Author-compilers David Robinson and Elizabeth Tanefis state, accurately I believe, that their new volume, “The Saco River,” is the first “book that uses postcard images to look at the river as a holistic interconnected system.”

It is unquestionably a lot of fun to take their historic visual journey on and along the 121-mile waterway from Saco Lake, New Hampshire, to Saco Bay, Maine.

No historian I can imagine would fail to learn from the moments in time that have been assembled here. Behold huge modern turbines being brought to Bonny Eagle by rail in 1911 and transferred to oxcart.

Yes, modern times certainly broke ragged. Just 600 feet upstream is an abandoned sawmill from earlier times, and another image from Steep Falls in 1906 shows the retrofitting of a sawmill into an excelsior mill. River drivers with pick-poles and peaveys work logs and dangerous jams while the big logs are boomed at Saco-Biddeford.

There is something for everyone, such as vacationing in the White Mountain beginning at the famous Crawford House overlooking Saco Lake at the top of the Notch. Even here ice was harvested in the winter for summer refrigeration, and as the stream moved past picturesque footbridges and covered bridges, one finds swimmers and summer camps for kids in Fryeburg. There is the tall-tale booster postcard of the fisherman riding his catch — “Greetings from Steep Falls, Maine.”

For the literary folk, there are postcard views of Kate Douglas Wiggin’s Hollis home, “Quillcote,” some by Lad Bradbury, son of a 19th-century artist. One of the house’s rooms was decorated by the early muralist Rufus Porter, and is illustrated in a turn-of-the-century card.

There is action as well, including views of the great Somesville Fire that occurred in Saco on Sept. 15, 1908. The conflagration, photographed at night, destroyed some 15 acres. There is drama too, for this is a time of mill-dams, smoke and celebrating workers (at least on the surface). Below the Cataract Falls, tugs and three-masted schooners brought in coal to a very active Biddeford waterfront. Across the way in 1922, the Saco Yacht Club lay safely in the tidal river.

Then, by motor-launch ferryboats, the early 20th-century citizen could voyage down to Biddeford Pool or Camp Ellis for a pleasant day trip. Tourism began again on this portion of the Saco. At Camp Ellis, one could take the Dummy Line Railroad to Old Orchard Beach (if he or she wished to avoid a stroll).

The final image, rather neatly, is Wood Island Light in Saco Bay. What a grand tour from the White Mountains to sea via an ever-changing river.

My only quibble concerns the lack of a map showing the Saco from source to mouth. Instead, Robinson and Tanefis opt for an 1884 map of the cities of Saco and Biddeford which they note have been “the heart of the Saco River for several hundred years.”

From an economic terminus, big-money point of view, one can argue that it has been the economic heart of the river, but it would not have been much to begin with without logs. Even when textiles came to characterize the falls and two cities, it meant little to those in New Hampshire.

In Fryeburg, vacationing, camping and enjoying the surroundings also depended on the look and health of natural environment. This is discussed clearly and well in the introduction, but seems a bit at odds with the map selection.

I would also suggest the inclusion of the late Aileen M. Carroll’s excellent “Bartlett New Hampshire in the Valley of the Saco” (1990) and “The Latchstring was Always Out: A History of Lodging, Hospitality and Tourism in Bartlett, New Hampshire” (1994) for the bibliography.

William David Barry is a local historian who has authored/co-authored six books. He lives in Portland.