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The Rich History of Bristol

7:33 AM, May 22, 2013   |    comments
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BRISTOL, Maine (NEWS CENTER) - NEWS CENTER'S Don Carrigan and Jackie Ward visited Bristol this morning on our "Around the World in Maine" tour.

Bristol's name is a clue to the long and rich history that exists here. Bristol, Maine was named for Bristol, England, the home town of some of the early settlers.

That was in 1765, before the Revolution, making it one of the older towns in Maine.  But by that time people had already been living in Bristol or trying to for well over a century.

Some of them came here...to the spot now called Colonial Pemaquid. This archaeological site has cellar holes of some of Bristol's very first houses. It's a reproduction, of course, and was built with advice from people at Plimoth Plantation, because it would have been the same era as the homes of the Pilgrims in Massachusetts.

Native Americans were here for centuries before Europeans came to Pemaquid. There were several year-round English settlements built here during the 1600's.

Four different forts were built during that time, each eventually attacked and torn down. This is a reproduction of Fort William Henry and was built by the state as a historic site around 1909.

Bristol or Pemaquid was a tough place to live in the first 130 years. There were battles between settlers and Indians, and fights between the English and the French. In fact, there was a period of around fifty years when this whole region basically emptied out of English settlers because it wasn't safe to live here.

Historians tell us It wasn't until the end of the French and Indian War in the 1750's that large numbers of people came back, and that's when the permanent settlement of Bristol really took hold.

But by then people knew where and how they wanted to live, and that created the town as we know it today...really a collection of villages.

Round Pond , with a great sheltered harbor, became one of the dominant areas of the town. New Harbor followed close behind and is now the commercial center of the town.

Bristol Mills, because of the rushing Pemaquid River and the work it could do.

Pemaquid Beach became a popular summer vacation spot... and still is. There used to be hotels and a roller rink here. Other hotels were on the other side of Pemaquid Harbor.

And then at Pemaquid Point. The signature spot in the whole town. The first lighthouse built in 1827, and THIS tower was built in 1835. It's the image of Maine on the Maine State Quarter. People come here to be married, to get close to the sea and feel its power.180-thousand or so came through last year. Even local people can't stay away. In the winter, when there's a big storm, this is where we try to come to watch the waves. Drawn to this coast just like those first people were hundreds of years ago.

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