SOLON & BEYOND: Dead River not given its due

by Marilyn Rogers-Bull & Percy
Solon, Maine 04979

Good morning, my friends. Don’t worry, be happy!

Since I didn’t have any recent news, I decided to write about way Beyond with this poem written by a person who lived up in the Dead River area, about the flooding of Flagstaff and Dead River. It is taken from an Old clipping entitled Today’s Poem called Spirit of Dead River.

Beneath Mt. Bigelow’s lofty peak There lies a peaceful valley Dead River is the name of which I speak Tho it’s mentioned in news just rarely. Along the winding river and road have been the homes of many who lived and toiled under a heavy load while trying to save a penny. Around this spot, fond memories cling of days and events long past….. But unlike many another nice thing, They were too good to last. Years ago, they began to say( Thus spilling the word around) That there might be a dam some day to flood out all this ground. And so these Dead River folks have had to live and toil while thinking about and jokes of being driven from their soil. The day is surely drawing nigh when this valley will be no more; To old landmarks we must say goodbye—As we settle on another shore. From all the news you’ve heard and read by talk and radio or press It seems to be mostly Flagstaff that is suffering any distress. It’s just as hard and just as sad for Dead River folks to leave as those who live in Flagstaff; We all have cause to grieve. Of everything held dear to us we count our Flagstaff friends tho leaving them will be hard, we must. As each heart with sadness bends. Mt. Bigelow will still hold sway after the man-made lake has filled It’s lofty peak in majestic way will keep people thrilled. Wouldn’t “Mt. Bigelow Lake” be an appropriate name or maybe “Dead River Lake” in this land of fish and game? Dead River valley will hold and make the man-made body of water yet they want to call it Flagstaff Lake. Do you think they really oughtter?

The ancient clipping states that Elfred Russell wrote the above poem. I would really like to know how many of you would agree with his choice. As I remember, he was quite old when he wrote the poem, so I don’t believe he could still be alive (although I am living proof that people born up in that neck of the woods live a long time!).

He is right, Dead River folks and their feelings about the whole episode of driving us from our homes and land has not been mentioned as much as Flagstaff, and I apologize! The whole of those last days living up there with all the fires surrounding us, and knowing we had to find homes elsewhere was very upsetting to say the least! No one can know unless they have experienced it.

Another one of my saved clippings tells more about the beginning of the dam in Dead River. Preliminary work, including road building and clearing of timberland, was in progress today on the giant Dead River water storage project, Central Maine Power Company President William F. Wyman, said.

The W. H. Hinman Company, of North Anson, is building a road from The Stratton-Dead River road to the spot at Long Falls where the major dam will be built.

Actual construction of the dam will not begin before 1949, Wyman said. The $4,800,000 dam will create a new lake near to and larger than the big lakes in the Rangeley chain, and will provide another fishing area for New England sportsmen.

And so for Percy’s memoir: I don’t say embrace trouble. That’s as bad as treating it as an enemy. But I do say meet it as a friend, for you’ll see a lot of it and had better be on speaking terms with it.


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