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Making Cloth

Cataract Falls, Saco, ca. 1895

Cataract Falls, Saco, ca. 1895

Item 22445 info
Dyer Library Archives / Saco Museum

The story of making cloth begins with geology -- two falls, one eight feet high, the other 40 feet.

The Saco River enters Biddeford and Saco, is narrowed by a large island, and moves along with such force that early industrialists knew they had to build mills near the falls.

In 1843, twelve years after he first arrived in the area, Samuel Batchelder, builder of the Hamilton Mill in Lowell, began building the Pepperell Mills on the Biddeford side of the river.

He already had taken over the mills on Factory Island.

His Saco Water Power Co. bought water rights far up the Saco River and along the Ossippee River to provide waterpower to manufacture cloth.

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