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that science. But at length we composed ourselves
seriously to sleep. It was interesting, when awakened
at midnight, to watch the grotesque and fiend-like
forms and motions of some one of the party, who, not
being able to sleep, had got up silently to arouse the
fire, and add fresh fuel, for a change; now stealthily
lugging a dead tree from out the dark, and heaving it
on, now stirring up the embers with his fork, or tiptoe
ing about to observe the stars, watched, perchance, by
half the prostrate party in breathless silence; so much
the more intense because they were awake, while each
supposed his neighbor sound asleep. Thus aroused, I,
too, brought fresh fuel to the fire, and then rambled
along the sandy shore in the moonlight, hoping to meet
a moose come down to drink, or else a wolf. The little
rill tinkled the louder, and peopled all the wilderness
for me ; and the glassy smoothness of the sleeping lake,
laving the shores of a new world, with the dark, fan
tastic rocks rising here and there from its surface,
made a scene not easily described. It has left such an
impression of stern, yet gentle, wildness on my memory
as will not soon be effaced. Not far from midnight we
were one after another awakened by rain falling on our
extremities; and as each was made aware of the fact
by cold or wet, he drew a long sigh and then drew up
his legs, until gradually we had all sidled round from
lying at right angles with the boat, till our bodies
formed an acute angle with it, and were wholly pro
tected. When next we awoke, the moon and stars were
shining again, and there were signs of dawn in the



KTAADN 45

east. I have been thus particular in order to convey
some idea of a night in the woods.

We had soon launched and loaded our boat, and,
leaving our fire blazing, were off again before break
fast. The lumberers rarely trouble themselves to put
out their fires, such is the dampness of the primitive
forest; and this is one cause, no doubt, of the frequent
fires in Maine, of which we hear so much on smoky
days in Massachusetts. The forests are held cheap
after the white pine has been culled out; and the ex
plorers and hunters pray for rain only to clear the
atmosphere of smoke. The woods were so wet to-day,
however, that there was no danger of our fire spreading.
After poling up half a mile of river, or thoroughfare,
we rowed a mile across the foot of Pamadumcook
Lake, which is the name given on the map to this
whole chain of lakes, as if there was but one, though
they are, in each instance, distinctly separated by a
reach of the river, with its narrow and rocky channel
and its rapids. This lake, which is one of the largest,
stretched northwest ten miles, to hills and mountains
in the distance. McCauslin pointed to some distant,
and as yet inaccessible, forests of white pine, on the
sides of a mountain in that direction. The Joe Merry
Lakes, which lay between us and Moosehead, on the
west, were recently, if they are not still, "surrounded
by some of the best timbered land in the State." By
another thoroughfare we passed into Deep Cove, a part
of the same lake, which makes up two miles, toward
the northeast, and rowing two miles across this, by
another short thoroughfare, entered Ambejijis Lake.



46 THE MAINE WOODS

At the entrance to a lake we sometimes observed
what is technically called "fencing-stuff," or the un
hewn timbers of which booms are formed, either se
cured together in the water, or laid up on the rocks
and lashed to trees, for spring use. But it was always
startling to discover so plain a trail of civilized man
there. I remember that I was strangely affected, when
we were returning, by the sight of a ring-bolt well
drilled into a rock, and fastened with lead, at the head
of this solitary Ambejijis Lake.

It was easy to see that driving logs must be an ex
citing as well as arduous and dangerous business. All
winter long the logger goes on piling up the trees which
he has trimmed and hauled in some dry ravine at the
head of a stream, and then in the spring he stands on
the bank and whistles for Rain and Thaw, ready to
wring the perspiration out of his shirt to swell the tide,
till suddenly, with a whoop and halloo from him, shut
ting his eyes, as if to bid farewell to the existing state
of things, a fair proportion of his winter's work goes
scrambling down the country, followed by his faithful
dogs, Thaw and Rain and Freshet and Wind, the whole
pack in full cry, toward the Orono Mills. Every log is
marked with the owner's name, cut in the sapwood
with an axe or bored with an auger, so deep as not to
be worn off in the driving, and yet not so as to injure
the timber; and it requires considerable ingenuity to
invent new and simple marks where there are so many
owners. They have quite an alphabet of their own,
which only the practiced can read. One of my com
panions read off from his memorandum book some



