Articles by Wayne E. Reilly

Wayne E. Reilly

Knights of the road headed for Bangor each spring

By Wayne E. Reilly on May 24, 2015, at 10 a.m.
Sorting out the deserving from the undeserving poor was a major pastime a century ago, especially when it came to the penniless men who drifted into Bangor and many other cities claiming to be looking for work. In a city flush with money and jobs, which category you fit into …
The Charles W. Morse Building, now called Norumbega Hall, once included the Bowlodrome and the Chateau Ballroom, two of Bangor’s entertainment centers.

Bowlodrome launched Bangor’s newest amusement palace a century ago

By Wayne E. Reilly on May 10, 2015, at 2:57 p.m.
Several years after the great fire of 1911 reduced much of downtown Bangor to ashes, “miracles” were still occurring. The Bowlodrome was about to rise from the rubble, reviving a sport that few Bangoreans were familiar with anymore. It would cost only 10 cents to bowl a string and 60 …
Log drivers on the Penobscot

Log drives employed thousands a century ago

By Wayne E. Reilly on April 26, 2015, at 11:18 a.m.
Even though the Queen City no longer was the “principal lumber depot on this continent,” as Thoreau famously put it in 1846, Bangor still was a “star on the edge of the night” for thousands of men seeking jobs a century ago. After the ice left the Penobscot each spring, …
Wayne E. Reilly

Bangor mayor tried to close saloons a century ago

By Wayne E. Reilly on April 12, 2015, at 1:34 p.m.
In the years leading up to federal prohibition, a great moral reckoning swept the land as states rushed to jump aboard the prohibition bandwagon. In Bangor, outspoken clergymen and activist club women encouraged a new mayor elected on the independent ticket with no obligations to the city’s “wet” establishment to …
Wayne Reilly

100 years ago, springtime started cold and slow for Bangor

By Wayne E. Reilly on March 29, 2015, at 5:49 p.m.
Springtime unfolded quickly and methodically in Bangor a century ago. If you followed the flow of annual events covered by the city’s two daily papers, let’s say between ice-out in Bangor harbor and Easter Sunday, you could learn just about everything worth knowing about that short season between winter and …
Wayne Reilly

In opening days of WWI, Mainers dreaded threat of German zeppelins, subs

By Wayne E. Reilly on March 15, 2015, at 8:33 a.m.
Which is more dangerous — a submarine or a zeppelin? That question was on the minds of Mainers a century ago as they scanned the skies and coastal waters for signs of these new military terrors even before the United States entered The Great War. Hudson Maxim, the famous scientist …
Wayne E. Reilly

‘Dumps, billboards, parks': Bangor reformers aimed to improve city

By Wayne E. Reilly on March 01, 2015, at 10:51 a.m.
During the Progressive Era a century ago hardly a week went by when somebody in Bangor didn’t speak up in favor of reforms to improve life in the Queen City of the East. It was time Bangor “thought of something besides booze,” chided civic leader Franklin E. Bragg in a …
Wayne Reilly

Snow drought caused men to hustle a century ago

By Wayne E. Reilly on Feb. 15, 2015, at 5:58 a.m.
Workingmen longed for snow a century ago like kids at Christmas, not so they could go snowmobiling, but so they could go to work. “Snow badly needed,” a headline in the Bangor Daily Commercial said on Jan. 1, 1915. “Lumbermen and Farmers Hope For a Big Fall Soon.” Lumbermen and …
Wayne E. Reilly

Vanceboro bridge bombed by German soldier a century ago

By Wayne E. Reilly on Feb. 01, 2015, at 10:27 a.m.
The First World War had an impact in Maine years before the nation actually entered the fighting in Europe in 1917. Bangor’s two daily newspapers were full of war news generated both abroad and at home, and much of it was about events going on in the Pine Tree State. …
Wayne E. Reilly

German wireless sought in Maine woods during First World War

By Wayne E. Reilly on Jan. 18, 2015, at 2:23 p.m.
World War I had been going on for only three months when this startling headline appeared in the Bangor Daily News: “GERMAN WIRELESS IN MAINE WOODS? Berlin May Be Getting News Via Meddybemps or Seeboomook.” The lead on the wire story that followed made it clear this was something more …
Union Station lit up for one of the Bangor winter carnivals around 1914. The station was one of Bangor's great achievements of the city's train era.

