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Caribou, Maine
—  City  —
Trucks outside a starch factory in October, 1940

Nickname(s): The Most Northeastern City In The United States
Caribou, Maine is located in Maine
Caribou, Maine
Location within the state of Maine
Coordinates: 46°51′49″N 67°59′53″W / 46.86361°N 67.99806°W / 46.86361; -67.99806
Country  United States
State Flag of Maine.svg Maine
County Aroostook
Settled 1824
Incorporated (town) April 5, 1859
Incorporated (city) February 23, 1967
 - Total 80.2 sq mi (207.7 km2)
 - Land 79.3 sq mi (205.4 km2)
 - Water 0.9 sq mi (2.3 km2)
Elevation 449 ft (137 m)
Population (2000)
 - Total 8,312
 Density 104.8/sq mi (40.5/km2)
Time zone Eastern (EST) (UTC-5)
 - Summer (DST) EDT (UTC-4)
ZIP code 04736
Area code(s) 207
FIPS code 23-10565
GNIS feature ID 0563512

Caribou is a city in Aroostook County, Maine, United States. Its population was 8,312 at the 2000 census.



Sweden Street in c. 1908

In 1807, Charles Turner surveyed ten thousand acres (40 km²) of land in northern Maine, then part of the state of Massachusetts. In 1808, Captain William Eaton was deeded these same 10,000 acres (40 km²) as a reward for his heroic victory over the Barbary Pirates. This estate became known as the Eaton Grant, and now comprises the southeastern section of Caribou. Around 1824, settlers began arriving from New Brunswick and settled on the north side of the Aroostook River.

Between 1838 and 1839, the undeclared Aroostook War flared between the United States and Canada, and the Battle of Caribou occurred in December 1838. The dispute over the international boundary delayed settlement of the area until after the signing of the Webster-Ashburton Treaty in 1842. With peace restored, European settlers arrived in large numbers in 1843. From Eaton Plantation and part of half-township H, Caribou was incorporated on April 5, 1859 as the town of Lyndon. In 1869, it annexed Eaton, Sheridan and Forestville plantations. On February 26 of that year its name was changed to Caribou, only to revert back to Lyndon on March 9. On February 8, 1877, Caribou was finally confirmed as the town's permanent name. Two enduring mysteries are the reason for the original name of Lyndon, and the reasons for the town's name being subsequently changed back and forth between Lyndon and Caribou. The small town grew throghout the late 1800s, and with the coming of the Bangor and Aroostook Railroad in the 1890s, agricultural exports exploded. This began a boom period which lasted well into the 1960s. Caribou became the largest potato shipping hub in the world, and had many related industries. Loring Air Force Base opened in the neighboring town of Limestone in the early 1950s, and this also provided a major boost to Caribou's growth. Caribou was incorporated as a city February 23, 1967. Its population began to slowly decline thereafter, a result of difficulties in its traditional potato industry. The 1994 closure of the Loring Air Force Base also affected the city's population, as it had served as the service center for the base's 8,000 residents. In more recent years, Caribou's population has stabilized and grown slightly as the city successfully adapted to the base's closure and its economic impact.

In September 1984, Caribou was the lift-off location of the first successful solo balloon crossing of the Atlantic Ocean by Colonel Joseph Kittinger. This flight is memorialized at the Rosie O'Grady Balloon of Peace Park one mile south of the city on Main Street. This site includes a large replica of Kittinger's balloon.

The Caribou Public Library is a Carnegie library. Designed in the Romanesque Revival Style by local architect Schuyler C. Page, it was built in 1911-1912 with a $10,000 grant from industrialist Andrew Carnegie.

Notable residents

Fictional resident


According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 80.2 square miles (207.7 km²), of which, 79.3 square miles (205.4 km²) of it is land and 0.9 square miles (2.3 km²) of it (1.11%) is water. Caribou is located on the northern bend of the Aroostook River before it heads southeast to join the St. John River just east of Fort Fairfield in New Brunswick.

Caribou is located in the geographical center of Aroostook County. The county is readily accessible by two major highways; Interstate 95 from the south and the Trans-Canada Highway (New Brunswick Route 2) from the north and east. In sparsely-populated Aroostook County, Caribou is at the hub of spokes serving the area via U.S. 1 and Maine State routes 89, 161, 164, 205 and 228.

Northern Maine Regional Airport in Presque Isle serves as the primary hub for air service. Daily flights are scheduled to and from northern Maine with daily connections to Boston’s Logan International Airport. US Airways and New England Air Transport serve the airport.

Seaports are also close by in coastal Maine, New Brunswick and Quebec. The closest deep-water port is Rivière-du-Loup, Quebec, 120 miles (190 km) north of Caribou, on the St. Lawrence River.

