Posts Tagged With: Saco

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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Norway’s Luther Farrar House Destroyed by Fire

Here is another batch of headlines for your history reading pleasure. As always, if you have something to share that is Maine history related please email it to editor@touringmaineshistory.com. If it’s an event, make sure you get it to me in plenty of time to share.

Loss of historic house a ‘tragedy’ for downtown
The destruction by fire of one of the oldest houses on Main Street has left another hole in one of the state’s most complete downtown National Historic Districts. “For Norway Downtown whose rehabilitation efforts hinge on significant historic buildings, this is a tragedy…

New barn for the Searsmont Historical Society A dedication ceremony for the new Searsmont Historical Society Barn will be held Saturday, May 28, and will feature a ribbon cutting ceremony, pig roast and barn dance.— Some small towns are…

Next Maine Event: Bug Light a breezy beacon for kite connoisseurs South Portland Historical Society board members will be manning the barbecue, grilling hot dogs and hamburgers. Chips and soda will also be available for purchase. KID-FRIENDLY FACTOR: What kid…

City seafaring family in spotlight Shipbuilding in Biddeford and Saco reached its height in the mid-1800s, when two or three ships per year were being built in shipyards on both sides of the Saco River, according to the archives at the Maine Historical Society. …

Despite $97,000 grant, Addison church may be lost
Despite having just received a $97,000 restoration grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the historic Church on The Hill in Addison may still be lost soon. Since 1798, a church has always stood on the top of the hill. The first, a community meetinghouse, was blown…

Acadian Festival, Cyr Family Reunion moving to August
The 34th Acadian Festival and the annual family reunion held at the same time in Madawaska are being moved from late June to Aug. 11-15 this year to coincide with International Acadian Day on Aug. 15. This year’s gathering is the Cyr Family Reunion, celebrating ancestors and descendants of one…

Early Declaration of Independence document winds up its 50-state tour in Bangor
A precious piece of America’s history — an original Dunlap broadside of the Declaration of Independence printed on July 4, 1776 — has visited each of the 50 states and on Saturday made Maine its last stop on its decade-long tour. Only 26 copies of the original…

Mill museum has support
Lisa Flynn worked at WestPoint Home until the end. “I never thought we’d shut down,” she said Saturday, seated around a table in the vast North Dam mill with several former co-workers, reminiscing…

Life at sea, revisited
A new exhibit at the Saco Museum explores 19th century maritime history through the life of sea captain Tristram Jordan and his family. The exhibit, Voyages and the Great Age of Sail, opens Friday with a free reception at 5:30 p.m. and runs through Sept. 4. The exhibit is a culmination of a history class of the same name at University of New England, which is team taught by UNE History Professor Elizabeth De Wolfe and Camille Smalley, program and education manager for the Saco Museum…

From the Maine Historical Society;


Online Exhibit: High Water

While many Mainers are thrilled that spring has finally arrived, others who live or work along the state’s swollen rivers watch rising water levels cautiously. This exhibit revisits historic floods and the impact they have had on local people and communities. Read more.

Thursday, May 19, 7:00 pm

The Annual Olmsted Lecture

The Longfellow Gardens: The Evolution of Two Landmarks

Speaker: Lauren Meier, Pressley Associates, Cambridge, MA

Join us to learn about the rich history and recent rehabilitation of the Longfellow Garden at MHS and the garden at the Longfellow National Historic Site in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Meier, a landscape architect with a specialty in historic preservation, contributed to the rehabilitation of both gardens. This event is held in partnership with the Longfellow Garden Club. Details.

Saturday, June 4, 9 am – 12:30 pm

MHS Annual Meeting: Looking (Back) at Television

Join us to conduct the official business of MHS! The annual meeting includes awards, the welcoming of new Trustees, and a talk by Fred Thompson, former head of the Maine Broadcasting System (1983-98), on the early days of television in Maine. MHS membership and event registration required. Details.

