Medford is a small, out of the way town, and the smallest town in the Three Rivers Community. The Piscataquis River divides Medford in half from East to West. The town has two centers: Medford, to the North; and Medford Center to the South.
Medford as it was then
as written by Kevin Eston, Piscataquis Observer, August 5, 1981
The Town of Medford (or Kilmarnock as it was originally named) sits some seven miles east-north-east of Milo. The town’s first settler was James Grover in 1808, who settled on the south bank of the Piscataquis River, which cuts Medford into two almost equal parts. The town was slow in growth, but in 1820, the state opened a road from the Piscataquis River to Old Town, which helped increase the amount of settlers.
In 1824 the town incorporated itself under the name of Kilmarnock. The name was chosen by General John Boyd of Boston, who owned the eastern half of the settlement. Historians suggest that Boyd picked the name Kilmarnock because his father might have been originally from the Scottish town. Boyd was a significant man in Piscataquis history, accounting for the organization of both Medford and Orneville.
Boyd made his mark in life as a soldier at an early age enlisting in the United States Army. He spent only a brief time in the army at that point, and after being released from the army, Boyd made his fortune. Boyd sailed to India and raised an army to fight as mercenaries for native princes. Boyd remained in India for several years, and amassed great wealth, being a successful mercenary.
General Boyd returned to America in 1805, and purchased the Orneville Township. After re-enlisting in the United States Army, Boyd, as a colonel fought in the Battle of Tippecanoe, an important battle in the War of 1812.
The town of Medford had a sweeping fire in 1825, which destroyed over three-quarters of the town. The fire also destroyed a large stand of pine trees, which were used in the town’s industry, a combination sawmill and shingle mill. In 1820, General Boyd erected the largest saw mill then on the Piscataquis River or any of its branches. The mill was saved from the great fire in 1825, but because of the damage to the trees in the area, the mill soon went out of business due to lack of raw materials.
The inhabitants of Kilmarnock petitioned to change the town’s name in 1856. The petition was approved and the town became Medford.
The town charter was first surrendered in 1940, and the town was reorganized as a plantation in 1942. In 1967 Medford was again organized as a town.
Divided by Piscataquis River, Medford United by Old Bridge
as written by the late Edna L. Bradeen, for the Piscataquis Observer, November 17, 1981.
Leo Russell, Medford selectman, officiated at the opening of the Medford Bridge, November 13.
County Commissioners Phil Annis and Frank Titcomb, and Robert Zimmerman of the Maine Department of Transportation joined townspeople for the ribbon cutting. Russell expressed thanks to the county commissioners for their help in making the bridge possible.
Medford, population 164, has been without means of crossing the Piscataquis River, which divides the town into two sections, since the ferry ceased operation more than 40 years ago.
Without a bridge, a person living on the opposite side of the river would have to make a round trip of 40 miles to the town clerk’s office to purchase a fishing license or pay his taxes.
In 1981, the 44 school children are about evenly divided, with one half attending the Milo schools and the other half attending schools in Howland.
The bridge won’t change this, but as one mother said, “Our social life should improve. The children can grown up knowing one another.”
The Medford Bridge has an interesting background. Some years ago, the Bangor and Aroostook Railroad abandoned the Medford cut-off track. This track crossed the river at Medford on a 600-foot trestle, 60 feet above the water.
At the time the railroad crew was dismantling the track and preparing to take down the steel girders for scrap, a local man, Clyde Hichborn, suggested the bridge could be used for vehicle and pedestrian crossing.
Hichborn said, “A bridge of that dimension was like a million-dollar bridge about to disappear from the community.”
Haste was used in contacting the railroad and the Maine department of Transportation on the possibility of the town taking over the bridge.
Leo Russell said, “With assistance from the state, the town of Medford in 1978 purchased the bridge and the right of way for $31,000.”
More daring morotists and pedestrians used the open plank span, without railings, as soon as it became town-owned. The more cautious continued to take the long way around.
A contract for repairs was awarded to H.B. Fleming of South Portland last summer. Work was started in August.
Now, at the cost of $151,000 in state, county and town funds, the open timbers have been covered and hot-topped and the bridge has railings.
Leo Russell drove the first car across the completed bridge on Friday, followed by county commissioners.