Kennebec & Moose River Valleys
The Kennebec River Valley has long been an important transportation corridor between Maine and Canada. A large portion of the Kennebec-Chaudiere Corridor runs through this region. The corridor traces the history and culture of the historic 233-mile corridor between Quebec and Bath, tying together historic sites, cultural heritage attractions and outdoor recreation opportunities that grew up along the way. It encompasses much of the Kennebec River and Riviere Chaudiere in Canada and has been used over the years as a migration route for Native Americans, farmers seeking to build commerce, and 19th century French Canadian and Irish immigrants coming to work in Maine. Benedict Arnold was one of the more notable figures who used the corridor during the American Revolution as he lead 1,000 soldiers in an attempt to attack a British garrison in Quebec.
The southern part of the region includes Augusta, the state capital. It is the second smallest capital in the United States (only Montpelier, VT has fewer residents). The Capitol Building, with its distinctive dome built of granite from the neighboring town of Hallowell, towers above the State Museum, which houses some of Maine’s most historic artifacts. Shipbuilding, granite quarrying, textile manufacturing, lumbering and natural history are among the extensive exhibits.
Across the river, on the east bank of the Kennebec, is Old Fort Western. Built in 1754, it is America’s oldest surviving wooden fort. Another fort the era is Fort Halifax in Waterville. Its blockhouse is thought to be the oldest in the United States.
Founded in 1813, Colby College in Waterville is home to the Colby College Museum of Art, the state’s largest art museum, specializing in 18th, 19th and 20th century American art, but includes works by Rembrandt, Renoir, Toulouse-Lautrec, and Picasso.
Waterville was home to the Hathaway Shirt Factory, the nation’s oldest shirt manufacturer. Hathaway built a factory here in 1853 and made shirts for 149 years until it shut down in 2002. Hathaway was made famous in advertising thanks to the man with the patch over his eye who became a cultural icon.
Follow Route 201 north to Hinckley and the L.C. Bates Museum and a quirky combination of Art, Americana, Natural History and Archaeology exhibits. They offer several guided walks and natural history tours on its 2,450-acre campus.
The town of Skowhegan is one of Maine’s gateways to outdoor recreation. It is home to a 62-foot tall wooden Indian at the junction of Routes 2 and 201.
The Margaret Chase Smith Library is located in Skowhegan. Margaret Chase Smith became the first woman ever elected to both houses of Congress.
The Skowhegan Fair has been running since 1818, making it the oldest continuously operated fair in North America.
It is easy to see why Route 201 between Solon and the Canadian border has been designated a National Scenic Byway by the Federal Highway Administration. No matter what the season, the mountains and the river are beautiful to behold.
The Forks is Maine’s center of whitewater rafting. Raft Maine is an association of 14 rafting companies dedicated to providing the highest quality experience for outdoor enthusiasts. Maine’s outdoor outfitters offer both soft and hard adventures. Rafting, hiking, mountain biking, canoeing and kayaking, sportyaking, fishing, sailing, rock-climbing and ropes courses complete the adventure menu.
Soft adventure is not limited to summer and fall. Snowmobiling is Maine’s most popular winter activity and the Kennebec & Moose River Valleys Region vies for the distinction of being the snowmobile capital of Maine with its neighbor to the north, Aroostook County. Maine has more than 12,000 miles of groomed and marked snowmobile trails, so it’s easy to see why it is such a popular winter activity.