Home first to native tribes and French explorers, Ellsworth grew up around the Union River. It was named for a delegate to the national convention working on the Constitution, Oliver Ellsworth of Connecticut.

In 1763, English entrepreneurs came to harness the area’s forestland and water power with dams and sawmills. The first schooner built in Ellsworth, in 1773, carried pine shingles and oak staves to the West Indies. It was the start of a shipbuilding industry along the river that lasted into the 20th century.

Ellsworth became the county seat of Hancock County in 1838, replacing Castine. It was incorporated as a city in 1869.

Ellsworth suffered two disasters in the early 20th century. A 1923 flood washed away many of the shipyards.

The Great Fire of 1933 destroyed much of the downtown. New buildings were built of brick.

The retail district that grew in the 1970s along High Street led to the city’s distinction as a traffic-choked gateway to Acadia National Park and Bar Harbor. It’s a reputation Ellsworth is fighting to overcome as it evolves as a destination and service center.

Staff Writer Tux Turkel can be contacted at 791-6462 or at:

[email protected]