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A tale of two noises in the Maine woods

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Considering everything from pre-Columbian fisheries to next Tuesday, the Penobscot River is Maine's dominant stream, draining the better part of the state from the Canadian boundary to ocean-swept Matinicus Rock halfway to the Azores. The Penobscot celebrates the tribe of that name, now reduced to Indian Island at Old Town.

The Great Maine North Woods are Penobscot country. End to end, the Penobscot embraces far better than 250 miles of choice Maine real estate. Thoreau saw some of it but didn't always know where he was.

Using the Great Northern Paper Company's logging road from Rockwood at the Kineo end of Moosehead Lake, in 20 miles you will check in at Twenty Mile gate, and just beyond that find Pittston Farm, a functioning depot in the past for Great Northern operations but now privately operated as a public house specializing in lumber-camp fare. Reservations are advised. Try the baked beans and the sugar pie. And just beyond the farm is a campground at Canada Falls, which is one of the places where the several Penobscot River branches start.

A natural falls there has been made into a dam to hold back water for lumbering purposes, so a long stretch of bog, swamp, and moose pasture lies behind the dam back to the Canadian line. This is Canada Falls Deadwater.

In winter, pulpwood cut in that area used to be sledded onto the deadwater ice and left to await the Penobscot River drive on the spring freshet. When the ice went out, the river-driving crew would sluice the mountain of pulpwood over the dam, and the drive began. More wood was added, brow by brow downstream, until weeks later the drive arrived at the paper mill in Millinocket.

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