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Brownville, Maine
General view c. 1910
General view c. 1910
Location in Piscataquis County and the state of Maine.
Location in Piscataquis County and the state of Maine.
Country United States
State Maine
County Piscataquis
Incorporated 1824
Communities Brownville
Brownville Junction
Knights Landing
 • Type Board of Selectmen
 • Total 44.62 sq mi (115.57 km2)
 • Land 44.03 sq mi (114.04 km2)
 • Water 0.59 sq mi (1.53 km2)
781 ft (238 m)
 • Total 1,139
 • Density 26/sq mi (10.0/km2)
Time zone UTC-5 (Eastern (EST))
 • Summer (DST) UTC-4 (EDT)
ZIP codes
04414, 04481
Area code(s) 207
FIPS code 23-08325
GNIS feature ID 0582374

Brownville is a town in Piscataquis County, Maine, United States. The population was 1,139 at the 2020 census. The town includes the villages of Brownville, Knight's Landing and Brownville Junction, near which passes the 100-Mile Wilderness of the Appalachian Trail.


The area was a part of the Waldo Patent purchased by Moses Brown and Major Josiah Hill of Newburyport, Massachusetts, who initiated its settlement. In 1806, they built a dam and watermills on the Pleasant River. First known as township T5 R8 NWP, the community was organized in 1819 as Brownville Plantation. It was named for Francis Brown (nephew of Moses Brown), who was a mill owner and trader from Newbury, Massachusetts. In 1824, the town was incorporated as Brownville.

Early settlers were given 50 acres (200,000 m2) to clear and cultivate. Farms produced hay, oats, potatoes, wheat and garden vegetables. Water power from the Pleasant River attracted industry, including sawmills, clapboard mills, gristmills, a shovel handle factory and a carriage factory. Quarries were established to extract the region's abundant slate, the quality of which won first prize at the 1876 Centennial Exposition. In 1843, the Bangor & Piscataquis Slate Company opened with 60 employees. It sent out 8,000-12,000 squares of roofing slate annually. The Merrill Quarry opened in 1846 with about 80 employees, producing 30,000 squares of roofing slate annually. The Highland Quarry opened with Welsh employees, recruited because they were accustomed to working in slate. The last quarry closed in 1917.

Iron ore was discovered at the foot of Ore Mountain. The Katahdin Iron Works was established in 1843, when roads were cut out and a blast furnace erected. A hotel and several houses were built for workers. Charcoal was made in 14 kilns, consuming 10,000 cords of wood per year. The company and land were sold in 1845, and the new owners operated it until 1856, the year it produced 2350 tons of iron. However, shipping it to Bangor was expensive. The Bangor and Katahdin Iron Works Railway (B&KIW) was constructed to Brownville in 1881, then connected north to the Katahdin Iron Works in 1883.

In 1889 the International Railway of Maine was constructed by its owner Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR), extending the CPR's transcontinental mainline east from Montreal, Quebec to Saint John, New Brunswick. The CPR line passed 3 miles north of Brownville, where it crossed the B&KIW at a location that was named Brownville Junction. In 1891 the B&KIW merged into the Bangor and Aroostook Railroad (BAR) after the Katahdin Iron Works closed the previous year. The BAR line as well as the CPR line west of Brownville now form part of the Montreal, Maine and Atlantic Railway.

Local historian Bill Sawtell has documented many facets of the history of Brownville as well as the surrounding area. He has published numerous books with subjects such as Katahdin Iron Works, the Highland Quarry, the Bangor and Aroostook Railroad, and Penquis Valley High School basketball.


According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 44.62 square miles (115.57 km2), of which, 44.03 square miles (114.04 km2) is land and 0.59 square miles (1.53 km2) is water. Situated between Sebec and Schoodic lakes, Brownville is drained by the Pleasant River.


This climatic region is typified by large seasonal temperature differences, with warm to hot (and often humid) summers and cold (sometimes severely cold) winters. According to the Köppen Climate Classification system, Brownville has a humid continental climate, abbreviated "Dfb" on climate maps.


Historical population
Census Pop.
1830 402
1840 568 41.3%
1850 787 38.6%
1860 793 0.8%
1870 860 8.4%
1880 896 4.2%
1890 1,074 19.9%
1900 1,570 46.2%
1910 1,808 15.2%
1920 1,743 −3.6%
1930 1,910 9.6%
1940 1,914 0.2%
1950 1,964 2.6%
1960 1,641 −16.4%
1970 1,490 −9.2%
1980 1,545 3.7%
1990 1,506 −2.5%
2000 1,259 −16.4%
2010 1,250 −0.7%
2020 1,139 −8.9%
U.S. Decennial Census

2010 census

As of the census of 2010, there were 1,250 people, 527 households, and 347 families living in the town. The population density was 28.4 inhabitants per square mile (11.0/km2). There were 738 housing units at an average density of 16.8 per square mile (6.5/km2). The racial makeup of the town was 97.3% White, 0.6% African American, 0.2% Native American, 0.5% from other races, and 1.4% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino people of any race were 1.3% of the population.

There were 527 households, of which 29.4% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 48.0% were married couples living together, 9.9% had a female householder with no husband present, 8.0% had a male householder with no wife present, and 34.2% were non-families. 27.9% of all households were made up of individuals, and 12.6% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.37 and the average family size was 2.82.

The median age in the town was 44.5 years. 22.7% of residents were under the age of 18; 6.5% were between the ages of 18 and 24; 21.4% were from 25 to 44; 32.1% were from 45 to 64; and 17.4% were 65 years of age or older. The gender makeup of the town was 52.8% male and 47.2% female.

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