See one of the coolest maps of Maine (before we knew where the state really was)

Did you know there’s such a thing as National Read a Road Map Day? It is, apparently, coming up soon on April 5. But we don’t need an excuse to share one of the coolest maps of Maine. As you can see below, there’s no real northern border.

This map, from the “latest and best authorities,” it reads in the bottom right-hand corner, depicts Maine with its disputed boundaries in 1820, the year it became the country’s 23rd state. You can click on it to see a larger version.

The American version of Maine's boundaries in 1820. Courtesy of the Library of Congress

The American version of Maine’s boundaries in 1820. (Courtesy of the Library of Congress)

Some things are the same as today. Bangor is there, along with Portland. What is now Bar Harbor, though, was called Eden. And Knox County doesn’t exist yet. (It formed in 1860 and was named after General Henry Knox.) The town in Piscataquis County where my father grew up, Milo, didn’t even have a name yet. It was Township 3, Range 7. My hometown of Washington was then called Putnam.

You’ll see plenty of other town names that no longer exist. (Bloomfield, now part of Skowhegan; Warsaw, now Palmyra; Malta, now Windsor; and Orangetown, now Whiting.)

Then there’s that northern border, which was perhaps a bit aspirational. The border was supposed to have been settled in a treaty at the end of the Revolutionary War, but that clearly didn’t happen. Both the U.S. and Canada (under control of the British) wanted more territory. Other maps more clearly delineated the U.S.’s desired border, such as this one from 1840:

A 1840 map of Maine with a disputed northern border. (Courtesy of the Library of Congress)

A 1840 map of Maine with a disputed northern border. (Courtesy of the Library of Congress)

Meanwhile, Canada wanted much of Aroostook County:

The red line shows where Canada wanted to draw the boundary; the blue is where the U.S. wanted to draw it. The yellow shows the compromise. (Wikimedia | Creative Commons)

The red line shows where Canada wanted to draw the boundary; the blue is where the U.S. wanted to draw it. The yellow shows the compromise. (Wikimedia | Creative Commons)

It took high tensions — which became known as the Aroostook War — and another treaty to settle the dispute. Officials finally agreed on border lines in 1842, and the U.S. got about two-thirds of the land in question.

[MORE: Watch the shapes of Maine and the rest of the states evolve over 400 years]