Penobscot Bay's Geography and Resources

From Marshall Point in Port Clyde to Naskeag Point in Brooklin, Penobscot Bay’s coastline is longer than 1,000 miles and includes more than 1,800 islands. Its marine life is most influenced by the cold seawater current called the Gulf of Maine GyreGulf of Maine Gyre

A gyre is a system of ring-like ocean currents that rotate clockwise in the Northern Hemisphere. This one exists in the Gulf of Maine.
and the currents created by an eight to thirteen foot tide. Cold water holds more oxygen and supports more nutrients than warm water. Like fertile soil, the nutrient-rich waters in Penobscot Bay support healthy and abundant growth. Penobscot Bay is a home for almost all of the seventy commercially harvested species of fish and shellfishShellfish shellfish

Common name for marine invertebrates: crustaceans such as lobsters, mollusks such as clams, echinoderms such as sea urchins.
landed in the Gulf of Maine. It is this rich resource that attracted early seventeenth century fishermen to the Penobscot Bay area.

Towns and geological resources, Penobscot Bay

Maine’s valuable timber is improved by cool weather, which encourages slower growth, thus higher wood quality. In the 17th and 18th centuries, the British Royal Navy used white pineWhite pine

A fast-growing pine tree with white wood and smooth gray bark. Often used for ships' masts in the past.
for mastsMast

A straight piece of timber or a hollow cylinder of wood or metal set up vertically or nearly so and supporting yards, booms, derricks, or gaffs. In fore-and-aft rigged vessels each mast is commonly made of two parts, called the lower mast and the topmast.
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and sparsSpar

A round timber or metal pole used for masts, yards, booms, etc.
. Throughout the Maine lumber boom of the mid-19th century, white pine was the primary species cut, processed, and shipped to the American East Coast, the West Indies, and South American ports. Other species were used to build ships, boats and houses. Still others were well suited for barrel stavesStaves shook

The curved wooden parts of a cask or barrel, rabbeted at both ends to take the bottom and top.
, boxes, shingles, and furniture. Firewood was cut both for heat and for burning limeLime

Calcium oxide (CaO), obtained from limestone, and used in mortars, plasters, cement, bleaching powder, and in making paper, glass, and steel.
in the lime kilnsKiln

An oven used to fire pottery or limestone.
. Leather tanningTan

To convert hides into leather by soaking them in a bath of tanbark or synthetic chemicals.
needed hemlock bark. Softwoods were used in Maine’s paper industry beginning in 1868, and the paper industry expanded greatly in the 1880s.

Penobscot Bay’s rocks and clays provided granite for buildings, limestoneLimestone limerock

A sedimentary rock consisting mostly of calcium carbonate, formed from fossilized skeletons of marine microorganisms and coral. Limestone is used as a building stone and to make lime.
for mortarMortar

A mixture of lime and/or cement, with sand and water, used as a bond between bricks or stones.
and plasterPlaster

A combination of lime or gypsum, sand, water, and sometimes hair or other fiber applied in a paste form to walls, ceilings, etc., and allowed to harden.
, and clay for bricks. Harvesting rock and clay began prior to 1800, but grew tremendously in the 19th century. Maine’s cold climate and pure lakes and rivers located close to the sea were well suited to a successful ice business (key to map: pinkish-tan = granite; red-brown = brick; yellow = lime).

Penobscot Bay’s rivers provided waterpower to run sawmills, gristmillsGristmill

A mill for grinding grain.
, woolen mills, paper mills, and foundriesFoundry

A place for producing castings in molten metal.
, before steam engines and electricity became available. In some places, tide millsTide mill

A mill that operates on the water power generated by the incoming and outgoing tide flow. There were many tide mills in Maine.
operated on the incoming and outgoing water flow.