Maine

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Posted by kaori 04/22/2009 @ 00:11

Tags : maine, states, us

News headlines
New York at San Francisco - USA Today
John Maine gets the call for the Mets tonight and will be attempting to extend a three-start winning streak. The right-hander has yielded just five runs -- four earned -- in 18 innings over his unbeaten streak, which has lowered Maine's season ERA from...
Four Maine Chrysler dealerships to close; Auburn's to stay open - SunJournal.com
Four of those dealers are in Maine. According to the list published Friday, Bowen Brothers of Livermore Falls, Morong of Brunswick, Ballenger Auto Co. of Sanford and the Fuller Auto Mall of Rockland will be cut from Chrysler....
Moose falls off I-95 overpass - Kennebec Journal
Latti said that Maine averages more than 600 moose-and-vehicle crashes a year, and there have been 22 fatalities in the past 10 years. "Data shows that each spring, the frequency of moose-vehicle collisions increases in April and continues to climb...
Gay marriage Man and man in Maine - Economist
Last week the legislatures in both Maine and New Hampshire passed bills recognising same-sex marriage. In Maine, Governor John Baldacci immediately signed the bill into law. In New Hampshire, Governor John Lynch was still pondering what to do as The...
Maine law allows special fuel funds - WBZ
AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) Fluctuating fuel prices have prompted enactment of a Maine law that allows schools to establish stabilization funds to help with winter fuel costs. Supporters of the bill, which has been signed by Gov. John Baldacci, say it will...
Drowning Victim Recovered; Lost Maine Hikers Are Found Safe - NewHampshire.com
In the White Mountains, the search for two Maine hikers successfully concluded this afternoon (Wednesday, May 13) as the two young women were walked to safety by rescuers. The hikers were located just before noon on the Baldface Circle Trail near Eagle...
Maine jury convicts 3 in drug trial - WTEN
AP - May 14, 2009 8:24 AM ET PORTLAND, Maine (AP) - US Attorney Paula Silsby says three men have been convicted by a federal jury in Maine of drug charges in what's become known as the Iron Horsemen trial. Richard Szpyt and Ramon Dellosantos,...
Hannaford Data Breach Plaintiffs Rebuffed in Maine - CircleID
Maine has a data breach notification statute in place, but plaintiffs did not allege that Hannaford violated this statute (and the statute did not seem to allow for a private cause of action anyway). There wasn't much discussion of free credit report...
Maine Receiving $2 Million in Federal Red Tide Disaster Aid - The Exception Magazine
By Exception Staff | May 14, 2009 Maine will receive $2 million in federal disaster aid to help its shellfish industry recover from the 2008 red tide, an algal bloom outbreak that makes shellfish inedible for humans. The funds were approved by NOAA and...
Officer on leave in Maine college fracas - Bangor Daily News
By AP WATERVILLE, Maine — A Colby College official says a security officer has been placed on paid administrative leave in connection with an Easter Sunday incident that provoked a student protest at the Waterville school. The officer's name was not...

Maine

Map of the United States with Maine highlighted

The State of Maine ( /ˈmeɪn/ (help·info)) is a state in the New England region of the northeastern United States of America, bordering the Atlantic Ocean to the southeast, New Hampshire to the southwest, the Canadian provinces of Quebec to the northwest and New Brunswick to the northeast. Maine is the northernmost portion of New England and is the easternmost state in the contiguous United States. It is known for its scenery—its jagged, mostly rocky coastline; its low, rolling mountains; and its heavily forested interior — as well as for its seafood cuisine, especially lobsters and clams.

The original inhabitants of the territory that is now Maine were Algonquian-speaking peoples. The first European settlement in Maine was in 1604 by a French party. The first English settlement in Maine, the short-lived Popham Colony, was established by the Plymouth Company in 1607. A number of English settlements were established along the coast of Maine in the 1620s, although the rugged climate, deprivations, and Indian attacks wiped out many of them over the years. As Maine entered the 18th century, only a half dozen settlements still survived. American and British forces contended for Maine's territory during the American Revolution and the War of 1812. Maine was an exclave of Massachusetts until 1820, when as a result of the growing population, it became the 23rd state on March 15 under the Missouri Compromise.

There is no definitive answer for the origin of the name Maine. The state legislature in 2001 adopted a resolution establishing Franco-American Day, which stated that the state was named after the ancient French province of Maine. Other theories mention earlier places with similar names, or claim it is a nautical reference to the mainland. Whatever the origin, the name was fixed in 1665 when the King's Commissioners ordered that the "Province of Maine" be entered from then on in official records.

To the south and east is the Atlantic Ocean and to the north and northeast is New Brunswick, a province of Canada. The Canadian province of Quebec is to the northwest. Maine is both the northernmost state in New England and the largest, accounting for nearly half the region's entire land area. Maine also has the distinction of being the only state to border just one other state (New Hampshire to the west). The municipalities of Eastport and Lubec are, respectively, the easternmost city and town in the United States. Estcourt Station is Maine's northernmost point and also the northernmost point in the New England region of the United States. (For more information see extreme points of the United States).

Maine's Moosehead Lake is the largest lake wholly in New England (Lake Champlain being located between Vermont and New York). A number of other Maine lakes, such as South Twin Lake, are described by Thoreau. Mount Katahdin is both the northern terminus of the Appalachian Trail, which extends to Springer Mountain, Georgia, and the southern terminus of the new International Appalachian Trail which, when complete, will run to Belle Isle, Newfoundland and Labrador.

Maine also has several unique geographical features. Machias Seal Island and North Rock, off its easternmost point, are claimed by both the U.S. and Canada and are within one of four areas between the two countries whose sovereignty is still in dispute, but is the only one of the disputed areas containing land. Also in this easternmost area is the Old Sow, the largest tidal whirlpool in the Western Hemisphere.

Maine is the most sparsely populated state east of the Mississippi River. It is called the Pine Tree State; ninety percent of its land is forested. In the forested areas of the interior lies much uninhabited land, some of which does not have formal political organization into local units (a rarity in New England). The Northwest Aroostook, Maine unorganized territory in the northern part of the state, for example, has an area of 2,668 square miles (6,910 km²) and a population of 27, or one person for every 100 square miles (255 km²).

More prosaic geologists describe this type of landscape as a drowned coast, where a rising sea level has invaded former land features, creating bays out of valleys and islands out of mountain tops. A rise in the elevation of the land due to the melting of heavy glacier ice caused a slight rebounding effect of underlying rock; this land rise, however, was not strong enough to eliminate all the effect of the rising sea level and its invasion of former land features.

The noted American ecologist Rachel Carson did much of her research at one of the Maine seacoast's most characteristic features, a tide pool for her classic "The Edge of the Sea." The spot where she conducted observations is now preserved as the Rachel Carson Salt Pond Reserve at Pemaquid Point.

George Lorenzo Noyes, known as the thoreauvian of Maine is a noted state naturalist, mineralogist, development critic, writer and landscape artist. He lived a devout wilderness lifestyle in the mountains of Norway, Maine, expressing in his paintings his spiritual reverence for nature and writing of the values of a simple life of sustainable living. Harvard Quarry at the summit of Noyes Mountain, named in his honor, in Greenwood, provides an excellent panoramic view and is a popular destination for rock and mineral collectors.

