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Waterville was settled in 1771 as part of Parsonsfield, and incorporated on June 28, 1802. The name derives from the Abenaki term "wadaloosk", meaning "a place where we can pass the night." The city grew rapidly after the construction of a dam and sawmill at Mill Falls on the Kennebec River. In 1836 there were only seven houses in Waterville; by 1850 there were over 400 houses, many built by shipbuilders who exploited local timber resources to construct vessels for both domestic use and international trade. By 1870 Waterville had become one of Maine's largest lumber production centers with several large mills producing up to 300 million board feet (700 kt) annually between them employing hundreds of men at peak periods during that decade.