Maine Town Spotlight | Hodgdon ME – Aroostook County
Hodgdon Maine is located in the collection of towns in Aroostook County.
Parked on the Canadian border and covering one six by six mile square township south of Houlton Maine. Bordered on the south by Cary Plantation, the west by Linneus Maine. Like other towns in the Southern Aroostook area, farming, logging timber helped put the school land grant on the map. Those two disciplines were what initially spurred settlers to load up the wagon and take the trip north into what was still part of Massachusetts until 1820.
Hodgdon Maine had 515 households the last US Census survey says. 1309 folks live in this bedroom community to Houlton Maine.
Loyalists to the King jumped back and forth of what they argued over, the real location of where the International border boundary line was or should look like, where it should be. It took many years for a concensus of opinions on the boundary line and so the railroad could set up shop in this region of the Northern Maine wilderness of woods, patches of fertile cleared fields and pasture land.
My mother was a Benn from a section of Hodgdon Maine called Benn Hill where a lot of Christmas trees come from thanks to local surveyor Fred Rooney who planted them as a side enterprise.
Major views generate from this elevation of Hodgdon but the real top shelf vista happens when you climb Westford Hill. Lots of picnics, a few outdoor music concerts with several local bands on flat bed truck trailers have created music on Westford Hill on the Cone Farm property. Probably a little grape juice, barley pop, fire water were mixed in with the live music strummed, sang by local musicians. Westford Hill, where the amps could be turned up nice and loud, because no one around to bother.
Views from Westford Hill include Mars Hill to the north, to the west you see Mt Katahdin. And the view extends into Canada on the east. Much of the scenery to the south and west is in to unorganized sections of Maine that are still under populated. These vast woods are loaded with more wildlife than people.
Hodgdon Maine was formed in 1832, began keeping vital records in 1837.
There is rich history found in the cemetary on the Walker Road where my grandparents, lots of other relatives are buried. The plots lined along the hilly terrain grid work of driveways overlook the recreation fields where little league, horse shows and other Hodgdon Maine community events happen.
Jim Griffin is the current Hodgdon Maine town manager, has been at the helm of municipal affairs since the early 1990’s.
Cheryl Cameron is his able assistant. In Hodgdon Maine if you are a land owner that subdivides your property to create house lots, until the first buildable lot is sold, the real estate taxes are classified, assessed on the lower original farm or wood land status. This encourages land owners, builders to create house lots so the town can grow and increase in population. It keeps property taxes manageable rather than charging the per individual lot fee like Houlton Maine, some other towns do which discourages the expense of going through subdividing the Maine land.
At one time, the town of Hodgdon and Linneus shared the same town manager, Ken Knowles.
Smart, thrifty, frugal which Mainers excel at to survive and prosper.
The days the town manager worked were shared between the two ranch style town offices located on the same road just a few miles apart.
Superintendents, other costly positions in small Maine schools need to take a lesson from the same three ring home work binder. Duplication of services, expenses in small Maine towns need to shrink and disappear before the burg does. And it’s last one out of town, turn off the lights.
Other Northern Maine towns do the same cost saving, sharing of town officials. Smyrna and Merrill townships are in one building attached to the US Post office on US Rt 2 in Smryna Maine. The town office in Patten Maine in Penobscot County also oversees muncipal affairs for Moro Plantation and Hersey Maine.
Besides Westford and Benn Hill, there is elevation along East Hodgdon in the White Settlement, Barton Road region where you see on the dead end road a large white golf ball looking weather reporting unmanned station. That looms high on stilts..
International markers showing US and Canada on opposing sides are all along the boundary lines of the two countries. Some are made of concrete, others are aluminum and the border line is kept groomed and timbered for easy detection of the public and governnment agents in the US Border Patrol. The presence of border security stepped up considerably since 911 terrorist attacks beefed up the shared boundary line.
Most of Hodgdon Maine is a terrain of generally smooth, fertile soil for farming, for forestry.
The Meduxnkeag River runs through the western part of the town of Hodgdon Maine.
