Articles by Wayne E. Reilly

Log drivers

Hundreds of immigrant loggers stranded in Bangor a century ago

By Wayne E. Reilly on April 27, 2014, at 12:34 p.m.
Hundreds of men looking for river-driving jobs were stranded penniless in Bangor a century ago after a mixup in the work schedule — Mother Nature’s work schedule, that is. City officials interceded quickly to keep order and protect the Queen City’s reputation as a logging employment mecca. They were fearful …
The Bon Ton Ferry with the Eastern Steamship Co.’ terminal in the background.

Ice out on the Penobscot excited folks a century ago

By Wayne E. Reilly on April 13, 2014, at 1:15 p.m.
The opening of the Penobscot River to navigation each spring was a magnificent drama that affected both the mood and the pocketbooks of Bangoreans. Longtime river observers even placed bets on when the great event would occur. The river was a more important place in the era before interstates and …
Cigar manufacturers pose at their Bangor factory in 1905.

When cigars may have been the key to improving Bangor’s economy

By Wayne E. Reilly on March 30, 2014, at 11:34 a.m.
Bangor boosters, or “boomers,” as they were known a century ago, turned out in force at City Hall for the Chamber of Commerce’s first “suggestion night,” a time set aside to collect ideas for promoting the city’s economic development. Bangor had rebounded after the Great Fire of 1911, but city …
The Fashion in 1899

Colored wigs raised uproar in Bangor a century ago

By Wayne E. Reilly on March 16, 2014, at 2:26 p.m.
Fashion fads swept through the Queen City every spring just like the annual freshets in the Penobscot River after buyers from local department stores visited New York shows, bringing back the latest styles “direct from Paris.” One store that was good at attracting attention was, in fact, named The Fashion. …
Wayne Reilly

White slavery ‘panic’ swept Maine a century ago

By Wayne E. Reilly on March 02, 2014, at 12:52 p.m.
“TWO SAVED FROM WHITE SLAVERY,” reported a headline on March 19, 1910, in the Bangor Daily News. The story’s lead summed up the shocking situation. “The Boston police have detained Edith Marshman and Ruth Dowling, two Bangor girls about 15 years old who are believed to have been lured to …
Wayne Reilly

Bangor’s traveling salesmen promoted ‘scientific babies’

By Wayne E. Reilly on Feb. 16, 2014, at 1:54 p.m.
A “scientific baby contest” was among the novelties used to attract shoppers to the Queen City of the East a century ago during the worst days of winter. Portland and Lewiston both claimed to be the convention centers of Maine, but might not Bangor be the top contender for that …
This photograph of Sheriff J. Fred O’'Connell’'s liquor squad, shot by local photographer Leyland Whipple, appeared in the Bangor Daily News on Jan. 10, 1914. O’'Connell stands third from the right.

Sheriff’s liquor squad dries out Bangor

By Wayne E. Reilly on Feb. 02, 2014, at 6:33 p.m.
The appointment of a new Penobscot County sheriff after the impeachment of his predecessor in 1913 led to a frenzy of activity aimed at crushing the Queen City’s liquor trade once and for all. Sheriff J. Fred O’Connell was appointed by Gov. William Haines after the Legislature impeached Sheriff Wilbert …

Dirty dancing targeted by Bangor reformers a century ago

By Wayne E. Reilly on Jan. 19, 2014, at 11:53 a.m.
Bangor’s reformers attacked immoral dances a century ago as part of a crusade of righteousness sweeping the nation. Would “ragging” go the way of liquor, gambling and prostitution? If Alderman Daniel J. McGrath of Ward Seven had his way, it would. “Are the seductive tango and the enlivening turkey trot …
The Bangor Opera House resembled “an ice palace” after the fire that destroyed it on Jan. 15, 1914.

