Aroostook county, maine population

Aroostook county, maine population DEFAULT

PRESQUE ISLE, Maine — The question for Aroostook County in the census is whether the new data will show growth in a region that has only seen its numbers decline in the past few decades.

More than , people lived in The County in But the population has decreased since then, especially after the closure of Loring Air Force Base in Today, thousands of people who previously lived in Aroostook County inhabit communities across the country.

While some are returning to Aroostook County, many others in this diaspora are living in new communities, while maintaining a connection with a region they have not lived in for decades.

A recent post in the County Facebook group My Aroostook! helped to shed light on why so many people have left.

Hundreds of commentators told their stories of wanderlust, collectively venturing to nearly every section of the United States. Yet, many who left still cling tightly to their Aroostook County upbringing — some even felt the need to come back after decades away from The County.

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Aroostook County had by far the largest population decrease of any county in Maine from to , according to U.S. census data. During that period, the population decreased from about 72, to about 67, By , 4, fewer people lived in Aroostook County than in , a percent net population decrease.

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Net migration rates are another way to examine population increase or decrease over time. The rates measure how many people are relocating to an area versus how many are moving out. Unlike population numbers, it does not consider numbers such as new births or deaths within a population.

From to , Aroostook County had the second lowest net migration rate of any county in Maine, with more people leaving The County than coming in (minus 1 migrant per residents). Only Sagadahoc County had a lower net migration rate during that period.

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Commentators on the Facebook conversation gave numerous reasons for settling in new locations after their adolescence in Aroostook County. Many attended college elsewhere and never made their way back. Others moved to the hometowns of their spouses. Some simply came to believe that small-town, rural Aroostook County was just not for them.

But, by far, the reason most frequently provided for leaving was a lack of economic opportunities. Many had more luck finding jobs elsewhere, felt they didn’t have the connections to get ahead in The County, or didn’t like where they were in their careers.

Approximately 19 percent of people in Aroostook County are ages , according to census data from That is lower than Maine’s rate of 23 percent, and the United States’ rate of 27 percent.

Some young people grow to love The County way of life — such as year-old Brittney Shields of Fort Fairfield who said she plans to stay in Aroostook County for the rest of her life.

Shields is engaged and has two children. With a love of the outdoors and a preference for the “quieter lifestyle” presented by The County, she sees no reason why she would ever need to move.

Others come to seek a different environment in adulthood. Kelsie Spooner, 23, who lives in Blaine but has spent most of her life in Presque Isle, said she plans to move out of Aroostook County in the next year or two.

Spooner, who owns Salon on North Street in Presque Isle, said she wants to leave because of the economy, which she described as quickly declining. She also said she found County life uneventful.

“The weather isn’t my favorite, but if there were more things to do inside during the winter months, I could see it being more bearable,” Spooner said. “The only thing that’s kept me around this long is family and my business.”

Interestingly, while the Feb. 10 post is a showcase on the number of people who have left The County in recent years, it is also a testament to the allure that brings many there in the first place.

Several members of the group said they wanted to stay, citing its natural beauty and affable population, but felt that circumstances out of their control prevented it. Others said they planned on retiring to their original communities.

Roger Lavigne is one of a few who decided to come back to Aroostook County after several years.

Lavigne, who grew up in Madawaska, has a strong affection for The County’s culture, especially appreciating its scenic nature and geniality. Yet, as a young man, he saw few economic prospects for himself. He moved to the Phoenix area for a job when he was

About two years ago, Lavigne had been out of The County for decades when someone notified him that the Madawaska homestead he had grown up in was on the market. Seeking an escape from the Arizona heat, and a way to relive old memories, he purchased the residence.

Lavigne, who retired in , plans on staying in Madawaska for about six months this year. Though he plans to be absent during harsh winters, he is looking forward to venturing back to the place he still calls home.

“The city’s great for opportunity and employment,” Lavigne said. “But as far as relaxing and getting away from it all, it’s not the place to be.”

Lorraine Ferland grew up living on Summer Street in Presque Isle. Identifying as a free spirit at a young age, Ferland said she had a wonderful, tranquil childhood.

“It was a great place to grow up,” Ferland said. “You could ride a bike there to anywhere in town. We pretty much had free-rein … There was never any fear.”

While she enjoyed her upbringing, she felt from a young age that small-town living might not be for her.

Ferland left Aroostook County to attend the University of Maine at Augusta when she was When she graduated from the University of Maine in Orono in the mids, she decided to take a job teaching in the West African nation of Ghana’s capital, Accra.

Returning to the United States, Ferland eventually acquired a full-time teaching job in Maryland, where her work focused on those with learning disabilities.

