In partnership with the Maine Memory Network Maine Memory Network

Biddeford History & Heritage Project

Sharing the history of a proud city rising where the water falls

II. Ripples of change: European exploration & settlement at Winter Harbor

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Piles of logs along the Saco River, circa 1910
Piles of logs along the Saco River, circa 1910

Item Contributed by
McArthur Public Library

The earliest settlers lived almost entirely in the area immediately near the mouth of the river and on the large hill overlooking the harbor which would become the village of Biddeford Pool.

Most of the settlers were employed farming, fishing or both. Some traded with the native populations, and there was a carpenter and a few mechanics among the group also. Forest resources were utilized right away, and "pine boards and staves (for barrells) and clapboards" were among the first things made for trading purposes.

Courtesy of the Library of Congress

The European settlers traded with the native peoples, especially for furs, but relations with area bands were uneasy. The settlers encroached on the native hunting grounds and set nets which interfered with their fishing. The natives lived side-by-side with the settlers during those times of year when they made their homes nearer the sea, but there was a lack of understanding and respect between the two groups. The natives were "savages" and the settlers were "strangers", feelings which the two groups would never overcome.