$250 million land-based salmon farmer may have to alter plans if archeologist finds 19th century Native American farm on site

Whole Oceans’ Verso Paper mill site may be close to site of considerable local history.

Maine’s first European settlers were driven by ventures from wealthy English businessmen George Popham and Sir Ferdinando Gorges. Despite never setting a foot in the New World, Gorges was called the “Father of English Colonization in North America” for his efforts in founding the Province of Maine in 1622.

Wanting to see the new land for himself, Popham captaining the “Gift of God”, sailed from Plymouth, in 1607 with two ships and 120 people to erect the first English settlement, the Popham Colony. Though just one year later, food shortages and the death of Popham forced over half of its pilgrims to return to England.

Sir John Popham, one of the Colony’s primary financiers

Fast forward over four centuries later, Maine’s past may be catching up with the State’s new wealthy businessmen who this time dream of pioneering land-based salmon.

Bangor Daily News reports that a contractor archeologist has examined part of the proposed 50,000 tonnes-a-year site to ensure that it does not disturb archaeological remains that might be close to the site.

A Whole Oceans’ spokeswoman told the publication that the contractor was looking to find if there were any remains from a 19th century Native American or European farm at the former Verso Paper mill site.

Local amateur historian Emeric Spooner initially raised the concerns.

Fortunately, the remains are not slap bang in the middle of the proposed farm but rather on the northern, riverside fringe of the Whole Oceans property.

Susan Lessard, Bucksport’s town manager and Arthur Spiess, chief historic preservationist for the Maine Historic Preservation Commission, explained that if remains are there and are deemed to be of historic interest or value, Whole Oceans would likely just alter its plans to increase the distance between its buildings and the remains.


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