History of Rafting on The Kennebec River: Part 2

Rafting the Kennebec todayOur first trips were very different from today’s Kennebec rafting trip. We put in at the East Outlet of Moosehead Lake, paddled and motored across Indian Pond, took off the motor, and carried around Harris Station dam (stopping for a traditional Maine guide lunch of grilled steak, boiled potatoes and onions over a campfire). We then re-launched just below the dam and began to float downstream without having ever seen the rest of the river.

Back then, we didn’t know how to paddle backwards. The command “About Face” was used to get all paddlers to stand up, turn around, and then sit down so we could paddle the opposite direction.  That first season in 1976, we had to call the Chase Paper Company every time we were going to raft on the Kennebec, to make sure they didn’t release logs through the log sluice at Harris Station. One day we forgot to call and the dam operator just happened to see a raft disappear downstream in the corner of his eye before he was about to flip the switch. We were lucky indeed!
The Forks Resort Center, Northern OutdoorsWayne and the bear hunters made it down the river that first run of 1976, exhilarated and terrified all at once. We fell in love with the river, the rafting, the excitement, and the beauty. Folks thought we were crazy at the time. We borrowed $15,000 from Wayne’s mother, bought more equipment, and Kennebec Whitewater Expeditions was born. We changed our name from to Northern Outdoors in 1983 to reflect the company’s new year-round direction with winter snowmobiling, and built our Adventure Resort lodge in The Forks, becoming a destination for New England whitewater rafting, snowmobiling, and Maine family adventure vacations.


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