(Senate - June 26, 2012)

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[Page S4633]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office []

                         ADDITIONAL STATEMENTS


                              SACO, MAINE

 Ms. COLLINS. Mr. President, today I wish to commemorate the 
250th anniversary of the City of Saco, ME, one of the oldest 
communities in New England and one that exemplifies the determination 
and resiliency of its people. In 1617, 3 years before the Pilgrims 
landed at Plymouth, the English explorer Richard Vines established a 
test winter settlement along a sheltered cove on the coast of Maine. 
That settlement where the Saco River meets the sea, grew, prospered, 
and eventually was incorporated in 1762.
  The name ``Saco'' is derived from the Abenaki word for ``mouth of the 
tidal stream,'' and the sheltered cove, known today as Biddeford Pool, 
had been a thriving center of Native American villages and cultivated 
fields dating back to prehistoric times. Although some 37 English 
families--fishermen, traders, lumberjacks, and farmers--relocated there 
within 20 years of Mr. Vine's exploration, growth was stifled by 
frequent armed conflicts with the French during those early colonial 
  The conflicts subsided and in 1716 a young merchant named William 
Pepperrell purchased 5,000 acres along the Saco River for a lumber 
operation. The small village began to prosper. In 1752, Sir William 
Pepperrell, by then a war hero and the first person born in America to 
be made an English baronet, donated a parcel to be a village common, 
burial ground, and site for a meetinghouse. Ten years later, the 
settlers incorporated as the town of Pepperrellborough, in honor of 
their benefactor.
  In 1805, the long name was replaced with the much shorter Abenaki 
word, but the vision and energy of William Pepperrell lived on. First 
with water power and then with steam, Saco and its sister city across 
the river, Biddeford, became leading manufacturing centers of the 
industrial age in North America. At Saco Falls, 17 sawmills supplied 
Maine's shipbuilders. On Factory Island, Saco Iron Works opened in 
1811, followed shortly by foundries, harness makers, and machine shops. 
With the arrival of the railroad came the great engine of the 
community's economy--vast, bustling textile mills.
  That Saco is a city built by the skilled hands of past generations is 
evident in the fine architecture cherished by the residents of today. 
Nine properties are listed on the National Register of Historic Places, 
including the First parish Congregational Church, City Hall, and many 
homes in the Georgian, Federal, Greek Revival, and Victorian styles.
  The decline of American manufacturing in the late 20th century 
presented Saco with one of the greatest challenge in its history. It is 
a challenge that is being met with the same strength demonstrated by 
its early settlers. The abandoned mills on Factory Island are 
undergoing a transformation with residential, educational, and business 
uses, bringing an economic renessaince to the downtown. Today, Saco is 
a center for tourism, education, and the arts. Its skilled workers keep 
the city on the forefront of high-tech manufacturing, including 
invaluable contributions to our Nation's security in the defense 
industry. A community that once used waterfalls to power sawmills now 
uses clean, renewable wind energy to light its beautiful passenger rail 
  Mr. President, the yearlong celebration now underway is not merely 
about the passing of time. It is about human accomplishment. We 
celebrate the people who for more than 2\1/2\ centuries have pulled 
together, cared for one another, and built a great community. Thanks to 
those who came before, Saco, ME, has a wonderful history. Thanks to 
those here today, it has a bright future.