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 Cruising to Cornish
A Tiny Town with Big Appeal by Christine Baptista
 Main Street, Cornish, late 1800s.
“My favorite thing is to go where I’ve never been.” ~ Diane Arbus
In the middle of nowhere, but seemingly on the way to everywhere, with a year-round population of around 1400, the quaint historic village of Cornish is one of Western Maine’s dazzling hidden gems. A tiny town with big appeal, Cornish offers a treasure trove of spectacular scenery, boutique shops, popular restaurants, recreation, and local lore.
Nestled in a bucolic cradle of mountains, lakes, and river valleys, Cornish is rich in natural resources. Miles of fertile land, fresh water, fishing, timber and wild game sustained the natives and attracted early settlers. The land is ripe for hunting, fishing and trapping along the Ossipee, Little and Saco rivers. Cornish also sits at the convergence of three main routes heavily traveled by native tribesmen, and still in use today: the Pequawket (Route 113), Sokokis (Route 5) and Ossipee (Route 25) trails.
Once a mecca for fur trading between the French and eastern Algonquins, the area now known as Cornish was part of Maine’s first recorded land pur- chase. According to town records, in the late 1600s a squatter named Francis Small operated a busy trading post in the area. Hearing of a plot by renegade tribesmen to murder Small, his friend, Chief Wesumbe (aka Captain Sandy), forewarned him. Small escaped with his life, but his trading post was burned to the ground. In order to compensate Small for his losses, the chief sold Small twenty square miles of land known as the Ossipee Tract, encompassing what is now Cornish.
Incorporated in 1794, the next 100 years brought more people, and with them, many changes. Population swelled from 140 in the 1700s to around 1,100, with many grand Victorian and Colonial homes being built in what
Arts, Entertainment, Adventure and More in Western Maine
Courtesy Cornish Historical Society

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