Allagash through the ages

 

 

 

Native Americans

 

Allagash was first inhabited by Algonguin Indians, who occupied all of the lands east of the Great Lakes, across New England, and into the Maritime regions. They were broken up into bands, which included the Mi’kmaq, the Passamaquoddy, the Maliseet and the Penobscot. In the Allagash area, most of the Indians were from the Maliseet and the Mi’kmaq tribes, which eventually formed a loose group now called the Wabanaki.

 

Many of the early settlers recalled Indians paddling the rivers and befriending the whites wintering in the vicinity. The first settlers learned a great deal about the area, its natural resources and survival skills from them.

 

The meaning of the name Allagash has several interpretations. Author and naturalist Henry David Thoreau explored the upper reaches of the Allagash River in the 1800's. His guide, Polis, translated Allagash as "hemlock bark". William Willis, an Algonquin scholar, cites the name meaning "bark camp" from a hunting camp located at Allagash Lake. Another scholar, Lucius Hubbard, thought the name was a contraction from Allegaskwigam'ook or "bark cabin lake".

 

Early Settlers

 

Most of the early settlers were of Scotch-Irish descent. Some were decendents of loyalists who were displaced after the Revolutionary War and others were immigrants searching for a place to call home.

 

The first white settlers began moving in to the area in the early 1800’s. The need for pine for shipbuilding brought lumber barons and opportunists. Lumber companies and lumberjacks were sent to Northern Maine to harvest the pine.  Naturally the workers brought their families with them. The lure of having their own land was a huge incentive for people to inhabit such a vast, untamed wilderness. Numerous homesteads were established along the Allagash River, St. John River and the Little Black River.

 

It is hard to pinpoint the exact year that the first settlers came to Allagash. Some people came, stayed a while and left, others settled permanently. About 1838, a group including, John and Annie Gardner, John and Sarah Henderson, and William Mullins made their way from Campbellton, NB. The two women were sisters, the daughters of Joseph Diamond, a loyalist to the king of England. In the ensuing years, their other sisters, Lucinda and her husband George Moir, and Elizabeth, who married William Mullins, followed them to the area. Nearly everyone from Allagash is a descendant of one of these sisters.  At the same time, others were finding their way to the region, setting up homes and farming the land. By 1860’s McBreairty, Hughes, Jackson, Kelly, O’Leary, Walker, Hafford, Pelletier, Savage, McKinnon, Jalbert, Bolton, Castoguay, Ouellette, Bishop, Taggett, Connors, and Aegan families had set up homesteads. Today, the locals proudly carry the Irish-Scotch surnames of their ancestors and if you listen closely you can hear the touch of brogue that is uniquely Allagash.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In the beginning of the settlement, the rivers were the easiest means of transportation. People lived on both sides of the rivers. Canoes were used mostly but bateaux and tow boats were used to carry supplies up the rivers. As the town grew, the need to cross the rivers increased, so two ferries were put to use.

In 1944 a truss bridge was built across the Allagash River. It was made of wood because of a shortage of steel due to World War II. This bridge was replaced 11 years later by a steel bridge that remained until 1991 when a new bridge was erected across the river.

 

The Little Black River had a covered bridge that was torn down in 1955 and replaced by a steel bridge. In the flood of 1991, this bridge was destroyed and a new bridge was constructed the same year.

 

A steel bridge was constructed across the St. John River that was also destroyed in the flood of ‘91 and was also replaced by a newer one.

 

Life was hard for the people in Allagash, they survived by their determination, hard work and sense of humor. According to Faye O’Leary Hafford. “ they work hard, live hard, and play hard. That is what makes the Allagash unique.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In the beginning of the settlement, the rivers were the easiest means of transportation. People lived on both sides of the rivers. Canoes were used mostly but bateaux and tow boats were used to carry supplies up the rivers. As the town grew, the need to cross the rivers increased, so two ferries were put to use.

 

Allagash River Ferry

 

In 1944 a truss bridge was built across the Allagash River. It was made of wood because of a shortage of steel due to World War II. This bridge was replaced 11 years later by a steel bridge that remained until 1991 when a new bridge was erected across the river.

 

Allagash River Bridge 1944-1955

 

The Little Black River had a covered bridge that was torn down in 1955 and replaced by a steel bridge. In the flood of 1991, this bridge was destroyed and a new bridge was constructed the same year.

 

A steel bridge was constructed across the St. John River that was also destroyed in the flood of ‘91 and was also replaced by a newer one.

 

Life was hard for the people in Allagash, they survived by their determination, hard work and sense of humor. According to Faye O’Leary Hafford. “ they work hard, live hard, and play hard. That is what makes the Allagash unique.”

 

 

 

Events

Town Office (207) 398-3198

 

New Hours

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Allagash Zoning Ordinance

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