We’re number 1!

Locally there was much joy earlier this month when the Windham High School boys’ basketball team won its first-ever Maine State championship..

But it’s hardly the first time the town of Windham has faced stiff competition and emerged triumphant. In fact, Windham, Maine already owns a distinction which the eight other American municipalities with the same name can only wish they possessed.

Some of those envious other places are at a distinct disadvantage when it comes to vying for the title of Best Windham. For example, Windham, Iowa is just an unincorporated community that lies 11 miles west of Iowa City, midway between the villages of Frytown and Cosgrove. The United States Census doesn’t collect population data in a way that shows exactly how many people live in unincorporated villages, but in 1925, the last time such numbers were available, Iowa’s Windham had a mere 35 residents.

Oddly, two of America’s eight other Windhams lie in the same state. There’s a Windham Township, Pennsylvania in both Bradford County and Wyoming County, but it’s tough to differentiate between the two. Bradford County’s Windham Township is home to 818 souls, whereas the Wyoming County Windham Township’s population is only 737.

The only other Windhams in America that lie outside New England are Windham, New York (population 1708) and Windham, Montana, a 267-acre, 43-person CDP (census- designated place) located in Judith Basin County. But when it comes to elevation, the other Windhams can’t compete with Montana’s, which lies 4264 feet above sea level. New York’s Windham, with a location 1893 feet above the ocean, stands a distant second in this category. Windham, Vermont takes home the bronze, at 1759 feet. This particular portion of the Windham decathlon isn’t a strong event for Maine’s Windham, which at 236 feet above sea level lies just higher than the Windhams of Connecticut (233 feet) and New Hampshire (194 feet).

While New York’s Windham, which locals there refer to as “Land in the Sky” and/or “The Gem of the Catskills,” may hold the title of highest-elevated Windham east of the Mississippi, it has a less enviable distinction as well. In 1937 it was home to Camp Highland, a Nazi-sponsored summer camp for German- American boys.

When it comes to population though, Maine’s Windham rules northern New England. The 2020 census says 18,434 people live here, which is 2617 more than reside in Windham, New Hampshire and 18,015 more than tiny Windham, Vermont contains. But alas, that same census certifies that Windham, Connecticut is home to 24,428, which makes them the top Windham in that category not only in New England, but the entire United States.

However, if size really does matter, Windham, Maine is easily number one. The Iowa and Montana Windhams are mere postage stamps, and the Wyoming County Windham Township consists of just 23.2 square miles. The other three New England Windhams aren’t much bigger; Vermont’s consists of just 26.1 square miles, New Hampshire’s has 27.78, and Connecticut’s is 27.9. The Windham Township in Bradford County, PA is a slightly more sizable 32.29 square miles, but that’s dwarfed by Windham, New York’s area: 45.34 square miles.

However, the largest American Windham by far is Maine’s! At a massive 50.15 square miles, the Pine Tree State’s Windham is nearly ten percent larger than the runner-up Windham, New York’s. And it would still be bigger even if the judges didn’t count the 3.59 square miles of Windham, Maine’s total area that’s water.

Most importantly though, Maine’s Windham owns one other distinction that New York’s only wishes it could claim.

Our state’s Windham has never hosted a Nazi-sponsored summer camp.

Andy Young
March 15, 2024

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