Bangor rail line faced deadly sabotage plots amid 1914 strikes

By Wayne E. Reilly on Jan. 04, 2015, at 3:03 p.m.
“Bangor is quite a railroad center…” boasted a reporter for the Bangor Daily Commercial on June 24, 1910, before troubles began. The summer timetables for the Maine Central and the Bangor & Aroostook listed 71 passenger trains passing through town every weekday — 36 incoming and 35 outgoing. In addition, …
The Hayford Estate buildings were located at the corner of Hammond and Franklin streets where the U. S. Post Office is located today. This photograph dates from around 1906 when the corner was being considered as a location for a new Bangor library.

Downtown fire traps, eyesores bothered Bangoreans

By Wayne E. Reilly on Dec. 21, 2014, at 9:51 a.m.
Fire traps and eyesores occupied the minds of civic-minded Bangoreans a century ago. Many people still feared another big fire like the one that had destroyed much of the downtown in 1911. Beyond that apprehension was the ever growing desire on the part of progressive boosters to clean up and …

Should women in tight skirts be allowed to vote?

By Wayne E. Reilly on Dec. 07, 2014, at 11:11 a.m.
Are women qualified to vote? Does it depend on what they are wearing? The West Penobscot Pomona Patrons gathered with members of the Bradford Center Independent Grange to discuss that important question a century ago. The question, as presented by the Bangor Daily Commercial on Nov. 9, 1914, went this …

Maine’s mystery: Where did all the caribou go?

By Wayne E. Reilly on Nov. 23, 2014, at 9:29 a.m.
MAINE’S MYSTERY Caribou Have Disappeared But No One Knows the Reason NUMEROUS 15 YEARS AGO Perhaps Their Feed Has Grown Scarcer and Perhaps It’s Wanderlust — But They’ve Gone. With chilling accuracy, Maine newspapers annually marked the demise of the state’s caribou herds more than a century ago. This four-tier …
Wayne Reilly

Beware the confidence men of old Bangor

By Wayne E. Reilly on Nov. 09, 2014, at 7:01 a.m.
Confidence men, bunko artists, grifters and the like seemed to be everywhere a century ago, waiting to prey on the unsuspecting. Con men gained your confidence and then took your money. They were particularly active in rural hubs such as Bangor, where large groups of itinerant workers, farm folk and …
Trolley traveling through East Corinth in the early 1900s.

‘Phantom Trolley’ spooked Bangor carmen a century ago

By Wayne E. Reilly on Oct. 26, 2014, at 2:18 p.m.
“The Phantom Trolley” sounds like a good title for a ghost story, and undoubtedly there are a few on the subject. Bangor’s tale by that title, however, was more of a joke, savored a century or so ago by the employees of the Bangor Railway and Electric Company as well …
Wayne Reilly

High-tech wonders entertained Mainers a century ago

By Wayne E. Reilly on Oct. 12, 2014, at 11:59 a.m.
Americans were fascinated with new technology a century ago just as they are today. The telephone, the wireless, the electric light bulb and most certainly the gasoline-powered engine and its progeny were among the modern marvels of the moment. Here are a few items from Bangor’s two daily newspapers documenting …
Crossing the Penobscot River between Bangor and Brewer by trolley was a major transportation breakthrough nearly a century ago.

Trolley crossing united Bangor, Brewer in 1914

By Wayne E. Reilly on Sept. 28, 2014, at 4:42 p.m.
At 2:55 p.m. Monday, Sept. 28, a century ago, electric trolley car No. 9 of the Bangor Railway & Electric Co. rolled away from the Bangor House on a historic journey. Big signs on either side of the car told the story: “All Aboard for Brewer: … …

3 Penobscot County sheriffs ousted by prohibitionists a century ago

By Wayne E. Reilly on Sept. 14, 2014, at 9:39 a.m.
A century ago, prohibitionists in Eastern Maine succeeded in ousting three Penobscot County sheriffs for not doing enough to stop liquor sales. Between 1913 and 1918, two years before federal prohibition, the battle over booze escalated rapidly, especially in Bangor, the hub of the area’s liquor supply. Maine had passed …

Rumors, uncertainty plagued Maine at start of World War I

By Wayne E. Reilly on Aug. 31, 2014, at 4:19 p.m.
The sudden onset of World War I a century ago left most Americans shocked and confused. Which countries were to blame? Could the United States maintain its neutrality? Would American boys be sent off to settle the ancient feuds of European royalty? Would the fighting in far off Europe depress …
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