In the far Eastern reaches of rural Maine, a river winds it way northward from its mouth near the Passamaquoddy and Cobscook Bay. That river would later be known as the St. Croix, and a small island within it would become the site for the first European settlement that stayed for a full winter in North America in the year of 1604. Ever since that date, the St. Croix River Valley has seen the establishment of numerous towns and ports along her banks, in both the United States and in Canada.
The City of Calais was one such town, and it rapidly flourished from the wealth of the lumber industry. Despite being in such a remote location, settlers flocked in on boats and on horses, planting their roots into soil strewn with boulders from the passage of the last glacier. So much lumber was moved between the mills and the ports that the need arose for the first railroad in Maine in the early 1830s.
Growth was rapid and expansion constant. By 1900 the population had swelled to 7,000, and the downtown featured an array of brick, granite and wood buildings of novel majesty. However, the collapse of the lumber industry took the prosperity of Calais with it, and the city has been struggling ever since. Some of the grand buildings still remain, though many others have been lost.
The St. Croix Historical Society aims to record and preserve the history of Calais as well as our neighboring communities. This website is dedicated to sharing the knowledge, photos and artifacts amassed in our archives, which we collect and maintain thanks to the ongoing support and donations of community members.