The current ownership of the North Maine Woods is complicated due in part to the historical events of the last two centuries. In about 1783, Maine and Massachusetts were one state and the area that is now Northern Maine was divided into six-mile square townships and sold at auction. By the time it became a separate state in 1820, over half of Maine (10 million acres) had been sold or granted. The remainder of the land was sold by 1878. In many cases, two or three people jointly purchased in common, and undivided, one or more townships. Over the years, the many heirs of those original buyers have further diversified the ownership.