The township is immediately west of Carrying Place Town Township, host to the next northerly section of the AT. Little Bigelow Mountain, Myron H. Avery Peak, and West Peak challenge Appalachian Trail hikers. Bigelow Public Reserve Land, through which the Trail passes, is located in Dead River Township, Wyman Township, and Bigelow Township, in Franklin and Somerset counties.
Dead River TWP has approximately ten miles of shore frontage on Flagstaff Lake, the historic route of the Dead River itself.
The eastern end of the lake dominates the center of the township. Dead River flows into the lake at its western end in Bigelow Township, then exits at its northeast extent, ultimately joining the Kennebec River at The Forks.
All of the trail hiking is done along the Bigelow Range averaging more than 2,000 feet in elevation. Scenic views never seem to end, since most of the trip is above the tree line.
In October 1775, Benedict Arnold’s expedition to Quebec slogged its way through the township as it sought to find the path of the then swollen Dead River.
Col. Timothy Bigelow was in the expedition when it passed through Eustis. He later returned to the area and is reputed to be the first white man to summit the mountain that now bears his name.
Population counts were reported by the U.S. Census for the “Dead River Settlement” beginning in 1830 and ending in 1940. According to George Varney,
A bridge of wood and iron, 300 feet in length, spans the river here. . . . Hurricane Falls on Dead River, near the northeastern part, present an attractive view and afford a good water-power. . . . The Methodists of the plantation hold meetings and employ a minister. There are two public schoolhouses . . . .
The area was identified as “Dead River Plantation” on USGS topographic maps of 1928 and 1944. The 1956 map identifies it as “Dead River (T3 R3 BKP WKR), ” its current designation. The Settlement, and the adjoining town of Flagstaff, was obliterated in 1949 by the new Flagstaff Lake created by the Long Falls Dam.
Topographic maps: University of New Hampshire Dimond Library, Documents Department & Data Center, Historic USGS Maps of New England & New York, from http://docs.unh.edu/towns/DeadRiverPlantationMaineMapList.htm (accessed 11/23/2014)
Varney, George J. A Gazetteer of the State of Maine. 1886. pp. 192-193.
Brady Williams photos, August 2003 and September 2007.