Much of Maine's geography was created by heavy glacial activity at the end of the last ice age. Prominent glacial features include Somes Sound and Bubble Rock. Carved by glaciers, Somes Sound is considered to be the only fjord on the eastern seaboard and reaches depths of 175 feet (53 m). The extreme depth and steep drop-off allow large ships to navigate almost the entire length of the sound. These features also have made it attractive for boat builders, such as the prestigious Hinckley Yachts. Bubble Rock is what is known as a "glacial erratic" and is a large boulder perched on the edge of Bubble Mountain in Acadia National Park. By analyzing the type of granite, geologists were able to discover that glaciers carried Bubble Rock to its present location from the town of Lucerne, Maine--30 miles away.

Acadia National Park is the only national park in New England.

Maine experiences a humid continental climate (Köppen climate classification Dfb), with warm (although generally not hot), humid summers. Winters are cold and snowy throughout the state, and are especially severe in the northern parts of Maine. Coastal areas are moderated somewhat by the Atlantic Ocean. Daytime highs are generally in the 75-80 °F (24-27 °C) range throughout the state in July, with overnight lows in the high 50s°F (around 15 °C). January temperatures range from highs near 32 °F (0 °C) on the southern coast to overnight lows below 0 °F (-18 °C) in the far north.

Maine is generally safe from hurricanes and tropical storms. By the time they reach the state, many have become extratropical and few hurricanes have made landfall in Maine. Maine has fewer days of thunderstorms than any other state east of the Rockies, with most of the state averaging less than 20 days of thunderstorms a year. Tornadoes are rare in Maine with the state averaging fewer than two per year, mostly occurring in the southern part of the state.

In January 2009, a new record low temperature for the state was set at -50°F, tying the New England record. The state's record high temperature is 105°F, set in July 1911.

The original inhabitants of the territory that is now Maine were Algonquian-speaking Wabanaki peoples including the Abenaki, Passamaquoddy, and Penobscots. The first European settlement in Maine was in 1604 by a French party that included Samuel de Champlain, the noted explorer. The French named the entire area, including the portion that later became the State of Maine, Acadia. The first English settlement in Maine was established by the Plymouth Company at Popham in 1607, the same year as the settlement at Jamestown, Virginia. Both colonies were predated by the Roanoke Colony by 22 years. Because the Popham Colony did not survive the harsh Maine winters and the Roanoke Colony was lost, Jamestown enjoys the distinction of being regarded as America's first permanent English-speaking settlement. The coastal areas of western Maine first became the Province of Maine in a 1622 land patent. Eastern Maine north of the Kennebec River was more sparsely settled and was known in the 17th century as the Territory of Sagadahock.

The province within its current boundaries became part of Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1652. Maine was much fought over by the French and English during the 17th and early 18th centuries. After the defeat of the French in the 1740s, the territory from the Penobscot River east fell under the nominal authority of the Province of Nova Scotia, and together with present day New Brunswick formed the Nova Scotia county of Sunbury, with its court of general sessions at Campobello. American and British forces contended for Maine's territory during the American Revolution and the War of 1812, and British forces occupied eastern Maine in both conflicts. . The treaty concluding revolution was ambiguous about Maine's boundary with British North America. The territory of Maine was confirmed as part of Massachusetts when the United States was formed, although the final border with British territory was not established until the Webster-Ashburton Treaty of 1842. (Indeed, in 1839 Governor Fairfield declared war on Britain over a boundary dispute between New Brunswick and northern Maine. Known as the Aroostook War, this is the only time a state has declared war on a foreign power. The dispute was settled, however, before any blood was shed.

Because it was physically separated from the rest of Massachusetts and was growing in population at a rapid rate, Maine became the 23rd state on March 15, 1820 through the Missouri Compromise. This compromise allowed admitting both Maine and Missouri (in 1821) into the union while keeping a balance between slave and free states. Maine's original capital was Portland, the largest city in Maine, until it was moved to Augusta in 1832 to make it more central within the state.

As of 2008, Maine has an estimated population of 1,321,504, which is an increase of 6,520, or 0.5%, from the prior year and an increase of 46,582, or 3.7%, since the year 2000. This includes a natural increase since the last census of 6,413 people (that is 71,276 births minus 64,863 deaths) and an increase due to net migration of 41,808 people into the state. Immigration from outside the United States resulted in a net increase of 5,004 people, and migration within the country produced a net increase of 36,804 people. The population density of the state is 41.3 people per square mile.

Maine is a very popular tourist destination, but it also experiences harsh winters, and consequently, the great temporary influx of visitors occurs during the warmer months. Many of these visitors establish an alternate secondary residence in Maine during the warm months and then depart for their primary residence in the off-season. These are the summer people of Maine lore. Official census figures normally count a person as a resident only once, at the place of the primary home. Therefore, there are some situations in which official census figures could be misleading for Maine. For example, some communities may have a much larger seasonal retail sector than their official, small population figure would imply.

The mean population center of Maine is located in Kennebec County, in or near the town of Mount Vernon. The Greater Portland metropolitan area is the most densely populated with nearly 20% of Maine's population. As explained in detail under "Geography", there are large tracts of uninhabited land in some remote parts of the interior.

The largest ancestries in the state are: English American (21.5%), Irish (15.1%), French or French Canadian (14.2%), American (9.4%), and German (6.7%).

Maine is second only to New Hampshire in the percentage of French Americans among U.S. states. It also has the largest percentage of non-Hispanic whites of any state and the highest percentage of current French-speakers who come from Quebec. Franco-Mainers tended to settle in rural northern Maine (particularly Aroostook County) and the industrial cities of inland Maine (especially Lewiston), whereas much of the midcoast and downeast sections remain mostly of British heritage. Smaller numbers of various other groups, including Italian and Polish have settled throughout the state since the early 20th c. immigration waves.

The 2000 Census reported 92.25% of Maine residents age 5 and older speak English at home. Census figures show Maine has a greater proportion of people speaking French at home than any other state in the nation, a result of Maine's large French-Canadian community, who migrated from adjacent Quebec and New Brunswick. 5.28% of Maine households are French-speaking, compared with 4.68% in Louisiana. Spanish is the third most spoken language at 0.79%, followed by German at 0.33% and Italian at 0.12% .

The Bureau of Economic Analysis estimates that Maine's total gross state product for 2003 was US$41 billion. Its per capita personal income for 2003 was US$29,164, 29th in the nation.

Maine's agricultural outputs include poultry, eggs, dairy products, cattle, wild blueberries (the state produces 25% of all blueberries in North America, making it the largest blueberry producer in the world), apples, maple syrup and maple sugar. Aroostook County is known for its potato crops. Commercial fishing, once a mainstay of the state's economy, maintains a presence, particularly lobstering and groundfishing. Western Maine aquifers and springs are a major source of bottled water. Maine's industrial outputs consist chiefly of paper, lumber and wood products, electronic equipment, leather products, food products, textiles, and bio-technology. Naval shipbuilding and construction remain key as well, with Bath Iron Works in Bath and Portsmouth Naval Shipyard in Kittery. Naval Air Station Brunswick is also in Maine, and serves as a large support base for the U.S. Navy. However, the BRAC campaign recommended Brunswick's closing, despite a recent government-funded effort to upgrade its facilities.

