Scarborough Marsh: “Land of Much Grass” – Part 3

Part 3 of 3

Text by Bruce Thurlow

Images from Scarborough Historical Society, Bruce Thurlow, Friends of the Scarborough Marsh, Maine Audubon and Scarborough Marsh Audubon Center.

Site of Scarborough Marsh Audubon Center

Site of Scarborough Marsh Audubon Center

Realizing that this significant coastal wildlife habitat was severely threatened, in 1957 the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (MDIFW) began a twenty-year process of acquiring the marsh. The Scarborough Marsh is now owned and managed by the MDIFW. In 1972 Maine Audubon initiated a partnership with the MDIFW to create a nature center at the edge of the marsh. The Audubon Center offers a variety of guided and self-guided walks and canoe tours as well as canoe rentals, a nature trail and exhibits. There are also an aquarium, mounted birds and animals, and interactive exhibits. Today the Scarborough Marsh is a classroom for school children, a delight for birders, a laboratory for biologists and naturalists, and a prime territory for fishermen and hunters.

Dunstan River

Dunstan River

In 2000, a group of volunteers and representatives from town, state and federal commissions and agencies organized as the Friends of Scarborough Marsh (FOSM). This group is dedicated to the conservation, protection, restoration and enhancement of the Scarborough Marsh watershed. These concerned individuals and groups continue to be successful stewards in assuring that the Scarborough Marsh will remain a highly productive ecosystem and wildlife habitat.


  • Acts and Resolves of the Legislature of Maine.
  • ——“An Act to Establish a Corporation for the Purpose of Diking a Certain Tract of Marsh in the Towns of Cape Elizabeth and Scarborough.” Chapter 174, 1821
  •  —— “An Act to Incorporate the Cumberland Dyke Company.” Chapter 451, 1870
  • —— “An Act to Incorporate the Little River Dyking Company.” Chapter 533, 1871
  • —— “An Act to Incorporate the Southgate Dyking Company.” Chapter 223, 1876
  • Boothby Papers. A collection of diking corporation meeting minutes and notes recorded by George Boothby. (1870s). Scarborough Historical Society archives
  • Cumberland County Registry of Deeds. Book 100, page 571.
  • Domingue, Robert. The Village of Cockell: An Illustrated History of Pine Point, Maine. Wilmington, MA: Hampshire Press, 1988.
  • Fogg, John D. “Recollections of a Salt Marsh Farmer.” Seabrook, New Hampshire: Historical Society of Seabrook, New Hampshire, 1983.
  • Fogg, John D., and Anne Bridges. “Salt Marsh Dykes as a Factor in Eastern Maine Agriculture.”Maine Historical Society Quarterly, Vol. 21. No. 4. Spring, 1982
  • Hodgdon, Frank. “Scarborough the Way It Was.” The Current, 18 November 2004
  • Karr, Paul, and Jeff Clark. “Oasis of Wilderness.” Down East, September 1995
  • Lamson-Scribner, F. “Grasses of a Salt Marsh.” Yearbook of the Department of Agriculture. Washington: Government Printing Office, 1895.
  • Moulton, Augustus. Grandfather Tales of Scarborough. Katahdin Publishing Co., 1925
  • Robinson, Brian. “An Inter-tidal Survey of the Scarborough Marsh.” (Copy of article provided by B. Robinson.)
  • Sebold, Kimberly. “Transforming the Garden of the Sea; The Individual Place in the Manipulation of the Scarborough Marsh.”
  • Snow, John. Secrets of a Salt Marsh. Portland, Maine: Guy Gannet Publishing Co., 1980
  • Van Cott, Leslie. “A Brief Scarborough Nature Center History.” Audubon Nature Center Collection, 5 May 1983.
  • Wilson, Emily. “Marsh People.” Salt Magazine, No. 45

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