Articles by Wayne E. Reilly

Mercantile Square looking toward West Market Square.

Gas blast rocked Bangor a century ago

By Wayne E. Reilly on April 29, 2012, at 4:09 p.m.
A huge explosion reverberated through downtown Bangor just after 3 p.m. on April 26, 1912, a century ago last week. A blast in an old brick reservoir under busy Mercantile Square left a crater 30 feet in diameter, unsealing a piece of the city’s infrastructure that most people had forgotten …
The new Bijou Theater, which opened on April 18, 1912, was described as one of the finest vaudeville houses in New England. The managers promised quality acts on a par with Portland and Boston.

Bijou marked Bangor’s entertainment pinnacle

By Wayne E. Reilly on April 15, 2012, at 4:42 p.m.
Bangor’s most elegant theater — more glamorous today perhaps because it was torn down shortsightedly during Urban Renewal — opened a century ago this week. The Titanic had sunk a few days before, but doubtlessly, for some who attended the grand opening, the hoopla surrounding the Bijou Theater’s second coming …
Fishermen at the salmon pool as seen from the Brewer side of the Penobscot River, with the Bangor waterworks and dam in the background.

First presidential salmon sent a century ago

By Wayne E. Reilly on April 01, 2012, at 4:37 p.m.
One of the rituals that defined the Queen City of the East each spring was the annual contest to see who would catch the first Atlantic salmon at the famous salmon pool in the Penobscot River between Bangor and Brewer. One of the top contenders for the prize in the …
Capt. Temple A. Fickett and his wife, Susie.

What happened to Captain and Mrs. Fickett?

By Wayne E. Reilly on March 18, 2012, at 5:46 p.m.
Bangoreans were used to reading about shipwrecks, but when they picked up their newspapers Monday morning, Feb. 19, 1912, they were confronted by a shocking story that could have come straight from the pages of Joseph Conrad. The three-masted ship Erne had been disabled at sea in a titanic storm …

Bangor greeted cold with enthusiasm in early 1900s

By Wayne E. Reilly on March 04, 2012, at 3:13 p.m.
Winter started early in Bangoreans’ minds a century ago. Long before the snow and ice appeared, they were thinking of ways to make the best of the harsh times ahead in the era before central heating and jets to Orlando. ICE YACHTS READY, proclaimed the Bangor Daily Commercial in early …
Morse and Company stretched along the Kenduskeag Stream, one of the area’s last large sawmill operations. It produced lumber as well as a variety of wood products ranging from staircases to fireplace mantels for use in home construction. The tower of the old Bangor city hall (top right) at Hammond and Columbia streets can be seen in the distance.

Bangor prospered as sawmills declined

By Wayne E. Reilly on Feb. 19, 2012, at 4:24 p.m.
SAWMILLS FEWER, BANGOR BIGGER This seemingly nonsensical headline, which appeared in the Bangor Daily News a century ago this month, means little to most readers today. Its irony would have been obvious, however, to the average Bangorean in 1912. Sawmills had once been a barometer of economic health. The Queen …
The Bangor Motor Company, located on Main Street next to Davenport Park, was the site of the auto show of 1912.

Commercial fairs helped Bangor rise from the ashes

By Wayne E. Reilly on Feb. 04, 2012, at 6:19 p.m.
Commercial shows sponsored by various merchant groups helped jump-start Bangor’s revival after the big fire of April 30, 1911. The Queen City of the East had been the area’s trade and transportation hub before the fire, and it just kept getting bigger afterwards thanks to the tireless activities of its …
The opening of the new Windsor Hotel just eight months after the great fire destroyed the old one along with much of downtown Bangor in 1912 was a symbol of the confidence people had in the city’s economic vitality.  The hotel was located on the corner of Harlow and Franklin streets down the street from the new John R. Graham building. Note the men working on the street curbing, the old autos and horse and wagon, and the rubble across the street where the new post office, which became city hall, would be built soon.

‘Jobbing trade’ gave Bangor economic backbone

By Wayne E. Reilly on Jan. 22, 2012, at 8:12 p.m.
Bangor rapidly rose from the ashes after the great fire of April 30, 1911. By October, 40 new houses were either completed or being built. By December, the Bangor and Aroostook Railroad and some other tenants were mostly moved into the new six-story Graham Building at Harlow and Central streets. …

Tuberculosis crusade galvanized Bangor

By Wayne E. Reilly on Jan. 08, 2012, at 3:27 p.m.
An oddly titled editorial, THE ONE-LUNGERS GET BUSY, appeared in the Bangor Daily News on Nov. 8, 1911. The subject was not the new one-cylinder boat engines, also called one-lungers, that could be heard chugging up and down the Penobscot River. Rather it was about the treatment of victims of …
Wayne Reilly

Kitchen barrooms targeted by Bangor police 100 years ago

By Wayne E. Reilly on Dec. 24, 2011, at 1:25 p.m.
OUR CITY — ITS PRIDE AND SHAME: That was the title of the Rev. Christopher W. Collier’s sermon at Hammond Street Congregational Church on Sunday morning, Nov. 19, 1911, a century ago. Being one of the most prominent clerics in the Queen City and given the importance of his subject, …
W. T. Pollard, veteran game warden of Dover, was among the first to point out the potential abuses posed by “auto hunting.” Bangor historian Dick Shaw, who provided this photo for publication, is Pollard’s great-grandson.

