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Whitneyville Town

Whitneyville Town Hall is located at 42 South Main Street, Whitneyville, ME 04654; phone: 207-255-4662.

Beginnings [1]

Whitneyville incorporated as a town in 1845. The community is named in honor of Colonel Joseph Whitney, an entrepreneur who built a dam across the main course of the river in Whitneyville and erected saw mills to take advantage of the annual lumber drives that carried lumber down the Machias River each spring.

In 1839 John Palmer and Cornelius Sullivan built a narrow gauge railroad to carry lumber products from Whitneyville to the port in Machiasport. This was only the second railroad built in the state of Maine. "The Phoenix," the first steam locomotive used on this line, was shipped to Whitneyville from Boston. A second locomotive, "The Lion," was purchased three years later.

Currently housed at the Maine State Museum in Augusta, it is one of the earliest extant steam locomotives in America.

Whitneyville's population peaked in 1860 at 579 residents. However, the town continued as a prosperous mill town through the first half of the 20th century. A new school house—currently the Whitneyville Library—was built in 1868 to replace an earlier schoolhouse that had been destroyed by fire. The Whitneyville Congregational Church was constructed in 1869 and 1870. At the time, Whitneyville had 2 churches, a post office, a library, a school house, town hall and a general store. Many older residents recall the distinctive sound made by walking on the wooden sidewalks that once lined Main Street.

The Washington County Railroad (later the Calais Branch) connected Whitneyville by rail to Calais and Bangor in 1898. Passenger service continued until 1957; and freight service until 1984.

Whitneyville's population hit an all time low of 155 residents in 1970. The last river drive occurred the following year in 1971. New EPA-regulations prohibited logs being run down the river. With the increased cost of transporting logs overland, the era of lumber mills in Whitneyville came to an end.

Whitneyville's population has remained stable at around 250 people since 1980. The 1980's saw the closure of Whitneyville's grade school, which now serves as the Hillgrove Community Center. Timber harvests continue to play a role in the local economy, but most residents now find work in the neighboring community of Machias, where many services are located.

  1. Town of Whitneyville, Maine, Comprehensive Plan, 2011,, accessed March, 2016.
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