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AN IDEA IS BORN

Excerpts from Maine's turn-of-the-century
agricultural journal: The Maine Farmer

These excerpts are courtesy of Richard Judd, University of Maine, Orono

"Aquaeculture," Maine Farmer, March 23, 1865 [In this statement it is clear that farmers viewed their environs as morally superior to the city and a restorative for the spiritual and physical ills of urban life. Thus they quickly realized the economic potential for tourism as a supplemental economy]:

"The poor denizen of the city who comes out into the country during the summer months, finds one of his healthiest sports in fishing. He traverses every stream and brook for the trout, watches for the pickerel among the lilies, and carrying them to his lodgings, rejoices over his rare entertainment, and regains the vigor he had lost in the city.... We hope some of our men of leisure and means will make some effort to stock the waters of the numerous streams and lakes in different parts of the State with new varieties of fish."

Maine Farmer, October 10, 1868 [Here we see a dawning awareness of the Maine landscape appreciation that would become a key component of the tourist industry in the later nineteenth century.]:

"We have heard the expression from the lips of strangers to our State, that they were not aware that there was so much beautiful scenery in Maine; but the truth is it is as much a wonder to the naive of Maine as to the stranger. These beautiful landscape pictures rarely existed in Maine thirty years ago. Since farmers have cleared out the rocks and stumps from their fields and left them smooth and inviting, and the second growth of trees, such as the maple, the birch and the beech has sprung up, intermingled with the evergreen hemlock, spruce and fir, wherewith to cover up the old logs and rocks, it has wonderfully changed all this, and now almost any place among the older settled towns has its beautiful views and its pleasant homes, and summer travelers from the cities ramble among them with the greatest pleasure."

Maine Farmer, July 2, 1870 [This article notes the growing disposition among all classes of city folks to travel to the country or seaside during the heat of summer - to places like Saratoga and Long Branch; Maine bids for a piece of this action.]:

"Some forego the pleasure of resorts of fashion [and join the] soberer class who go to the country because they take genuine pleasure in a few weeks yearly of country sights and sounds and country living.... Through the pleasanter parts of Maine scattered families [and] little colonies of willing exiles from the dust and bustle of the crowded town...[are] hailed with pleasure among the farmhouses.... [These resorters are] not the wealthiest and never the most fashionable."

Maine Farmer, June 23, 1877 [Here again a farmer contrasts the fashionable upper-class resorts with the more rustic and authentic countryside]:

"The fashionable watering places with their forced and artificial manner of life, and their insipid and irrational enjoyments, are attracting a less number of visitors, year by year, and by far the larger part of those who leave the cities...prefer to spend it in a common sense manner, seeking at the least cost the greatest amount of pure, positive and wholesome enjoyment... rather than at some fashionable hotel of monstrous proportions erected in an unattractive spot, and patronized by the shoddy millionaires just because Mrs. Bodkin and Col. Fisher 'stop" there!'"

Maine Farmer, May 21, 1885 [Farmers realized the direct benefit from an influx of tourists in the summer season]:

"Many a farmer's life has been quickened with new impulses and his coffers replenished by the coming of these city guests with pale faces but full purses.... More than a million dollars was spent last year in the state by persons from beyond the State who come here in quest of health or pleasure....[Promotion by the Maine Central Railroad] brought into prominence our romantic lakes, rugged coast, dense forests, noble rivers, lofty mountains, and quiet rural retreats."

Maine Farmer, June 24, 1876: [Farmers notice that Maine is drawing attention as a summer resort: how might they capitalize on this?]:

"The tide of summer travel to our coast, our mountains and lakes, and of summer residence among our numerous and beautiful rural villages is becoming larger and larger year by year.... So far as we can do so, our people and the State at large should adopt every measure which can render Maine more attractive and better known as a summer resort.... [Fish and game],... both of land and water, should be encouraged and protected by legal enactments; the attractions of our lake­side villages, mountain hamlets and country towns should be written up for the leading journals.... Where they can find Nature in its greatest variety and beauty, plenty of fish and game, pure air and healthful recreation at a cost which will bring them within the possibility and enjoyment of the largest number."

Maine Farmer, August 1, 1874:

"[If the] city man [does] enough work in ten months to take two months away from the hot city, [the] farmer ought to take his vacation during the winter and visit the city, and extend his horizon beyond the mere outlines of his farm and town, by making himself acquainted with the greater activities and busier scenes of life in the metropolis.... A human being, with mind or ambition above a beast, will not be content to go his unvarying round of duties, whatever they may be, year after year during his whole lifetime, without change. A person who thus spends his days, is necessarily superstitious and bigoted and unsophisticated and ignorant of human nature as the recluse or the monk who spends his days in the cloister."

Maine Farmer, August 20, 1885 [A plea for farmers to take some time off]:

"All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.... Life becomes a burden... if health is gone and all the springs of enjoyment are dried up... [Consider the] poor fellow carried to the seaside, seeking for the restoration of health; but the eagerly sought prize was forever beyond his grasp. He had continued two or three years too long at his tasks without any recreation, and there was no foundation upon which to build the fabric of a renewed physical nature.... [He] returned home and died."

