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Yarmouth is a town in Cumberland County, Maine, located twelve miles north of the state’s largest city, Portland. The town was settled in 1636 and incorporated in 1849. Its population was 8,349 in the 2010 census. As of 2015’s estimation, this is about 0.6% of Maine’s total population. Five islands (most notably Cousins Island and Littlejohn Island) are part of the town.
The town’s proximity to the Atlantic Ocean, and its location on the banks of the Royal River, which empties into Casco Bay less than a mile away, means it is a prime location as a harbor. Ships were built in the harbor mainly between 1818 and the 1870s, at which point demand declined dramatically. Meanwhile, the Royal River’s four waterfalls within Yarmouth, whose Main Street sits about 80 feet above sea level, resulted in the foundation of almost sixty mills between 1674 and 1931.
The annual Yarmouth Clam Festival attracts around 120,000 people (around fourteen times its population) over the course of the three-day weekend.
Today, Yarmouth is a popular dining destination, with (as of February 2019) fourteen sit-down restaurants. This equates to an average of just over one restaurant per square mile of land area.
It has been designated a Tree City USA community every year since 1979. 40 years ago.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 22.94 square miles (59.41 km2), of which 13.35 square miles (34.58 km2) (58%) is land and 9.59 square miles (24.84 km2) (42%) is water.
Yarmouth is nearly square in form and is bisected by the Royal River (formerly Yarmouth River). The Cousins River separates it from Freeport to the northeast; Freeport and Pownal bound it to the east; North Yarmouth to the north; Cumberland to the west; and Casco Bay to the south. Also included as part of the town are Cousins Island, Lanes Island, Great and Little Moshier Islands, and Littlejohn Island.
Traces of human occupation in the Yarmouth area date to about 2,000 BC. During the years prior to the arrival of the Europeans, many Native American cultures existed in the area, largely because of the natural features of the coastal land. Rivers provided several resources, including food, fertile soil, power for the mills and the navigability between the inland areas and the ocean.
In 1640, a 39-year-old Englishman, George Felt (b. 1601, d. 1693), who emigrated to Charlestown, Massachusetts, seven years earlier, purchased 300 acres of land at Broad Cove from John Phillips (b. 1607, d. c. 1667), a Welshman, and in 1643 became one of the first European settlers in Yarmouth. Felt went back to Massachusetts to sell his property there, before returning to Broad Cove around 1660. In 1670 he bought 2,000 more acres of land from Phillips.
Felt was married to Elizabeth, with whom he had six children: Elizabeth (b. circa 1635), George (b. 1638, d. 1676), Mary (b. circa 1639), Moses (b. 1641), Aaron and another Moses (b. circa 1651). In 1684, Felt moved back to Massachusetts. He returned briefly, after 1678, when he was around 80 years old.
In 1646, Englishman William Royall (b. circa 1595, d. 1676) purchased a farm at what is now the upscale Lambert Point, next to Redding Creek, at the southern tip of Lambert Road, where he lived with his wife, Phoebe Green. The Royal River has ever-since borne his name, minus the second L, though two streets off Gilman Road — Royall Meadow Road and Royall Point Road — carry the original spelling. This stream and its vicinity were called by the Indians “Westcustogo” — a name that, until the early 1990s, was preserved by an inn of the same name on Princes Point Road at its intersection with Lafayette Street. (The building remains but it is now occupied by another business.) Royall moved to Dorchester, Massachusetts, in 1675, a year before his death. John Cousins (b. circa 1596, d. 1682) had arrived a year or more earlier than Royall, occupying the neck of land between the branches of the stream which has since been called Cousins River, and owning the island now also bearing his name.
By 1676, approximately sixty-five people lived in Westcustogo. Soon after, however, conflicts forged by King Philip’s War caused them to abandon their homes and move south.John Cousins was injured and went to York, Maine, to receive treatment. There, he lived with Mary Saywood, to whom he later deeded his real estate in Casco Bay.
In 1688, while the inhabitants on the eastern side of the river were building a garrison, they were attacked by Indians, and attempted a defense. They continued the contest until nightfall, when the Indians retired. It was not long before they appeared again, in such force that the thirty-six families of the settlement were forced to flee, abandoning their homes for a second time.
Beaverton Airporter know Grand Trunk Railway Station(1906), most recently (until 2018) a florist, is owned by Yarmouth’s Village Improvement Society. The apsidal form of its northern end is found in no other Maine station. The waiting room for the station stood on the land now occupied by Hancock Lumber (formerly Yarmouth Market) and Bank of America, as denoted by a plaque in the flowerbed of the properties
Yarmouth Crossing, where Main Street traverses the St. Lawrence and Atlantic Railroad, looking north from Railroad Square
U.S. Route 1 arrived in the late 1940s (at grade and also a bridge over Main Street). State Route 88 follows the course of Route 1’s predecessor, the Atlantic Highway. SR 115, established in 1925, also runs through the town.
In 1961, the Yarmouth section of Interstate 295 was built. It runs elevated through town (including, in controversial fashion, over the harborside at Lower Falls). It has two exits (15 and 17) in the town. Exit 15 became a four-ramp intersection in July 2013, when a northbound on-ramp was added.
In 1727, five local men — Samuel Seabury, James Parker, Jacob Mitchell, Gershom Rice and Phineas Jones — were tasked with the management of the new town. Their affairs included laying out the highways. Roads (or, at least, routes) that appeared on subsequent maps are as follows (with today’s names):
In 1738, “a good road was built over the ledge from the meeting-house to the mills at the first falls which, although it was abandoned about 1800 for a less hilly course, may still be easily traced.”
