New England Whitewater Adventure Circa October 1991

New England Whitewater Adventure Circa October 1991

I’ve been digitizing my old 35 mm negatives on and off for quite some time now. One of the many challenges I’ve encountered is my ability to accurately date the images. The latest set of images that I’m working with are almost 30 years old. They are from a New England whitewater adventure that I went on with my good friend Kevin S.

Cape Cod Style House

One October, a long time ago, Kevin and I packed up our Old Town H2Pro whitewater canoes and my Old Town Tripper and we embarked upon a week long tour of some of the rivers in the New England states. I drove my Chevy S-10 pickup on this trip. I know from automobile records that I had the S-10 from October 1988 to September 1997. That’s 9 years. To broad a time-frame to date these negatives.

I checked all my 3 × 5’s that I got from York Photo Lab years ago but they don’t have any date stamps on the back.

First Clue

We ran several rivers over the course of the week. The Piscataquog River and the Mascomo River in New Hampshire, the Dead River and the Penobscot River in Maine are some of the ones I remember. 

Aside from the rain we experienced on the day we left, from what I remember, the weather was beautiful the entire trip.

In New Hampshire we stayed with one of Kevin’s friends in his little Cape Cod style house. I remember going out to dinner somewhere for hot wings. I sat in the back of his station wagon and got quite car sick.

In Maine we tent camped at Katahdin Shadows Campground. This campground is located in Medway, Maine. The receipt had us checking in on October 15th and out on October 17th but the year is not stated. Somewhat of a clue.

Final Clue

While I was rummaging around in my photo room, looking for evidence to date these images I came across a brown paper bag with a hand drawn map on it. This map shows the logging roads along the Dead River. It was drawn for us by an elderly gentlemen outside of Webb’s General Store. Webb’s was located in West Forks, Maine. Since the Dead River is isolated from any main roads getting to the put in at Spencer Stream is very difficult. The guide book we were using suggested that we talk to the locals for directions because the logging roads in this area are constantly changing. So that is exactly what we did. I am not entirely sure but the elderly man may well have been Ed Webb himself. Edmund Farley Webb was a renowned local guide and river-runner who passed away in March of 2018.

In the end map proved to be invaluable to us. Not only did it get us to the confluence of Spencer Stream and the Dead River for our put in, it also gave me the last clue in dating these images.

On the back of the map, i.e. the bottom of the bag, there is a date stamp. JUN 08 91. This narrows it down nicely to the week of October 13th, 1991. Hard to believe but that New England whitewater adventure was 27 years ago!


After writing up this blog I was able to instant message my friend Kevin. In our text’s back in forth he asked if Robrandi had ever forgiven us for leaving her with a new born child. Now I knew for sure the dates were correct. My youngest child was born in April of 1991. We went on this sojourn in October of 1991. He was only 6 months old and Robrandi was not happy!

This Post Has 3 Comments

  1. Kevin I think we were both a little worried about the dam on the Mascoma. I am glad that I brought the rope. If you remember we almost had to use it to get my truck up the gravel hill at the Dead River put in. We were going to tow it with your Subaru but you were able to bounce up and down in the truck bed enough to get us out. LOL! What a time!

    And the Salon Hotel, wow…. every third person was missing a limb or part of a limb. My take away was that sawmill work is extremely dangerous and I should not apply for a job.

  2. That was a great trip! Very well planned, which is unusual for me as I usually just wing it. We made it to Tom and Paula’s house on schedule and without issue even though it rained the whole seven or eight hour trip. You never mentioned your carsickness. Sorry to hear that! Tom and Paula Cohen were very hospitable. The first river we ran was the Piscataquog, very close to their house near New Boston NH. This was supposed to be a warmup but as you recollected in a recent text, we got seperated when we chose different routs as we approached a split in the river. I believe I had a bad encounter with a downed tree. I vaguely remember that my leg was hurt. Maybe that is what is causing me such pain today! From there we headed to the Mascoma River for the annual drawdown of Mascoma Lake and the four or five miles of whitewater created just below the dam. I remember this as a short but exhilarating run. It was short enough that we did it twice. I do remember that we (or maybe just I) were a little nervous about the closeness of the “lethal” dam to the bottom of Excelsior Rapid. We set up a rescue line just in case.

  3. What an awesome trip! Very well planned, a rarity for me as I usually just wing it. We found Tom and Paula’s house without a problem despite driving for seven or eight hours in the rain. The Piscataquog was to be a warmup but as you mentioned in one of our IM’s, I had some sort of mishap. I don’t remember exactly but I think it was a downed tree. I remember that I hurt my leg and the next few days were painful. Maybe that’s why I have knee problems today! Anyway, it didn’t effect the rest of the trip. The Mascoma was fun. It was short enough that we went back and did it again. Next we headed north to Maine. One of the pictures was taken from a bridge over the Piscataquis River, which we did not run, but the rapid was intriguing enough for us to stop and get a picture. When we arrived at Katahdin Shadows we had heavy rain (my memory vs yours) which swelled the (East?) Branch of the Penobscot creating those huge waves at Grindstone Falls ( I’ve also heard it referred to as Whetstone or Millstone Falls). I revisited that rapid a couple of years later but the water was much lower and not nearly as challenging. The pictures of Katahdin were taken from the Golden Road. The Dead River was the best part of the trip in my opinion. Everything about it from the uncertainty (which gave us our dose of pioneering spirit) about even finding it, to the challenge of the rapids in a remote, unfamiliar wilderness alone. That was good stuff! And the Solon Hotel when second shift at the sawmill showed up!

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