While going to the Ice Caves today, Dave and I were talking so not paying attention to the driving and veered right when we should of hopped on the Golden Road from Millinocket but found ourselves at the Baxter State Park at the park gate and was greeted by a park ranger. We planned on turning around but when she told us it was free for us to go through because we were from Maine, we felt privileged to check out where this road went. We entered the park and was given a map showing directions to the big and little Niagara Falls we have in Maine. Since we were planning on hiking today we thought we might hike the mile or so in to check out these falls as we thought with all the rain we have had it would be worth seeing. Dave said we can never take a wrong turn in Maine, it's all just a bunch of happy discoveries. Today proved to be one of those happy discoveries.
The road toward bubbling brook was closed off because of the flooding in the area so we went left...it was our only choice today. The drive in was approx. 13 miles/ 20 miles an hour. We headed toward Daicey Pond from Abol campground road.
we passed many ponds and Appalachian trails as well as lean to's for hikers to sleep over on after a long day trip. Signs say bear territory.
a very scenic view of the moutain
walking on the Appalachian trail
Good information in case I get too close to a bear.
Dave signs in that we are heading to the falls
The ranger told us the trail is mostly flat and easy going. I didn't see much of that...although they were hiking trails they were not mostly flat and easy going.
lots of debris in the trail we went around. It is still early in the season, it looks like the winds raised havoc in this area. Still a very pleasant hike, just had to find a way around
Listening to the rapids as we walked. about a mile in we came to our first view of the water.
The Toll Dam-was it named for a reason... guess I will need to do a little research.
Research-this is all that remains of the "Toll Dam" that was built in 1880. The dam was built by the Sourdnahunk Dam and Improvement Company. The picture below is a sketch of the wooden logged dam that was built in the 1800's
Logging companies cut wood during the winter and in the spring they would dump the logs into Nesowadehunk Stream.
The logs were guided down stream by the river drivers with each log having markings on it so they could be told apart by what company they belonged to. When the logs reached the Toll Dam the Rivers Drivers would count and sort the logs by company and a fee of .63 cents per 1,000 board feet was charged to allow the logs to pass through the dam. After passing through the dam the logs then went over both Little and Big Niagara Falls. At the end of their journey at the West Branch of the Penobscot River there was little or no bark left on them because of this when the logs reached their destination they could tell a Sourdnahunk log from the rest because of the bark lost going through the falls.
To make sure the logs drifted freely along the river, men called "log drivers" guide the logs. These drivers usually divided into two groups. The more experienced men were called the "jam" crew or "beat" crew. They watched the spots where logs were likely to jam, and when a jam started, tried to get to it quickly and free the logs before too many got stuck, otherwise the logs would pile up and create a dam that would back up for miles. This back up could take weeks to break up the millions of board feet, losing some to the shallow waters. The jam crew would use peavey and dynamite to break up the logs. The River Drivers stood on the moving logs and ran from one to another keeping them moving. Many lost their lives as did an unknown Candadian who is buried at Foster field a mile or so going straight instead of turning at the Daicey Pond marker. Being a jam crew was a very dangerous job, many fell and were crushed by logs.
A larger group of less experienced men brought up the rear, pushing along the straggler logs that were stuck on the banks and in trees. They spent more time wading in icy water than balancing on moving logs. They were called the "rear crew." Other men worked with them from the bank, pushing logs away with pike poles
photo of the 1800's River Drivers
Heading to Big Niagara Falls
For a wrong turn taken today...it sure was a happy little discovery.