Historical society leads legislative reps on tour

9 years ago

 PRESQUE ISLE, Maine — Presque Isle Historical Society hosted an Aug. 12 event sponsored by the American Alliance of Museums for “Invite Congress to Your Historical Site” Week.

The event began with coffee and danish at the Hampton Inn, followed by a short ride aboard the Society’s Molly the Trolley to the 1875 Vera Estey House Museum.  The trolley ride featured a mini-demonstration of the City-Wide Tour aboard Molly the Trolley.  The group then took a guided tour of the Society’s Victorian era house museum.

The Presque Isle Historical Society participated in this nationwide event to better acquaint elected officials with the historical assets of Presque Isle, which can serve as draws for cultural heritage tourism, the fastest growing segment of Maine’s tourism industry.

Presque Isle, although a small rural city, has many direct ties to state, national and international history.  For state “firsts,” it boasts the first state park and the first director of recreation (Bill Haskell).  Direct ties to national history include the 1959 National Christmas Tree and two buildings on the National Historic Register.  Internationally, the Double Eagle II, the first successful trans-Atlantic hot air balloon flight, lifted off from Presque Isle in 1978; Presque Isle was the Strategic Air Command’s location for the first nuclear ICBM, the SNARK; and there is also a direct tie to The Aroostook War (1839-1842) with the “Incident of Arnold’s Cow.”

Engaging local residents in the history of their own community can build a sense of community pride, promote better citizenship, nurture personal identity, and teach independent thinking skills, explained Kim Smith, secretary/treasurer of the historical society.

“Local history can also be fun and entertaining,”  she noted, adding that with almost 10 different types of tours as well as presentations on topics of local history, the Society has a measurable economic and educational impact on the community.  Programs are also available for area school children.

The next regularly scheduled tours to be offered by the society will be on Saturday, Aug. 22, with a free guided walking tour of historic downtown at 10:00 a.m., as well as a guided tour of the 1875 Vera Estey House at 1:00 p.m. (there is a fee).

A presentation on the Double Eagle II will be offered free to the public on Wednesday, Sept. 2, at 5:30 p.m. in the McCain Conference Room at The Aroostook Medical Center.

With another school year approaching, teachers can visitpihistory.org/ schoolprograms to see what the society can offer for field trips or presentations in the classroom.

The society is a not-for-profit organization founded in 1963 whose mission is to study, promote and preserve the history, culture, heritage and physical artifacts of Presque Isle for present and future generations.  For more information on the group, its programs and services, or to make a tax-deductible contribution, visit pihistory.org, call (207) 762-1151, or e-mailpihistoricalsocety@hotmail.com.