Pepperell Mills Tour

A tour through Maine’s textile history at the Pepperell Mills in Biddeford.

My happy childhood unfolded in Saco. My parents grew up in Biddeford so we still had close ties to that area too.  Most people from the two neighboring towns tend to have connections in both places. While there is a rivalry, it is more of the sibling variety and the two towns remain entwined in many ways including a shared history with the now empty textile mills that line the Saco River.

The Biddeford Mills Museum offers seasonal tours of the Pepperell Mill complete with colorful stories that take you back in time to glimpse the past. The first room on the tour was a light filled expanse now empty other than a few random items discarded off to the side. It was hard to image the room as it must have been when oil lamps provided light and looms lined every bit of the open floor space leaving little area to maneuver.

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Enjoying a Craft Beer Tasting Flight at Dirigo Brewing Company in Biddeford

My grandfather had nine fingers. He started with ten, but one day at work when his wedding band caught on the machinery that he was repairing, that changed. It’s why my dad never wore his wedding ring to work. It happened well before I was born so I only really know the lore, but it takes its place with other family stories of life in the mills. Growing up in Biddeford or Saco in those days, it was all about the textile mills.

By my own childhood, the textile mills were fading until they eventually were gone leaving behind empty buildings, brick and mortar reminders of a lost industry. These beautiful, cavernous mill spaces stayed dormant for so long it seemed they would never emerge. But, lately that’s been changing.

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