NEW SWEDEN – Northern Maine was big and very, very empty in the 19th century, when its tiny population was depleted even further by the lure of riches in the West. W.W. Thomas Jr., Maine’s commissioner of immigration and a former ambassador to Stockholm, reasoned Swedes were accustomed to the climate, so he hand-picked 51 of them to start an experimental colony called New Sweden.
Those unusual beginnings are commemorated in the New Sweden Historical Museum, which has artifacts and Swedish-language family bibles brought to Maine by the original settlers. They also brought an important sport from home: skiing. Alpine skiing was introduced to America in these mountains.
The museum is at the precise spot where the arriving Swedes stopped on July 23, 1870, to give thanks for their successful voyage. Maypoles erected every June for the town’s Midsommar Festival remain in place outside through Labor Day. Capitol Hill Road; Wednesday through Sunday noon to 4 Memorial Day through September 30; For more information call: 207-896-3018.