Maine, a Guide down East

By Workers of the Federal Writers Project of the Works Progress Administration for the State of Maine | Go to book overview

FROM WATERWAYS TO AIRWAYS

TRANSPORTATION in Maine has always been conditioned by those geographic and climatic features which have had such a lasting effect on many varying phases of the State's life. Improvement in travel facilities has not reduced the distances from point to point within the State, has not altered the depth of snow or eliminated the effects of frost on the highways. From forest trail and canoe to the airplane, every link in the history of American transportation, with the exception of the stagecoach, is being used in Maine today. Large areas of the northern wilderness can be reached by no other means than those employed four centuries ago, walking and canoe, or by the latest development in transportation, the airplane. Luxurious trains speed through miles of forest which have not altered since the days when one was lucky to be able to drive from Kittery to Portland in a four-wheeled vehicle. Long the chief means of transportation for the settler, traveler, and merchant who gained access to the interior through the coastal towns or by way of the larger rivers, water-borne traffic now retains only a small fraction of its former importance.

The earliest recorded transportation system in Maine was that used by the Indians, an unusually comprehensive network of routes which required no cost or labor for maintenance -- the waterways. By rivers and streams, alternating with 'carries' from lake to lake or to other rivers, the Maine tribes could thread their way over most of the State with a minimum of effort. The waterways were of particular importance during the autumn when inland tribes sought the more clement and favorable living conditions along the coast, as the primitive Red Paint People doubtless had done before them. Hunters and sportsmen today continue to use many of the old Indian highways.

One of the longest trails (meaning by 'trail' a combination of waterways and 'carries') was that between what is now Quebec and the mouth of the Kennebec River. The journey was made from Quebec, up the Chaudière to Lake Megantic, the Chain of Ponds, Dead River, to the Kennebec and down; this constitutes the Arnold Trail of today. Another trail followed

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