Although fewer than 5,000 residents make their home here year-round, Camden, a town in Knox County, Maine, is known as a popular summer and winter resort destination visited by majestic tall ships in the summer and amateur and professional tobogganers in the cold New England winter.
As of the 2010 U.S. Census, the town’s population was 4,850 — but that number more than triples during the summer months with an influx of tourists and summer residents. Camden is a famous summer colony in the Mid-Coast region of Maine. Similar to Bar Harbor, Nantucket and North Haven, Camden is well known for its summer community of wealthy Northeasterners, mostly from Boston, New York and Philadelphia.
A Revolutionary History
The Penobscot Abenaki Indians called the area Megunticook, which means “great swells of the sea.” To the Indians, this was a reference to the silhouette of the Camden Hills as seen at night. Part of the Waldo Patent, the area remained wilderness until after the French and Indian War.
Camden was first settled about 1771–1772 by James Richards, who built a home at the mouth of the Megunticook River. Others soon followed, some making modest attempts to farm the difficult and often mountainous terrain. The first home in the area, the Conway House, a Cape Cod style home built in 1770, was purchased and renovated into a history museum in 1962.
When the town of Castine, Maine was occupied and held by the British in 1779, Camden became a rendezvous point and encampment for the Americans, who were commanded by Major George Ulmer. During a raid, the British burned a sawmill. On February 17, 1791, the Massachusetts General Court incorporated Megunticook Plantation as Camden, named for Charles Pratt, 1st Earl of Camden, a member of the British Parliament and proponent of civil liberties. During the War of 1812, a battery was built atop Mount Battie near the village. It had both a 12- and 18-pounder gun, but no gunner qualified to operate them. Nevertheless, the fort’s appearance of readiness managed to keep the British at bay.