Did You know These Facts About Maine State Symbols & Flag?

Many people are excited about visiting Maine and exploring everything it has to offer, but a trip to Maine is going to be more valuable with a bit of background information about Maine state symbols.

Lots of people are interested in popular Maine facts and trivia, but what about information regarding the flag and symbols of this unique New England state?

Maine State Flag

The Maine State Flag

The Maine flag was adopted more than 100 years ago in 1909. It includes the Maine coat of arms and a large, broad blue field. If you take a close look at the flag, you will see a moose resting underneath a tall pine tree.

The goal of the flag is to depict a lot of common features, resources, and landscapes that are important not only to the history of Maine but also to its current well-being.

That’s why the flag also includes pictures of a farmer and a seaman, both of whom represent the importance of living with the land. Agriculture has been an important part of Maine’s industry for a long time, and the flag serves as an important reminder of that.

Finally, the Maine flag includes a depiction of the North Star, which includes the motto of the state. The Maine motto is “Dirigo,” which means “I lead.”

The Original Flag

Maine was granted its statehood in 1820, and people have been living off the land since before the formation of the United States. Therefore, Maine had a flag prior to 1909, so what happened to the original one?

During the early 19th century, Maine had a semi-official color that was employed by the militia. Because the flag of the militia had to be standardized in some way, the original flag was white.

It included the motto of the state written in blue and a crest with a moose and a pine tree in the middle, similar to the one that is seen today. The flag was last seen during the early stages of the Civil War, and some fragments of this flag continue to exist.

20th Maine Volunteer Infantry Regiment Flag

One iconic flag that represented Maine throughout the Civil War was flown by the 20th Maine Volunteer Infantry Regiment. For much of the war, it was led by Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain, who is closely tied to Bowdoin College where he served as a professor of rhetoric. He also served as the Governor of Maine after the Civil War.

The flag of the 20th Maine Volunteer Infantry Regiment included numerous stars flying high above an eagle in the shape of a crest. It had a banner representing the soldiers who volunteered to fight to preserve the Union during the Civil War.

1901 Flag

A new flag was adopted in 1901. It was a relatively straightforward flag and included a green pine tree and a blue star in the corner, representing the North Star. This imagery was placed on a beige background.

Eventually, the legislature decided that more detail was needed, so it adopted the current Maine flag in 1909.

Colony Flags

Maine had a handful of flags during its time as a British colony as well. The state was originally part of the Massachusetts Bay colony, and at that time, the flag included St. George’s Cross in the corner (where the stars of the United States are located in the U.S. flag). The rest of the flag was red.

There were a number of variations produced of this flag. For example, some flags included the British Union Flag instead of St George’s Cross. Others had a pine tree instead of St George’s Cross.

Additionally, many flags were produced featuring the British Union Flag or St. George’s Cross along with a small pine tree in the corner. Some of these old flags may still exist in museums scattered throughout the state.

The State Motto of Maine

The official motto of Maine is “Dirigo.” This is a Latin term that means “I lead” or “I direct.” It is succinct and very easy to remember.

If you take a look at the flag, you can see the motto featured on a small banner directly underneath the North Star. There are also numerous state programs, schools, and businesses that include this motto as a part of their logos.

Motto History

The motto was selected shortly after Maine became a state in 1820. How the motto itself was selected is a bit of a mystery because there are no official records.

At that time, every state had a motto, seal, and flag. Therefore, when Maine was finally granted its statehood, a committee was quickly formed to put together a seal, model, and slogan.

Since the separation of Maine from Massachusetts was a bit contentious, it is likely that the first president of the Maine Senate, William Moody of Saco, was given the responsibility of overseeing the process and ensuring that the flag, seal, and slogan were chosen quickly to finalize the separation from Massachusetts.

Moose-Moosehead Lake
Moose | photo via meredithlewisphotography

The Official State Animal

Maine has a variety of symbols that are emblematic of everything the state stands for, and one of the biggest examples is the Maine animal. The moose is an official symbol of Maine because it is frequently found throughout the state and carries tremendous symbolic importance to Mainers.

Maine Moose History

During the early days of the colonists, the settlers relied on moose for survival. Colonists would not only eat the meat but also rely on the skin and bones for numerous other purposes. While moose are not hunted as much as they once were, they remain an important symbol for locals today.

Moose are calm animals, but they are also fierce, determined warriors who will fight to survive. The quiet power they possess is why they remain a key symbol to this day.

