INDUSTRIAL GROWTH. Maine's textile and leather industries
enjoyed a dramatic upward surge following the Civil War, while
farming activity correspondingly decreased.
Responding to Thomas Edison's discoveries in the 1890s, Maine began utilizing its vast river resources for the development of hydroelectric power. Plants for the production of electricity were built principally on the Androscoggin, Kennebec, Penobscot and Saco Rivers.
Maine's industrial growth continued, although at a much slower pace, into the 20th century. Expansion of the pulp and paper industry offset the loss of textile mills to the South. Large potato-growing, dairy and poultry farms replaced the decreasing number of small family farms.
The Great Depression of the 1930s brought the state's economy to a grinding halt along with the rest of the nation.
Throughout the second half of the 20th century, Maine has struggled to find a proper balance between resource-based industrial development and environmental protection. The state has come to rely heavily on tourism, small manufacturing enterprises and defense-related activities and installations for much of its economic base.