Saco is a port of entry, a place of some ship building, and commands a flourishing trade. Population, 1830, 3,219; 1837, 4,229.
Saco enjoys the rare privilege of possessing great hydraulic power united with navigable accommodations. The Saco river terminates its fantastic course at this place, by leaping, within a short distance, 42 feet, and mingling with the ocean. This water power is very valuable and cannot fail of becoming the site of large manufacturing operations.
From the mouth of the river a fine beach extends to the east about 5 miles, called Old Orchard beach. This name arose from a growth of apple trees formerly near the beach, planted at a very early period; some of them remained as late as 1770. Another beach of less extent but not inferior in other respects, is found at the Pool, connecting Fletcher's Neck with the main, and forming the south shore of that peninsula. Its distance from the Falls is about 9 miles.
The small streams by which different parts of Saco are watered, generally derive their origin from an immense bog, commonly called the Heath, and flow into the river and sea. On one of these, Foxwell's brook, there is a fine water-fall, with a descent of about sixty feet, surrounded by scenery of a wild and striking character.
The lumber trade has long been the principal branch of business on Saco river. In early times, the mills were supplied with logs from the forests in the vicinity of the Falls: in the former part of the last century they were procured at the distance of a few miles above the mills. In the winter of 1772, it is said, a few persons for the first time ascended the river as far as Fryeburg, in quest of timber, and finding an abundance, turned the attention of millmen to that region for their future supplies. After the war the number of mills was increased. Before the year 1800, seventeen saws were in operation above the Falls. There were others on the small streams in different parts of Saco and Biddeford. The quantity of boards sawed per day (24 hours) has been estimated at fifty thousand feet.
There is considerable navigation owned at Saco, employed in foreign and domestic commerce and the fishery. The tonnage of the district, in 1837, was 3,666 tons.
There are at present a large cotton mill, a rolling mill, a nail factory, and numerous saw mills; but a great portion of the water power remains unimproved.
The village of Saco contains many handsome buildings, and the scenery around it is romantic and beautiful.
Saco and Biddeford were formerly united. The former was first settled in 1631, the latter in 1630.