Dates in Bethel History
June 26, 2012
1774 – Captain Joseph Twitchell sends a crew of workmen to Sudbury Canada to construct a saw mill and a grist mill on his Mill Brook property lots.
1780 - A Brief History of Sunday River Chronology, articles and sketches about the Sunday River valley from 1780 to 1960. Farming, logging, visiting, schools, personalities, hunters, trappers and more
1781 – Indian Raid see- Indian life along the Androscoggin
1790 - Grover Hill Cemetery—James Mills, first adult—burial—killed in logging accident in 1790, Mills was Rev. War Vet.
1791 -Riverside Cemetery— Mayville Cemetery first burial Curatio Twitchell, age 2 yrs. 1791
1796 - Massachusetts grants Sudbury Canada the right to incorporate as the town of Bethel. Charter signed by Governor Samuel Adams on June 10, 1796. August, 15th. First town meeting held at the home of General Amos Hastings at Middle Interval pursuant to a document issued by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts to Eli Twitchell of Bethel in the County of York authorizing him to form a town meeting of qualified voters. Lt. Jonathan Clark (who had escaped from Indians in 1781) was chosen moderator
1797 -The Locke Farm and Samuel B Locke—a Locke family farm and summer boarding house from 1797 to 1913
1816 - Sunday River Cemetery deed established 1816
1800 Mt. Will Cemetery—Col John York, here in 1781, but no dates on stone
1803 – Barker’s Ferry authorized in town meeting – Samuel Barker came from Rowley, Mass – ferry connected Bethel Hill with Mayville, Northwest Bethel and Sunday River.
1835 Bethel High School opened and Academy incorporated 1836
1851 – The Atlantic & St. Lawrence Railroad (a railroad venture to connect the port of Portland with Montreal, Canada) reached Bethel from Portland. Irish immigrant workers made up much of the construction work force; a number stayed and became Bethel residents.
1853 – The first guide book to Maine was published. It praised Bethel for its scenic beauty, stoking Bethel’s tourist appeal.
1855 – William Rogers Chapman born .
1858 – December, 17. The Bethel Courier begins publishing a weekly newspaper with Dr. Nathaniel True edited for 15 months and wrote historical columns as well.
1860 – National census records 2,523 people living in Bethel. The town’s population high water mark has lasted to 2005.
1860 Poplar Tavern—center of North Newry’s social life which was a popular spot in early 20th Century
1863 – The Steam Mill Company and village subdivision was built one mile west of Bethel Hill. Its steam powered mill manufactured dowels and spools starting a Bethel industry that lasted for one hundred and forty years. The mill’s location took advantage of both the railroad for shipping and receiving raw material as well as the river for water.
1864- The Oxford Democrat, November 25, 1864. Results of voting in Bethel for President of the United States: Lincoln—268 McClellan—208
1867 – The Grange (Order of the Patrons of Husbandry) came into being based on the ideas of Oliver Hudson Kelley, a Minnesota farmer. Organized as a fraternal group similar to the Masonic lodge, the Grange served causes important to farmers and residents of rural areas, schools, rural mail, farm improvement and social needs.
1868 Charles Dickens in Maine (Portland) March 28, 1868 by Philo Calhoun 12-1-1962 Colby College
1868 MAYVILLE circa 1868 the section of Bethel north of the Androscoggin acquired the name of Mayville
1869 – A second attempt to bridge the Androscoggin River Bethel’s “Golden Gate” between Mayville and Bethel Hill succeeds; “Paddleford truss” (arched, longitudinal, laminated) support is used to construct a two- lane (called “double barreled”) covered bridge that lasts until 1927. The bridge opened February 19, 1869 and for the next 20 years was a toll bridge.
1872 – Voters approved raising $12,000 through issue of town bonds to construct an industrial building 150 feet by 30 feet for lease to a manufacturing company.
February 1872: Bethel Savings Bank Corporation formed. Thirty Bethel men made up the initial corporate body. Officers were: Oliver H. Mason, President; Enoch Foster, Jr., Secretary and Treasurer. Seven members of the corporation made up the Board of Trustees.
1874 – Bethel celebrated the 100th year of its first settlers’ arrival with a major festival. Dr. N.T. True, Bethel historian, gave the keynote address elaborating on the town’s growth, challenges and progress over the past century.
1879 Bethel Library Association formed: a group meets at the Bethel House near the Bethel Common to form a library for the community.
1880 – Census: Albany, 693; Andover, 781; Bethel, 2077; Gilead, 293; Greenwood, 838; Hanover, 203; Mason, Newry, 337; Riley Plantation, 40; Rumford, 1006; Woodstock, 952.
1880—A corn canning factory has been established in the former Eber Clough’s mill building on the Albany Road.
Mount Abram House image
1881 – Centennial celebration of the Indian raid on Sudbury Canada. One of the largest crowds ever seen in the town gathered for this event.
1883 – Brown Post #84 of the G.A.R. chartered, Enoch Foster, Jr., elected first Commander. Post named for Harlan Page Brown who was killed at the battle of Antietam and for his brother, William H.H. Brown, who died while serving in the Department of the Gulf. Brown Post succeeded Cuvier Grover Post #30 chartered at Bethel Hill, April 30, 1868, which by 1877 had ceased to exist due to lack of support. (See page 406, History of Bethel, Maine, William Lapham)
1884 – A company of investors (J.B. Chapman, H.C. Andrews and Elmer Young) built the Rialto Skating Rink on Main Street. Its dimensions were 84 feet long by 50 feet wide with its floor laid of the very best lumber. The Gorham (N.H.) Band would provide music for its opening. Rialto Hall 1884—a short, active life, with a blazing finish
Judge Enoch Foster’s elevation to Maine’s high court is very gratifying to the people of Bethel. The judge and family are visiting in Boston and Portland.
1885 – April, Wolff and Reessing of New York, packers and importers, signed a five year contract to continue canning and picking sweet corn in Bethel. In addition, the company would spend $4,000 for improved canning equipment.
1886 – The 1886 Journal, Bethel builds a chair factory Mr. James Barrows a well established chair manufacturer in Oxford County was persuaded to relocate his chair manufacturing business to Bethel with the taxpayers financing the construction of a factory building for this new venture.
Feb 26: Storm of the Century begins – roads blocked for five days, buildings de-roofed and blown down, railroad blocked, derailments.
July 3: Special town meeting approves proposal to build a chair factory building; $5,000 appropriated; James Barrows will occupy new building with his chair manufacturing business then located in West Paris.
September 13: Bethel voting for Governor: Joseph R. Bodwell, Hallowell: 279; Clark S. Edwards, Bethel: 222. Note: Bodwell, a Republican was elected Governor but he died in office on 12-15-1887.
October 10: It was reported that the town had voted to raise $3,000 for the engine, boiler and machinery for the factory.
November 2: The Democrat reported that “the chair factory building is finished outside and is a noble looking building”. Machinery was being installed and a large number of unfinished chairs were being stored in the building. The employment news indicated that about 100 hands would be hired to run the factory.
1887 Journal – Voters at Bethel’s annual town meeting agree to adopt the town system of schools Deaths: Dr. N. T. True and Rev. David Garland
1888 Journal – A steam boat travels from Rumford to Bethel. The Bethel toll bridge (Androscoggin River covered bridge) charter expired on December 31, 1888. Beginning January 1, 1889, travelers crossed the bridge free of charge. Bad weather in the summer growing months threatens hay crops, rots potatoes and greatly shrinks sweet corn canning production. Public water system investigated.
The Bethel Chair Company was formed in October. President, James H. Barrows; Treasurer, Hannibal G. Brown – Barrows and Brown had operated a chair manufacturing business in West Paris. Secretary, J.U. Purington, Bethel. Bethel board members of the company included Edwin C. Rowe, Calvin Bisbee and J.U. Purington.