‘Auto hunting’ captivated Bangoreans a century ago

By Wayne E. Reilly on Dec. 11, 2011, at 3:58 p.m.
HUNT WITH AUTOS, asserted a Bangor Daily Commercial headline on Sept. 23, 1911, a few short weeks before the hunting season opened. The subheads continued: The Sport Will be Popular With Bangor People This Fall … CAMPING BY ROAD SIDE … Many Ingenious Devices to Add to the Comfort of …

Telegraph, telephone, wireless revolutionized communications a century ago

By Wayne E. Reilly on Nov. 13, 2011, at 4:32 p.m.
“IN TWO MINUTES: New Record for Communications Between Bangor and N.Y.” A new “direct wire service” had been installed between Bangor and New York City, said the story under the headline in the Bangor Daily Commercial on Nov. 4, 1911, a century ago this month. “Bangor is a great deal …
The bandstand in Center Park can be seen in this old postcard  near the intersection of Harlow, Park and Center streets. After the fire of 1911, the park was replaced by a new post office building that eventually became today’s Bangor City Hall.

Bangor sold popular park for new post office

By Wayne E. Reilly on Oct. 30, 2011, at 9:20 p.m.
The era of political good feeling that followed Bangor’s great fire of April 30, 1911 ended abruptly on May 25 with an editorial blast condemning the recommendations of the committee appointed to restore and beautify the burned area. “Jules Verne in his palmiest days never evolved a more ridiculous or …

Aunt Hat’s notorious roadhouse burned a century ago

By Wayne E. Reilly on Oct. 16, 2011, at 3:12 p.m.
Harriet S. Foyer, alias Aunt Hat, was the most notorious madam in the Bangor area at the beginning of the twentieth century. Her bawdy house in Veazie on Shore Road overlooking the Penobscot River was an occasional target of sheriff’s deputies and even the Bangor police. Maintaining a house of …
This advertisement for E. H. Gerrish from an old guidebook showed some of the famed canoe builder’s products.

Bangoreans loved sailing and paddling canoes made locally

By Wayne E. Reilly on Oct. 02, 2011, at 8:15 p.m.
Bangoreans venerated their canoes and canoe makers a century ago. The motorboat was the newest fad for those who loved speed and the smell of gasoline, but the ancient canoe, invented by Native Americans using native materials, had deeper meaning. By then, canoes manufactured commercially in the Bangor area were …

Bull charged auto near old Bangor

By Wayne E. Reilly on Sept. 18, 2011, at 6:49 p.m.
This headline appeared in the Bangor Daily Commercial on June 29, 1911. BULL CHARGES AUTO Two Women Saved by O’Connor’s Revolver on Ellsworth R’d The heroic age of the automobile occurred about a century ago. Besides mechanical aptitude, you needed a lot of courage to drive one of the new …

Maine ‘drys’ won another round a century ago

By Wayne E. Reilly on Sept. 04, 2011, at 3:23 p.m.
A century ago next week, Mainers went to the polls to approve a direct primary law allowing them to vote for the nomination of political party candidates in primary elections, including seats in the U.S. Senate and House and the state Legislature. Democracy was on the march. But did anyone …
Famous aviator Harry Atwood made what the Bangor Daily News described as “Bangor’s first real aeroplane flight” in June 1912 during “Carnival Week,” intended to celebrate the city’s comeback after the great fire that destroyed much of the downtown the year before. This post card image was doctored to include a representation of Atwood’s plane.

Aeroplane fever gripped Bangor a century ago

By Wayne E. Reilly on Aug. 21, 2011, at 10:05 p.m.
Bangoreans had “aeroplane” fever a century ago. They had seen parachutists jump from balloons and a dirigible float around the fairground at Maplewood Park. Now, they were craning their necks hoping to see one of the new, heavier-than-air aeroplanes come bursting from the clouds. Imaginations ran wild. Strange lights in …

Wireless arrived in Bangor by boat

By Wayne E. Reilly on Aug. 07, 2011, at 3:24 p.m.
Bangoreans could feel a little safer when they took the Boston boats beginning in the summer of 1911 a century ago. The Eastern Steamship Co. was required to install wireless systems by July 1. A new federal law required wireless communication capability on steamers carrying 50 passengers and “going along …

‘Gamble with death’ cost nine lives on Bangor and Aroostook Railroad

By Wayne E. Reilly on July 24, 2011, at 3:50 p.m.
Two passenger trains steamed toward each other during a violent wind and rainstorm along a remote stretch of track north of Millinocket on the evening of July 28, 1911, a century ago this week. In the head-on crash that followed between an excursion train heading to Caribou from Searsport and …
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