History of Waterville, Maine
From
A Gazetteer of the
State of Maine
By Geo. J. Varney
Published by B. B. Russell, 57 Cornhill,
Boston 1886
Transcribed by Betsey S. Webber



Waterville lies on the western bank of the Kennebec River,
adjoining Fairfield, in Somerset County, on the north. Winslow lies
opposite on the east side of the river, Sidney forms the southern bound-
ary, and West Waterville, the western. The town is 6 miles long, and
about 2 in width. West Waterville was formed from it in 1873.
The eastern and western lines of the Maine Central railway form a
junction at the village; and extensive repair shops of the railroad
company are there located. The principal stream in town is the
Messalonske, which furnishes power near the village for several manu-
factories, among which are a grist-mill, a sash and blind factory, a
shovel-handle factory, a tannery, a boot and shoe-shank factory, etc.
On the Kennebec are two large cotton factories of the Lockwood Com-
pany, and one or two saw-mills.

The surface of the town is little varied by hills, the soil being largely
alluvial. The village itself is built along rambling streets shaded by
elms on a broad plain above the river, where are many pleasant res-
idences, and several with park-like grounds. Near the railway station,
are the buildings of Colby University, two of them elegant structures
of stone, and the remainder of brick. The grounds, which descend to
the river in successive terraces, are well shaded about the buildings by
elms, and below by native trees and shrubbery. The flowing river,
and the high shore opposite form an attractive background. The new
building for the scientific department is of granite; and, with the usual
illustrative cabinets, it has a fine one of birds. It is believed that its
collection of native birds is the best in the State. On the other wing
of the line of buildings is the stone chapel, of variegated colors and
surmounted by a tower. The lower part of the edifice is occupied by
an excellent modern library of some 18,000 volumes. The upper floor,
termed the Memorial Hall, is used as a chapel. It is ornamented with
an adaptation in marble, by Milmore, of Thorwaldsen's Lion at
Lucerne. The work is wrought from a single marble block, and rep-
resents a lion at the mouth of a cave pierced by a spear. The counte-
nance of the king of beasts shows an agonizing appearance, which bor-
rows much of its expression from the face of the human being. Below
this beautiful work is a marble tablet containing the names of twenty
former students who fell in the war for the Union. This institution
was first organized and incorporated in 1813, and was endowed in that
year by the State with two townships of timber land on the Penobscot.
In 1820 the institution was granted collegiate powers, and being located
at Waterville, took the name of Waterville College. The first grad-
uates were George Dana Boardman and Ephraim Tripp, the former
becoming a missionary to India. Having in 1867 received a large
endowment from Garner Colby, a wealthy gentleman of Boston, an
act of legislation was procured, changing its name to Colby University.
The institution is under the control of the Baptist denomination. Rev.
Dr. J.T. Champlin was its president for many years, and its present
flourishing condition is largely due to his untiring efforts. He is
worthily succeeded by Henry E. Robins, D.D. The principal fitting
school for Colby University is the Classical Institute in this village,
which has long been considered one of our best academies.

Waterville was formerly a part of Winslow, but was set off and
incorporated in 1802, the dividing line being the Kennebec River.
The locality of the falls was known to the Indians and early inhab-
stants as Tacconnet, since become the more euphonious Ticonic. The
first mill was erected here on the lower fall in 1784 by Samuel Reding-
ton; a portion of the funds for this enterprise being furnished by the
heirs of Dr. John McKechnie, formerly of Winslow, and a part by Mr.
Gatchell, the father of Mr. Redington's wife. Another early settler
was James Stackpole, who married a daughter of Dr. McKechnie.

Waterville has three national banks, the Ticonic, Merchant's and
People's National; and one Savings-bank. The Waterville Mail, pub-
lished every Friday by Maxham and Wing, has long been reputed and
deservedly, as being a sheet of sterling value. The Colby Echo, pub-
lished every month by the students of the University, well sustains its
place among college publications. The “Sentinel” is new and newsy.

There are now congregations of Baptists, Congregationalists, Uni-
tarians, Methodists, Universalists, Episcopalians and Roman Catholics
in town, most of whom own good houses of worship. Waterville has
nine public schoolhouses, valued at $20,000. The valuation of estates
in 1870 was $1,904,017. In 1880 it was $2,612,496. The population
in 1870 was 4,852. By the census of 1880 it was given at 4,672.

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