide created by the Dennys River Historical Society.

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