1950 to Present
The current ownership of the North Maine Woods is complicated due in part to the historical events of the last two centuries.
In about 1783, Maine and Massachusetts were one state and the area that is now Northern Maine was divided into six-mile square
townships and sold at auction. By the time it became a separate state in 1820, over half of Maine (10 million acres) had been
sold or granted. The remainder of the land was sold by 1878. In many cases, two or three people jointly purchased in common, and
undivided, one or more townships. Over the years, the many heirs of those original buyers have further diversified the ownership.
1938 to 1949
During World War II
An heir might have owned an undivided 15% of the whole township, that is 15% of every tree, rock, road, etc. Beginning around
the turn of the century, some of the family owners began to sell their holdings to industrial landowners. Industrial ownerships
increased during the 20th century while at the same time the remaining family ownerships were divided into smaller shares with each
succeeding generation. The ownership is now a combination of private individual, private industrial and public interests. The
complicated ownership by township is compounded as there are 155 townships within the NMW management area.
This diversified ownership pattern is the primary reason for the NMW organization. Recreational users of the area are guided by
one set of uniform regulations and fees. Users do not have to obtain several permits or pay different user fees to many separate