DISCOVERY AND COLONIZATION. Five hundred years before Columbus
"discovered" America, Leif Ericson and a crew of 30
Viking sailors are believed to have explored the Maine coast and
may have landed and tried to establish a settlement here.
In 1498, six years after Columbus landed in the West Indies, John Cabot, an Italian sailor in the employ of King Henry Vii of England, sailed into North American waters and may well have explored the Maine coast, although there is no concrete evidence of it.
A century after Cabot's voyage a number of European ships briefly visited the area, some of them putting ashore to make repairs and process fish catches.
The first settlement was established by the Plymouth Company at Popham in 1607, the same year of the settlement at Jamestown, Virginia. Because the Popham colony didn't survive the harsh Maine winters, Jamestown enjoys the distinction of being regarded as America's first permanent settlement.
A number of English settlements were established along the Maine coast 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. By then, Massachusetts had bought up most of the land claims in this wilderness territory, an arrangement which lasted until 1820 when Maine separated from Massachusetts to become a separate state.