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Town of Kennebunk
State: ME
County: York


Water District Drinking Water Source

Kennebunk River Watershed

Alewife Pond is in northern Kennebunk between Alewife Road and Cole Road. This 42 acre pond is the largest in Kennebunk. It is home to 7 species of fish (alewives have not been seen in recent years), and is stocked annually with Brook Trout. The surrounding area is mostly hardwood forest and forested wetland, but there are a few houses and a commercial cranberry operation nearby. Alewife Pond empties into Ward Brook at its eastern edge.

Ward Brook runs out of Alewife Pond and flows southeast through a two mile stretch of woods until it passes under a bridge on Route 35 near the intersection with Downing Road. Here it passes a few homes and farms before entering a small woodland between Route 35 and Maine Turnpike. Ward Brook widens after passing under the highway through a culvert a half mile north of the Kennebunk rest area. It meanders through several more fields and crosses Emmons Road before joining the Kennebunk River.

Punky Swamp is an area of forested and shrub wetland that sits east of the I-95 rest area and just north of Kennebunk High School. It is surrounded by development, but its 2.5 square miles is mostly unfragmented.

The Kennebunk River forms the border of Kennebunk with Arundel and Kennebunkport. It runs in from Lyman near Alewife Road and flows over the Days Mill Dam. The land the river flows past from the dam to the turnpike is mostly rural. It passes numerous farms and just a few houses where it passes through a large culvert on Downing Road. After crossing the turnpike the river enters a mile long stretch of forest and emerges next to Emmons Road. Here Ward Brook flows into the Kennebunk River and it begins to pass more development on the shore. Winding past a few small subdivisions it passes under Bartletts Bridge on Route 1. The river runs another 3 miles past increasing development before it passes under Durrell Bridge off of Summer Street. Further downstream the Kennebunk River begins to transition from freshwater to brackish saltwater. It passes the Cape Arundel Golf Course before it reaches Lower Kennebunk Village where the river is maintained as a navigable channel with several marinas. Finally, the river meets the Atlantic Ocean at Goochs Beach amidst high development and boat traffic.

Mousam River Watershed

Old Falls Pond pools behind the Old Falls Dam on the Mousam River, where the borders of Kennebunk, Lyman, Alfred, and Sanford meet. It is mostly surrounded by deciduous forest, with a small subdivision to the north. Old Falls Pond has carry-in boat access off of Old Falls Road.

Cold Water Pond is situated just north of the Kennebunk Plains. It is surrounded by forest except for at its outlet where there is a dirt road right up to the shore. Cold Water Pond drains into Cold Water Brook which runs north for only a third of a mile before joining the Mousam River.

Kennebunk Plains Pond lies in the middle of the Kennebunk Plains between Webber Hill Road and Maguire Road. It is 3 acres in size and has only two buildings on its shore. The outlet of the pond is at the eastern end. It passes through a culvert under a dirt road and becomes Day Brook.

Day Brook drains out of Kennebunk Plains Pond. It runs parallel to Maguire Road for 1.5 miles before crossing Whitten Road and the turnpike. The brook then turns east, running along High Street for 1.5 miles, where it runs out into an open farm field for 500 feet. Passing through an area of higher density houses Day Brook crosses Cat Mousam Road and then joins the Mousam River.

Fernald Brook originates near the intersection of Route 1 and Heritage Lane, among a number of commercial facilities. It flows southeast through a large forested wetland and crosses under the Boston & Maine Railroad tracks. The brook runs through mostly undeveloped land until it reaches Brown Street, where it forms a small pond behind a dam on a farm. From there it meanders through a small marsh area and then joins the Mousam River.

The Mousam River enters Kennebunk at Old Falls Pond. It passes north of the Kennebunk Plains through an area of deciduous forest. As it gets closer to Alfred Road the river flows past several large subdivisions before it reaches the bridge on Mill Street. The Mousam River flows over two dams and under an old trolley bridge within a half mile stretch upstream of the turnpike. Crossing under the turnpike the river passes very close to several large parking lots and buildings. The development along its banks increases as the river approaches Kennebunk’s Upper Village. The last portion of the Mousam River flows through scattered residential neighborhoods and passes over the final dam at Route 1. As it runs between Brown Street and Sea Road passes the Kennebunk Sewer District Waste Treatment Plant, crosses Western Avenue, and empties into the Atlantic Ocean at Parson’s Beach.

Little River Watershed

Dog Brook flows out of a forested wetland on the Kennebunk and Sanford border. It runs for 1.5 miles, through undeveloped forest land, converges with Branch Brook.

Branch Brook forms Kennebunk’s border with Wells. It begins in a forested area southeast of the Sanford Airport and runs past almost no development for 6 miles until it reaches Route 1. There it passes over a dam, crosses under the road, and enters the Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge, where it joins the Little River.

The Little River runs into Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge from Wells. At this point the river forms a tidal estuary that is home to numerous species. The Little River empties onto Laudholm and Crescent Surf Beaches where it meets the Atlantic Ocean.

To see the locations of these resources in Google Earth follow this link.

If you do not have Google Earth software you may download it by following this link.

