In the 1840s, Maine’s first industrial cotton mills were developed in Biddeford and Saco.
Shortly after, several more textile mills were established further inland, especially along the Androscoggin River.
One of the most prominent examples is the Lewiston textile mills that used the power of the nearby falls for manufacturing.
These mills changed the surrounding area and developed a workforce of men, women and children. Lewiston’s population grew to be six times larger in 1910 than it had been in 1850. The Bates Manufacturing Co. alone employed more than 2,100 people.
The industry caused major pollution and health problems but it brought much-needed workers and revenue to the state.
(Vintage Photo Credit: Collections of Maine Historical Society, courtesy of VintageMaineImages.com, item No. 61963, 12081, 5557, 4198)