Scenic Driving Through Maine in the Rain

Okay, so where was I? ... Oh yes, The Chapman Inn in Bethel, Maine where Jamie, my mom, and myself had just finished up a hearty breakfast (I had what was "possibly the world's best French toast" which quite possibly was!) after which Fred, our innkeeper, had promised that the rain had stopped and it was going to be beautiful.  Unfortunately, Fred was a bit wrong in his assessment but as we filled the gas tank and headed out for a scenic drive, the skies didn't look too threatening.

Our first stop was the Sunday River Covered Bridge aka The Artist's Bridge in Newry - just outside of Bethel a bit - and easy enough to find if you just follow the signs!

Artist's Bridge

This 1872 wooden bridge was built in the Paddleford truss design which is found only in New England ... you folks remember New Hampshire's Peter Paddleford that I mentioned way back in an earlier post who modified the Long truss to create a durable system of interlocking counterbraces, right? 

Inside view of the Artist's Bridge

The 87-foot bridge was closed to traffic in 1958 when a new bridge was built downstream and was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on February 16th, 1970.  It's more widely known as the Artist's Bridge because of its reputation as being the most photographed and painted historic covered bridge in Maine.  I guess whoever is keeping track of that can add me to the list!

Sunday River Bridge

Not only was the bridge itself quite photogenic, but the surrounding area and the Sunday River were rather nice, too!

View of the Sunday River from the Artist's Bridge
The Sunday River

Back when we were over in North Conway, Jamie had gotten a small stuffed skunk in the gift shop that she decided she would pose with whenever I insisted she stand still and smile so her she is with her skunk - I guess this is sort of a smile!

Jamie on the Sunday River Bridge

Speaking of smiles, someone before us was having some fun with acorns!

Fun with acorns!

By the by, I just have to share a link to a website that I found yesterday with pictures from a wedding that was held on the bridge in 2009 because the pictures are just so well done and the ceremony looks like it was wonderful! My best wishes to Amy & Chad - the happy bride and groom - I hope their love lasts as long as the Artist's Bridge has stood and longer!

The Artist's Bridge

Leaving the Artist's Bridge behind to the other folks who were starting to show up to capture its beauty themselves, we headed north out of Newry and up Route 26 towards Grafton Notch State Park. Our first stop there was the beautiful Screw Auger Falls - one of Maine's most heavily visited waterfalls. 

Screw Auger Falls

Screw Auger Falls (and no, I don't know how it got its name!) is a 30-foot plunge over the lip of a broad granite ledge into a gorge. Below the main plunge, the Bear River travels through a curvaceous gorge while it drops an additional thirty feet in a series of cascades past giant potholes, shallow pools and grottos.

Screw Auger Falls

As glaciers began to melt thousands of years ago, excessive amounts of water flowed into the Bear River carrying rocks and sand along with the current which provided consistent abrasion that smoothed away the gorge walls to create “potholes” that are still visible today from the gorge above the falls.

Screw Auger Falls

Cascade at Screw Auger Falls

Unfortunately, it was at this point that the rain that Fred had declared to be gone decided to make a return appearance so I wasn't able to get as many pictures as I'd have liked of the area.  I'd learned my lesson back down in Jackson that slippery rocks and myself were not a good combination so I grabbed a few more quick shots before we got back into the car to continue our drive! 

Screw Auger Falls

Even the skunk had stayed in the car while we were at the falls as Jamie didn't want to get it wet! 

Jamie at Screw Auger Falls

There was another set of falls in Grafton Notch State Park called Mother Walker Falls that I would have liked to have seen but they were a bit further of a hike from the road than Screw Auger Falls and the rain was starting to come down way too hard for us to make the trek out there and back.  We did get out of the car long enough for me to shoot this picture in the area of Mother Walker Falls, though!

Grafton Notch State Park

When you add on the fact that it had gotten a bit cold in addition to the rain there was no way that my thin-skinned-former-Florida daughter was going to tromp through the woods to go see some falling water!  We didn't get to see Moose Cave for the same reason but it's up there, too. Maybe I'll get back that way someday when the weather is a bit more pleasant ... maybe!

Magalloway River

Leaving Grafton Notch State Park behind, we continued our drive up to the northwestern part of Maine in the direction of the Rangeley Lake region - another spot that Yankee Magazine had declared to be more than worth going to for foliage.  Along the way, though, I came across another one of Maine's nine historic covered bridges which spans the Magalloway River near Lincoln Plantation - i.e., the middle of nowhere!

Bennett Bridge

In order to get to this bridge, you have to drive through the Aziscoos Valley Campground which is next to the river. It was a nice looking little place and obviously empty on a dreary Thursday though I suspect the upcoming Columbus Day weekend may have brought a few people out - provided the weather got better!

Bennett-Bean Covered Bridge

Built in 1901 using the the Paddleford truss design, the bridge is 90 feet in length and cost approximately $1,000 to build. Closed to traffic in 1985, the bridge underwent a $581,000+ restoration in 2005. Ouch! Like Maine's other historic covered bridges, the Bennett-Bean bridge was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on February 16th, 1970.

Jamie & Orbs at the Bennett-Bean Bridge

Something that I hadn't noticed until I was editing pictures last night is that in the picture above, there are quite a few orbs that I really have no idea how they got there.  Obviously there was no sun flare as the day was really overcast, the rain had stopped for the moment while we were there so there were no water droplets on the lens, and I highly doubt that we had kicked up any dust either!  If you biggify the picture, you can see a series of orbs leading into the bridge itself.

