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Saco, Maine
—  City  —
Main Street

Motto: Domine Dirige Nos  (Latin)
"Lord Guide Us"
Location of city of Saco in Maine
Coordinates: 43°30′38″N 70°26′42″W / 43.51056°N 70.445°W / 43.51056; -70.445
Country United States
State Maine
County York
Incorporated 1762
 - Mayor Roland L. Michaud
 - Total 39.3 sq mi (101.9 km2)
 - Land 38.5 sq mi (99.7 km2)
 - Water 0.9 sq mi (2.3 km2)
Elevation 66 ft (20 m)
Population (2000)
 - Total 16,822
 Density 437.2/sq mi (168.8/km2)
Time zone Eastern (EST) (UTC-5)
 - Summer (DST) EDT (UTC-4)
ZIP code 04072
Area code(s) 207
FIPS code 23-64675
GNIS feature ID 0574646

Saco (pronounced /ˈsɑkoʊ/, SAH-koh) is a city in York County, Maine, United States. The population was 16,822 at the 2000 census. It is home to Ferry Beach State Park, Funtown Splashtown USA, Thornton Academy, as well as General Dynamics Armament Systems (also known by its former name, Saco Defense), a subsidiary of the defense contractor General Dynamics. Saco has two growing business parks and another one under development. Saco sees much tourism during summer months, due to its amusement parks, Ferry Beach State Park, and proximity to Old Orchard Beach.

Saco has taken steps to make the city more environmentally friendly. In early 2007 a wind turbine was erected near the water treatment plant at the foot of Front street. Another wind turbine was erected on the top of York Hill in December 2007 to generate power for the new train station for Amtrak's "Downeaster." This is part of the project to restore Factory Island, including the renovation of several abandoned mills that have fallen into disrepair, and the erection of new townhouses and a marina.

Saco is part of the PortlandSouth PortlandBiddeford, Maine Metropolitan Statistical Area. Saco's twin-city is Biddeford.



This was territory of the Sokoki tribe of Abenaki Indians, whose fortified village was located up the Saco River at Pequawket (now Fryeburg). The township was granted in 1630 by the Plymouth Company to Thomas Lewis and Richard Bonython, and extended 4 miles (6.4 km) along the sea, by 8 miles (13 km) inland. Settled in 1631 as part of Winter Harbor (as Biddeford Pool was first known), it then included Biddeford. It would be reorganized in 1653 by the Massachusetts General Court as Saco.

The settlement was attacked by Indians in 1675 during King Philip's War. Settlers moved to the mouth of the river, and the houses and mills they left behind were burned. Saco lay in contested territory between New England and New France, which recruited the Indians as allies. In 1689 during King William's War, it was again attacked, with some residents taken captive. Hostilities intensified from 1702 until 1709, then ceased in 1713 with the Treaty of Portsmouth. The community was rebuilt and in 1718 incorporated as Biddeford. Peace would not last, however, and the town was again attacked in 1723 during Dummer's War, when it contained 14 garrisons. But in 1724, a Massachusetts militia destroyed Norridgewock, an Abenaki stronghold on the Kennebec River organizing raids on English settlements. The region became less dangerous, especially after the French defeat in 1745 at the Battle of Louisburg. The French and Indian Wars finally ended with the 1763 Treaty of Paris.

York Manufacturing Co. in 1916

In 1762, the northeastern bank of Biddeford separated as Pepperrellborough, named for Sir William Pepperrell, hero of the Battle of Louisburg and late proprietor of the town. But inhabitants found the name cumbersome, so in 1805 it was renamed Saco. It would be incorporated as a city in 1867. Saco became a center for lumbering, with log drives down the river from Little Falls Plantation (now Dayton, Lyman, Hollis and part of Limington). At Saco Falls, the timber was cut by 17 sawmills. In 1827, the community produced 21,000,000 feet (6,400,000 m) of sawn lumber, some of which was used for shipbuilding.

Main Street in c. 1912

On Factory Island, the Saco Iron Works began operation in 1811. The Saco Manufacturing Company established a cotton mill in 1826, and a canal was dug through rock to provide water power. The mill burned in 1830, but was replaced in 1831 by the York Manufacturing Company. With the arrival of the Portland, Saco and Portsmouth Railroad in 1842, Factory Island developed into a major textile manufacturing center, with extensive brick mills dominating the Saco and Biddeford waterfronts. Other businesses included foundries, belting and harnessmaking, and machine shops. But the New England textile industry faded in the 20th-century, and the York Manufacturing Company would close in 1958. The prosperous mill town era, however, left behind much fine architecture in the Georgian, Federal, Greek Revival and Victorian styles. Many buildings are now listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Notable residents