While she said she has not been to Aroostook County in more than 20 years, she said she enjoys keeping up with The County’s happenings on Facebook, especially pictures of nature.

Stacie Massengill was about 6 years old when her family left Caribou. It was in the early s, shortly before the Loring Air Force Base closed down, taking many jobs with it.

“Jobs were kind of scarce,” Massengill said. “[Her father] didn’t want us growing up where we really didn’t have many opportunities.”

Massengill has lived in the Knoxville, Tennessee, area since She still has many family members in The County, including her grandmother, and makes sure to visit every couple of years.

Though she hasn’t lived there since a very young age, she still feels that she is connected to Aroostook County, as well as the rest of Maine.

“Even though I haven’t lived there in a lot of time, Maine was still where I was born,” Massengill said. “I still kind of feel this pull toward The County.”

More articles from the BDN


Is Aroostook County the best Maine county for your business?

population icon Population

With 67, people, Aroostook County is the 6th most populated county in the state of Maine out of 16 counties. But watch out, Aroostook County, because Hancock County with 55, people and Oxford County with 57, people are right behind you.

race icon Race & Ethnicity

The largest Aroostook County racial/ethnic groups are White (%) followed by Two or More (%) and American Indian (%).

income icon Median Income

In , the median household income of Aroostook County households was $41, Aroostook County households made slightly more than Piscataquis County households ($40,) . It looks like Piscataquis County is keeping up with the Joneses . However, % of Aroostook County families live in poverty.

age icon Median Age

The median age for Aroostook County residents is years young.

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Aroostook County, Maine

County in Maine, US

U.S. county in Maine

Aroostook County (ə-ROOS-tək; French: Comté d'Aroostook) is a county in the U.S. state of Maine along the Canada–U.S. border. As of the census, the population was 71,[3] Its seat is Houlton[4] with offices in Caribou and Fort Kent.[5]

Known locally in Maine as "The County",[citation needed] it is the largest American county by land area east of the Mississippi River, excluding water (St. Louis County, Minnesota, is larger by total area, if water is included), even larger than three U.S. states. It is Maine's northernmost county. Its northernmost village, Estcourt Station, is also the northernmost community in New England and in the contiguous United States east of the Great Lakes.

Aroostook County is known for its potato crops, as well as its Acadian culture. In the Saint John Valley in the northern part of the county, which borders Madawaska County, New Brunswick, many of the residents are bilingual in English and Acadian French. Elsewhere in Maine, New England French is the predominant form of French spoken.

The county is also an emerging hub for wind power.


The sparsely populated Maine North Woods, roughly defined as the headwaters of the Saint John, Penobscot and Kennebec Rivers, was populated through the colonial era by refugees fleeing unfriendly governments. Native Americans retreating from hostile European colonists, and smugglers trading with these Native Americans and between English Massachusetts and French Acadia lived in small communities along the Atlantic coast on the disputed border between those colonies. As England dominated the Gulf of Maine following the French and Indian Wars, these occupants of the border region retreated up the large rivers into the interior joined by Acadians escaping the Acadian Expulsion. Although the survivors might have preferred to remain independent, surrounding governments dividing their refuge perceived Aroostook County as the west bank of the Saint John River drainage upstream of Canada. Under United States control, the area was initially dominated by lumber manufacturing interests, although agriculture became important as population increased. Transportation along the Saint John River and early rail connections into New Brunswick caused strong business links with Canada until the county was connected to the United States rail network by the Bangor and Aroostook Railroad in Aroostook County residents retain an independent cultural identity established during their history of isolation on the border frontier.[6]

Aroostook County was formed in from parts of Penobscot and Washington counties. In , Aroostook gained land from Penobscot County; in , Aroostook again gained land from Penobscot, plus it exchanged land with Piscataquis County. In , Aroostook gained slightly from Penobscot, but gave back the land in when Aroostook County gained its final form.[7] Some of the territory in this county was part of the land dispute that led to the "Aroostook War" that would be settled by the Webster–Ashburton Treaty.

Children gathering potatoes on a large farm in Aroostook County, Schools did not open until the potatoes were harvested. Photo by Jack Delano.

