It happens every year in
We all get a little edgy up here in the spring when the winter snowmelt raises the water levels in our streams and rivers; if we’ve had a particularly cold and snowy season, we get positively squirrely—the combination of snowmelt and ice jams means one thing to us.
One way to ease the situation is to send Coast Guard icebreakers up the rivers to break up winter ice in the main channels. As of today, the
Thunder Bay and the Tackle
have already started working their way up the Kennebec
River from Bath
on the coast all the way up to the City of , and the open access reduces the
chance of flooding. Gardiner
It’s a sure sign of spring up here, and we’re all delighted!
Memorable flood years for the
Kennebec include 1826, 1870, 1896 and 1987, when the
river rose 34 ft. above normal. I remember floating around in an old canoe in
the parking lot of the local grocery store (which is around the corner from
this street) during that flood.
There was a tiny liquor store in the same area; all the windows in the store broke, and set free hundreds of bottles of hooch—a rowboat full of guys armed with fishing nets had a wonderful time dipping for fifths of whiskey that bobbed in the floodwaters, although I remember more drinking than dipping. The ones they didn’t net went out with the tide and the floodwaters!
The photograph was taken in
on March 14, 1936 (photo courtesy of Gardiner Public Library). Some of the old
timers used to tell stories about how everybody rushed downtown to help the
merchants move their stock from the basements and first floors up to the higher
levels whenever flood warnings were issued. Gardiner, Maine
flows just behind this row of storefronts, the Johnson Opera House sign is
hanging off a building on the opposite side of the street. Most of the
buildings in this photo are still standing; the old multi-windowed shoe factory
in the background, though, is long gone. Kennebec River