Bangor Opera House destroyed by fatal fire a century ago

By Wayne E. Reilly on Jan. 05, 2014, at 1:05 p.m.
Bangor’s ornate 19th century opera house was destroyed by fire a century ago this month, bringing to an end an entertainment era that was already a fast-fading memory. Two firemen died and five more were injured. The Bangor Opera House, an impressive Romanesque revival building with elaborate decorations, opened in …
Wayne Reilly

Booze baron’s Christmas gift to Bangor

By Wayne E. Reilly on Dec. 22, 2013, at 2:12 p.m.
One of Bangor’s most prominent theater entrepreneurs a century ago was also one of its most prominent bootleggers. When Pope D. McKinnon was not dodging the liquor squad, he was the proprietor of two of the city’s six theaters. One of them, the Star, billed as the city’s most capacious, …

Bangor poets wrote ad jingles for cash a century ago

By Wayne E. Reilly on Dec. 08, 2013, at 1:51 p.m.
The Christmas shopping rush officially began the weekend after Thanksgiving a century ago just as it does today. The technology of getting out the shopping message, however, has changed dramatically since then. With no Internet, TV or radio, the chief advertising medium in Bangor was the city’s two daily newspapers. …
Wayne Reilly

Thanksgiving gridiron battle 100 years ago pitted Penobscots against Bangor boys

By Wayne E. Reilly on Nov. 24, 2013, at 10:40 a.m.
Bangoreans had a great respect for the athletic abilities of Native Americans a century ago. The exploits of the Carlisle Indian School football team in Pennsylvania and its great star Jim Thorpe were legendary, having defeated the best college teams in the nation. The accomplishments of professional baseball player Louis …
Wayne Reilly

Before the supermarket, Bangor’s annual fruit show was a big attraction

By Wayne E. Reilly on Nov. 10, 2013, at 3:59 p.m.
Bangor merchants a century ago made money by holding commercial fairs selling every manner of goods from automobiles to new-fangled electric appliances and stylish store-bought clothes. People traveled to the Queen City of the East from as far away as Aroostook County to these events in an effort to keep …

Judge condemned ‘speed mania’ in 1913 Bangor crash

By Wayne E. Reilly on Oct. 27, 2013, at 12:08 p.m.
Right from the beginning of the auto age, it was difficult to know what to do with drivers who killed people. Who was negligent — a careless pedestrian, a slow-moving horse-drawn carriage or an autoist who thought his shiny new vehicle ruled the road? A century ago, a Bangor accident …
The Bangor Opera House on Main Street before it burned in a fire in 1914.

Famous celebrities entertained Bangor before radio, TV

By Wayne E. Reilly on Oct. 13, 2013, at 10:52 a.m.
Before radio and television and the rise of talking movies, major celebrities visited Bangor and other small cities in surprising numbers. The stars who showed up in late October and early November 1913, a century ago, demonstrated that the Queen City of the East was hardly the remote place some …
The new Bangor High School opened on Harlow Street in 1913. Today it is an apartment and office building.

New buildings, better streets marked Bangor’s fire

By Wayne E. Reilly on Sept. 28, 2013, at 3:06 p.m.
Two years after the great fire of 1911 the Queen City of the East was doing better than ever just as predicted by the “sages of Bangor,” men like John R. Graham, head of the electric trolley company, Arthur B. Chapin, a merchant and former mayor, and Flavius O. Beal, …
Autos and horses had to share the road a century ago as this early post card of downtown Bangor shows. Horses remained in the majority.

Bangor: auto Mecca on the Penobscot

By Wayne E. Reilly on Sept. 15, 2013, at 10:21 a.m.
“MANY AUTOS HERE: Bangor Is a Mecca for Motorists From All Points,” announced a headline in the Bangor Daily Commercial on July 9, 1913. A little more than a dozen years after the first automobile arrived in the Queen City of the East, it suddenly seemed to have become an …
The midway at the Eastern Maine State Fair.

Aeroplane raced auto at old Bangor fair

By Wayne E. Reilly on Sept. 01, 2013, at 6:31 p.m.
Which goes faster — an aeroplane or an auto? How about an ostrich or a horse? Such weighty issues having to do with speeding creatures and gasoline engines were fascinating to the folks who attended the Eastern Maine State Fair in Bangor a century ago. They came by the thousands …

Why is Bangor called The Queen City?

By Wayne E. Reilly on Aug. 18, 2013, at 2:40 p.m.
Bangor is still sometimes called the Queen City of the East or just the Queen City. People frequently ask where this name came from, as if there was a specific event or set of unique circumstances associated with its invention. In fact, boosters in many cities in the 19th century …
Bangor’'s first trolley car

Uncle Joe Wentworth drove Bangor’s first electric car in 1889

By Wayne E. Reilly on Aug. 04, 2013, at 1:47 p.m.
Joseph Wentworth was one of the most popular men in Bangor a century ago. He was so popular he was called “Uncle Joe” in the newspapers and on the street by his many friends. Wentworth was a celebrity, as well as a symbol of an era, or rather two eras. …