Maine Farmer, June 10, 1886 [This article speaks of the "custom of getting rest and enjoyment, comfort, and delight" out of doors]:

"Little use is made of out-doors by a majority of the inhabitants [of rural Maine], except as a place to work in....[The out-of-doors] is too much abandoned to city folks.... [The country] woman is looked on as shiftless if she takes book and seeks a shady nook, or goes to the fields and woods for the simple pleasure of it... [or climbs] a hill just to see a sunset.... Sundays, at least, should be devoted to rest.... Blinds and doors are closed [and] almost hermetically sealed."

Maine Farmer, January 3, 1884 [This statement, from the Fish and Game Commission, shows that Maine has resolved to protect its game species from market hunters, in order to attract more upper-class sport hunters from the city.]:

"We have this year been called upon to enforce a number of new and stringent laws, that may almost be termed war measures, to the enactment of which the State was impelled to save the remnant of the game of the Commonwealth, ... fish, fur and feathers, from utter annihilation by poachers and market hunters, from home and abroad..... Moose by Indians from the Provinces, crust hunting in spring for hides [and] other flagrant cases.... The commissioners have the will to enforce our laws to the bitter end, upon all offenders, but have not the power, both from restricted means and from other causes, of which we propose to speak further on.... The ability to bribe, to demoralize, has been freely used; in one instance offering five hundred dollars to a hesitating guide who feared the State penalty of one hundred."

Maine Farmer, February23, 1899 [In this article, a farmer challenges the notion that wildlife conservation - and tourism - are beneficial to rural Maine.]:

"We are getting so badly fixed in Maine that all the fish and game interests of the State are controlled by city clubs of so­called sportsmen, and sportsmen from other States, who would confine us if possible to an open season of a few weeks, and at a time when they could fish and shoot, and when they leave the State would have 'close time' the rest of the year.... Who realizes the profits from sports? Railroads, hotels and guides.... And our game commissioners have 'the cheek' to advise a 'license' law to carry a gun."

"The Off Hoss," Maine Farmer, May l7, 1900 [Another complaint about "sports" and deer. This one claims that game laws are making law breakers out of otherwise worthy farmers, and that city "sports" corrupt country men and women.]:

"Those living near the big woods where game abound disregard the law especially if an opportunity happens to secure game on their own land. 'There is no law in the woods' means the law is disregarded when out of sight of a warden or suspicious stranger.... Guides and entertainers are debauched with drink, ribald jests, vile songs and gambling. How much is the money worth to the state that is spent by sporting men in seducing and ruining girls and women, and I was informed this was practiced to a disgraceful extend in localities near the big woods?... More time, money and property are wasted and worse than wasted every year on account of our game laws than the money brought to the state could possibly pay for....In view of the demoralizing influences on our citizens, the destruction of human lives and the lives of domestic animals and birds, the debauching of the habits and morals of our men and women by the vile monsters from the cities, I hold that the money received from the city spendthrifts who term themselves sporting men, is a greater curse than blessing to the State of Maine. Down with the game laws!"

Maine Farmer, July 26, l900 [A writer supports "Off Hoss"]:

"Is the state good for nothing else but to be a hunting ground for the rest of the nation? Is it any credit to the state that in its vast forests still live the deer, the moose and caribou?"

Maine Farmer, July 26, l900 [A farmer mixes his traditional feelings of contempt for city life with a sentimental plea to protect living creatures.]:

"Sporting men are... persons of low character, reckless, intemperate and cruel... Any living animal is a target [and may be] wounded [and left] to die a lingering death....[The previous year, he claims, he found the bodies of nineteen deer floating in one of the lakes of the state], shot in the water by fishing sports just for fun, [having] no pity for the innocent and harmless creatures who had resorted to the water to escape the flies and to enjoy the coolness thus afforded.... I say, with 'Off Hoss,' down with the game laws! Abolish all game laws, let the wild animals be annihilated, as they will be in a few years, and then there will be no more torture, mutilation and slaughter, and our state will no longer be the dumping ground of the nice young sporting rakes from the cities."

Maine Farmer, October 25, l900 [In the late nineteenth century Maine experienced an exploding deer population due to the eradication of predators, the partial reforestation of upland agricultural lands, and the implementation of game protection laws. Deer became a "pest" to the farmer, as W.J. Ewell of Waldoboro attests.]:

"About ten years ago I began setting a fifteen­acre apple orchard, not in a clearing, in the forest primeval, but in an old field, bounded by cultivated land and divided by the much­traveled road from Waldoboro to Friendship. Soon the deer pest appeared, and I have counted nine in this orchard at one time.... [I will have] had to abandon the orchard or fence out the nocturnal tramps.... [Why, he asks, are these "wards of the state" protected], while they destroy and fatten on the farmers' crops. If the farmers do not get any more fair treatment at the hands of the next legislature they will have to build more deer fence or quit growing crops or apples."


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HOME: The Story of Maine on the Maine Public Broadcasting Network was made in partnership with the Maine State Museum. Major funding was provided by the  Institute of Museum and Library Services, a federal agency committed to fostering innovation, leadership and a lifetime of learning. Additional funding provided by Elsie Viles.
Major funding for previous seasons of  HOME: The Story of Maine was made possible by a grant from Rural Development, a part of the USDA. Special support is provided by The Maine State Museum and Northeast Historic Films.