By Walter Opuszynski
The Allagash Wilderness Waterway is a beacon for many long distance paddlers on the NFCT, looking to make their way to Fort Kent, ME. For NFCT interns Nicole and Peter, this location has been home for six weeks.
No one said it would be easy from the get-go. Matt Laroche, AWW Superintendent caught wind of the great stewardship work that we have been doing and thought there would be a good fit for our trained interns in the Allagash. The first project he had in mind was a doozy for a two person crew, but fortunately we were able to find Nicole and Pete. The challenge: construct 1,000 plus feet of stone causeway through a muddy sluice on the Tramway Carry.
The first day out on the carry we met up with Matt, Rangers Chris and Pat, and a couple of people who knew a bit about the history of the area. Matt gave us a run down of why the carry had such a high degree of historic significance. This 3/4 mile stretch of land was in the way of getting logs to go south where they would stay in US mills. With a lot of Yankee ingenuity and a few learning mistakes along the way the Tramway was constructed. The tramway was basically a conveyor belt that brought logs from Eagle Lake to Chamberlin. To keep the logs running downhill they built a berm of earth. The easiest thing to do was take what soil they could find from right next to the berm. This dropped the surface of what is now called the carry and created a situation where the carry became a sluice of mud.
Out of the 1,000 plus feet of causeway, there was about 200 feet that was particularly bad. I mean muck half way up your shin, filled with rotting logs and wood chips, with no way to get the water out of the trail. This is where the crew started, getting the worst out of the way first. We needed to dig ditches to divert the water, then remove the organics in order to build the causeway on something fairly solid.
Multiply this process by 1,000 plus feet and you have a big thank you to Nicole, Peter, and all the volunteers that helped. A huge “Thanks!” to Chamberlain Rangers Chris and Rick as well as Deb for treating us like family.
We also had two great Waterway Work Trips on this project that made a huge difference. And that is another story that we will soon tell….