It provided hydro power at a dam that was sufficient to meet the needs of several mills. Early mills manufactured long and short lumber, chairs, flour, meal, carriages, boots, shoes, harnesses for horses. Hodgdon Maine also had a steam lumber-mill.
Houlton Maine had the nearest railroad station. Hodgdon Maine being on the stage-line from Houlton to Danforth, on the European and North American Railway.
Hodgdon Maine formed from two half townships, was incorporated in 1833.
The north half township called the Groton Academy grant, the south the Westfield Academy grant. The first settlers were John Duval, James Daggett, James U. Parker, Joseph Kendall, Jabez Bradbury, Thomas Lander, Charles Lyon, Rufus Wiggin, James Ham, Joseph Gerow, Joseph E. Jackins, Daniel Smith and others. Their titles and the name of their town came from John Hodgdon, the proprietor. Back in 1870, Hodgdon Maine had nine public school houses scattered around the clusters of population to serve their educational needs.
According to Harry Williams in Geraldine Tidd Scott’s book “Hodgdon Maine 1832 to 1982, the first white man to see the Town of Hodgdon Maine was no doubt the French priest, Father LeBrun.
He landed at St John, New Brunswick in the spring of 1607, and with a band of Indians explored the St John River and its branches. He climbed Mars Hill and took possession of all he could see for the King of France.
Williams goes on to share that on June 7, 1802 John Hodgdon, an attorney in Ware, New Hampshire bought the south half and in 1805 he purchased the north half of the lands surveyed by Park Holland. John Hodgdon reportedly purchased the township bearing his name for $5760. Settlement of Hodgdon Maine began in the summer of 1824. The settlers paid $100 each for their hundred acre plots of land.
John Hodgdon never saw the town that bears his name though.
He died in 1826 and his son, John Hodgdon Jr, his son and also an attorney came north and cleared the Slipp place and lived there for some time. In 1824, there were five log cabins along the Calais Road, which was then a little more than a spotted trail.
It is doubtful the town of Hodgdon Maine could have grown so rapidly had it not been for buckwheat. This was the principle cereal grain of the early settlers. Buckwheat could be planted late, cut and harvested early. It would yield a good crop on poor land. Once the buckwheat was ground into flour, it could be made into pancakes and for years mixed with moose meat and fried pork, it became the stable of the early settlers of the Hodgdon Maine area.
Today, RSU 70 serves Hodgdon, Cary, Amity, Ludlow, New Limerick townships and Orient Maine has the option to tuition their students to Hodgdon or Danforth schools.
The school mascot is the hawk, the colors blue and white. Mill Pond Elementary School serves the lower grades, the sixth grade and above attend the Middle / High School.
Merger of RSU 29 and RSU 70 talks were held, a committee formed to discuss how best to accomplish the best union.
Of two school systems located just six miles apart.
Pressure from the state board of education and financial restraints of all small Northern Maine towns makes the consolidation a hot topic but one requiring careful planning if such a marriage is to prosper and flourish from better use of manpower, bus transportation and facility resources. To make one strong school to serve the region.
More on area schools in the Greater Houlton Maine area. The Houlton Hodgdon Blackhawks high school ice hockey team with blue, white and black uniforms is a good example of the two educational systems working together for the common good. Here’s a Mill Pond School school soccer sport video.
Hodgdon Maine has a dairy bar, Libby’s by the Mill Pond dam, T & S Market, a small convenience store run by the Bruce and Jennifer Wallace. Lots of area farmers, plenty of forestry logging independent contractors. Harrington’s Gas Station a well known local landmark with over a hundred Disney like salt and pepper shakers to look at during the fill up, wash the windshield ritual is recently closed.
Stair’s Welding on US Rt 1 in Hodgdon manufactures a specialty log trailler. And headache bars for those timber haulers to protect the cab over the driver. Both items are used through out the wood harvest industry.
Benn’s Auto Sales sells used cars, does repairs and operates a recycled vehicle parts business.
Run now by John Benn, his son Jordan with the help of Ernie Keaton to keep things straight. They’ve saved my wallet a big expense and come to the rescue many times when the snow plow truck peters out. Or a kid needed repairs without selling a duplicate organ to pay for them.
