SWIM home Seacoast Watershed Information Manager
HomeMapsToolsProjectsAction Steps
What's NewIntro Contacts
Town of York
State: ME
County: York


Water District Drinking Water Source

Ogunquit River Watershed

The Ogunquit River flows into York from South Berwick running along Ogunquit Road. The river bends around the border of a small farm in the northeast corner of town and flows through a culvert under an old footbridge and one under Ogunquit Road. The shores of the river are mostly undeveloped along its three quarter mile run through York after which it passes into Wells and Ogunquit.

Great Works River Watershed

Chicks Brook originates just north of Agamenticus Village near Old Mountain Road. It flows for a mile and a half through forest and small wetlands, passing Second Hill to the west and then flowing into South Berwick on its way to join the Great Works River.

Hoopers Brook begins west of Mt. Agamenticus along Mountain Road. It flows through a half mile of forest and passes into South Berwick and runs through Hoopers Swamp on its way to join the Great Works River.

Josias River

Clay Hill Brook flows out of a forested area between Josiah Norton Road and North Village Road. The brook flows under a bridge on North Village Road and then through a culvert under the Maine Turnpike. It flows along the highway for a short distance and then turns south through three quarters of a mile of forest. The brook crosses Clay Hill Road and then flows into the Josias River.

Muddy Brook begins near a large farm on Logging Road. It flows for just under a half mile past a few homes and under the road before joining the Josias River.

The Josias River originates in a forested area along Clay Hill Road east of Agamenticus Village. It flows past a dozen homes before passing through a culvert under the Maine Turnpike. The river continues northeast along Clay Hill Road, passing several more homes and then passing under a bridge on Logging Road. The river then makes two ninety degree turns as it is joined by its two major tributaries. The Josias River continues to flow along Clay Hill Road for another mile and a quarter as it passes a dozen more homes and then crosses into Ogunquit.

Cape Neddick River Watershed

Chases Pond sits in the middle of York west of the Maine Turnpike. At 135 acres in size and over two miles long, it is the largest body of water in the town. Almost the entire length of its shoreline is undeveloped forest except for a few dozen homes at its eastern end along Scituate Road. The Cape Neddick River flows out of Chases Pond, passing over a small dam at its eastern end. It runs past the York Water District treatment plant and passes through a large culvert under the Maine Turnpike. The river passes through a mile long stretch of forest and then turns southeast near Mountain Road. It crosses the power line right of way and then flows along a large farm where development begins to intensify near Route 1. The Cape Neddick River crosses under a bridge on Route 1 and passes numerous homes as it comes under the influence of the incoming tide. Where the river broadens into a tidal estuary its shoreline is completely developed with homes and lawns right up to the water. The river passes under a final bridge on Shore Road and then flows into the Gulf of Maine.

Bridges Swamp Watershed

The Little River begins near the toll plaza on the Maine Turnpike. It passes through a culvert on New Town Road and another on Route 1 near several homes and businesses. The river flows into a small marsh and past several homes on Candlewood Lane. Development increases along the river as it crosses Ridge Road and Long Sands Road and approaches Prebble Point. The Little River passes by several dozen homes in a small marsh area on York Street and empties onto the beach where it joins the Gulf of Maine.

Southside Drainages Watershed

There are multiple small streams that flow into Brave Boat Harbor. These streams meet the incoming tide and form a large tidal marsh area on York’s border with Kittery. There is very sparse development around the marsh, a large portion of which is managed by the Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge.

York River Watershed

Welchs Pond sits just south of Mt. Agamenticus in an undeveloped area of forest. It is 10 acres in size and empties east through a small stream which flows into Folly Pond to the south. This 56 acre pond is just under one and a half miles long and its shoreline in completely undeveloped forest. Water from Folly Pond passes over a large dam at its southern tip and flows into Middle Pond 400 feet away. Like the previous two, this pond’s shores are also forested and undeveloped. This pond also has a dam at its southern end. A small stream flows over this dam and moves south, passing through a culvert on a small dirt road and joining a stream flowing from Scituate Pond to the east. The eastern shore of this 48 acre pond is moderately developed with homes along Scituate Road, while its northern and western shores are forested and undeveloped. The water flowing out of Scituate Pond’s eastern end joins another small stream to form Cider Hill Creek at the end of Fall Mill Road Ext. The brook flows past a large gravel pit and several homes before passing through a culvert under Fall Mill Road. The creek begins to twist and turn dramatically as it flows through a mash area approaching Cider Hill Road. The creek passes under a bridge where it becomes brackish from incoming tidal water. Cider Hill Creek flows along the Maine Turnpike for three quarters of a mile and then joins the York River.

