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Machiasport Town


Machiasport Town Hall is located at 8 Unity Square, Machiasport, ME 04655; phone: 207-255-4516.

Beginnings [1]

Machiasport, once part of the town of Machias, attracted the attention of explorers and traders as a valuable port at an early date. Before the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth there were French and English trading posts on Cross Island (in neighboring Cutler) as well as Birch Point. Evidence of Native American settlement is also found in Holmes Bay.

Settlement occurred after extensive fires in western Maine in the 1760s forced families to seek out hay and timber lands. Fort O'Brien was built after the capture of the British ship, "Margaretta." Originally named Fort Machias, Fort O'Brien was upgraded by Massachusetts in 1777 and taken over by Congress in 1781. The Fort was attacked in 1814 by the British and abandoned. It was activated again in 1863 at the height of the Civil War and refortified. It is now a State Park on a prominent earthwork overlooking the Machias River.

Machiasport prospered with an open-water port year round in Bucks Harbor. By 1800 the Port Village included the families of Matthias Tobey, Nathaniel Phinney, Benjamin Berry, John Sanborn, and William Sanborn. The Larrabees and Pettigrews settled Larrabee's Cove, the Cobaths and Libbys were in Bucks Harbor and the Bryants and Millers settled Little Kennebec. Bucks Harbor was probably named for Captain Thomas Buck of Plymouth, Massachusetts, who carried the first settlers to Machias in 1763. Machiasport separated from Machias and incorporated as a town in 1826.

An early mill and shipbuilding site is located in the East Kennebec part of Machiasport on land owned in 1817 by William Holloway and now known as the Dodge place. There was another shipyard, known as the Charles Ingalls yard, in what is presently the Otto Kurz boatyard south of The Slip/Gates House. Smoked herring/sardine factories were located in several coves and islands in Machiasport and are no longer present.

The Gates House, built on the slope of a hill on the edge of the Machias River, is on the National Register of Historic Places and was named after Nathan Gates, a trader who brought the house, barn, store and wharves to their current location via the Machiasport-Whitneyville Railroad.

The population of Machiasport peaked in the 1880s, as occurred elsewhere in Washington County, at the height of an economy based on timber, fisheries and shipbuilding. As rail replaced ships as a primary means of transportation corridors of commerce went inland along with many residents of maritime communities.

  1. Machiasport Comprehensive Plan Update Committee, Machiasport Comprehensive Plan Update, 2009, www.wccog.net, accessed March, 2016.
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