“Sweet Auburn! loveliest village of the plain;
Where health and plenty cheered the laboring swain,
Where smiling spring its earliest visit paid,
And parting summer’s lingering blooms delayed.” -Oliver Goldsmith, 1800
There is nothing special about this city located in central Maine. Like so many other New-England towns, it grew from clusters of small hamlets along the river. Lone pioneers settled in the unknown forested terrain and each one contributed to the creation of a vibrant settlement. Then the train, a vain of life, brought commercial prosperity in the form of mills and shoe factories.
In 1828 a bridge over the river extended an umbilical cord between two sister cities. The oldest, Lewiston took the mills, huge red brick buildings and the aura of religiousness expressed by large ornate churches while Auburn maintained a ‘cleaner’ look, of shoe factories and quiet residential neighborhoods.
From where my house sits on top of historical Goff Hill, commemorating one of the first settlers, the city’s story unfolds.
I can see the rooftops of the Twin Cities peeking through the trees, silent giants that preceded it all. In the early morning hours, I look at the quiet streets below. Unassuming houses built at the start of the nineteenth century. Most still maintain the architectural characteristics of an era that appreciated the beauty of the building craft. Heavy wood beams, decorative staircases, and curved decorations around the main entrances that no one ever uses.
Further down the hill, the Androscoggin, “the river of rock shelters,” as the Indians called it, forms roaring waterfalls in the early spring.
From the city’s high points, one can see all the way to the white cap of Mt. Washington, the highest peak on the Northeastern USA, and the two lakes hugged by the city that over the years grew around them.
The rising sun colors the houses and the tree tops with golden hues, the train’s horn bellows at the bottom of the hill, another ordinary working day begins.