Only two square miles in size, the Town of Randolph promotes itself as "The smallest town in Maine -- by area."
It's situated at the eastern bank of the Kennebec River, opposite the City of Gardiner and connected to it through a road bridge, at the junction of Maine routes 9, 27, 126, and 226. Randolph borders Chelsea to the north, Whitefield to the east, Pittston to the south, and The Kennebec River to the west, and is six miles south-southeast of Augusta.
As with many towns, catastrophes changed the course of its history. In 1886, a major fire destroyed two icehouses and three private homes in the village of West Pittston. Pittston citizens voted against spending money to expand the Gardiner water works to protect the village from future fires. West Pittston residents then voted to secede from the town.
Originally incorporated as West Pittston in 1887, two weeks later, the town voted to change the name to Randolph in honor of Randolph, Massachusetts, and Peyton Randolph of Virginia, the first President of the Continental Congress.
As historians Henry Kingsbury and Simeon Deyo noted in the late 1800s, "The town -- practically a rambling village -- is remarkably picturesque, with its long rows of old elms, well-cultivated lawns, and attractive residences."
Like neighboring Pittston, shipbuilding, lumber, and ice harvesting were major industries before The Industrial Revolution. One of the most notable vessels built there was The White Falcon, a ship sent to transport the French during the Crimean War.
From 1890 to 1929, the Kennebec Central Railroad ran from Randolph to the National Soldiers' Home (Togus Veteran's Home) in Chelsea. The rail bed now provides a recreational form of transportation as a footpath, The Old Narrow Gauge Rail Trail.
A riverside community, floods have also affected Randolph. The largest flood of the 19th century was in the spring of 1836, when water covered docks and wharves at least eight feet deep and carried away entire buildings. In 1896, floodwaters carried off the covered bridge between Randolph and Gardiner and a 1936 flood caused major property damage. In 1987, Water Street was flooded, which resulted in disaster aid and proposals to move Randolph's entire downtown uphill, out of the floodplain.
Fires also destroyed many of the original structures. The first Methodist Church was built in 1847 and burned in 1961. In 1934, fire destroyed the fire station. A replacement lasted only 25 years before the present one was built in 1960.
1,772 (2010 U.S. Census)
- Teresa C. Hamlin School - pre-Kindergarten to grade 5; Randolph is part of Maine School Administrative District (MSAD) #11, with Gardiner, West Gardiner, and Pittston.
Points of interest:
- Maple Grove Cemetery - Where the last survivor of George Washington's Life Guards, Nathaniel Berry, is buried; he served in The Revolutionary War and was honorably discharged in 1780.
- Randolph War Memorial - The memorial celebrates the town's proud tradition of service; notably, among many other wars and armed conflicts, with a population under 1900, during World War II, 225 soldiers served from Randolph.
- The Old Narrow Gauge Rail Trail - This foot trail extends just south of the entrance to Goggins IGA on Water St., easterly from The Kennebec River through Chelsea.
- Webb's Store - Four smelt fishing camps along the Kennebec River.
- Worthing's Smelt Camps - 83 camps that line The Kennebec.
- Kingsbury, Henry D; Deyo, Simeon L., editors. Illustrated History of Kennebec County, Maine: 1625-1799-1892. Town of Randolph. p. 738-745. New York: H.W. Blake & Co. 1892.
- Maine: An Encyclopedia. Randolph.
- Maine Genealogy. Randolph, Kennebec County, Maine.
- Mitchell, Harry Edward, et al., comp. The Town Register, 1903-4: Pittston, Chelsea, Randolph. H.E. Mitchell Pub. Co., 1904.
- Town of Randolph, Maine.
- Town of Randolph Comprehensive Plan Draft 2013.
- Wikipedia. Randolph, Maine.