Falmouth Gazette: “Collections of Maine Historical Society, courtesy of www.MaineMemory.net, item #20114”

Jan. 1, 1785: Maine’s first newspaper, the Falmouth Gazette, publishes its first issue. The founders, Benjamin Titcomb and Thomas B. Wait, establish the paper for express purpose of advocating for Maine’s separation from Massachusetts, according to historian William D. Williamson (1779-1846). That goal takes another 35 years to achieve.

Williamson advocates for Maine’s statehood as a Massachusetts state senator in the early 19th century and goes on to serve as its second governor. He later publishes a two-volume history of Maine, covering the period from the first Colonial-era settlement to the separation from Massachusetts in 1820.

Jan 1, 1978: Maine becomes the third state to ban most roadside billboards. The law survives multiple court challenges, markedly changing the appearance of Maine highways in a stark visual contrast with nearby states that did not enact a similar ban. Rep. Marion Fuller Brown (1917-2011), R-York, had championed the law years earlier and went on to co-found the nonprofit now known as Scenic America.

Billboards near Kittery, 1969. Press Herald file photo

On this date was researched and written by Joseph Owen of Augusta, a retired copy desk chief of the Morning Sentinel and Kennebec Journal newspapers. Owen is a longtime member, former president and current board member of the Augusta-based Kennebec Historical Society.

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