BYRON — After 22 years, the flagpole at Coos Canyon is no longer naked.

American and Maine state flags were hoisted Wednesday afternoon over the western Maine mountain town, population 120, courtesy of members of the Byron Historical Society and state Rep. Matt Peterson, D-Rumford.

“We felt it was time to show the town’s patriotism,” Gerri Richards, president of the Byron Historical Society, said, “and to honor those who have fought and died for our country’s freedoms.”

“I contacted Representative Peterson about getting official flags,” she said, “and these flags are ones that have flown over the Maine Capitol building.”

The flying of the flags has been a long time coming to the quiet bucolic center of Byron, known to many for its state recreation site featuring Coos Canyon and a popular gold-panning operation.

It all began in 1989, when Michelle Boucher, a young Girl Scout at the time, decided the town needed a flag pole. She started a fundraising drive for the pole as well as earning a coveted Girl Scout community service pin.

Boucher, through various fundraising events including bake sales, accomplished her mission and got enough money to purchase the flag pole and saw it erected beside the old one-room school house, which now houses the Byron Historical Society.

The pole has stood barren of a flag since then. On Wednesday, eight members of the Byron Historical Society and Peterson watched Michelle, now BoucherLadd, hoist the flags to their rightful spots as the audience recited the Pledge of Allegiance.

The town of Byron has a long and rich history, said Irene Boucher, mother of Michelle and treasurer of the Byron Historical Society.

“The town began in 1816 as ‘Skiller Town’ when the Stockbridge family settled here,” Boucher said.

“The town’s name changed to Byron, in 1833, named after the 19th century famous British poet Lord Byron,” she said.

While logging and sawmills have dominated the town’s economy through the years, there have been other economic enterprises, Boucher said.

Some of the more colorful businesses included a spruce chewing gum business — there is still a place near Coos Canyon called “Gum Corner” — a large hops growing farm where hops were shipped to Boston breweries, maple sugaring and gold-panning, Boucher said.

“The population has pretty much remained the same through the years,” she said, “and many of the residents trace their roots six-seven generations or more back.”

The Byron Historical Society has 10 members and meets once a month, Boucher said.

“Our latest project is to map out each of the town’s cemeteries,” Boucher said. “We hope to eventually provide to the Town Office a detailed map of each of the grave sites and their occupants.”

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