( Originally Published 1919 )
The State of Maine stands at the very top. Nothing east of the Mississippi reaches nearly so far north. The `Man from Missouri' usually thinks of Maine as a knob on the New England corner of the map, sticking up into Canada. If you come from Massachusetts, they are likely to tell you up in Maine that "you can put the whole Commonwealth of Massachusetts down in the north woods so that even a Maine guide couldnet find it." This seems rather a reflection on the Maine guides. It is, however, a matter of sober statistics. Maine has an area equal to the five other New England States combined with a total population about that of Suffolk County, Mass. Its size, however, is less than that of any State in the Union outside New England, excepting only Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, and West Virginia.
The Maine coast on the map is as ragged as a frayed and tattered garment, but for the yachtsman it is a paradise, unrivaled in beauty. Though only 278 miles by aeroplane from Kittery Point to Quoddy Head, its coast line of 2400 miles is almost as long as all the rest of the east coast. There are almost countless islands. Some Maine man has said that there are I3,000; whether he dropped or added a cipher, or counted the pebbles, doesnet much matter. Maine has 1800 lakes and 5000 streams, more than all the other forty-seven States in the Union. One tenth of the total area is covered with water. No wonder the State goes dry by a small majority.
Equidistant between the equator and the poles, there is nothing equable about the climate. The Penobscot is frozen I45 days in the year, and they take advantage of its condition to saw it up in chunks and consign it to warmer places. .
The Maine winters were formerly considered a liability, but the commercial optimism of the Mainiacs is endeavoring to realize on them as an asset. A Maine man reminds us that the winter before the war broke out, Switzerland, only half as large as Maine, had half a million tourists within her boundaries, and that, though the Maine hills are not so high, there are more of them. As there is no question about the snow, the "-Down Easters" are out for the winter business. St. Moritz, they say, got its fame through advertising, and they propose to have some of that same commodity by the same popular method.
The first attempts to settle New England were made in Maine. DeMonts in 1604, Weymouth the following year, and several others after one sample of the Maine winter became discouraged and went back home. When Captain John Smith came cruising along the coast in 1608 he found almost as many inhabitants on Monhegan as there are now. He saw them sitting on the rocks, catching cunners and rock cod, just as they do today. But the inhabitants then, as now, found it one of the best countries in the world to depart from, and none of these settlements proved permanent.
One trouble was that both the French King and the English King laid claim to the land, neither bothering, to recognize the red men. As soon as the French or English started to build nice comfortable little cottages, the others would come and rout them out. Some descendants of the first French who settled there still live on Mount Desert, but now they donet even know how to pronounce their names. The Des Isles call themselves the "De Sizzles." Even the fashionable summer residents today pronounce the island's name as suggesting an after-dinner confection instead of Champlain's first impression of its barrenness.
Thirteen years before the "Mayflower" discovered Plymouth Rock, a little colony began housekeeping at the mouth of the Sagadahoc, and here they launched the "Virginia," the first American-built ship. And a very proper little craft she was, especially when it came to driving out the French. This was the beginning of the Maine shipbuilding industry, which still continues.
The `District of Mainee was long held in a tributary state by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, yielding the latter a net revenue of millions of dollars. In 1820 Maine finally achieved her independence, and was admitted to the Union as the twenty-third State. Excepting only Michigan, Florida, and West Virginia, this was the last new State east of the Mississippi.
Maine is the bonanza farming state, it appears from a modest little pamphlet issued by Commissioner Guptill of the State Department of Agriculture. This is chuck full of the most interesting in-formation, unbelievable though true. Here one reads that Maine exceeds all other States in acreage production of corn, oats, and potatoes. The Maine farmer gets an average of 46 bushels of corn to the acre, while the next best that can be done is in Michigan with 36 bushels, and the average of the whole country is only 25.8. In the matter of oats Maine has put it all over the other States. Here, 141,000 acres devoted to this crop yielded an average of 41 bushels, while the average for the whole country was only 29.7. Michigan again came second with 33.5• The average potato crop of the whole State is 260 bushels, for the whole country it is only I09.5. Maine stands first, Mr. Guptill further tells us, in the number of apple trees in proportion to the amount of land in improved farms. One of Maine's most valuable crops grows without the slightest cultivation or attention. Its blueberries are sold in baskets or in tin cans.
Maine is just beginning to discover her possibilities. In 1899 only six and a half million bushels of potatoes were raised; ten years later twenty-nine million bushels. Maine people say that whereas they now raise only a paltry thirty million they might raise three hundred million bushels.
Maine raises other things,—hotel prices, statesmen, and boosters. The boosters have a tendency to raise still other things when they get away from their home State, and Maine statesmen are usually inclined to raise the tariff. Dingley `got away with it' and made himself famous.
Even the boys and girls in Maine have taken to raising things. Last year there were 250 boys enrolled in 30 Potato Clubs. The seventeen-year-old boy of Aroostook' County who won the Potato Club sweepstakes in 1915 raised potatoes at the rate of 459 bushels to the acre, at a cost of I7 cents a bushel. The winner of the prize for raising potatoes at lowest cost turned in accounts showing a net of 15 1/2 cents a bushel. This combination of genius on the part of the youth to lower costs, and on the part of the grown-ups to boost prices, promises great things if Federal investigation can be staved off. As a matter of fact, Uncle Sam got after the Potato Trust in this region last winter and may have jarred them a little. There are Girls' Garden Clubs as well. If the winner of the contest this past year, Miss Chrystal Waddell, aged twelve, raised beets as is alleged, at the rate of $659.6o an acre, what will she do when she grows up?
Maine exports hay, potatoes, lime, lobsters, and native-born inhabitants. The United States Census tells us over 200,000 Maine-born live in other States. Something like 30,000 of the sons and daughters of Maine have gone to the Pacific Coast. No other State in the Union has contributed so many worthy citizens to other localities. This is evidence of their enterprise and desire to better conditions in other parts rather than of any dissatisfaction with their own State.
Every one who ever had any connection with Maine is inordinately proud of it, especially if it happens to be through birth. Although the natives of the Pine Tree State move away, they never cease to boast of their origin, and come back when they have made their pile elsewhere, to be buried in the little old family graveyard or to remodel the old farmhouse or build a palatial seaside residence.