Kennebec River

Kennebec River

Infobox River | river_name = Kennebec River

caption = The Kennebec River just south of Bath
origin = Moosehead Lake
mouth = Gulf of Maine, North Atlantic Ocean
basin_countries = United States
length = 149 mi (240 km)
elevation = 1,024 ft (312 m)
discharge = 9,111 ft³/s (258 m³/s)
at its entrance to Merrymeeting Bay
watershed = 5,869 mi² (15,200 km²)

The Kennebec River is a river, 150 mi (240 km) long, in the state of Maine in the northeastern United States. It rises in Moosehead Lake in west central Maine. The East and West Outlets join at Indian Pond and the river then flows southward where it is joined, at the The Forks by the Dead River, also called the West Branch [The Upper Kennebec Valley By John F. Hall p 7 The main stem, from Indian pond was sometimes called the East Branch ] then continues southward past the cities of Madison, Skowhegan, Waterville, and the state capital Augusta. At Richmond, it flows into Merrymeeting Bay, a 16 mi (26 km) long freshwater, tidal bay into which also flow the Androscoggin River and five other smaller rivers. The Kennebec then runs past the shipbuilding center of Bath, thence to the Gulf of Maine in the Atlantic Ocean. Ocean tides affect the river height as far north as Augusta. Tributaries of the Kennebec River include the Carrabassett River, Sandy River, and Sebasticook River.


The river was explored by Samuel de Champlain in 1604 and 1605. In 1607, the Popham Colony, the first English colony in New England, was founded near its mouth. The river, then known as the Sagadahoc River, also marked the northern border of the 1622 land patent of the Province of Maine granted to Ferdinando Gorges and John Mason.


The "Virginia of Sagadahoc", the first oceangoing vessel built in the New World by English-speaking shipwrights, was launched into the river. Hundreds of wooden and steel vessels have since been launched on the Kennebec, particularly in Bath, the so-called "City of Ships", including the Wyoming, one of the largest wooden schooners ever built. The sole remaining shipyard is the Bath Iron Works, one of the few yards still building warships for the United States Navy. The USCGC Kennebec was named after this river.

Ice industry

In 1814 Frederic Tudor began to establish markets in the West Indies and the southern United States for Ice. In 1826 Rufus Page built the first large ice house near Gardiner to supply Tudor. The ice was harvested by farmers and other who were inactive due to the winter weather. The ice was cut by hand, floated to an ice house on the bank, and stored until spring. Then, packed in sawdust it was loaded aboard ships and sent south. [ Maine's Ice Industry by Richard Judd in Maine The Pine Tree State form Prehistory to the present]

Natural resources

Prior to the industrial era, the river contained many anadromous fish, in particular the Atlantic Salmon. The exploiting of hydroelectric power in the region reduced the runs of such fish. The removal of dams on the river has been a controversial local issue in recent years. The removal of the Edwards Dam in 1999 has led to increased anadromous activity on the river.


The river drains a total area of 5,870 square miles (15,200 km²), and on average discharges 5.893 billion U.S. gallons per day into Merrymeeting Bay at a rate of 9,111 cubic feet per second (258 m³/s). The United States government maintains three river flow gauges on the Kennebec river. The first is at Indian Pond, Maine (coord|45.51114|-69.81080|type:landmark_region:US-ME|name=Indian Pond, Maine) where the rivershed is convert|1590|sqmi|km2. Flow here has ranged from 32,900 to 161 cubic feet per second. The second is at Bingham, Maine (coord|45|3|6|N|69|53|12|W|type:landmark_region:US-ME|name=Bingham, Maine) where the rivershed is convert|2715|sqmi|km2. Flow here has ranged from 65,200 to 110 cubic feet per second. The third is at North Sidney, Maine (coord|44|28|21|N|69|41|09|W|type:landmark_region:US-ME|name=Bingham, Maine) where the rivershed is convert|5403|sqmi|km2. Flow here has ranged from 232,000 to 1,160 cubic feet per second. Two additional river stage gauges (no flow data) are in Augusta, Maine (coord|44|19|06|N|69|46|17|W|type:landmark_region:US-ME|name=Augusta, Maine) and Gardiner, Maine (coord|44|13|50|N|69|46|16|W|type:landmark_region:US-ME|name=Gardiner, Maine); both of these gauge heights are affected by ocean tides. [ cite web | author=G.J. Stewart, J.P. Nielsen, J.M. Caldwell, A.R. Cloutier | year=2002| title=Water Resources Data - Maine, Water Year 2001 | format=PDF | work=Water Resources Data - Maine, Water Year 2001 | url= | accessdate=2006-05-07 ]

Before the river was dammed, it was navigable as far as Augusta. The founder of Colby College sailed his sloop, "Hero", up to Augusta and a longboat to Waterville where he founded the college.

On April 1, 1987, melting snow and 4 to convert|6|in|mm of rain in the mountains forced the river to flood her banks. By the next day, the peak of the flooding was at convert|34.1|ft|m|abbr=on above flood stage. It caused about $100 million in damage (171 million in 2008 dollars)Fact|date=February 2008, flooding 2,100 homes, destroying 215, and damaging 240 others. Signs of the flood can still be found around the towns and cities that line the river.

ee also

*List of Maine rivers

External links

* [] Kennebec River profile
*Real-time flow or stage data for the [ The Forks] , [ Bingham] , [ North Sidney] , [ Augusta] , and [ Gardiner] gages.
* [ Kennebec-Chaudiere] Kennebec-Chaudiere International Corridor


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