Where in Maine?
Wabanakis called this gorge ?place of the perpetual rainbow.? Have you ever rafted through this ravine?
FOR such a remote place, this picturesque gorge has watched a lot of Maine history splash past its seventy-foot walls. Located deep in the North Woods - some might say it's right in the very heart - the ravine is not quite as far removed from civilization as it once was. One of the state's wildest and most important rivers carved this chasm, which hits heights of close to 200 feet at points along its two-mile length. The waterway was once one of the major highways through the North Woods, arguably the principal thoroughfare back when travel was mostly conducted by canoe. Natives called the river "place of descending ledges," and nowhere does the water drop more precipitously than it does here, cascading downwards at seventy feet per mile. Force such a powerful flow through such a narrow area, and the results are some spectacularly powerful waves. When Thoreau paddled past, the river in these parts was famous for its salmon fishing - and for its lumbering log jams. Millions of board feet of wood were squeezed through the granite here in the heyday of Pine Tree State timber cutting, and these walls were known for beating and thrashing logs as they sluiced through. It was said lumbermen downriver could tell which logs came via this route by the scars the timbers bore. And if the walls damaged the logs, the logs most certainly returned the favor, etching the gorge with scrapes and cuts and leaving behind wood fibers that can still be seen to this day. For the purpose of regulating the flow of water for log drives, a dam was built at the head of the gorge in the 1920s - 695 feet across and 73-feet high. In the fifties it was retrofitted with turbines to provide power to the local paper mill. Twenty-some years later the log drives ended and another type of river running emerged - whitewater rafting. Thousands travel north to take on waves and rips like the Exterminator and Crib Works, the latter being the most technical rapid in the East and the only one classified the most-difficult Class V even when the water is lower in summertime. The Wabanaki word for the gorge means "place of the perpetual rainbow," and thankfully it remains that way today, as the colorful glow of this photo attests. Have you ever visited this famous North Woods locale? Send us a note if you can identify the gorgeous gorge.