Friday, April 03, 2009

Dreams of the Kennebec: Edwards Dam 10th Anniversary

Last night I dreamed the Kennebec River in Augusta was 2,000 feet across separated by a comma shaped island and we were all climbing along the crumbling Edward Dam abutments in the thin, wet, trickling gravelly path between silver maples where the river runs soft and cool and shaded and shallow. The full brunt and width of the river was way off in the bright sun to our right, rippling against the railroad and the tall brick walls of the factories, moving and swinging so hard and rough that no one in a boat would try to go up or down it.

It was the July anniversary of the Edwards Dam's removal in 1999 and the Kennebec Journal that morning had published a story by Jon Lund of Hallowell which showed a photo of my hand holding a fly rod just above the algae covered rocks. In a side bar to the story, the KJ noted that the City of Augusta had held a "Miss Edwards Dam Contest." Steve Brooke and I watched brown trout, about 18 inches, and then Atlantic salmon, 4 feet long move through the sandy gravel and half-buried timbers and scoot upstream past the site of the dam. I shouted to Steve, "Get out of the @#$% water, Steve, they're coming upstream !!!" They were the biggest salmon I had ever seen.

I have had these persistent dreams about the Edwards Dam for almost 20 years. In each, the dam is in a different position and configuration. Often there are three Edwards Dams all in a row !!! Often the Kennebec oddly branches above Augusta into tributaries with weird names like the Skowhegan River or West Branch Jackman Stream. I have spent many tossing and turning nights walking under railroad bridges and stumbling over metal pipes in these streams following fish and crayfish through their moss braided and beer can studded rocks.

Last night was different because, for the first time in history, a newspaper covered my dream of the Kennebec, including parts even I did not know about until I read them in the newspaper in my dream. Last night, the Kennebec Journal did a photo feature on a beautiful road stop and turn-off a ways downriver from Augusta called the "Lisbon Slough" which the KJ said is the traditional place where people from Augusta have gone to camp and picnic and swim in the Kennebec after it was dammed at Augusta by the Edwards Dam in 1837. The newspaper pondered if people from Augusta would begin to move upriver to the former dam site from their traditional recreating place downriver at the Lisbon Slough now that the Edwards dam has been removed and the river has been restored.

This is a good question.

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