The town of Norway is located in Oxford County, north of Harrison, south of Bethel, and is bisected by state routes 117, 118, and 26. In Lake Pennesseewassee (Norway Lake), Little Pennesseewassee (Hobbs Pond), North Pond and Sand Pond, it has four of the prettiest and cleanest lakes and ponds in the area.
The town was settled and populated after the Revolutionary War and soon became an active and growing community. The outlet to Lake Pennesseewassee, which runs into the Little Androscoggin River, provided water power for several mills in the 19th century including two grain mills, a cloth and carding mill, a furniture factory, box factory, and shovel handle factory.
Norway was also on a busy stage route from Paris to Fryeburg and, by 1878, there were 32 stores in its downtown area and the population was growing. In 1879 a railroad spur joined Norway to the Grand Trunk line in South Paris. But the Great Fire of May 9, 1894 destroyed a substantial portion of the downtown including the Congregational Church, the opera house, and 80 homes and other buildings. Much of Norway was rebuilt the same year, but Norway’s heyday was passing.
Norway was once called the “Snowshoe Capital of the World” because so many snowshoes were manufactured there. The Tubbs Snowshoe Company supplied the U.S. Government with 70% of the snowshoes used in WWII and also supplied the polar expeditions of Byrd and Peary. More recently all the snowshoe manufacturing, as well as the shoe manufacturing and wood products business that flourished here at one time, have all moved overseas.
While business and manufacturing may have left, Norway still boasts some of the most attractive natural beauty around. Its four lakes and ponds provide wonderful fishing, swimming, and other water recreational activities. The view down Lake Pennesseewassee from Rte. 117/118 is remarkable. Local marinas provide access to the lake and there is a public boat launch, as well, located at Lake Pennesseewassee Park.
Visit the town of Norway’s website at www.norwaymaine.com.