Biddeford is a city in York CountyMaine, United States. It is the principal commercial center of York County. The population was 21,277 at the 2010 census. Twin city of Saco, Biddeford includes the resort community of Biddeford PoolFortunes Rocks and Granite Point. The town is the site of the University of New England and the annual La Kermesse Franco-Americaine Festival. First visited by Europeans in 1616, it is the site of one of the earliest European settlements in the United States.

Biddeford is a principal population center of the Portland-South Portland-Biddeford metropolitan statistical area.

Biddeford Neighborhoods

Biddeford Pool is a large tidal pool, located off Saco Bay south of the mouth of the Saco River on the south coast of Maine. It is approximately 6 miles southeast of downtown Biddeford, to which it is connected via State Route 208. The town of Kennebunkport is 3 miles southwest, connected via State Route 9.

Biddeford Pool is the site of Maine's first recorded permanent settlement, then called Winter Harbor (not to be confused with present-day Winter Harbor, Maine). In the winter of 1616-1617, Richard Vines, a physician, resided here as part of the colonization efforts of Sir Ferdinando Gorges, lord proprietor of Maine. An early village developed on the north side. In 1688, Fort Mary was built near the pool's entrance. [1][2]

The former Fletcher's Neck Lifesaving Station, closed in 1971 and on the National Register of Historic Places, still stands at Ocean Avenue and Fourth Street.[3]

During World War II the Biddeford Pool Military Reservation was established from 1941 to 1945, on what is now the Abenakee Golf Club. It had four circular concrete platforms called "Panama mounts" for 155 mm guns, three of which remain today.[4] From December 1941 to December 1943 it was garrisoned by Battery F of the 240th Coast Artillery of the Maine National Guard; this unit was then relieved by Battery E of the 22nd Coast Artillery, which departed in October 1943; it is unclear what unit was at the site after that time.[5]

The small harbor hosts both vacationers and lobstermen. Its water level fluctuates from a large navigable body during high tide to mostly mudflats during low tide. The only exception is the deep mouth, where a gut is located which is naturally dredged by tidal current. It is locally known as "The Gut." Consequently, this is the area where most boats are moored. Wood Island Light is located about a mile offshore to the northeast. [6]

Biddeford Pool is bounded by the mainland to the south and west, by Hills Beach to the north, and by East Point to the east. The area is a popular summer destination for visitors from as far south as Florida and as far west as California. The pool is surrounded by tall grass salt marshes that are home to a variety of birds and other wildlife. East Point Sanctuary, maintained by the Maine Audubon Society, is considered to be one of the premier birding spots on the northeast coast. Mile Strech Road, a sandy strip of beach which connects the neighborhood of Biddeford Pool to the mainland, is a notable tombolo.[7]

Points of interest around Biddeford Pool include the Biddeford coastal neighborhoods of Hills Beach, Fortune's Rocks, and Granite Point; and the Kennebunkport coastal area of Goose Rocks.

Biddeford Neighborhoods

History

Abenaki Indians, whose main village was upriver at Pequawket (now Fryeburg), once hunted and fished in the area. The first European to settle at Biddeford was physician Richard Vines in the winter of 1616-17 at Winter Harbor, as he called Biddeford Pool. This 1616 landing by a European predates the Mayflower landing in Plymouth, Massachusetts, (located 100 miles to the south) by approximately four years, a fact that is overlooked in much of New England lore.[4]In 1630, the Plymouth Company granted the land south of the River Swanckadocke to Dr. Vines and John Oldham. In 1653, the town included both sides of the river, and was incorporated by the Massachusetts General Court as Saco.[5]

Biddeford was first incorporated as the Town of Saco in 1653.[6] Roger Spencer was granted the right in 1653 to build the first sawmillLumber and fish became the community's chief exports. In 1659, Major William Phillips of Boston became a proprietor, and constructed a garrison and millat the falls. During King Philip's War in 1675, the town was attacked by Indians. Settlers withdrew to Winter Harbor for safety, and their homes and mills upriver at the falls were burned. In 1693, a stone fort was built a short distance below the falls, but it was captured by the Indians in 1703, when 11 colonists were killed and 24 taken captive to Canada. In 1688, Fort Mary was built near the entrance to Biddeford Pool.[7] The town was reorganized in 1718 as Biddeford, after Bideford, a town in Devon, England, from which some settlers had emigrated. After the Fall of Quebec in 1759, hostilities with the natives ceased.[5]

In 1762, the land northeast of the river was set off as Pepperellborough, which in 1805 was renamed Saco. The first bridge to Saco was built in 1767. The river divides into two falls that drop 40 feet (12 m), providing water power for mills. Factories were established to make boots and shoes. The developing mill town also had granite quarries and brickyards, in addition to lumber and grain mills. Major textile manufacturing facilities were constructed along the riverbanks, including the Laconia Company in 1845, and the Pepperell Company in 1850. Biddeford was incorporated as a city in 1855.[8]

The mills attracted waves of immigrants, including the IrishAlbanians, and French-Canadiansfrom the province of Quebec. At one time the textile mills employed as many as 12,000 people, but as happened elsewhere, the industry entered a long period of decline. As of 2009, the last remaining textile company in the city, WestPoint Home, closed. The property occupying the mill has been sold and is being redeveloped into housing and new businesses. The last log drivedown the Saco River was in 1943, with the last log sawn in 1948. Biddeford's name is engraved near the top level of The Pilgrim Monument, in ProvincetownMassachusetts, along with the names of some of the oldest cities and towns in New England.[9]

During World War II the Biddeford Pool Military Reservation was established from 1942 to 1945, on what is now the Abenakee Golf Club. It had four circular concrete platforms called "Panama mounts" for 155 mm guns, three of which remain today.[10]

Area Listings

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Updated: 20th March, 2019 8:58 PM.