Historical Ecology Atlas of New England

Northern Maine Woods: Land in Conflict

Sarah Madronal, Colby College


The North Maine Woods has been a place of conflict for almost as long as there have been written records of this area. From the 1600s until today people living in and around this landscape have been arguing over who should be in control of the abundant land and resources up North, not to mention how the land and resources should be used or preserved.

Northern Maine has also been a place of wilderness and beauty. The Mount Katahdin area has been visited by millions of people over the decades as a place to get away from their normal lives and experience Maine at its finest. However, before people lived in Northern Maine this beautiful area was a source of fear for many people. Confronting the unknown in the wilderness along with the fact that Northern Maine was a war zone for over a century from the early 1600s to the late 1700s made it a place many people were loathe to visit.

One of the most valuable resources that has been fought over for so long is timber. Northern Maine is mostly is made up of uninhabited land owned privately for conservation or owned by timber companies from both the United States and Canada. This area is also the largest wilderness area in the United States, which leads to interesting human relationships with the landscape. Due to this long history many relationships and cultural ties are very deep rooted through generations of Northern Mainers.