Where in Maine?

Flagstaff Lake, Where in Maine October 2018
Photograph by John Orcutt

Can you name this man-made lake?

Maine’s fourth-largest lake (or fifth — it depends how you measure) is in fact a reservoir, and when its basin was filled in 1950, it submerged three villages that had thrived there for more than a century. Central Maine Power had sought a dam on the site since 1923 but had been met with opposition by Governor Percival Baxter, among others, who objected to the exploitation of Maine’s natural resources for the enrichment of private companies. In 1976, Mainers channeled Baxter when they voted to permanently prevent development on the mountain massif that looms over the lake, on which a Massachusetts company had set out to build “the Aspen of the East.” The lake is one of the highlights of what’s known as the Northern Forest Canoe Trail, and those who paddle its shallow waters are rewarded with more than a dozen isolated shoreline campsites with knockout views of that now-protected ridge and the more distant peak shown here, one of New England’s 100 highest. When the water is low enough, paddlers can also glimpse remnants of the communities that were drowned to create this placid inland sea.