The new sign along Route 1 in Houlton commemorating Maine State Trooper Glenn Strange, who died in 1997. Credit: Alexander MacDougall / The Houlton Pioneer Times

HOULTON, Maine — A mile-long stretch of U.S. Route 1 in Houlton has been dedicated to Glenn Strange, a Maine State Police detective who died on that road in 1997.

The sign is one of 12 memorial plaques being erected across the state to honor the lives of fallen troopers. Other locations where signs are being put up include Millinocket, Hampden and Palmyra.

The area is marked by a sign at both ends of the mile, which was unveiled in a small ceremony on Friday. Maine troopers and Strange’s family were at the unveiling.

“Our hope is the dedication of these road segments and the memorial markers will serve as reminders to honor our fallen heroes who gave everything they had in service to others.” Maine State Police Col. John Cote said. “These markers are part of the commitment to our fallen and their surviving families that, as an agency and a state, we will never forget their sacrifice.”

In June, Gov. Janet Mills signed a bill into law that dedicated one mile of Maine’s secondary roads to each trooper who dies or has died in the line of duty.

“With the signing of this bill into law, we’re paying our respects to the 12 Maine state troopers we’ve lost in the 100 years of the force’s existence, and to any troopers we may sadly lose in the future,” said Sen. Bill Diamond, the bill’s sponsor. “Recognizing these fallen heroes on the roads they patrolled and in the communities they served is such a meaningful statement.”

A former shop teacher at Houlton High School, Strange joined the state police in 1994. Lt. Brian Harris, who was present at the ceremony, recalled his surprise at seeing his former teacher at the academy with him.

“He was my teacher in high school, and we ended up going to the state police academy together,” Harris recalled. “We rode back and forth together every weekend, it was a pretty interesting turn of events.”

Strange’s career as a trooper lasted only three years. Following the pursuit of a drunken driver in Linneus, Strange was kicked in the chest by the driver while pulling him out of his crashed vehicle. The kick unknowingly left Strange with a bruised heart.

“He didn’t realize at the time, and Glenn was a healthy guy,” said Jane Conroy, Strange’s sister-in-law, who was present at the event. “So [the hospital] just gave him a pacemaker and kind of just said ‘have a good life.’”

But on his way back home from the Presque Isle hospital, Strange suffered a heart attack. His wife went into a nearby house to try to call an ambulance, but it was too late. Strange died Oct. 17, 1997.

The house where Strange’s wife called for help is now where the plaque commemorating his life stands. Harris said the choice of the sign location was a coincidence, but one which nonetheless pleased him.

“It’s a very nice way to remember him,” Harris said.