Hill Top Lanes has bowling, mini golf and video arcade on the Calais Road, US Rt 1 in Hodgdon, Maine.
The sector headquarters of the US Border Patrol is in Hodgdon Maine.
The U.S. Border Patrol established in Maine on May 28, 1924, the Houlton Sector manned by 14 patrol inspectors located in Calais, Fort Fairfield, Fort Kent, Houlton, Jackman, Mars Hill, Van Buren and Vanceboro. The first Chief Patrol Inspector was Charles Grey.
The Houlton Sector of the US Border Patrol was originally located on Bangor Street; but in 1940 relocated to a temporary building on Park Avenue. It remained there until a new facility was constructed in 1965 at its present location at 96 Calais Road, in Hodgdon, Maine.
Protecting the US/Canadian border has changed much since farmers had cows on both sides of it. Immigration and customs paperwork has gotten more complex.
But year ago, things were pretty laid back because we are after all related, eh? No it is not dangerous being this close to the Canadian border. Laugh about it as a crazy question but we get asked it a lot. Let’s take a quick trip across the border to learn more. Strap on your snow boards.
Early US border patrol agents watched for illegal alcohol smuggling during Prohibition.
Today lots of white pickups with a familiar green stripe along with cameras, helicopters and planes police the Maine border of Aroostook County and beyond.
Churches in Hodgdon Maine, there is religious freedom in worship options. The Hodgdon Baptist Church is on US Rt 1 beyond the Westford Hill Road, before the Jackins Settlement Road and has a modern parsonage for the pastor’s family housing.
The Methodist Church where my Mom was married, and played the organ is located on Hodgdon Mills Road just before the intersection of the Walker Road. There is another Baptist Church in East Hodgdon on the White Settlement Road. Plus nearby Houlton Maine churches number about a dozen if your favorite flavor of religion requires you to travel a few miles.
Farming operations in Hodgdon Maine include dairy at Tom Quint’s family operation, Dave Winship’s hay business, the McGillicuddy family, Joel Oliver’s farm stand called Timberland that also supplies local schools with vegetables. Laurence Gough’s spread on the Walker Road and beyond, Joel Duff farms in the Henderson Hill Road area of Hodgdon that provides milk, beef, other agricultural products. Matt and Lee-Rae Oliver run an organic dairy farm on Westford Hill on land that used to be potato / grain crop rotated agricultural land for crops not critters.
Tidd’s Sport Shop has those snow sleds, four wheelers and other toys for exploring the great outdoors of Northern Maine.
Being on the ITS trail system that goes through their dooryard on the Calais Road helps business when break downs happen.
Elwood Tidd passed away this week and will be missed by the locals who enjoyed doing business with him and his family.
Condolences extended to the Tidd family.
Snow sledding opens up the winter tourist along with ski areas, ice fishing, pond hockey are just some of the recreational options in Northern Maine.
Tim Humphrey sells musical instruments and accessories just before Tidd’s Shop. His location for everything musical used to be Ellis Auto Sales, his father in law’s auto dealership. Tim The Tune Man used to play in a band called Rock Renaissance back in the 1970’s, 1980’s. He taught at Hodgdon Maine schools.
The Houlton Amateur Ham Radio Club used a repeater on Westford Hill in Hodgdon and a small translator station to boost the signal of WHCF’s gospel signal. WHOU radio in Houlton Maine used to receive their CBS network news and Red Sox sports feed from a relay of WDEA in Ellsworth on a small tower on Westford Hill in Hodgdon Maine.
Height limitations kept moving the radio tower from Houlton Maine to Hodgdon when increasing power and the North Road broadcast facility land was sold and the stick needed to be relocated. The broadcast tower ended up in Smyrna Maine on 185 acres of Maine land sale I had listed, sold in my real job of peddling property. That is not the hunt and pecking community blog posts whipped up to help new to the area real estate buyer wannabees decide to land here. The glide path to Houlton International Airport’s approach for landings at those two runways made sticking a new higher tower no matter how well lit on Westford Hill out of the question said the FAA folks.