The county was also part of a route on the Underground Railroad, and was one of the last stops before entering Canada. Slaves would meet and hide just outside Aroostook[8] or in deserted areas. Friends Quaker Church near Fort Fairfield was often a final stop.[9]

Much of Aroostook County's economy was dominated by military spending through the Cold War. Limestone Army Air Field was built in Limestone, Maine in It was renamed Loring Air Force Base (AFB) in as the home of the Strategic Air Command (SAC) 42d Bombardment Wing operating Convair B Peacemaker bombers. Aroostook County was chosen due to its strategic location as the closest point in the Continental United States to the Middle East and Europe including the Soviet Union west of the Ural Mountains. Loring AFB could accommodate one hundred of these large bombers; and had both the largest fuel storage capacity, at 9,, US gallons (35,,&#;L), and the largest weapons storage capacity, at tonnes NEW, of any SAC base. The 42d Bombardment Wing at Loring operated Boeing B Stratofortress bombers[10] until the Base Realignment and Closure Commission recommended closure and the base closed in [11]

The Acadian World Congress was held along the Canada–United States border, co-hosted by Aroostook County and a number of neighboring counties in Canada (Témiscouata in Quebec, and Victoria, Madawaska and Restigouche in New Brunswick). Organizers planned a Tintamarre that was held in the town of Madawaska, Maine, as well as a giant tug of war across the Saint John River.[12]


According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 6, square miles (17,&#;km2), of which 6, square miles (17,&#;km2) is land and square miles (&#;km2) (%) is water.[13] Aroostook County is Maine's largest county by area, about the size of Connecticut and Rhode Island combined. The county high point is Peaked Mountain, elevation feet, whose western slopes are in the north east corner of Piscataquis County.

Adjacent counties and municipalities[edit]

  • Washington County, Maine – southeast
  • Penobscot County, Maine – south
  • Piscataquis County, Maine – south
  • Somerset County, Maine – southwest
  • Montmagny Regional County Municipality, Quebec – west
  • L'Islet Regional County Municipality, Quebec – west
  • Kamouraska Regional County Municipality, Quebec – northwest
  • Témiscouata Regional County Municipality, Quebec – north
  • Madawaska County, New Brunswick – northeast
  • Victoria County, New Brunswick – east
  • Carleton County, New Brunswick – east
  • York County, New Brunswick – southeast

National protected area[edit]

Major highways[edit]

Government and politics[edit]

Although the county is more socially conservative than Maine's southern and coastal counties, it was won by the Democratic Presidential candidate in the six elections from – [14] before going for the Republican candidate in [15] In the Maine Legislature, the county's delegation in included three Democrats and seven Republicans.[16] In it voted 73% in favor of a referendum rejecting same-sex marriage and 54% against the Maine Medical Marijuana Act.[17] In , it voted 67% against a measure to legalizesame-sex marriage in Maine,[18] the highest opposition percentage of any county in the state. From to , the margin increased from % to %, respectively. This makes Aroostook County the only county in New England to have a more major Republican shift.

Due to the remoteness from the rest of Maine and a perceived lack of connection with the Maine government, as well as a strong connection with neighboring Canada, politicians of Aroostook County, Maine, have proposed making Aroostook part of New Brunswick or spinning off the county as its own state, probably named Aroostook, since the s. As recently as the question has been brought up before the state legislature.[19]

Voter registration[edit]


Presidential elections results

Year RepublicanDemocraticThird parties
%21,% 13,%
%19,% 13,% 2,
% 15,%17,%
% 15,%19,%
% 17,%19,%
% 16,%17,% 1,
% 10,%18,% 6,
% 12,%15,% 10,
%17,% 14,%
%21,% 12,%
%16,% 14,% 3,
%15,% 15,% 1,
%19,% 11,% 22
% 13,%15,%
% 9,%17,% 3
%18,% 14,% 0
%16,% 6,% 0
%16,% 7,% 64
%9,% 7,% 98
%11,% 8,% 22
%13,% 9,% 39
%14,% 7,%
%14,% 9,%
%14,% 5,% 41
%9,% 1,%
%11,% 1,% 50
%5,% 2,% 98
% % 1,%4,
%4,% 1,%


Historical population
U.S. Decennial Census[22]


As of the census[26] of , there were 73, people, 30, households, and 20, families residing in the county. The population density was 11 people per square mile (4/km2). There were 38, housing units at an average density of 6 per square&#;mile (2/km2). The racial makeup of the county was % White, % Black or African American, % Native American, % Asian, % Pacific Islander, % from other races, and % from two or more races. % of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race. % were of French, % United States or American, % English, % French Canadian and % Irish ancestry. As of , % of the population reported speaking French at home; other than speakers of English, there were no other significant linguistic groups.[27]

There were 30, households, out of which % had children under the age of 18 living with them, % were married couples living together, % had a female householder with no husband present, and % were non-families. % of all households were made up of individuals, and % had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was and the average family size was

In the county, the population was spread out, with % under the age of 18, % from 18 to 24, % from 25 to 44, % from 45 to 64, and % who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 41 years. For every females there were males. For every females age 18 and over, there were males.

