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Maine's Swedish Colony, July 23, 1870

The Colony Continues to Grow, 1874 - 1900

In 1874 state aid was prematurely cut off from the colony of New Sweden causing a group of newspapermen to publicize the poverty and dire straits of the Swedes. A poor growing season and forest fires exacerbated the situation. Persistence and the determination to survive have been credited as the reasons the colony recovered from this crisis. The success of the colony was reported in the newspapers the following year. Thomas himself wrote that he only told stories of the victories of the colony and did not report about the struggles, which were soon forgotten.

New Sweden Gustaf Adolph Lutheran Church
New Sweden Gustaf Adolph Lutheran Church

Item Contributed by
New Sweden Historical Society

A group of Swedish men became United States citizens when they traveled to Houlton in 1875. This undertaking provided a necessary step to New Sweden becoming a “plantation” in 1876. Local government had been organized to conduct the affairs of the colony even before New Sweden became a plantation. In 1895 the colony of settlers in New Sweden became an official town of the State of Maine.

Settlement and development of New Sweden, and other towns in the Colony, continued at a brisk pace. By 1880 the population had grown to 787 and 4,438 acres of the former forest were planted in grass or crops. Buildings included the Capitol, one church, five school houses, three mills, 163 houses, and 151 barns.

The Colony Expands Into Neighboring Townships

The town of Westmanland (just west of New Sweden) was settled in 1879 by several Swedish families. The west half of T16-R3 (what would become Stockholm) was surveyed for settlers in 1879 and again in 1883 when it was sold to the Burleigh heirs by the Samuel Hersey Estate for $395.80. In 1881 a few families moved north from New Sweden and founded Stockholm, settling first on the high land just across the New Sweden line. Stockholm’s population reached 66 by 1890.

By 1895 the Swedish Colony’s population had reached 1,452 persons and 7,630 acres of land were planted in grass or crops. In addition to the Capitol, there were four churches, three parsonages, seven schools, two starch factories, five shingle mills, 305 houses, 362 barns, and 71 miles of roads.

Stockholm became the name of the plantation originally organized in 1895, although the north side of town was called Upsala. Stockholm officially became a Town in 1911.

The Rail Roads

Bangor & Aroostook Railroad Station, New Sweden, ca. 1930
Bangor & Aroostook Railroad Station, New Sweden, ca. 1930

Item Contributed by
New Sweden Historical Society
New Sweden AVR Station, ca. 1920
New Sweden AVR Station, ca. 1920

Item Contributed by
New Sweden Historical Society
New Sweden Station
New Sweden Station

Item Contributed by
New Sweden Historical Society

In 1899 the Bangor and Aroostook rail line was extended north from Caribou through New Sweden and Stockholm to Van Buren. With a fast and efficient connection to the outside world, the Colony’s population continued to grow, new products and industries came to the Colony, and large amounts of wood products and potatoes were shipped off to new markets in the south. A second rail line, the Aroostook Valley Rail Road (AVR), was completed ca. 1910.

Winter Carnival arrivals, New Sweden, 1936
Winter Carnival arrivals, New Sweden, 1936

Item Contributed by
New Sweden Historical Society

The railroads would not only offer a means of transporting potatoes and goods from the factories, but the passenger rail system would provide a means for students to attend high school in nearby Caribou and spectators to attend the Winter Carnivals in the 1930s.