How far had Maine come by 1930 with the fights over Maine's inland waterways for the lumber, pulp and paper, and hydropower industries?

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Tamara K. H. | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

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By the 1930s, Maine's lumber industry's fight over waterways subsided because lumber could suddenly be much more easily transported via vehicles than waterways.

In the 1800s and 1900s, the need for the lumber industry to control the waterways led to the construction of several dams, which subsequently led to several quarrels over the waterways. The most famous quarrel has been dubbed "The Telos War." The quarrel began in the 1830s when Amos Roberts and Hastings Strickland bought a piece of land called Township 6-Range 11 that contains both Webster Lake and Telos Lake. Both the East Branch River and the Penobscot River drain into Webster Lake, while the Allagash River drains into Telos Lake. The goal of Roberts and Strickland was to find a way to easily send logs from Chamberlain Lake to Telos Lake, then to Webster Lake, and then up the West Branch River to Bangor. The two men hired Shepard Body who suggested building a dam in Telos Lake and then building a canal between Telos Lake and Webster Lake, called respectively Telos Dam and Telos Cut. In conjunction with a dam already built, the Chamberlain Lake Dam, the Telos Dam and canal worked well to move water through the canal and, more importantly, also enabled both Roberts and Strickland to collect tolls from landowners passing their lumber through the canal. However, since Roberts and Strickland were also dependent on Chamberlain Lake Dam for the success of the canal, Strickland and Roberts found themselves engaged in controversies with the "lumbering landowners along Chamberlain and Telos Lakes" (State of Maine's Department of Agriculture, Conservations and Forestry, "Allagash History").

Conflict particularly grew worse when the Telos Dam washed out, needing to be replaced by a dam built by David Pingree and Eben Coe, who also increased toll rates to drive logs down the Telos Canal. Roberts and Strickland also eventually sold the "Telos operation" to Pingree's competitor of the "lumber industry," Rufus Dwinel, who raised the canal toll once again. It is this war between prices and control over the Telos Canal that we refer to as "The Telos War."

One result of the "The Telos War" was the enactment of Maine State legislation ordering Dwinel to set the canal toll at twenty-cents upon the threat that canal usage would become free.

By 1902, relying on the flow of water to carry logs up the river to Bangor became replaced by the power of steam engines, which was the first step towards advancing past the fight for waterways. Fred Dow, engineer for lumber industry leaders H. W. Marshall and F. W. Ayer, designed the first steam-powered tramway to haul logs to the West Branch River ("The Eagle Lake Tramway"). A traimway is an early railway made out of wood rather than steel. The tramway also consisted of steel trucks used to haul the logs, and these steel trucks were pulled by a cable loop. By 1926, the Eagle Lake and West Branch Railroad was designed to take the place of the tramway in transporting logs to the West Branch River. The train was drawn by a coal-fueled steam locomotive transformed into one fueled by oil.

Soon the need to haul logs across land, not just water, made the use of the waterways less important altogether and led to the invention of other hauling vehicles like Lombard Log Haulers track-driven vehicle, which Lombard eventually replaced with a gasoline-powered hauler. However, Lombard's hauler was eventually usurped by gasoline-powered lumber trucks ("Allagash History").

Hence, as time marched closer to the 1930s, the fight over use of waterways became obsolete as methods for hauling became replaced by the vehicles we know today.

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