1889 Journal -Village Corporation and Water Company chartered. Bethel Chair Company rented Rialto Hall also known as the “skating rink” (Main Street) for finishing work, office and show room space.
Bethel Lock-Up – turned down by voters in previous years – proposal passes in 1889. Committee chooses lot bordering High Street near Rialto Hall.
Maine chartered the Bethel Village Corporation and the Bethel Water Company. Water Company mission will be to supply the village with pure water and fire protection supplies; fire department, police service and street lighting will be responsibilities of the Village Corporation. All towns report a very busy year at their rail depots. The corn factory in Bethel has a new owner: the Wyman Bros.
1890 Journal: The Bethel Water Company completed a new water system for Bethel village.
Bethel voters received an extensive, critical evaluation of the Bethel school condition written by Superintending School Committee members Dr. John G. Gehring and Horatio Upton.
New corn canning factory in Bethel. Voters approve more town investment for industry -$2,500 plus additional money as needed. Town to construct and rent building by the rail depot to the Wyman Bros., Woburn, Mass. Wyman’s will hire local workers, contract for produce to can sweet corn, apples, lima beans.
1890 Census: Albany, 645; Andover, 740; Bethel, 2209; Gilead, 336; Greenwood, 727; Hanover, ___; Mason,__; Newry, 343; Riley Plantation, __; Rumford,__; Woodstock, 859.
1891 Journal – The American Bobbin, Spool and Shuttle Company of Boston buy the Bethel Steam Mill Co. Civic leader William E. Skillings leaves Bethel for Boston. Gilead booms as Wild River development – logging, mills and railroad – races ahead. There is great fanfare in Mayville as the Riverside Trotting Park and Riverside Agricultural Fair celebrate their inaugural events.
Wild River Railroad – eight miles of track from a clearing next to Wild River called “Nigger Tom’s” (later called Hastings) connected with the Grand Trunk Railroad at Gilead – was in operation at end of October 1891. W.R.R.R. and the Wild River Lumber Company were owned by an investment group from Island Pond, Vermont. The company also ran a telephone line from Gilead depot to their Wild River office. The story continued from mid 1891 through the rest of the 19th Century
“History of the Town of Bethel, Maine” is published by William B. Lapham. Besides using most of Dr. True’s research, Lapham portrays detailed accounts of early Bethel including his extensive research in the Massachusetts archives. Lapham’s most valuable work may have been his recording of Bethel family histories.
The Cole Block, Main Street’s “King Sized Building”, a development by the Cole brothers of Washington, DC, opened – Odeon Hall (named circa August 1892, the hall first known as “Coles Hall” was dedicated May 18, 1892) promised to be a center for town meetings, lectures and the town’s first movie theater.
Oxford County will move its seat of government from Paris Hill to South Paris and erect new county buildings The Chicago World’s Fair and a new school building for Bethel village were other important happenings for 1893.
January: Debate on county buildings continued, R.J. Virgin had nearly finished his new saw mill in South Bethel. More news of Rumford Falls development
February: Rebuilt Methodist Church was dedicated. Heavy snow storm covered the area during February 20, 21 and 22. March: Voters approved new county buildings. First town meeting in Odeon Hall was held. Voters approved a new school for Bethel village. April: Eber Clough passed away. New school lot on High Street purchased from John M. Philbrook.
The Cole Block: The Cole’s two largest tenants closed their businesses and vacated the building. The building and nearby house was put up for sale. In August the property was put up for auction but did not sell. Elmer Cole married Emma Parker, went to Washington and then returned.
In October “Elmer D. Cole and wife will go to Washington this week to live. Some of their household goods will be moved to Portland for further shipment by boat. He has received a good offer to engage in the jewelry business there. His business reverses make it necessary for him to make this move, which he regrets. He and his brother Fred have dissolved their partnership.”
In December, the Cole Block ownership was transferred to the Bethel Savings Bank. Less than robust economic times and no real increase in Bethel population may have caused the young men to fail in their enterprise.
The Money Shortage: Except for the chair factory, spool and dowel mills seemed to be running only infrequently or were shut down until they received more orders. News from Rumford Falls spoke of money stringencies and slowing of what had been a boom-time building experience. More than the usual number of stories of large numbers of tramps appeared in the news.
In September, this comment appeared: “The outlook in lumbering is gloomy and but little will be done in this vicinity unless the business outlook improves.”
Other Important News: The corn canning factory, new butter factory and of course the trotting races and Bethel fair were high points of the year in town—the fair drew horsemen and trotters from all over western Maine.
In July 1893, Moses A. Mason sold his landmark Mayville farm to Charles Ryerson of Upton. Mason left Bethel for a trip to the world’s fair.
1894 Summary: In 1893, the town had voted to build a new school in the village. 1894 was the year the new school (known later as Bethel Grammar School) was built. Horace Purington of Waterville was the contractor selected to do the job. Mr. F.A. Thompson of Portland was architect. Shortly after work started several people complained that the contractor was not following the plans. An on-site meeting was called, a survey completed and the contractor was exonerated of the complaints
Two schools became surplus - Broad Street, District No. 15 and Mechanic Street, District No. 30. The District No. 15 School on Broad Street became the Pines guest house of the Bethel Inn. The District No. 30 School on Mechanic Street was repositioned on the same lot, became a privately owned house remodeled into a two unit rent
The “liberals” of Gilead also hoped to see a graded school and town funded transportation for their students but they were not supported by voters.
1894 began with a glum outlook for economic conditions due to the financial panic of 1893.. At the Chair Factory: “It has been found necessary due to the strained condition of business to cut down wages some ten percent, yet men feel themselves fortunate to get employment even at reduced wages, so many mills are shut down and the employees thrown out of work entirely.
In Rumford Falls by midyear the business outlook here grows bright as the season opens. The steady growth of Rumford Falls which seems to have suffered something of a check when the financial cyclone swept over the country last year is evidently to be resumed this season. Several new enterprises are already assured and considerable new building is going on. In November it was announced that the Rumford Falls Trust Company bank would open by January 1st of 1895 or earlier. It had been chartered by the legislature in 1893 but the business depression of 1893 caused the delay until 1894.
Temperance please In January, a meeting was held at Odeon Hall to see if the citizens were willing to furnish a public reading room and gymnasium (in the Cole Block?) to the young people of Bethel. The question was discussed by Mr. Merriman, Dr. Gehring, Rev. Mr. Beem, Mr. Herrick and Rev. Fickett. Many others from the audience were called on and expressed favorable ideas. Several committees were chosen to take care of the matter. Mr. Merriman on behalf of the athletic association of the academy proposed to fit up the gymnasium if the people would give them a little help.
May 15th, Norway Fire: Swept by Fire – Terrible Conflagration in Norway Village - Destroyed Seventy of the Best Buildings – Loss $239,000; Insurance $139,000. Worst Fire Oxford County Ever Saw. Between 2 o’clock and 6, Wednesday afternoon the fire mowed a wide swath a mile in length through the heart of Norway village, destroying the Opera House block, the large mill of C.B. Cummings & Sons, the tannery, the high school building, the Congregational church, a number of stores and shops, and over sixty of the finest residences in this place. Twenty-five members of the Bethel Hose Company with 600 feet of hose responded to Norway’s call for help. A sizable number of townspeople went too.
In May 1894 Gould Academy published its first “Herald”, not a booklet or magazine but a flyer which listed the commencement week program and advertisements for twenty Bethel businesses.
1894’s, Memorial Day observance was held at Evergreen Cemetery. Ceremonies at the cemetery were carried out by the G.A.R. Relief Corps, Sons of Veterans and the public. Later in the day – speaking in Odeon Hall
In Gilead and Hastings, the spread of lumbering and building in Hastings continued, but there was little news other than family visits that appeared in the Oxford Democrat - the same could be said for Locke’s Mills activities. Gideon Hastings began the timber land acquisition in 1882 which led to the Hastings Lumber Company development. In 1894, his son David Robinson Hastings superintended the company’s operations.