Culture and Arts

Sites of interest

  • Saco Museum, the York Institute
  • Funtown Splashtown USA
  • Ferry Beach State Park
  • Aquaboggan (water park)
  • Downtown Historical District [1]
  • Camp Ellis (fishing port)
  • There are approximately 100 acres (0.40 km2) of parks[2]
  • Laurel Hill Cemetery
  • Saco Heath Preserve
  • Rapid Rays
  • Mulligan's
  • Saco Island
  • Beech Ridge Motor Speedway

Other Events

  • Sidewalk Arts Festival
  • Mary's Walk (a walk for cancer)
  • Saco Bay Criterium (bike race)
  • Pumpkin Festival
  • Greek Heritage Festival


List of Schools

  • Fairfield School (K-2)
  • Young School (K-2)
  • C.K. Burns School (3-5)
  • Saco Middle School (6-8)
  • Thornton Academy(9-12)
  • Notre Dame de Lourdes School (K-8)
  • Saco Transition Program (6-12)

Higher Education

Saco is about 4 miles (6.4 km) from the University of New England in Biddeford, Maine, 15 miles (24 km) from the University of Southern Maine in Gorham, Maine and Portland, Maine, and 17 miles (27 km) from York County Community College in Wells, Maine.


Saco is located at 43°30′38″N 70°26′42″W / 43.51056°N 70.445°W / 43.51056; -70.445 (43.510425, -70.444920)[3].

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 39.3 square miles (101.9 km²), of which, 38.5 square miles (99.7 km²) of it is land and 0.9 square miles (2.3 km²) of it (2.21%) is water. Situated beside Saco Bay on the Gulf of Maine, Saco is drained by the Saco River.

Saco borders the city of Biddeford, as well as the towns of Scarborough, Buxton, Dayton and Old Orchard Beach.


Saco contains a wide variety of landforms, including beaches, fields, forests, bogs, and urban areas.


Historical Population
Census Pop.  %±
1790 1,350
1800 1,842 36.4%
1810 2,492 35.3%
1820 2,532 1.6%
1830 3,219 27.1%
1840 4,408 36.9%
1850 5,798 31.5%
1860 6,223 7.3%
1870 5,755 −7.5%
1880 6,389 11.0%
1890 6,075 −4.9%
1900 6,122 0.8%
1910 6,583 7.5%
1920 6,817 3.6%
1930 7,233 6.1%
1940 8,631 19.3%
1950 10,324 19.6%
1960 10,515 1.9%
1970 11,678 11.1%
1980 12,921 10.6%
1990 15,181 17.5%
2000 16,822 10.8%
Est. 2007 18,214 8.3%

As of the census[5] of 2000, there were 16,822 people, 6,801 households, and 4,590 families residing in the city. The population density was 437.2 people per square mile (168.8/km²). There were 7,424 housing units at an average density of 193.0/sq mi (74.5/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 97.91% White, 0.32% African American, 0.15% Native American, 0.51% Asian, 0.09% Pacific Islander, 0.10% from other races, and 0.93% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 0.58% of the population.

There were 6,801 households out of which 33.1% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 53.3% were married couples living together, 10.6% had a female householder with no husband present, and 32.5% were non-families. 25.2% of all households were made up of individuals and 10.1% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.44 and the average family size was 2.93.

Pepperrell Park in 1906

In the city the population was spread out with 25.0% under the age of 18, 6.8% from 18 to 24, 32.1% from 25 to 44, 22.2% from 45 to 64, and 13.9% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 37 years. For every 100 females there were 91.0 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 87.7 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $45,105, and the median income for a family was $52,724. Males had a median income of $35,446 versus $25,585 for females. The per capita income for the city was $20,444. About 7.1% of families and 8.2% of the population were below the poverty line, including 9.4% of those under age 18 and 10.8% of those age 65 or over.


The Saco (Amtrak station) provides transportation between Portland, Maine and Boston, Massachusetts via train[6]. Saco is accessible from Interstate-95 (I-95), U.S. Route 1, and Interstate 195 (Maine). There are also taxis that serve the Tri-City Area (Saco, Biddeford, Old Orchard Beach). The Portland International Jetport, located in Portland, Maine, is about 14 miles (23 km) from Saco. The ShuttleBus[7] and Zoom Bus[8] provide local transportation.

See also


  1. ^ [1]Saco, Maine website
  2. ^ [2]Saco Website, Economic Development, retrieved September, 2008
  3. ^ "US Gazetteer files: 2000 and 1990". United States Census Bureau. 2005-05-03. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 
  4. ^ [3], retrieved September, 2008.
  5. ^ "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 
  6. ^ [4]Downeaster, retrieved August, 2008
  7. ^ [5]Shuttle Bus Service, retrieved September, 2008
  8. ^ [6]Zoom Bus Service, retrieved September, 2008

External links

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