The Town of Yarmouth is located on beautiful Casco Bay, on the southern coast of Maine, about 11 miles northeast of Portland. It is a warm and welcoming quintessential New England-style village comprised of a Main Street with a combination of old homes and small businesses, a beautiful parkway along the picturesque Royal River, a sheltered port in Yarmouth Harbor offering waterfront activities, a diversified commercial base along US Route One, as well as housing in waterfront, rural, suburban, and historic settings.
Land area: 12.60 Square Miles
Water area: .03 Square Miles
Zip Code: 04096
Town Website: www.yarmouth.me.us
|Forest Paper Company, ca 1900
Collection of the Yarmouth Historical Society
The area of Ancient North Yarmouth attracted both Native American and later European settlers because of the natural features that surrounded the coastal land. The ability to access both the river and the sea along Broad Cove made this area desirable for Native American tribes such as the Wabanaki and settlers who were primarily English. North Yarmouth was settled three times, beginning with William Royall and John Cousins who were among the first European settlers. The “North” in the name was intended to differentiate it from Yarmouth, Massachusetts that was already established on Cape Cod. The original territory of North Yarmouth in 1680 was repeatedly subdivided, with Harpswell being set off in 1758, Freeport in 1789, Pownal in 1808, Cumberland in 1821, and Yarmouth in 1849.
Starting in 1674 when the earliest known mill was erected, the Royal River has had a lasting impact on the community of Yarmouth. There are four falls along the river and the energy produced by them led to the development of the town. Grain, lumber, carding, cotton mills and iron foundries were among the earlier types found along the river. Later industries that utilized Yarmouth’s hydropower included a cotton mill specializing in seamless grain bags and Forest Paper Company. At its peak, Yarmouth was a thriving mill town employing hundreds of workers in a variety of industries.
The protected harbor at the mouth of the Royal River provided an ideal location for shipbuilding. Throughout Yarmouth’s shipbuilding history, vessels were built for different kinds of trade-sloops and schooners for coasting, brigantines and barks for trade with the West Indies and ships for world trade. The height of Yarmouth’s shipbuilding occurred between the years 1850 and 1875. Four major shipyards built vessels during this time.
Yarmouth at the turn of the twentieth century was growing and changing. The trolley system ran from Portland to Bath with stops in Yarmouth. In 1955, a bridge was built to Cousins Island to facilitate the construction of a power plant. With the bridge, residents could live on the islands year round. In 1961, the state built Route 295 and Yarmouth has consistently grown in population.
Yarmouth has maintained its village characteristics primarily by maintaining a Main Street that is reminiscent of earlier days. The Yarmouth History Center at 118 East Elm Street, adjacent to the river, has an interpretive gallery that focuses on the history of the region ranging from the early pre-settlement days to current topics with changing exhibits. The hours of operation are Tuesday-Saturday from 10:00-5:00. www.yarmouthmehistory.org
Yarmouth public schools are considered among the finest in New England. Over 90% of our graduates pursue a post-secondary education. Both Harrison Middle School and Yarmouth High School are Apple Distinguished Schools because of the effective use of technology with individual laptop computers for both students and staff. Both US New and the Washington Post designated Yarmouth High School as one of America’s best high schools. In addition, Yarmouth has two outstanding schools serving elementary students; Rowe School serves students in grades K and 1 and Yarmouth Elementary School serves students in grades 2 through 4. Students, staff, parents and community members are all part of our educational system, working together to accomplish our mission “Empowering all students to create fulfilling lives in a changing world”.
Yarmouth is also home to one of New England’s premier independent schools, North Yarmouth Academy, serving students in grades Pre K through 12. NYA provides a challenging academic environment with supportive, individual attention that fosters character, intellect and integrity. Established in 1814, NYA has been educating the area’s young people for 200 years. Resembling a small college in the heart of the village, NYA’s 23-acre campus includes beautiful, ivy covered buildings, a lower school, middle school, a dedicated music building complete with rehearsal halls and studios, a state-of-the-art science center, language center, athletic fields, and the NYA Travis Roy Ice Arena. Academics, arts, and athletics are the cornerstones of the school’s program, and bringing out the best in each individual student, every day, is our mission.
North Yarmouth Academy
Yarmouth is a welcoming town, inviting residents and guests to enjoy and explore its open spaces,which range from active recreation to rustic and natural areas. The 22 acre Royal River Park is located in the center of town and is the “jewel” in the crown of the Yarmouth park system. It features a mile walkway, waterfalls and many scenic vistas along the Royal River. It serves as a perfect picnic spot, as well as a great place to walk, jog, ride or roll. During the summer months, the Yarmouth Summer Arts Series sponsors live performances on Wednesday evenings that are free and open to the public. Canoeing or kayaking access to the upper Royal River is located at the East Elm Street entrance of the Royal River Park.
At over 225 acres, Pratt’s Brook Park, on the northwest side of town, offers over 6 miles of hiking and cross-country skiing trails. The Beth Condon Pathway, part of the East Coast Greenway, extends for over one mile along Route 1, from Portland Street to Hannaford Plaza, connecting with several other pedestrian and bicycle routes. It provides safe and convenient access to the many shops and businesses along Route One and Main Street.
The West Side Trail is a newly constructed 4.5 mile multi-use trail designed to mountain bike standards along the CMP transmission line, traversing Yarmouth from west to east. Park at the 55 acre Fels-Groves Farm Preserve for the most convenient access to the trail. Marvel at the Community Garden bounty at the 75 acre Frank Knight Forest on East Main Street or explore the park further along lovely wooded trails.
There are many other active recreational and sports facilities available in Yarmouth. These include tennis courts and playgrounds, ball fields, basketball courts, beaches, boat launches and even a seasonal outdoor skating facility with a warming hut.
Yarmouth Community Services offers programs and activities for residents and visitors of all ages year round. Call them at 846-2406 for further information or visit the website at www.yarmouthcommunityservices.org.