What were the results of how Maine’s fishing, shipbuilding, and farming economies progressed while being at odds with the larger U.S. economy in the late nineteenth century?

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Tamara K. H. | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

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One result of Maine's economic progress in the 19th century is that it became the nation's leading lumber producer, producing housing and building for the entire nation. Maine's abundance of white pine and its waterways made the state an ideal location for easily hulling and exporting logs, leading to the establishment of numerous mills that also turned to "grain-processing, wool-carding, tanning, and metal-forging" during the logging off seasons (Maine Memory Network, "180-1850: A New State & Prosperity"). Maine's logging industry also resulted in boom towns like Bangor because major companies "competed over construction of canals and dams" in an attempt to redirect water to suit their purposes. Boom towns arose wherever the water directed the logs because those became the locations of increased production and trade.

Lumber production also resulted in Maine becoming one of the nation's largest ship producers, with shipyards producing "more than one-third of the nation's shipping, including some of the finest square-rigged vessels ever built" that transported cotton trade from the South to the cotton mill industries arising in both New England and England. Maine's shipping production also contributed to the US becoming the "world's premier trading nation" ("180-1850: A New State & Prosperity"). When trade markets expanded into China, Maine built the clipper ships that made faster ocean crossing possible. What's more, Maine helped develop the West Coast during the California Gold Rush by conveying gold prospectors, mining equipment, and mail to San Francisco via clipper ships.

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