According to Reuel Robinson’s History of Camden and Rockport, the year 1890 was “the last in the history of the good old town [Camden], for the forces were at work which were to result in it’s being rent asunder and two new towns taking its place. After a century of common history the two sections were about to dissolve the long continued partnership and exist apart for the future.” (p. 476).

The dissolution of the town was preceded by an increasingly contentious series of disagreements between “The Harbor” (Camden) and “The Goose River” (Rockport): not one, but two fights over the Goose River bridges — the original wooden span and the iron overpass that replaced it — and the final straw, a vigorous exchange over the establishment of a proposed railroad from Rockland to Camden.

After the original vote for the towns to divide, “Meetings were held in both villages to arouse the people for and against the division, sectional feeling ran high and sectional virulence became so acute that for a time it was hardly safe for a Rockport man to favor the proposition to ‘divide’ or a Camden man to oppose it,” wrote Robinson.

One might even say that the town, officially divided by the Maine Legislature into Camden and Rockport Feb. 25, 1891, broke in two as a result of a longstanding “blood feud.”

In honor of the 125th anniversary of its founding, the Town of Rockport is challenging Camden to a “blood feud” of another kind — an American Red Cross Blood Drive!

Rockport has arranged simultaneous blood drives in each town on Thursday, Feb. 25, from noon to 5 p.m. Rockport residents can show their Goose River pride at the Rockport Masonic Center, 361 Main St., Rockport, while Camden residents can represent their Harbor spirit at the Camden Congregational Church, 55 Elm St., in Camden.

The goal for the drives is a combined 125 pints, so the first town to 63 pints will be declared the victor!

Donors can schedule appointments online at redcrossblood.org/ by signing in with the “Give Blood. Find a Blood Drive” blue colored box in the upper left of the screen.

Rockport residents should use “GOOSERIVER” (all one word, all caps) as their code.

Camden residents should use “CAMDENHARBOR” (all one word, all caps) as their code.

Even if you can’t quite bring yourself to give blood, you can still help. Volunteers are needed to staff both drives. If you are able to spare the time in service of a little hometown pride, follow the link here to sign up: http://goo.gl/forms/Qef8QNexPX.

Rockport residents can contact Piet Lammert for assistance: piet.lammert@gmail.com. Camden residents may receive help from Lisa Ettinger: ettinger@gwi.net

Given the possibility of collectively saving 375 lives, this drive is the very best kind of common interest.

Fortunately, there was a happy ending to the tale of two towns.

“Since then the most of the resentment and heart burnings engendered by the division struggle have disappeared and the two beautiful neighbors join friendly hands in the promotion of whatever may be for their common interests,” said Robinson. Given the possibility of collectively saving 375 lives, this is the very best kind of common interest.

The Blood Feud is part of the larger Rockport 125th anniversary celebration, which begins Feb. 25 with the Blood Drive and is followed that evening by a special birthday celebration at the Rockport Opera House, at 5:30 p.m., with music, commemorative remarks and refreshments.

On Friday, Feb. 26, there will be an Fireside Chat, beginning with 5:30 p.m., with Rockport Elders sharing their personal history of living in the town of Rockport, and music with Marlene Hall.

And, on Saturday, the celebration will continue with a day of ice sculpture and children’s activities on the Memorial Park lawn, the staging of the third-grade play, Home by the Sea, music with the Camden-Rockport Middle School jazz band, a special Camden-Rockport Select Board challenge, a bean supper at the Masonic Hall on Main Street, and ending with a community dance at the Simonton Corner Community building.

Then, from July 29 through Aug. 6, the festivities will resume with a firemen’s ball at the Samoset Resort, a parade, films at the harbor, concerts, art and artisan tours and displays, games, and a community dinner on the Goose River Bridge… where it all started!

For more information, visit facebook.com/Rockport125.