Note from Jay Beaudoin of Crawford

Town News

I have received a very nice note from Jay Beaudoin of Love Lake in Crawford Maine.  Jay works with hydropower and natural science at the Woodland Mill and in his personal life he has found that history of the environment is important in looking at how things are today and he likes to read and collect such literature.  Jay enjoys the Alexander Crawford History column and has some information that he thought my readers might also enjoy reading about.

Back in the 1860’s Walter Wells assembled a book at the request to the Legislature on Water Powers of Maine – those existing as well as the opportunities to increase that power. Mr. Wells asked people in this area to report what was in place. This is before electric power when the movement of falling water could be used to mechanically power saw mills and other such improvements or to provide water for transportation of logs. The link below gets you to an electronic copy of the book. Page 132 has Crawford Lake and reports a dam capable of storing 9 feet of water above the natural lake level that was in place back then. Love Lake had a dam of 5-6 feet, Cathance 6.5 feet, Barrows 3 feet and Meddybemps 7 feet. I have had the good fortune to survey lakes across the state and many have had dams in the past but no longer today. 4th Machias Lake had a dam used to store water to move logs years ago and people blasted away ledge near the dam to make the outlet deeper.  So today, without the dam, the lake itself is a number of feet lower than it was naturally. On some lakes in the state cement is placed to create an underwater ledge to restore lakes like this to their natural levels. If you go on a lake and look carefully to the shore you can see old shorelines from when dams were present or indicators of natural shorelines lower than they were.

In regards to the Meddybemps Heath, I made a wetland study of the heath some years ago. The trees in these habitats, species such as larch and black spruce often grow stunted and a small tree can be many 100’s of years old. The pitcher plant grows on these heaths and is a carnivorous plant which relies on insects for nutrients. The water beneath the floating peat mats on top is acidic and very dark with natural Tannins. In some parts of the world they find people and animals, some extinct, preserved beneath after falling in years ago. Saber tooth tigers come to mind. I haven’t heard of that here.

The survey was done for Georgia-Pacific who owned most if not all of the heath at the time and the heath was reported to be the largest continuous heath in the United States at the time – there are bigger ones further north in Canada. I believe we ended up donating the heath to a non profit. I can’t recall but will send you the reports and info if I can find it. 

Thank you Jay for the information, and keep it coming.