Bethel Creamery or butter factory and the corn canning factory operated at a robust rate. And the selling of livestock for shipment to the Brighton livestock market through the agency of John M. Philbrook continued to make those farmers in the livestock market pleased.
In early September, work on a new (replacement), high dam on Mill Brook was begun by James Hodgdon with a large crew.
The Bethel Agricultural Fair was held September 11—13 in Mayville on the grounds which included the Riverside Trotting Association track. This was the fourth annual fair and it was considered very successful as the summer-fall season’s largest public event.
In October, three years after opening, Cole Block’s heating system was changed from steam to hot air.
A boiler and steam heating apparatus are being set up in the Elms Hotel. W.F. Lovejoy & Sons, of the Bethel House, will occupy the Elms, and close the Bethel House during the winter
1895’s Journal - 1895’s Highlights
The year’s top story was: Bethel has a newspaper, The Bethel News. On Wednesday, June 5, 1895, the talk of the town was a new weekly newspaper published by A.D. Ellingwood and named The Bethel News -a four page newspaper.
There are already fifteen subscribers to the New England Telephone Co. and telephone company workmen were setting poles in the village Friday and Saturday
An April flood on Mill Brook washed out a large section of James Hodsdon’s dam (upper dam) on Mill Brook. Repairs were later undertaken with funding from Eben Kilborn.
At the Bethel town meeting A.W. Grover was elected moderator. Clerk: L. T. Barker Selectmen: Henry Farwell; Jarvis C. Billings; E.B. Shaw.
At Hastings the Wild River Lumber Company had installed an electric generating plant and was making improvements to it.
At the Poplar Tavern in North Newry, the Tavern’s owners, the Bear River Club, were building a large (100 ft long) club house addition to the main hotel.
Maine enacted new law concerning building inspections – measure to reduce fires.
Boom times at Hastings for the Wild River Lumber Company. At Rumford Falls, expansion of the Chisholm paper mill continues – new sulphite mill, railroad being laid from Rumford to Bemis – the Rumford Falls and Rangeley Lakes RR.
J. A. Thurston was running his new birch mill at Swan’s Corner.
1896 Journal: Fire destroyed the 1856 True-Gehring (Dr. N. T. True – Dr. John George Gehring) house on Broad Street; early March flooding stopped rail and mail for four days; Bethel celebrated its centennial; in September ground was broken for a new West Bethel church; Gilead fire destroyed the store, stable and boarding house block of J.W. Bennett; planning for a Maine Musical Festival announced; Academy Herald debuted to mark Gould‘s Academy’s 60th anniversary
1897 Highlights: Work began on Maine’s most ambitious musical program ever—the Maine Musical Festival. Bethel singers formed a Bethel Chorus which was part of the grand festival. All in all, William Rogers Chapman won Bethel’s ―Man of the Year‖ award for his state-wide acclaim in producing the 1897 music festival.
A.D. Ellingwood sold his interest in the Bethel News to Ernest C. Bowler. Whist parties seemed to have taken over as the top form of social entertainment.
Dr. Gehring announced the opening of his medical practice in Bethel; the Gehring residence became the Gehring Clinic.
Frank E. Hanscom, an experienced Oxford County teacher and administrator, became principal of Gould Academy.
In October West Bethel village’s Chapel Aid Society were thrilled to dedicate a new Union church, thanks largely to major financial help from Mr. and Mrs. Alpheus Bean.
There was a flurry of excitement over the possibility of creating a Civil War monument. The Navy had set aside two Parrot cannons and cannon balls for a town monument. But, like before, in the end the initiative died.
News of a proposed Oxford County Railway (actually a feeder line into the Grand Trunk) from Bryant’s Pond to Rumford Falls plus a second branch to Andover was brought before the Maine Railroad Commission. No decision in 1897.
The town replaced the bridge over Pleasant River on the West Bethel to Gilead road with a new iron bridge. (See town reports) A petition to open public roads to the old West Bethel ferry crossings was acted on and a request sent to the County Commissioners.
At Rumford Falls the Rumford Falls Paper Company was making ready for the installation of what would be the world’s largest paper machine – capable of producing a sheet of paper thirteen feet and nine inches wide.
A group of 23 Bethel Hill men were in the process of forming a Bethel electric light and power company at the end of the year.
1900 (circa.) – The Bethel Light Company generated electricity by a gasoline engine to light a few homes and stores on Main Street
1902 – Bethel Hill’s (Bethel Village Corporation) newly constructed sewer system became operational.
1907- Liberty E. Holden, a Gould Academy alumni, donated funds to purchase the former Wiley house (Church Street) so that the house and barn could be converted into a girls and boys dormitory. The project was completed in 1909 and named Holden Hall.
1908: The Soldiers Monument. After 40 years of on-again, off-again efforts to raise a monument dedicated to Bethel’s Civil War soldiers, a granite monument is placed on the corner of Mechanic and Main Streets; it was unveiled in a ceremony with of parade and speeches on Memorial Day.
1909 – Expanded lighting system was running with power generated by the Merrill-Springer Mill located near the Route 2 and Route 26 highway bridge over the railroad and the intersection with Railroad Street. Many streets were lighted as well as the town’s library (1911) and Gould Academy (1913).
1910, June 25 The Chapman picnic – Four Hundred Members of Maine Festival Chorus, visited Bethel by special train – Hallelujah Chorus sung from mountain top. The special train arrived in Bethel at 11 AM. Various automobiles and teams were in waiting and soon the highway from Bethel to the Chapman home in Mayville was thronged with Maine singers – some in farm wagons, some in fancy hitches, some in automobiles and many on foot. The day ended with picnickers making their way back to Bethel, again many walking, to meet the special train which was waiting at the overhead bridge. They had traveled from Mayville to the heights of the Howard Chapman farm, climbed higher, sung the Hallelujah Chorus, climbed higher again, sung the chorus again, returned to the George Chapman farm for the picnic dinner before their return to the train.
1911 – March, the Weeks Law passes Congress. This law authorized the Federal government to make land purchases in the east to protect watersheds. This act led to the creation of the White Mountain National Forest. Drastic, widespread forest fires in the White Mountains had triggered federal action.
Bethel’s new Board of Trade (Chamber of Commerce) held its first annual banquet at the Prospect Hotel in January
William Bingham II and his friend, William Upson, both from Cleveland, Ohio, come to Bethel to attend Dr. Gehring’s clinic.
July 22, The Prospect Hotel burned with the exception of one wing (the former Elms) but was completely torn down soon after the fire. William Rogers Chapman, Bethel’s “Music Man” quickly announced plans to build a new, elegant hotel on the site and bought the property occupied by the Prospect. Chapman bought the Prospect Hotel property that summer.
December 1911 Wallace Kilgore opened the Maple Inn on lower Main Street – called Sudbury Inn in 2012.
1913 – The new Bethel Inn opened on the site of the former Prospect Inn; principal owners were William Bingham 2d and William Upson. Dr. J.G. Gehring was president of The Bethel Inn Company, Inc. and Ellery Park clerk of the corporation.
1914, September 11th. The Bethel Manufacturing Co, (Chair Factory) TRUSTEE’S SALE IN BANKRUPTCY, Two Factory Buildings and Land, at Bethel Maine The plant formerly used by The Bethel Manufacturing Co., in the manufacture of furniture, chairs, etc., consisting of one two and a half story frame building, with good basement – size 40x125 feet, also one store house or finishing building, town and a half story frame, size, 40x80 feet, together with land on which they stand, comprising approximately three acres. The plant is equipped with steam engine and boiler for running machinery, over-head shafting and belting and has hydrant services connected with town water supply. The plant is centrally located, bounded by two main streets and the Grand Trunk Railroad, near the railroad station, and is provided with a shipping platform for use of Plant. I shall also sell at the same time a lot of land directly opposite the above described Plant, consisting of seven acres, more or less, and a new stable, size 24x30 feet. WM B. LINNELL Trustee in Bankruptcy, By F. O. Bailey Company, Auctioneers, (Office, Portland, Maine) The Oxford County Citizen, Thursday, September, 10, 1914.
