Appleton, Maine

Incorporated 1829

Brief History of Appleton

 Appleton is a rural town in Knox County. It was incorporated on January 28, 1829 from the former Plantation of Appleton, which appeared on maps as early as 1786. On February 20, 1843 the legislature added the St. George's River valley to Appleton, taking it from the town of Hope. This brought a major resource of water power to the young town, and spurred its growth in the years before the Civil War. The plantation and town were named for Nathaniel Appleton, who for more than 20 years was an officer of the Twenty Associates, the original Proprietors of Appleton, as well as Camden, Hope, Liberty, and Montville.

The original village was Burkettville, in the southwestern part of town, where Andrew Burkett had a mill on the Medomac River. Around that industry grew a settlement and a store on Route 105, the Augusta Road. The Medomac Valley Grange No. 175 is still a thriving center of activity in Burkettville.

On the St. Georges River, the McLain brothers, Fergus and Archibald, developed the water power. The village of McLain's Mills grew up around that industry, adding Georges Valley Grange, stores, two churches, a hotel and an Odd Fellows and Rebekah Lodge. Of these buildings, the Baptist Church and the classic Greek Revival Meetinghouse remain, as time has removed other civic structures or changed their use.

The library, housed first in the school, then in the balcony of the Meetinghouse, then in the former Grange, has recently expanded again in a new structure on the site of the original McLain brothers' mill.

The town has a thriving Village School, and is part of the Five Town Community School District. The Village School of the early 1900s has become the Town Hall, and next to it is the Appleton Volunteer Fire Department. In time, the village of McLain's Mills became Appleton Village, on Route 131, the Belfast to Union Road.

In North Appleton, where the Camden Road crosses the St. Georges River, another village formed around the lumber mill there, with a church, store, and cheese factory. Of these, the General Store building remains. Scenic Appleton Ridge has stayed agricultural since its first settlement. Blueberries are a major crop in town. The Cedar Swamp in West Appleton, an early resource for the local shingle mills, is now a preserve protected by the Nature Conservancy.

The Civil War brought major changes to this part of Maine, and the population of the whole area - including Appleton - dropped to half the pre-war number in the years between that war and the Depression. Since the 1950s, people have discovered the charm of this country town, with its forested hills, mountains, and rivers, and growth has begun once again.

Forest products and wild Maine blueberries are the principal agricultural products today, with a lavender farm, a creamery producing goat cheese, and a water buffalo farm being recent additions. The Bartlett Farm has become the West Appleton Country Club. There are a surprising number of highly skilled artisans and visual artists in town, as well as writers, musicians and woodworkers. Sennebec Pond, a lake on the St. Georges River, spreads across the boundary of Appleton and Union, and is a recreational and scenic resource for both towns.

More information about Appleton can be found on the Maine American Genealogy Project web site.

The Official Website for the Town of Appleton, Maine