Maine ports play a key role in national transportation. Beginning around 1880, Portland's rail link and ice-free port made it Canada's principal winter port, until the aggressive development of Halifax, Nova Scotia, in the mid-1900s. In 2001, Maine's largest city of Portland surpassed Boston as New England's busiest port (by tonnage), due to its ability to handle large tankers. Maine's Portland International Jetport was recently expanded, providing the state with increased air traffic from carriers such as JetBlue.

Maine has very few large companies that maintain headquarters in the state, and fewer than before due to consolidations and mergers, particularly in the pulp and paper industry. Some of the larger companies that do maintain headquarters in Maine include Fairchild Semiconductor in South Portland; IDEXX Laboratories, in Westbrook; Unum, in Portland; TD Banknorth, in Portland; L.L. Bean in Freeport; Cole Haan and Delorme, both located in Yarmouth. Maine is also the home of The Jackson Laboratory, the world's largest non-profit mammalian genetic research facility and the world's largest supplier of genetically purebred mice.

Maine has an income tax structure containing 4 brackets, which range from 2% to 8.5% of personal income. Maine's general sales tax rate is 5%. The state also levies charges of 7% on lodging and prepared food and 10% on short-term auto rentals. Commercial sellers of blueberries, a Maine staple, must keep records of their transactions and pay the state 1.5 cents per pound ($1.50 per 100 pounds) of the fruit sold each season. All real and tangible personal property located in the state of Maine is taxable unless specifically exempted by statute. The administration of property taxes is handled by the local assessor in incorporated cities and towns, while property taxes in the unorganized territories are handled by the State Tax Assessor.

Maine has a longstanding tradition of being home to many shipbuilding companies. In the 18th and 19th centuries, Maine was home to many shipyards that produced wooden sailing ships. The main function of these ships was to transport either cargoes or passengers overseas. One of these yards was located in Pennellville Historic District in what is now Brunswick, Maine. This yard, owned by the Pennell family, was typical of the many family-owned shipbuilding companies of the time period. Other such examples of shipbuilding families were the Skofields and the Morses. During the 18th and 19th ceunturies, wooden shipbuilding of this sort made up a sizable portion of the economy.

Maine receives passenger jet service at its two largest airports, the Portland International Jetport in Portland, and the Bangor International Airport in Bangor. Both are served daily by many major airlines to destinations such as New York, Atlanta, and Orlando. Essential Air Service also subsidizes service to a number of smaller airports in Maine, bringing small turboprop aircraft to regional airports such as the Augusta State Airport, Hancock County-Bar Harbor Airport, Knox County Regional Airport, and the Northern Maine Regional Airport at Presque Isle. These airports are served by US Airways Express with small 19 to 30 seat planes. Many smaller airports are scattered throughout Maine, only serving general aviation traffic.

Interstate 95 runs through Maine, as well as its easterly branch I-295. In addition, U.S. Route 1 starts in Fort Kent and runs to Florida. The eastern terminus of the eastern section of U.S. Route 2 starts in Houlton, near the New Brunswick, Canada border to Rouses Point, New York, at US 11 . There is also another US 2A connecting Old Town and Orono, Maine, primarily serving the University of Maine campus. U.S. Route 2, Route 6 and Route 9 are often used by truckers and other motorists of the Maritime Provinces en route to other destinations in the United States or as a short cut to Central Canada.

The Downeaster passenger train, operated by Amtrak, provides passenger service between Portland and Boston's North Station, with stops in Old Orchard Beach, Saco, and Wells. The Downeaster makes five southbound trips and five northbound trips every day.

Seasonal passenger excursions between Brunswick and Rockland are operated by the Maine Eastern Railroad, which leases the state-owned Rockland Branch rail corridor.

Freight service throughout the state is provided by a handful of regional and shortline carriers: Pan Am Railways (formerly known as Guilford Rail System), which operates the former Boston & Maine and Maine Central railroads; St. Lawrence and Atlantic Railroad; Maine Eastern Railroad; Montreal, Maine and Atlantic Railway; and New Brunswick Southern Railway.

The Maine Constitution structures Maine's state government, composed of three co-equal branches - the executive, legislative, and judicial branches. The state of Maine also has three Constitutional Officers (the Secretary of State, the State Treasurer, and the State Attorney General) and one Statutory Officer (the State Auditor).

The legislative branch is the Maine Legislature, a bicameral body composed of the Maine House of Representatives, with 151 members, and the Maine Senate, with 35 members. The Legislature is charged with introducing and passing laws.

The executive branch is responsible for the execution of the laws created by the Legislature and is headed by the Governor of Maine (currently John Baldacci, a Democrat). The Governor is elected every four years; no individual may serve more than two consecutive terms in this office. The current attorney general of Maine is G. Steven Rowe. As with other state legislatures, the Maine Legislature can by a two-thirds majority vote from both the House and Senate override a gubernatorial veto.

The judicial branch is responsible for interpreting state laws. The highest court of the state is the Maine Supreme Judicial Court. The lower courts are the District Court, Superior Court and Probate Court. All judges except for probate judges serve full-time; are nominated by the Governor and confirmed by the Legislature for terms of seven years. Probate judges serve part-time and are elected by the voters of each county for four-year terms.

Maine is divided into political jurisdictions designated as counties. As of 1860 there were 16 counties in the state, ranging in size from 370 to 6,829 square miles.

In state general elections, Maine voters tend to accept independent and third-party candidates more frequently than most states. Maine has had two independent governors recently (James B. Longley, 1975–1979 and Angus King, 1995–2003). The Green Party candidate won nine percent of the vote in the 2002 gubernatorial election, more than in any election for a statewide office for that party until the 2006 Illinois gubernatorial election. The locally organized Maine Green Independent Party also elected John Eder to the office of State Representative in the Maine House of Representatives, the highest elected Green official nationwide. Pat LaMarche, 2004 Green Party vice-presidential candidate, resides in the southern coastal town of Yarmouth. Maine state politicians, Republicans and Democrats alike, are noted for having more moderate views than many in the national wings of their respective parties.

Maine is an Alcoholic beverage control state.

Maine's federal politics are notable and are dramatic for several reasons. In the 1930s, it was one of very few states which remained dominated by the Republican Party. In the 1936 Presidential election, Franklin D. Roosevelt received the electoral votes of every state other than Maine and Vermont. In the 1960s, Maine began to lean toward the Democrats, especially in Presidential elections. In 1968, Hubert Humphrey became just the second Democrat in half a century to carry Maine thanks to the presence of his running mate, Maine Senator Edmund Muskie, although the state voted Republican in every Presidential election in the 1970s and 1980s. Maine has since become a left-leaning swing state and has voted Democratic in five successive Presidential elections, casting its votes for Bill Clinton twice, Al Gore in 2000, John Kerry (with 53.6% of the vote) in 2004, and Barack Obama in 2008. Republican strength is greatest in Washington and Piscataquis counties. Though Democrats have carried the state in presidential elections in recent years, Republicans have largely maintained their control of the state's U.S. Senate seats, with Ed Muskie, William Hathaway and George Mitchell being the only Maine Democrats serving in the U.S. Senate in the past fifty years.

