Dec. 13, 1947: After five years of planning and two years of construction, the first 45-mile, four-lane section of the Maine Turnpike opens, linking Kittery to Portland. The Portland Press Herald dubs it the “Mile-a-Minute Highway.”

It is the nation’s second toll expressway, the first being the Pennsylvania Turnpike, which opened in 1940.

Dec. 13, 1955: The Maine Turnpike, having opened to the public in 1947, inaugurates an extension from Portland to Augusta that increases the toll road’s length to what it is today.

The 66-mile extension, including a spur to U.S. Route 1 in Falmouth, is the largest highway construction project in Maine history at the time. It opens eight years to the day after the initial phase of the turnpike became operational.

The entire turnpike also is designated as Interstate 95.

Joseph Owen is an author, retired newspaper editor and board member of the Kennebec Historical Society. Owen’s book, “This Day in Maine,” can be ordered at To get a signed copy use promo code signedbyjoe at checkout. Joe can be contacted at: [email protected]

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