Moose Population

Moose remain prevalent in Maine largely because they do not have any natural predators in the state. Even though baby moose (called calves) might be hunted by the large black bear population in Maine, the black bears largely leave adult moose alone.

Pine Tree State
Pine Tree State | photo via _.little.designs._

The Official Bird of Maine

In addition to an official state animal, Maine has a state bird. Maine decided to adopt the black-capped chickadee to be its official state bird, but there is another state that chose the same bird — Massachusetts. Also, the unique design of this bird is featured prominently in artwork produced by local artists.

Chickadee Appearance & Behavior

Maine decided to pick this bird at the beginning of the 20th century. The bird itself is a small white and black bird. It has a large head in comparison to its body, and it can be found scattered throughout numerous locations in the state.

The black-capped chickadee feeds on numerous weeds, grasses, seeds, and insects. Of note, this bird also eats poison ivy, which comes as a welcome relief to locals who have to deal with poison ivy throughout the year, particularly during the spring and summer.

Given that Maine is known as the Pine Tree State, its bird choice is appropriate. Of course, the bird is frequently found throughout the state, but this bird loves living in pine trees in particular.

If you ever find yourself visiting a park or relaxing in a field, turn your attention toward some of the pine trees. There is a chance that you will see this bird hanging out in the branches.

If you have a pair of binoculars, you might be able to spot the band of black feathers on its chest in the shape of a V. The bird might even look like it is wearing a tuxedo because of the white feathers that surround the V on its chest. If you turn your attention toward the feet, they might look a bit blue.

Maine’s State Flower

With the state’s nickname being the Pine Tree State, lawmakers decided to designate the white pine cone and tassel as the Maine state flower in 1895.

Although not an actual flower, it is a unique seed-bearing gymnosperm that can only be found on the branches of the Eastern white pine tree.

It is a symbol of Maine’s rich natural heritage and connection to the forest industry. The cone is also known for its beauty and resilience, making it a beloved symbol of the state.

Lobster | photo via filipinosteel

The Official Crustacean of Maine

Not every state has an official crustacean, but it should come as no surprise that Maine has one. If you had one guess as to what the official crustacean is, you would probably choose the lobster. And, you would be right.

The history of Maine is inextricably tied to the history of the lobster, and lobster fishing remains one of the most important industries in the state to this day. People come from all over the world to try delicious lobster rolls, and Maine would be an entirely different state without lobsters.

Lobster Facts

If you decide to head out to the coast, you might see a few Maine lobsters hanging out on the rocks. Lobsters tend to enjoy living in cobble beds or large rocks along the coast. They do this because they are looking for protection from some of their natural predators, such as coastal fish, crabs, and even fellow lobsters.

Lobsters tend to feed on algae and the remains of dead animals. They use their large claws to crack open the shells of other animals and eat the meat that is inside.

Also, lobsters will shed their shells in a process known as molting. This generally happens once per summer, and it takes months for them to complete the hardening process and form new shells.

Moxie | photo via wesley.harris72

Maine’s Official Soft Drink

It may come as a surprise that Maine has an official soft drink as well. In 2005, the governor of Maine officially designated Moxie as the official soft drink of the state.

The drink was invented in 1884 by a native of Maine named Dr. August Thompson. At that time, soft drinks were still relatively new, so Moxie was one of the first soft drinks to be invented.

Flavor Profile

Moxie has a unique taste that is both bitter and sweet. The unique combination made it a popular soft drink in the state, and it was even marketed as a medicinal drink in the beginning. While it might not have the ability to cure illnesses, it still became a prominent soda.

Moxie Popularity

Thanks to bottle houses, horse mobiles, and ingenious advertising, the drink became popular not only in Maine but throughout the entire country.

Today, Moxie still has a very strong fan base and remains one of the most popular sodas in Maine. Numerous memorabilia dating back to the end of the 19th century can be found in museums across the state.

For example, the Matthews Museum of Maine Heritage in Union attracts plenty of visitors every year. Plus, The Moxie Festival takes place on the second weekend in July in Lisbon Maine.

If you are planning a visit to Maine, you might even want to try some Moxie for yourself to see why it has become so popular over the years.

Experience These Maine State Symbols During Your Next Visit

Now that you are armed with some helpful information about Maine, its history, and its symbols, you are ready to get the most out of your getaway. The state has a lot to do at all times of the year, so you might be interested in some of the most popular attractions in Maine.

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