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South Bristol is a town in Lincoln County, Maine, United States. The population was 897 at the 2000 census. A fishing and resort area, South Bristol includes the villages of Walpole and Christmas Cove, the latter at Rutherford Island. The town has three nature preserves.

This was once territory of the Wawenock (or more precisely Walinakiak, meaning “People of the Bays”) Abenaki Indians, who traveled in canoes to hunt for fish, shellfish, seals and seafowl. In 1614, Captain John Smith explored the coast, and is said to have named Christmas Cove when he visited it on Christmas Day. The land was subsequently part of the Pemaquid Patent, granted by the Plymouth Council for New England in 1631 to Robert Aldsworth and Gyles Elbridge, merchants from Bristol, England, from which the town derives its name. [1]

A palisade fort and settlement were built on the adjacent Pemaquid Peninsula. Between 1630 and 1650, the area was the center forfur trading in Maine. It was attacked and rebuilt repeatedly during the French and Indian Wars, with the final two attacks occurring in 1747 at Fort Frederick. In 1765, Bristol was incorporated as a town, with South Bristol its western portion. [1] On March 26, 1915, South Bristol was set off and incorporated as a separate town. [2]

In the 1800s, the village of Walpole was noted for brickmaking and ice harvesting. Brickyards along the Damariscotta River supplied many of the bricks used to build Boston’s Back Bay neighborhood. The ice business faded with the advent of refrigeration, but the Thompson Ice House, established in 1826, is now preserved as the Thompson Ice Harvesting Museum. Shipbuilding has remained important, with schooners, fishing trawlers, lobster boats and yachts constructed at the town. [3] The Hudson River Sloop Clearwaterwas built here in 1968. Other industries in South Bristol are fishing, lobstering, clamming, aquaculture and tourism. [4]

The peninsula and Rutherford Island are connected by a swing bridge, one of only two in Maine, which spans “The Gut.” For well over a century, Rutherford Island in particular has been a vacation destination for families from Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York and New Jersey. Many homes on the island are owned by these families. [5]