Bangor marks 50th anniversary of Dow Air Force Base closing

BANGOR, Maine (WABI) - Fifty years ago, Dow Air Force Base became part of the city of Bangor.

A conference took place Friday to commemorate its history.

"The development of an Air Base here connected Bangor and put Bangor on the map just as lumber had put Bangor on the map in the 19th century, the development of an Air Base here put Bangor on the map in the 20th century and continues to be a major factor in Bangor's history," said Dr. David H. Bergquist, author of "Bangor in World War II."

"It was big. So its economic impact in the 60s was quite well known and the city was nervous that this would be a disaster," explained Dr. Tom McCord, adjunct professor of history at UMA Bangor.

In April 1968, the U.S. Air Force transferred ownership of Dow Air Force base to the city of Bangor.

While the Air Force had announced its plans to close the base four years earlier, Spring of 1968 marked the formal transfer.

"There was a close connection between the Air Base here in Bangor and the city itself," said Bergquist.

In commemorating the 50th anniversary of that transfer, several speakers explored the history of the base as it changed over the years, its eventual closure, and what it has become today.

"They're sharing and we're remembering," said McCord. "A woman talking about Dow Air Force Base in the 50's and 60's mentioned she went to the Catholic schools here. They were affected. She had some friends who were in tears when they found out their fathers were going to be transferred away from Dow to someplace else, so it was intimate."

In addition to speakers, photographs were displayed showing Dow Field during World War II and as a Cold War airbase.

Organizers say it's important to remember and teach future generations about Dow's historical progression.

"Nothing is static," said McCord. "The base was changing all the time. The city was changing and the people were changing each other."

"It's hoping that maybe the young people will appreciate that heritage and go with it and do something with it themselves, just as previous generations have," said Bergquist.