Ross Perot achieved a great deal of success in Maine in the presidential elections of 1992 and 1996. In 1992 as an independent candidate, Perot came in second to Bill Clinton, despite the longtime presence of the Bush family summer home in Kennebunkport. In 1996, as the nominee of the Reform Party, Maine was again Perot's best state.

Since 1969, two of Maine's four electoral votes are awarded based on the winner of the statewide election. The other two go to the highest vote-winner in each of the state's two congressional districts. 2004's presidential race saw reports that the campaign of President George W. Bush had made the calculation to devote attention to one of Maine's two Congressional Districts with the possibility of carrying the district's vote for an Electoral Vote in a close national race.

Famous politicians from Maine include Percival Baxter, James Blaine, Owen Brewster, William Cohen, Susan Collins, Hannibal Hamlin, George J. Mitchell, Edmund Muskie, Thomas Brackett Reed, Margaret Chase Smith, Olympia Snowe, and Wallace H. White, Jr..

Maine's U.S. senators are Republicans Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins. The state's two members of the U.S. House of Representatives are Democrats Chellie Pingree and Mike Michaud.

An organized municipality has a form of elected local government which administers and provides local services, keeps records, collects licensing fees, and can pass locally binding ordinances among other responsibilities of self-government. The governmental format of most organized towns and plantations is the Town Meeting while the format of most cities is the Council-Manager form. As of 2007 the organized municipalities of Maine consists of 22 cities, 432 towns, and 34 plantations. Collectively these 488 organized municipalities cover less than half of the state's territory. Maine also has 3 Reservations: Indian Island, Indian Township Reservation, and Pleasant Point Indian Reservation.

Unorganized territory has no local government. Administration, services, licensing, and ordinances are handled by the State Government. The Unorganized Territory of Maine consists of over 400 townships (towns are incorporated, townships are unincorporated), plus many coastal islands that do not lie within any municipal bounds. The UT land area is slightly over one half the entire area of the State of Maine. Year round residents in the UT number approximately 9,000, about 1.3% of the state's total population, with many more people residing only seasonally within the UT. Only four of Maine's sixteen counties are entirely incorporated, although a few others are nearly so, and most of the unincorporated area is in the vast and sparsely populated Great North Woods of Maine.

Maine has four types of school departments: the first is a local school, one which serves only one municipality, and is headed by a superintendent. Usually, it serves kindergarten through grade 12, although some only go to grade 8. Usually, independent school districts which do not have a high school are not totally independent; they are part of a school union, the second type of school district.

A school union is two or more school departments that share a superintendent but nothing else; each town has an independent school board. Usually, only one of the schools in the school union has a high school, but unlike MSADs (discussed below), students in the whole school union are not compelled to attend that school. School union students are given a choice of neighboring school districts, and the school union pays for the student's tuition.

The third type is a MSAD (Maine School Administrative District). This is a regional school district that incorporates two or more towns into one school department with one high school and middle school. These towns do not have independent school boards, but instead have one central board governing the entire district. Students are obligated to attend the central high school. Usually, a MSAD comprises one larger town and one or more smaller towns. The larger town is equipped with a high school and middle school, while the surrounding towns have elementary schools as well, but no secondary schools. The elementary schools usually cut off after grade 5 or grade 6. Sometimes, towns in a MSAD do not have an elementary school but possess a high school and/or middle school, whereas the surrounding towns have the elementary schools.

The last type of school district is a CSD (Community School District, sometimes called a Consolidated School District). This usually (but not always) exists in school districts with such a small student population between several towns that the school district cannot justify an elementary school outside the largest town in the district. In rare cases a CSD refers to only a high school of a school union. Sometimes, in towns geographically isolated (such as island towns) the entire student population attends one school grades PK-12.

Students can choose to attend a school in another district if the parents agree to pay the school tuition. Vocational centers are usually regional, so one school department will administer a technical center but other school districts will transport their students there to take classes.

Private schools are less common than public schools. A large number of private elementary schools with under 20 students exist, but most private high schools in Maine are actually semi-private high schools. This means that while it costs money to send children there, towns will make a contract with a school to take children from a town or MSAD at a slightly reduced rate. Often this is done when it is deemed cheaper to subsidize private tuition than build a whole new school when a private one already exists.

Maine has one major magnet school: The Maine School of Science and Mathematics in Limestone. Another specialty public school exists in Portland: the Maine School of Performing Arts.

A citizen of Maine is known as a "Mainer," though the term "Downeaster" may be applied to residents of the northeast coast of the state.

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Portland, Maine

Gun recovered from USS Maine on Munjoy Hill

Portland is the largest city in the U.S. state of Maine and the county seat of Cumberland County. The city population was 64,249 at the 2000 Census. Portland is Maine's cultural, social and economic capital. It is also the principal city of the Portland–South Portland–Biddeford, Maine Metropolitan Statistical Area, which includes Cumberland, York, and Sagadahoc counties. Tourists are drawn to Portland's historic Old Port district along Portland Harbor, which is at the mouth of the Fore River and part of Casco Bay, and the Arts District, which runs along Congress Street in the center of the city. Portland Head Light in nearby Cape Elizabeth is also a popular tourist draw.

The city seal depicts a phoenix rising out of ashes, which aligns with its motto, Resurgam, Latin for "I will rise again", in reference to Portland's recoveries from four devastating fires. The city of Portland, Oregon, was named for Portland, Maine.

The Portland Public School District is the largest school system in Maine.

Native Americans called it Machigonne. The first European settler was Capt. Christopher Levett, an English naval captain granted 6,000 acres (24 km2) by King Charles I of England in 1623 to found a settlement in Casco Bay. A member of the Council for New England and agent for Ferdinando Gorges, Levett built a stone house where he left a company of men, then returned to England and wrote a book about his voyage to drum up support for the settlement. The settlement failed, and the fate of Levett's colonists is unknown. The explorer sailed from England to the Massachusetts Bay Colony to meet John Winthrop in 1630, but never returned to Maine. Fort Levett in the harbor is named for him.

The peninsula was first permanently settled in 1633 as a fishing and trading village named Casco. When the Massachusetts took over Casco Bay in 1658, the town's name changed again to Falmouth. In 1676, the village was destroyed by the Wampanoags during King Philip's War. It was rebuilt, then destroyed again in 1690. On October 18, 1775, Falmouth was bombarded in the Revolution by the Royal Navy under command of Captain Henry Mowat.

Following the war, a section of Falmouth called The Neck developed as a commercial port and began to grow rapidly as a shipping center. In 1786, the citizens of Falmouth formed a separate town in Falmouth Neck and named it Portland. Portland's economy was greatly stressed by the Embargo Act of 1807 (prohibition of trade with the British), which ended in 1809, and the War of 1812, which ended in 1815.

