Maine River Was Once so Polluted That its Fumes Peeled Paint Off Nearby Homes
It's hard to believe that out of all the beautifully clean water we enjoy here in the Pine Tree State, at one time, one of Maine's rivers was on the national top 10 list for filthiest in the country.
But alas, here we are.
Maine is home to thousands of lakes, ponds, streams and rivers and, for the most part, the water is some of the cleanest in the entire nation. However, the Industrial Revolution wasn't always kind to our Maine waterways.
These days, Maine has plenty of bodies of water that are exceptionally clean. Take for example the water in Central Maine's Lake St. George. If you've never been swimming there, it's one of the cleanest lakes around. Even in some of the deepest portions of the lake, you can toss on a pair of swimming goggles and see straight to the bottom.
However, when it comes to some of Maine's oldest and longest rivers, keeping them clean was a struggle for decades. Especially when it came to Maine's raging Androscoggin River.
The river, which begins in Errol, New Hampshire, flows into Maine, through the Rumford area, down into Lewiston / Auburn and eventually meets the Kennebec River at Merrymeeting Bay, according to Wiki.
But how can a river that is of average cleanliness today once have been so dirty that its fumes were capable of taking paint off of nearby houses? Industry, that's how.
Before the Clean Water Act of 1972, which was penned in part by Maine's Edmond Muskie, the river was a dumping ground for area paper and textile mills that sat just feet from her shores, according to an article from Colby News.
Additionally, the river flowed by miles and miles of Maine farmland where waste would wash away into the river, Maine Public stated.
According to Maine Public, the river was once so dirty and full of nasty chemicals, that the oxygen level in the water was nearly non-existent.
The news site reported that this caused the deaths of millions of fish in the river and produced a toxic smell that could be picked up for miles away from her shores.
Today, the Androscoggin River is arguably cleaner than it has ever been, at least since people have settled on the shores. And while there is still a major river pollution problem in dozens of rivers around the United States, the mighty Andro is no longer on the list.
From the putrid stank literally peeling paint, according to Maine Public, to a river that now hosts an array of recreational water activities from fishing, boating and white water rafting, the ol' Androscoggin River has come a long way.
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Gallery Credit: Michelle Heart