Did you know…
1. The name Kennebec comes from the Eastern Abenaki word meaning “large body of still water, large bay.” The river was an early trading corridor connecting interior Maine to the coast.
2. More people live in Kennebec County now than ever before. Since 1900 the population has doubled, growing from just below 60,000 souls to over 121,000 today.
3. Augusta is the third smallest state capitol in the country, ahead only of Montpelier, Vermont and Pierre, South Dakota.
4. It’s also only the ninth largest city in the state. (Waterville is 11th.)
5. The 2001 movie, “Wet Hot American Summer,” was set near Waterville at fictional Camp Firewood, but was actually filmed at a camp in the Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania.
6. Fort Western was built for use in the French and Indian War in 1754. It’s the oldest survivng log fort in the United States.
7. On his expedition to Quebec during the American Revolution, Benedict Arnold stopped at the fort with future Vice President (and the man who killed Alexander Hamilton) Aaron Burr.
8. Waterville has a sister city in Russia: Kotlas. Since 1990, the two cities have exchanged visitors and planted a cluster of birch trees (common to both Maine and northwestern Russia) near the Two Cent Bridge to cement the relationship.
9. Some 5% of the county’s residents speak French.
10. Scenes from the 2005 HBO miniseries, “Empire Falls,” were filmed in Winslow.
11. Winthrop was originally known as Pond Town when it was first settled by Europeans in the 1760’s.
12. Kennebec County is home to the only known inland lighthouse in the country. Ladies Delight Light sits on a small island in Lake Cobbosseecontee, erected over 100 years ago.
13. The founder of Gardiner, Dr. Silvester Gardiner, was a known Loyalist during the Revolutionary War and was forced to flee to Canada when the British evacuated Boston in 1776. He would spend most of the rest of his life there after being banned from Massachusetts.
14. In 1871, Colby College became the first all-male college in New England to accept female students.
15. The average high school GPA of an incoming freshman is 3.89, making it a “very selective” school. Its acceptance rate is around 26%.
16. Although Portland was the first capital city of Maine, Augusta beat out Brunswick, Hallowell, Waterville, Belfast, and Wiscasset to become the permanent choice in 1832.
17. The Maine State House is based on the Massachusetts State House. Both were designed by Charles Bullfinch, who also served as Architect of the U.S. Capitol.
18. The Blaine House, the governor’s residence, is named for the family that donated it to the state in 1919. The house was purchased in 1862 by James G. Blaine, then Speaker of the Maine House of Representatives.
19. The Kennebec Journal, the county’s only daily newspaper, will turn a hundred years old in 2025. It was first printed on January 8, 1825.
20. Wayne is named after Revolutionary War General Anthony Wayne. He served under George Washington at Valley Forge and would eventually be elected to Congress from Georgia. There are 13 towns and villages across the country named after him.
21. In the late 19th century, ice from the Kennebec in Hallowell, Farmingdale and Gardiner would set the standard for ice. From 1870 to 1890, that ice returned more wealth than California’s gold production according to the Maine Historical Society.
22. It’s said that trips to the Belgrade’s Great Pond would inspire writer Ernest Thompson to write the play “On Golden Pond,” which became the Academy Award-winning movie of the same name.
(Featured image by Jimmy Emerson, DVM/Flickr)