Located in southern Maine's Lincoln County, Boothbay Harbor is on the Atlantic coast between the Damariscotta and Sheepscot Rivers. Boothbay Harbor is about 33 nautical miles (54 kilometers or 33 miles by air) northeast of Portland and about 117 nautical miles (200 kilometers or 124 miles by air) northeast of Boston, Massachusetts.
Boothbay Harbor is the center of a fishing, yachting, and resort area today. Manufacturing of things like boats, canvas goods, and food products is also important to the local economy. Each year, the Windjammer Days Festival brings old schooners into Boothbay Harbor to celebrate the glory days of sailing ships. In 2010, over 2100 people called Boothbay Harbor home.
Before Europeans arrived in the Boothbay Harbor area, the Penobscot Nation inhabited much of the future Maine and Maritime Canada. Their ancestors may have been there for some 11 thousand years. With ample resources, the Penobscot thrived on moose, beaver, caribou, bears, and seafood.
Contact with Europeans came first with the fur trade. The Penobscot were willing to trade furs for metal axes, cookware, and guns. But even as the Europeans arrived, the resources that had sustained the Penobscot began to disappear. Further damage was done by the diseases and alcohol the Europeans brought that decimated the Penobscot population.
In the middle 17th Century, the English used Boothbay Harbor as a seasonal fishing camp. In 1666, the leading chief, Mowhotiwormet, sold the land to Henry Curtis. During King Philip's War, the British settlement was attacked and burned. Although it was quickly rebuilt, it was destroyed a second time during King William's War, one of the first phases of the French and Indian War. After that, Boothbay Harbor remained abandoned by Europeans for some 40 years.
Despite their support of the Patriots during the American Revolution, the Penobscots were not treated well by the young United States. They were not able to enforce the treaties they used to try to hold onto some of their lands with treaties. Neither were the Penobscots were able to stop the waves of new settlers invading their lands. By the early 1800s, the Penobscots were living on reservations as wards of the State of Maine.
In 1730, Boothbay Harbor was established under the name of Towsend by Colonel David Dunbar, the governor of the Sagadahock territory. The infant Boothbay Harbor settlement survived both the French and Indian War and the Revolutionary War, largely because of its big and deep protected harbor.
The settlement was named Boothbay in 1842, and Boothbay Harbor grew as a busy fishing center. When storms came, Boothbay Harbor could shelter as many as 500 vessels. By the early 1880s, Boothbay Harbor was home to a fishery, a fish oil company, an ice company, a fertilizer manufacturer, a lobster canning factory, and two marine railways. In 1889, Boothbay Harbor was incorporated as a town.
Boothbay Harbor has always been greatly influenced by the Atlantic Ocean. The sea is an important source of income, attracting seasonal residents, tourists, and fishermen. There are three main harbors in addition to Boothbay Harbor itself: Mill Cove, Lobster Cove, and Lewis Cove. The Boothbay Harbor shoreline is busy with marine businesses including commercial fishermen and lobstermen as well as marinas and businesses that build, repair, maintain, and store boats. Boothbay Harbor also has many tourism-related businesses along the coast.