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Industry, Tourism, and Commerce

This slideshow contains 5 items
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Bethel House, Chapman House, Bethel Hill, ca. 1875

Bethel House, Chapman House, Bethel Hill, ca. 1875

Item 100843 info
Bethel Historical Society

By Brooke Kelly

During the Civil War era, Bethel became a local hub — influenced by industry and tourism — and developed into a center of wartime commerce.

Mills and large lumber companies presented the town with its first spurt of industrial growth, catching the eyes of non-Bethel natives as well.

As facilities and small economic systems were established, tourism began to grow, in turn helping industry to develop further as the population and number of consumers increased.

Industry and tourism allowed Bethel to grow as the town became both a center of commerce and a community significant to the State of Maine.


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Grand Trunk Railway station, Bethel, ca. 1880

Grand Trunk Railway station, Bethel, ca. 1880

Item 100625 info
Bethel Historical Society

By the middle of 1863, the Oxford Democrat was reporting that the steam mill recently established to the west of Bethel Hill seemed "destined to do a good business."

In 1860, Bethel had a wide variety of skilled or semi skilled workers.

With the war came the expansion of industries such as the extensive Hastings Lumber Company and other industries.


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Main Street, Bethel Hill, 1896

Main Street, Bethel Hill, 1896

Item 100629 info
Bethel Historical Society

Tourism in Bethel grew during the Civil War as more overnight facilities were created for wartime visitors.

Summer visitors appeared to be increasing each year and additional facilities, including the three-and-a-half story Chandler House hotel on the common, were being built to accommodate them.

Commerce developed out of industry and tourism. As prosperity extended even to farmers, and as the war continued, consumer prices rose, supporting the Bethel economy and allowing for growth.

Without tourism and industrialization during the Civil War, Bethel would not have been able to establish a successful system of commerce.


4
Kimball Block, Bethel, ca. 1870

Kimball Block, Bethel, ca. 1870

Item 101080 info
Bethel Historical Society

The Atlantic and St. Lawrence Railroad arrived in Bethel March 10, 1851.

First proposed in 1844 by Andover native John Alfred Poor as a way of boosting Portland's dwindling mercantile trade and providing a winter link to the sea for Montreal to the north, the railroad brought great economic benefits to the dozens of small New England towns scattered along the line.

Communication and transportation changed the way Bethel was involved in, and influenced by the war, and tourism continued to help the industry become a source of fluid commerce.


5
Franklin Grange Hall, Bryant Pond, ca. 1892

Franklin Grange Hall, Bryant Pond, ca. 1892

Item 1190 info
Maine Historical Society

Agriculture played a large role in the lives and successes of Bethel natives, and naturally as tourism and consumer rates increased, so did the farmer's ability to produce and trade on a larger level.

In the 1860s, commercial activity and manufacturing increased, particularly at Bethel Hill and the nearby village of "Skillingston."

A balance between industry and tourism allowed commerce to develop into a workable system, creating a triangle-like structure that became greatly influential to Maine and its efforts during the war.


This slideshow contains 5 items