March 16, 1820: Cannon salutes are fired all day in Portland to mark Maine becoming the 23rd U.S. state the previous day. A celebratory ball is held, with pro-statehood leader Gov. William King as the guest of honor.

March 16, 1839: Land from Penobscot and Washington counties is set off to form Aroostook County, Maine’s 13th county. In its final form, it consists of 6,453 square miles and is geographically the largest county east of the Mississippi River. It is larger than the states of Connecticut and Rhode Island combined.

Because of a long-running border dispute with the United Kingdom, the county’s northern and eastern boundaries are uncertain at the time of its creation. The Webster-Ashburton Treaty of 1842 establishes permanently where the border is.

Parker Hall (left) and Hathorn Hall ca. 1875, just 20 years after the college’s founding. The original gymnasium is visible at the right edge of the frame. Photo courtesy of Bates College Muskie Archives

March 16, 1855: The Rev. Oren Burbank Cheney and Benjamin Bates establish the Maine State Seminary – which later becomes Bates College – in Lewiston.

Started as a Freewill Baptist college, it is the first coeducational university in New England, admitting students regardless of their race, religion, national origin or gender. In 1864, it becomes a secular school and changes its name to Bates College to honor one of its co-founders, who donated a large sum of money to support the school’s establishment.

Great Northern Paper Co., Millinocket, ca. 1930 Collections of Maine Historical Society, courtesy of, item #6609

March 16, 1901: The town of Millinocket, Maine’s “miracle city in the wilderness,” is incorporated. Much of the town was built seemingly overnight the previous year to meet the labor needs of Great Northern Paper Co., which established the world’s largest newsprint mill there.


March 16, 2003: PPI Motorsports driver Ricky Craven, 36, a native of Newburgh, wins the 2003 Carolina Dodge Dealers 500 stock car race before 55,000 fans at Darlington Raceway in Darlington, South Carolina.

He defeats Kurt Busch by 0.002 seconds in what then was the closest finish in NASCAR Winston Cup Series history. (That margin is matched in 2011 when Jimmie Johnson grabs a victory over Clint Boyer at Talladega Superspeedway in Alabama.)

Ricky Craven is all smiles after he won the pole position in qualifying for the NASCAR Pepsi 400 at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn, Mich., Friday, Aug. 17, 2001. Craven, who was the last car to qualify, ran a speed of 188.127 to beat out Bill Elliott. Paul Sancya/Associated Press

Craven, who began racing at age 15 at Unity Raceway in Maine, eventually ends his career having won races in four series – the K&N Pro Series and three national series. His last full year of racing is 2005, after which he becomes a racing broadcaster for ESPN, from 2008 to 2018, and then for Fox Sports.

Craven is inducted in 2016 into the Eastern Motorsports Press Association Hall of Fame.

Joseph Owen is a retired copy desk chief of the Morning Sentinel and Kennebec Journal and board member of the Kennebec Historical Society. He can be contacted at: [email protected]

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