Welcome to the St. Croix Historical Society

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 in 1604 a small island within it would become the site for the first European settlement North of Florida that lasted for a full winter. 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 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 onĀ boats and on horses, planting their roots into soil strewn with massive boulders from the passage of the last glacier.

The docks of Calais were often brimming with lumber.

The docks of Calais were often brimming with lumber.

The homesteaders worked to clear the fields while the lumbermen worked to clear the forests of their endless stretches of white pines that towered as high as 240′ into the air. 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.

2 years after the great fire of 1870. The Palladian Block was built after the great fire of 1870. The fire started in the alley to the rear of this block. At the time all the buildings in this part of town were wooden.

The Palladian Block (in brick) was built after the great fire of 1870. The fire started in the alley to the rear of this block. At the time, all of the buildings in this part of town were wooden, contributing to the scale of the disaster. The Palladian Block remains standing today.