In 1820, Maine became a state with Portland its capital. In 1832 the capital was moved to Augusta. In 1851, Maine led the nation by passing the first state law to prohibit the sale of alcohol except for "medicinal, mechanical or manufacturing purposes." The law subsequently became known as the Maine law as 18 states quickly followed Maine. On June 2, 1855, the Portland Rum Riot occurred.

Portland became the primary ice-free winter seaport for Canadian exports upon completion of the Grand Trunk Railway to Montreal in 1853. The Portland Company manufactured more than 600 19th century steam locomotives. Portland became a 20th century rail hub as five additional rail lines merged into Portland Terminal Company in 1911. Canadian export traffic was diverted from Portland to Halifax, Nova Scotia following nationalization of the Grand Trunk system in 1923; and 20th century icebreakers later enabled ships to reach Montreal in winter.

The Great Fire of July 4, 1866, ignited during the Independence Day celebration, destroyed most of the commercial buildings in the city, half the churches and hundreds of homes. More than 10,000 people were left homeless.

The erection of the Maine Mall, an indoor shopping center established in the suburb of South Portland during the 1970s, had an economically depressive effect on Portland's downtown. But that trend would reverse, as tourists and new businesses throng the vibrant old seaport. In the 1990s and 2000s, rapid development occurred and continues to occur in the historically industrial Bayside neighborhood, as well as the emerging harborside Ocean Gateway neighborhood at the base of Munjoy Hill.. The Maine College of Art has been a revitalizing force downtown, attracting students from around the country, and restoring as its main facility the historic Porteous building on Congress Street.

A complete list of honors can be found at the City of Portland Economic Development Center website.

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 52.6 square miles (136.2 km²), of which, 21.2 square miles (54.9 km²) of it is land and 31.4 square miles (81.2 km²) of it (59.65%) is water. Portland is located on a peninsula beside Casco Bay on the Gulf of Maine and the Atlantic Ocean.

Portland borders South Portland, Westbrook and Falmouth. The city is located at 43.66713 N, 70.20717 W.

Portland is organized into neighborhoods that are generally recognized by residents, but have no legal or political significance. City signage does, in many cases, name various neighborhoods or intersections (which are often called corners). Some city neighborhoods have a local neighborhood association whose self-appointed responsibility is to maintain on-going relations with the City government on issues affecting the neighborhood.

Several neighborhoods incorporate the name "Deering" in some way. This is a result of the March 8, 1899 merger of Portland with the neighboring city of Deering, which comprised the northern and eastern sections of the city prior to the merger. Portland's Deering High School was formerly the public high school for Deering.

As of the census of 2000, there were 64,250 people, 29,714 households, and 13,549 families residing in the city. The population density was 3,029.2 people per square mile (1,169.6/km²). There were 31,862 housing units at an average density of 1,502.2/sq mi (580.0/km²).

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Portland's immediate metropolitan area ranked 147th in the nation in 2000 with a population of 243,537, while the Portland/South Portland/Biddeford metropolitan area included 487,568 total inhabitants. This has increased to an estimated 513,102 inhabitants as of 2007. Much of this increase in population has been due to growth in the city's southern and western suburbs.

The racial makeup of the city was 91.27% White, 3.08% Asian, 2.59% African American, 0.47% Native American, 0.06% Pacific Islander, 0.67% from other races, and 1.86% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1.52% of the population. Portland also has a large Muslim community, mostly of Somali descent. The largest ancestries include: Irish (21.2%), English (19.2%), Italian (10.8%), French (10.5%), and German (6.9%).

There were 29,714 households out of which 21.4% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 32.1% were married couples living together, 10.5% had a female householder with no husband present, and 54.4% were non-families. 40.1% of all households were made up of individuals and 11.5% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.08 and the average family size was 2.89.

In the city the population was spread out with 18.8% under the age of 18, 10.7% from 18 to 24, 36.1% from 25 to 44, 20.6% from 45 to 64, and 13.9% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 36 years. For every 100 females there were 91.8 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 89.0 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $35,650, and the median income for a family was $48,763. Males had a median income of $31,828 versus $27,173 for females. The per capita income for the city was $22,698. About 9.7% of families and 14.1% of the population were below the poverty line, including 12.5% of those under age 18 and 11.9% of those age 65 or over.

Due to being Maine's largest city, its proximity to Boston (115 miles to the south) and having the state's largest port, Portland has become Maine's economic capital. The local economy has shifted over the years from relying primarily on fishing, manufacturing and agriculture towards a much more service-based economy. Most national financial services organizations with significant operations in the state have their Maine base here, such as Bank of America, Key Bank, Fidelity Investments, Anthem Blue Cross & Blue Shield, and Aetna. Several notable companies headquartered or partially headquartered here include: Unum, TD Commerce Bank, Maine Bank & Trust, ImmuCell Corp, and Pioneer Telephone. Several other notable companies that have an impact on the Greater Portland economy are located in the suburbs of South Portland, Westbrook and Scarborough.

Portland has a low unemployment level when compared to national averages and the state average. Portland and surrounding communities also have higher median incomes than most other Maine communities.

The Portland-Montreal Pipe Line, a crude oil pipeline that stretches from Portland to Montreal, was a major contributing factor in these rankings.

The city has adopted a council-manager style government that is detailed in the city charter. The citizens of Portland are represented by a city council which are charged with the responsibilities of making policy, passing ordinances, approving appropriations, appointing the city manager and overseeing the municipal government. The city council is an elected body of nine members for which the citizens of Portland vote. The city is made up into five voting districts, with each district electing a city councilor to represent their neighborhood interests for a three year term. There are also four members of the city council which are elected at-large. From the nine council members a chairman is elected by a simple majority to serve a one year term presiding over all council meetings. The chairman is popularly known as the Mayor, which is primarily a ceremonial position. The current mayor is Jill Duson.

A city manager is appointed by the city council. The city manager is responsible for the daily operations and workings of the city government. Consulting with the city council the city manager appoints heads of city departments and prepares annual budgets. The city manager directs all city agencies and departments, and is responsible for the executing laws and policies passed by the city council.

Aside from the main city council there is also an elected school committee for the Portland Public School system. The school committee is made up in the same manner of the city council with five district members, four at-large members and one chairman. There are also three students from the local high schools elected to serve on the board. There are many other boards and committees such as the Planning Committee, Board of Appeals, and Harbor Commission, etc. These committees and boards have limited power in their respective areas of expertise. Members of boards and committees are appointed by city council members.

The spire of the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception has been a notable feature of the Portland skyline since its completion in 1854. In 1859, Ammi B. Young designed the Marine Hospital, the first of three local works by Supervising Architects of the U.S. Treasury Department. Although the city lost to redevelopment its 1867 Greek Revival post office, which was designed by Alfred B. Mullett of white Vermont marble and featured a Corinthian portico, Portland retains his equally monumental 1872 granite Second Empire-Renaissance Revival custom house. Another significant structure is at 477 Congress Street, a 14-story commercial building completed in 1924, and known to locals as the Time and Temperature Building due to a large electronic sign atop its roof that has flashed that data for decades.

