Nearly 200 years ago, Maine became a state. That’s nearly 200 years of wacky weather, strange behavior and interesting people. While being born in Maine can be memorable all on its own, there are some things that have happened here that you’ll probably never forget. The most memorable moments in Maine history just might be these:
We’re aware that these uncertain times are limiting many aspects of life. While we continue to feature destinations that make our state wonderful, please take proper precautions or add them to your bucket list to see at a later date. If you know of a local business that could use some extra support during these times, please nominate them here:
1. When the state was ravaged by the Ice Storm of 1998
This whopper of a storm knocked out power for over half of the state. Residents were without power for over two weeks in frigid January and the damage was estimated to cost hundreds of millions of dollars. The Maine National Guard was mobilized and it is still considered one of the worst natural disasters in the state's history.
2. When the A-26 Invader crashed in South Portland (1944)
The event, which took place in the summer of 1944 over South Portland, was the worst aviation accident in Maine history. The plane filled with passengers departed from Barksdale Field in Louisiana and was heading to South Portland for the pilot to visit his family. It's believed that bad weather led to the plane careening into a trailer park housing shipyard workers. 36 people were killed in the crash, which is memorialized by a granite marker in South Portland.
3. When the Bed & Breakfast Murders happened in Newry (2007)
Over the course of four days, Christian Charles Nielsen killed four people, dismembering three of them. The man was a cook at the local Sunday River Ski Resort when he went to a local inn and killed a male guest, the innkeeper, her daughter and her daughter's friend. The motives are unclear, and he's currently serving a life sentence.
4. When Maine was overtaken by fire during The Great Fires of 1947
Drought conditions in July of 1947 caused a series of forest fires that burned more than 17,188 acres of land across York County and Mount Desert Island. Small fires in Portland, Bowdoin and Wells were reported to the Forest Service on October 7. The number of fires multiplied and by October 16, there were 20 separate fires burning in Maine.
5. When Wessie the snake became the most recognizable resident of Westbrook (2016)
In August 2016, locals found an 8-to-9-foot snakeskin near the Presumpscot River. It was believed to have come from an anaconda, which isn't native to Maine. While the snake became a bit of a celebrity, it didn't stick around. The winter probably led to its demise. RIP, kind friend.
6. When we received an unexpected storm in the form of The February Nor'easter (1969)
Maine is used to snow, but this storm was special because nobody was ready for it. The system spread from New York to Canada, with Maine only anticipating a chance of snow. But, the storm left the heaviest snowfall amounts here. The Bangor areas saw more than 42 inches of snow and Lewiston received over 32 inches.
7. When Maine became one of the first states to legalize same-sex marriage. (2012)
A popular vote brought about this important legalization. Maryland and Washington also voted in favor in 2012.
8. When a hijacked plane stopped in Bangor to refuel (1969)
And this wasn't just any hijacking. It was the longest lasting ever! In 1969, a plane from LA to San Francisco was hijacked and taken on a trip to Italy. Along the whopping 6,900-mile journey, he stopped for fuel in Denver, New York, Ireland and our very own Maine.
9. When the last hand-crank phone was retired (2008)
Mainers were the last people in America to use this type of phone. It was last used in Bryant Pond The moment was honored by unveiling a 14-foot-tall candlestick phone, thought to be the tallest in the world.
10. When Maine was home to the largest snowman in the world (2008)
Lovingly brought into existence in Bethel, the giant snowman – who was actually a snow-woman – was named "Olympia Snowe" after Maine's senior senator at the time. She had wreaths for eyes, eyelashes made of 16 skis, pine trees as arms and tires as buttons and lips.
11. Then the Augusta Mental Health Institute closed its doors forever (2004)
Built in 1840 to help Maine's mentally ill, it had promise of being a savior for those in need But the hospital was plagued by stories of incompetence and death, eventually shutting its doors in 2004.
12. When the Saint John River Flooded (2008)
After a record snowfall season in 2007-2008, melting and heavy rain caused severe flooding. This flood was the worst of the Saint John River in 35 years. While many people might think of Canada in relation to this flood, it seriously damaged many areas in Northern Maine.
13. When a Zumba instructor catapulted small Kennebunk into the national spotlight (2013)
A local fitness instructor was sentenced to 10 months in jail when she and her business partner were found to have operated a prostitution ring. A list of clients was made public and spread across town, catapulting the small town into fame through headlines across the country.
14. And, perhaps most jarring and unforgettable to Mainers...
The time you left without buying it when you saw it at Marden's!