The median income for a household in the county was $28,, and the median income for a family was $36, Males had a median income of $29, versus $20, for females. The per capita income for the county was $15, About % of families and % of the population were below the poverty line, including % of those under age 18 and % of those age 65 or over.


As of the United States Census, there were 71,&#;people, 30,&#;households, and 19,&#;families residing in the county.[28] The population density was inhabitants per square mile (/km2). There were 39, housing units at an average density of per square mile (/km2).[29] The racial makeup of the county was % white, % Native American, % black or African American, % Asian, % from other races, and % from two or more races. Those of Hispanic or Latino origin made up % of the population.[28] In terms of ancestry, % were French, % were English, % were Irish, % were French Canadian, % were American, and % were German.[30]

Of the 30,&#;households, % had children under the age of 18 living with them, % were married couples living together, % had a female householder with no husband present, % were non-families, and % of all households were made up of individuals. The average household size was and the average family size was The median age was years.[28]

The median income for a household in the county was $36, and the median income for a family was $47, Males had a median income of $37, versus $28, for females. The per capita income for the county was $20, About % of families and % of the population were below the poverty line, including % of those under age 18 and % of those age 65 or over.[31]



Incorporated towns[edit]


Census-designated places[edit]

Unincorporated communities within towns[edit]

Unorganized territories[edit]

Indian reservations[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^"Aroostook &#; county, Maine, United States".
  2. ^"Aroostook County Government". January 5, Archived from the original on May 22, Retrieved May 11,
  3. ^ ab"State & County QuickFacts". United States Census Bureau. Archived from the original on July 17, Retrieved March 10,
  4. ^"Find a County". National Association of Counties. Archived from the original on May 31, Retrieved June 7,
  5. ^"Home". Retrieved August 23,
  6. ^Strout, W. Jerome (). 75 Years The Bangor and Aroostook. Bangor, Maine: Bangor and Aroostook Railroad. pp.&#;18–
  7. ^Adrian B. Ettlinger. AniMap Plus: County Boundary Historical Atlas. Gold Bug Software, Alamo, CA,
  8. ^"Fort Fairfield &#; Maine: An Encyclopedia". Archived from the original on September 18, Retrieved May 11,
  9. ^"Crown of Maine Productions". Crown of Maine Productions. Archived from the original on February 13, Retrieved May 11,
  10. ^"SAC Bases: Loring Air Force Base". Retrieved August 3,
  11. ^Earth Tech, Inc. (). "Loring Air Force Base"(PDF). Historic American Buildings Survey. Limestone, Maine: Historic American Engineering Record. Archived(PDF) from the original on June 9, Retrieved May 11,
  12. ^Olmstead, Kathryn (April 10, ). "Van Buren, Canadian towns reach across border to get ready for World Acadian Congress in August". Bangor Daily News. Archived from the original on April 13, Retrieved April 11,
  13. ^" Census Gazetteer Files". United States Census Bureau. August 22, Archived from the original on September 9, Retrieved September 7,
  14. ^"New York Times Election Map". December 9, Archived from the original on April 8, Retrieved May 11,
  15. ^" Maine Presidential Election Results". Politico. Archived from the original on November 26, Retrieved November 25,
  16. ^"Maine Senate site". Archived from the original on May 14, Retrieved May 11,
  17. ^Bangor Daily NewsArchived December 23, , at the Wayback Machine
  18. ^" Election Results Map by State – Live Voting Updates". Politico.Com. February 6, Archived from the original on January 6, Retrieved May 11,
  19. ^Bill calls for close look at secessionArchived November 11, , at the Wayback Machine
  20. ^Bureau of Corporations, Elections & Commissions (May 5, ). "Registered & Enrolled Voters - Statewide"(PDF). Department of the Secretary of State, State of Maine. p.&#;6. Retrieved November 13,
  21. ^Leip, David. "Dave Leip's Atlas of U.S. Presidential Elections". Archived from the original on March 23, Retrieved May 4,
  22. ^"U.S. Decennial Census". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved September 7,
  23. ^"Historical Census Browser". University of Virginia Library. Archived from the original on August 11, Retrieved September 7,
  24. ^"Population of Counties by Decennial Census: to ". United States Census Bureau. Archived from the original on January 23, Retrieved September 7,
  25. ^"Census PHC-T Ranking Tables for Counties: and "(PDF). United States Census Bureau. Archived(PDF) from the original on December 18, Retrieved September 7,
  26. ^"U.S. Census website". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved January 31,
  27. ^"American Community Survey Aggregate Data, 5-Year Summary File, –". Data Center. Aroostook County, Maine: Modern Language Association. – Archived from the original on August 15, Retrieved August 23,
  28. ^ abc"DP-1 Profile of General Population and Housing Characteristics: Demographic Profile Data". United States Census Bureau. Archived from the original on February 13, Retrieved January 21,
  29. ^"Population, Housing Units, Area, and Density: - County". United States Census Bureau. Archived from the original on February 13, Retrieved January 21,
  30. ^"DP02 SELECTED SOCIAL CHARACTERISTICS IN THE UNITED STATES – American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates". United States Census Bureau. Archived from the original on February 13, Retrieved January 21,
  31. ^"DP03 SELECTED ECONOMIC CHARACTERISTICS – American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates". United States Census Bureau. Archived from the original on February 13, Retrieved January 21,

