Photo: Mike Corthell
Opening Day 2012
There are so many defining factors of Fryeburg. Fryeburg is a recreational and agricultural paradise that exemplifies Maine's motto "the way life should be". With thirty-three miles of winding river, unparalleled views of the White Mountains and the fertile bottomland, locally known as the Interval, it is hard for visitors and locals alike to imagine a higher quality of life anywhere else.
People are drawn to Fryeburg for the four seasons of great natural recreation such as canoeing, camping, water sports, endless hiking and biking trails, National Forests, snowmobile trails that reach to Canada, major ski resorts, wildlife viewing, wild berry picking, and the list goes on. Another major attraction is the 160 year old agricultural Fryeburg Fair. Organized and established in 1851, this eight day event is held annually on the first week of October. Hundreds of thousands of visitors descend on the tranquility of this quaint community during this autumn week.
Fryeburg - Today:
Fryeburg today is a year-round resort area and a strong academic town with the Fryeburg Academy, its' state of the art library and cultural center.
The Town of Fryeburg consists of the village and business district, North Fryeburg, Center Fryeburg, West Fryeburg and East Fryeburg. It has much to offer its visitors such as Jockey Cap for hiking and breathtaking views, wonderful historical monuments and buildings, and it boasts several beautiful town parks that offer a wide variety of recreational and educational opportunities to residents and visitors, restaurants, churches, and businesses.
Fryeburg still holds the charm and originality of yesteryear but it would be a mistake to assume time has stood still. Over the years farmers have moved from cattle and dairy to produce and crops such as potato, beans, corn, and such. Industry also includes turf farms, tree and nursery farms, Down East Cycle, maple syrup, bottled water, and pellet mills. Fryeburg is also home to the Eastern Slope Airport which has attracted such high-tech industries as Dearborn Precision. Several recreational rental shops have also opened in the area. The Fryeburg Home, Garden and Flower Show has found a home at the Fryeburg Fairgrounds. Entrepreneurs are attracted to Fryeburg because of the quality of life and opportunities that are available.
History of Fryeburg's Beginnings:
A grant of the township of Fryeburg was made to General Joseph Frye by the General Court of Massachusetts for his valiant services in the expedition against Louisburg, and as commander of a regiment at Fort William Henry on Lake George, in 1757. This grant made on March 3, 1762, gave General Frye the privilege of selecting a township six miles square, lying on either side of the Saco river between the Great Ossipee and the White Mountains. Many of the pioneers of Fryeburg were veterans of either the Revolution or the earlier French and Indian Wars where many of them had gained titles for their gallantry. Among such veterans were Paul Langdon, the first principal of the Academy; Wm. Russell, Caleb Swan, Henry Y. B. Osgood, Rev. Wm. Fessenden and Dr. Joseph Emery, the first physician, who came in 1768, were all graduates of Harvard, and Captain Joseph Frye attended Harvard for two years. In 1776, during the troublous times of the Revolution, application was made for incorporation as a town and the following year this act was granted. The town of Fryeburg is older than the county (Oxford) that it is part of, originally being part of York County.
The area was once a major Abenaki Indian village known as Pequawket, meaning "crooked place," a reference to the large bend in the Saco River. (Because of this the term 'Freyburg' is now known to mean "Crooked place" or "crooked town") It was inhabited by the Sokokis tribe, whose territory along the stream extended from what is now Saco on the coast, to Conway, New Hampshire in the White Mountains. In 1706, Chief Nescambious would be the only Indian knighted by the French. The tribe was not hostile to English settlements, even hiring British carpenters to build at Pequawket a 14-foot (4.3 m) high palisade fort as protection against their traditional enemy, the Mohawks. In 1713, Sokokis sachems signed the Treaty of Portsmouth to ensure peace with English colonists. Nevertheless, during Father Rale's War, Pequawket was attacked in the Battle at Pequawket on May 8, 1725 by John Lovewell and his militia. Lovewell was killed, as were Chief Paugus and others. The tribe subsequently abandoned their village and moved to Canada.
The first appropriation made by the voters of Fryeburg for the maintenance of public schools was in September 1777. A free grammar school in Fryeburg was established in 1791. In or around 1830, two stone school houses were erected in the village. One now occupied by the village library; the second was burned, and rebuilt in 1850 which continues today as part of Fryeburg Academy. On August 17, 1892 Fryeburg Academy was established and in 1902 Daniel Webster as preceptor and thus the beginning of one of a strong academic town to this today.
Excellent soil helped Fryeburg develop into a prosperous agricultural center, with the first gristmill established in 1766. Other mills and factories produced lumber, leather, harness, tin ware, cheese and canned vegetables. After the Civil War, the Portland and Ogdensburg Railroad passed through the town, bringing tourists escaping the heat and pollution of cities. Inns, hotels and boarding houses were built.
A Congregational church was organized in 1775. The Universalist Church was organized in 1810, and the chapel at North Fryeburg erected in 1838.The New Jerusalem Church is over a century old and other churches include Christian Science Church, Methodist Church, Church of Christ, Assembly of God, Kingdom Hall of Jehovah's Witness, and Elizabeth Ann Seton Catholic Church to date.
In the Town of Fryeburg there are twenty-seven cemeteries and gravesites. The town maintains all of these with the exception of Pine Grove Cemetery and Austin Bemis Cemetery who have associations that maintain them.