Old Orchard Beach is a seven-mile stretch of beach located on the inner side of Saco Bay on the Atlantic Ocean, in Maine, the US. It is a popular beach destination known for its sandy beaches and carnival like atmosphere. The town takes it’s name from an old apple orchard which had been planted by it’s first settler, Thomas Rogers, who had come from Salem, Massachusetts in 1653. Rogers had named his orchard "The Garden By The Sea". In 1675, Rogers’ family fled to Kittery after Indians attacked and burned his home, but his orchard survived for over 150 years, and was used as a landmark by sailors navigating the coast.
Old Orchard Beach first became a tourist destination in 1842, when a rail line brought passengers to the town from Portland. In 1853, the Grand Trunk Railroad connected Old Orchard Beach to Montreal encouraging Canadians to visit the beach. By 1873 the Boston & Maine Railroad arrived in town, carrying passengers from Boston, New York and beyond.
The most recognizable feature of Old Orchard Beach today is the iconic Pier that has stood for well over a 100 years. The first Pier was built in 1898, as a steel structure, 1,825 feet long and was 20 feet above the tide. At its end was a casino and a ballroom with room for 5,000 dancers. Over the years, a series of storms ate away at the pier causing it to decrease in length. The Pier was completely rebuilt in 1980 with wood, after being totally destroyed by a blizzard in 1978. It currently extends nearly 500 feet over the Atlantic Ocean, lined with souvenir shops, carnival-style foods, and a night club, and hosts special events such as concerts, fairs, street dances, fireworks etc.
The entrance to the Pier. Photo credit
A postcard of Old Orchard Beach, circa 1930. Notice how long the Pier was. Photo credit
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