Saturday, June 4, 1 – 3:30 pm

The Dave Astor Reunion Show

Featuring Dave Astor with Tony Boffa, Steve Romanoff, and Fred Thompson

Join us to remember and celebrate one of Maine’s best-loved homegrown television shows, The Dave Astor Show (For Teenagers Only). Location: Port City Music Hall, 504 Congress Street, Portland. Details.

Categories: Acadian history, articles, breaking news, events, headlines, historic buildings, historic preservation, historical societies, history, lighthouses, Maine, Maine Historical Society, Maine things to do, museum news, Revolutionary War, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Benedict Arnold & Maine History Headlines

Here are a few headlines from around the state of Maine for you history buffs! Click on the headline links to go to the source for full stories.

The Curious London Legacy of Benedict Arnold

More than 200 years after his death, the most notorious traitor of the Revolutionary War has an unlikely supporter Read More »

The Last Roundup for Movie, Early TV Cowboys
While the story of the sale of items from the Roy Rogers Museum made headlines around the world, Worthologist Harry Rinker is thinking about what that auction really means. At the moment, the new owners of Rogers’ memorabilia are relishing in their acquisitions, and most will proudly display their trophies, regaling those privileged to view them with their personal remembrances of Roy and Dale and how they acquired their piece of the Western couple’s history. But fame is fleeting, and so is memory. Harry ponders about the future fate of these once-cherished items and other similar pieces once belonging to TV and movie Western heroes. Read “The Last Roundup for Movie, Early TV Cowboys”

Dixfield Outdoor Market promises 50 vendors, lots of variety

DIXFIELD — The Main Street Outdoor Market Committee and the Dixfield Historical Society have teamed up to offer a variety of events and activities Aug. 14 and 15. The Outdoor Market is in its 15th year or so, Norine Clarke said. It will cover most of the sidewalks on Main Street from…

Welcome sign to kick off Acadian congress

An official sign unveiling here next week is designed to help kick off the largest event ever held in the St. John Valley, one that will have massive economic and cultural … more

220th birthday of Coast Guard celebrated at Lobster Fest opening

ROCKLAND, Maine — U.S. Coast Guard Station Rockland was honored during a ceremony and celebration of the 220th birthday of the Coast Guard on the opening day of the Maine Lobster Festival. City … more

Tour of quarries exposes the past

HALLOWELL — Some 170 people swarmed throughout the old Hallowell quarries Sunday, mining memories of summer days and an industry gone by…

In Windsor, little ships a labor of love

WINDSOR — Roger Anttila’s love of the sea has turned into a leisure-time occupation. Anttila brings to life the romantic tales of 17th- and 18th-century sailors with model clipper ships he crafts out of timber salvaged from shipwrecks found off the coast of Maine…

Saco to consider historic value of 1938 fire station

SACO — The Central Fire Station on Thornton Avenue could be eligible for the National Historic Registry, and the Planning Board has recommended the city look into the possibility….

Lighthouse lovers line up Summerfest

BATH — The volunteer group organized to care for and preserve Seguin Island lighthouse is launching its first annual Summerfest celebration, an event to raise money for and awareness of the historic structure…

Olde Bristol Days Livens Up August With Concerts And Parade
Olde Bristol Days kicks off Thurs., Aug. 12 as the Bristol Parks and Recreation Commission takes over planning for the event from Jenny Pendleton and Joyce Thompson.
 

Topsham celebrates 156th annual fair Aug. 8-14

TOPSHAM — The Topsham Fair is rolling out its 156th year of “farm fresh family fun” beginning Sunday, Aug. 8 and running through Saturday, Aug. 15…

Historical Society hosts annual flea market, bake sale

SCARBOROUGH — The Historical Society will hold its annual fundraiser on Saturday, August 7 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Historical Society Museum on Route 1 near Fire Station 6.

Categories: breaking news, collectibles, events, headlines, historical societies, history, lighthouses, Maine, Maine things to do, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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