June 24, 1794: The Massachusetts State Legislature charters Bowdoin College, which is named after the late Massachusetts Gov. James Bowdoin II, an amateur scientist and influential advocate of American independence.

At the time of its founding, Bowdoin is the easternmost college in the United States.

The Massachusetts state government and the governor’s son, James Bowdoin III, provide the college with an endowment.

The college expects to acquire money for operations from the sale of wilderness land it receives from towns and the state, but those sales take longer than expected. The college finally opens on Sept. 2, 1802. Its first building is Massachusetts Hall.

The college is located in Brunswick as a compromise between Portland interests and people who live in the Kennebec Valley and farther east.

Bowdoin strongly identifies with the Congregationalist Church. It also becomes a center of support for the Federalist Party and of opposition to separating Maine from Massachusetts. On the threshold of Maine statehood, however, separation advocates succeed in inserting an article into the Maine Constitution that gives the Legislature the authority to regulate colleges, which tempers the school’s partisan leanings.

June 24, 1970: A construction platform on the Kittery side of the Piscataqua River Bridge, then being built to carry Interstate 95 traffic over the river, collapses shortly after 7 a.m., dropping four workers to their deaths.

The accident, which takes place while workers are cleaning girders on the bridge, also injures nine others. Three others avoid death by grabbing a girder and clinging to it for an hour until they can be rescued.

Construction of the $21 million bridge began in 1968 and was completed in 1971.

Presented by:

Joseph Owen is an author, retired newspaper editor and board member of the Kennebec Historical Society. Owen’s book, “This Day in Maine,” can be ordered at islandportpress.com. To get a signed copy use promo code signedbyjoe at checkout. Joe can be contacted at: [email protected]


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