Forty-nine years after being established by the Maine State Legislature, the Allagash Wilderness Waterway is finally wholly owned by the state of Maine. The 40-acre Lock Dam lot, the last outlot on the 92-mile-long waterway, was purchased from Katahdin Timberlands LLC on Sept. 30, 2015.
The funds for the acquisition were provided by the Allagash Wilderness Waterway Foundation and Lock Dam Preservation Association.
Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry Commissioner Walter Whitcomb and Marcia McKeague, president of Katahdin Timberlands, signed the deed transferring ownership of the property at an informal ceremony at the department’s headquarters in Augusta.
“Many have worked all these 50-plus years to complete public ownership of the chain of lakes and streams we call the Allagash Wilderness Waterway. Now supporters of this unique canoeing journey face the challenges of adapting to the changing interests of outdoor recreational enthusiasts,” Whitcomb said.
The Lock and Telos Dam lots were formerly owned by the East Branch Improvement Company. The state of Maine was not allowed to acquire these two lots when the waterway was established in 1966. With a potentially expensive FERC license hanging over their head, East Branch Improvement turned over the two dams to the state of Maine in 2000. Telos Dam was given to the AWW with the associated 40-acre lot that it was located on. However, the minority owner of East Branch Improvement retained ownership of the Lock Dam lot until the recently completed sale.
The Lock Dam lot is very strategic to the waterway. It is located on the primary route that paddlers use when portaging from Chamberlain to Eagle Lake. Three remote campsites are situated on the lot, as are a snowmobile trail connecting the two lakes, and the one-room cabin that was once home to Dorothy and Milford Kidney sits pretty much as they left it. Dorothy Boone Kidney wrote two books about her life at Lock Dam. They are a very interesting read about their life at that remote outpost.
Formerly called Chamberlain Lake Dam, Lock Dam was first constructed in 1841. It, along with Telos Dam, changed the direction of water flowing from Chamberlain Lake from north into the St. John River to south down the East Branch of the Penobscot River. See the link located at www.maine.gov/allagash to read more about the history of Lock Dam.
The lot has water frontage on Chamberlain and Eagle lakes, as well as several hundred feet of frontage on Martin Stream. It is abutted by existing Bureau of Public Lands property on all sides, and an ecological reserve is designated to the north all the way to the Tramway National Historic Site and beyond.
Katahdin Timberlands LLC should be praised for holding this important property as wild forest land, allowing traditional use of the property and working with the two nonprofit groups that made it available to the state of Maine at no cost.
The Allagash Wilderness Waterway is managed by the Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry’s Bureau of Parks and Lands.
For an information packet or general information on the Allagash Wilderness Waterway, go to: www.maine.gov/allagash or call 207-941-4014; email email@example.com or write to the Bureau of Parks and Lands, 106 Hogan Road, Bangor, ME 04401.
Matthew LaRoche is superintendent of the Allagash Wilderness Waterway.