Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Maine Minutiae: A Thumbnail Sketch of Maine's History, Part 1

The history of Maine is a very interesting topic to me. I thought that it might be of some interest to you as well, so I have decided to put together a series of posts that will highlight a period of the colorful history of the state in which I live. I won't go into great detail, instead I'll present the information to you in a number of short articles. So, let's get to it!

Columbus "discovered" America in 1492, or did he? It is believed that Leif Ericson and a crew of thirty or so Vikings explored the coast of Maine a full five hundred years before Columbus landed in the West Indies. Ericson and his men may have even tried to colonize Maine at that time. A mere six years after Columbus' exploration of the New World, it is nthought that an Italian sailor, John Cabot, in service to King Henry VII of England, sailed into North American waters and possibly even the Maine coast, but concrete evidence of Cabot's possible adventure in Maine is minimal, at best. In the late 16th Century, a number of ships from Europe skirted along the coast of Maine, even putting ashore for repairs and processing of the fish catch. Maine was also the site of one of the earliest permanent European settlements in America. From maine.gov comes this: "The first settlement was established by the Plymouth Company at Popham in 1607, the same year of the settlement at Jamestown, Virginia. Because the Popham colony didn't survive the harsh Maine winters, Jamestown enjoys the distinction of being regarded as America's first permanent settlement." There were many English settlements along the coast in the 1620's, but the lovely winters of the area and Indian attacks wiped many of them out over the years. Entering the 18th Century, there were only about a half dozen settlements that survived the elements and the Indians. Maine was sparsely populated as Massachusetts bought up most of the land in Maine in the 1700's. Things stayed that way until Maine broke off from Massachusetts and became a state in 1820.

I hope you enjoyed our little foray into yesteryear and we'll delve into another aspect of the history of Maine tomorrow on Maine Minutiae!

Texas Tidbits: October in Texas, Cooler Weather, Cool Events

With only a couple of days left in September, I thought it might be a good time to check out what's happening in the Lone Star State in October. The biggie, of course, is the State Fair of Texas at the Fair Grounds in Dallas, where Big Tex will greet more than three million visitors from around the world. About three weeks ago I did a write up about some of the fried foods featured at this year's fair, including fried beer! The State Fair runs through October 24.
Here's a list of a few more shindigs happening around Texas in October:
  • The 32nd Annual Festa Italiana takes place in Houston October 15-17, paisan.
  • In Fredericksburg the 30th Oktoberfest is slated for October 1-3.
  • My blog buddy, Bob Zeller at Texas Tweeties will be a busy man over the next few weeks as the approaching winter up north will usher millions of birds into Texas, making it one of the best bird watching opportunities in the world. Bob is a Wiz with his camera, so scoot by his place to get the latest on which of our fine feathered friends are migrating into the San Angelo area. 
  • Here in New England we are hitting the peek of our fall foliage viewing, but in Texas they are getting warmed (cooled down?) up for it, and there's no better place in the state to see the transition from summer to fall than Lost Maples State Natural Area.
Any or all of those events would be worth the drive to take part in, so make your plans early. Make a long weekend of it by going to the State Fair in Dallas, then down I-45 tom Houston for the Festa Italiana, then head west to the Hill Country for Oktoberfest and fall scenery viewing at Lost Maples and finally meet up with Bob in San Angelo for some birding at one of that area's lakes or the state park in San Angelo. Now that sounds like a plan.

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