Posts Tagged With: Old Orchard Beach

Biddeford Pool

The history of Maine is riddled with a past that vacillates between tourism and industry as key components of our economic picture, and as such, we have collected boxes upon boxes of memories of what we think is the past. Our memories are not always faithful to the facts, however, and when we try to relive what we think is the past, it never really quite achieves satisfaction to our expectations. Today, as we seem to be looking to embrace the tempting vagaries of what has been dubbed “eco-tourism” by the UN, we are once again drifting away from a rich, industrial based economy towards that ever so fleeting economy of the tourism dollar.

Pondering the possibilities, I am reminded that Maine has enjoyed pockets of popularity that made us world leaders in the vacation industry in many ways. The Poland Spring House, Mt. Kineo, Old Orchard Beach, Bar Harbor, and many other communities have billed themselves as “the place to recreate” over the last nearly two centuries. Biddeford pool immediately popped into my mind as I was reflecting upon Maine’s history this morning, and so I pulled a few things out of the many resources available to share with you here.

Moses F. Sweetser writes about Biddeford Pool in his 1889 “Here and There in New England and Canada;”

Biddeford Pool, down near the mouth of the river, was in former days one of the pet resorts of the Maine seaboard, visited every returning summer by hundreds of city families. But a few years ago the chief hotels were burned down, and the remaining house (the SeaView) and cottages hardly suffice to accommodate their would-be patrons. For the place has great natural beauties and advantages, which should be more fully and freely developed. The Pool itself is a shallow salt-water lagoon two miles long, filled high by the returning tides, and affording capital opportunities for safe boating, while to the eastward is a long sandy beach, rolled hard by the surf, and to the north, beyond the famous Wood-Island Light, the eye rests contented on the curving lines of Old-Orchard Beach and the dim seaward projection of Prout’s Neck. On one side of the narrow outlet of the Pool rises the grim little Fort Hill, where the colonists erected their stronghold of Fort Mary, in 1708, after the truculent Indians had captured their stone fort up near the falls. For many years, from the early provincial times, the Pool was as beneficent as Siloam or Bethesda in the belief of the Maine farmers, who had a fancy that whoever bathed therein on the 26th day of June would be healed of all diseases. This is indeed the festival of Sts. Vigilius, Maxentius, and Anthelm, but what connection these Latin worthies may have had with the coast of Maine is not clear.

A steamboat runs from Biddeford to Biddeford Pool twice daily, and crosses also to Camp Ellis, the terminus of the Old-Orchard-Beach Railroad, where connection is made for Old-Orchard Beach.

Fortune’s Rocks and Goose Rocks, with their small hotels and clusters of cottages, are reached by stages from Biddeford; and their bold and rugged coast-scenery, and opportunities for fishing and gunning, attract many visitors. Fortune’s Rocks is a series of iron-bound promontories projecting into the sea from the lower end of the magnificent beach running north to Biddeford Pool; and has cottagers from Boston, New York, Washington, and other cities, with lakes rich in water-lilies, and comfortable old farms on the landward side. The rocks afford a wonderful marine garden, where star-fish, sea-anemones, sea-urchins, and other strange creatures dwell, with seals sunning themselves on the outer ledges.

Most people today look upon Biddeford Pool as a place where the elite live with their high dollar beachfront homes, but this really isn’t the case in relation to the history of Maine. Early on, the area had been a farming and fishing community, with no pretense towards being a tourist haven. Life in those days was hard, with most people just barely scraping by in the harsh wilderness of Maine. In the 1700s several rounds of war and depredation between the English settlers and the aboriginal populations created a need for garrison houses and forts to be constructed for protection. At one time the area was actually evacuated due to the Indian wars for a time.

But time progressed, and as the Biddeford/Saco area slowly grew into a viable and long lasting community, agriculture receded and industry took over as the power of the Saco Falls and other locations of water power caused manufacturing businesses to flourish. Sawmills, and gristmills grew and other facilities such as carding mills and various other manufactory’s were established, creating in turn a new source of income to the citizens of these communities.

