Maine has a raft of unincorporated townships, and some of them even have names

For those of us who come to New England from other parts of America, the insistence that here we live in either a town or a city but nothing in between comes as a shock. There’s no saying “near” anywhere, even if the place has its own post office. Nope, either city or town, the difference being the kind of government it has.

Eastport, for instance, is a city, while neighboring Lubec, roughly the same size, is a town.

And each may have its own neighborhoods or villages, further complicating the picture. A town typically has its historic center, even when larger development came later somewhere else within the boundaries – maybe out along the railroad tracks, for instance, or the mills. Note that when you look at maps.

Maine adds a third twist to this model. Much of the state was surveyed into parcels, typically six-by-six-mile squares, that never lived up to expectations, at least in terms of habitation and development. They remain uninhabited, seasonally or year-’round, or lack sufficient population to self-govern themselves.

Here in the Pine Tree State, they’re designated as townships or even plantations, though some do have names or have reverted by necessity from self-rule to management by the state.

Thus, when driving along you might see a highway marker like the one announcing that you’re entering T26 ED BPP.

There are many more signs like this, equally baffling. This one translates as Township 26, Eastern District, Binghams’ Penobscot Purchase. Don’t ask me more, I’m already confused, as I’m sure you are.

There’s even another variation, PLT, for Plantation – and, no, it has nothing to do with fields of cotton or tobacco.

The Plt stands for plantation, which has nothing to do with a privately owned farm in Maine.

Significantly, more than half of the state is uninhabited. Hard to think of that, considering the urban and suburban density and congestion of so much of the rest of the Northeast.

Somehow, nobody’s counting mosquitos or moose in the equation.

What do you have to explain to others about the political setup of the place you live? Ward politics? The county sheriff? The nut jobs, right or left?

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