Anyone who has ever wondered how many different bridges have spanned the Presumpscot River at Allen Avenue, or where early 1800s stagecoach travelers could stop for food and drink along Blackstrap Road can now find the information easily and in one place in "Falmouth," a new pictorial account of the town's history from Arcadia Publishing, a South Carolina publisher of local and regional histories.
The book was written by members of the Falmouth Historical Society, who gathered photos from the society's collection, as well as from the Falmouth Memorial Library and private sources, society President Carol Kauffman said.
"(The Historical Society) had quite a large collection of pictures and we posted fliers asking for pictures," she said. "We were limited to 200 and we had over 350 pictures to choose from."
The publisher had approached the society about doing a book in the past and when it asked once again in November 2007, members agreed. Kauffman said the group had to work under tight deadline and size constraints.
Most of the work was done between June and December 2008. In February 2009, they began proof-reading the printed pages.
And just this week, copies of the book, part of Arcadia's "Images of America" series, were delivered.
Compiling Falmouth's history in a single book was challenging, but important, because it "gives the town something to remember Falmouth by," Kauffman said.
"And it gives me something for me to share with my grandchildren," she added.
The book is written in five sections that paint a picture of the area's early history as a farming, fishing and shipbuilding town; its place as a summer destination point for wealthy vacationers; and its development into a bedroom community of Portland with the availability of automobiles and the electric trolley.
Some of the photographs show structures that are long gone due to fire, storms or development. But other buildings are still standing today, although their purposes may have changed.
The threads of familiar family names and Falmouth landmarks are woven through the pages, celebrating the town's heritage and grounding its present and future with its past. The pictures and stories reflect the beginnings of such honored local traditions as the Memorial Day Parade and visits to the Falmouth Memorial Library, the original wing of which was built as a private home in 1908.
"Working together (on the book) brought a lot of unity and harmony to the society," Kauffman said. "You didn't realize you knew so little about your home town – what a great learning experience it was and what a wonderful awakening."
Though there are no additional book projects in the works for the society at this time, Kauffman said the group does "not want to close the doors." Members plan to publish calendars using some of the pictures they couldn't work into the book, and the first calendar will be "The Schools in Falmouth," available this fall.
At $21.99, the 128-page book is available for purchase at Whipple Farm House, 781-4727, on Tuesday mornings from 9 a.m. to 12 noon or from any society board member. It is also available at Book Review, Books Etc., Longfellow, Barnes & Noble, Borders, the Maine Historical Society or directly from Arcadia Publishing at 888-313-2665.