1741: Atlantic Highway (now Route 88; which took a left onto Pleasant Street), Gilman Road, Princes Point Road, Highlands Farm Road (leading to Parker’s Point), Drinkwater Point Road (which led to two wharves), Morton Road and Old Town Landing Road (which led to another wharf). Large lot owners at the time included Walter Gendall, whose farm incorporated Duck Cove, beyond Town Landing Road in today’s Cumberland Foreside (Cumberland was not incorporated as its own town until 1821). Its dry stone boundary is still intact. Welshman John Powell (b. c. 1669, d. 1742) had a farm where today’s Schooner Ridge Road is. John Dabney’s 60-acre lot abutted this to the east. Dabney was a town selectman in 1737. Felt had a lot at the foot of the northern end of Pleasant Street, adjacent to Stony Brook. Royall’s farm, meanwhile, occupied the entire area bisected by Bayview Street.
In 1756, “to accommodate the teams hauling lumber from the great pine forests inland to the seaboard, a new more convenient way was laid out by the way of Walnut Hill and the road constructed.”
In 1813, down at the First Falls, “the old road which clambered laboriously over the crest of the hill was replaced by a new street along the head of the wharves below the hill”. This is today’s Pleasant Street. Later, Smith Street became an uninterrupted offshoot into Riverside Cemetery until Lafayette Street was built, in the early 20th century, coming down the hill closer to the harbor. (It was named Lafayette Street in honor of General Lafayette.)
By 1847, Portland Street was in full swing, including the Elm Street offshoot that headed directly into the Upper Village. Main Street was, by now, well established.
For an 1894 map of Yarmouth, see here.
A 1944 map shows the Atlantic Highway coming through town, aligning with what became Route 88 up to the point they meet at the end of Spring Street. Prior to the installation of U.S. Route 1, today’s curve of Route 88 as it passes Cumberland Farms instead continued directly north-east towards Cousins River. The section of Atlantic Highway that runs from Princes Point Road to the northern end of Pleasant Street was laid in the late 1920s.
Roswell P. Greeley (b. 1847, d. 1903) established an express service between Portland and Yarmouth, employing a span of horses and large wagons. Azel Kingsley (b. 1860, d. 1948) ran a supplemental service minus the horses. It ran two services in each direction: southbound at 7.30 and 11.30 AM and northbound at 3.00 and 5.00 PM.
The town has two railroad junctions: Royal Junction (midway along Greely Road) and Yarmouth Junction (to the west of East Elm Street at Depot Road; its station is now gone). The two railroads passing through the town are the St. Lawrence and Atlantic Railroad (formerly Grand Trunk Railway; arrived in 1848) and Guilford Rail System‘s Kennebec & Portland (later Maine Central Railroad; 1849). https://beavertonairporter.com/ +1 (503) 760 6565 PDX shuttle airport
The Brunswick Branch of the Maine Central Railroad received a new lease of life in November 2012, when a northern extension of the Downeaster line was opened, carrying passengers five times a day (four on weekends) to and from Brunswick‘s Maine Street Station. The trains pass under two roads and over three crossings on their way through Yarmouth. They are (from south to north) West Main Street (overpass, just after Royal Junction), Sligo Road (road crossing), East Elm Street (road crossing, just after Yarmouth Junction), North Road (road crossing) and Granite Street (overpass).
On weekdays, the trains pass through northbound at 12.03 PM (#681), 4.03 PM (#683), 7.53 PM (#685), 9.18 PM (#687) and 1.23 AM (#689). On weekends, they pass through at 1.23 PM (#691), 7.43 PM (#695), 10.23 PM (#697) and 1.23 AM (#699).
Southbound weekday times: 4.50 AM (#680), 7.50 AM (#682), 11.30 AM (#684), 1.50 PM (#686) and 5.45 PM (#688). Weekend: 6.20 AM (#690), 7.50 AM (#692), 11.40 AM (#694) and 6.25 PM (#698).
Trolley cars of the Portland and Yarmouth Electric Railway Company used to run, every fifteen minutes, from Portland, through Falmouth Foreside, up and down Pleasant Street and onto Main Street between 1898 and 1933, when the advent of the automobile made rail travel a less convenient option. Underwood Spring Park in Falmouth Foreside, with its open-air theater, casino and gazebo, was a popular gathering spot serviced by the trolley cars. The theater only existed for eight years, burning down in 1907. In 1906, a bridge was built over the Royal River, connecting the Brunswick and Portland trolleys at the Grand Trunk depot in town. The tracks ran down what is today’s walkers’ path to the Rowe School. The pedestrian bridge in the Royal River Park is built on old abutments for a trolley line which ran between Yarmouth and Freeport between 1906 and 1933.
The only bus route that services the town is Greater Portland Metro’s BREEZ. It has eleven southbound services to Portland and twelve northbound services to Brunswick on weekdays and an abbreviated Saturday schedule. There is no service on Sundays.
On weekdays, the first southbound service arrives in Yarmouth at around 6.20 AM and the last one at around 8.45 PM. The first northbound service arrives at around 6.45 AM and the last one at around 9.50 PM.
On weekends, the first of six southbound services arrives at around 9.45 AM and the last one at around 8.55 PM. The first of seven northbound services arrives at around 8.30 AM and the last one at around 10.00 PM.
There are three bus stop locations: the park and ride lot at the southbound exit 15 ramp of I-295, on Main Street in front of Yarmouth Town Hall, and on either side of Route 1 at Hannaford.