History of Bath

A Brief History of Bath, Maine

Bath, Maine, was first known as Long Reach owing to the 3-mile straight stretch of river that provided good anchorage and landing. The area was inhabited by the Red Paint People and the People of the Dawn (Abnaki of the Algonquian group) and visited by Vikings (ca.1011), fishermen, and European explorers, including Samuel de Champlain (1605). The first European settlers began arriving in 1640, but were driven out repeatedly by Indian conflicts until 1724. In 1738 Long Reach was included in the incorporation of Georgetown. The settlement on the west side of “the reach” became “Second Parish of Georgetown” in 1753, and then was incorporated as the town of Bath in 1781.

Oak Grove Cemetery

The name “Bath” was selected because of a possible connection to Bath, England, a small but famous, fashionable town undergoing a building boom of fabulous architecture, and perhaps also due to family connections of some of the leading citizens with that Old World city. Bath, Maine, received its city charter in 1847. Bath was in York County until 1760, then in Lincoln County until 1854, when Sagadahoc County was formed. Bath is now the seat of Sagadahoc County.

Shipbuilding and its related businesses and industries have been mainstays in Bath since the mid-eighteenth century. This heritage continues today at Bath Iron Works, one of the nation’s leading shipbuilders for the U.S. Navy.

Handtub Kennebec No. 1, seen about 1918

The National Trust for Historic Preservation presented Bath with its President’s Award in 1977 in recognition of the city’s restoration efforts. The historic district provides many examples of fine nineteenth century architecture and Front Street, with its brick walks and iron lamps, adds a touch of nostalgia to a small-city shopping and dining experience.

The wide, swift flowing Kennebec River provides a beautiful backdrop to Waterfront Park along Commercial Street. A landing is provided for sea-going visitors and is close to shops and restaurants on Front Street.