A more recent building of note is Franklin Towers, a 17-story residential tower completed in 1969. At 204 feet (62.2 meters), it is Portland's (as well as Maine's) tallest building. It is next to the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception on the city skyline. During the building boom of the 1980s, several new buildings rose on the peninsula, including the 1983 Charles Shipman Payson Building by Henry N. Cobb of Pei, Cobb, Freed & Partners at the Portland Museum of Art complex (a component of which is the 1801 McLellan-Sweat Mansion), and the Back Bay Tower, a 15-story residential building completed in 1990. Recent development in the Bayside area on Marginal Way is anchored by 84 Marginal Way, or the InterMed Center, which features college student housing and commercial offices, and is the only mostly glass tower in Portland.

Downtown Arts District, centered on Congress Street, is home to the Portland Museum of Art, Portland Stage Company, Maine Historical Society & Museum, Maine College of Art, Children's Museum of Maine, SPACE Gallery, Merrill Auditorium, the Kotzschmar Memorial Organ, and Portland Symphony Orchestra, as well as many smaller art galleries and studios.

Baxter Boulevard around Back Cove, Deering Oaks Park, the Eastern Promenade, Lincoln Park, Riverton Park and the Western Promenade are all historical parks within the city. Other parks and natural spaces include Payson Park, Post Office Park, Baxter Woods, Evergreen Cemetery and the Fore River Sanctuary. The non-profit organization Portland Trails also maintains an expansive network of walking and hiking trails throughout the city and neighboring communities.

Portland is home to a concentration of publishing and broadcast companies, advertising agencies, web designers and commercial photography studios.

The city's primary daily newspaper is The Portland Press Herald, published Monday through Saturday, and The Maine Sunday Telegram, published on Sundays. Both are published by Blethen Maine Newspapers, a division of The Seattle Times Company; they also operate an entertainment website, MaineToday.com, and the Portland entertainment magazine, The Maine Switch. In February 2009 a second daily, the Portland Daily Sun, began operation; it is owned and published by the Conway Daily Sun in New Hampshire.

Portland is also covered by an alternative weekly newspaper, The Portland Phoenix, published by the Phoenix Media/Communications Group, which also produces a New England-wide news, arts, and entertainment website, thephoenix.com, and the quarterly lifestyle magazine, Portland {STYLE}.

There is also a weekly community newspaper, The Portland Forecaster, and The Bollard, a monthly alternative magazine, as well as The West End News, The Munjoy Hill Observer, The Baysider, The Waterfront, Portland Magazine, Port City Life, and The Companion, an LGBT publication.

The Portland broadcast media market is the largest one in Maine in both radio and television. A whole host of radio options are available in Portland, including WFNK (Classic Hits), WJAB (Sports), WTHT (Country), WBQW (Classical), WHXR (Rock), WHOM (Adult Contemporary), WJBQ (Top 40), 98.9 WCLZ (Adult Album Alternative), WBLM (Classic Rock), WYNZ ('60s-'70s Hits), and WCYY (Modern rock). WMPG is a local non-commercial radio station, run by community members and the University of Southern Maine. The Maine Public Broadcasting Network's radio news operations are based in Portland.

The area is served by local television stations representing most of the television networks. These stations include WCSH 6 (NBC), WMTW 8 (ABC), WGME 13 (CBS), WPFO 23 (FOX), WPME 35 (MyNetworkTV), and WPXT 51 (The CW). There is no PBS affiliate licensed to the city of Portland but the market is served by WCBB Channel 10 in Augusta and WMEA-TV Channel 26 Biddeford.

The city is home to two minor-league teams. The AA Portland Sea Dogs, a farm team of the Boston Red Sox, play at Hadlock Field. Additionally, there are the American Hockey League Portland Pirates. Skating at the Cumberland County Civic Center, they are an affiliate of the Buffalo Sabres. Also expected is a NBA D-League team to play in the Portland Exposition Building for the 2009-10 season.

The Portland area has eleven professional golf courses, 124 tennis courts, and 95 playgrounds. There are also over 100 miles (160 km) of nature trails.

Portland hosts the Maine Marathon each October.

The downtown and Old Port districts have a high concentration of eating and drinking establishments, with many more to be found throughout the rest of the peninsula, outlying neighborhoods, and neighboring communities. Local lore holds that Portland ranks among the top U.S. cities in restaurants and bars per capita. According to the Maine Restaurant Association, Portland is currently home to about 230 restaurants.

Portland has also developed a national reputation for the quality of its restaurants and eateries. In the spring of 2007, Portland was nominated as one of three finalists for "Delicious Destination of the Year" at the 2007 Food Network Awards. Many local chefs have also gained national attention over the past few years.

The city and outlying region played host to Rachael Ray in an episode of her Food Network Series $40 a Day.

Portland is home to a number of microbreweries and brewpubs, including the D. L. Geary Brewing Company, Gritty McDuff's Brewing Company, Shipyard Brewing Company, Casco Bay Brewing Co., Sebago Brewing Company, and Allagash Brewing Company.

Portland is the birthplace of the "Italian sandwich." Southern Maine’s signature sandwich, it is called simply "an Italian" by locals. Italian sandwiches are available at many stores, but most famously at Amato's Italian delicatessens, which claims to have originated the sandwich (hence the name).

The Portland Farmers' Market takes place every Wednesday in Monument Square and every Saturday in Deering Oaks Park during the warm months and every other Wednesday in Monument Square during the winter. Fresh fish and seafood can be purchased at a number of markets on the wharves along Commercial Street.

Maine Medical Center is the largest hospital in Maine and is continuing to expand its campus and services. Mercy Hospital, a faith-based hospital, is the fourth-largest hospital in the state and began construction on its new campus along the Fore River in late 2006. The project is expected to be constructed in several phases, with completion of the first phase scheduled for 2008.

Two formerly independent hospitals within the city are now being utilized in a different manner. The former Brighton Medical Center is now owned by Maine Medical Center, housing a minor emergency room and care center under the name Brighton First Care. Prior to being Brighton Medical Center, the hospital was the Osteopathic Hospital. The former Portland General Hospital is now home to the Barron Center nursing facility.

Portland is accessible from I-95 (the Maine Turnpike), I-295, and U.S. 1. Also, U.S. Route 302, a major travel route and scenic highway between Maine and Vermont, has its eastern terminus in Portland.

Concord Coach Lines bus service connects Portland to 14 other communities in Maine as well as to Boston's South Station and Logan Airport. Amtrak's Downeaster train service connects the city with Boston's North Station. Both Concord Coach Lines and Amtrak's Downeaster can be found at the Portland Transportation Center on Thompson Point Road. Greyhound Lines on Saint John Street connects to 17 Maine communities and to more than 3,600 US destinations.

The city operates several transportation hubs. In addition to the transportation center, commercial air service is provided by Portland International Jetport, which is located west of the city's downtown district.

The Port of Portland is the second-largest cruise and passenger destination in the state (next to Bar Harbor). Ferry service is available year-round to many destinations in Casco Bay. Since May 22, 2006, The Cat high speed ferry offers summer passenger and car ferry service to Yarmouth, Nova Scotia, making the trip in five hours. Until 2005, Scotia Prince Cruises had offered service that took eleven hours.

There are two public bus systems in Portland. The Portland Explorer is a service that connects various transportation centers within the city and the METRO provides public bus transit throughout Portland and the surrounding area.

