History of Orono, Maine
A Gazetteer of the
State of Maine

By Geo. J. Varney
Published by B. B. Russell, 57 Cornhill,
Boston 1886

Orono, in Penobscot County, lies on the west side of the Penobscot River, and adjoins Bangor on the western part of each. On the north it is bounded by Oldtown, south by Veazie and Bangor, west by Glenburn and east by Bradley. The river separates it from the last. The European and North American Railway passes through the town, connecting above with the Piscataquis branch. The powers are on the Penobscot and a tributary on the western “chute” of it, called Stillwater River. This stream receives the two streams of Birch and Pushaw Streams, the last being the outlet of Pushaw Lake on the north-western border. The area of this and connected lakes is about 12 square miles. The surface is generally quite even. The land along the Penobscot is very productive, but the quality deteriorates as it recedes from the river. A large proportion of the people arc engaged in agriculture. The village is at the mouth of the Stiliwater River. There are two considerable falls on this river in the town, and successive falls amounting to 31 feet on the western channel of the Penobscot between Ayer’s Island and the village, known as “Ayer’s Falls.” The mills upon the privilege are known as the “Basin Mills.” On this power are mills containing eight single saws, four gangs, two lath, two clapboard, one shingle, two rotary saws and a machine-shop. On the powers on Stiliwater River were (according to Well’s Water. Power of Maine), twenty-two singie saws, ten gangs, and five rotary saws; and twelve lath, three shingle and four clapboard mills, and two planing-machines, one machine-shop and one grist-mill. There are also a grist-mill and a match-factory. There is still a vast amount of unused water-power in the town. The Orono National Bank has a capital of $50,000. The Orono Savings Bank, at the opening of the last fiscal year held in deposits and profits $33,455.16. The village has something of the clutter usual to lumber towns, yet the houses are generally neat and attractive, and even elegant in some cases; while the streets are beautified by large numbers of elms and maples.

Orono was settled in 1774 by Jeremiah Colburn and Joshua Ayers, the State of Massachusetts being then owner of the township. John Marsh soon after settled on an island near the site of the pmesent village, from whom it bore the name of Marsh Island. The first white woman in the place was Miss Betsey Colburn, who came in 1774. The McPheters, Whites and Spencers were also early settlers. About 1808 came John Bennoch, a native of Scotland, and Andrew Webster, father of the late Col. E. Webster. These were the most active, enterprising lumber-men on the rIver, and had a large share in founding the present prosperity of the town. The plantation name was Stillwater. The present name is that of a distinguished chief of the Tarratine or Penobscot Indians, who dwelt here at the penod of the Revolution, rendering much service to the patriots. It was incorporated March 12, 1806, and then included the territory which now constitutes Oldtown. The latter was set off in 1840. The soil of this town consists of clay and sandy barns, and is very productive.

Hon. Israel Washburn, formerly a member of the national congress and governor of Maine, was subsequently a citizen of Orono. The Congregationalists, Methodists, Universalists and Catholics each have a church in the town. The number of public schoolhouses is eleven, and the value of the school property is $12,100. The village schools are graded, and include a good high school. The State College of Agriculture and Mechanic Arts is located about one mile from the village on the east bank of the Stiliwater River in a beautiful and commanding situation. The design of this institution is to give the young men of the State the advantages of a liberal education, by affording the student opportunity of applying practically the principles he learns in the classroom, and by his labor in this application to defray a portion of his expenses. The educational qualifications required for admission are such as might be obtained in any district school. The college has five courses, viz. :—in Agriculture, Civil Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, Chemistry, and in Science and Literature. Full courses in any of these entitles a graduate to tha Bachelor’s Degree in that department. Three years after graduation, on presentation of the usual testimonials of proficiency, a full Degree is conferred. The number of students in 1880 was upwards of 100. It is a valuable institution to the people of Maine and deserves well at their hands. The valuation of Orono in 1870 was $523,888. In 1880 it was $512,624. The rate of taxation is 22 mills on a dollar. The population in 1870 was 2,888. In 1880 it was 2,245.

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