Local & Legendary Teams Kick off Civil War Projects

CWGrants_LOGOCommunity 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.

Gorham team leader Amy Valentine, with other team members in the background, on a tour of the former Oriental Powder Mill site. Also known as the "Gambo" Mill, it produced 25% percent of the gunpowder during the Civil War.

Gorham-Windham team leader Amy Valentine, with other team members in the background, tours the Gambo Mill remains. Situated between the two towns, it produced 25% percent of the gunpowder during the Civil War.

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.

The Gambo wheel mill remains are like a sculpture being reclaimed by nature.

The Gambo wheel mill remains are not unlike a Stonehenge-ish sculpture being reclaimed by nature.

The plaque explaining how the wheel mill was used. Explosions were a common concern when grinding together the components of gunpowder.

The plaque explaining how the wheel mill was used. Explosions were a common concern when grinding together the components of gunpowder.

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.

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About mainechp

Maine Community Heritage Project at Maine Historical Society
This entry was posted in Grants, Maine Memory Network, Training and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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