Hello from Northern Maine! I’m here in Aroostook County for a few days to visit some of the great credit unions in this part of the state. I may have lived in Maine my whole life, but I don’t know much about the state’s largest county.
I did a little digging to educate myself about “The County”. I know it’s famous for the potatoes (and the unique Potato Blossom Festival that features mashed potato wrestling) but there is so much more to learn! Here are my 10 favorite facts about Aroostook County.
Aroostook County Facts
- Aroostook County is 6,828 square miles, making it the largest American county east of the Mississippi River. However, the population is only 71,870, only about 5,000 more people than the entire city of Portland.
- By area, The County is larger than the states of Rhode Island and Connecticut combined.
- The name Aroostook is an Indian word meaning "beautiful river".
- The County is home to two Transatlantic balloon launch sites. The first ever successful solo Transatlantic balloon journey launched from Caribou in 1984. Joe Kittenger piloted the balloon. Kittenger later went on to serve as mentor and capsule communicator for Felix Baumgartner as he completed a free-fall through Earth's stratosphere.
- Aroostook County has plenty of land and forest to enjoy outdoor adventures, like snowmobiling, hiking and camping, but have you ever heard of spelunking? Spelunking, also known as caving, is the sport of cave exploration. Exploring caves in The County is relatively new, so experienced spelunkers have the chance to discover new underground systems. Exciting!
- The County is a growing force in renewable energy, especially wind power. There are a number of wind farms across the landscape, including the Mars Hill Wind Project, which was the first large scale wind farm in New England.
- Many County residents are bilingual in English and French. Just over the border is New Brunswick, where French is commonly spoken.
- Ever heard of the Aroostook War? It was a non-violent confrontation in 1838 and 1839 between British North America (now Canada) and Northern Maine. The two parties were in dispute over the boundary between the two lands. Each side prepared troops for war, marched to the boundary, and then diplomats took over, declared a truce, and the border was defined by a treaty at a later time.
- Estcourt Station, located on the Maine-Quebec border in Aroostook County, is the Northernmost point in Maine and New England. There are no public access roads to Estcourt Station (unless you enter Canada) despite there being several houses, a general store, a small gas station, and four people living there.
- Aroostook County has three credit unions, NorState FCU, Acadia FCU, and The County FCU, with 14 locations. These three CUs offer shared branching (among many other products) so come for a visit and still have access to your money!
I'm off to explore The County!