Early History of Princeton Presented to Historical Society

By Lura Jackson

On Monday, September 8th, Nancy Marshall gave a special presentation of the early history of Princeton to the St. Croix Historical Society. The presentation (titled “Princeton Remembers”) was a DVD compilation of historical photographs and audio and visual recordings of elderly members of the Princeton community. It was produced as an indirect result of collaborative efforts with the Maine Memory Network (MMN) and the Princeton Public Library.

Marshall had the idea for the project after volunteering with the Princeton Library to assist with the digital storage of photos for the MMN. The library received grant funds for a new computer, scanner, digital camera and digital recorder as well as training in the procedure of properly uploading photos to the MMN database. “After we received the funds, we decided to interview older people for the town,” Marshall explained. 

The interviews (taken in 2012 and 2013) highlight the importance of the train and early industries of the Princeton region. By 1852 the Calais Railway (constructed in 1832 as the first railway in Maine) was extended to Princeton, and it provided the main source of transport for public and commercial purposes. Most of the foodstuffs in the town were hauled in on the train, and most of its exports were hauled out in that fashion. Barrel hoops made from ash were one of the primary exports, providing the barrels for the thriving fish industries in Eastport. By the time the railroad was renamed the Washington County Railroad in 1899, a ride to Calais cost $0.75. As the mills in Princeton and other areas gradually burned down or closed, and the remaining freight business turned to gasoline-powered trucks, the railroad industry became crippled. The train closed in 1933. 

 Marshall hopes to make the DVD (which consists of two parts, each of which is an hour long) available to the public in the future. In the meantime, the public is invited to browse the many uploaded photos in the Princeton section of the MMN by going to www.mainememory.net and typing in Princeton.