2015-12-04 / Letters

Dam removal would return river to ‘grandeur’

To the editor:

I offer the following observation of local historian Edward Bourne, from his 1875 book “History of Wells and Kennebunk,” to help allay the fears of those who believe removing Kennebunk Light and Power District’s three dams will leave an aesthetically unattractive Mousam River landscape.

This is how Bourne described the Mousam as it appeared precisely at the spot Kesslen Dam now stands.

“We now turn our attention to the eastern part of the town, and chiefly to that portion of it which constitutes the present village of Kennebunk. Perhaps a more beautiful and romantic locality was not to be found on the coast of Maine than was, at that time, presented by the Mousam River and its vicinage … The fall extended nearly half a mile, being in its whole descent about forty feet, and from the beginning to the end was overhung with magnificent oaks, standing on each side of the river and intertwining their branches, so that the stream glided along under an arch surpassing in grandeur and beauty any work of man which could be substituted in its place. The stately pines … towering far above all other trees of the forest, stood along the banks, as watchmen, to guard against any vandalism which would attempt to intrude upon and violate its sacred magnificence. At their accustomed seasons, the stream was crowded with salmon, while the wilderness adjoining was vocal with the music of innumerable songsters.”

That landscape, not just at Kesslen, but for miles upriver as well, is part of the legacy the Kennebunk community can leave to all its future generations by simply removing the wholly uneconomical dams and allowing the river to restore itself to what would soon enough become a worthy semblance of what it had been not so long ago.

John Redman

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