Names of Camden Streets

By Barbara F. Dyer | Apr 12, 2018

When you live in a town all your life and walked everywhere you needed to go, you get to know all the streets. You think little about how they received their names. Lately, I began to wonder and found I did know how many of the names came about. Whether natives or newcomers to Camden, you, too, might have been curious about them.

We do have many that are named for various trees. As Joyce Kilmer's famous poem reads:

“I think that I shall never see

A poem lovely as a tree

A tree whose hungry mouth is pressed

Against the earth's sweet flowing breast

A tree that looks at God all day

And lifts her leafy arms to pray

A tree that may in summer wear

A nest of robins in her hair

Upon whose bosom snow has lain

Who ultimately lives with rain

Poems are made by fools like me

But only God can make a tree”

I believe that Camden must have felt that way also, as we have streets named Cedar, Oak, Branch, Willow, Maple, Spruce, Chestnut and Elm. I do know that Chestnut Street had many beautiful Chestnut trees, but by the time I retired and walked more, there were only three of the beauties still living. They are quite lovely with their blossoms looking like upright candles. Children used to like gathering the chestnuts, but they were not edible. Elm Street had many Elms that cascaded over the road, but they died of Dutch Elm disease, around the early 1950s.

The first street going from Chestnut, down to Bay View is Frye Street. It was named because Captain Frye built the house facing Chestnut and no other houses were on the little street. Halfway up Chestnut is Limerock Street, which runs from Union Street to Bay View. The transfer station on the end of Limerock was Jacob's Quarry, where limerock was dug and transported to the lime kilns on Bay View. Above Limerock to the left is Highland Avenue. When I built a home on it in 1959, there were four streets on the map to the right leading to Limerock, but only one was built, and that was Bonnie Brae Road. Alabama, Colorado and Dakota Avenues were named by the owner of all that property but they were not Avenues yet. Where I built was in the woods, with a dirt road leading to a dead end. I am not in the woods anymore, but surrounded by apartment houses and one other home, and the road is paved. Since then, Alabama, Colorado and Dakota have been built, but Dakota became Highland Park Drive. Then on upper Chestnut Street (sometimes known as Ogier Hill), across from the Ogier Farm, is Beacon Avenue, because from there you can see the beacon on Curtis Island. Just below Beacon Avenue is Penobscot Avenue, which has been there many years, with only one summer home on it. Since then, other houses have been built. I believe it was named for Native Americans in this area, the Penobscot people.

In the 1800s, Chestnut went down to the bay until Bay View Street was built in 1866. It is quite obvious why they named it Bay View.

From High Street, the land also went to the harbor until they built Atlantic Avenue about 1880. Many people are not aware that Atlantic Avenue was first called Broadway. It was only that for a short time, perhaps because people did not consider Broadway to be a good fit for Camden. They could see the Atlantic Ocean, therefore it is the name it has today.

Sea Street is at one end of Atlantic Avenue, and they could see the sea. The next street above Sea Street from High Street is called Eaton Avenue, named for the early Eaton family who owned it. The next one above that, leading to the water, was called Ocean Avenue in 1928, but later changed to Harbor Road. Marine Avenue, which runs parallel to Harbor Road, is the next street up.

Megunticook Street is on the lower section of High Street in the direction of the mountains. That is a Native American word, so also we have Megunticook Lake, and Megunticook Mountain, as well.

The hill in front of the Camden Public Library from Atlantic Avenue to High Street used to be called Harbor Hill as one can see the harbor from there. I believe they consider it part of Main Street now.

From Mechanic Street running west, above the former old Knox Mill property, is Knowlton Street. The Knowlton Brothers had a foundry on the corner of the two streets. They could manufacture anything for vessels including capstans, power winches, steering wheels, windlasses, head pumps, train cars for the railroads, etc. Across the road is Free Street. All that property was owned by James Richards, Camden's first settler. Camden needed a little street to connect Elm to Mechanic and the Richards family gave it to them free.

Tannery Lane, where the Public Safety Building and the Riverhouse Hotel are located, was named that because Moses Parker had a tannery there in the early years.

Alden Street is to the left, off Washington to Knowlton, and named for Horatio Alden. He was a busy businessman owning an oakum factory, that produced 60 tons of oakum per year. He also purchased in 1862 the water rights, previously used by James Richards to run a gristmill and sawmill. Mr. Alden financed the Camden Anchor Works, whose anchors were known around the world. It was run by his two sons, H.E. and William G. Alden. A story that was written in the Camden Herald in 1894 tells the story of an anchor that belonged to the frigate Cumberland, when the Merrimack sank her. It was picked out of a junkyard by Alden. There was no demand for a three-ton anchor so Alden made a small offer and had it shipped to Camden. He intended to break it up for iron. It just happened that an owner of a newly-built ship was about to order a huge anchor, saw it and bought it on sight, for a good price.

Gould Street runs from Mountain (at the end of the cemetery) to Washington. That was named for Amasa Gould, who owned a plug and wedge mill. Running to the right, off the bottom of Gould and across the road is Dailey Street. John Dailey, a well-known boat builder, gave the land for a one-room school house and his descendants lived nearby on that street. Nearly across the road is Mt. Battie Street, as they have a clear view of the Mt. Battie mountain. There is also Mill Street as many mills were on the Megunticook River. In fact, from Washington Street by the former Knox Mill property, and running up Route 105, all that part of Camden is called Millville, because of all the mills, and people who worked in the mills lived there.

There are many more streets in Camden, and for some, I do not really know how they got their name, but this will be enough to stir your thoughts.


Barbara F. Dyer has lived all her life, so far, in Camden and is the official town historian.


Comments (3)
Posted by: Alison S McKellar | Apr 15, 2018 22:40

Wonderful as always, Barbara. I learned a few new things and I especially liked the poem.

Posted by: Jean Boobar | Apr 15, 2018 08:56


Thank you, Barbara, for focusing on the origin of street names.  You are a treasure to share your knowledge with the rest of us.

Posted by: Mary A McKeever | Apr 12, 2018 15:06

Barbara, very interesting history lesson. Although I was considered an "Outer Stater" at age 18, I became one with the community when at 25 I became the Postmaster and Store Owner of Hope Corner store.

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