|Maine House||District 141|
|Maine Senate||District 5|
|Area sq. mi.||(total) 39.5|
|Area sq. mi.||(land) 38.9|
Total=land+water; Land=land only
[mat-ah-WAHM-keg] is a town in Penobscot County, incorporated on February 14, 1860 from Mattawamkeag Plantation on the site of an ancient Indian village.
The Mattawamkeag River, on which the town is located as it enters the Penobscot, is the largest eastern tributary of the Penobscot. The junction of the two rivers is marked by a gravel bar at the entrance to the Mattawamkeag, whose Indian name is often translated as “a river with many rocks at its mouth” or a similar phrase.
The area experienced early traffic on the river. A traveler arrived from St. John in 1624; English captive John Gyles was brought up the river in 1689.
Before 1812 a mill had been built, but it was burned by the Indians in that year.
The first settler, a Colonel Stanley, built a house in 1829, the year that the military road to Houlton had reached Mattawamkeag.
The “Gordon Falls” extend for a considerable distance a long the Mattawamkeag, which, at this point, crosses the southern line of the town from different times. On the stream are a board, shingle, and lath mill, with planer. There are other manufactures common to country villages. The principal centre of business is near the mouth of the Mattawamkeag at the station on the European and American Railway, which here turns eastward along the north bank of the river. . . .
The town-hall is a neat, two-story, wooden building, having a school-room and dining-hall on the first floor. The Indians tell of a village and burial-place of their own on the north bank of the Mattawamkeag, near the present village; and some sonte-axes, arrow-heads and other relics have been found there.
Today, a 1,000 acre Wilderness Park is situated between the two rivers with campsites, fishing, swimming and hiking available. The entrance is down the Park Road at N 45° 31’ 23.7” W 68° 16’ 17.8”. Nearby the Mattawamkeag River rages through a gorge featuring Class IV rapids.
The Mattawamkeag River is the longest river in Maine with effectively no regulation of its flow by dams. The river drains slightly over 1500 square miles, and the large basin size and high percentage of wetlands in the basin provides moderate flows even in the summer months. The U.S. Geological Survey maintains a stream gauge just below Lower Gordon Falls. Upper [N 45° 30’ 15.2” W 68° 17’ 48.9”] and Lower Gordon Falls [N 45° 30’ 18.4” W 68° 17’ 58”] on the River in Mattawamkeag and Winn are an excellent place to view several stretches of Maine whitewater rapids and examine water-worn potholes in the bedrock.
By law, the Mattawamkeag River from the Kingman-Mattawamkeag boundary to its confluence with the Penobscot River is defined as a Class AA river, the highest water quality classification for a river in Maine. The stretch of the Mattawamkeag River from Kingman to Mattawamkeag is rated as Class II – IV for canoeists and kayakers . The most difficult stretch is through Slewgundy Heater [N 45° 30’ 55.5” W 68° 17’ 2.2”] upstream from Gordon Falls.
Chadbourne, Ava Harriet. Maine Place Names and The Peopling of its Towns.
Maine Geological Survey. “Gordon Falls on the Mattawamkeag River: Red Rocks and White water.” https://www1.maine.gov/dacf/mgs/explore/bedrock/sites/sep06.pdf September 2006. (accessed May 14, 2016)
Varney, George J. A Gazetteer of the State of Maine. 1886. pp. 356-357.
National Register of Historic Places – Listings
Smith, George W., Homestead, Main Street Mattawamkeag