What is the Capital of Maine?

Augusta, Maine, USA downtown skyline on the Kennebec River.

Maine is a state in the extreme northeastern portion of the United States. It borders Canada to the North and New Hampshire to the South, with the Gulf Of Maine touching its southeastern portion. Maine is known for its lush forests, rocky coastline, many lighthouses, fresh lobsters, and outdoor activities. But what is the capital of Maine?

The capital of Maine is Augusta, a city situated in the south-central part of the state, at the head of the Kennebec River. Augusta was founded in 1736 by James Oglethorpe, a British General, and was officially named the capital of Maine in 1827.

This article will discuss what the capital of Maine is. So keep reading! We have everything you need to know about Augusta, the capital of Maine.

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Where is the Capital of Maine Located?

Where is the Capital of Maine Located
Where is the Capital of Maine Located

The capital of Maine is Augusta, a city in the southern portion of the state, situated on the Kennebec River. As well as being the capital of the state of Maine, Augusta is the county seat of Kennebec County.

Augusta is known for its outstanding natural beauty, especially  during summer. The area does provide a great variety of seasonal activities. With 30 lakes scattered along the Kennebec Valley, there’s always plenty to do whether you’re into swimming, kayaking, canoeing, sailing, or fishing. 

One of the significant historical landmarks of Augusta is Fort Western, a wooden fort that once served as a colonial outpost for the British on the Kennebec River. 

A brief History of Augusta

Augusta, Maine, USA downtown skyline on the Kennebec River.
Augusta, Maine, USA downtown skyline on the Kennebec River.

Long before the arrival of European settlers in the modern city of Augusta, the valley surrounding the Kennebec River was inhabited by Native Americans known to archaeologists as the Red Paint People due to the red ocher found in a large amount of their burial sites.

Just before the arrival of Europeans, Augusta was home to multiple Native American peoples, such as the Cherokee, Creek, and Algonquian-speaking tribes, who called the area Cushnoc, which translates to ‘the consecrated place.’

Europeans first explored the area around Augusta in 1607, and Popham Colony was established, a small and short-lived settlement. It would be a few more decades until a more stable colony of English settlers from the Plymouth Colony of Massachusetts moved into the Kennebec River Valley and established a trading post in 1628.

During this period, the area surrounding modern Augusta was inhabited by Native Americans known as the Kennebec, a branch of the larger Abenaki nation. Throughout the early 17th century, they remained on friendly terms with the English settlers of the region.

The fur trading between the Plymouth settlers and the Native Americans became a lucrative business. A great relationship existed for over 30 years until it was halted due to the breakout of the French and Native American wars. At this point, the English abandoned the area for almost 100 years.

English settlers eventually returned to the area in 1754 and erected Fort Western at Cushnoc, or what is now known as Augusta, on the Kennebec River. The English defeated the French in 1759, and after this victory, a large settlement began to grow around Fort Western.

During the American Revolutionary War, the infamous Benedict Arnold and his 1000-man army stopped and utilized Fort Western for a little while before they continued their journey up the Kennebec River to the Battle Of Quebec. The area was first called Cushnoc and was incorporated in 1771 as part of Hallowell. 

Known locally as The Fort, it was later incorporated in 1797 by the Massachusetts General Court as Harrington. The name was then changed to Augusta in honor of Pamela Augusta Dearborn, a daughter of Henry Dearborn. 

When did Augusta become the Capital of Maine?

Maine State House is the capitol building of Maine in historic downtown of Augusta, Maine ME, USA.
Maine State House is the capitol building of Maine in historic downtown of Augusta, Maine ME, USA.

Augusta was deemed the county seat for the newly formed Kennebec county in 1799.Maine officially separated from Massachusetts and became a state in 1820, and Portland was named as their official capital city. 

Portland remained the capital of Maine for seven years, yet in 1827, the state legislature changed the capital to Augusta. Augusta beat rival cities such as Brunswick, Hallowell, and Portland to the title of Maine’s permanent capital. The government would continue to meet in Portland for another five years until Augustas governmental buildings were completed in 1832.

Why is Augusta the Capital of Maine?

Augusta was chosen as the permanent capital for multiple reasons. The main reason was that Portland wasn’t close enough to the state’s center; thus, officials set out to find a more centralized location, which they did with Augusta.

The choice was also centered on a prominent location in Augusta, Weston Hill. This was a prime spot for a new capitol building, as it had a commanding presence of the city’s valley and beautiful views. 

Best Places to visit in Augusta

Augusta may be on the shortlist if you’re undecided on where your next trip should take you. This historic town has plenty of fun activities and sites, and here are five of the best places to visit in Augusta.

1. Fort Western

If you want to check out a significant part of North American history, Fort Western is not to be missed. This is the oldest wooden garrison found anywhere in the country; initially built in the middle of the 18th century, it has a history museum that can tell you all about the early history of New England and the Kennebec Valley.

2. Capitol Park

If you need a breath of fresh air when you’re in Augusta, Capitol Park can bring you closer to nature with its 20 acres of lush and beautiful botanical gardens. Have a stroll, run, bike, or even a picnic in one of the many grassy areas surrounding you.

3. Children’s Discovery Museum

The Children’s Discovery Museum is a great day out for the whole family. The museum offers a great selection of exhibits and crafts to keep the kids entertained all day. They can climb, slide and run in the interactive areas, touch sea creatures and crawl through lighthouses. There’s even a gift shop where you can grab some nifty souvenirs.

4. State Capitol

The State Capitol building is a great site to visit during your time in Augusta. You can wander around the inside of the building and even look through the small museum, just outside the building like a massive liberty bell and a statue dedicated to Samatha Reed Smith. The architecture is grand and deserving of a few photographs.

5. Maine State Museum

The Maine state museum is a great day out, whether you tackle it alone or go with a group of friends. Plenty of activities inform you about the history of the region, the animals, the early indigenous peoples, and the industries of early settlers. The best part is that this museum costs as little as $3 to enter. 

See Also

Capital Cities 

Hi and welcome to my travel blog! Based in London, I work in investment banking in a quantitative field and although I am not part of the travel industry, I have a ton of passion for travel. My blog is a reference guide for my fellow travelers with the same passion as me. Hopefully the blog is easy to navigate and my aim is to bring the most relevant and interesting information before you begin your journey!