CUMBERLAND — Just in time for the town’s bicentennial this year, Arcadia Publishing and The History Press are releasing “Cumberland,” a pictorial book that explores local history.

“Cumberland” will be published March 8. Contributed / Maddison Potter

“Cumberland” is part of Arcadia’s series “Images of America,” which has released over 8,000 books on American towns, including Freeport, Yarmouth, North Yarmouth and Falmouth.

Arcadia originally reached out to Thomas Bennett, director of Prince Memorial Library in Cumberland, about 15 years ago to see if he’d be interested in putting a history book together. Since then, Bennett has been working with Carolyn Small, a curator at Cumberland Historical Society, to digitally archive photographs and information, waiting for the right time to produce the book.

With a lull in the world due to the pandemic, Bennett and Small decided to pull together over a decade of research and condense it into a 128-page pictorial to commemorate Cumberland’s 200th year since incorporation.

According to Arcadia Publishing, the book starts when the town was founded in 1821 and succeeded from North Yarmouth, only a year after Maine became the nation’s 23rd state. The landscape of the town lent itself to a diverse local economy of farming, fishing and shipbuilding.

Cumberland’s population grew until the second half of the 19th century when there was a 35% decline due to drastic changes in the industries that sustained the town. Small coastal towns were particularly impacted by the shift in shipbuilding from wood to steel as Maine lacked the resources required to produce steel; Bath’s shipbuilding industry was the exception.

“With the bicentennial, since that celebrates the long history of the town, I think it’ll be nice to have access to images of past structures and individuals and the history that goes along with those for people to better understand where they live,” Bennett said. 

“Cumberland” will be available for purchase March 8 for $21.99 through Acadia’s website. The kick-off for the bicentennial celebration is March 19, when a Bicentennial Online Exhibit will be launched.

Comments are not available on this story.