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Town of Shapleigh
State: ME
County: York


Saco River Waterhsed

The Little Ossipee River forms most of Shapleigh’s northern border with Newfield. It gathers water from several ponds and brooks as it flows northeast and eventually joins the Saco River. Hansen Pond sits on the Shapleigh border with Acton. There is no development around this 26 acre pond which drains into the Little Ossipee River through a short stream at its northern end. The river then runs for less than a half mile before flowing into Shapleigh Pond, which forms as the river backs up behind a dam on Balch Mill Road. The both the northern and southern shores of this 82 acre pond are mostly marsh and forest. There are a few dozens homes at the northern end along Main Street in the village of North Shapleigh. After passing the dam, the Little Ossipee River flows under a bridge on Main Street, passes a few homes, and crosses Shapleigh Corner Road through a large culvert. The river continues northeast as it parallels Mann Road through a sparsely developed area of town. The last two miles of the rivers in Shapleigh run through forest and into a marsh area west of Mann Road where it enters Newfield.

Norton Brook begins in a small marsh behind a farm at the intersection of Nason Road and Gulf Road. It flows north through areas of forest and emergent wetland and crosses Ross Corner Road and Owls Nest Road through two small bridges. The brook passes a few homes on Norton Ridge Road and Owls Nest Road as it twists through an area of small hills. Norton Brook turns west through and area of forested wetland and then runs joins Davis Brook. This brook drains out of the north end of 11 acre Spicer Pond, which forms behind a culvert on Norton Ridge Road. Davis Brook runs north through three quarters of a mile of forest before passing under a bridge on Mann Road and then joining the Little Ossipee River.

Granny Kent Pond is located in northern Shapleigh between Mann Road and Newfield Road. The shores of this 53 acre pond are completely developed with homes and camps around its entire length. A small stream drains the pond at its northern and runs through a marsh before crossing Mann Road and flowing into the Little Ossipee River.

Little Poverty Pond is located at the end of Little Poverty Pond Road where about a dozen homes dot its shoreline. This 15 acre pond drains north, forming a small stream that passes several homes as it crosses Newfield Road and Silver Lake Road on its way to join Poverty Pond on Shapleigh’s northern border with Newfield. Poverty Pond is 146 acres in size and is stocked with Brook Trout and Brown Trout by Maine Inland Fisheries and Wildlife. The shores of this pond almost completely developed with homes and camps. The outlet of the pond is a small stream located at the end of Silver Lake Road.

Shy Beaver Pond lies adjacent to a large area of forest on Shapleigh’s western border with Waterboro. The pond is 64 acres in area with fairly dense clusters of homes on its eastern shore; the remainder of the surrounding area is undeveloped. A small stream drains out of the ponds northern end, crossing Rainbow Road and flowing through a series of emergent wetlands and crossing into Newfield.

Conant Brook is located north of Garland Road in an undeveloped area of forest. It flows west through a forested wetland and then passes into Waterboro.

Mousam River Watershed

Square Pond lies on Shapleigh’s western border with Acton. The entire shoreline of this 877 acre pond is developed with numerous homes and roads, a gravel pit, and even a Christmas tree farm. There are several small islands in the pond the largest of which is dotted with dozens of small camps. The pond is home to 13 species of fish including landlocked alewives and eels. Water from the pond flows over a small dam at its eastern end and into a small stream which runs for lees than a half mile until it runs into Goose Pond west of Shapleigh Corner Road. While less developed than its neighbor, this smaller ponds shoreline is still moderately built up especially along Totte Road. Several small areas of marsh also border Goose Pond to the north and east. The outlet of the pond passes under a large culvert on Goose Pond Road and runs for 250 feet before flowing into Mousam Lake. At 981 acres in area and four and a half miles in length, Mousam Lake is the largest water body in Shapleigh. It sits on the Shapleigh border with Acton west of Shapleigh Corner Road and just under a mile away from Shapleigh center. The lakes shoreline forms many small inlets and coves, all of which are clustered with homes. Most of development around Mousam Lake is located on the shore, while areas further away are relatively undeveloped. The lake is home to 21 fish species including landlocked salmon and is stocked by Maine Inland Fisheries and Wildlife with salmon and trout. There are several boat access points along Emory Mills Road, which crosses the lake near its southern end. Mousam Lake is the headwaters of the Mousam River which begins near the village of Emory Mills where the outlet of the lake passes over a dam on Lebanon Road. The river flows southeast past homes along Emory Mills Road. It crosses the power line right of way and flows into Sanford. Pump Box Brook originates in an emergent wetland between Knox Road and Shapleigh Corner Road. It flows north past the outskirts of Shapleigh town center and then turning east through a forested wetland it runs into Mousam Lake.

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

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Water District: none
District Website: none
Water Source: Private Wells
# Accts Serv: none
Other Towns: none
Sewer District: Septic
District Website: none
Receiving Waters: groundwater
# Accts Serv: N/A
Other Towns: none
(Click the Title of the article to learn more.)
Shapleigh Comprehensive Plan
Publications, Websites, and Tools
Shapleigh Comprehensive Plan

Population:2510 (U.S. Census Est. 2006)
Area:40.1 square miles


Shapleigh remains largely rural with residential development spread out except for concentrations along the shorelines of its lakes and ponds. Population has been increasing since the 1970s (21.7% growth in the 1990’s). Population is projected to increase 14% by 2010. There is very little commercial development and most residents commute to jobs outside the community. In 2000 only 9% of Shapleigh’s residents worked in the town. The biggest employer in Shapleigh is the school district.

Approximately half of the residences in town are seasonal and the town doubles in size during the summer months. The primary cause of significant population growth in Shapleigh in recent years the arrival of new residents attracted to its rural atmosphere and the proximity to jobs.

The predominant use of land in Shapleigh is residential with little commercial development. In recent years the town has seen an increase in the number of subdivisions developed. In 1991 an estimated 75% of the area of Shapleigh was forested. Today this number has decreased to about 50%. Agriculture and forestry, which were once the primary industries in town, are now almost non-existent on a commercial scale. The town of Shapleigh owns and manages a community forest which includes over 400 acres. Recreational activities center around the lakes and ponds in town. Public access is available on Square Pond and Mousam Lake, but these resources face water quality issues from growing development of the shoreline.

to learn more see The Shapleigh Comprehensive Plan


In 1668, land which included Shapleigh was purchased from Chief Wesumbe of the Newichawannock tribe. Continuous settlement by Europeans was delayed for a hundred years by conflict with Native Americans.

Shapleigh Plantation was settled in 1772 when a sawmill was erected at the outlet of Mousam Pond. Settlement proceeded rapidly and in 1784 there were over 40 families living in Shapleigh. The town was incorporated on March 5, 1785. Sawmills were built at Emery Mills, Shapleigh Corner and North Shapleigh, as well as a woolen textile factory. By 1820, the population was 2,815. Beginning in the 1840’s the population began to decline, probably coinciding with the end of lumbering. By 1940 the population had dropped to just 290 residents.

Shapleigh was one of the Maine towns devastated by the fires of 1947. In the last decades of the 20th century Shapleigh began to grow again as it became attractive as an inexpensive place to live, near Sanford and Portland. Between 1970 and 2000 the population grew by an average of 98% per decade, from 559 to 2,326.

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