1919, BETHEL INDUSTRY CHANGES HANDS, Merrill, The controlling interest in the Merrill, Springer Co., and the Bethel Light Company, at Bethel has been sold to the M.S. Stowell Co., and the J & P Coats interests. Stock also includes the mills and land at West Bethel and Ketchum. Mr. N. R. Springer is to remain as manager. Oxford County Citizen, Vol XXVI-Number 7
1920 – William Bingham’s first gift of a building to Gould Academy occurred when the Martin House on the corner of Elm Street and High Street purchased and used for a domestic arts program. (2)
1923 – Canada nationalizes the railroads which includes the Grand Trunk Railroad running through Bethel.
1924 – December: Professor William Rogers Chapman directed a performance of “The Messiah” at Portland City Hall. (5)
1924-1925 – Bethel Hill’s watershed on the south side of Barker Mountain was purchased by William Bingham II. In April 1925 the directors of the Bethel Water Company accepted the deed to the watershed in Newry from Bingham.
1925-June 23rd. Julius P. Skillings, long time general manager of the Skillingston steam mill (Bethel Steam Mill) died at his home in the mill village.
1927, January 13 First National Store opened in Bethel.
1927 – October 21, Androscoggin River covered bridge at Mayville closed to traffic – dismantling of the 58 year old two lane bridge begins. Last party to cross on the old bridge was that of Mr. and Mrs. Philip Chapman, Mayville residents.
November 4, severe storm in Vermont and upper Androscoggin River valley – 5 inches of rain in Berlin, NH – three temporary bridges swept away in Bethel – 11 families fled homes – no trains through for five days. Lost bridge over Androscoggin between Bethel village and Mayville required temporary ferry operation - possibly worst flood since 1785.
1931 – First airfield. Clarence (Cad) Bennett provided land for the first reliable airport in Bethel at West Bethel. There were four student flyers (Elmer Bennett, Ray Crockett, Carmen Onofrio, and Harold Lurvey) and one instructor, Dean Cunningham. The airfield was marked WB.
1931 Indian Raid Sesquicentennial celebration aroused the public for a huge celebration in Bethel. Parades, floats, reenactments made the day a very memorable one (now recorded on DVD, at the Bethel Historical Society). The Bethel Oxford County Citizen published a special edition that has become an excellent historical resource.
Congregational ……… Universalist…………..Methodist…………….. Christian Science (note there is no steeple on the Congregational Church in 1931; it was replaced in 1937. Rev. Leland A. Edwards was Congregational Church Minister; Rev. Roy Chester Dalzell pastor of the Methodist Church
1936 – Flood. This flood has become known as the 100 year flood because of its high water mark. In Mayville, the flood crested at twenty-seven and one-half feet above the river bank. Bethel village was virtually cut off from other towns until the flood subsided.
Eva Bean wrote these entries about the flood: In March several days of warm rain brought the rivers to a new high level, reported at three to five feet above the 1927 flood level. Railroad tracks east of Bethel station and at Skillingston were under water. There were no trains for two days due to many washouts. Property and highway damage was heavy. East Bethel Road, page 155.
1939 – Riverside Farm (Edward Bennett) became the first (and only) local dairy to pasteurize milk delivered to Bethel customers which included Gould Academy and the Bethel Inn. In 1952 a homogenizer was also added to the dairy’s processing equipment and paper cartons were used for the first time.
The new Holden Hall, boys dormitory, Gould Academy was opened and dedicated. Professor Frank E. Hanscom, retired Gould headmaster, delivered the main address. The building was named for Liberty E. Holden, a Gould alumnus, former editor of the Cleveland Plain Dealer. Holden had become the first graduate to make a substantial donation to the school
Gould Academy organized its first ski team coached by faculty member, Wilbur Myers.
1940, February 1 HANOVER CO. BUYS STOWELL MILL Hanover Dowel Company has purchased the property of the Stowell-MacGregor Corp. The Hanover Company’s mill had been destroyed by fire on November 25, 1939. Included in the deal were the shafting, boiler, two engines and two motors. For several weeks the Hanover Company had run limited operations at the Newton-Tibbetts mill at West Bethel. Officers of the Hanover Dowel Company are; President and Treasurer, Chesley F. Saunders; vice president, Addison Saunders; secretary and clerk, Addie Saunders.(Bethel Citizen Feb 1, 1940)
December 19 Bethel Grange Holds Its Last
Meeting Bethel Grange No 56 held its
last meeting before surrendering its charter January 1st.with the
Worthy Master Herman Mason in the chair. Before the meeting a ‘pot luck’ supper
was served to eighteen people, the eighteen included four from Bear River
Grange and two from Alder River Grange. Brother Gerard S. Williams and Sister
Gertie F. Bartlett were elected and installed to serve on the executive
committee to serve with Brother Fred Clark as chairman. The Grange
1941 – Bethel Information Booth operated by Bethel Chamber of Commerce on Railroad Street.. John Butts of Bethel was chosen to have charge of the booth.
1944 – November 11 ceremony dedicated new honor roll of Bethelites serving in World War II. Dedicated honor roll located at Soldier Monument.
1945 - Construction begins on the Bethel Airport (Edwards Airport) on land donated by Henry Boyker and Fred L. Edwards located a few hundred yards northwest of the former fairgrounds barn. (The Bethel Regional Airport, Colonel Dyke Field includes the site of the original airport.) The runway orientation was 12 – 30.
1947 – National Training Laboratory (NTL) began summer sessions in Bethel, hosted initially at Gould Academy, NTL has been a part of the Bethel social science landscape ever since. NTL and its life in Bethel
1947, June 14th: Top Hat Dance Hall – grand opening in Hanover. LARGE ATTENDANCE AT "TOP HAT" OPENING, Many people enjoyed the opening of the Top Hat Pavilion at Hanover, Saturday, June 14, (1947). In an opening ceremony, Paul C Thurston of Bethel dedicated the new building to high class entertainment for the young people in all surrounding communities. Mr. and Mrs. Gard Brown, owners of The Top Hat; their son, Leland, manager; Mrs. Joe Roderick, in charge of the check room; and Joe Roderick, ticket-seller; were called to the floor and introduced to the large crowd attending. A Grand March led by Mr. and Mrs. Paul C Thurston followed. For tops in high class dancing pleasure, the Top Hat will be open throughout the season every Wednesday and Saturday night. (Located on Route 2 east of Hanover Village – the former Top Hat has been an antique store since the 1970’s.)
The Maine Turnpike opened its first section (Kittery to Portland about 48 miles; by-passing US Route 1). In 1955, the second section with an exit at Gray, Maine opened making auto travel from the Boston area to Bethel, using both the Maine and New Hampshire turnpikes, much smoother.
1947 Churches – Congregational Church, Rev. Kingsley Hawthorne, Minister Methodist Church, William Penner, Pastor Christian Science Society – Sunday Services.
1948 – Bethel’s Chevrolet automobile dealer, Bennett’s Garage, received new cars by rail. The new models were unloaded from the railroad’s special auto carriers (50 ft box cars with double doors) from the rail siding on Railroad Street next to the former John Swan potato shed. The cars were then fueled and driven to the garage on Main Street.
