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Ripogenus Dam, 1915

In the spring of 1915, work began on the construction of a new dam at the foot of Ripogenus Lake. It would be below the site of a small driving dam, and would replace a large timber structure built in 1903-04 at the foot of Chesuncook Lake. This new dam would back up waters for a distance of 25 miles and from a half to three miles wide. It would merge Ripogenus Lake, Chesuncook Lake, Caribou Lake, Bear and three other ponds into one body of water. This water storage capacity would allow for the sufficient flush of water to move the logs to the mills and allow for the installation of more paper machines. The dam was completed in late 1916. The Northern (1920’s magazine published by the GNP Spruce Wood Dept.), McLeod’s The Northern, the Way I Remember, and Edgar Prouty’s 1936 Report on Storage Dams on the West Branch give some insight into some of the lesser-known facts and happenings during the construction process. There was no railroad access to the site, just a 31mile tote road from Lily Bay (reached by steamer from Greenville or Kineo Station). Previously, in 1914, GNP had begun improvement of that tote road making it “one of the finest gravel top turnpikes in Maine, built to grade, smooth and hard, and then set seven-ton trucks rolling one and a half to two round trips daily, to carry the material brought by rail to Kineo Station and ferried across Moosehead Lake in scows towed by steamboats.” The road extended from Lily Bay, past Kokadjo and Roach Pond to the Grant Farm (17 miles) and then 12 more miles to the dam. One source tells of “the teeming city of 700 souls resembling a mining settlement of the far west.” At the beginning of construction there were only two buildings on site and were used by the men during the drives. Eleven acres were cleared and soon the area went from nothing to a small “boom town.” A sawmill was erected, steel derricks appeared and little cottages sprung up. There were electric lights (a small powerhouse had been erected) so work could continue at night. A camp physician was available and there were spring beds with clean coverings and food was “first class.” Resident engineer Elmer Prouty described that a “secret agent” kept complaining to the GNP president about happenings at the dam site. The one that “blew Prouty’s cool” was that a tennis court was built at the worksite. Prouty himself was said to use the court and said “it was built on the worker’s own time and paid for by them.”

New book by MHS!! Millinocket Schoolhouses…A Look Back in Time! Check with museum for information. More details soon!

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***2022 Calendars, Everybody Loves a Parade! $14.00 each, add $5 each by mail *** Preowned yearbooks - $10.00 each. *** Matted photos, various prices – GNP mill, Little Italy, river drives, Mt. Katahdin. *** DVD’s, Little Italy Part 1 and Part 2 available at the museum ($15 each) or mail order ($15 each). ***Books: “Within Katahdin’s Realm, Log Drives and Sporting Camps” (Bill Geller) $30.00; “Logging Towboats & Boom Jumpers” (Moody) $18.00; “Tanglefoot,” (Edwards) $15.00; “The Nighthawk,” (Edwards) $15.00; “Millinocket” (D. Duplisea) $20.00; “A Little Taste of History” cookbooks - $15.00; both Laverty books, $25 history & $10 architecture; “Our Real World,” (M. Murphy) $15.00; “No Time for Moss (McKeen) $15.00 and several preowned books (out of print) by local authors. *** All items may be mailed – add $5 SH each item. *** For information, groups or appointments, contact Curator Trudy Wyman, 723-5477. *** By mail at Millinocket Historical Society, P. O. Box 11, Facebook or by email at MillinocketHistSoc@gmail.com or trudy18@beeline-online.net


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