Feb. 7, 1827: Waldo County becomes Maine’s 10th county, formed from part of Hancock County. It is the first Maine county formed after Maine achieved statehood in 1820.

The county is named for wealthy merchant, soldier and land speculator Samuel Waldo, who in 1730 acquired title to the land in Maine between Muscongus Bay and Penobscot Bay and settled German and Irish immigrants there.

Waldo County has a rich maritime history, much of which is on display in exhibits at the Penobscot Marine Museum in Searsport.

Feb. 7, 1978: Wind, snow and record high tides batter southern Maine, wiping away two-thirds of the 300-foot Old Orchard Beach pier and many buildings and wharves that managed to survive a severe storm on Jan 9.

The storm causes much greater chaos in Boston and elsewhere in the Northeast, earning it the moniker “the Blizzard of ’78.”

In Maine, while less brutal, it nonetheless forges a path of destruction. It damages or destroys about 400 homes in York County, knocks the two-story Lord’s Point Inn off its foundation and into the sea at Kennebunk Beach, rips away a sea wall and undermines the Silver Sands Motel in Scarborough, and destroys Steamboat Wharf on Bailey Island and the Riverside Inn and Marina in Christmas Cove, part of South Bristol.


Old Orchard Beach Pier immediately after the Feb. 7, 1978 storm. Press Herald file photo

The collapse of the Old Orchard Beach pier, a fixture in the resort town since the early 1900s, takes 10 businesses along with it. “Planks, beams and pilings washed over the beach and into the town square,” the Portland Press Herald reported the next day.

In York Beach, waves break over a burning house and knock firefighters to their knees as they try to get the fire under control.

Many people along the coast are forced to evacuate from their homes and take shelter in churches, fire stations and Salvation Army buildings.

Joseph Owen is a retired copy desk chief of the Morning Sentinel and Kennebec Journal and board member of the Kennebec Historical Society. He can be contacted at: jowen@mainetoday.com.

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