- Category: Demographics
- Published: 10 April 2006
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City of Presque Isle
City of Presque Isle:
Shortly after Maine became a state in 1820, the first pioneers ascended down the Aroostook River and settled on the river near its intersection with the Presque Isle Stream. At that time, it was uncertain whether the land on which they built their homes and planted their crops was a part of Canada or the United States. This issue wasn't settled until 1840, twenty years later.
The first businesses to pop up in, what was later to become Presque Isle, were lumber mills. The first one was built by Peter Bull; however, it was surpassed by a lumber mill that was built by Dennis Fairbanks. Fairbanks also established a grist mill, and he began selling necessities to the nearby settlers as well. Before 1840, he had begun selling lots in the area that would become the central part of Presque Isle.
Three important developments occurred in the last 30 years of the 19th century that shaped the future of the town. The first potato starch mill was built in 1874; it provided the town with an industry which would dominate the economy for decades. The first railroad connection came in 1881 when the New Brunswick Railroad came into being; it was followed by the first direct line rail link to Bangor when the Bangor and Aroostook Railroad was opened in 1895.
Presque Isle gradually became an industrial and agricultural center, and in 1940, it became the first city in Aroostook County. During World War II, the federal government appropriated the local airport, which established an air base for planes going to and from Great Britain. Almost overnight, the Presque Isle base became a vital air transport installation, and the City found itself as a busy war center. Following the war, the base experienced many ups and downs before being closed in 1961.
To confront the problem of a drastically altered economy, the city established an Industrial Council and purchased the former base from the federal government. Presque Isle's success of transforming the base into an industrial park was recognized when Presque Isle was named one of the eleven " All American Cities" in 1966.
The village that Dennis Fairbanks founded has grown to become the commercial center of Aroostook County. There is great potential for further growth as a center of retail, trade, distribution and industry. It is the banking, shopping, transportation, insurance, state and federal center for Aroostook County. It is also the County's central potato-selling headquarters.
Presque Isle is north of the 46th parallel, and it has lots of rolling hills, potato fields and blue skies. With a commercial airport, a mall and well-groomed snowmobile trails, the city boasts all the amenities in keeping everybody comfortable, but it also sits on the edge of the "North Maine Woods", which is the gateway to great outdoor adventure.
Presque Isle, with a population of 10,500, is the heart of Aroostook, the largest county east of the Mississippi and a stone's throw away from Canada. This city is a wonderful place to raise children and build a business because it has award-winning schools, a university, a technical college and an industrial base.
The mystique of Maine dwells in Presque Isle throughout the four seasons. The long winter allows for plenty of snowmobiling, cross-country and down-hill skiing and warm nights around the fire with hot apple cider. Spring brings the promise of flowers, gardens and fishing; the summer is the time to enjoy the lakes, streams and festivals. The colorful foliage marks fall and the beginning of hunting season.
Presque Isle is a place of beauty; it's a place with down-home hospitality, and it's a place for you.