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  • The Sebasticook River joins the mighty Kennebec at this point of land. Sturgeon, salmon, brook trout, alewives, and eels have travelled these waters over time. The salmon have carried their eggs and sperm to spawn in quiet cool pools upstream. From 1837 when the Edwards dam was built at Augusta until 2011 they could not reach the long winding cold Sandy River which is ideal for spawning on their own. They still do not come more than 3 or 4 a year. A state biologist is trying to put little ones in the Sandy with hope in four years they will be able to swim down and having reached the Gulf, find their way back again. The eels that come up here in the spring travel in winter to the Sargasso Sea. They live doing that for 3o years if they make it through the turbines coming downstream. Fishermen at the confluence told me the other day of fishers catching sturgeon off this point seven feet long. A man on a boat caught one after being dragged for a mile or more downstream. Many years small ships carried goods to and from the mills on this river. Before that canoes have carried families and goods up the Sebasticook to land they farmed and on across wetlands and small streams in spring into the Penobscot. Sebasticook means roughly "the way through" and it is wide and between. All these are only small pieces of stories about this river, this place, this confluence. I wish I could sit you in the middle of the story I am trying to tell.
  • For over a century workers crossed the two penny bridge to get to and from work in the mills on one side of side of the bridge or the other. First the French from Quebec came and the Irish, mostly women and children. The mills made either textile, paper, or woolen and were run by the earlier european settlers and fueled by immigrants. One dam upstream was built to debark trees for excelsior for packing. The dam's job now is to provide electricity and still the fish must climb ladders or be raised up in lifts to get upstream. Great logs came down this river to the paper mills up until fifty years ago. As cars became more common the two penny bridge was not as well used and fell into disrepair and was redone out of nostalgia a few years ago but still while we were there the other night a few men walked across it homeward in the dusk.
  • Now there is a bigger bridge and daily cars travel back and forth to shop, work, and tend to business. The buildings still remind me of the days when workers crossed the other bridge walking. Tomorrow many of them will do one extra thing. In Maine we have a long tradition of turning out to vote and voting independently and in good conscience. It is a good tradition. People here are used to living with change and hard times. Maybe that is why we have sent many great leaders to Washington, leaders who know of working together.

    November 5, 2012. Tomorrow is election day, another kind of confluence. People who will not sit down together, who threaten each other with hell and damnation, who hang the President of the United States in effigy, will all walk through those doors at polling places across the country and no matter what side of the river, no matter how long they have been citizens, they will walk through those doors and act with civility and cast their one and only ballot for the next leader of this country, this country of the people, all the people, together.

    I hope the tradition holds and we can walk proudly through the door together.
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