Sanford is an industrial city located on the Mousam River about 35 miles (56 km) southwest of Portland. Permanent European settlement dates from about 1740. Sanford developed into a textile manufacturing center following the Civil War, connected to markets by the Portland & Rochester Railroad. Products included cotton and woolen goods, carpets, shoes and lumber.
British-born Thomas Goodall established Goodall Sanford Mill here in 1867, which grew into the largest textile mills of their type in the world. The mills were bought by Burlington Mills in 1954 and subsequently closed, forcing the city to diversify its economy.