Millinocket’s History

A Bit About Millinocket



1900 site of present-day St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church






The name Millinocket is derived from the Abnaki Indian language meaning “Many Islands”. It was the name given to Millinocket Lake and to the stream, which flows from it through Millinocket.

In the years 1898-99 a University of Maine civil engineer saw potential for industrial development, and bought land on both sides of the West Branch. Construction began in the spring of 1899, and a large paper mill was completed in 1900. With the building of the mill came new families and the town seemed to spring up overnight, earning it the nickname, The Magic City. Millinocket was incorporated on March 16, 1901.

As news of the construction spread, with its promise of employment, interest in Millinocket grew, drawing immigrants from around the world. Millinocket became a true melting pot of multiple nationalities with the sole purpose of supporting mill and town construction. The first 25 years saw a town well laid out with streets, lights, sewers, and many other municipal improvements. 


A picture of the Great Northern Hotel, known as the “palace in the woods,” which was built on the hill of Highland St, where the present St. Andrew’s church now stands. (see picture above also)  Our welcoming attitude continues today!


In January 2003, due to poor economics and industrial conditions worldwide, the paper mill closed. As the primary employer, the closing was devastating, not only on Millinocket, but to the whole northern region. People left the area to pursue employment elsewhere—the majority being young and middle-aged adults with families, causing a decline in school enrollment, and a decline in church and civic viability. Those remaining in Millinocket have shown strength and loyalty to the welfare of each other and the region. Eventually a portion of the paper mill reopened, providing partial employment and some stability to the town’s economic situation. Local townspeople, politicians, and businessmen joined forces to improve economic development and due to everyone’s efforts, the town is starting to revitalize.

Our school system consists of Stearns High School/Middle School, which includes grades six through twelve, and Granite Street School, housing kindergarten through grade five. The schools have excellent performing arts programs, sporting activities, and up-to-date computer instruction. The percentage of graduating students entering college or the Armed forces is greater than 90 percent.

Located in Millinocket is the Millinocket Regional Hospital (MRH), which is a 25-bed critical access hospital serving the greater Katahdin region. There is more than adequate primary care with several internists, a pediatrician, family practitioners, two general surgeons, and an orthopedist. In addition to the hospital’s primary care, surgical, and orthopedic practices, there are two federally qualified health centers. Dental and eye care are also available in town. Other health care facilities include Katahdin Nursing Home, Stearns Assisted Living Center, in Millinocket and Sweet Seniors Guest House in East Millinocket. There are two senior citizen housing complexes in town: the Crestview and Terre Haute Apartments.

Katahdin Paper Company (formerly Great Northern Paper) has in the past been the primary industry in our area. Other major employers are the Millinocket Fabrication and Machine Company, MRH, and Brookfield Power Company. With the closing of the paper mill, smaller, private businesses have sprung up and tourism is growing. Millinocket has its own municipal airport.

There is an abundance of recreation in this area. The Millinocket, East Millinocket, and Medway Recreation Departments, together, sponsor various activities throughout the year, including basketball, and bowling leagues, for both men and women. At the high school complex, there is an outdoor swimming pool, lighted tennis courts, softball and baseball diamonds, a lighted football field, and a hockey rink. Millinocket also boasts a golf course. The local snowmobile clubs have numerous cross-country ski trails as well as groomed snowmobile trails. The Maine woods offer hunting, fishing, trapping, or just “walking in the woods” as a sightseer, birdwatcher, or photographer. There are numerous lakes, streams, and ponds for the avid fisherman, and of course, Mt. Katahdin and the unique Baxter State Park are in our backyard for the adventurous climber or hiker. Several area businesses offer adventures in guided hunting, fishing, hiking, white-water rafting/kayaking, skydiving, scenic tours, moose watches, and more.

Millinocket is about an hour from the city of Bangor to the south, where you find a large shopping mall, plus a large auditorium, where celebrity performers come to give concerts. The University of Maine, also about an hour to the south in Orono, boasts a Performing Arts Center, and multi-sports complex.

Although Millinocket is a fairly small community, there is always something going on here. There are classes in ballet, modern dance, gymnastics, karate, and numerous crafts. There is Little League and Little Pro Basketball for the younger athletes. The Millinocket Players offer an opportunity to perform on the stage, if there is an interest in theater. Drug Abuse Resistance Education (D.A.R.E.) is an important and supported program to reach our area youngsters, from K-12. The D.A.R.E curriculum is used in all our schools, as well as in the community.

We also have an active Scouting community. Brownies, Cub Scouts, Girl Scouts, and Boy Scouts offer children of various ages a source of adventure, friendship, and learning, in a well organized and supervised atmosphere.

Millinocket boasts a large town library. This facility houses a wealth of up-to-date materials and access to a wide range of resources nationwide. The library has a separate children’s library housed in its lower level. The library is host to many interesting exhibits and programs of interest to both children and adults.

There are also many interesting organizations for adults in Millinocket. Some of these are: Rotary Club, American Legion and Auxiliary, the Elks and Emblem Club, VFW and Auxiliary, Masons, Northern Timber Cruisers Snowmobile Club, Fin & Feather Club, Katahdin Area Chamber of Commerce, Literary Club, Garden Club, Philharmonic Club, and the Millinocket Historical Society. Some school-related organizations are the Athletic Boosters, the Performing Arts Boosters, and the Volunteer School Librarians.

As you can see, Millinocket is a town of inspiring history and growth. It is a pleasant community in which to raise a family as well as a place where recreational facilities are naturally abundant. Welcome to a “Northern Adventure”!

To find out more about our area, you might want to check out these websites: (Area Chamber of Commerce)  (Millinocket was rated #7 in the country for the top places to visit in 2007)