1940 to 1950 – Bethel’s Main Street businesses reached their zenith: The Specialty Shop, Red and White Grocery, Bosserman’s Pharmacy, Lyon’s Jewelry, Bethel Savings Bank, Casco Bank and Trust, Brown’s Variety Store .Central Service Station, Bowling Alley and Taxi, Bennett’s Garage and Chevrolet Dealership, plus Taxi, Bethel Theater, Bethel Restaurant, D. G. Brooks Hardware, Bethel Spa Ice Cream and Soda, A&P Store, First National Store, Bryant’s IGA Store, Young’s Service Station, Martha’s Roadside Grill, Lord’s Garage, Bud and Shirley Clough’s Breeze Inn ( first soft ice cream in Bethel).
1952: Crescent Park School, Bethel’s new elementary school located on the Crescent Grounds on the slope just south of Mason Street was opened.
1953 – March Flood. Androscoggin River and its local tributaries rose (in Mayville) 24 feet over its bank. U. S. Route 2 at the Norseman Inn’s south driveway entrance was cut by the surging river current. Access to Bethel was closed at Alder River and Mill Brook. Milk deliveries from Riverside Farm (Mayville) to Bethel traveled via boat operated by Burton Newton and Wilfred “Pete” Baker. Boat trip was from the farm driveway to the Bethel rail station.
1954 – At a special town meeting in Odeon Hall called to decide on the Bethel town manager question, 165 votes were cast: 135 in favor and 30 against. Chairman Harold G. Bennett of the committee named last March to investigate the advisability of adopting a town manager form of government read the committee’s report in favor of the new way. Other committee members were – Carroll Abbott, Robert Blake, John Irvine and Edmond Vachon. Henry Hastings moderated the meeting. There was no debate on the question.
1955 – January: The Bethel Village Corporation members moved to dissolve the corporation subject to town and state approval. (5)
William Bingham II died in Florida on February 17; he was 76. (2)
The Walters Infirmary, Gould Academy, was constructed on the corner of High Street and Church Street. Later this section of High Street was discontinued with the land reverting to Gould Academy ownership. The infirmary was named for Mr. Bingham’s personal physician and close adviser, Dr. Arthur Walters.
June 27th: Bethel Inn to become property of Mr. Guy Butler and his wife. Trustees of the late William Bingham II approved sale of the inn which Mr. Bingham had owned for 42 years. The Bethel Inn’s manager, Peter Schutt, agreed to remain as manager for one year.
1955 Churches and services: West Parish Congregational Church, Charles L. Pendleton, Minister; Mrs. John Tebbets, Choir Director; Miss Dawn Christie, Organist. Bethel Methodist Church, Rev. Dwight H. McMahon, Pastor; Miss Minnie Wilson, Sunday School Superintendent; Mrs. Nesta Littlefield, Organist. West Bethel Union Church, Rev. Dwight McMahon will preach. Loche’s Mills Union Church, Charles L. Pendleton, Minister; Mrs. Richard Melville, Choir Director Catholic Services, Catholic Mass, 10:00 AM Sunday at the American Legion Hall. Christian Science, authorized Christian Science literature and text books at the Bethel Library.
1957 - A meeting was held at Gould Academy between NTL principals and Bethel people of the original Chamber of Commerce Industrial Survey Committee for the purpose of discussing ideas that might help Bethel industrially and economically. The Oxford County Bethel Citizen, August 15, 1957
1957— Artist Bridge, Newry
March 4, 1957, the town voted to build a new bridge rather than rebuild the Artist's Bridge on Sunday River under State and County aid, and the Selectmen were directed to post load limits on the town's bridges. It was voted to save the Artistes Bridge rather than tear it down when building the new bridge. Today this bridge continues to be maintained and repaired (a new roof recently provided by the State) and is a welcome tourist attraction, being one of the few covered bridges left in the State. The cost of the new Sunday River Bridge was $62,859.83, the town's share being $2,100.00 in 1959. Roads and Bridges, Newry Profiles 1805 – 1980 by Paula M. Wight
The new town of West Paris joined the Bethel-Gilead-Greenwood-Newry-Upton School Union. This included the school system of West Paris and North Paris.
The Wildcat Mountain Ski Area in Pinkham Notch was officially opened with ceremonies attended by Governor and Mrs. Lane Dwinell of New Hampshire
Robert Billings became proprietor of Bethel General Store, the store established by the late Niles Kellogg and later carried on by Ernest Buck
The Bethel Area Development Corporation was organized with Howard Cole elected president. Seventy-five members joined during the first five weeks.
Brooks Brothers, Inc., of Bethel bought the hardware firm of Clough & Pillsbury of Rumford. The purchase included the three story building occupied by the store on Congress Street.
Richard L. Davis purchased the Thurston mill property from Charles E. Merrill to provide space for concentration yard for lumber of the Burritt Lumber Sales Corporation of Bridgeport, Conn. The local plant is to sort for grade, width and trim, stack for drying and to plane and ship. An inventory of one to one and a half million feet is expected.
The Sunday River Skiway Corporation was organized with Addison C. Saunders, president. Work was started by volunteers in clearing land on Bald (Barker) Mountain, Newry, for ski development.
The two-family house of Mrs. Mabel B. Robertson on the Bethel-Locke Mills road was burned. Very little was saved. It was occupied by the families of Francis Palmer and Kenneth Swan, neither of whom were at home.
The Bethel Grand Trunk station went on a five-day schedule, closing Saturdays.
The Sunday River Skiway slope was laid out by Sel Hannah of Franconia, N.H.
Central Maine Power Co. acquired the Rumford Light Company, which serves the towns of Rumford , Mexico, Roxbury, Byron, Hanover, Peru, Canton, Andover, Dixfield, and Milton Plantation.
Bethel Theater closed and Max Zallen, the owner who built it in 1940, announced his plans for converting the building into a two-story motel.
Bethel Dowel Corporation was rebuilding their plant at Skillingston. Since their mill burned in October 1957, they had operated at the Grafton Lumber Company planning mill
Ground was broken for the new furniture stock plant of Roger Favreau at West Bethel.
About 56 voters attended a special town meeting in Bethel. Zoning ordinances were accepted as discussed at previous meetings and proposals to discontinue unused portions of several roads were passed over. Burton Newton was elected selectman and assessor for the remainder of the term of the late Carroll Abbott.
The home of Max Zallen was moved to the rear of the Bethel Theater building. Five old elm trees were taken down on the Bethel Theater grounds.
The Bethel Catholic parish purchased a building lot of Herbert Lyon on the Bethel-Locke Mills road
A skating rink was under construction at the Crescent Park School grounds.
Western Union telegraph service was removed from the Bethel railroad station.
Deaths: David M. Forbes, formerly an editor of the Oxford County Citizen; Guy H. Morgan, George L. Taylor, Dr. Raymond R. Tibbetts, Peter P. Schutt, former Bethel Inn manager; Marshall R. Hastings, Frank R. Bartlett, Carroll E. Abbott, J. Cleveland Bartlett
1959 Citizen News Highlights- “East Bethel Road” by Eva Bean is published, printed by the Citizen Printers in Bethel. Miss Bean’s efforts in local history led to the founding of the Bethel Historical Society in 1966. She was its first president. Her book was re-printed in 1984 by the society she founded.
Chadbourne plant - a new sawmill replaces older equipment. Machinery for converting waste lumber into chips for paper manufacture is in use at the Davis, Chadbourne and Hanover Dowell Co. mills.
Other construction includes a 40x40 block addition at Bennett’s Garage for body and paint work and the new 50x60 ft block building of Lloyd Lowell’s Western Auto on the Locke Mills road.
New motels - Thunderbird Motor Inn of Max Zallen on Main Street and the Red Rooster built and operated by Roland Glines at Mayville.
The town’s progress includes construction of the Evergreen Road sewer and the West Bethel water system. Sunday River Skiway opened December, 1959.
It was announced that Elwood F. Ireland was to retire as headmaster of Gould Academy in June to be succeeded by Edmond J. Vachon. Vance Richardson was named senior master.
