The Aroostook Roads

  1. Location and Background
  2. Under the French and British Regimes
  3. The First Acadian and Canadian Immigrants
  4. The Development of Madawaska
  5. Borderland Tensions
  6. Military and Commercial Roads
  7. War Avoided
  8. New Immigrant Waves
  9. A Bi-Directional Route
  10. Sources

  1. Military and Commercial Roads
To assert a hold on the territory, in 1832 the US government completed the construction of a military road between Bangor and Houlton in order to rapidly move troops and ship military supplies to northern Maine in case of border friction. At the same time the State of Maine began encouraging settlement, homesteading, and logging in the Aroostook region to stem the massive tide of Yankee emigration from the state towards the prairie lands on the western American frontier. To achieve these objectives, the state constructed a road connecting Houlton in north-central Maine to the Aroostook River in the northwest in 1832, followed by a second road reaching the Madawaska settlement in 1836. According to the travel description left by the renowned naturalist James Audubon in 1833, these new roads were at best rough thoroughfares full of bumps, holes, and beds of mud after rainfalls. Nevertheless, by 1840 a system of rough roads was now in place that would allow a traveler to go by way of Aroostook County from the eastern St. Lawrence Valley directly to central and southern Maine and the rest of New England. The Aroostook Roads system had been born.

A map from the 1830s showing the advance of one of the military roads from Bangor towards the Madawaska settlement.

Source: Maine State Library.

Plans for building military barracks at Houlton Maine as a consequence of the tensions along the Maine-New Brunswick border in the early nineteenth century.