In 1620 Europeans began to displace the natives and use the abundant resources of the area for sustenance. Between 1631 and 1634 many of the small creeks in the region were dammed to power both saw and grist mills. As demand for cut wood increased, the demand to power mills followed suit. Remnants of these dams and mills can still be found in the Mt. A region.
A great deal of the old growth White Pine (“Mast Pine” or “King’s Pine”) was ordered by the King of England (who “owned” the land) to be cut for ship masts in order to expand the British Navy.
As these massive trees were cut, some of which (in New England) were over 200 feet tall and 8 feet in diameter, the land was converted into pasture. Throughout the 17th century, Mt. Agamenticus was used primarily as common grazing ground for the cattle and sheep owners in the greater York area. One only needs to look into the woods from nearly any trail in the area to see remnants of pastures. One of the most common human artifacts of the Mt. Agamenticus region is its stonewalls. The abundant stonewalls observed on the mountain were created during the era of pastures in order to keep livestock contained. Mt. Agamenticus is well known for its shallow bedrock, which was never conducive to either pastures or to farming. Upon farm abandonment in the late 1800’s and early 1900s, pastures soon began to regenerate into “new forests” of oak and hemlock.
Very few families lived in the Mt. A region during the era of farm abandonment. Families that did remain in the area lived largely on what the land had to offer. Chestnut Oak was cut into cordwood for heat and converted into charcoal in order to fuel the area’s burgeoning industrial economy. On their infrequent trips to town, the people of Mt. A also traded berries and the baskets, which they had become known for.
Generations later, Mt. A still fosters bountiful crops of blueberries early in the summer. The Chestnut Oak population onMt. A is the northern terminus for this hardwood, and hence is rather rare in the state of Maine. Due to its historic exploitation as a “fuel wood” and current development within its range, the Chestnut Oak is listed as an “endangered species” in Maine. When inspecting one of these narrow, twisted trees, it is easy to see why its lumber would have very little commercial value other than as fuel.
Last Updated on Monday, 11 February 2013 19:14