Kennebec River c. 1908
|• Total||40.74 sq mi (105.52 km2)|
|• Land||39.65 sq mi (102.69 km2)|
|• Water||1.09 sq mi (2.82 km2)|
|Elevation||499 ft (152 m)|
|• Estimate (2012)||1,061|
|• Density||26.6/sq mi (10.3/km2)|
|Time zone||Eastern (EST) (UTC-5)|
|• Summer (DST)||EDT (UTC-4)|
|GNIS feature ID||0582728|
The first known inhabitants were the Abenaki Indians, whom European settlers encountered in the early 1600s. There are petroglyphs that have been said to be 5,000 years old or more, but more than likely came about after 1620. General Benedict Arnold and his troops camped below Caratunk Falls on October 7, 1775 before carrying their boats around them on the way up the Kennebec River to the Battle of Quebec. Originally called T1 R2 EKR, the plantation would known as Spauldingtown after Thomas Spaulding, a grantee. It was settled in 1782 by William Hilton from Wiscasset, who purchased 500 acres (2.0 km2). On February 23, 1809 it was incorporated as Solon, named after Solon, a statesman and poet of Ancient Greece.
Agriculture was the principal occupation of the inhabitants. The surface of the town is uneven, the underlying rock slate, but the sandy and occasionally gravelly loam produced good crops of hay and grain. Solon village was established at Fall Brook, its water power used to operate mills. By 1859, when the population was 1,419, there were two sawmills, a gristmill, a shovel handle factory, two fulling and two carding machines, and two blacksmiths. By 1886, the town's industries included a carriage manufacturer and a harness maker.
Solon is the gateway to the Old Canada Road (U. S. Route 201), which from 1820 until 1860 served as the primary link between Lower Canada and Maine. The scenic byway follows the Kennebec River valley through antique villages into forests near the Canadian border.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 40.74 square miles (105.52 km2), of which, 39.65 square miles (102.69 km2) of it is land and 1.09 square miles (2.82 km2) is water. Solon is drained by Fall Brook, Michael Stream and the Kennebec River, where Caratunk Falls has a descent of 20 feet (6.1 m).
The town is crossed by U.S. Route 201, 201A and Maine State Route 8. It borders the towns of Bingham and Brighton Plantation to the north, Athens to the east, Cornville and Madison to the south, and Embden to the west.
As of the census of 2010, there were 1,053 people, 459 households, and 292 families residing in the town. The population density was 26.6 inhabitants per square mile (10.3/km2). There were 657 housing units at an average density of 16.6 per square mile (6.4/km2). The racial makeup of the town was 97.9% White, 0.2% African American, 0.4% Native American, 0.1% Asian, and 1.4% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 0.4% of the population.
There were 459 households of which 26.4% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 52.5% were married couples living together, 5.9% had a female householder with no husband present, 5.2% had a male householder with no wife present, and 36.4% were non-families. 27.0% of all households were made up of individuals and 8.3% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.29 and the average family size was 2.75.
The median age in the town was 45.4 years. 20.1% of residents were under the age of 18; 5.1% were between the ages of 18 and 24; 24.2% were from 25 to 44; 35.6% were from 45 to 64; and 15.1% were 65 years of age or older. The gender makeup of the town was 52.6% male and 47.4% female.
As of the census of 2000, there were 940 people, 398 households, and 257 families residing in the town. The population density was 23.6 people per square mile (9.1/km²). There were 581 housing units at an average density of 14.6 per square mile (5.6/km²). The racial makeup of the town was 98.83% White, 0.43% Black, 0.21% Native American, 0.11% Asian, and 0.43% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 0.43% of the population.
There were 398 households out of which 27.1% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 53.0% were married couples living together, 6.5% had a female householder with no husband present, and 35.4% were non-families. 27.1% of all households were made up of individuals and 9.5% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.34 and the average family size was 2.82.
In the town the population was spread out with 21.9% under the age of 18, 7.3% from 18 to 24, 26.5% from 25 to 44, 30.3% from 45 to 64, and 13.9% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 42 years. For every 100 females there were 113.6 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 109.7 males.
The median income for a household in the town was $27,266, and the median income for a family was $32,500. Males had a median income of $25,724 versus $16,574 for females. The per capita income for the town was $13,777. About 12.1% of families and 18.0% of the population were below the poverty line, including 21.9% of those under age 18 and 15.3% of those age 65 or over.
Sites of interest
- South Solon Meeting House (1842), with 1950s frescos by the Skowhegan School of Painting & Sculpture
- Evergreen Wilderness Chapel & 1800s Christian Museum -- an 1800s country church replica and Christian museum
- "US Gazetteer files 2010". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2012-12-16.
- "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2012-12-16.
- "Population Estimates". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2013-07-06.
- Coolidge, Austin J.; John B. Mansfield (1859). A History and Description of New England. Boston, Massachusetts. pp. 305–306.
- Varney, George J. (1886), Gazetteer of the state of Maine. Solon, Boston: Russell
- Old Canada Road Scenic Byway
- "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31.
- Town of Solon, Maine
- Coolidge Public Library
- Old Canada Road Historical Society
- Maine.gov -- Solon, Maine
- Exploring Maine's Northern Forests