External links[edit]

Places adjacent to Aroostook County, Maine

Aroostook County

Aroostook County, ME

In , Aroostook County, ME had a population of k people with a median age of 48 and a median household income of $41, Between and the population of Aroostook County, ME declined from 68, to 67,, a −% decrease and its median household income grew from $39, to $41,, a % increase.

The 5 largest ethnic groups in Aroostook County, ME are White (Non-Hispanic) (%), American Indian & Alaska Native (Non-Hispanic) (%), Two+ (Non-Hispanic) (%), Black or African American (Non-Hispanic) (%), and White (Hispanic) (%). 0% of the households in Aroostook County, ME speak a non-English language at home as their primary language.

% of the residents in Aroostook County, ME are U.S. citizens.

The largest universities in Aroostook County, ME are University of Maine at Fort Kent ( degrees awarded in ), Northern Maine Community College ( degrees), and University of Maine at Presque Isle ( degrees).

In , the median property value in Aroostook County, ME was $99,, and the homeownership rate was 72%. Most people in Aroostook County, ME drove alone to work, and the average commute time was minutes. The average car ownership in Aroostook County, ME was 2 cars per household.

Aroostook County, ME borders Penobscot County, ME, Piscataquis County, ME, Somerset County, ME, and Washington County, ME.

About the photo: Moose in Mist, Limestone, ME


County, maine population aroostook

People Keep Leaving Aroostook County

HOULTON, Maine — Aroostook County lost more people than any other Maine county over the last decade, according to the most recent U.S. census.

The County lost about 4, people during that time, down to a little more than 67, people, representing a percent decrease in population. Though some smaller communities in The County reported a population growth, every town or city in Aroostook with a population higher than 1, people saw a decline over the past decade.

The town with the biggest decline by far was Limestone, home of the former Loring Air Force base. It went from having approximately 2, people in to around 1, in — a more than 34 percent decrease. In , the last census before the Air Force base closed, the town had a population approaching 10, people.

The declining population and loss of younger people in Aroostook has created a shortage of workers in vital positions such as police and ambulance services, as well as in town government. Bud Finch, the town manager for Limestone, said the issues existed not just in his town, but in many places across Aroostook.

“There’s a number of towns that have cut back. They don’t have police departments because there’s not enough police officers to go around, and the same for volunteer fire services,” Finch said. “The young people are not getting into it as much as they did generations ago.”

Finch said the solution for shrinking community services is to have more regional efforts among rural communities. An example of that is the creation of a regional ambulance service in central Aroostook for numerous communities. Plans are underway for the creation of a similar regional service among southern Aroostook towns.

The percentage of population decline among the major locations varies. Houlton only recorded a drop of percent, while Presque Isle and Caribou both saw their population fall by more than percent. In the St. John Valley, Fort Kent saw only a small decline of percent, while Madawaska had a more significant dropoff of percent.

Not only is The County’s population declining, it’s also getting older. In , there were 14, people younger than 18 in Aroostook County. As of the Census, there were 12, people who met that criteria. Younger generations may also leave Aroostook to look for work elsewhere, and the average family size for younger generations has decreased.

An increasingly graying population has led to providing more services for seniors in Aroostook. Joy Barresi Saucier, executive director for the Aroostook Agency on Aging, said that the number of available caregivers for older people in Aroostook has declined as the population has aged.

“There used to be seven younger people to care for every older person, but I believe that nationally it’s down to just three caregivers for every person that needs it,” Saucier said. “In Aroostook we’re probably under that number, because the other numbers trend that way.”

The agency has seen an increase in its services in recent years, particularly since the pandemic, doubling its meal delivery service and setting up more virtual services for seniors.

“People want to continue to live in their home as well as live in their home community,” Saucier said. “That means we need to do more to support them.”

This story appears through a partnership with the Bangor Daily News.

Aroostook County

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