Community teams from Belfast, Gorham-Windham, Portland-Westbrook, and Presque Isle met at Bowdoin College in July for their three-day orientation to the Local & Legendary: Maine in the Civil War community grant program.
Team members–from historical societies, libraries, and schools–received technical training, participated in project planning, and were immersed in Civil War history. Scholars Libby Bischof (USM), Tom DesJardins (Maine Bureau of Parks and Lands), and Patrick Rael (Bowdoin College) provided historical context through readings, lecture, and discussion.
The teams are now off and running with their projects. The first to hold a formal planning meeting, on July 30, was the two-town Gorham-Windham partnership. Technically comprised of two full teams, the neighboring Cumberland County towns are focusing their Civil War story on their shared history with the Oriental Powder Mill, which produced 25% of all gunpowder used by Union forces during the Civil War.
Also known as the “Gambo” Mill, the multi-building complex sat along the Presumpscot River and operated in the communities in the 19th and early 20th centuries. The remains consist of foundations of mill buildings and machinery, such as what’s left of the wheel mill, which ground together the gunpowder components. The site is maintained today by the Presumpscot Regional Land Trust.
Local & Legendary is a partnership between MHS and Maine Humanities Council, funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities, that will support a total of 10 Maine towns over two years. Teams research local Civil War history, digitize collections and create an exhibit on Maine Memory Network, run a “one book” program in their community, and host a custom-designed theatrical event.