Port of Bucksport
Review and History

The Port of Bucksport lies at the head of Penobscot Bay in Hancock County, Maine. It is about 16 nautical miles (22 kilometers or 14 miles by air) northeast of Belfast Harbor, also on Penobscot Bay. The Port of Bucksport is almost 100 nautical miles (155 kilometers or 96 miles by air) northeast of Portland, Maine. The Port of Bucksport is home to about five thousand people.

The Port of Bucksport has a very popular downtown waterfront and a rich history. It is across the river from historic Fort Knox and the Penobscot Narrows Bridge. The town dock is a center for the surrounding restaurants, motels, seafood markets, banks, and grocery stores.

Port History

The pre-Columbian Red Paint People inhabited the area of the future Port of Bucksport some five thousand years ago. An advanced fishing culture, they buried stone tools and weapons as well as red paint in their graves. Flourishing from 5000 to 1000 BC, this coastal and seafaring culture had more sophisticated burials than any following culture in the region.

The Abenaki Nation (called the Penobscot today) was an Algonquian-speaking people that inhabited portions of today's State of Maine, including the Port of Bucksport area, and the Connecticut River Valley spanning Vermont, New Hampshire, and Massachusetts. The people lived in bands of extended families headed by a patriarch who inherited his hunting territory from his father. Small temporary villages formed in the spring and summer for communal planting and fishing.

When the English began to settle New England and the Port of Bucksport area, many Abenaki were forced to move to Quebec. As early as 1614, English slaver Thomas Hunt captured 24 young people from the Abenaki and took them to England. When the English arrived in the Port of Bucksport area, they brought infectious diseases, and epidemics and conflict pushed the Abenaki into Quebec in the late 1660s.

There were no treaties regarding territorial boundaries, so conflicts between settlers and the Abenaki people were common. The Abenaki were allied with the French during the French and Indian Wars. Chief Assacumbuit was knighted by Louis XIV for his service to the French in many battles across New England and Canada.

Developing a healthy tourism business, the Abenaki/Penobscot Nation has succeeded in developing a modern economy while also maintaining their culture. There are three Abenaki reservations in the State of Maine - one of them about 41 kilometers (25 miles northwest of the Port of Bucksport - and seven in New Brunswick and Quebec. Many Abenaki/Penobscot live off-reservation across the US and Canada.

After Europeans arrived, the Port of Bucksport was one of six townships approved by the Massachusetts General Court. In 1763, Colonel Jonathan Buck came to settle "Plantation No. 1," constructing a sawmill, a house, and a store. By 1775, there were 21 families living on the plantation that would become the Port of Bucksport. Local lore tells of Buck burning his mistress as a witch. Promising to return for revenge on the town, her foot and leg are reported to appear on Buck's tombstone.

During the American Revolution, the British built Fort George at Castine on the shores of Penobscot Bay some 12 nautical miles south of the Port of Bucksport. In 1779, the fort was the site of an important defeat for the American Navy. The Port of Bucksport (Plantation No. 1) had been evacuated, and the day following the battle, the British HMS Nautilus anchored in the Port of Bucksport harbor while the ship's crew burned the town.

The future Port of Bucksport remained fairly deserted (except for those who had sworn loyalty to the British) until 1783 when it was renamed Buckstown Plantation. In 1780, the Jed Prouty Tavern and Inn opened in future downtown Port of Bucksport. The town was incorporated as Buckstown in 1792. The Jed Prouty inn was expanded into a 17-room hotel in the early 19th Century. During the War of 1812, the British occupied the future Port of Bucksport. In 1817, the town was renamed Bucksport.

The Port of Bucksport has a wealth of fanciful stories. In 1892, a circus elephant named Charlie escaped and roamed the Port of Bucksport until he was captured with the help of a pit bull. In 1876, a triple murder resulted in the biggest trial in the infant State of Maine when a Port of Bucksport sea captain was found guilty and sentenced to prison for life. In 1898, the headless and decomposing body of Sarah Ware was found near Miles Lane. The murder remains unsolved. Locals also boast that the Port of Bucksport was the main inspiration for the popular 1960s television series Dark Shadows' Collinsport.

The early Port of Bucksport economy was based on farming of potatoes and hay. Later, the Port of Bucksport would become a thriving ship-building center and base for fishers who sailed from the Port of Bucksport to the Grand Banks. With rich forests, later industries included lumber and manufacturing of ships' pumps, boats, carriages, boots, wedges and wheels, and stonework.

In 1930, the Maine Seaboard Paper Company opened a mill in the Port of Bucksport, manufacturing 300 tons of newsprint every day. Today, Verso Paper owns the mill producing almost 483 thousand tons a year of the lightweight coated paper used by publications like the LL Bean catalog and Time Magazine.

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