Somerset County, Maine
Norridgewock, chief town.—Previous to the formation of Piscataquis and Franklin counties, in 1838, for which purpose a considerable portion of Somerset was taken, this county contained an area of about 8,785 square miles. Incorporated, 1809. About one third of this territory may be said to be settled, incorporated or granted, the residue, a wilderness. Its population, in 1820, was 21,787; 1830, 33,588; 1837, 40,963. Population to a square mile, 4 1/2. Gain in population, in seven years, 22 per cent.
The present county of Somerset is bounded N. by Lower Canada, E. by Piscataquis and a part of Penobscot counties, S. by the counties of Kennebec and Franklin, and W. by Franklin county and Lower Canada.
This county is watered by many ponds, some of the large tributaries of the Kennebec, and by the upper waters of many other important rivers in Maine; but its chief river is the noble Kennebec, which enters the county at its rise from Moose Head lake, and passing from that lake, which skirts the eastern boundary of the county, it traverses nearly in its centre, about 75 miles. This river serves, at present, as a great thoroughfare to the ocean for an immense amount of timber, lumber and wood, the first fruits of industry of pioneers to a heavily timbered country; and, in after times, will serve for the transportation of the productions of a fertile soil to distant markets, and of the wants of the inhabitants from abroad.
The surface of this county is diversified by considerable elevations and extensive valleys, which give it a varied and pleasing aspect. With the exception of the mountain range, which skirts the bounds of Canada, and the Bald Mountain ridge, nearly in the centre of the county, Mount Bigelow and Mount Abraham, on the border of Franklin county, are the most lofty.
So far as the march of improvement has been made in this interior and almost wilderness county, the soil of the lands, generally, is found to be fertile, as easy of cultivation, and as productive of all the varieties of grasses, grains, vegetables, and fruits, as any portion of New England, with very few exceptions. The more interior portions of the county, those watered by the upper branches of the Penobscot and Walloomstook, now a wilderness, are said to be the most fertile. In 1837, there were in the old county of Somerset, 77,921 sheep; and, during that year, it produced 239,332 bushels of wheat, being the largest quantity of that valuable grain produced by any county in Maine, and probably by any county in New England.