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Harrison, Maine
Long Lake, c. 1910
Long Lake, c. 1910
Location in Cumberland County and the state of Maine.
Location in Cumberland County and the state of Maine.
Country United States
State Maine
County Cumberland
Incorporated 1805
Villages Harrison
Bolsters Mills
 • Total 36.81 sq mi (95.34 km2)
 • Land 33.19 sq mi (85.96 km2)
 • Water 3.62 sq mi (9.38 km2)
577 ft (176 m)
 • Total 2,447
 • Density 74/sq mi (28.5/km2)
Time zone UTC-5 (Eastern (EST))
 • Summer (DST) UTC-4 (EDT)
ZIP code
Area code(s) 207
FIPS code 23-31600
GNIS feature ID 0582513

Harrison is a town in Cumberland County, Maine, United States. The population was 2,447 at the 2020 census. A historic resort area, Harrison straddles Long Lake and Crystal Lake. It is part of the PortlandSouth PortlandBiddeford, Maine metropolitan statistical area.


The Massachusetts General Court granted Otis Field Plantation in 1771 to James Otis and other heirs of Captain John Gorham and his company for their service in the 1690 Battle of Quebec. It replaced a 1736 grant which had been ruled invalid. In 1797, the plantation was incorporated as Otisfield. On March 8, 1805, Harrison was set off and incorporated from portions of Otisfield and Bridgton. It was named after a principal landowner, Harrison Gray Otis of Boston, the heir of James Otis.

In the autumn of 1792, two brothers from Gorham, John and Nathan Carsley, built a camp and cleared land in Harrison. During the winter they returned to Gorham, coming back in March 1793 with their wives. Because John Carsley and his wife remained in Harrison when Nathan Carsley and his wife resumed living in Gorham until 1796, he is considered the town's first permanent settler. More pioneers arrived, living in log houses chinked with moss. The outlet of Crystal Lake into Long Lake provided water power for industry, and James Sampson erected at Harrison village the first sawmill and gristmill. Over the years other industries followed, including a wire-making business, blacksmithy, shingle mill, harness-maker, foundry, carriage maker, clothing maker and shoe shop. Scribner's Mill (now a museum) was built in 1847 on the Crooked River. On the Bear River, in 1867 the Harrison Water Power Company established the Bear River Woolen Mill, destroyed by fire in 1872.

In 1832, the Cumberland and Oxford Canal opened, connecting Portland with Sebago Lake. A series of 27 locks lifted vessels from sea level at Casco Bay to Sebago Lake, 270 feet (82 m) above sea level. From there they traveled up the Songo River to Brandy Pond, then continued along the Chute River to Long Lake. As the company name indicates, the canal was originally planned to reach Oxford County, but instead terminated at Harrison. The town became a center for trade and transportation, with wharves and warehouses lining the shore.

Caswell Public Library, Harrison, ME
Caswell Library in 1914, built in 1908 and now on the National Register

In 1847, the Sebago & Long Pond Steam Navigation Company built Fawn, the first steamboat to ply the lakes and waterways. It had a shallow draft to navigate the winding Songo River, with passengers asked to shift sides as ballast to keep both paddlewheels in the water around sharp curves. The lakes became a popular summer tourist destination, with The Elm House (later called The Elms Inn) opening in 1860. When the Portland and Ogdensburg Railroad commenced service to Sebago Lake Station in 1870, the canal was abandoned as obsolete. Beginning in 1898, the Bridgton and Saco River Railroad, a narrow gauge line, delivered freight and passengers directly to Harrison.

In 1906, the Harrison Hotel opened. Camp Kineo operated beside Long Lake as a camp for boys. Today, Harrison remains a recreational area. Harrison is also home to Fernwood Cove, a half-season summer camp for girls on the same spot as Camp Chickawah was. It is located on Island Pond.


According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 36.81 square miles (95.34 km2), of which, 33.19 square miles (85.96 km2) of it is land and 3.62 square miles (9.38 km2) is water. Harrison is drained by the Bear River and Crooked River.

The Maine state routes that cross through Harrison are 117 and 35. Harrison is bordered by the town of Bridgton to its west, Waterford and Norway to its north, Otisfield to its east, and Naples to its south.

Crystal Lake

Crystal Lake
Coordinates 44°07′N 70°40′W / 44.117°N 70.667°W / 44.117; -70.667
Primary outflows Long Lake
Basin countries United States
Max. length 1.5 mi (2.4 km)
Surface area 446 acres (180 ha)
Max. depth 65 feet (20 m)
Water volume 14,254 acre⋅ft (17,582,000 m3)
Surface elevation 308 ft (94 m)

Crystal Lake (formerly Anonymous Pond) is north of Long Lake, and overflows into Long Lake through downtown Harrison. Smallmouth bass thrive in the lake, with a few lake trout.


Historical population
Census Pop.
1810 439
1820 789 79.7%
1830 1,068 35.4%
1840 1,243 16.4%
1850 1,416 13.9%
1860 1,251 −11.7%
1870 1,219 −2.6%
1880 1,168 −4.2%
1890 1,071 −8.3%
1900 969 −9.5%
1910 967 −0.2%
1920 901 −6.8%
1930 966 7.2%
1940 1,026 6.2%
1950 1,026 0.0%
1960 1,014 −1.2%
1970 1,045 3.1%
1980 1,667 59.5%
1990 1,951 17.0%
2000 2,315 18.7%
2010 2,730 17.9%
2020 2,447 −10.4%
U.S. Decennial Census

2010 census

As of the census of 2010, there were 2,730 people, 1,113 households, and 779 families living in the town. The population density was 82.3 inhabitants per square mile (31.8/km2). There were 1,761 housing units at an average density of 53.1 per square mile (20.5/km2). The racial makeup of the town was 97.4% White, 0.3% African American, 0.7% Native American, 0.2% Asian, 0.3% from other races, and 1.1% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 0.9% of the population.

There were 1,113 households, of which 29.6% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 55.6% were married couples living together, 8.7% had a female householder with no husband present, 5.7% had a male householder with no wife present, and 30.0% were non-families. 23.0% of all households were made up of individuals, and 8.5% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.45 and the average family size was 2.84.

The median age in the town was 45.3 years. 21.3% of residents were under the age of 18; 5.2% were between the ages of 18 and 24; 23.2% were from 25 to 44; 35% were from 45 to 64; and 15.5% were 65 years of age or older. The gender makeup of the town was 51.3% male and 48.7% female.

Notable people

  • Horace A. Barrows, a 19th-century physician, maker of plant-based medicines and advocate of vegetarian diet who invested in the building of the Barrows-Scribner's Mills sawmill and Scribner Homestead
  • Edward H. Hill, founder of Central Maine Medical Center
  • Melville E. Ingalls, Massachusetts state legislator and railroad president
  • George Lakin, US senator from Wisconsin and United States District Attorney

See also

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