An orb inside the Bennett-Bean Bridge

In this picture above, you can see a well-formed orb to the left of the shot and yet in the picture below, which was taken immediately after the first one as I tend to shoot in continuous mode most times, there is no orb at all.

Inside of the Bennett-Bean Bridge

Things that make you go hmmm ... Anyhow, as you can see, Jamie brought out her skunk for our walk around the bridge but she's still not exactly smiling!  Of course, how many teenagers would be smiling while their mom drags them around in cold rainy weather in Maine to take pictures of old bridges?  Probably not a lot but all things considered, Jamie did very well on this trip!

Jamie inside the Bennett-Bean Bridge

Getting back into the car where my Mom had been reading a book while Jamie and I explored the bridge, we continued on our 75-mile scenic route from Bethel to Rangeley driving past a whole lot of nothing except for the occasional sign for a campground or logging road until we reached the Rangeley Lake Scenic Overlook on Route 17 where someone had gifted a nice rock to the State of Maine!

Rangeley Scenic Overlook Rock

Unfortunately, it was at this point that the rain really started up again along with a wind that was whipping along at a pretty good clip so I was the only one stupid brave enough to get out of the car to try to take a view pictures of the view I'd driven all this way to see!

Rangeley Lake Region of Maine

Just so's you know - Rangeley Lake is 6,000 acres in size and has a maximum depth of 145 feet.  I bet it's real pretty when you can actually see it, too!

Clouds over Rangeley Lake

Oh well ... you can't argue with Mother Nature and win, can you?
Next stop was another spot that was reported to be absolutely beautiful - Height of Land ...

Height of Land Sign

According to everything I had read prior to going on our trip, Height of Land "is one of the most stunning and unsurpassed outlooks in the state of Maine and offers the traveler beautiful panoramic westerly views of hundreds of square miles of pristine lakes, majestic mountains and lush forests that dazzle viewers in the autumn with rich shades of red, orange, and yellow. Enjoy the beautiful views of the clear blue Mooselookmeguntic Lake, as well as the spectacular White Mountain chain in neighboring New Hampshire."

A cloudy view from Height of Land, Maine

Uhm, yeah ... about that ...

Mooselookmeguntic Lake

That's Mooselookmeguntic Lake –at 16,300 acres the 4th largest lake in Maine with a maximum depth of 139 feet.  The name comes from the Abnaki Indian word for “moose feeding place” but there's a humorous legend that states that a brave was out hunting moose in the area and saw one but he had forgotten to load his rifle,  Taking the shot anyway he afterwards yelled about his misfortune to the moose, which wisely ran off before the rifle could be loaded.  No doubt everyone had a good chuckle about the incident around the campfire later that night - where they probably weren't dining on moose!

Up in the clouds in Maine

Even though we were there a little before peak for the foliage, I bet had the skies been clear rather than covered with low-lying clouds that it would have been a very spectacular view but alas, that wasn't to be the case on this trip.

The turnout for Height of Land

I turned back out onto the road which was doing its best impression of a washboard (just FYI, the Appalachian Trail crosses Route 17 immediately adjacent to this turnout) and continued south in the hopes that maybe we'd leave the bad weather in the upper elevations and I'd find those blue skies that Fred had promised us!   Along the way, I caught sight of another spot to stop and pulled over next to Coos Canyon where I managed to get Jamie and her skunk out of the car with me - woohoo!

Coos Canyon, Byron, Maine

According to the Maine Department of Conservation Geological website, "On a stretch of road designated as a National Scenic Byway, the formidable Coos Canyon was formed by the violent action of the Swift River as it pours from the Western Mountains across the metamorphic units that underlie this area. The waters of the Swift also carry with it flakes of precious metal from a "mother lode" somewhere out in the hills, making this a popular stop with gold panners."

Coos Canyon Rock Pavement

I didn't see anyone there panning for gold but we did see some pretty interesting rock formations like the one above which covered a huge area next to the canyon and felt more like walking on wood then it did rock. According to the Maine Geological folks, the rocks in the Coos Canyon area are a variety of metamorphic rock units which range in age from around 490 to 400 million years old which are punctured by several bodies of granite and related igneous rocks that are as young as 370 million years old. Oh mai!

Rock formations at Coos Canyon

As you can see, the Swift River has done one heck of a job in carving this area out even though it may look like it's not that powerful of a river.  Believe it or not, the water depth can get to be up to 20 feet in this gorge!

Coos Canyon

There's a rather small bridge that Jamie and I walked out on that crosses over the top of the 32-foot deep canyon and trust me, it's a lot higher than it looks - so sayeth she who is not all that fond of heights!

The Swift River at Coos Canyon

There's that kid not smiling again but in this case maybe it's because those thin guide-wires are all that was between herself and the river below!

Jamie on the bridge over Coos Canyon

Folks in Maine like to put plaques on rocks!

Plaque at Coos Canyon

Coos Canyon is located in Byron, Maine which had a population of 121 back during the 2000 U.S. Census, it may have grown some since then but probably not by much as it seemed pretty durned small - but quaint!  The town was incorporated back in January of 1833 and is named for the English poet, Lord Byron.

Coos Canyon School

Even though the population of the town is quite small, the town itself has a total area of about 52 miles and at one time it had six school districts and there were three schoolhouses.  The one above is located directly across from the canyon next to the town's post office.  I'm not exactly sure how old it is as when I took this picture it was starting to rain rather steadily again and I wanted to get back in the car so we could continue our journey south to hopefully a dryer locale!

The Swift River at Coos Canyon

Next post I'll continue our trip back down to Bethel where I found another covered bridge and something I wasn't exactly expecting to see in Maine!


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