Bell Marsh Reservoir sits along Bell Marsh Road near York’s northern border with South Berwick. At its northern end the reservoir is divided by a private road with a small culvert. Above the road the reservoir is partly marsh and there are several homes along the shore. The majority of the rest of the shoreline is undeveloped and forested. Smelt Brook passes over a dam at the southern end of Bell Marsh Reservoir. The brook flows south past numerous homes along Mill lane as its shores transition to marsh. It passes a bridge on Cider Hill Road where it begins to meander dramatically and runs past several more homes and large farm just before joining the York River.

Boulter Pond forms behind a dam on New Boston Road. The pond is just less than two miles long with virtually no development along its shores. A small stream passes the dam and runs three quarters of a mile to join the York River.

Johnson Brook flows into York from Kittery in an area of forest east of Route 1. It flows for only three quarters of a mile before joining Dolly Gordon Brook near several subdivisions. Dolly Gordon Brook forms a small marsh where it backs up behind a small culvert on Route 1. The brook passes several homes and businesses as it approaches the Maine Turnpike. Passing through a culvert under the highway the brook makes its way through a marsh area and flows into Libby Brook. This brook flows into York from Kittery near a weigh station on the Maine Turnpike. It twists and turns its way through a surrounding marsh and passes a bridge on Beech Ridge Road. The brook passes several homes as it becomes brackish with incoming tidal water where it joins the York River.

The York River flows into York from Eliot near several homes and farms on Frost Hill Road. At this point the river is tidally influenced and forms a broad estuary as it flows to the ocean. Shortly after crossing into York the river is joined by Rogers Brook and Cutts Ridge Brook. Both of these tributaries flow in from Eliot and run for a short distance before joining the York River. Their shores are mostly undeveloped and their waters are brackish. The York River continues to wind through the estuary as it passes several large farms and an increasing number of homes near Scotland Bridge Road. Here the river broadens as it gathers water from its numerous tributaries and passes under the Maine Turnpike and Route 1. Development along the shore continues to intensify with numerous homes along Seaside Road. On the opposite bank the York Golf and Tennis Club course comes right to the water. Docks begin to appear along the shore as the estuary broadens at Route 103 and forms the harbor of North Basin. Making on final bend the York River passes Fort Point and flows into the Gulf of Maine.

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: York Water District
District Website: http://www.yorkwaterdistrict.org/
Water Source: Chases Pond
# Accts Serv: 
Other Towns: none
Water District: Kittery Water District
District Website: http://www.kitterywater.org/
Water Source: Boulter Pond, Middle Pond, Folly Pond, Bell Marsh Reservoir
# Accts Serv: 5000
Other Towns: Eliot; Kittery
Sewer District: York Sewer District
District Website: 207-363-4232
Receiving Waters: Cape Neddick River
# Accts Serv: 4300
Other Towns: none
Sewer District: Ogunquit Sewer District
District Website: http://www.ogunquitsewerdistrict.com/
Receiving Waters: Atlantic Ocean
# Accts Serv: 1380 pop.
Other Towns: Ogunquit
(Click the Title of the article to learn more.)
A Comprehensive Wetland Program for Frinding Salt Marshes in the York River, Maine
Publications, Websites, and Tools
Fish Communities and Habitats of the York River Watershed
Publications, Websites, and Tools
Report on a survey to assess the ecological integrity of fish communities and associated freshwater habitats in the York River.

Ogunquit River Watershed Management Plan
Outreach Publications
A guide for the protection and restoration of the Ogunquit River.

York Comprehensive Plan
Publications, Websites, and Tools

York Land Trust Inc.
Community Assistance Providers
Conserves and protects lands of ecological, historic, scenic, agricultural and educational significance in the greater York area.
York Rivers Association
Community Assistance Providers
A group of citizens, non-profit organizations, local, state and federal agencies working together to protect and restore the rivers of York.

