From our Archives
June 1984

Woman swimming with children Damariscotta Lake 1984
Photograph by Joe Devenney

Damariscotta Idyll

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Cover illustration by John Muench

From “On Damariscotta Lake,” a photo feature by Joe Devenney, in the June 1984 issue.

“Plenty of alewives” is thought to be the Abenaki meaning for “Damariscotta,” a name that identifies a river, a town, and a sizeable lake in midcoast Maine. The alewives still run in the river each spring, and hundreds of bushels of this useful fish are taken annually as they push up the tidal river to spawn in the fresh waters of the lake.

It is as a resort area, however, that Damariscotta Lake is principally known today. Stretching from its outlet into Salt Bay at Damariscotta Mills to the town of Jefferson at its northern end, the lake is an irregularly shaped body of water with numerous coves and small islands that provide refuge for wildlife and combine to afford exceptional swimming, boating, and fishing. Along the shore, hundreds of cottages are opened up each year in the pleasant early summer ritual commemorated in the Broadway play and movie On Golden Pond. Then follows the long, lazy summer of boat rides in the early morning calm or canoe expeditions to lily-pad coves.

These many years later, Damariscotta Lake is still ringed with camps and vacation rentals, and families still take to the water in the early summer to fish, paddle, or simply splash with the kids. Damariscotta Lake State Park, where this photo was taken, sees upwards of 30,000 visitors each summer. Photographer Joe Devenney still lives a stone’s throw from the lake, in Jefferson, and he still takes gorgeous images of Maine. Visit to see more of his work.

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