2013-10-04 / Community

A Window on the Past

Remembering the father of South Portland’s Mill Creek
By Kaylie Vezina
South Portland Historical Society


Kaylie Vezina is a volunteer with the South Portland Historical Society and senior at South Portland High School. Kaylie Vezina is a volunteer with the South Portland Historical Society and senior at South Portland High School. I never would have guessed that Mill Creek Park was once the South Portland city dump until a recent interview I had with longtime South Portland resident Dr. Harris Hinckley.

Hinckley mentioned a vivid memory he had as a child when the dump had caught on fire and everyone in town went down to watch, including Harris, and his father, George Hinckley.

“Martel Green, a fixture in town, was busily running back and forth to the brook filling a can with water and throwing it on the fire.”

Harris’ father was disgusted by the fire and pushed to turn the dump into a park. He worked for the creation of a parks and recreation commission and was its chairman.

George Hinckley was a hard-working man. He was very interested in civics and started the South Portland/Cape Elizabeth chapter of the Lions Club. Hinckley was active in local and state politics. In the early 1920s, George Hinckley was a law partner of his brother, Frederick. Hinckley Drive, the road that runs by Mill Creek Park, was named for George Hinckley.

In summer 1946, Harris and five others were called upon to put loam on the park by hand.

“I still have this picture in my mind of piles of dirt like Hershey’s kisses, and we would attack each one,” Hinckley said.

The park was improved little by little and, according to Hinckley, was “pretty simple for a long time.” After digging up mounds of dirt filled with bottles and cans, the pond was created and filled with water lilies from the Hinckley family home on Scamman Street. Hinckley said he didn’t think people used the park as they do now, and enjoys the way the park looks today.

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