CAROLYN'S COMPOSITIONS

November 21, 2008

THE SPECTACULAR PENOBSCOT RIVER A Natural Wonder in Maine: Part 1


Last week, I presented a program to fifth grade students in my granddaughter’s reading class, which had been reading The Sign of the Beaver. I had picked the book up when she was visiting, and discovered its setting was on the west side of the Penobscot River. My research has been mostly on the east side of the river, but I had viewed the river from the Penobscot Narrows Observatory in September, and, using the pictures and the results of much of my research, I believed I had something valuable to share with the class. To read my experience in the observatory, click on: THE PENOBSCOT NARROWS BRIDGE AND OBSERVATORY
     The Penobscot River, in Maine, is as spectacular today as it was when David Ingram, Samuel de Champlain and Alexander Baring first explored it centuries ago.
     David Ingram, the first European to sail up the Penobscot River, did so about 418 years ago, in the late 1500’s. In the early 1600s, either 1604 or 1605, Samuel de Champlain also sailed up the river that the “savages” called Pematig, or Pematiq, which later lead to the waters of the bay and river, westward, being named Pematigoëtt, and, finally, “Pentagoët.” 
     “The Penobscot is one of the finest rivers in America and its banks will become the center of population in Maine,” Alexander Baring, a land agent for Hope and Company in London, in 1796. Baring noted that the river was “navigable for ships of any burthren to within a few miles of Indian Town and for boats almost to its source… There’s probably no place in the whole world with as many safe and useful harbors. The coasts come down, descend tow the shore, in a gentle slopes, the embankments are steep. The several rivers that come from the interior into the bay, it makes it easy for communication into the interior.”
     The 350-mile long Penobscot river flows from Mount Katahdin, a native American sacred mountain, down through the state to Penobscot Bay. Its watershed is approximately 8,500 square miles in area, about one quarter of the state, and is 165 miles long. The river is the largest of five major river systems in Maine, all of which have deep harbors at or near their mouths. Townships that lie on the river basins have lakes, ponds and streams that can be used for transporting goods to ocean harbors. This water transportation contributed to the growth of the cities on the Penobscot River by providing a Penobscot River helped the cities along its banks grow by giving them a means of transportation. On the flip side, the river also hurt the growth of the cities, since its 1,100 feet (measured at the new Penobscot Narrows Bridge) was difficult to cross, and the winter ice interfered with boat travel.
     Originally, Native Americans traversed the river in bark canoes. Earlier crossings by the European settlers were accomplished by ferryboat. The bridge that was constructed in 1832, that connected Brewer with Bangor, was destroyed by floodwaters in 1846, and rebuilt in 1847.
     The Waldo-Hancock Bridge, that opened in 1931, was consicererd the world’s most beautiful steel bridge that was built for less than $1 million. However, in 2002, it was discovered that the bridge’s cables were so severely corroded and deteriorated that the bridge was unrepairable.
     On December 30, 2006, a new bridge, the $85 million dollar Penobscot-Narrows Bridge, was opened for traffic. It measures 2,120 feet in length, and its weight, 126 million pounds, equals the weight of 10,500 African elephants. It has a novel system for routing its 16-inch diameter cables from one end of a bridge deck, through the bridge towers, and then down to the other end of the deck. The cables loop through the towers, but don’t attach to them.
     The Penobscot Narrows Bridge also has an observatory at the top of tower number one, which opened May 19, 2007. Its elevator takes 50 seconds to transport visitors to the top, which is 420 feet or 42 stories high. When the 135 feet between the water and the bridge is added on, sightseers are 555 feet above the water, where there is a wonderful view of the Penobscot River and the surrounding area. The structure is the tallest observatory of its kind in the world—only two other countries, Thailand and Slovakia, have similar observatories.

CAROLYN’S COMPOSITIONS

THE SPECTACULAR PENOBSCOT RIVER

A Natural Wonder in Maine: Part 1

 

 

 

ADDITIONAL READING:

THE WRITING LIFE: There’s a World Out There?

LOBSTER-TALES

CHILDISH CHARACTERISTICS

KILLED STRANGELY: A NEW ENGLAND MURDER STORY

LIZZIE BORDEN—A REENACTMENT

IN NEW ENGLAND, HISTORY CONFLICTS WITH PROGRESS

LEAF-PEEPING: Autumn Leaves

IT WAS MEANT TO BE: A Meeting with Travelers from the Netherlands

SNAPSHOT ENCOUNTERS: Brief Meetings with People #4

 

RIDING THE RAILS: A True Story

“DATING WHEN FIFTY-SOME:” A Guy’s Version

QUINTESSENCE

I HAVE A PERMIT TO CARRY…

CHILD ABUSE DEFINITIONS

Advertisements

Leave a Comment »

No comments yet.

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

What is your opinion?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Blog at WordPress.com.

%d bloggers like this: