The Port of Searsport is located on the western shores of Penobscot Bay in the State of Maine, United States. Located in Waldo County, the Port of Searsport is about 5.7 nautical miles (8.7 kilometers or 5.4 miles by air) east-northeast of Belfast Harbor. The Port of Searsport is some 87 nautical miles (139 kilometers or 86 miles by air) northeast of Portland, Maine. About three thousand residents enjoy four distinct seasons.
The Port of Searsport takes pride in being the "home of the famous sea captains" from New England's heyday in the fishing and whaling industries. It also boasts being the "antique capital of Maine." The chemical industry was very important to the local Port of Searsport economy during the Second World War. After that, during the 1950s, shipping and handling petroleum products grew as an important economic sector in the Port of Searsport. Today, the local economy still depends on shipping and handling, particularly of cargoes like lumber, paper, fuel, and chemicals.
Before Europeans arrived in the area that would become the Port of Searsport, the Penobscot Nation inhabited the northeastern United States and Maritime Canada. It is possible that their ancestors have lived in the region for as long as 11 thousand years. Before the coming of European settlers, the Penobscot enjoyed abundant resources that included fish and seafood, caribou, moose, bears, beavers, and otters.
Contact with Europeans began for the Penobscot when they traded their furs with frontiersmen for guns, metal axis, and cookware. Unhappily, the hunters quickly depleted the area's natural resources. Infectious diseases brought by the Europeans decimated the population. Europeans also gave them alcohol and then exploited the Penobscot.
By the latter half of the 17th Century, French and English settlers lived throughout the Penobscots' territories, including the future Port of Searsport. Some of the indigenous peoples fought with the French during the 18th Century French and Indian War. In return, the British put a bounty on scalps taken from the Penobscot.
They fought alongside the Patriots in America's Revolutionary War, but their position with the colonists remained poor. The Penobscot tried to hold some areas through treaties that the Europeans did not honor and that they could not enforce. By the early 19th Century, most Penobscot lived on reservations as wards of the State of Maine.
Today, the Penobscot Indian Nation is recognized by the federal government as an official Indian tribe. The population of almost 2300 people holds lands of over 123 thousand acres distributed across the State including Reservation (4.8 thousand acres), Trust (90.6 thousand acres), and Fee Lands (27.6 thousand acres). Almost five thousand acres of their lands include 146 islands in the Penobscot River, the Penobscot Nation's traditional homeland and cultural center for thousands of years.
Traditional Penobscot culture has long been threatened by European immigration, dams, pollution, and the loss of land and natural resources. The people have shifted to creating birch bark canoes, beautiful baskets, moccasins, and snowshoes as their traditional resources have diminished. Today, the tribe still practices many traditions while also attempting to restore some of those it has lost. A Council of 12 elected members led by a chief is the tribal government, with its headquarters located near Old Town, Maine, some 60 kilometers (37 miles) northeast of the Port of Searsport.
First settled by Europeans in the 1670s, the Port of Searsport was incorporated in early 1845 when portions of Belfast and Prospect were combined. Before incorporation, the Port of Searsport was part of the 1760 Frankfort Plantation. General Samuel Waldo, who had bought land in the area in 1720, tried but failed to make the Port of Searsport the capital of the Massachusetts colony.
The Port of Searsport has a rich maritime history. In the 1800s, some 17 shipyards produced 200 ships in the Port of Searsport. Ten percent of the Nation's deep-water merchant marine captains were from the Port of Searsport.
Today, the Port of Searsport is the second biggest deep-water port in the State of Maine. Its proximity to the railroad, forest products, and other business interests make the Port of Searsport's location ideal.
When the Bangor and Aroostook Railroad opened the Northern Maine Seaport Railroad in 1905, the Port of Searsport became the new line's Penobscot Bay shipping terminus. The Port of Searsport exported timber, potatoes, and other goods and received and loaded coal for the locomotives. The Port of Searsport celebrated its 150th anniversary in 1995.
Today, fishers looking for mackerel and recreational boaters use the Port of Searsport town wharf. The Port of Searsport's Mosman Park has a great saltwater beach, a playground, ball diamond, and four acres for picnics.
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