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USS Maine (ACR-1)

USS 'Maine entering Havana Harbor on January 25, 1898, where the ship would explode three weeks later

USS Maine (ACR-1), the first ship of the United States Navy to be named for the state of Maine, was a 6,682-ton second-class pre-dreadnought battleship originally designated as Armored Cruiser #1. Maine and Texas were unusual in that their armament was mounted en echelon, projected off to either side (Maine's forward turret was off to starboard and her aft turret to port; the arrangement was reversed on Texas). This severely limited their ability to fire on a broadside. Maine was the stronger of the two ships, but inferior in every way to the later Indiana-class coastal battleships and subsequent ships.

Congress authorized her construction on August 3, 1886, and her keel was laid down on October 17, 1888, at the Brooklyn Navy Yard. She was launched on November 18, 1889, sponsored by Miss Alice Tracey Wilmerding (granddaughter of Navy Secretary Benjamin F. Tracy), and commissioned on September 17, 1895, under the command of Captain Arent S. Crowninshield.

The sinking of the Maine on February 15, 1898 precipitated the Spanish-American War and also popularized the phrase Remember the Maine, to Hell with Spain! In subsequent years, the cause of the sinking of the Maine became the subject of much speculation. The cause of the explosion that sank the ship remains an unsolved mystery.

The Maine spent her active career operating along the East Coast of the United States and the Caribbean. In January 1898, the Maine was sent from Key West, Florida, to Havana, Cuba, to protect U.S. interests during a time of local insurrection and civil disturbances. Three weeks later, on February 15 at 9:40 p.m., an explosion on board the Maine occurred in the Havana Harbor. Later investigations revealed that more than five tons of powder charges for the vessel's six and ten-inch (152 & 254 mm, respectively) guns had detonated, virtually obliterating the forward third of the ship. The remaining wreckage rapidly settled to the bottom of the harbor. Most of the Maine’s crew were sleeping or resting in the enlisted quarters in the forward part of the ship when the explosion occurred. Two hundred and sixty-six men lost their lives as a result of the explosion or shortly thereafter, and eight more died later from injuries. Captain Charles Sigsbee and most of the officers survived because their quarters were in the aft portion of the ship. Altogether, there were only 89 survivors, 18 of whom were officers. On March 28, the US Naval Court of Inquiry in Key West declared that a naval mine caused the explosion.

The explosion was a precipitating cause of the Spanish-American War that began in April 1898 and which used the rallying cry, "Remember the Maine!, To hell with Spain!" The episode focused national attention on the crisis in Cuba but was not cited by the William McKinley administration as a casus belli, though it was cited by some who were already inclined to go to war with Spain over their perceived atrocities and loss of control in Cuba.

In February 1898, the recovered bodies of sailors who died on the Maine were interred in the Colon Cemetery, Havana. Some injured sailors were sent to hospitals in Havana and Key West. Those who died in hospitals were buried in Key West. In December 1899 the bodies in Havana were disinterred and brought back to the United States for burial at Arlington National Cemetery where there is a memorial to those who died and which includes the ship's main mast. Some bodies were never recovered and the crewmen buried in Key West remain there under a statue of a U.S. sailor holding an oar. There is also a memorial, consisting of the shield and scrollwork from the bow of the ship, in Bangor, Maine. Shells from the main battery were placed along with small plaques as memorials at the Soldier's Home in Marion, Indiana (now a VA Hospital and national cemetery), at the St. Joseph County Courthouse lawn in South Bend, Indiana, and at the Old soldiers' home in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The base of the Maine's conning tower is currently on display at Westbrook Veterans' Memorial Park in Canton, Ohio, hometown of President McKinley. A shell from the main battery is located just inside of the Pine St. entrance of city hall in Lewiston, Maine. The explosion-bent fore mast of the Maine is located at the United States Naval Academy at Annapolis, Maryland. There is a monument for the Maine and a portion of a bronze engine room ventilator shaft from the Maine in Pompton Lakes, New Jersey.

There is a traditional in-joke among midshipmen at the US Naval Academy that the Maine, with its main mast in Arlington National Cemetery (Northern Virginia) and its fore mast in Annapolis, Maryland, is the longest ship in the Navy.

On August 5, 1910, Congress authorized the raising of the Maine to remove it as a navigation hazard in Havana Harbor. On 2 February 1912, she was refloated under supervision of the Army Corps of Engineers and towed out to sea where she was sunk in deep water in the Gulf of Mexico on March 16, 1912, with appropriate military honors and ceremonies.

In 1913, a USS Maine Monument was completed and dedicated in New York City. Located at the SW corner of Central Park at the Merchant's Gate entrance to the park. On the park side of the monument is fixed a memorial plaque that was cast in metal salvaged from the ship.

In 1914, one of the Maine’s six anchors was taken from the Washington Navy Yard to City Park in Reading, Pa., and dedicated during a ceremony presided over by Franklin D. Roosevelt, who was then assistant Secretary of the Navy. The ceremony commemorated those who died in the explosion.

The U.S. government also erected a memorial on the Malecon in Havana, near the Hotel Nacional. The memorial was damaged by crowds following the Cuban Revolution, but most of the memorial remains. The present Cuban government has added its own inscription.

Because of the uproar the sinking of the Maine caused in the United States, President McKinley demanded an immediate investigation into the cause of the explosions. A U.S. Naval Court of Inquiry arrived in Havana and began its investigation. Survivors and eyewitnesses testified for the court, and several navy divers explored the sunken ship, hoping to find clues as to what may have caused the disaster. All parties involved concluded without a doubt that the explosion of the forward six-inch (152 mm) ammunition magazines had caused the sinking. Why those magazines had exploded, no one could determine conclusively, and doubt remains as to the exact cause to this day. There have been four major investigations into the sinking since 1898. From the four inquiries, two hypotheses have emerged: one, that a mine in Havana Harbor had exploded underneath the battleship, causing the explosion of the magazines; and two, that spontaneous combustion of the coal in bunker A16 created a fire that detonated the nearby magazines.

No one then, or today, disputes the fact that the overall destruction of the ship was due to the explosion of some of her magazines. What caused the magazines to explode, however, has been debated since the day the ship sank. Some evidence suggests that the initiating cause of the magazine explosion was an external explosion. The hypothesis that a mine, allegedly planted by the Spanish as a way to deter the efforts of the United States to take Cuba, is the assumption that some Americans came to immediately after the sinking. This also provided the stimulus for war that many Americans had been seeking, though the McKinley administration rejected that line of thinking.

If there was a mine, was it detonated accidentally, by insurgents, by an insubordinate Spaniard, or by Spanish authorities acting under orders? The last possibility is least likely because no testimony or documentation or specific accusation has ever been found. The mine could have been placed to defend the harbor and unintentionally drifted to where the Maine was moored. Alternatively, the mine could have been used by Cuban rebels in the hopes that the attack on the Maine would be blamed on the Spanish and so trigger a war between the United States and Spain.

