Page 40 - WCM 2021 Winter
P. 40

 Franklin County’s Shiretown
Rapid Growth and Rise From Ashes by Christine Baptista
 Polychromatic brick, a center gable, and brightly painted cornice brackets adorn the façade of
this historic 1876 building
along Farmington’s Main Street.
“The best journeys in life are those that answer questions you never thought to ask.”
~ Rich Ridgeway
Long appreciated for its rolling hills, lush farmland, and crystal-clear riv- ers, streams and lakes, Farmington has been a desirable destination since its inception in the 1700s. At first glance, Farmington seems like any quaint New England town, but for those willing to dig a little deeper into the past, Farmington is an education in local pride, perseverance and preservation.
Riding Route 27 alongside the Sandy River, you may have admired the nos- talgic stylings of Hippach Field, or the picturesque campus of the University of Maine at Farmington; you may have enjoyed their historic walking tour,
or attended one of their many fun-filled festivals. But if you haven’t taken the time to explore the downtown area, you are missing out on a unique and in- teresting “Main Street” experience that offers the day-tripper an alluring array of shops, arresting architecture, and rousing tales from the past.
Originally settled along the banks of the Sandy River nearly 250 years ago, this farming town experienced a period of rapid growth after being named the seat of Franklin County in 1838. As the county hub, Farmington’s economy diversified from a largely rural agricultural community to include manufacturing and retail. The 1800s brought the development of canner- ies and tanneries, wool manufacturing, hat and shoe making, cabinet and furniture making, carriage and sleigh manufacturing, clover, pulp and wood turning mills, machine shops, print shops, banks, hotels and restaurants.
In addition, this era spawned the innovations of two famed local inventors: Charles Wheeler with his award-winning “split-bamboo” fishing rod, and Chester Greenwood with his “Champion Ear Protection,” otherwise known as the earmuff.
Arts, Entertainment, Adventure and More in Western Maine
Christine Baptista

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