Donald Angevine and Melvin Jodrey of Bethel were skiers in the National Junior Championships at Yakima, Wash.
Trustees of the Bethel Health Council announced that although their funds were “dangerously low” because of lack of interest the annual bazaar would not be held.
Mr. and Mrs. Robert York moved to Brownfield (from Bethel) where he became town manager.
Expansion at the furniture stock plant of Roger Favreau, West Bethel, included construction of three 13x34 foot kilns, a 40x52 foot temperature shed, 20x40 foot boiler room, and an office building.
Gould Academy opened with registration of 315.
Two days and nights of rain brought the Androscoggin River to flood stage about six inches lower than the March 1953 point. Much damage to property and roads resulted.
The Rumford area was connected to the system of the Central Maine Power Co.
Deaths Mrs. Olive Douglass, Mrs. Edward E. Bennett, Clayton F. Fossett, Ernest F. Bisbee, Chester A. Ladd, Freeland W. Clark
1960 Citizen News Highlights – A.T. &T. (Bell Telephone) engineers working on the Andover Satellite Earth Station in Andover, Maine, stayed at The Bethel Inn.
February 1960, mail transport by Grand Trunk/Canadian National ceased. May 1960 Bear River Grange Hall, Newry Corner, was moved to a new site opposite the home of Mr. and Mrs. Herbert Morton, Jr., on the road toward North Newry. Development of the Mount Abram Ski Slopes area by Stuart, Donald and Norton Cross was beginning to attract attention as it was seen from Route 26 near Locke Mills
June 1960 KC-97 Air Force tanker exploded and crashed on Jonathan Smith Mountain in Newry.
The National Training Laboratories started their 14th year at Gould Academy. Five men were killed when a KC97 tanker plane exploded and crashed on Jonathan Smith Mountain in Newry. The Shell oil distribution business of Ruth Carver Ames was purchased by the Luce Oil Company
“Mollyockett Day,” sponsored by the Bethel Health and Service Council, attracted large crowds. $1,000 was netted.
September Passenger train service ended on the Grand Trunk between Portland and Island Pond.
October Bethel Masonic Lodge observed its 100th anniversary with programs at William Bingham Gymnasium and banquet at the Congregational Church.
December Mount Abram Ski Slopes opened with an event attended by 250. Gould Academy bought the Gallant service station on Church Street, which was razed and the lot became a parking area. Construction was begun by Ernest Blake and Frank Lowell on a residential project on Bridge Street. Stanley Davis bought the retail lumber business of Charles E. Merrill, to be continued as Davis Building Supply
1962 – Telstar On July 11 the world’s first transatlantic television signal via satellite was relayed by Telstar 1 from Andover Earth Station, Maine, to a similar site located at Pleumeur-Bodou, France.
1962, August - Overhead bridge removed and replaced by new concrete and steel bridge. New bridge cuts off direct connection with Church Street.
Most noticeable activity at present is the removal of the old steel bridge over the railroad by the contractor, H. E. Sargent, Inc. This bridge was placed in its present position in 1924 and the same structure or another had been raised from an earlier height about 20 years previously.
Travel at lower Church Street is presently one way but the street will be widened by Saturday. Gravel fill on Railroad Street is now-improving conditions between Church and Elm Streets. Granite edging and curbing is now being installed on the new highway.
The Silent Spring by Rachel Carson was published. It describes the widespread destruction caused by generalized use of the pesticide DDT. Her book set into motion environmental protection by the federal and later state governments.
1962 Churches – Bethel Methodist Church, Richard M. Hamilton, Pastor; West Parish Congregational Church, Clifford W. Laws, Minister; The Church of the Open Bible At the Universalist Church, Rev. John Palmer, Pastor, Organist Linda Paine; Bethel Church of the Nazarene, Rev. C. R. Patnode, Minister; East Bethel Church; Minister Robert Colby, Sunday evening at 7 P.M. Episcopal Services 9:00 A.M. Sundays in the Odd Fellows building on Main Street; Catholic Services Sundays in the Community Room, 8:00 and 10:00 A. m. Christian Science WGAN Radio Sunday, 9 A.M. and West Bethel Union Church, Mrs. Beatrice Littlehale, Pastor and Mrs. Harriet Stowell, Organist, Mrs. Olive Head, Supt. Sunday School, Chapel Aid Society meets 2nd Wednesday of each month at 8:00 P.M.
1963 – The Bingham Hall auditorium, Gould Academy, which had been added to the newly remodeled William Bingham Gymnasium (1922) was dedicated to William Bingham II, by his sister, U. S. Congresswoman, Frances T. Bolton, Bingham’s sister and major donor.
1964 Citizen News Highlights Living Nativity performed on the Bethel Common for the first time; Reginald Godwin’s Mayville chicken house, Bethel’s largest broiler raising business, was destroyed in a fire with the loss of 13,000 chicks. Bethel Airport is licensed by the State Aeronautic Commission; new businesses: Western Maine Supply Co; Red Lantern; Sunday River Inn, Newry; The Covered Wagon, new Bryant’s IGA Store; new headquarters building for Evans Notch District, White Mountain National Forest completed near the railroad bridge on Routes 2 and 26. (5)
1965 – University of Maine President Lloyd Elliot leaves his office for the Presidency of George Washington University; his departure ends the possibility of Gould Academy becoming a University of Maine western campus. Edmund Vachon, Gould’s Headmaster (1959-1967), studied many options for Gould’s future in Bethel including a university campus one.
1966 Citizen News Highlights – The Bethel Historical Society is founded by Eva Bean. “I Was A Summer Boarder” by Ruth Crosby was published by the Christopher Publishing Company. The book is a personal story of summer vacationers at the Locke Mountain House in North Bethel; Sydney Dyke and Ormand Andrews died in plane crash on Northwest Bethel Road; October 1966, Bennett’s Garage Co. closed its business; The Bethel Inn is relinquished by Guy Butler to William Bingham II Trust after the death of Mrs. Butler. A subsidiary corporation – The Bethel Holding Company – was formed to run the inn. Butler remained for one more year. Blaine Moores was hired in 1967 as resident manager and became general manager upon Butler’s departure.
Bids were being sought for the construction of the junior-senior high school of SAD 44. The directors approved a total school budget of $790,000. Of this amount $321,000 was to be raised by member towns. Rudolf A. Honkala, husband of a former Bethel girl, Barbara Hastings, was on his third research expedition in the Antarctic. Renovations were underway at the former Bennett’s Garage property preparatory to its utilization as a shoe factory, reportedly to employ 25-30 people. It was announced that Gould Academy interests had acquired the Bethel Inn and Thunderbird Motor Inn properties. Michael Houlihan announced his resignation as Bethel Town Manager. Local manager since April of 1962, Mr. Houlihan assumed similar duties at Freeport.
It was announced that a new A. & P. Store would be constructed at a Railroad Street location. The directors of SAD 44 accepted a bid of $1,742,063 to construct the new junior-senior high school. Brown Construction Co. of Portland was awarded the contract. The name of “Telstar Regional High School” was chose as the name of the new facility.
Rev. Robert Jackson and Mrs. Musa S. Brown were elected directors of SAD 44 from Bethel. Rodney Eames was re-elected as Bethel selectman and assessor. A new zoning ordinance was also passed at the annual town meeting. The Whitney place on Railroad Street, Bethel, was razed to clear the site for the proposed new A. & P. store.
Dale Thurston was elected president of the newly organized Bethel Lions Club. Blaine D. Moores was appointed resident manager of the Bethel Inn.
Vance Richardson was named assistant headmaster at Waynflete School, Portland. Mr. Richardson had been at Gould since 1947, and had served as senior master since 1959.