During the early 1800s the value of the fresh and invigorating coastal air created an opportunity for businesses serving the tourism trade to flourish, and several hotels and boarding houses were erected to accommodate those travelers seeking refuge from the sweltering heat and pollution of the now growing industrialized cities of the interior. The Yates House and the Highland house, both shown here as woodcut reprints from “The Shores of Casco Bay” [J.S. Locke, 1880] became the big names in the trade, and accommodated several hundred guests at a time between the two.

The proximity of the sandy beaches of Old Orchard and Pine Point, a short carriage ride away, added to the lure of the Biddeford Pool location. It must have been a wonderful experience to visit the area in Maine’s bygone days, but unfortunately, a series of fires destroyed most of the larger hotels and boarding houses over time, and none of them were rebuilt, once gone. As the train and trolley systems came into being, it made other communities more attractive in their newness and lower costs, and Biddeford Pool succumbed to the cycle of growth and change that afflicts all communities.

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Rusticating in Bygone Maine

Maine has a long history as being a place to get away to, and in some cases, we have surpassed the success of many better known vacation spots. During the latter 1800’s into the early 1900’s rusticating in Maine was in vogue. People came from all over the world to relax in our rustic environment, and as a result, several world class tourist spots were developed.

One of them, the Poland Spring Inn, as shown in this postcard of mine boasted of its miraculous spring water. The water was so popular it was bottled for distribution in the old familiar green bottles with the green labeling.

Most of the older mega hotels, if you want to call them that have disappeared, but you can still find remnants of many by way of old advertising, postcards and various publications describing their offerings. Things have changed over the course of the years, so we now see a differing sort of entertainment to keep visitors happy.

It used to be common to find people boating, or taking hikes through the woods or along a shoreline, enjoying the sights to be found in the world of nature. Those same sights are still there, however, and can be found again by those of an adventurous nature.

Another world famous resort was the Kineo House, which could be found on Moosehead Lake in the Greenville area. This ca. 1850 picture to the right shows the hotel before its latter additions. The Kineo House was a grand destination for those sportsmen who wanted to get back into the big woods for fishing and hunting, and there are many stories of the successful hunts that could be had with the right guide. Fishermen were able to catch overflowing strings of various species that could be found not only in Moosehead Lake itself, but from the many streams and brooks running into the lake.

Along the coastline, dozens of old hotels lined the beaches, and southern Maine offered miles of sandy beaches for the travelers enjoyment. At one time, Old Orchard Beach recorded more visitors than the famed beaches of Atlantic City in New Jersey, and surpassed by far the then newly marketed California shoreline.

Bar Harbor has become a locale enticing the rich and famous from around the world, and many of the one time visitors have become seasonal residents here in Maine, all due to our climate and abundant resources. In those days, coming to Maine for a vacation was referred to as ‘rusticating’. It was a combination of roughing it in the woods while living elegantly, so to speak.

It amazes me today to read of the accoutrements carried into the woods by folks in those days, setting up a rough camp with all the comforts of home. It makes me wonder at times where all the people came from to tote all of the equipment into the woods. Hotels were generally advertised as having all of the amenities one could wish for on their vacation, some even boasting of hot baths.

Classy restaurants could be found in most of the better hotels, with some of them gaining quite a reputation for their culinary flare and style. No matter how you slice the pie, Maine was the place to go when you wanted to get away. In spite of the changing times, you can still get away in Maine today, whether you want to get out into the deep woods, or relax by the seaside in a comfortable resort. And while you’re visiting, there are many museums and historical societies you see to enhance your vacation if you are indeed a history buff.

We are coming into a new year, and with every new year comes a new set of hoops to jump through. It is no different for these organizations, and every one of them, from the Maine State Historical Society down to the smallest village historical society you can find, needs your help to survive. Please visit them, and see if you can help them out by either a donation of cash, or maybe even volunteering some time in this new year. You might be surprised at what you can learn about our past!

