Fort Kent is a town in Aroostook County, Maine, United States. The population was 4,097 in the 2010 census. Fort Kent is home to an Olympic biathlete training center, an annual CAN-AM dogsled race, and the Fort Kent Blockhouse, built in reaction to the Aroostook War and in modern times designated a national historic site. Principal industries include agriculture (particularly potatoes and forestry) and textiles. Fort Kent is the northern terminus of U.S. 1 and the ending point of the Northern Forest Canoe Trail. It is also home to a battle which took place in the Aroostook War or the bloodless war which took place in the 19th century.
Relationship with French Canada
The town is economically and culturally linked to the Canadian towns of Clair and Saint-François-de-Madawaska, both in Madawaska County, New Brunswick, directly across the St. John River. Most children on the Canadian side attend French-speaking school while their American counterparts are taught mainly in English.
Sixty-two percent of the residents of Fort Kent are habitual speakers of French. The variety of French spoken in Fort Kent and most of the St. John River Valley closely resembles the French spoken in Quebec and New Brunswick. It is referred to as "Valley French" or "Brayon". Many residents also have American-Canadian dual citizenship.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 55.3 square miles (143.4 km²), of which, 54.2 square miles (140.3 km²) of it is land and 1.2 square miles (3.1 km²) of it (2.15%) is water.
As of the census of 2000, there were 4,233 people, 1,735 households, and 1,106 families residing in the town. The population density was 78.2 people per square mile (30.2/km²). There were 1,824 housing units at an average density of 33.7 per square mile (13.0/km²). The racial makeup of the town was 96.95% White, 0.38% Black or African American, 0.76% Native American, 0.87% Asian, 0.28% from other races, and 0.76% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 0.50% of the population.
There were 1,735 households out of which 28.2% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 54.0% were married couples living together, 6.7% had a female householder with no husband present, and 36.2% were non-families. 29.3% of all households were made up of individuals and 13.0% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.34 and the average family size was 2.90.
In the town the population was spread out with 22.3% under the age of 18, 11.3% from 18 to 24, 26.9% from 25 to 44, 24.0% from 45 to 64, and 15.5% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 38 years. For every 100 females there were 96.3 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 91.7 males.
The median income for a household in the town was $29,547, and the median income for a family was $41,616. Males had a median income of $35,325 versus $19,146 for females. The per capita income for the town was $16,403. About 9.5% of families and 14.5% of the population were below the poverty line, including 13.7% of those under age 18 and 18.2% of those age 65 or over.
Fort Kent was erected in the summer of 1839 as an American border outpost during the undeclared Aroostook War. The blockhouse, the first structure built in what is present-day city of Fort Kent, was named after then-governor of Maine Edward Kent.
After receiving nearly 200 inches (510 cm) of snow during the 2007-2008 winter season, the Saint John River began to flood on Tuesday, April 29, 2008. Nearly two days of nonstop rain also contributed to the flooding. As the river rose, it poured in the town's downtown area. More than 600 of Fort Kent's 4,233 residents were evacuated. The river's water level rose to nearly 31 feet (9.4 m), which was 6 feet (1.8 m) above flood stage.
Governor John Baldacci declared a state of emergency for the region, flying from Augusta to see the damage first-hand. The small Fish River did most of the damage, flooding St. Louis Catholic church and an apartment building.
Fort Kent is served by Maine School Administrative District 27. Schools in the town include Fort Kent Elementary School and Fort Kent Community High School.
The town is home to the campus of the University of Maine at Fort Kent.
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