In this talk, maritime historian Lincoln Paine will use the history of the Kennebec River as a lens through which to examine Maine and American history since the pre-Columbian period. Examining the different ways that people have approached the Kennebec over time provides us with a new way of reading and understanding the history of the United States and its people. Abenaki culture was deeply informed by the way that people related to the Kennebec, which also helped shape patterns of exploration and settlement by early European settlers and the subsequent commercial and industrial development of the late colonial and post-independence period. While the Kennebec has often been viewed in terms of its importance to navigation—both for shuttling goods and people between the hinterland and the sea, as well as for shipbuilding—it has also been a source of industrial power, a conveyor belt for the lumber industry, a source of harvested ice, and latterly a showcase for environmental restoration. In this respect, the many uses of the Kennebec offer a periodization of history that affords us a more nuanced appreciation of how Maine and the United States developed.
Lincoln Paine is a maritime historian, author, editor, and curator whose books include the award-winning The Sea and Civilization: A Maritime History of the World (2013), Down East: A Maritime History of Maine (2000), and Ships of the World: An Historical Encyclopedia (1997). He is also an editor of Itinerario: International Journal on the History of European Expansion and Global Interaction. In 2012, he curated “Triumph of the Passenger Ship: Highlights from the Norman H. Morse Ocean Liner Collection, 1870–2010,” at the Osher Map Library and Smith Center for Cartographic Research, University of Southern Maine, in Portland. He has lectured on a wide range of maritime and naval topics in the United States, Europe, Asia, and Australia. A graduate of Columbia College, he spent fourteen years as a non-fiction and reference book editor and currently specializes in editing academic writing by non-native speakers of English. He is a trustee of the Maine Maritime Museum. He and his wife, Allison, live in Portland and have two grown daughters.
The Kennebec Historical Society October Presentation is free to the public (donations gladly accepted) and will take place on Wednesday, October 19, 2016, at 6:30 p.m. at the Augusta City Center, located at 16 Cony Street in Augusta.