Flooded Flagstaff

Over at my day job we have a reminiscence by writer Jane Lamb about her experiences as a schoolteacher in Flagstaff, one of Maine's lost towns, during the 1940s.

In 1949 the Central Maine Power Company (CMP) began building a dam at Long Falls on the Dead River in order to create a large, manmade lake north of the Bigelow Mountains. CMP wanted to generate hydroelectric power, and it needed this dam so it could release regular, controlled flows of water out of the impoundment to turn its electrical turbines downstream on the Kennebec River. Unfortunately for the residents of two villages that happened to be located in the Dead River valley, this massive public works project also involved the wholesale destruction of their communities. In 1949 the residents of Flagstaff and Dead River Plantation were evacuated. Their homes and businesses were relocated or burned to the ground. And within a few short months, these historic townships—founded by Benedict Arnold himself—were literally washed off the Maine map.

In The Poacher's Son I've taken the artistic liberty of raising the sunken villages from the bottom of Flagstaff Lake and restored them to dry land as if nothing had ever happened to them. One of the themes of the book is dislocation, and the story of Flagstaff's flooding had special resonance for me as I contemplated the many sweeping changes currently taking place in the Maine North Woods. 

Jane's essay offers some interesting insights into what it felt like to come of age in a town that no longer exists. You should read it.