Kennebec Moose River Valley
The great feature of the Kennebec Valley / Moose River Region is the many vacation choices it provides. Are you looking to experience the bustle and flurry of the urban centers that built up along the Kennebec River or do you prefer the outdoor wilderness adventures you find in the hills, lakes and rivers that stretch to the Canadian border?
You can enjoy both within an easy drive.
At the southern end of this region is Augusta, the state capital since 1827. With its ideal location on the Kennebec River it started as a trading post in 1628. John Alden and Captain Miles Standish, celebrated in the writings of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, were among the earliest settlers. Old Fort Western, built here in 1754, is the oldest surviving wooden fort in New England.
You can take tours of the capital buildings and see more history in the Maine State Museum. It features exhibits of Native American culture, the state’s natural environment, plus social developments and manufacturing legacies.
When the steamship Ticonic journeyed up the Kennebec River in 1832 and arrived in Waterville, twenty miles north of Augusta, it opened up a prosperous era of transportation for passengers and freight. Today Waterville is a major commercial community and home of Colby and Thomas Colleges. Several arts organizations are located here, including a professional theater group that performs in the century-old Waterville Opera House. It is also the site of an annual film festival.
To get from Waterville to the town of Winslow across the Kennebec River, folks crossed the “Two Cent Bridge” which was the toll when it was built in 1903. While in Winslow you can visit Fort Halifax built in 1754. On his expedition to capture Quebec Benedict Arnold and his troops billeted here 1775.
North of Waterville, between two waterfalls, you’ll come to Skowhegan, which is the Abenaki word for “watch for fish”. Skowhegan is the home of one of Maine’s most prominent citizens, Margaret Chase Smith, the first woman to serve in the U.S. Senate. Her library holds memorabilia of her 33 years in Congress. While here it’s almost impossible to miss the 62-foot carved wooden Indian statue holding a weir and spear. It was the creation of Bernard Langlais in 1969. Each year in August Skowhegan holds its State Fair, a tradition which started in 1818, making it the oldest fair in the state.
Heading farther north you’ll reach Solon, where valuable Indian artifacts that date back 9,000 years have been discovered around nearby Caratunk Falls.
When you reach the town of The Forks you can tell it’s the center of activity. Thousands of whitewater rafting enthusiasts don adventure gear to negotiate the challenging and heart thumping currents of the Dead and Kennebec Rivers. A short distance to the east is Moxie Falls, at about 100 feet, the highest waterfall in Maine.
In the area west of Augusta you’ll come across at least 20 lakes of various sizes. Towns nearby are Monmouth, celebrated for its professional Shakespearean theatre group, Manchester, Readfield and Winthrop. Anglers find these lakes great for fishing for small-mouth bass.
Just north of Augusta is a chain of 7 lakes around the town of Belgrade. They offer great accommodations ranging from small cottages and camps to resort motels.
China Lake is east of Augusta and surrounded by 47 mountain summits and the towns of Albian, China, Palermo, Vassalboro and Windsor. Popular annual events are the Windsor Fair and the Common Ground Country Fair.
Just before you reach the Canadian border you’ll come to Jackman on the Moose River. This area has more than 250,000 acres of unspoiled wilderness and more than 60 lakes and ponds that make it a haven for camping, hiking, fishing, swimming, canoeing and kayaking. For an outstanding canoe trip take the 34 mile “Bow Trip” on the Moose River.
In the unique town of Skowhegan you’ll find the treasured New Balance Factory Outlet … where you can always find a GREAT DEAL!
Skowhegan was settled in 1773, it’s brimming with American History yet is host to modern businesses such as SAPPI Fine Paper, New Balance Shoe, Howard P. Fairfield, and Redington-Fairview General Hospital.
Skowhegan is also nationally known as the home of Senator Margaret Chase Smith, the first woman U.S. Senator. The Margaret Chase Smith Library houses the Senator’s memorabilia and serves as a museum and educational center on her life and career.
Downtown Skowhegan, a Mainstreet Maine Community, is watched over by the world’s largest sculptured Indian… a 62 ft. giant crafted by the renowned sculptor Bernard Langlais of Cushing.
(Source: Skowhegan Chamber of Commerce): www.skowheganchamber.com