Here is a brief video that shows how the Perham Stream Bridge looks visually as the High Peaks Alliance, The North Franklin Snowmobile Club and the Narrow Guage Riders collaborated to get this rebuilt and safe. Thank you to the Franklin County Commissioners for help from TIF Funding to keep ITS/84/89 open and safe.
Hodding Carter IV doesn’t quite match the sweater-vest-wearing, finger-pointing lecturers you might imagine when you hear the title ‘historian.’
Though he might don a sweater vest from time to time, the chances are slim to none that you’ll find Carter pointing any fingers while delivering a stuffy, monotone lecture on Eric the Red’s settlement of Greenland, or Lewis and Clark’s journey westward.
Carter tends to choose a more hands on approach.
For example: reliving the 350-mile river route taken by Benedict Arnold and his team of soldiers by paddling it himself, complete in traditional Colonial garb with traditional Colonial expedition meals.
The 1775 attempt to attack Quebec City began with more than 1,000 soldiers and 200 flat-bottomed river boats called bateaux. After sailing up the Maine coast from Cambridge, Mass. the army moved inward from Pittston, traveling up the Kennebec River before branching off along The Dead River and through Flagstaff Lake.
With early snow, inaccurate maps and numerous portages- including a 12-mile long haul- the army took a beating. Many soldiers weren’t accustomed to white water rapids and the boats began leaking from the rough journey, ruining food and gunpowder. More than 400 soldiers abandoned the trip, many became sick or injured and some died. By the time the crusade arrived in Quebec, less than 700 weak, starving men remained.
“Most people read about this journey and their reaction is ‘oh my god, that’s the most gruesome, horrible thing, thank god I never have to do that.’ But when I read about it my reaction was ‘oh my god, that’s the most gruesome, horrible thing, thank god I can try it myself’,” Carter said.
Carter, along with three friends, depart Sept. 25 from Pittston- retracing the strokes and steps of the famously disastrous expedition.
“A lot of people think of it as a failed trip, but I don’t see it that way. It was 700 men traveling through wilderness that had barely been touched except by natives. They succeeded in making that path. I see it as a huge accomplishment and this incredible moment in history,” Carter said.
This isn’t the first time Carter has felt compelled to reenact incredible moments in history. The award-winning, Mississippi-born writer has also retraced the paths of Lewis and Clark and sailed in a Viking ship across the Atlantic to “discover the new world.”
The route of Benedict Arnold’s army can be seen along the right side of the map.
Never at a loss for finding humor in the struggle, Carter has found himself in some of the most outrageous and trying situations. The “Friends of Benedict Arnold Expedition 2017” is sure to contribute to his gallery of unimaginable scenarios.
“My friends are always asking to come on one of my trips with me, but when I told them about this one suddenly everyone had to wash their cars that weekend. The three coming with me seem to be similarly minded as me. It’s all about pitting myself and my friends against accomplishments like that of Benedict Arnold’s to see what it really took,” Carter said.
The crew, unlike Arnold’s soldiers, are well accustomed to the white water rivers of Northern Maine. One of the men, Rob Stevens, will be building the 400-pound bateaux within the next couple weeks- following the rushed construction of the historical account. The same boat builder helped construct the viking vessel used for Carter’s 1,500 mile journey from Greenland to Newfoundland.
The other two soldiers are boat savvy as well- one a guide on the very rivers the journey will see and the other a wilderness instructor at the University of Vermont.
Carter said his training has included walking with 80 pound weights on his shoulders- preparing for the roughly 40 miles total of portaging of a 400 pound boat. Not to mention supplies. The crew will be eating foods that were typical during that time period- salted pork, rice, beans, pan bread and porridge.
“Anyone who wants to come help us along will be fed salt pork and pan bread,” Carter said.
The route will wind through Franklin County near Eustis, and Carter is encouraging the public to get involved. He plans to update his website as often as possible, as well as the trip’s Facebook page. He also has plans to write about the journey along the way, with a book in mind after returning. But unlike his other expeditions, this one is purely for his own entertainment.
“It’s all about wanting to do this. I’m really excited to finally be going,” he said.
The seasoned adventurer is only worried about two things:
“My toes freezing off and whining too loudly. In your head is okay, but I’ve gotta keep the out loud stuff in check,” he said.
