In the 1920s, Governor Percival Baxter possessed the will and the means to create a state park centered on Mount Katahdin, but it is hard to give away a mountain even when the motive is to do “something for the people of Maine.” Many obstacles stood in the way of his purchasing the land and of the state’s acceptance of the territorial gift. Other politicians fought the idea, independent Mainers refused to sell their property, timber companies opposed “sterilization of the land” (which is to say, the banning of logging), sportsmen worried over the loss of hunting grounds, while federal authorities had notions of forming a national park. Yet Baxter persevered and parcel by parcel, despite the attendant legal complications, he grew a park. This series of Maine Official Highway maps traces the evolution of the park from before its existence  to the present. The first parcel – a 6,000 acre tract including Mount Katahdin – appeared on the 1934 map , the year after the park’s creation. The addition of Traveler Mountain appeared on the 1939 map that showed the park in two separate blocks . The park had been consolidated by 1946  and further “squaring off” occurred by 1953, with the addition of Double Top Mountain . The park continues to grow to this day, especially to the north. Baxter Park is larger than ever in the 2000 map, with the appearance of recent purchases of public reserve land, notably the Allagash Wilderness Waterway . What might be added next? Despite its checkered history, can anyone who has ever experienced the majesty of Baxter Park even conceive of Maine without this legacy? “Are the people enjoying their park?” was Baxter’s constant query. The record of its growth, as documented in these maps, testifies to the answer.
1932 Route Map of Maine.
New York: General Drafting Company for Maine State Highway Department, 1932.
Route and Pictorial Map of Maine.
Augusta, Maine: State Highway Commission, 1934.
Route Map of Maine.
Chester, Vermont: National Survey Company for Maine State Highway Commission, 1939.
Route Map of Maine: 1946.
Augusta, Maine: Maine State Highway Commission, 1946.
Official Highway Map; Maine, 1953.
Augusta: Maine State Highway Commission, 1953.
Maine: Official Highway Map.
Maine Tourism Association, 2000