Cultivation of silkworms and manufacture of silk thread was touted as a new agricultural boon for Maine in the early 19th century. However, only small-scale silk production followed. In 1874, the Haskell Silk Co. of Westbrook changed that, importing raw silk, and producing silk machine twist threat, then fabrics, until its demise in 1930.
The paper mill on the Penobscot River in South Brewer, which became known as Eastern Fine Paper Co., began as a sawmill in 1884 and grew over the years as an important part of the economy of the region and a large presence in the landscape. Its closing in 2005 affected more than the men and women who lost their jobs.
As early as 1633, entrepreneurs along the Piscataqua River in southern Maine utilized the force of the river to power a sawmill, recognizing the potential of the area's natural power sources, but it was not until the 1890s that technology made widespread electricity a reality -- and even then, consumers had to be urged to use it.