World Wide Whitefield

     By MECHELE COOPER

     Kennebec Journal
    Augusta, Maine
    Staff Writer
  12/29/2007

     WHITEFIELD -- On David Chase's Web site, you can find people, check your spelling, get updated weather reports and read the latest world news headlines.

     But there's much more: links to places of interest, top 20 bargain hunting sites, eBay searches, travel tools, Maine's Virtual Library Search, maps by Google, aerial views, phone Geolocator, visual dictionary and Everything Whitefield.

     Information on Everything Whitefield includes everything imaginable about the town from artists and businesses, history and town government, communication frequencies, geography and a Webcam on Grand Army Hill that shows different seasons.

     Click on the current issue of Friends of Whitefield Newsletter and take an interesting "Flight over Whitefield."

The flight begins over Chase's barn in Whitefield on Salmon Pool Lane. You can guide the plane with arrow keys on your computer and if you get too close to the ground, the tiny plane crashes. You can also shoot up your neighbor's house.

There's also a mainething.com site map that continues to grow. It's a visual map that allows people not only to read the contents, but also see thumbnails of the actual pages and a search box, complements of Google, where you can search mainething site or the entire Web.

There's also an illustrated timeline Chase created that starts with prehistoric Whitefield.

When the continents were connected, he said part of Whitefield was in northern Africa and another part, Ireland. The Norumbega Fault, which runs through Whitefield, represents the place where the two continents came together, he said.

"I had some fun with the timeline," Chase said Friday. "If you scroll down, you'll see a projection by elevation of what Whitefield looked like during the Ice Age. It was covered by over a mile of ice. A little illustration actually shows how the ice retreated over North America."

He said the ice pushed down the land, which was covered by water when the glaciers melted. Contractors digging foundations in Whitefield have found prehistoric clam flats, he said, proof that the town was once submerged.

His next project is an animation that will show Whitefield emerging from under water.

"What I want people to do is entertain the notion that there's more to our place than what we see riding down the road in our car," he said. "Literally millions of years ago, this was a different place. Totally different."

Chase, 65, is a former art teacher who grew up in Whitefield. With the help of his cousins, in the 1970s, he formed the town's historical society.

He retired young, at 49, an devoted his time to mainething.com

Chase and his wife, Betty, 64, bought a condo in Portland but spend much of their time in their summer home on the Sheepscot River in Whitefield. They also travel around the world.

And there's a lot of traveling on his Web site.

"When the Internet came into being, I felt the role of the historical society should change and be online," he said. "I didn't think anyone should have to get in a car and drive to a townhouse and rummage through things to find out what they needed. I wanted to post it on-line."

He said members of the historical society were for the idea, but were more interested in the social aspect of the society and maintaining a physical collection.

"I didn't have the energy to do both, so I changed my focus from the Whitefield Historical Society to Friends of Whitefield and that's what I promote," he said.

Chase started the page in 1999. Along with public pages for people to find what they need, he also has links to sites such as Woot!, Pricewatch, the Maine State Lottery page and Craig's List for Maine.

Friday, he added a Whitefield search on Craig's List and a Whitefield search on Uncle Henry's.

On the righthand side of the home page "What's Up" has all kinds of different sites including moon and earth phases, Daily Kos, current Maine headlines, BBC News and "boingboing" -- a directory of arcane things.

"It's a very busy site. Goggle has indexed it, so it gets thousands of hits every day," he said. "A lot of people use this as their homepage. Everything is right there, so it's very popular."

Libby Harmon, former Whitefield postmaster, said she uses the site often to research history.

"I find it quite helpful," Harmon said. "Things are right at my fingertips. It's amazing. I just went back to one of his 2004 Friends of Whitefield Newsletters and it had a copy of the phone listings for the 1920s and 1930s. It was only two pages long.

"It's fascinating who had a telephone (in Whitefield) at that time and who didn't."

Bill Brooke, another Whitefield resident, who helps Chase with the page said Chase has done a great job with the site.

"I think it's a good resource for the community," Brooke said. "I don't know any other towns having anything quite as detailed."

Chase's wife, Betty, is the proof reader. She said her husband always looks for new topics and hopes to get more people in the area to log on.

Those who use the site particularly like the picture essays of their friends and family and travels, she said. Their last on-line travel journal was a trip to Australia and New Zealand in the winter of 2007.

     "He puts our travels on the site and we have people telling us they travel vicariously with us through this site," she  said.

     Mechele Cooper -- 623-3811, Ext. 408

     mcooper@centralmaine.com