About This Place
Oakland is a town in Kennebec County in the U.S. state of Maine. The population was 6,240 at the 2010 census. . Gateway to the Belgrade Lakes region, Oakland is 4 miles (6 km) west of Waterville and approximately 18 miles (29 km) north of Augusta, the state capital.
It was first settled about 1780 by colonists of English descent from Massachusetts and New Hampshire. At that time, the region was known as Taconnet after Indian Chief Taconnet, an Abenaki sachem. It was incorporated by the Massachusetts General Court in 1771 as part of Winslow. In 1802, the area west of the Kennebec River was incorporated as Waterville. But manufacturers in the western section, who had created a separate center of industry and trade and were dissatisfied with its taxation, petitioned to have the district set off as a town. The Maine State Legislature complied, and on February 26, 1873 incorporated it as West Waterville. In 1883, it was renamed Oakland, presumably after all the oak trees in the town, though some favored the name Weldon.
Farmers were attracted by the town's fertile soil for cultivation, grazing and dairy farming. Chief crops were hay, fruits and vegetables. Manufacturers were drawn because of the water power provided by the Messalonskee Stream. Before 1800, Jonathan Coombs built a sawmill and gristmill. The Androscoggin and Kennebec Railroad arrived in 1849, spurring Oakland to boom as a mill town. With several manufacturers of farm implements, it became known as the axe and scythe capital of New England. Other factories produced canned goods, tinware, carriages, furniture, tools, machinery, woolens, lumber, coffins, leather, boots and shoes. There was a granite quarry. In 1872, Oakland became the southern terminal of the Somerset Railroad, connecting first to North Anson, then to Bingham, and finally to Moosehead Lake. But after economic changes, new businesses replaced the agricultural equipment industry, including Valley Distributors, Industrial Metal Recycling, Charlie's Log Cabin and Wrabacon.