You don’t have to live in Waterville to enjoy Earl Smith’s wonderful history of that city. Water Village, published by North Country Press, takes us through that fascinating history from 1498 to today.
Boy, he must’ve done a lot of research! I found a lot of the stories to be fascinating including the fact that in 1830 with a population of 2200 Waterville had 34 places serving alcohol. I guess some folks consider that the good old days!
In the 1970s and 80s, Waterville had nearly 250 retail stores, 8 hotels and motels, 25 restaurants, 11 banks and branches, and six outlets of national chains.
Of course, there were lots of changes over the years. For example, in 1950 Central Maine was blessed by five paper-related mills, 18 textile and apparel factories, 25 food-processing plants, and 8 shoe and leather makers.
Earl takes us right up to 2018, with an account of the revival of Waterville now going on including its downtown. He also tells about Waterville’s leaders and famous people. I really enjoyed the information about the Kennebec River’s history and activities.
There are quite a few wonderful photos in the book too. A surprising number of places were destroyed by fires. I’ll bet you didn’t know that Waterville was once proclaimed to be the prettiest city in the state, at a time when it was also Maine’s fastest-growing city.
Having grown up in central Maine and spending my entire life here, I recognized many of the restaurants and businesses which are long gone. And I especially want to thank Earl for reviving so many of my good memories of spending time in Waterville.
Earl Smith is retired as Colby’s Dean of the College. He has written two other history books and three works of fiction, all of which I really enjoyed. Keep writing Earl!