The Major Reuben Colburn House – 1765
Built in 1765 by Reuben Colburn, this house in Pittston still stands as testimony to the people who first settled the Kennebec River region of Maine and blazed a path for others to follow.
Near his home, Colburn built a saw mill, brickyard, boat yard, and gristmill, in order to provide settlers with needed materials.
Ten years after he began building his home, Colburn met with George Washington and was instrumental in planning a Continental Army expedition through the Maine wilderness to seize the heavily fortified city of Quebec from the British Army.
Led by Colonel Benedict Arnold, a force of 1,100 soldiers began what is now called “Arnold’s March” or the “Arnold Expedition” here on Colburn’s property. Among those who accompanied Arnold were Aaron Burr, Henry Dearborn, Daniel Morgan, and men from Maine, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Virginia.
Disembarking from the ten ships that carried them from Massachusetts, Arnold’s men transferred their food, supplies, and equipment to 220 batteaux waiting for them here. Colburn assembled a team of craftsmen to build these boats in just two weeks despite a lack of nails and seasoned lumber. In addition, Colburn provided Arnold with food, supplies, maps, and reports from guides he had sent up the river to scout ahead.
In addition to financing the construction of the boats and gathering of supplies, Colburn paid a group of local men to accompany the army and make any needed repairs along the way. With the exception of the 20 lbs. that General Washington paid him in advance, Colburn was never reimbursed for his expenses.
Despite his efforts at helping the colonies win independence from Great Britain, the American government never repaid Colburn for financing the Arnold Expedition, and the debt brought him to financial ruin. Through his many industries and hard work, Colburn rebuilt his family’s wealth and his descendants remained in this house for more than 100 years.
The Colburn House is managed by the Arnold Expedition Historical Society and owned by the Maine Bureau of Parks and Lands (www.maine.gov/colburnhouse).
It is open for tours on Saturday and Sunday afternoons in the summer months.
Finding The Reuben Colburn House
The Colburn House is 10 miles south of Augusta and 14 miles north of Wiscasset on Maine Route 27 at 33 Arnold Road in Pittston, ME (Lat/Long: 44°11’52.15″N, 69°45’14.42″W).