Alexander/Crawford History news

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Town News

By John Dudley 

& Cassie Oakes

 

SPECIAL WATER ENVIRONMENTS: The name heath describes a special kind of wetland or peat bog.  It is unique in that under a heath is a glacial deposit of sand or gravel.  Over that is a relatively thin layer of peat that is made of partially decayed plants, but just certain plants.  To be a heath, this whole thing is fairly level on top.

Dennis and Lloyd Gillespie told John Dudley of the one time existence of a set of buildings at the edge of the heath and solid ground, by the Green Hill Road.  This story, passed down in the family, may have referred to a logging camp, but how would the logs be gotten out to open water.  It could have been an operation to mine iron from the bog.  Bog iron is an impure form of iron that bacteria or algae extract from the mineral rich water.  As the material accumulates, it sinks to the bottom and the miners scrape it up.  Blacksmiths in inland rural Maine refined and used bog iron for tools, etc.

The dams at Meddybemps on the Dennys River has put more over the heath, but in 230 years has not really affected what 10,000 years had built.

Wheelabrator-Frye considered mining peat from the heath in 1980.  It was designated as a National Natural Site in 1973.  From the Cooper Road it is part of a wonderful unique view.  If you would like to easily walk through a bog, the Orono Bog has a boardwalk.

Or you can ride on your favorite watercraft down the Maine River from Pocomoonshine to Crawford.  This lets you see another wonderful view, but one that has been created by man.

Two hundred years ago the river would have been narrow, with cedars and alders hugging the shores.  Beavers might have created ponds (Upper & Lower Mud) with dams to haul over.  River drivers would have cleared the dams and other obstacles.  Farmers would have cut and/or burned the wetland to encourage meadow hay (food for oxen); the BHE high dam would have drowned the roots of remaining trees leaving more land for meadows.  And from the dams since 1936 the water level has flooded the meadows resulting in huge marshes.

Are these man made changes to our environment good or bad?  Consider, the Pokey Dam since 1925 has created marshes around and between the lakes.  The shallow water in the marshes warmed by the sun heats the lakes.  The trout and white perch of 200 years ago have become large mouth bass and pickerel, both introduced by man.  Good or bad?