Augusta History Facts and Timeline
(Augusta, Maine - ME, USA)
The history of Augusta is both long and interesting, beginning in the first decade of the 17th century. It was at this time that the Popham Colony chose to settle here on the banks of the Kennebec River. However, just a year later the colony was abandoned.
Roughly 20 years later, English settlers arrived in Augusta from New Plymouth and proceeded to set up a successful river trading post for fur and other commodities. The settlement was known as Cushnoc, an Indian name which roughly translates as 'head of the tide'. However, despite initial profits, the fur traders soon saw their fortunes decline and eventually moved away in the early 1660s.
Augusta remained quite uninhabited for almost an entire century, while British settlements gradually grew close by, around the Norridgewock area, roughly 40 minutes to the north. In the middle of the 18th century, a small, isolated wooden fortress was erected at Cushnoc named Fort Western. Today, Fort Western is still standing and is now actually the most historic log fortress in the USA.
Growth, Expansion, County Seat and State Capital
In the 1770s, Cushnoc joined forces with neighboring Hallowell and was referred to as simply 'The Fort'. In 1797, an important moment in history came for the city, when it was officially incorporated as a town and named after Augusta Dearborn, the daughter of famous American statesman Henry Dearborn. At this point. Augusta chose to go its separate ways from Hallowell, becoming a separate town and soon after, the county seat for Kennebec County.
The town of Augusta gradually began to grow and expand, with the building of new houses and the creation of local businesses. History remembers how Maine came into being as an official state in the year 1820, with Augusta becoming its capital just seven years later.
The Maine State House
Although Augusta was actually the state capital, Maine's government continued to rule from Portland, since the city lacked the necessary space to accommodate their formal meetings. American architect Charles Bulfinch, famous for his grandiose buildings in Boston and Connecticut
, was employed to design and build the Maine State House, with construction lasting from 1829 until 1832.
Expansion of the City
Another significant date in Augusta history was 20th August 1849, when it officially became incorporated as a city. Prosperity and expansion soon followed, thanks to successful farming, sawmills, textile manufacturing and other industries, with the earliest factories being powered by streams.
A steamboat service opened for business on the Kennebec River, a railroad was built and gas street lights installed. By the 1880s, telephones were available for use, in 1890 a trolley service commenced and by the end of the 19th century, the city opened a large hospital.
The Central Business District was playing an integral part in the history and success of Augusta at this time, being based around Water Street, on the river's western bank. However, over the years, many of the city's government-related buildings began to move away from this part of the city, mainly due to space requirements and transport connections.
Public Transportation and Development
The 1930s witnessed the arrival of public buses in Augusta, while both Interstate I-95 and the Maine Turnpike were opened in the mid-1950s. In the 1960s, the University of Maine at Augusta was founded and is now called home by more than 6,000 students.
From the 1980s onwards, an attempt to preserve much of the city's history was made and many of the oldest factories and mills were converted into apartments. Augusta City Hall was moved to the eastern side of the Kennebec River at this time in the city's history. Today, Augusta is governed by both a city council and a mayor, welcoming visitors with its mainly state-based attractions and undeniable historical interest, such as the James G. Blaine House (Governor's Residence) and the Maine State Museum.