Categories: historical societies, Maine, Salt andPines project, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Norlands’ community, others mourn loss of leader

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Historian to give lectures on Maine Irish
This lecture will be held at the Androscoggin Historical Society. On September 22, he will discuss the St. Joseph’s and St. Patrick’s parishes, and in particular the art, architecture and history behind these two distinctly Irish strongholds…

Historic play about Hessians to be performed in Orono
The play is being produced in Castine in cooperation with the Castine Historical Society and Maine Maritime Academy. It is supported by a grant from the Maine Humanities Council. This will be the first time the play has been produced in English…

New Book Explores Maine’s Earliest Shipbuilding Tradition
The book can be found at Maine Maritime Museum in Bath, Maine Historical Society in Portland, BlueJacket Shipcrafters in Searsport, and Bowdoin College bookstore. John W. Bradford has a life-long interest in early Maine history and the Popham Colony in…

Historical Society’s calendars available
Send to: Dead River Area Historical Society, PO Box 15, Stratton, Maine 04982. There are many pictorial calendars left from previous years for sale at $2.50 each. Cook books may also be ordered from the same address, $6 each or two for $10…

Contractors discover 168-year-old tombstones during dig in Lincoln

LINCOLN, Maine — Old records, history texts and some forensic deduction helped town officials solve a 168-year-old mystery that was literally unearthed Monday on School Street and slightly delayed a $416,000 construction project. Subcontractors working for the Lincoln Water District replacing 87-year-old water lines behind Steaks ‘N Stuff discovered the…

Massacre site in Utah becomes national landmark

The southern Utah site of a pioneer-era wagon train massacre is being dedicated as a national historic landmark. The 760-acre Mountain Meadows Massacre site becomes a monument on Sunday. It marks the spot where 120 members of an Arkansas wagon train were shot and killed by a Mormon militia on Sept. 11, 1857. The Baker-Fancher wagon train was on a stop-over in the meadows on their way to California when it was attacked…

Winds fan flames that destroy landmark, other buildings in Grand Isle

GRAND ISLE, Maine — A huge fire, fanned by brisk winds, destroyed a local 90-year-old landmark and three other buildings Sunday afternoon and evening despite the efforts of more than 70 firefighters from 11 fire departments in northern Maine and Canada. Mike True, owner of Lille Antiques, said Monday that…

Norlands’ community, others mourn loss of leader

LIVERMORE — Members of the Washburn-Norlands History Center community and beyond are mourning the loss of acting Director Nancey Drinkwine, who died unexpectedly on Friday. Drinkwine, 63, of Hartford was at the Center when she had a heart attack, said her husband, Garnett Rutherford,…

The public is invited to a celebration of her life at 12:30 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 18, in the Meeting House at Norlands at 290 Norlands Road in Livermore.

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From Museums of Old York:

Upcoming Programs
For a complete and up-to-date calendar please see our website.

September

18 Lost York: The History that Nature Has Reclaimed. Join Old York staff for a guided tour of the Highland Farm area off Rte. 91. Meet at the Highland Farm Preserve parking lot, which is located 2.9 miles from the intersection of Rtes. 91 and1 in York. Email rbowen@oldyork.org for details and reservations.

19 “The Country Heer is Plentiful” exhibit of Trade, Religion and Warfare and Southern Maine 1631-1745 resumes in the upstairs gallery at The Parsons Center during regular museum hours.

23 Dinner at Jefferds Tavern. Don’t let the end of summer get you down! Dinner at the Tavern can be the perfect antidote to the blues of shorter days. Enjoy the best of the harvest season in the charming candlelit rooms of the 18th century. Click here to view the scrumptious menu on our website. Guests are encouraged to bring their own beverages to accompany the hearth-cooked meal. Friday, September 23, 6–8 p.m. $30 per person ($25 members). Seating is limited to twenty and reservations are required. Please email Richard Bowen or call (207) 363-4974 to make your reservation by September 21.

