(NEWS CENTER) — Forty years ago Thursday, Maine Gov. James B. Longley signed into law an act that eventually removed about 8,500 roadside advertising billboards across the state.

Maine was the second state in America after Vermont in 1968 to ban off-premises billboards, according to the Portland Press Herald.

Maine's 69th governor, who proposed the ban, was quoted by The Associated Press after adding his signature to the legislation as telling reporters the move proved that "the people own Maine."

The billboard ban law officially took effect on Jan. 1, 1978. It then took six to seven years before all were eliminated, and the last state-acquired billboard in Maine – located along Route 1 advertising the Shawmut Motor Inn in York County – was cut down by chainsaw circa 1984.

The last state-acquired billboard in Maine, on Rt. 1, in York County, is cut down by chainsaw circa 1984.

In 2013, nine separate bills introduced in the Maine Legislature sought to adjust state sign regulations, but all were ultimately rejected.

Maine law, per the Press Herald, states signs within 1,000 feet of a business are legal, but are subject to requirements, including a 25-foot height limit.

For a more comprehensive account of the history behind Maine's billboard ban, visit www.nrcm.org.