Will Rogers once quipped, "Did you ever see a place that looks like it was built just to enjoy? Well, this whole State of Maine looks that way to me."
In fact, the stunning landscape of Maine is a by-product of the last Ice Age, as a massive glacier cut the straight coastline into hundreds of bays, inlets and harbors. The receding ice sheet also formed the 2,000 or so rocky islands along its toothy coastline.
Indian tribes inhabited this slice of land, like all of North America, for centuries. Their peaceful harmony with the land ended when European exploration of the Americas began.
Five hundred years before Columbus discovered America, it is believed that Leif Ericson and a crew of Viking sailors explored the Maine coast, landed, and may have tried to establish a settlement.
In 1604 a French contingent that included Samuel de Champlain, the fabled explorer, were the first Europeans to settle here. They named this entire area Acadia, a stretch of land that included parts of eastern Quebec, the Maritime provinces, and all of New England.
The first European colony (Popham) was established in 1607. It lasted only one winter. It was followed by other English settlements in the early 17th century, settlements that were also ravaged by brutal winters and on-going Indian attacks; most did not survive.
In 1652, this loosely-organized territory became a part of the Massachusetts Bay Company, an English controlled colony centered in Boston. As France and England fought for control of what is now called New England, the district of Maine continued to grow as settlers by the thousands built homesteads.
The French and Indian Wars ended in 1763 with an English victory. That result subsequently ended all French claims to Maine and most of North America. Near the end of the 18th century, under English rule, the population of Maine had grown to more than 150,000 hearty souls.
The British saw an opportunity to tax the new-found wealth of their America's colonies, and Maine was no exception. Especially offended by the Tea Tax, powerful land owners and merchants in England's colonies rebelled, and they proudly (and bravely) declared their independence from Great Britain.
America's Revolutionary War was fought on many fronts, and according to historical accounts, the first naval action of the Revolutionary War occurred in 1775, when upstart colonials captured the British sloop Margaretta off the Maine coast.
Maine's passionate desire for independence did not waver, but that passion proved costly. By wars end the British were defeated, but nearly 1,000 of Maine's men were dead and the economy was in shambles.
As the new country of America began to take shape, Maine was still an integral part of Massachusetts, the 6th state to join the union. In 1819 Maine's desire to separate from Massachusetts peaked as some of its most influential citizens gathered in Portland to form a constitution. Once again determination and the spirit of independence surfaced, and they would not be denied. On March 15, 1820, Maine became the 23rd state.
Across this fertile land, one literally covered by pine trees, logging industries quickly prospered, and the state's population exploded. Fishing and shipbuilding businesses brought jobs, towns sprang up, and in 1832, the capital was moved from Portland to Augusta.
Across America, the plight of black slaves in the southern states was a growing controversial front-burner issue. That moral dispute between the northern and southern states peaked, and in 1861 America's Civil War began. Slave-free Maine joined the Union cause. Historical records indicate that nearly 75,000 men from Maine served in the Union army and over 7,000 died during the bloody conflict that ended in 1865.
Maine's industries enjoyed a dramatic upward surge following the Civil War. The development of hydroelectric power and the growth of its pulp and paper industry sparked the economy into a strong period of growth well into the 20th century.
Then the Great Depression of the 1930's reared its ugly head, proving financially disastrous across Maine, and all of America. In the end it was World War II that helped to revive (and motivate) the state's 20th century economy. Its many shipyards sprang back to life, building destroyers for the Navy. Additional industries developed as Maine provided materials for the war.
A substantial part of Maine's economy still revolves around the bountiful Atlantic Ocean. In recent years tourism has grown into a major industry as the "Pine Tree" state is home to historic lighthouses, quaint fishing villages, summer and winter sport venues, and a unique, rustic beauty found no where else across America.
Some of the state's busiest attractions include beautiful Acadia National Park, Baxter State Park, and the historic buildings of Augusta. For family outdoor fun and adventure ideas, or for a relaxing weekend getaway at any time of the year, Maine has it all.