Maine: The Pine Tree State

Geography and Industry

Maine's soil is rocky, and not very good for raising crops. The state originally had large forests filled with huge pine trees, but heavy logging has cleared much of the land. There is still plenty of wilderness to be explored in Maine, though, especially in the northern parts of the state. People come from all over the world to camp and hike in Maine's forests of white pine, and to boat and fish not only in its 5,500 lakes and streams but also on its irregular, rock-strewn, 3,500 miles of coastline.

Maine's economy relies heavily on timber sales, but not in the same way that it did when tall Maine trees were cut down to make ships' masts. Nowadays, Maine's trees are used mostly as pulp to make paper.

At one time, fishing was Maine's largest and richest industry. But the fishing industry has suffered recently, because the supply of fish is getting smaller. Many environmentalists think this is a result of what is called over-fishing. Over-fishing is what happens when fishermen don't leave enough of a type of fish for that species of fish to produce enough new fish to replace those that were caught that year. One exception to the over-fishing problem is the famous Maine lobster which is sold worldwide.

ALL ABOUT Maine

CAPITAL: Augusta Largest

LARGEST CITY: Portland

POPULATION: 1,274,923 (2000 Census)

STATE BIRD: Chickadee

STATE TREE: Eastern White Pine

STATE FLOWER: White Pine Cone and Tassel

STATE MOTTO: “Dirigo (I Direct)”

STATEHOOD: March 15, 1820

POSTAL ABBREVIATION: ME

History

Up until 1820, Maine was a part of Massachusetts. In that year Maine entered the Union as a free state (meaning that slavery was illegal in the state), as part of a deal made in Congress between representatives of southern and northern states, called the Missouri Compromise. The Missouri Compromise was an agreement that allowed Missouri to enter the Union as a slave state). Since Maine would enter the Union at the same time, it would help keep the number of slave and free states in the Union equal. During the 1830s, Maine was the site of a border dispute between the United States and Canada. This conflict, called the Aroostook War, resulted in no deaths, and only a few bruises among the men who “fought” it. The long-term result of this so-called war was the Webster-Ashburton Treaty of 1842, which settled the boundary line between the United States and Canada not only in Maine, but along most of the rest of the border as well, making it the longest undefended international border in world history.

Fun Facts

MAINE'S TIMBER INDUSTRY

Timber has always been a major export for Maine. During the Age of Sail (when people traveled mostly by sailing ships), Maine's tall white pine trees were used to make ships' masts, which hold up the sails. In fact, the very first sawmill in the United States was built in Maine, on the Piscataqua River in 1623.

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