KTAADN 47

marks of his own logs, among which there were crosses,
belts, crow's feet, girdles, etc., as, "Y girdle crow
foot," and various other devices. When the logs have
run the gauntlet of innumerable rapids and falls, each
on its own account, with more or less jamming and
bruising, those bearing various owners' marks being
mixed up together, since all must take advantage of
the same freshet, they are collected together at the
heads of the lakes, and surrounded by a boom fence of
floating logs, to prevent their being dispersed by the
wind, and are thus towed all together, like a flock of
sheep, across the lake, where there is no current, by
a windlass, or boom-head, such as we sometimes saw
standing on an island or headland, and, if circum
stances permit, with the aid of sails and oars. Some
times, notwithstanding, the logs are dispersed over many
miles of lake surface in a few hours by winds and fresh
ets, and thrown up on distant shores, where the driver
can pick up only one or two at a time, and return with
them to the thoroughfare; and before he gets his flock
well through Ambejijis or Pamadumcook, he makes
many a wet and uncomfortable camp on the shore. He
must be able to navigate a log as if it were a canoe,
and be as indifferent to cold and wet as a muskrat.
He uses a few efficient tools, a lever commonly of
rock maple, six or seven feet long, with a stout spike
in it, strongly ferruled on, and a long spike-pole, with
a screw at the end of the spike to make it hold. The
boys along shore learn to walk on floating logs as city
boys on sidewalks. Sometimes the logs are thrown up
on rocks in such positions as to be irrecoverable but by



48 THE MAINE WOODS

another freshet as high, or they jam together at rapids
and falls, and accumulate in vast piles, which the driver
must start at the risk of his life. Such is the lumber
business, which depends on many accidents, as the
early freezing of the rivers, that the teams may get up
in season, a sufficient freshet in the spring, to fetch the
logs down, and many others. 1 I quote Michaux on
Lumbering on the Kennebec, then the source of the
best white pine lumber carried to England. " The per
sons engaged in this branch of industry are generally
emigrants from New Hampshire. ... In the summer
they unite in small companies, and traverse these vast
solitudes in every direction, to ascertain the places in
which the pines abound. After cutting the grass and
converting it into hay for the nourishment of the cattle
to be employed in their labor, they return home. In
the beginning of the winter they enter the forests again,
establish themselves in huts covered with the bark of
the canoe-birch, or the arbor- vitae; and, though the cold
is so intense that the mercury sometimes remains for
several weeks from 40 to 50 [Fahr.] below the point
of congelation, they persevere, with unabated courage,
in their work." According to Springer, the company
consists of choppers, swampers, who make roads,
barker and loader, teamster, and cook. "When the

1 " A steady current or pitch of water is preferable to one either
rising or diminishing; as, when rising rapidly, the water at the middle
of the river is considerably higher than at the shores, so much so
as to be distinctly perceived by the eye of a spectator on the banks,
presenting an appearance like a turnpike road. The lumber, there
fore, is always sure to incline from the centre of the channel toward
either shore." Springer.



KTAADN 49

trees are felled, they cut them into logs from fourteen
to eighteen feet long, and, by means of their cattle,
which they employ with great dexterity, drag them to
the river, and, after stamping on them a mark of pro
perty, roll them on its frozen bosom. At the breaking
of the ice, in the spring, they float down with the cur
rent. . . . The logs that are not drawn the first year,"
adds Michaux, "are attacked by large worms, which
form holes about two lines in diameter, in every direc
tion; but, if stripped of their bark, they will remain
uninjured for thirty years."

Ambejijis, this quiet Sunday morning, struck me as
the most beautiful lake we had seen. It is said to be
one of the deepest. We had the fairest view of Joe
Merry, Double Top, and Ktaadn, from its surface. The
summit of the latter had a singularly flat, table-land
appearance, like a short highway, where a demigod
might be let down to take a turn or two in an afternoon,
to settle his dinner. We rowed a mile and a half to near
the head of the lake, and, pushing through a field of lily-
pads, landed, to cook our breakfast, by the side of a large
rock, known to McCauslin. Our breakfast consisted
of tea, with hard-bread and pork, and fried salmon,
which we ate with forks neatly whittled from alder
twigs, which grew there, off strips of birch-bark for
plates. The tea was black tea, without milk to color or
sugar to sweeten it, and two tin dippers were our tea
cups. This beverage is as indispensable to the loggers
as to any gossiping old women in the land, and they,
no doubt, derive great comfort from it. Here was the
site of an old logger's camp, remembered by McCauslin,