The 200+ mile Franklin County walk begins on the Whistle Stop Trail, at the County Line in Jay. (Photo by Doug Dunlap Copyright 2017)
Outdoorsman Doug Dunlap is on another venture to emphasize the beauty and outdoor opportunity of Franklin County by hiking more than 200 miles of its woods, trails and towns.
Beginning in Jay on the 15.7 mile Whistle Stop Trail, Dunlap walked through Wilton and Farmington, continuing on to check New Vineyard, Strong, Freeman, Kingfield, Carrabassett Valley off his list before climbing over the South and North Horns of Bigelow Mountain and landing in Stratton-Eustis.
From there, Dunlap walked on to Coburn Gore where he crossed the United States border to visit Farmington’s sister town, Lac Megantic, Quebec. There he presented the town’s mayor Jean-Guy Cloutier with a letter of good will and a gift from the Farmington Board of Selectmen. The gift was a small watercolor painting of downtown Farmington, which Dunlap carried in his backpack.
From the border Dunlap made his way back down the length of the county, including a paddle across the Chain of Ponds. From Oquossoc Dunlap paddled a kayak across the length of Rangeley Lake to the town’s landing. Along with the addition of water travel, Dunlap included an ascent up Saddleback Mountain and Mt. Blue.
Doug Dunlap reaches Lac Megantic Quebec on his 200+ mile hike. (All photos by Doug Dunlap Copyright 2017)
His hike included trails such as the Whistle Stop, Maine Huts and Trails system, the trails of Bigelow Preserve, the Appalachian Trail, The Arnold Trail, the Longfellow Heritage Trail, Rangeley Lakes Heritage Trust trails and the Fly Rod Crosby Trail.
“I have hiked snomobile and ATV trails, done a bit of road walk, and bushwhacked where no other route was available,” Dunlap said. “Why? Because Franklin County has some of the most striking natural terrain to be found anywhere in the nation, with outstanding trail systems and a largely pristine landscape. Our high peaks and expansive lakes are uncrowded, and readily accessed by those looking for an authentic outdoor experience.”
Dunlap was expecting to have finished the hike a few days ago, coming down through Phillips over to Weld and then back to his home of Farmington.
“Our family has made this part of Maine home for nearly 40 years. After hiking long-distance trails such as the Appalachian Trail, John Muir Trail in California, and the Long Trail in Vermont, among others, I decided to give Franklin County its due,” he said.
Nature Tourism is needed to protect our Brand and our local economy in Maine’s High Peaks Region. Please support the High Peaks Alliance as the Local Voice in Land Conservation so we can keep our back country open. Our highest priority project is to Conserve the Mt. Abram parcel for it’s moose/wildlife, recreation and wood products values. It abuts the successful Orbeton/Linkletter Forest Legacy property.
We received a wonderful response to our request for help from Harry Tucci:
I would like to offer you my services as a Board member. I am intimately familiar with the Mission and service area of the Alliance. Years,ago before your formation I had formative discussions with Bruce Hazard about attempting a National Heritage Area, an idea I have successful experience with and that I passionately believe the Western Mountains of Maine would certainly qualify for.
I have over 30 years experience serving in the Boards of Land Trusts and Conservancies. I am familiar with Trail planning, having successfully developed several abandoned rail corridors into trails. I led the effort to have the Schuylkill River in PA,designated a National Heritage effort and thus am familiar with the development of Management Action Plans as well as tourist signage and brochures.
The High Peaks have so many compelling stories, and they are told by a myriad of strong partners. The Sandy River railroad, Rangeley fishing, Height of Land, Benedict Arnold, Saddleback, Kingfield, the AT. There is so much to Build upon as you contemplate expanding your mission.
It would give me undying pleasure to work tirelessly as a Volunteer Board member for such a fine organization. I have family in Wilton so the High Peaks flow through my veins literally daily. My only caveat is I don’t live in Maine, I live in PA. However I am more than willing to perform any Boars duties via email, chat, Skype, phone etc. at no cost to you.
If you’d like to learn more about what I can offer you as a Board member feel free to give me a call or if you’d like to accept my offer you can either call or reply to this email.
Be assured I will remain a Champion of your efforts no matter what you might decide.