Articles by Wayne E. Reilly

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. …
City of Bangor at Bangor dock, ca. 1906

Shipping news produced stories of glamour, tragedy

By Wayne E. Reilly on July 21, 2013, at 11:38 a.m.
A century ago Bangor boasted a prestigious new railroad station. Dozens of trains passed through the city daily. To add to the noise and the acrid smell of burning coal, more than 300 automobiles were owned by the city’s inhabitants in 1913, according to the tax assessor’s office. The city’s …
Riverside Park on the Penobscot River in Hampden was a favorite summer entertainment spot in the earth 20th century.

Police won Battle of Bangor on Fourth a century ago

By Wayne E. Reilly on July 07, 2013, at 12:43 p.m.
The events leading to summer in Bangor a century ago began with ice-out in the Penobscot River, usually in April or March, and culminated with the Fourth of July. In between were many notable happenings including the return of the Boston boats and the opening of Riverside Park in Hampden. …
Wayne Reilly

Famous daredevil plunged over Stillwater Falls a century ago

By Wayne E. Reilly on June 23, 2013, at 7:44 p.m.
Bangoreans were used to celebrities a century ago. These celebrities were usually solid folk like Teddy Roosevelt, Ethel Barrymore, Jack London, Alexander Graham Bell — people who are still famous today. The commotion in the newspapers, however, over the arrival of long-forgotten F. Rodman Law to make what was described …
Wayne Reilly

‘Disgusting behavior’ targeted by Bangor reformers

By Wayne E. Reilly on June 09, 2013, at 1:36 p.m.
The effort to “beautify” Bangor a century ago by getting rubbish off the streets also featured a moral dimension. Members of the Bangor Federation of Women’s Club mentioned it in letters to the editor. “Cleanliness is next to Godliness,” Mrs. Charles Henry Wood, chairman of the Federation’s civic committee, reminded …
A “forest of poles” and a “maze of wires,” which can be seen in this downtown street scene, were among the eyesores Bangoreans sought to eliminate a century ago.

Reformers sought to beautify Bangor in 1913

By Wayne E. Reilly on May 26, 2013, at 3:31 p.m.
Beautification was the buzzword in Bangor in the spring of 1913. After the great fire of 1911, a massive effort had begun to rebuild the city. Now efforts were underway, in keeping with the progressive tenor of the times, to make the Queen City of the East as neat and …
Wayne Reilly

Did Japanese prepare invasion in Maine woods?

By Wayne E. Reilly on May 12, 2013, at 2:43 p.m.
“JAP SOLDIERS SWARM IN WOODS OF MAINE? Yellow Peril Threatens New England and New York … — Startling Disclosures by Disgruntled Agent of the Mikado” This astonishing headline appeared in the Bangor Daily News on May 15, 1913, a century ago this week. Were Japanese military forces planning an invasion …
J. Fred O'Connell

New sheriff dries out Bangor in 1913

By Wayne E. Reilly on April 29, 2013, at 4:44 p.m.
BIG DROUTH BEGINS IN BANGOR TODAY, announced a large front page headline in the Bangor Daily News on Monday morning, April 14, 1913. That’s a drought of liquor, not rain, and everybody in Bangor knew that. Penobscot County Sheriff Wilbert Emerson had just been impeached by the Maine Legislature for …
The Metropolitan Cafe at 157 Broad St. in the Devil's Half Acre was one of Bangor's finest watering holes in the first decade of the twentieth century.

Sheriff impeached in effort to close Bangor saloons

By Wayne E. Reilly on April 14, 2013, at 12:05 p.m.
Maine had been trying unsuccessfully to enforce its first-in-the-nation prohibition law for more than 50 years. Nothing seemed to work in places like Bangor, not even a constitutional amendment or an army of state liquor detectives. Now, at the dawn of 1913, a century ago, a new Republican governor, William …
Golden’s Employment Agency was a popular spot for jobless men.

Sam Golden ran ‘greatest employment agency in America’

By Wayne E. Reilly on March 31, 2013, at 9:38 a.m.
Bangor was no longer the “lumber capital of the world” a century ago, but it was still a major crossroads for thousands of loggers looking for jobs. Several Bangor employment agencies competed to supply workers to logging camps as well as paper mills, railroad construction and other large work sites. …
Flavius O. Beal shows off his “big diamond” while seated in the “big oak chair”.

F.O. Beal: ‘The man who put the bang in Bangor’

By Wayne E. Reilly on March 17, 2013, at 9:08 p.m.
Bangoreans had reached the political boiling point a century ago as the long, cold winter settled over the Queen City of the East. A titanic battle over whether the city should adopt a new charter was raging. Negotiations with the trolley company over its franchise seemed hopelessly stalled. Still trying …
This postcard view of Columbia Street is postmarked 1914. Frank L. Peavey’'s Livery Stable was located just beyond the Baptist Church on the left.

Livery stable battle marked horses’ decline in Bangor

By Wayne E. Reilly on March 02, 2013, at 6:35 p.m.
Livery stables were still important places in cities and towns a century ago. You could rent a horse and wagon or board your horse when you were in town for a visit. The rise of the automobile, however, accompanied by the effort to clean up eyesores and pollution in the …
The old Bangor Auditorium was the scene of opera and roller skating as well as the annual Eastern Maine Automobile Show

Autos transformed Maine a century ago

By Wayne E. Reilly on Feb. 17, 2013, at 4:50 p.m.
The automobile was transforming Maine a century ago. Only a dozen years after the first machine chugged hesitantly through Bangor, scaring horses and angering farmers, the future was clear. Here are a few examples of the changes on the horizon taken from Bangor’s two daily newspapers leading up to the …
Merrill Trust Company and a section of the “White Way,” stretching from Exchange Street to Bangor'’s old City Hall at Hammond and Columbia streets, as they appeared lit up for the city’'s Food Fair and Winter Carnival in 1913.

Winter Food Fair featured lots of lights a century ago

By Wayne E. Reilly on Feb. 03, 2013, at 3:43 p.m.
Before the modern supermarket and the big box store, and certainly long before the Bangor Mall, the Queen City of the East had its annual Food Fair and Winter Carnival. The purpose of the event, held at City Hall in 1913 a century ago, was to stir up business during …
The Bijou Theater in Bangor, probably in the 1920s. The theater played host to many of the top Broadway acts of the day, including Mae West.

Mae West played Bangor’s Bijou

By Wayne E. Reilly on Dec. 23, 2012, at 8:57 a.m.
Hardeen, the handcuff king, also known as Harry Houdini’s brother, was the headliner at the Bijou in Bangor in mid-December, 1912, a century ago. The next week, the top billing went to Mae West, fresh from Hammerstein’s Victoria Theater in New York. The teenage “singing comedienne” impressed audiences with her …
Advertisements like this one in the Bangor Daily Commercial on Dec. 27, 1912 indicated the close ties Mainers had with the West.

Migration West caused Maine’s population to stagnate

By Wayne E. Reilly on Dec. 08, 2012, at 12:58 p.m.
The year 1840 was an important one in Maine history. That was the year the U.S. Census reported Maine’s population was growing much more slowly than the rest of the nation. Maine wasn’t getting smaller, but it wasn’t growing fast enough to keep up with most other states. Its population …
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