50 THE MAINE WOODS

now overgrown with weeds and bushes. In the midst
of a dense underwood we noticed a whole brick, on a
rock, in a small run, clean and red and square as in
a brick -yard, which had been brought thus far formerly
for tamping. Some of us afterward regretted that we
had not carried this on with us to the top of the moun
tain, to be left there for our mark. It would certainly
have been a simple evidence of civilized man. McCaus-
lin said that large wooden crosses, made of oak, still
sound, were sometimes found standing in this wilder
ness, which were set up by the first Catholic mission
aries who came through to the Kennebec.

In the next nine miles, which were the extent of our
voyage, and which it took us the rest of the day to get
over, we rowed across several small lakes, poled up
numerous rapids and thoroughfares, and carried over
four portages. I will give the names and distances, for
the benefit of future tourists. First, after leaving
Ambejijis Lake, we had a quarter of a mile of rapids
to the portage, or carry of ninety rods around Ambe
jijis Falls; then a mile and a half through Passa-
magamet Lake, which is narrow and river-like, to the
falls of the same name, Ambejijis stream coming in
on the right ; then two miles through Katepskonegan
Lake to the portage of ninety rods around Katepskone
gan Falls, which name signifies "carrying-place,"
Passamagamet stream coming in on the left ; then three
miles through Pockwockomus Lake, a slight expansion
of the river, to the portage of forty rods around the
falls of the same name, Katepskonegan stream com
ing in on the left ; then three quarters of a mile through



KTAADN 51

Aboljacarmegus Lake, similar to the last, to the portage
of forty rods around the falls of the same name ; then
half a mile of rapid water to the Sowadnehunk dead-
water, and the Aboljacknagesic stream.

This is generally the order of names as you ascend
the river: First, the lake, or, if there is no expansion,
the deadwater; then the falls; then the stream empty
ing into the lake, or river above, all of the same name.
First we came to Passamagamet Lake, then to Passa-
magamet Falls, then to Passamagamet Stream, empty
ing in. This order and identity of names, it will be
perceived, is quite philosophical, since the deadwater
or lake is always at least partially produced by the
stream emptying in above; and the first fall below,
which is the outlet of that lake, and where that tribu
tary water makes its first plunge, also naturally bears
the same name.

At the portage around Ambejijis Falls I observed
a pork-barrel on the shore, with a hole eight or nine
inches square cut in one side, which was set against an
upright rock; but the bears, without turning or upset
ting the barrel, had gnawed a hole in the opposite side,
which looked exactly like an enormous rat-hole, big
enough to put their heads in ; and at the bottom of the
barrel were still left a few mangled and slabbered slices
of pork. It is usual for the lumberers to leave such
supplies as they cannot conveniently carry along with
them at carries or camps, to which the next comers do
not scruple to help themselves, they being the property,
commonly, not of an individual, but a company, who
can afford to deal liberally.



52 THE MAINE WOODS

I will describe particularly how we got over some of
these portages and rapids, in order that the reader may
get an idea of the boatman's life. At Ambejijis Falls,
for instance, there was the roughest path imaginable
cut through the woods; at first up hill, at an angle of
nearly forty-five degrees, over rocks and logs without
end. This was the manner of the portage. We first
carried over our baggage, and deposited it on the shore
at the other end; then, returning to the batteau, we
dragged it up the hill by the painter, and onward, with
frequent pauses, over half the portage. But this was a
bungling way, and would soon have worn out the boat.
Commonly, three men walk over with a batteau weigh
ing from three to five or six hundred pounds on their
heads and shoulders, the tallest standing under the
middle of the boat, which is turned over, and one at
each end, or else there are two at the bows. More
cannot well take hold at once. But this requires some
practice, as well as strength, and is in any case ex
tremely laborious, and wearing to the constitution, to
follow. We were, on the whole, rather an invalid party,
and could render our boatmen but little assistance.
Our two men at length took the batteau upon their
shoulders, and, while two of us steadied it, to prevent
it from rocking and wearing into their shoulders, on
which they placed their hats folded, walked bravely
over the remaining distance, with two or three pauses.
In the same manner they accomplished the other por
tages. With this crushing weight they must climb and
stumble along over fallen trees and slippery rocks of
all sizes, where those who walked by the sides were



KTAADN 53

continually brushed off, such was the narrowness of
the path. But we were fortunate not to have to cut
our path in the first place. Before we launched our
boat, we scraped the bottom smooth again, with our
knives, where it had rubbed on the rocks, to save
friction.

