On the western shore of Penobscot Bay, roughly eight miles northeast of Rockland lies Camden, Maine, a picturesque seaside village at the foot of Camden Hills. Its slogan is “where the mountains meet the sea” and is one of the most beautiful places in New England. Camden is also an affluent town, with many wealthy families owning properties in the area. It has a population of 5,254. Affluent as the town is, it still has the small town New England atmosphere, with friendly people, and gorgeous views and preserved buildings and structures.
It was Captain George Weymouth of the Archangel who first laid eyes on the hills of Camden during his voyage in 1605. The place was originally the home of a tribe of Penobscot Indians and it was called by them “Megunticook” or “great swells of the sea.” Captain Weymouth set foot on Camden Hills, then called Penobscot Hills, on June 12, 1605. In 1614, it was visited by Captain John Smith who described the location as “the high mountains of Penobscot, against whose feet doth beat the sea”. But it was not until 1769 when settlers first arrived, after the survey of the Waldo Patent by the Twenty Associates in 1768 naming Camden part of the Megunticook Plantation. The first recorded settler was in 1769, Mr. James Richards. However, the town got its name from the first Earl of Camden, Charles Pratt, after the American Revolution in 1791. Pratt was a sympathizer with the colonists during the Revolution.
During the first 100 years of the town, Camden has had a prosperous economy due to numerous industries including lime production, ship building, anchor manufacturing, and wool manufacturing. The lime industry was located in Goose River (now Rockport) which later separated from Camden in 1891 and became a town itself. This deprived Camden from the lime industry profits, aside from the territory of Goose River. In 1892, the business district was nearly burned down. The citizens rallied and quickly rebuilt.
Because of Camden’s scenic beauty, wealthy people from all over the country started acquiring properties and building summer houses there. Sprawling estates and mansions can be seen all over Camden. These families also showed generosity towards the town itself and contributed much to the further development of Camden. The Camden Opera House, Amphitheater, Camden Harbor Park and public library are only some of the examples. The town later developed into a retirement community, tourist hotspot and resort town. Camden also has a large fleet of windjammers, a type of merchant sailing ship used in the 19th to 20th century shipping industry, their type recognizable through their large masts and sails. These windjammers are part of the legacy of Captain Frank Swift who started the cruise schooner business in Camden in the 1940s. Camden’s economy boomed in the 1990s when the world’s largest independent issuer of credit cards, MBNA (Maryland Bank, National Association) located their offices into the former Knox Woolen Mill building, restoring the old buildings in the process as well as generating hundreds of jobs for the people in town.
For people visiting the town, Camden offers a lot of activities and good places to see. To name just a few, nature lovers will certainly enjoy a trip to the Camden Hills State Park. It is a 5,500 acre park full of nature trails, wonderful views of the surrounding hills and lakes, a large campground and picnic area. An auto road going through Camden Hills State Park was built in 1965 to enable people to reach the top of Mount Battie. The Camden Harbor Park and Camden Amphitheater are also good destinations for tourists, especially for those who are appreciative of historic landmarks.
Barrett’s Cove Beach on Megunticook Lake is another attraction in Camden. The beach offers free public access to freshwater swimming and a picnic area with tables and outdoor grills, and a children’s playground. They also have rock climbing facilities and public boat access. The Laite Memorial Beach is also a good destination. It is also free to the public and with picnic areas, bathroom facilities, and offers many activities aside from swimming. Children will also enjoy The Children’s Amphitheater as it has numerous events young people can participate in during the summer.
For information on planning your Camden Maine vacation, we highly recommend visiting the TakeMe2 Camden Maine web site. This site provides visitors with a complete, objective informational resource about the Camden Maine area including area attractions, lodging accommodations, restaurants, shopping experiences, local area excursions and other points of interest.
Another good source about Camden Maine and local area attractions is the Camden, Rockport, Lincolnville Chamber of Commerce website.
Finally, a good resource for information about the surrounding towns in the Midcoast Maine region including Rockland, Thomaston, Owls Head and Vinalhaven is the Rockland-Thomaston Area Chamber website.