Some, but not all, of the witnesses stated that they heard two distinct explosions several seconds apart. They believed if anything else besides a mine had triggered the magazine explosion, then witnesses would have only heard one blast, because the only explosion would have been of the magazines, unless all of the munitions contained in the magazine did not explode in the primary explosion and instead exploded sequentially in the resulting fire (which did occur). They thought the only reason that two explosions would have been heard was if something besides the magazine had exploded, such as a mine. However, due to the difference in the speed of sound through water and through air, some witnesses may have sensed a single explosion twice - first shock through the water, followed by the airborne sound of the blast.

Another piece of evidence of an external mine were the observations of divers who examined the bottom plates of the Maine. Three bottom plates were bent inward. If an internal explosion had occurred, the bottom plates, they thought, would have been bent outward, away from the explosion, and an external blast would have blown the plates inward, consistent with the evidence. Also, a large hole was noticed on the floor of Havana harbor, and was presumed from the theorized external explosion. Although, it could be argued that an explosion of the magnitude caused by the Maine's magazines could also have put a hole in the harbor floor.

Nevertheless, problems with the external mine theory remained. One was the absence of dead fish in Havana harbor the next day. Assuming that fish lived in the polluted waters of the harbor, many of them should have been killed if a mine exploded in their habitat, but no one reported seeing any floating in the harbor. Second, no one reported seeing a jet of water thrown up during the event. A common sight during the underwater explosion of a mine is a column of water emerging on the surface above them. Third, some contemporaneous experts believed that the few bottom plates found to be bent inward could be just as plausibly explained by the physical forces acting on the sinking ship, and thus did not necessarily indicate an explosion external to the ship.

Since the time of the explosion in 1898, many have advocated the theory that an internal explosion had sunk the Maine, basing their conclusion on the coal bunker fire theory. Supporters of this theory believe that spontaneous combustion of the coal in bunker A16 created a fire that detonated the nearby magazines, which shared a common uninsulated steel wall with bunker A16.

Spontaneous combustion of coal was a fairly frequent problem on ships built after the American Civil War. This type of fire occurs when the surface of freshly broken coal is exposed to air. The coal surface oxidizes, producing heat. When the coal reaches a temperature of about 750-800 °F (400-425 °C), the coal will begin to burn. The heat from the fire could have transferred to the magazines, which would have triggered the explosion. And in fact, during the Spanish-American War several ships sustained damage when the bituminous coal in their bunkers ignited. These fires were difficult to detect because they could smolder for hours at low heat, giving off no smoke or flame and without raising the temperature high enough to trigger the alarm systems on board.

Reports indicate that bunker A16 on the Maine had been inspected for the final time on 15 February at 8:00AM. This would have allowed ample time for a coal bunker fire to smolder and cause the type of disaster that befell the ship later. Still, when bunker A16 was inspected that morning, the reported temperature was only 59 °F (15 °C), and the Maine's temperature sensor system did not indicate any dangerous rise in temperature later. Furthermore, the discipline on the Maine was reported to be excellent, and regular inspections of coal bunkers for hazards, as well as the implementation of precautions for preventing bunker fires, were diligently carried out under the supervision of the ship's cautious executive officer Richard Wainwright. In addition, the likeliness of a spontaneous ignition of coal decreases over time, as the older the coal is the less likely it is to self-ignite. On USS Maine, the coal had been exposed to the air for a period of two months, which is more than double the amount of time recommended by the US Navy. Finally, the type of coal used onboard the USS Maine was known as Low-Volatile bituminous coal which was not known to self-ignite. These idiosyncrasies have given rise - then and now - to debate over the coal bunker fire argument’s legitimacy.

Four major investigations have been conducted to find the actual cause of the sinking of the Maine. Two Naval Courts of Inquiry were held in 1898 and 1911, and two major private investigations commissioned by Admiral Hyman G. Rickover in 1976 and the National Geographic Society in 1999, all revealed different conclusions. The debates on the sinking of the Maine rest on evidence uncovered through these four investigations.

By 1908, the war drums had long stopped beating, and many parties demanded that the Maine be raised from Havana harbor. Cuban officials became worried about the safety of having a sunken ship in their harbor, U.S. officials wanted the remains of the sailors trapped in the wreck recovered and buried, and a few people wanted to confirm the cause of the sinking. Begun in December 1910, a huge waterproof cofferdam was built around the wreck and water was pumped out, finally exposing the wreck by late summer 1911. Sections of the hull of the Maine were numbered, many photographs were taken, and models of the Maine and her wreckage were built by the single Navy employee assigned to the job in Havana. Except for many souvenir items retained by the Navy and frequently distributed to the public, most of the tangled wreckage was dumped into the sea off the coast of Cuba. Between November 20 and December 2, 1911 a court of inquiry headed by Rear Admiral Charles E. Vreeland visited the wreck. The conclusions of the Vreeland Board differed with the Sampson Board only in detail. The Vreeland Board agreed that the explosion of the magazines was triggered by an external blast, but the damage to the Maine was much more extensive than the Sampson Board had thought. It was also concluded that the initiating blast occurred further aft on the ship, and a lower powered explosive breached the hull than was originally thought. After the investigation, the newly located dead were buried in Arlington National Cemetery and the hollow, intact portion of the hull of the Maine was refloated and ceremoniously scuttled at sea on March 16, 1912.

Ever since they were published, doubts about the validity of the Navy's 1898 and 1911 findings have been expressed by historians and scientists.

The argument was not touched for another half a century, until a private investigation in 1976 was triggered by Admiral Hyman G. Rickover after he read a newspaper article on the sinking. He and several scientists from the U.S. Navy launched an investigation based on the evidence collected during the two Courts of Inquiry. Rickover believed that the new knowledge collected since World War II on analyzing ships damaged by internal and external explosions would shed new light on the sinking of the Maine. The Rickover analysis came to a completely different conclusion than the Courts of Inquiry. Rickover found that the cause of the explosion did not originate outside the ship. The cause of the explosion originated within the ship, but what actually happened could not be precisely determined. Rickover believed that the most likely cause was a fire within a coal bunker, which had heated the magazines to the point of explosion. His 170-page book, How the Battleship Maine Was Destroyed, was first published in 1976. The world accepted this new conclusion, and for more than a quarter of a century, the coal bunker fire theory reigned over the external mine theory.

In 1999, to commemorate the centennial of the sinking of the Maine, National Geographic Magazine commissioned an analysis by Advanced Marine Enterprises, using computer modeling that was not available for previous investigations. The AME analysis examined both theories and concluded that “it appears more probable than was previously concluded that a mine caused the inward bent bottom structure and the detonation of the magazines.” Some experts, including Admiral Rickover’s team and several analysts at AME, do not agree with the conclusion, and the fury over new findings even spurred a heated 90-minute debate at the 124th annual meeting of the U.S. Naval Institute.

The day after the Maine was sunk in Havana harbor, Assistant Secretary to the Navy Theodore Roosevelt stated that “we shall never find out definitely” the cause of the disaster. Roosevelt's words have proved particularly enduring.

In 1962, the Joint Chiefs of Staff drafted a plan, presented to President Kennedy and titled "Operation Northwoods", which detailed many possible 'false flag' operations that would garner support for a military-led invasion of Cuba or conceal the government's interests in Cuba.

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Source : Wikipedia