About Us

The Town of Stockton Springs is a small coastal community in Waldo County, Maine of approximately 1,600 residents. We are located between Belfast and Bucksport on Coastal US 1. We are home to Fort Point State Park, Sandy Point Beach Park, and Stockton Harbor. We are also just south of the impressive Penobscot Narrows Bridge.  


Town History (Abbreviated excerpt from Comprehensive Plan) 

Tribes of Abenakis and Tarratines established seasonal villages and hunted here, eventually intermarrying to form the Penobscots who clammed, fished, and traded with French and British explorers from the late 16th to the mid-18th Century. By 1750 the British had captured the Saint John River downeast. They closed it to French and Indian trade and made plans to do the same with the Penobscot River. When it became clear that the British intended to establish permanent settlements in the area, the Penobscot Indians-riled up. Weaponed and trained by the French, and eager to keep the rich game, forests, and marine resources for themselves, they attacked the Pioneers, killed, captured or drove them off, and razed their preliminary settlements.

In May of 1759 a “posse” of four hundred men, under Massachusetts Royal Governor Thomas Pownal and General Samuel Waldo arrived at the mouth of the Penobscot River with both permanence and strong defense in mind. They anchored in what is now known as Fort Point Harbor and set up their first campsite on Cape Jellison. It soon became evident that the spot the British had chosen to defend themselves from attack, was also a perfect spot for putting down roots. It offered a couple of excellent harbors, easier travel than in the deeper inland woods, and some of the finest sheltered coves along this part of the coast.

A garrison was established and Fort Pownal was built immediately, along with a small Anglican Chapel, of bricks baked in England and wood cut on the site. Until 1783, when the St. Croix River was made the boundary between Maine and Canada, Fort Pownal was the easternmost settlement in Maine.

Over the next five decades, though life was physically demanding and accommodations were spartan, pioneers continued to settle on Cape Jellison, Sandy Point and also in the area that would finally become Stockton. Clams, shad, salmon and alewives, cornmeal, potatoes, beans and kitchen gardens were the primary food sources, along with venison and moose in a good hunting year. Timber, trapping trade, fishing, and farming provided the living. As fields were cleared and marsh hay harvested, market crops and grazing animals were added to the local diets and exports. Most of the two-room log and early frame-clapboard homes and adjacent animal hovels and pens were located along the shore on the first land to be cleared, and which is now the most expensive real estate property. 

Though Sandy Point had an early official designation, it was only very gradually that Stockton managed to separate itself from larger tracts of land and earlier Towns like Prospect and Frankfort. Sandy Point was a mail route drop off site as early as 1793, but it was not until 1845 that a post office was established in what was still called South Prospect. Only in 1857, when citizens in that part of Town chose to support the new Republican Party, was Prospect divided to yield a new Town named Stockton by its citizens.

The first schools were built right after Stockton’s founding as an independent Town.The first upper or high school was established in 1893, but it wasn’t until 1923 that students graduated from a four-year high school.

In 1869 the residents changed its name to Stockton Village and then back to Stockton in 1872, when, in the heyday of shipbuilding and population growth it became a sufficiently impressive burg along the Atlantic Highway /Route 1 to balk at the diminutive “village”. In 1889 it was changed once more in honor of it increasing mercantile ambitions, to Stockton Springs, at the request of a businessman who had aspirations to market bottled water.

Stockton came into prominence, shedding its sleepy, small Town image in the mid 1800’s when over 200 brigs, schooners, barks and sloops were built and outfitted in the area. Tons of dried fish, granite, potatoes, timber, fruit, poultry, and butter were shipped out, and tons of imports were brought back from far flung ports all over the world. The population of Stockton went over 2000, which is the highest it has ever been since. Almost every type of business and service could be found in the Town. There were stove and tinware shops, a quarry, sawmills, The Stockton Shoe Factory, sash-and-blind and barrel factories, a “duckery” that shipped its gourmet game to Portland, Portsmouth, and Boston, a daguerreotype shop, perhaps the source of the hundreds of photographs available at the Stockton Springs Historical Society Library. There was a string of hardware, household items, notions and grocery purveyors; restaurants and taverns; The Stockton Hotel, boarding houses, law and doctors’ offices, a smithy, and telegraph and telephone companies.

Though sea captains built more of their elaborate, spacious Victorian homes in Searsport, four miles down the coast; there were prosperous merchants’ homes in Stockton too. Main Street and the dirt roads between Stockton and Sandy Point bustled.

Shipbuilding and the shipping business declined in this area around 1870, as it did everywhere on the coast when steam ships and railroads took up the business of moving goods and people across the country and around the world. Many of the original buildings and residencies burned or were torn down after the peak years of prosperity and were not rebuilt. 

Around the time of the Civil War, a series of steamship lines, which locals called “Boston Boats”, were established to run freight and passengers down the Penobscot, along the coast of Maine, and down to Boston. It was during this time that the coast of Maine was discovered by the moneyed families of Massachusetts, Providence, Hartford and New York, who could train and boat to “summer cottages” and hotels as far North as Cape Jellison and Bar Harbor. Steamers and trains brought tourists, summer residents and workers in sufficient numbers that developers saw profitability in building resorts for them to sojourn in.

In 1895 a syndicate commissioned an elegant summer hotel to accommodate 200 guests. With broad verandahs, lavish furnishing, a bowling alley, billiard room, large fireplaces, dining rooms, walking paths through the woods, expansive gardens and an octagon shaped dance hall, “The Wassaumkeag Hotel” was a magnet for people with deep enough pockets to keep area residents and businesses in Stockton Springs in pocket money. Boat excursions, mooring for private sailing boats, a separate mail route which delivered the letters of the rich and famous in a sealed pouch, exquisite cuisine and the best dance bands of the day kept the hotel on “The Point” in the black under various names and owners until the even higher life in Bar Harbor and the roster of famous names living there stole the business clean away. The hotel burned in 1898, leaving the ruins of its foundation on view, next to the ruins of the old fort, and the Fort Point Lighthouse, now a Maine historic building. The Park Service maintains these three as part of Fort Point Park.

Between 1905 and 1907 three wooden piers were built out into the shallow harbor to reach deep navigable water. The docks received coal, fertilizer, bricks and cement and shipped lumber, paper, potatoes, and shooks (Bundles of barrel staves, shaped and chamfered). Some weeks during their decade of prominence, there were as many as twenty schooners and a steamer or two in the docks. As further proof that nothing lasts forever, when, almost simultaneously, timber became scarce, potato farming went into a slump, railroads superseded ships for moving freight, and fertilizer plants shut down, the big docks and all the attendant businesses went bust. There was a brief flurry of activity again in the harbor when shipping increased during World War I, but this declined again and the docks burned in 1924. The pilings for the impressively long piers are still visible at low tide along with some of the enormous granite runways.

Stockton Springs is experiencing another much-deserved discovery by money from away, as retirees, seasonal vacationers, and people who want a better, slower, safer quality of life for themselves and their children, move here. A new Town Office Building and a Medical Center are additional evidence of increasing optimism, as well as dedication to the Town’s future.