Along the Penobscot: Stockton Springs
In it's heyday, the town of Stockton Springs was home to four sawmills, 2 lathe mills, a carding machine, cloth-dressing mill, tannery, six blacksmith shops, a shoe factory, cheese factory, and cask and barrel makers. Today, residents enjoy a much slower pace of life, but evidence of the town's history is all around.
The Abenaki and Tarratine people established the first villages and hunting outposts in what is now Stockton Springs, fishing, clamming, and trading with French and British explorers.
In 1759, 400 men under Massachusetts Royal Governor Thomas Powel and General Samuel Waldo arrived in the area with the goal of setting up a permanent settlement to defend the mouth of the Penobscot River. They established a garrison and constructed Fort Pownal - which was the easternmost settlement in Maine at that time.
In the mid 1800s the town began to shed it's sleepy reputation as it became a shipbuilding center and trading port. During this time the population of the town grew to over 2,000 - it's largest population ever. The arrival of the railroad and steamships took up the business of moving goods and people around. Around this time, many of the original buildings and businesses burned or were torn down, and never rebuilt.
Today, visitors can see the bones of the once bustling town, but with 1,600 year round residents, it is much sleepier than it once was. Recently, Stockton Springs has been experiencing a much-deserved re-discovery by people from away and Mainers wanting a slower quality of life for their families.