A Gould sophomore, Miss Beverly York, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Donald York of Bethel, was elected State President of the Future Homemakers of America. Gardiner Brown of Bethel was fatally injured when his car was in collision with a freight train at West Bethel. Edmond J. Vachon was elected Treasurer of the Bethel Savings Bank. Kimball Ames, treasurer since 1956, was named President. About 70 attended Charter Night festivities of the Bethel Lions Club at the Masonic Hall. Construction started at the site of the Telstar Regional High School.
By a vote of 160-76, Bethel voters approved the formation of the Bethel Water District. The purchase of a vehicle for the use of the night police officer was approved. Due to the lack of a general chairman, the Bethel Health and Service Council announced that the annual Bethel Bazaar (Mollyocket Day) was cancelled. The L. & F. Country Store at West Bethel moved to their new building.
Samuel Bigelow was appointed assistant headmaster of Gould Academy. Dana G. Brooks, Albert W. Buck, and Dan W. Manson were appointed as trustees of the recently authorized Bethel Water District. Riverside Farms announced that they were discontinuing the delivery of milk at the end of the month.
James R. Bennett, formerly of Locke Mills, was named visiting instructor of music at the University of Evansville, Indiana. Clarence “Bud” Howe and Robert Lucas of Bethel attended the national convention of the Professional Photographers of America. Rev. George Stebbins assumed duties as pastor of the Bethel and Rumford Center Methodist Churches. He and Mrs. Stebbins had served as missionaries in Vietnam. Mrs. Stebbins is a teacher in Woodstock, SAD 44. They have four children.
The new bridge over the Androscoggin River in Bethel was open. The old structure, in use since 1928, was being dismantled
Mrs. Sharon A. Kaiser was promoted to first lieutenant, Army Nurse Corps, at Ft. Devens, Mass. She is the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Gary York, Bethel.
Larry Smith joined the Mundt-Allen American Legion Post, the first Vietnam veteran to do so.
Work was progressing rapidly on construction of new quarters for Western Maine Supply Co., on Cross Street. It was expected to be in use by the spring of 1968.
The State Liquor Store moved to its new location on Railroad Street, Bethel. A loss of $25,000 was estimated as fire destroyed a barn and shed and gutted the kitchen area at the Harold Carver farm in Skillingston. It was announced that Fred Burk would be director of Sunday River Ski School during the 1967-1968 season.
1968 Citizen News Hightlights – Bethel becomes the “capitol” of new Maine School Administrative District No. 44; office for the superintendent of schools, the new high school and new middle school of the district will be located in the town. Telstar will be the second high school in town. Voters repeal Bethel zoning—May 14.
1970 News Highlights: After 100 years of operation at Bryant Pond, L. M. Mann and Son closed its doors on Thursday, December 21, 1970. Gould Academy built a new dormitory, Davidson Hall. Gould’s enrollment dropped to 184 from over 300 during the early 1960’s when enrollment included a large numbers of public school students. S.A.D. 44 had a turnover in superintendents, Ralph Ryder departed and Robert Gerardi arrived as new superintendent. A. James (Jim) Fiske, a member of the Telstar faculty, was selected as Maine’s “Teacher of the Year”. Keith Cunningham, Telstar principal since August of 1968 (opening of Telstar Regional High School), was named Teacher-Education Coordinator for the State Department of Education.
In January Rev Tom Caton was announced as new Pastor of West Parish Congregational Church. March – American Legion Hall, Main Street and Bethel General Store, Railroad Street, were torn down. A 30 inch culvert was installed to carry Sanding Brook along the Philbrook St area. June – Sudbury Inn and lounge re-opened under new management. September – Joseph Gmuender became the new general manager at Sunday River Ski Area. June - new Legion Hall going up on Vernon Street. Callahan Bros. from Mechanic Falls constructed new bridge over Alder River. The “Window Box” was opened by Mr. and Mrs. John Willard at the corner of Church and Main.
1972 – The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) banned the use of DDT.
1974 - Dr. Stanley R. Howe becomes the Bethel Historical Society Executive Director.
1975 – Management of the Bethel Airport was transferred to the Bethel Town Manager. The Airport Advisory Committee was created as part of the management reorganization.
1975 Bethel Selectmen and Town Manager: Selectmen: Leland R. Brown, Chair; Samuel H. Timberlake; Bradley R. Barker; Arlan R. Jodrey; Stanley R. Howe. Town Manager: Elwyn N. Dickey. Clerk: Judith A. Young and Merton T. Brown after 8/5/75. (Elwyn Dickey died 9/25/1975 and Harold L. Bean became Acting Town Manager on 10/7/1975.)
Town ambulance service established. Bethel Emergency Ambulance and Rescue (BEARS). Ambulance service had previously been a private service run by Greenleaf Funeral Home – John and Eldon Greenleaf.
1978 – Bethel Area Health Center opened in the former S.D. Philbrook home, later Tom Brown home, on Main Street.
1978 Selectmen: Stanley R. Howe, Chair; Samuel H. Timberlake; Leland R. Brown; Arlan R. Jodrey; John T. Grover. Clerk: Merton T. Brown, Jr. Town Manager: Norman R. Ness, Jr.
1979 – An ad hoc committee was formed consisting of Bethel Town Manager, Norman Ness, the president and vice president of the Greater Bethel Chamber of Commerce, Donald G. Bennett and Attorney Gordon Gillies, and the general manager of the Sunday River Skiway, Leslie B. Otten, to offer information and assistance to any potential buyer of the Bethel Inn. It was deemed essential to Bethel’s future that the inn should continue as a Bethel landmark institution.
May 22nd: Richard Rasor of New York purchased The Bethel Inn from Canal Bank of Portland. Prior to Canal Bank’s assumption of ownership, the inn had been operated by the Harris (Barry Harris) – Cayhill Partners.
1988 – New runway completed at the Bethel Airport by Pike Industries with an orientation of 14-32 and the original runway (12-30) was closed.
1989, March – The Mahoosuc Land Trust is incorporated as a conservation land trust. Read its chronology from 1988 to 2009.
1990 – August – November: Bethel Selectmen approved plan for final phase of Cole Block renovation. Peter Kuzyk contractor – Cole Block: modern town office, zoned heat, handicapped access, meeting room seats 45 comfortably.
1990 – Bethel Wastewater Treatment Plant upgrade completed; replacement of storm water and sewer collection systems begun. $988,100 Downtown Revitalization Project: storm water, sewer and water lines, Main Street, Spring Street, Mason Street, High Street and part of Elm Street - Scott Construction of Newport, VT, contractor. Under budget work allowed Elm Street to be completed and begin Railroad Street. A.E. Hodsdon Engineers contractor Inflow and Infiltration Removal Program.
1990, September: Town Manager Rodney Lynch (1985-1990) resigned. Lynch was known for skilled grant writing and land use regulation development.
1991 – “Bethel, Maine An Illustrated History” by Randall H. Bennett is published by the Bethel Historical Society with funding assistance from the Betterment Fund, created in the Will of William Bingham II.
1991 – Bethel Town Office computer system: Computer Study Committee (Deborah Michaud, Harry Dresser, Pat Dooen, Cheryl Eliot, Tom O’Meara, and Merton Brown, Jr.); April 27, 1991, special town meeting appropriated $16,500 to be added to existing fund of $10,000 for the purchase and installation of a networked system of six stations and MUNIS accounting and tax collection software.
April 27, 1991: Grand opening of Bethel Recycling Center.
December 26, 1991: Town meeting had voted to purchase the GAMM II property at the Bethel Airport Industrial Park. Price for purchase was $146,500 (assessed value was about one-half million dollars). The building had been built by Plymouth Trust, owner of GAMM Inc. Mid-January 1992 Airport Industrial Park Committee formed.
1992, May: Town entered lease/purchase agreement with Groan and McGurn (screen printers, etc.) to use the GAMM II building. By May 1994 the lease agreement had produced 10 new jobs.
1992, December 31: Final date for closing Bethel Land Fill.
