Moosehead Lake

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Moosehead Lake
Mouth of Moose River from Mount Kineo.jpg
Moosehead Lake is located in Maine
Moosehead Lake
Moosehead Lake
Location Northwest Piscataquis, Maine,
United States
Coordinates 45°38′N 69°39′W / 45.633°N 69.650°W / 45.633; -69.650Coordinates: 45°38′N 69°39′W / 45.633°N 69.650°W / 45.633; -69.650
Type mesotrophic
Primary inflows Moose River
Primary outflows Kennebec River
Catchment area 1,268 square miles (3,280 km2)
Basin countries United States
Max. length 40 miles (64 km)
Max. width 10 miles (16 km)
Surface area 75,451 acres (30,534 ha)
Average depth 55 feet (17 m)
Max. depth 246 feet (75 m)
Water volume 4,210,000 acre⋅ft (5.19×109 m3)
Residence time 3.1 years
Shore length1 280.8 miles (451.9 km)
Surface elevation 1,029 feet (314 m)
Islands >80 (Sugar Island)
1 Shore length is not a well-defined measure.

Moosehead Lake is the largest lake in the U.S. state of Maine and the largest mountain lake in the eastern United States. Situated in the Longfellow Mountains in the Maine Highlands Region, the lake is the source of the Kennebec River. Towns that border the lake include Greenville to the south and Rockwood to the northwest. There are over 80 islands in the lake, the largest being Sugar Island. The area has been the focal point of a controversy surrounding planned large scale commercial development, and the environmental practices of the developer.[1][2]


Mount Kineo, with 700-foot (200 m) cliffs rising straight up from Moosehead Lake, has attracted visitors for centuries, from early American Indians (Red Paint People), to later tribes seeking its flint called hornstone, Penobscots and Norridgewocks, the Abenaki bands who battled here with their enemy the Mohawks, to 19th-century "rusticators" traveling by railroad and steamboat and today's hotel guests. Various species dwell among its cliffs and talus slopes, including peregrine falcons and rare plants.

The Moosehead region includes the headwaters of the Kennebec, the West Branch of the Penobscot, the Piscataquis, the Pleasant, and the Saint John rivers. Henry David Thoreau and other 19th-century visitors remarked on the beauty of the area. The region has a large moose population; moose outnumber people 3:1.[3] However, the name of the region derives from the remarkable similarity between maps of the lake and an antlered moose.

No stranger to the natural wonders of the region, Henry David Thoreau described the lake as “...a gleaming silver platter at the end of the table.”[4]

Hunters at Camp Russell, northeast of Moosehead Lake, 1888


Shoreline in 1912

Set at an elevation of 1,023 feet (312 m), Moosehead Lake is approx. 40 by 10 miles (64 by 16 km), with an area of 120 mile² (311 km²), and over 400 miles (640 km) of shoreline. Its major inlet is the Moose River, which, east of Jackman, flows through Long Pond to Brassua Lake. To the east of Moosehead Lake, the Roach River is its second largest tributary. Flowing out of Moosehead Lake to the southwest are its east and west outlets—the Kennebec River.

The Moosehead Lake Region encompasses 4,400 square miles (11,000 km²) of West Central Maine, and includes 127 townships in addition to Moosehead Lake. The region is drained by 330 miles (530 km) of main stem rivers, into which flow 3,850 miles (6,200 km) of smaller tributaries. During the last glacial era, more than 1,200 natural lakes and ponds were carved into its landscape, varying in size from one acre (4,000 m²) ponds to Moosehead, at 74,890 acres (303 km²) one of the largest natural freshwater lakes in the United States. The total area of all standing surface waters in the region is more than 238,000 acres (963 km²)—24% of the total area of lakes and ponds in Maine.

Development plans

Seattle-based Plum Creek Real Estate Investment Corporation, the largest private United States landowner, submitted a development proposal for the Moosehead region in April 2005. The 570-page proposal was the largest development ever proposed for the State of Maine. This development was to bring residents, money, and tourists to Maine. The initial version of the scheme called for 975 house lots, two resorts, a golf course, a marina, three RV parks, and more than 100 rental cabins. The plan was accepted by the Maine Land Use Regulatory Committee, despite public opposition.[5] Adding to the controversy, the developer has been fined for illegally clear-cutting sections of forest.[2]

Plum Creek is now a defunct as of 2016.


  1. ^ "Plum Creek: An Update". Natural Resources Council of Maine. Archived from the original on 2013-04-15. 
  2. ^ a b Kevin Miller (May 28, 2010). "Plum Creek's apology gets mixed responses". Bangor Daily News. [permanent dead link]
  3. ^
  4. ^ Weber, Alan (2003-04-09). Because It's There: A Celebration of Mountaineering from 200 B.C. to Today. Taylor Trade Publications. ISBN 9780878333035. 
  5. ^ Tanuki (September 29, 2008). "Another Act of Resistance to Plum Creek by Maine Earth First!". Maine Earth First. Archived from the original on July 23, 2011. 

External links

  • Moosehead Lake Region Chamber of Commerce
  • History of Moosehead Lake Region, Moosehead Historical Society
  • National Resources Council of Maine
  • The Moosehead Lake Region Resource Guide
  • Land Use Regulation Committee - Concept Plan for Moosehead Lake Region
  • Moosehead Lake Webcam
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