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Gorham is a town in Cumberland Countymarker, Mainemarker, United Statesmarker. The population was 14,141 at the 2000 census. In addition to an urban village center known as Gorham Village or simply "the Village," the town also encompasses a number of smaller, unincorporated villages and hamlets with distinct historical identities, including South Gorham, West Gorham, Little Fallsmarker, White Rock, and North Gorham. Gorham is home to one of the three campuses of the University of Southern Mainemarker.

Gorham is part of the PortlandmarkerSouth PortlandmarkerBiddefordmarker, Maine metropolitan statistical area.


Hugh McLellan House, completed in 1773, as it appeared c.
First called Narragansett Number 7, it was one of seven townships granted by the Massachusetts General Court to soldiers (or their heirs) who had fought in the Narragansett War of 1675, also called King Philip's War. The land was first settled in 1736 by Captain John Phinney and his family, followed in 1738 by Hugh McLellan and Daniel Mosher. By 1743, the first sawmill was established by John Gorham at Little River. Without window-glass, the first dwellings were constructed of logs chinked with moss and clay.

Narragansett Number 7 suffered its first Indian raid in 1745, when the meeting house and Gorham's sawmill were burned. It was attacked again in 1746, when five colonists were killed and three abducted. Incursions during the French and Indian Wars would finally end, however, with the 1763 Treaty of Paris. Called Gorhamtown Plantation in honor of Captain John Gorham, the town was incorporated as Gorham on October 30, 1764. It would annex land from Standishmarker in 1831 and 1839, and from Scarboroughmarker in 1864. Gorham would be the namesake of Gorhammarker, New Hampshiremarker, incorporated in 1836.

Good soil benefited agriculture, and numerous falls provided water power for industry. The town developed into a manufacturing center, with Portland a nearby market. Products included textiles, clothing, carpet, lumber, barrels, chairs, carriages, wagons and sleighs. There was also a box factory, corn-canning factory, paper pulp mill, brickyard, tannery, and granite and marble works. The Cumberland and Oxford Canalmarker opened in 1829 connecting Casco Baymarker with Sebago Lakemarker, although it would be discontinued in 1871, having been rendered obsolete by the York and Cumberland Railroad (later the Portland and Rochester Railroad), which entered Gorham in 1851. Now defunct, this railroad's former railbed serves as a multi-use recreational trail. On September 12, 1870, the first train of the Portland and Ogdensburg Railroad (now part of the Maine Central Railroad) traveled from Portland to Sebago Lake.

In 1803, Gorham Academy was founded. Designed by Samuel Elder, the Federal style Gorham Academy Building was erected in 1806. The institution would evolve into Western Maine Normal School, and later Gorham State Teachers College. Today, it is the University of Southern Mainemarker at Gorham.

Gorham currently has a much smaller industrial infrastructure than it did in the earlier years. The majority of Gorham's industry is based along the border with Westbrookmarker, and many of the mills that formerly existed along the Presumpscot Rivermarker are now under water, flooded with the construction of the Dundee Dam. In recent decades Gorham has increased in popularity as a bedroom community of Portland. Its residents and town officials have been confronted with various issues related to managing suburban growth in a historically rural town.

Notable residents


According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 51.3 square miles (132.8 km²), of which, 50.6 square miles (131.2 km²) of it is land and 0.6 square miles (1.6 km²) of it (1.23%) is water. Gorham is drained by the Little River, Presumpscot Rivermarker and Stroudwater Rivermarker.

The town is crossed by U.S. Route 202, and state routes 4, 22, 25, 112, 114 and 237.


As of the census of 2000, there were 14,141 people, 4,875 households, and 3,529 families residing in the town. The population density was 279.2 people per square mile (107.8/km²). There were 5,051 housing units at an average density of 99.7/sq mi (38.5/km²). The racial makeup of the town was 97.57% White, 0.42% Black or African American, 0.33% Native American, 0.64% Asian, 0.01% Pacific Islander, 0.17% from other races, and 0.87% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 0.60% of the population.

There were 4,875 households out of which 38.7% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 59.2% were married couples living together, 10.0% had a female householder with no husband present, and 27.6% were non-families. 20.5% of all households were made up of individuals and 8.3% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.67 and the average family size was 3.11.

Congregational Church and Chapel c.
In the town the population was spread out with 25.9% under the age of 18, 13.7% from 18 to 24, 28.9% from 25 to 44, 21.5% from 45 to 64, and 10.0% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 34 years. For every 100 females there were 93.8 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 90.2 males.

The median income for a household in the town was $50,316, and the median income for a family was $55,434. Males had a median income of $37,828 versus $30,394 for females. The per capita income for the town was $21,174. About 5.1% of families and 7.4% of the population were below the poverty line, including 9.7% of those under age 18 and 6.7% of those age 65 or over.

See also

Sites of interest


  1. Austin J. Coolidge & John B. Mansfield, A History and Description of New England; Boston, Massachusetts 1859
  2. Hugh Davis McLellan, History of Gorham, Maine; Smith & Sale, printers; Portland, Maine 1903
  3. George J. Varney, History of Gorham, Maine; Boston, Massachusetts 1886

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