History of Cape Elizabeth

Did you know that Cape Elizabeth, Maine, has a rich history that dates back to the 16th century? It all started when a Spanish cartographer mapped a nameless headland in 1529. Nearly a century later, explorer Samuel de Champlain charted the area, but it wasn’t until 1615 that the land was given the name “Cape Elizabeth” in honor of Princess Elizabeth, sister of Charles I of England. John Smith had explored the area just prior to this, and his findings likely played a role in the decision to name the cape after the princess.

Over the next few centuries, Cape Elizabeth experienced a number of important events, including the establishment of Richmond’s Island as a fishing and trading post in 1632, conflicts between settlers and Native Americans, occasional pirate activity, and the Revolutionary War. These events shaped the region’s colonial history for the first 200 years.

Cape Elizabeth Was Once Known as Falmouth

Originally part of Portland (known as Falmouth at the time), Cape Elizabeth received its own government in 1765 after citizens petitioned for it. While the northern end of the town near the harbor saw commercial and industrial growth, the southern tip of the Cape maintained its rural character. In 1895, the two sections separated, and the southern end became the present-day town of Cape Elizabeth.

As the 20th century progressed, Cape Elizabeth saw gradual residential growth and a decrease in the number of working farms. Today, most residents work in the Greater Portland area, but the town still values its farming and fishing heritage. In fact, there have been legislative efforts to protect and encourage Cape Elizabeth’s rural character in recent years.

So there you have it – a brief and friendly overview of Cape Elizabeth’s rich history!