Articles by Wayne E. Reilly

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 …

Bangor residents battled white plague a century ago

By Wayne E. Reilly on Aug. 17, 2014, at 11:26 a.m.
When the Anti-Tuberculosis Society of Bangor met a century ago this summer, there was good news and bad news in the battle to end the Great White Plague. First, the good news: Public drinking cups had been banned, noted Miss Madeline C. Mosher, the city’s tuberculosis nurse. “It was a …
Kronprinzessin Cecilie

German ‘Treasure Ship’ introduced Maine to World War I

By Wayne E. Reilly on July 27, 2014, at 10 a.m.
By Aug. 3, 1914, the summer season was “humming” at Bar Harbor’s storied resort. The new European war, however, had become the principal topic of conversation among the rich and famous summer folks, wrote a Bangor newspaper correspondent. Heavy rain and thunder that day washed out the tennis tournament at …
Wayne E. Reilly

‘Race wars’ afflicted Hancock Street a century ago

By Wayne E. Reilly on July 20, 2014, at 5:57 a.m.
“Immigrant Question of Great Concern to the City,” said a headline in the Bangor Daily Commercial on April 16, 1914. Long used to the thousands of loggers who passed through the city each year on their way to the woods, the Queen City had a new concern. Hundreds of the …
Wayne Reilly

Auto season, 1914: Imps and jumping cows

By Wayne E. Reilly on June 22, 2014, at 5:12 p.m.
The automobile season a century ago in eastern Maine started with a round of fantasizing long before the snow melted. While most autos were still stored for the winter, hundreds of people from all over the region gathered at the Bangor Auditorium, the cavernous wooden structure at the corner of …
Early Bangor carnival parade float.

Summer fun cooled war fever in Bangor, 1914

By Wayne E. Reilly on June 08, 2014, at 9:46 a.m.
War fever swept the nation a century ago. Civil war raged in Mexico. American sailors were arrested in Tampico on April 10, 1914. The U.S. Navy invaded Vera Cruz later that month. Some Americans were killed or wounded. Many civilians fled the country. American newspapers predicted war and a national …
A large lunch wagon can be seen stationed behind other wagons selling farm produce in Pickering Square in this turn-of-the-century postcard showing Bangor’s big open-air market.

Street vendors — from hot dog stands to organ grinders — enlivened old Bangor

By Wayne E. Reilly on May 25, 2014, at 5:24 p.m.
Street vendors selling food, jewelry, shoe shines and more were a common sight in parts of Bangor a century ago. They created a colorful atmosphere in the old Queen City as well as a bottom rung on the economic ladder for many immigrants. Occasionally these vendors made brief appearances in …
Wayne Reilly

Bangor mayor declared ‘death to slot machines’ a century ago

By Wayne E. Reilly on May 11, 2014, at 6:23 p.m.
At first, it sounded like an April Fools’ joke. Was Bangor about to shut down the hundreds of illegal slot machines run by small businesses throughout the city? “Late last night, a palpitating rumor — more than a rumor, a warning — flashed over the wireless and quickly ramified all …
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 …