26 Needle Wizards.Every Monday morning starting the 26th of September. Join our Needle Wizards as we socialize while sewing costumes for Old York’s education interpreters. Whether you are good at cutting out patterns, hand-sewing caps, piecing skirts or sewing on the machine, we could use your help. Come to The Parsons Center upstairs in the gallery for an hour or the whole morning. 9:30 a.m. – 12 p.m. For more information email Cindi at registrar@oldyork.org.

29 History Brought to Life. Watch the history of the Old Gaol come to life as amateur actors portray the prisoners kept under lock and key. Listen to stories of thievery, debt, embezzlement, murder and escape! Meet the Gaol keeper responsible for keeping these scofflaws locked away and his wife who cooked for and fed them. Meet at the Old Gaol. Program ongoing from 5:30 -7:30 p.m. Members free and nominal fee for non-members. Family rates.

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From the Maine Historical Society:

Mark Your Calendar for Fall Programs

Tuesday, October 4, 12pm

Book Talk:Our Game Was Baseball

Presenter: John Hodgkins, Author

Friday, October 7, 5-8pm

First Friday Art Walk: Fashion Exhibits

Thursday, October 13, 7pm

Book Talk: Brilliant: The Evolution of Artificial Light

Presenter: Jane Brox, Author

Saturday, October 15, 1-4pm

Maine Home Movie Day with Northeast Historic Film

Wednesday, October 26, 7pm

Book Talk: American Nations: A History of the Eleven Rival Regional Cultures of North America

Presenter: Colin Woodard, Author

Thursday, November 10, 7pm

In Partnership with the Colonial Dames in Maine
Tales from an Art Detective: Tracing Nazi-era Provenance at the MFA

Presenter: Victoria Reed, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

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The Old Orchard House

Maine has long been known or at least advertised as “Vacationland,” and with good reason. There once was a time when Maine’s picturesque coastline and rugged interior proved to be a haven for what we call “rusticators” today, as millions of people flocked to our shores and woodlands in search of rest, relaxation, and a bit of adventure. Old Orchard Beach was called by some the queen of the eastern coast, and was one of the most heavily visited coastal sites in America, surpassing even the famed beaches of California and Florida, even.

The Old Orchard house was one of the premier establishments of this coastal resort town in its day, boasting of a capacity of 500 guests, with amenities in abundance to be had by all.

Here are a couple of selections from an upcoming volume on vacationing in Maine’s bygone days I am working on;

1: Old Orchard— This is one of Maine’s most famous summer resorts and Old Orchard Beach is the most important Maine beach, and one of the best in the country. The Boston and Maine Railroad passes in close proximity to it, and its accessibility causes it to be visited by vast numbers of people. It has a number of large and several smaller hotels which are well patronized during the summer months. It was formerly a part of Saco, but it is now incorporated as a town. Its patronage is largely by persons residing outside of the State. The Old Orchard House is the largest among its hotels.

2: Old Orchard follows. This is the most noted place on the Maine Coast, as a resort, except perhaps Mount Desert. It is twelve miles south of Portland and ninety-six miles from Boston. The beach of this region is as fine as any on the New England coast. It stretches a distance of twelve miles, from Scarborough River to Saco River. It takes its name from an old apple orchard, in the midst of which the first hotel was erected.

This place is reached by the Boston and Maine Railroad, which runs between the hotels and the sea-shore. It may also be reached from the Eastern Railroad, from the Saco depot, but this is some miles distant by stage.

