An Understanding of the State of Maine
Posted by Jimi on June 4, 2012
Many people have misconceptions about the state of Maine; ranging from inbreeding to illiteracy to a concept that we are all the poor white trash of the USA. I am not a native to Maine, I was born in raised in NH; however, I have lived here long enough to have an understanding of what is going on in this state and the many issues which play into the hard times we face as a state. Maine is indeed a beautiful state, a choice spot for many people to come on vacation due to the amazing amount of ocean beaches we have and the historic locations within the state. However, we also have a floundering economy that is very dependent on tourist income and with high gas prices this is becoming an issue as well.
First, I want to talk some basic geography about Maine, some things that people either do not realize or do not take fully into account when thinking about Maine and its problems–this applies both to residents and people from outside of the state as well. The important thing to realize about the state of Maine is we are bordered by only one other state–this is a unique situation in relation to the rest of the lower 48 states and does create issues for people to come to the state as there is only one “path” into the state via roadways. If you are from the USA, think about the state you live in, picture it on a map, and really look at how many different ways people have of getting into your state, aside from airplanes of course–this will help in realizing the unique situation that Maine is presented with.
So, here we have a very basic map of Maine, however it will serve to illustrate my previous point and the point I want to address now. As you can see, in reference to my prior point we do border only one other state, and only a small portion of the state is in fact on the border. Which brings me to my next point, there are actually several different “unofficial” Maines within the one state. If you look to the southern part of the map you will see Portland, one of our largest and most popular cities. Everything from Portland south is one part of Maine, most populated by the tourists and at times referred to as Northern Massachusetts. The next section, up for some minor debate on specific borderlines, ranges from Portland to Augusta or Waterville, depending on your point of view. It really is not all that much of a discrepancy as the distance from Augusta to Waterville is minimal. Augusta is the capital of the state and that whole stretch contains the majority of the non-tourists businesses and the “working class” population of the state. Now, Bar Harbor is a spot all on it’s own, along with that whole coastal region. Mostly home to the rich or properties owned by tourists who summer there. From Waterville to Bangor is rather hard to explain. Bangor is another large city similar to Waterville and Augusta, but nowhere near comparison to Portland. That whole stretch has a lot of rural areas and homes, however most of the people are working class folks, the so called 1% I guess you could say.
Now we come to the interesting part, and the least known aspect of Maine. As you can see easily from the map I have covered approximately 1/3 of the state of Maine, well the reality is that is mostly all people know about it, or in the case of most residents do not realize there is anything north of Bangor. The fact is 2/3 of the state is North of Bangor, however, there is next to nothing there. Zip-zero-zilch. Sure, there are potato farms, some logging companies and such, but for the most part the towns up there are refereed to by numbers… which is rather sad. It is this 2/3 of the state which creates such a drain on the economy of Maine as the people are residents, however employment is few and far between in that region and the people rely heavily on state assistance (this is not a bad thing I am declaring, just a simple fact.) This is a huge part of the state that we are ignoring and should be developing instead of overpopulating the areas that are already established with businesses.
I have visited many states and have never encountered a situation where such a large portion of the state is flat out ignored. In fact, I think the only comparison I can think of would be Alaska, however, that is an entirely different situation. I would really love to see this states politicians propose ideas to bring businesses into the Northern part of our state. The only reason I have continually voted no on the casino issues is because they should be put into the areas that need developing and not into cities/towns that already have businesses running there employing people. Sure, it’s a bit of a travel to get there, but so what? If we could develop that 2/3 of Maine, it would help boost the economy of this state in a huge way.
However, after all these years I am beginning to see that this is just a pipe dream. Everyone seems content to ignore northern Maine and just continue shoving as much into the portion of Maine that goes from Portland to the border of NH. Perhaps we should do as the people of northern Maine have been wanting for decades now and simply divide Maine into two separate states.