Population:13306 (U.S. Census Est. 2006)
Area:56.2 square miles


York is a rapidly growing ocean-front New England community with substantial historical features and a wealth of natural resources. From the 681 foot summit of Mt. Agamenticus looking down at the vast expanse of forests, it is hard to imagine that there are over 8,000 homes and 13,000 full time residents hidden among the trees. During the summer the population swells by over 70 percent. With excellent access to I-95, York residents commute from Portland, Portsmouth and down into Massachusetts as far away as Boston. During the rapid growth period from 1980 to 2000, population increased in York by 56 percent and this has caused loss of open space and increased traffic congestion. York is growing. Population, housing and non-residential uses are each experiencing growth at a significant rate. Projecting population by a variety of techniques shows growth ranging between 3,500 and 8,800 additional year-round residents in the coming 20 years.

However, York is responding to these challenges to protect open space, preserve the rural character and protect the natural resources of the town. York has enacted significant ordinances such as the watershed protection overlay district and shoreland protection ordinance. The Mt.A planning effort is a model of cooperation among towns, land trusts, and other organizations that has the potential to bring about additional protection to forests, wetland, and watershed areas. For many years local land trusts and the water districts have purchased lands that protect the ponds, reservoirs, and forested ecosystems.

There are significant areas of contiguous undeveloped lands in York and the neighboring communities, centering on the Mount Agamenticus region. Much of this land is protected in some manner from development pressures—about 6,000 acres in York and about 12,000 in the Mount Agamenticus to the Sea region (parts of Wells, Ogunquit, South Berwick, Eliot, Kittery and York). Overall, these unfragmented blocks of land are the largest along the Atlantic coast between the Pine Barrens in NJ and Acadia National Park in Maine.

The natural resource base in York is an important component in the community’s vitality. Small-scale forestry and farming are still being practiced, but the traditional working landscape is under severe development pressure. Property owners still harvest timber in York. There are still a few working farms growing produce and raising animals. There is an active commercial fishing fleet operating from York Harbor and Cape Neddick Harbor. The natural resource base provides more than just economic land uses. It contributes to community uses such as hunting, fishing, walking, hiking, bicycling, cross-country skiing, swimming, sunbathing, and bird watching, to name a few.

to learn more see The York Comprehensive Plan


York was first settled between 1629 and 1630. By 1643 it is believed to have had between 250 and 300 inhabitants. York was incorporated in 1652. Conflict arose between Native Americans and European settlers and York was destroyed in an attack 1692. The conflicts had subsided by 1723 and settlement continued.

The Cape Neddick River was used early on as a source of power for sawmills and timber was the chief source of income for early York residents. Between 1631 and 1634 many of the small creeks in the Mount Agamenticus region were dammed to power both saw and grist mills. York prospered early on as the provincial capital and served as a major trading and shipping port. York Village and Cape Neddick both had good harbors for coasting vessels. Schooners shipped cordwood and lumber to Boston, along with farm products and other goods. Following the Revolution however, the Embargo Act of 1807 crippled trade and York’s trade industry went into decline.

By the mid 1800’s most of the timber had been cleared and replaced with farm and pasture land. The nearby seashore provided a good supply of fertilizers for farmers. Farm abandonment began occurring in the late 1800’s and early 1900s due to the availability of agricultural goods shipped in from the Midwest on new railroad lines. Pastures soon began to regenerate into new forests of oak and hemlock. Chestnut Oak was cut into cordwood for heat and converted into charcoal in order to fuel the area’s burgeoning industrial economy.

Fishing was an early industry in York as well. Vessels left from York’s harbors to fish for cod offshore and some fishermen worked alone or in pairs in Ogunquit dories, fishing for cod closer to shore. By the 1960’s however, commercial cod fishing had declined and only lobster fisheries remained near shore.

Since the late 1800’s tourism has been a significant portion of York’s economy. City residents were attracted to the coastal beaches and to the local sport fishing spots. In the early 1900’s York developed the first zoning ordinances in the state of Maine. Zoning held the rapid development associated with the tourist industry in check. Population has grown steadily over the last 50 years in York increasing at an average rate of 31% from 3,256 in 1950 to 12,854 in 2000.

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