To avoid the difficulties of the portage, our men de
termined to "warp up" the Passamagamet Falls; so
while the rest walked over the portage with the bag
gage, I remained in the batteau, to assist in warping
up. We were soon in the midst of the rapids, which
were more swift and tumultuous than any we had
poled up, and had turned to the side of the stream
for the purpose of warping, when the boatmen, who felt
some pride in their skill, and were ambitious to do
something more than usual, for my benefit, as I sur
mised, took one more view of the rapids, or rather
the falls; and, in answer to our question, whether we
couldn't get up there, the other answered that he
guessed he 'd try it. So we pushed again into the midst
of the stream, and began to struggle with the current.
I sat in the middle of the boat to trim it, moving
slightly to the right or left as it grazed a rock. With
an uncertain and wavering motion we wound and
bolted our way up, until the bow was actually raised two
feet above the stern at the steepest pitch; and then,
when everything depended upon his exertions, the bow
man's pole snapped in two; but before he had time
to take the spare one, which I reached him, he had
saved himself with the fragment upon a rock; and so
we got up by a hair's breadth; and Uncle George ex-



54 THE MAINE WOODS

claimed that that was never done before, and he had
not tried it if he had not known whom he had got in
the bow, nor he in the bow, if he had not known him
in the stern. At this place there was a regular portage
cut through the woods, and our boatmen had never
known a batteau to ascend the falls. As near as I can
remember, there was a perpendicular fall here, at the
worst place of the whole Penobscot River, two or three
feet at least. I could not sufficiently admire the skill
and coolness with which they performed this feat,
never speaking to each other. The bowman, not look
ing behind, but knowing exactly what the other is
about, works as if he worked alone. Now sounding in
vain for a bottom in fifteen feet of water, while the
boat falls back several rods, held straight only with
the greatest skill and exertion ; or, while the sternman
obstinately holds his ground, like a turtle, the bowman
springs from side to side with wonderful suppleness
and dexterity, scanning the rapids and the rocks with
a thousand eyes; and now, having got a bite at last,
with a lusty shove, which makes his pole bend and
quiver, and the whole boat tremble, he gains a few
feet upon the river. To add to the danger, the poles
are liable at any time to be caught between the rocks,
and wrenched out of their hands, leaving them at the
mercy of the rapids, the rocks, as it were, lying in
wait, like so many alligators, to catch them in their
teeth, and jerk them from your hands, before you have
stolen an effectual shove against their palates. The
pole is set close to the boat, and the prow is made to
overshoot, and just turn the corners of the rocks, in



KTAADN 55

the very teeth of the rapids. Nothing but the length
and lightness, and the slight draught of the batteau,
enables them to make any headway. The bowman
must quickly choose his course; there is no time to
deliberate. Frequently the boat is shoved between
rocks where both sides touch, and the waters on either
hand are a perfect maelstrom.

Half a mile above this two of us tried our hands at
poling up a slight rapid ; and we were just surmounting
the last difficulty, when an unlucky rock confounded our
calculations ; and while the batteau was sweeping round
irrecoverably amid the whirlpool, we were obliged to
resign the poles to more skillful hands.

Katepskonegan is one of the shallowest and weed
iest of the lakes, and looked as if it might abound in
pickerel. The falls of the same name, where we stopped
to dine, are considerable and quite picturesque. Here
Uncle George had seen trout caught by the barrelful;
but they would not rise to our bait at this hour. Half
way over this carry, thus far in the Maine wilderness
on its way to the Provinces, we noticed a large, flaming,
Oak Hall handbill, about two feet long, wrapped round
the trunk of a pine, from which the bark had been
stripped, and to which it was fast glued by the pitch.
This should be recorded among the advantages of this
mode of advertising, that so, possibly, even the bears
and wolves, moose, deer, otter, and beaver, not to men
tion the Indian, may learn where they can fit themselves
according to the latest fashion, or, at least, recover
some of their own lost garments. We christened this
the Oak Hall carry.