The Montreal, Maine & Atlantic Railway (MMA) is a 745-mile (1,199 km) regional railway operating in the states of Maine, Vermont and in the Canadian provinces of Quebec and New Brunswick, providing a direct rail link between northern Maine, Saint John, New Brunswick and Montreal, Quebec. However, the MMA has recently announced plans to abandon its northern Maine lines, and an effort has begun to have the State of Maine purchase the lines and improve them, to ensure continued rail service.

Given the city's economic and cultural ties with the Canadian provinces of Quebec and New Brunswick, cross-border partnerships and relationships are often a common facet in many businesses.


In Caribou and throughout Aroostook County, the two major agricultural crops are the potato and broccoli. Area farmers annually plant approximately 60,000 acres (320 km²) of potatoes. The chief varieties are Russet Burbank, Superior, Shepody and Atlantic. Aroostook County is renowned for its round white potatoes. The potato crop is used for seed, table stock, and processed potato products. Aroostook County is the largest grower of broccoli on the East Coast.

Other important agricultural crops grown in the area include peas, hay, oats, and alternative crops on a smaller scale. Cattle and dairy farming are a growing segment of the agricultural landscape. The high volume of activity results in the growth of related agri-business. Farm implement sales and services and the development of several area processing plants are examples of the influence agriculture has on the local economy.

Other industry includes military vehicle refurbishment at the Maine Military Authority's Caribou division, software development, and stainless steel fabrication.


Caribou is home to one of the two National Weather Service offices in Maine, serving central, eastern, and northern Maine. The Caribou facility has undergone significant modernization in recent years. The Caribou site has become somewhat famous in the national media, both for its name and the significant snowstorms/annual snowfall totals that it reports. Caribou also is known for being the U.S. municipality with the second highest likelihood of enjoying a "white Christmas", according to NWS data. The normal seasonal snowfall for Caribou is approximately 116 inches (2.9 m). The record snowfall for Caribou is 197.8 inches (5.02 m) set in the winter of 2007-2008.

Spring in Aroostook County begins with maple tree tapping and the picking of fiddleheads along the many rivers in mid May. Fiddleheads, the very young, coiled leaves of the Ostrich fern, are a county delicacy. Spring is known as the ‘mud season’, which suits many local ATV owners. Designated areas of the snowmobile trail system may be used for all-terrain vehicles.

Warm days and cool nights characterize summers. The area is generally favored with abundant rainfall, which is one of the most important factors in the high yield of the potato and grain crops throughout the county. The growing season in Caribou averages more than 120 days.

Autumn climate is nearly ideal, with mostly sunny warm days and cool nights predominating. The end of September begins the potato harvest; this is truly a community event. Many Aroostook County secondary schools still close during the harvest so that local farmers who lack modern equipment may hire the children; students also work as babysitters so that adults can work the harvest and earn a substantial income during the 5 to 6 week period.

Freak measureable snowfalls have occurred as early as late October and as late as early May, but in typical years the first significant snowfall occurs in late November or early December, and the last significant snowfall occurs in late March or early April. During the Groundhog Day gale of 1976, Caribou recorded its lowest pressure on record, with a reading of 957 hPa (28.26 inches).

Monthly Normal and Record High and Low Temperatures
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Rec High °F 53 59 73 86 96 96 95 95 91 79 68 58
Norm High °F 19.3 23.2 34.1 47 62.6 71.8 76.3 74.2 64.1 51.4 37.4 24.8
Norm Low °F -0.3 2.9 15.2 29.2 40.7 49.9 54.8 52.6 43.6 34.1 23.7 8
Rec Low °F -33 -41 -28 -2 18 30 36 34 23 14 -8 -31
Precip (in) 2.97 2.06 2.57 2.64 3.28 3.31 3.89 4.15 3.27 2.99 3.12 3.19
Source: [1]


As of the census[1] of 2000, there were 8,312 people, 3,517 households, and 2,324 families residing in the city. The population density was 104.8 people per square mile (40.5/km²). There were 3,858 housing units at an average density of 48.7/sq mi (18.8/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 96.22% White, 0.29% African American, 1.48% Native American, 0.91% Asian, 0.07% Pacific Islander, 0.08% from other races, and 0.94% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 0.46% of the population.

There were 3,517 households out of which 27.7% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 52.9% were married couples living together, 9.7% had a female householder with no husband present, and 33.9% were non-families. 28.7% of all households were made up of individuals and 13.1% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.32 and the average family size was 2.84.

