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Rockland, Maine
Rockland Downtown
Rockland Downtown
Official seal of Rockland, Maine
God Gives a Reward to Industry
Location in Knox County and the state of Maine.
Location in Knox County and the state of Maine.
Rockland, Maine is located in the United States
Rockland, Maine
Rockland, Maine
Location in the United States
Country United States
State Maine
County Knox
Incorporated (town) July 28, 1848
Incorporated (city) 1854
 • Total 15.08 sq mi (39.05 km2)
 • Land 12.85 sq mi (33.28 km2)
 • Water 2.23 sq mi (5.77 km2)
23 ft (7 m)
 • Total 6,936
 • Density 539.81/sq mi (208.42/km2)
Time zone UTC−5 (Eastern (EST))
 • Summer (DST) UTC−4 (EDT)
ZIP code
Area code(s) 207
FIPS code 23-63590
GNIS feature ID 0574358

Rockland is a city in Knox County, Maine, in the United States. As of the 2020 census, the city population was 6,936. It is the county seat of Knox County. The city is a popular tourist destination. It is a departure point for the Maine State Ferry Service to the islands of Penobscot Bay: Vinalhaven, North Haven and Matinicus.


Abenaki Indians called it Catawamteak, meaning "great landing place." In 1767, John Lermond and his two brothers from Warren built a camp to produce oak staves and pine lumber. Thereafter known as Lermond's Cove, it was first settled about 1769. When in 1777 Thomaston was incorporated, Lermond's Cove became a district called Shore village. On July 28, 1848, it was set off as the town of East Thomaston. Renamed Rockland in 1850, it was chartered as a city in 1854.

Vessel Launch Postcard 1900
Vessel launching c. 1900
Rockland-Rockport Lime Company, Rockland, ME
Rockland-Rockport Lime Co. c. 1912

Rockland developed rapidly because of shipbuilding and lime production. In 1854 alone, the city built eleven ships, three barks, six brigs and four schooners. The city had twelve lime quarries and 125 lime kilns, with upwards of 300 vessels to transport the mineral to various ports in the country.

By 1886, shipbuilding was surpassed by the lime business, which had twelve manufacturers employing 1,000 workers. Nevertheless, Rockland had three or more shipyards, a marine railway, five sail lofts and two boatbuilders. Other industries included three grain mills, two foundries, three carriage factories, six lumber mills, two machine shops, three cooperies, one tannery, four granite and marble works, two boot and shoe factories, and four printing offices. Fishing was also important. Fleets of Friendship Sloops sailed between the harbor and fishing grounds across Penobscot Bay.

The opening of the Knox and Lincoln Railroad in 1871 brought an influx of tourists. Inns and hotels were established to accommodate them, with the grandest being The Bay Point Hotel in 1889. With a commanding view near the breakwater, the resort offered every luxury and amusement. Renamed The Samoset Hotel in 1902, it was successful until the Great Depression, which began a slow decline. In the age of automobiles, travelers were no longer restricted to the limits of train service, but were free to explore elsewhere. Closed in 1969, the Victorian hotel burned in 1972. A new Samoset Resort opened in 1974.

In 1915, the new superdreadnought USS Nevada (BB-36) conducted tests and completed her running trials just off the shore from Rockland.

Today, Rockland is an officially designated micropolitan area. Since the early 1990s, Rockland has seen a shift in its economy away from the fishery and toward a service center city. It has also seen a substantial increase in tourism and the downtown has transformed into one of unique shops, boutiques, fine dining and art galleries. Rockland is the commercial center of the midcoast Maine region, with many historic inns, a coffee roaster, a food co-op, a community radio station WRFR-LP, and the Farnsworth Art Museum. Rockland was named a Coast Guard City in March 2008, in recognition of the long-standing and special relationship that the city and its residents have with the United States Coast Guard.


Rockland is home to the Maine Lobster Festival, a celebration held annually in honor of the town's primary export: lobster. In the first week of August, thousands of people come from all over the world to participate in this five-day event. Rockland also is home to the Farnsworth Art Museum, a world-famous art gallery containing paintings by Andrew Wyeth and other well-known New England artists. Rockland's main street also features numerous small shops and businesses including coffee shops, book stores, art supply stores, restaurants, organic markets, computer repair and toy stores. Penobscot Bay, which Rockland borders, is known internationally as one of the best recreational sailing grounds in the world. The city's breakwater, built in the 19th century, also draws tourists. Also the Maine Eastern Railroad is based in Rockland and offers limited seasonal passenger train excursions starting in Brunswick, running to Rockland and back.


Rockland sign
Welcome to Rockland

Rockland is located at 44°6′34″N 69°6′53″W / 44.10944°N 69.11472°W / 44.10944; -69.11472 (44.109569, -69.114652).

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 15.07 square miles (39.03 km2), of which 12.84 square miles (33.26 km2) is land and 2.23 square miles (5.78 km2) is water. Rockland is located on Penobscot Bay and the Gulf of Maine, part of the Atlantic Ocean. About ten miles to the east are the islands of North Haven and Vinalhaven, reached by ferry from Rockland.

Rockland is crossed by U.S. 1 and 1A, and state routes 17, 73 and 90. It borders the towns of Owls Head to the southeast, Thomaston to the southwest, Warren to the northwest, and Rockport to the northeast.


Climate data for Rockland, Maine
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °F (°C) 58
Average high °F (°C) 30
Daily mean °F (°C) 20
Average low °F (°C) 10
Record low °F (°C) -22
Precipitation inches (mm) 4.26


View of Rockland, Maine from a plane
Rockland and Rockland Harbor from Owls Head Transportation Museum's Stearman Biplane
Historical population
Census Pop.
1850 5,052
1860 7,316 44.8%
1870 7,074 −3.3%
1880 7,599 7.4%
1890 8,174 7.6%
1900 8,150 −0.3%
1910 8,174 0.3%
1920 8,100 −0.9%
1930 9,075 12.0%
1940 8,899 −1.9%
1950 9,284 4.3%
1960 8,769 −5.5%
1970 8,505 −3.0%
1980 7,919 −6.9%
1990 7,972 0.7%
2000 7,609 −4.6%
2010 7,297 −4.1%
2020 6,936 −4.9%
U.S. Decennial Census

2010 census

As of the census of 2010, there were 7,297 people, 3,423 households, and 1,744 families living in the city. The population density was 568.3 inhabitants per square mile (219.4/km2). There were 3,925 housing units at an average density of 305.7 per square mile (118.0/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 95.8% White, 0.6% African American, 0.4% Native American, 0.7% Asian, 0.1% Pacific Islander, 0.2% from other races, and 2.2% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1.3% of the population.

There were 3,423 households, of which 23.1% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 34.2% were married couples living together, 12.6% had a female householder with no husband present, 4.2% had a male householder with no wife present, and 49.1% were non-families. 40.0% of all households were made up of individuals, and 17.4% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.06 and the average family size was 2.73.

The median age in the city was 43.5 years. 18.3% of residents were under the age of 18; 8.7% were between the ages of 18 and 24; 24.8% were from 25 to 44; 28.5% were from 45 to 64; and 19.7% were 65 years of age or older. The gender makeup of the city was 46.5% male and 53.5% female.

Sites of interest

Public Library, Rockland, ME
Rockland Public Library, built 1903-1904, is a Carnegie library designed by George Albert Clough (1843-1910)


  • Mid-Coast School of Technology


U.S. Route 1 passes through the county from the west and to the north. Maine State Route 17 goes north from the town, and Maine State Route 73 goes from the town, to the peninsula to the south.

The Maine State Ferry Service operates three ferry routes out of Rockland Ferry Terminal. There are multiple departures per day to Vinalhaven and North Haven, while ferries to Matinicus depart less regularly. Intercity buses operated by Concord Coach Lines also stop at the ferry terminal, with service to Boston, Portland, Brunswick, Bangor, and other nearby towns.


Until 1958, the Rockland was the terminus for Maine Central Railroad passenger trains from Portland, along the Rockland Branch from Brunswick. The Maine Central Railroad ran three trains a day on the days besides Sunday and fewer trains on Sunday. In Portland's Union Station, these trains made connections to trains to Boston, New York City, Bangor and the Canadian Maritimes. In the final months, service diminished to one daily except Sunday trip in each direction, until finally discontinuing on April 4, 1959.

From 2003 to 2015, the Maine Eastern Railroad offered seasonal excursion service to Rockland, Maine which connected to Amtrak's Downeaster at Brunswick. In October 2017, the Northern New England Passenger Rail Authority announced plans to extend one weekend Downeaster round trip to Rockland between Memorial Day and Labor Day beginning in 2018. Intermediate stops would be made at Bath, Wiscasset, and Newcastle. As part of preparation, Amtrak, along with the Northern New England Passenger Rail Authority, Maine Department of Transportation and the Central Maine and & Quebec Railroad, made a test run of a train on August 14.

Notable people

Rockland Breakwater Light, from the base of the breakwater
  • Adelbert Ames, Civil War general, senator and the 27th governor of Mississippi
  • Hiram George Berry, Civil War general and first commander of 4th Maine Volunteer Infantry Regiment
  • Alton H. Blackington, feature journalist, photojournalist and chronicler of New England; born in Rockland
  • Guilford Butler, attorney, school board chairman, state senator, philanthropist, practiced in Rockland and served as chairman of the Knox County Bar
  • William T. Cobb, 46th governor of Maine
  • Samuel Collins, Jr., state senator and Associate Justice of the Maine Supreme Judicial Court
  • Leo Connellan, poet
  • Gertrude Elliott, actress
  • Maxine Elliott, actress
  • David F. Emery, US congressman
  • Nathan A. Farwell, US senator
  • Samuel C. Fessenden, served in the 37th U. S. Congress, lived and served as a judge in Rockland
  • Todd Field, Academy Award-nominated filmmaker
  • Obadiah Gardner, US senator
  • Edward Sturgis Ingraham, educator, publisher, mountaineer, learned printing trade in Rockland
  • Isaac Smith Kalloch, mayor of San Francisco
  • Charles E. Littlefield, US congressman
  • Theodore E. Long, former president of Elizabethtown College
  • Herbert Lord, director of the United States Bureau of the Budget and awarded the Distinguished Service Medal; born in Rockland
  • Samizu Matsuki, artist and educator
  • Edward Mazurek, state senator
  • Edna St. Vincent Millay, Pulitzer Prize–winning poet
  • Edward C. Moran Jr., US Representative
  • Louise Nevelson, artist, emigrated from Russia to Rockland as a child
  • Edward Lawry Norton, electrical engineer who developed the Norton equivalent circuit, born in Rockland
  • Walter Piston, Pulitzer Prize–winning composer
  • Robert B. Rheault, former commander of all Special Forces in Vietnam
  • James Breckenridge Speed, businessman and philanthropist, summered and died in Rockland
  • Charles Wilbert Snow, educator, poet, college professor, Governonr of Connecticut, author of Codline's Child, born and summered in the Rockland area
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