56 THE MAINE WOODS

The forenoon was as serene and placid on this wild
stream in the woods, as we are apt to imagine that Sun
day in summer usually is in Massachusetts. We were
occasionally startled by the scream of a bald eagle,
sailing over the stream in front of our batteau; or of
the fish hawks on whom he levies his contributions.
There were, at intervals, small meadows of a few acres
on the sides of the stream, waving with uncut grass,
which attracted the attention of our boatmen, who re
gretted that they were not nearer to their clearings,
and calculated how many stacks they might cut. Two
or three men sometimes spend the summer by them
selves, cutting the grass in these meadows, to sell to
the loggers in the winter, since it will fetch a higher
price on the spot than in any market in the State. On
a small isle, covered with this kind of rush, or cut-grass,
on which we landed to consult about our further course,
we noticed the recent track of a moose, a large, round
ish hole in the soft, wet ground, evincing the great size
and weight of the animal that made it. They are fond
of the water, and visit all these island meadows, swim
ming as easily from island to island as they make their
way through the thickets on land. Now and then we
passed what McCauslin called a pokelogan, an Indian
term for what the drivers might have reason to call a
poke-logs-in, an inlet that leads nowhere. If you get in,
you have got to get out again the same way. These,
and the frequent " runrounds " which come into the
river again, would embarrass an inexperienced voyager
not a little.

The carry around Pockwockomus Falls was exceed-



KTAADN 57

ingly rough and rocky, the batteau having to be lifted
directly from the water up four or five feet on to a rock,
and launched again down a similar bank. The rocks
on this portage were covered with the dents made by
the spikes in the lumberers' boots while staggering
over under the weight of their batteaux ; and you could
see where the surface of some large rocks on which
they had rested their batteaux was worn quite smooth
with use. As it was, we had carried over but half the
usual portage at this place for this stage of the water,
and launched our boat in the smooth wave just curving
to the fall, prepared to struggle with the most violent
rapid we had to encounter. The rest of the party
walked over the remainder of the portage, while I re
mained with the boatmen to assist in warping up. One
had to hold the boat while the others got in to prevent
it from going over the falls. When we had pushed up
the rapids as far as possible, keeping close to the shore,
Tom seized the painter and leaped out upon a rock
just visible in the water, but he lost his footing, not
withstanding his spiked boots, and was instantly amid
the rapids; but recovering himself by good luck, and
reaching another rock, he passed the painter to me,
who had followed him, and took his place again in the
bows. Leaping from rock to rock in the shoal water,
close to the shore, and now and then getting a bite
with the rope round an upright one, I held the boat
while one reset his pole, and then all three forced it
upward against any rapid. This was " warping up."
When a part of us walked round at such a place, we
generally took the precaution to take out the most



58 THE MAINE WOODS

valuable part of the baggage for fear of being
swamped.

As we poled up a swift rapid for half a mile above
Aboljacarmegus Falls, some of the party read their
own marks on the huge logs which lay piled up high
and dry on the rocks on either hand, the relics prob
ably of a jam which had taken place here in the Great
Freshet in the spring. Many of these would have to
wait for another great freshet, perchance, if they lasted
so long, before they could be got off. It was singular
enough to meet with property of theirs which they had
never seen, and where they had never been before, thus
detained by freshets and rocks when on its way to
them. Methinks that must be where all my property
lies, cast up on the rocks on some distant and unex
plored stream, and waiting for an unheard-of freshet
to fetch it down. O make haste, ye gods, with your
winds and rains, and start the jam before it rots!

The last half mile carried us to the Sowadnehunk
Deadwater, so called from the stream of the same name,
signifying " running between mountains," an important
tributary which comes in a mile above. Here we decided
to camp, about twenty miles from the Dam, at the mouth
of Murch Brook and the Aboljacknagesic, mountain
streams, broad off from Ktaadn, and about a dozen miles
from its summit, having made fifteen miles this day.

We had been told by McCauslin that we should here



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