Notable local heroes in Hodgdon Maine’s history include George Otis Smith. Here is a map showing modern day Hodgdon Maine’s location. What about the land terrain and elevations, dips and swells of the level to rolling? Here’s a topographical map of Hodgdon Maine. We sold the Roy and Mark Crane farm in East Hodgdon Maine to a group of Amish that raise organic food that Nature’s Circle in New Limerick help market.
Gallops Animal Ranch was in Hodgdon Maine on the West side of US Rt 1, beyond the Houlton town line. I can remember kid fair type rides, a peacock, lots of animals that you don’t out in the Maine woods. Visits there on Sunday afternoons. No idea what they did with all those animals in the winter months. It was like Noah’s Ark out there. Wendell Smith a local potato farmer had Smitty’s Best, a salad dressing orange colored like Catalina that was popular among the locals.
Eric Richards made the best squash, potato, mollasses and other flavored donuts. He also sold Texas Refinery oils and lubricants, a business that my Dad got him into as a sideline. Because Dad, Mom had a fleet of trailer trucks called Prem Pak to haul the potato spuds to market that he grew, ones he bought from others acting as a tater broker.
Simpson’s Garage a local landmark repair shop that could create or fix anything metal and mechanical was run by Gerald Simpson. On the corner, at the base of the Westford Hill Road amd US Rt 1 called the Calais Road, across from the Hodgdon Corner Road entrance. Gerald gone but his genius not forgotten.
Florence Grant Dickinson at 85 years of age did a fine job of emptying her head of all she could recall about the history, facts about East Hodgdon Maine that deserves a link spot in this blog post on that special small Aroostook County town.Glad she did share this information on Hodgdon Maine’s eastern section before passing away.
My mom Mary Lou Benn was salutatorian in her class, from a family of eleven and all of the children born at home.
Her dad Edward Shirley Benn, Mary Jordan Benn had a dairy, potato farm on Benn Hill.
Mom did not like washing the returnable milk bottles, picking mustard in the spud fields.
I remember going out to visit Uncle Frank Benn who lived on the homestead after his parents, my grandparents were gone.
The big apple orchard, a sugar bush maple syrup shack for the fine stand of trees to tap when the sap was running in late winter / early spring..
The pretty views, two barns and huge Hodgdon Maine house with in-law section was a fun place to explore with my cousins. There was a LaSalle car in the garage.
Every Sunday afternoon, we took turns after church sunday school hosting or visiting someone’s house and the kids played while the parent’s socialized too! When I first moved back to Houlton Maine, I rented the front of Laughing Charlie Porter’s original home, the guy who legion says always had a wooded match in his mouth. His old farmstead was now owned by Jodie and Ronny Peabody. Just up the road from the Benn farm that shares the same name.
I remember coming home and seeing a terrible fire in a nearby potato house set back from the road and lots of state trooper lights rotating, flashing. That fire took the life of a young Wallace boy. We later released trout fish at the dam in Hodgdon Maine in his memory and because of his love for fishing.
My Uncle Leon Benn and Cecil cleared the winter roadways of Hodgdon Maine with a large Walter’s smasher of a snow plow truck to wing back the white stuff. Here is a black and white video and story about how plugged roads got cleared in a hurry with one of these early 1930’s plow trucks.
There were lots of dairy farms in Hodgdon and other Aroostook County towns.
Because before Houlton Farm’s Dairy really got traction in the milk market, lots of small independent milk producing farms made the rural and intown deliveries using wagons three seasons and pung sleighs in the winter months! Egg deliveries part of the door to door stops for distributing farm freshagricultural products too. A lot of the old farming and logging machinery is housed and on display at the Southern Aroostook Agricultural Museum in Littleton Maine.
Hodgdon Maine has a volunteer fire department, and that facility housing the engines used by my Benn family for reunions. Mutal aid happens extending across town lines fighting blazes with the Linneus Maine fire department. Lots of super carpenters if you are thinking remodeling or building from scratch and a friendly population that pitches in to help the local community. I will add to this Hodgdon Maine blog post town spotlight as more resources become available and time allows!
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MOOERS REALTY 69 North Street Houlton Maine 04730 USA