Maine has its fair share of unpronounceable place names – can you say Mooselookmeguntic Lake? How about Passagassawakeag River? I love road trips through the state and seeing town, river and lake names that I never knew existed. But, perhaps the best is when you find yourself driving through a town that shares a name with a place from far away.
1. Poland, Maine
The history of Poland's name is another love story involving music. Moses Emery, who had a major role in the incorporation of the town, seems to have loved the hymn, "Poland."
2. Norway, Maine
Many believe that Norway, Maine came into being as a result of a clerical error. Originally meant to be called Norage, which is Native American for "falls," it was somehow recorded by the provincial government of Massachusetts as "Norway" and there you have it!
3. Belfast, Maine
Belfast was originally called "Passagassawakeag" after the river nearby. After the landowner died in 1759, his heirs sold the land to cots-Irish proprietors who named the town after the Northern Ireland city.
4. Friendship, Maine
We had to include just one non-foreign town. It was just too, well, friendly to ignore! Friendship, Maine was originally called Meduncook, which means "bay at the end of the sandbar." It suffered two significant raids - one by Native Americans and one led by a French officer. Ultimately, in 1807, the town was incorporated as "Friendship" and became a major hub for boatbuilding. Head there every summer for the annual Friendship Sloop Races, an homage to the creation of the first Friendship Sloop. How did it get its name? Absolutely no idea - we need your help on this one! If you know and can let us know in the comments, we'd hugely appreciate it! Thanks!
5. Lisbon, Maine
While it shares its name with the capital city of Portugal, Maine's Lisbon was probably not named directly after the actual LIsbon. It's unclear in records, but the name may have come as a result of the Lisbon in New Hampshire, New York or some other state with a town of the same name. Perhaps they got it from the REAL Lisbon? Confusing, I know. If anyone out there has the real story - please share!
6. China, Maine
China's name comes not from the Asian country, but from musical inspiration. in 1818, China was known as "Bloomville." When it was found that another state already used the name, Maine was forced to change it. At the time, Boston leadership (and their opinion) was a long way away and so the representative went with the name of his favorite hymn, "China."
7. Paris, Maine
Paris, Maine used to be known as "Township Number 4," but was eventually changed in 1793 when France provided support to colonists during the Revolutionary War. Today, the American Flyer sleds that aren't made in China (the country, not the OTHER Maine city) are made here in Paris.
8. Limerick, Maine
A large piece of what is now Limerick was acquired from the Newichewannock Abenaki Indians by Francis Small In 1668. He was awarded the tract through the exchange of two blankets, two gallons of rum, two pounds of gunpowder, four pounds of musket balls and twenty strings of beads. Actual settlement was delayed by the French/Indian war and didn't happen until 1775 when heirs of Small promised the area to a local lawyer if he helped them protect their larger land claims. The new owner, James Sullivan, named the town Limerick after the birthplace of his father.
9. Mexico, Maine
Originally known as "Holmanstown" after the original landowner, Mexico came into being as a result of good ol' shared support. At the same time that the settlement was preparing to become a town, the Mexicans were fighting Spain for independence. The good people Holmanstown appreciated that the Mexican battle was won and honored the cause by adopting the same name.
10. Stockholm, Maine
Up in The County is a small town that shares its name with a much larger one in Sweden. Maine established the town in 1870 as a Swedish-immigrant colony and William W. Thomas, Jr was appointed as state Immigration Commissioner. He earned the position after serving as American Consul in Sweden during the administration of President Abraham Lincoln. Beverly A Benson, was named Commissioner of Immigration in 1870 and after traveling to Sweden, recruited immigrants leading them first into New Sweden township followed by the townships of Westmanland in 1879 and Stockholm in 1881.
If you're a fan of these towns, make sure you check out the World Traveler Sign in Lynchville. It's located on the northeast side of Hwy 35 (Valley Rd) at the intersection of Hwy 5 (Crooked River Causeway).
There’s nothing like driving through Mexico, Maine in the middle of a chilly February! Do you live in any of the towns that didn’t make this list? Let us know what they are in the comments.