There are numerous hotels here, with accommodations for from 50 to 500 guests each. Some of the principal of these are the Belmont, Blanchard, Central, Piske, Gorham, Irving, Lawrence, Ocean, Old Orchard House, Pleasant House, Sea Shore and St. Cloud. The largest of these is the Old Orchard House, which has a capacity of 500 guests. Next is the Ocean, which will accommodate 400. The Blanchard and Sea Shore have room for 200 each. The Fiske and Central, Lawrence and St. Cloud have room for 150 each; the Gorham for 100. The capacity of the others is under 100. The charges at the Old Orchard are the highest; being from $3.00 to $3.50 per day, and from $10.00 to $21.00 per week. The Ocean House charges $2.00 to $3.00 per day, and $10.00 to $17.50 per week. The charges at the other houses vary, from $1.00 to $2.50 a day, and from $7.00 to $25.00 per week.

Between Old Orchard and Biddeford Pool is Ferry Beach. Here is a very good hotel called the Bay View House, accommodating 100 guests, and charging from $7.00 to $14.00 per week. It is best reached from Saco.

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Salt & Pines is now available at your local bookstores.

Those who are fortunate enough to have grown up in Maine know that it has a way of life and sense of humor unlike anywhere else. Spend time on a lobster boat with Roy Fairfield or Tim Sample, or on Echo Farm in Auburn as Dave Sargent relates it. Phil Candelmo talks about life in Portland during World War II, and Luthera Burton Dawson teaches us a bit of “Mainespeak.” These are only a few of the stories told here and of the thousands cherished by Mainers. If you have ever wondered what it was like to live in Maine’s bygone days, follow along with our contributors and see what tales they have to tell about this state’s unique spirit.

Salt & Pines is now available at your local bookstores. It is now available through your local bookstore and on Amazon.com. Alternatively, you can order it direct by clicking the buy now button above, or following this link: https://historypress.net/indexsecure.php?prodid=9781609493684. You can paste the link into your browsers search window if it does not work by simply clicking it.

Categories: articles, Books, breaking news, events, headlines, historical societies, history, Maine, Maine Historical Society, Museums of Old York, Salt andPines project, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

First Friday Art Walk-July

June 16, 2010

Portland, ME – Maine Historical Society (MHS) displays ongoing exhibit,

Exposed: Rare Photographs of Life in Maine. First Friday Art Walk Exhibit Party.

Join us at Maine Historical Society during the Portland First Friday Art Walk to celebrate the July series of images in our ongoing exhibit, Exposed: Rare Photographs of Life in Maine. July images displayed through July 31st; exhibit runs through October 31, 2010.

Weaving together a visual narrative of life in Maine that is both timeless and surprising, the black and white photographs in Exposed reveal unusual perspectives and rare content. Images include turn of the century automobile racing on Old Orchard Beach, the 1970 student strike at Colby College, 1925 Portland Green Sox baseball, Maine governor Carl Milliken escorted in a canoe by two Passamaquoddy Indians at the 1920 Maine Centennial Celebration in Deering Oaks Park, and much more.

Exposed reveals history both in its subject matter and in the media of the originals. Reproduction prints have been made from media including daguerreotypes, monochrome photographs, and glass plate negatives, with dates spanning more than 100 years of Maine history, 1860-1975.

The opening reception is free and open to the public and will be held on July 2 from 5-8 PM in the Earle G. Shettleworth Jr. Lecture Hall at Maine Historical Society, 489 Congress Street, Portland, ME. Free parking in the MHS lot on Brown Street after 5pm. Local sponsors Shipyard Brewing Co. and Local Sprouts Catering provide refreshments. Enjoy our DJ, raffle, and wild party favors. Online Gallery at www.VintageMaineImages.com

The exhibit is open daily through October 31, 2010.

For More Information on the Exhibit:
Dani Fazio, Image Services Coordinator, 207-774-1822 x217; dfazio@mainehistory.org
Maine Historical Society
489 Congress Street
Portland, ME   04101
207-774-1822; www.mainehistory.org
http://www.mainememory.net

http://www.vintagemaineimages.com

Categories: Art Exhibit, events, headlines, historic buildings, historic preservation, historical societies, history, indians, Maine Historical Society, Maine things to do, museum news, preservation, restoration, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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