Waterville, Maine

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Waterville is a city in Kennebec County, Maine, United States, on the west bank of the Kennebec River. The population was 15,605 at the 2000 census. Home to Colby College and Thomas College, Waterville is the regional commercial, medical and cultural center.[1]



The area now known as Waterville was once inhabited by the Canibas tribe of Abenaki Indians. Called Taconnet after Chief Taconnet, the main village was located at what is now Winslow, on the east bank of the Kennebec River at its confluence with the Sebasticook River. Known as Ticonic by English settlers, it was burned in 1692 during King William's War, after which the Canibas tribe abandoned the area. Fort Halifax was built by General John Winslow in 1754, and the last skirmish with Indians occurred on May 18, 1757. [2]

The township would be organized as Kingfield Plantation, then incorporated in 1771 as Winslow. Waterville was set off from Winslow and incorporated on June 23, 1802 when residents on the west side of the Kennebec found themselves unable to cross the river to attend town meetings. In 1824, a bridge was built to Winslow. Early industries included fishing, lumbering, agriculture and ship building, with larger boats launched in spring during freshets. By the early 1900s, there were five shipyards in the community. [3]

Ticonic Falls blocked navigation further upriver, so Waterville developed as the terminus for trade and shipping. The Kennebec River and Messalonskee Stream provided water power for mills, including several sawmills, a gristmill, a sash and blind factory, a furniture factory and a shovel handle factory. There was also a carriage and sleigh factory, boot shop, brickyard and tannery. On September 27, 1849, the Androscoggin and Kennebec Railroad opened to Waterville. It would become part of the Maine Central Railroad, which in 1870 established locomotive and car repair shops in the thriving mill town. West Waterville (renamed Oakland) was set off as a town in 1873. Waterville was incorporated as a city on January 12, 1888. [4]

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