In the city the population was spread out with 22.5% under the age of 18, 6.6% from 18 to 24, 27.3% from 25 to 44, 26.2% from 45 to 64, and 17.6% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 41 years. For every 100 females there were 93.2 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 88.8 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $29,485, and the median income for a family was $38,378. Males had a median income of $29,202 versus $20,737 for females. The per capita income for the city was $16,061. About 8.4% of families and 12.4% of the population were below the poverty line, including 13.7% of those under age 18 and 11.9% of those age 65 or over.



Caribou has over a dozen cross country ski trails with varied scenery and terrain within a one hour drive of the city. It has two municipal cross country ski venues; one within the urban limits which has lights for night skiing as well as a visitors center, and a lengthier venue two miles outiside the urban limits. Both are consistently well-groomed for skate and classical skiing, and accept donations for usage. The Maine Winter Sports Center is headquartered in Caribou. It is the premier outdoor sports organization in the state. MWSC is active in Caribou's recreational life during all four seasons and sponsors numerous events, including a Downtown Ski Dash and a Youth Ski Festival. Aroostook County is widely known by sports enthusiasts for its well-groomed extensive snowmobile trail system; Caribou maintains 170 miles (270 km) of Aroostook County’s 1,600-mile (2,600 km) snowmobile trail system. A major tourist destination for snowmobile enthusiasts throughout the country, who take advantage of the more than 1,600 miles (2,600 km) of groomed snowmobile trails, which have been rated the third best in the nation. Snowmobilers can venture out every day, choose a variety of routes and with the number of loop trails never cross the same trail twice. Many county communities are located on the Canadian border, making international travel by snowmobile convenient. Running through the heart of Aroostook County is the Northeast Snowmobile Trail (NEST), and International Snowmobile Trail System linking Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, and the Province of Quebec.

In 2008, the city finished construction on a large, multi-use recreation, wellness, and community center, which was attached to the existing recreation center. This project is designed to also include a large indoor swimming pool and a fitness center. The construction is being completed in phases.

Other recreational options include an excellent 9-hole golf course, multi-use hiking/biking/ATV trails, a four screen movie theater, a frisbee golf course, a roller skating rink, Spud Speedway (the area's only race track), a bowling alley, Maine Dance Academy, and several excellent parks. The community began construction of a new outdoor tennis complex in 2009, to complement the existing courts at Teague Park.


Caribou is served by WAGM-TV, a CBS affiliate located in Presque Isle, which is the only full-power commercial television station north of Bangor. Residents of Caribou receive the Maine Public Broadcasting Network, a PBS affiliate, over WMEM-TV, as well as the CBC from Canada. Most residents subscribe to Dish Network, DIRECTV or Time Warner Cable. The city is also home to two radio stations: WCXU 97.7 FM, which plays popular music and has strong local content, and WFST 600 AM, a Christian station. In addition, listeners can receive other radio stations in northern Maine, Western New Brunswick and Eastern Quebec. They include CJEM 92.7 FM, CIKX 93.5 FM, CBAL-FM-5 94.3 FM, CFVD 95.5 FM, WQHR 96.1 FM, WBPW 96.9 FM, CBAM 99.5 FM, CBAF 100.3 FM, CFAI-1 101.1 FM, WOZI 101.9 FM, CBZC 103.3 FM, CFAI-1 105.1 FM, WMEM 106.1 FM, CIBM 107.1 FM and WEGP 1390 AM. Lately there has been an increase in Satellite Radio Subscriptions in northern Maine. Sirius Satellite Radio and XM Satellite Radio are leading the way due to the lack of radio programming aimed at the 12-40 age bracket in Northern Maine. A weekly newspaper, the Aroostook Republican, is published in Caribou. Home delivery of the daily newspaper out of Bangor, the Bangor Daily News, is also available.

Arts and culture

The Caribou Performing Arts Center draws acts and shows from all over the United States and Canada. Caribou also has a thriving music program centered around the Caribou Music Department. Music education has been a vital part of the education system in Caribou for years. The Caribou High School Music Building Fund, a student-initiated non-profit organization, is currently raising $2.7 million for a new music facility to be located at the high school. The new facility will allow Caribou High School students to utilize increased practice space and music technology to significantly further music education. Additionally, the facility will be open to community groups and musicians from all over Caribou and Aroostook County to use as the only center for music in northern Maine. A major new initiative has recently begun to design and construct the Caribou Children's Discovery Museum, to serve all of northern Maine and western New Brunswick. A major capital campaign is well underway, and the project is envisioned to have construction begin within the next several years.

Caribou is also home to Echoes magazine, a quarterly publicaton about rural culture and heritage focused primarily on northern Maine. It recently marked its 20th anniversary, and is read throughout the United States.

Sites of interest


  1. ^ "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 

External links



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