1992, December 12 Fire destroyed the Kennett Realty office building (formerly Brown’s Variety Store) on corner of Spring and Main Streets. Also lost in the fire was the former Central Service Station and Bowling Alley.
1992, August17: Bethel Special Town Meeting for Phase III, the Streets and Roads naming and numbering project, three separate Maine Jobs Bonds Grants: allowed construction of transfer station and Davis Park Picnic Area.
1992 SAD 44 – Internet SAD44 experience with the Internet goes back to 1992 when we contacted IBM and asked if they would be interested in establishing a pilot program with a public school. When the 1993-1994 school year opened, the entire CPS population of 289 students plus staff had taken up residence (while construction took place at CPS) in the side parking lot at Telstar in what eventually became known as "The Village". With IBM's assistance, we set up 24 computers in four of our portable classrooms. These were connected to the Internet via an early token ring system. (Supt David Murphy and Tech Supervisor Peter Kuzyk)
1993 – The Grand Summit Hotel opened at the Sunday River Ski Resort on a site that overlooks the stone cellar of a nineteenth century Barker family home.
Bethel’s first micro-brewery opened at the Moose’s Tale Food and Ale near the intersection of Route 2 and the Sunday River Road (formerly a hay field, part of Thurstonia Farm). Program manager was M. Heine Merrill, developer.
1993 – Silver Bullet Express Ski Train began winter operation between Portland and Bethel. Its Bethel terminal was the new Bethel Station train station. Sunday River Transportation operated the train in conjunction with St. Lawrence and Atlantic Railroad Company. Sunday River Transportation provided bus transportation between Bethel Station and Sunday River Ski resort.
1994 – Bethel Library -In the 1994 the Librarian’s report noted that the Bethel Library acquired an IBM compatible computer made possible by a grant from Tabitha and Stephen King. The report went on to say that now patrons are able to search 230 libraries in Maine through the inter-library loan system plus students and researchers may use multi-media CDRom reference works.
1994 – December. The Bethel Station development started its planned $25 million dollar project on Cross Street. (5) Old mill sites were cleared away that had been locations of Hanover Dowel Company, L.E. Davis Lumber Company and The Bethel Chair Company/Thurston Dowell Company.
Bethel Station began as a planned development of 70 acres located between the Androscoggin River and the St. Lawrence and Atlantic Railroad in Bethel – east and west boundaries were Maine Route 26 (east) and U.S. Route 2 (west). M. Heine Merrill was Bethel Station President. Lloyd Kleypus of Kleypus, Inc., was hired as resident architect.
Bethel Station and the Town of Bethel received a community development block grant of $400,000 from the state of Maine for infrastructure improvements at Bethel Station. Contract conditions included that the town create 200 permanent new jobs.
1996 – American Skiing Company merger completed. ASC president Leslie B. Otten announced that the merger includes Sunday River Ski Resort, Sugarloaf USA, in Maine, Mount Snow, Haystack, Killington and Sugarbush resorts in Vermont and Attitash Bear Peak in New Hampshire. The ASC headquarters will be in Newry.
The Limited Partnership of Bethel Station consisted of Heine Merrill, developer, Leslie B. Otten, Sunday River Ski Resort president, and Grant Wilson, developer. By September 1996, more that $6 million dollars have been spent of infrastructure development.
Norway Savings Bank began construction of a new two story bank building within Bethel Station near the junction of U.S. Route 2 and Parkway Road. The new building will have space for professional offices and retail shops.
1998 – January: A major ice storm covered all of central, southern and coastal Maine including Bethel. Many areas around Bethel such as the North Road lost power for two weeks or more. Many of the power outages occurred from tree branches that were loaded with ice breaking from the tree and falling on power lines.
2000 - The Millennium Celebration – The Millennium sculpture, “Life in Balance” mounted next to the Bethel Post Office building on Main Street was unveiled on Mollyockett Day, July 15, 2000. It was designed by four fifth grade Crescent Park School students: Crystal Herrick, Bret Kendall, Erin Murphy and Caiti Shimamura. SAD 44 elementary art teacher Leslie Rosenberg assisted in the design. Richard Duka crafted the ironwork sculpture at his studio in Hanover. “Making Time Count” is the sculpture’s main theme.
2002 – September: Gould Academy celebrated the opening of its new state of the art McLaughlin Science Center on the site of the former red brick Bethel Grammar School during Alumni Weekend.
2003 – April 25, 2003 the most recent airport renovation project was completed with a daylong celebration. Governor John E. Baldacci was the main speaker. The main runway had been lengthened to 4000 feet and was 75 feet wide. Improved lighting was installed and a protective cyclone fence placed around the entire airport operational area.
2004 – Ladd Farm in Bethel (Mayville) was sold to David McCrum and his associates of Mars Hill, Maine. McCrum owns farm property in Mars Hill; he renamed Ladd Farm to Sunday River Farm. Ladd Farm was the largest crop farm in Bethel and in Oxford County, with potatoes being the main crop. Three generations of the Ladd family had owned the farm in Bethel as well as its second farm in Rumford Point.
2005 – April: The Bethel Citizen reported that the town’s inability to produce the 200 permanent new jobs promised by the town in receiving a grant of $400,000 in 1995 may be cause for Maine to re-call grant funds. The grant was made to support Bethel Station development.
May, 2005. Construction of a recreational bridge paralleling the Route 2 Androscoggin River Bridge in Mayville was underway. This bridge is to serve snowmobiles. The contractor is Reed & Reed from Woolwich, Maine. The bridge dedication occurred Oct 8, 2005 with Governor Baldacci cutting the ribbon. Reported cost of the bridge: $1.4 millions
July, 2005: Sunday River Golf Course officially opened its full 18 holes to the public. The Sunday River Golf Club is a partnership between Sunday River ski resort and Harris Golf, owner of Boothbay and Bath Country Clubs and Harris Golf Shops in Maine. The Golf Club charges $100 for 18 holes of play, golf cart included.
2006 – Nine real estate agencies in Bethel,. Maine Street Realty & Rentals, 20 Railroad Street; Sunday River Realty, 23 South Ridge Road; River Valley Realty, 111 Main Street; Apple Tree Realty, 14 High Street; RE/MAX in the Mountains, Norway Savings Bank Building, One Parkway; Handlen Realty, 57 Main Street; Four Seasons Realty, 918 Walkers Mills Rd; Mahoosuc Realty, 16 Parkway Road and Sunday River Road; Kennett Realty, 103 Main Street.
2009, July 1 – James Doar succeeded Scott Cole as Bethel Town Manager
July 1, 2010 – Bethel’s Police Department dissolved; law enforcement coverage of the Bethel area was assumed by the Oxford County Sheriff’s Department. Bethel Selectmen’s Meeting: Turnover of the police department functions to the Oxford County Sheriff is going smoothly. The “Bethel sheriff deputies” will also be working out points of coordination with the Bethel Fire Department and Bethel Rescue. There is no decision yet on what use will be made of the vacant police department office. Bethel’s fire station is a back-up option if in the long run use of the ranger station falls through.
In 2011, Bethel Savings Bank vault and safe was removed from the vacant Police Department office and the office assigned to Bethel’s Planning Board. November 8, 2011 Bethel News – Bethel Unit of the Oxford County Sheriff Department had moved into an office in Norway Savings Bank building on Parkway Rd (a move across Route 2 from the former Ranger Station).
August, 2011 Plans for Gehring Green and Tour of the Gehring House Paul Boghossian, new Gehring house owner and Gehring Green developer/preservationist spelled out his plans for converting the 1896 Gehring house interior into an assemblage of luxury apartments.
September 2011 – West Bethel River Crossing – Bethel Water District, Cross Excavation of Bethel and A E Hodsdon Engineers connected the Bethel water distribution system to the West Bethel water system by installing a special composition material water main under the Androscoggin River.