Water District: Kennebunk, Kennebunkport, Wells Water District
District Website: kkw.org
Water Source: Branch Brook
# Accts Serv: 11613
Other Towns: Arundel; Kennebunkport; Ogunquit; Wells
Sewer District: Kennebunk Sewer District
District Website: http://www.ksdistrict.org/
Receiving Waters: Mousam River
# Accts Serv: 2800
Other Towns: none
(Click the Title of the article to learn more.)
Kennebunk Comprehensive Plan
Publications, Websites, and Tools
The 1991 Comprehensive Plan for the Town of Kennebunk.

Kennebunk Land Trust
Community Assistance Providers
A land trust serving Kennebunk, Arundel, and Lyman.

Kennebunk Open Space Plan
Publications, Websites, and Tools
Open Space Plan that complements the Kennebunk Comprehensive Plan.

Wells National Estuarine Research Reserve
Community Assistance Providers
The Wells National Estuarine Research Reserve is dedicated to protecting and restoring coastal ecosystems of the Gulf of Maine through integrated research, education, stewardship, environmental learning, and community partnerships.

Seal:town seal, click to enlarge
Population:11505 (U.S. Census Est. 2006)
Area:36.0 square miles


Kennebunk is a 34 square mile coastal York County town having 3 distinct village centers. It is situated on a coastal plain that rises gradually to the northwest border with Sanford. Downtown Kennebunk has seen considerable growth of small and large retail businesses and office space. Lower Village is the more tourist oriented commercial area having numerous restaurants and retail businesses. The more rural West Kennebunk Village has experienced significant residential growth as well as some recent commercial activity. Kennebunk’s population grew by 31 % during 1990-2000 and is nearly 11,000 as of January 2006. Kennebunk is primarily a residential community- with approximately 50% of the Town’s total land area occupied by residential uses. Approximately 20% of the Town’s land area contains some sort of open space or conservation area.

This coastal plain town draws its political boundaries and recreational opportunities from parts of three watersheds. The Kennebunk River is the northeast town boundary. Wetlands within the Branch Brook watershed are highly valuable due to their contribution to the Wells-Kennebunk public water supply and to the Little River salt marsh. Extensive sand and gravel aquifers underlie much of the land area of Kennebunk, providing the water supply for private wells and for the replenishment of the surface waters of Branch Brook from which the public water supply is drawn. The Mousam River provides swimming, fishing, canoeing and kayaking opportunities and runs through the center of the entire town.

Kennebunk’s local economy is greatly influenced by and dependent upon the tourism industry and is therefore seasonal in nature. Beach usage increases the town population by about 50 percent during summer months and generates tremendous economic activity. A large percentage of Kennebunk residents work in town but the majority commutes.

to learn more see The Kennebunk Comprehensive Plan


The name Kennebunk means "long cut bank," probably in reference to Great Hill at the mouth of the Mousam River, which would have been an important landmark to Native Americans coming along the coast in their ocean-going canoes. Because of recent archaeological excavations it is known that 11,000 years ago Paleo-Indian hunters traveled seasonally to the Kennebunk Plains from throughout the Northeast to trap and kill bison and caribou.

The first permanent settlement by Europeans in Kennebunk probably occurred in the 1620s, and was along the coast and the shores of the Kennebunk and Mousam Rivers. By 1690 Indian uprisings and depredations had driven most settlers temporarily out of Kennebunk, but by 1750 centers had been established on the Mousam River and on the Kennebunk River.

In 1669 a sawmill was built on the Mousam River. The first sawmill on the Kennebunk River was built in 1681. In 1683 a sawmill was built on the Little River. These early mills, like the houses of the settlers, were destroyed during the Indian wars or were swept away by floods. They were rebuilt, and additional mills were built on Kennebunk's major waterways. Small coasting vessels came up the Mousam and Kennebunk Rivers for lumber processed at these mills.

Shipyards were established on the Mousam River perhaps as early as 1730. Kennebunk's coasting trade was relocated from the Mousam to the Kennebunk River by 1755 because of the difficulty of navigating the circuitous, barred mouth of the Mousam, but the building of wooden sailing vessels continued. The last vessel was raised on the Mousam in 1793 when efforts to reroute the mouth of the river failed. Shipbuilding on the more navigable Kennebunk River began in 1755. By the 1760s vessels were being built at Kennebunk Landing. From 1790 until about 1860 numerous shipyards flourished at The Landing. The yards provided work for a community of builders and artisans as well as economic vitality for Kennebunk that is still visible in the Summer Street houses of the merchants and shipmasters who commissioned and sailed the ships. Shipbuilding ended for the most part in Kennebunk around 1918 due to the inability to build large tonnage ships in the rivers.

Kennebunk was incorporated from the Town of Wells in 1820. In 1825 the Kennebunk Manufacturing Company erected two dams on the Mousam to power a cotton mill. Other factories followed and manufacturing continued on the Mousam River until 1972.

During the 1860s and 70s Kennebunk benefited from a regional economic trend, the rise in tourism. The development of the Boston and Maine Railroad system facilitated the influx of vacationers to Kennebunk. Population grew by 14% from 1880 to 1900, increasing to 3,228 residents.

The 1970s and 1980s brought significant changes in housing types and development patterns. The town's population is no longer concentrated in and around its village centers, but has spread along roadways to all corners of the community. From 1990 to 2000 population in Kennebunk grew by 31%, increasing to 10,476.

The Wells National Estuarine Research Reserve at Laudholm Farm, Wells, Maine Copyright 2006 All rights reserved. Collaboration with NOAA CSC, Charleston SC