1938 Road Map

The Standard Oil Co. of New York produced this map of backcountry Norumbega in 1938.  Of particular interest is the unimproved road going from S. Liberty to West Appleton and then to route 131 west of Searsmont Center.  The road east from S. Liberty is still in use to the Burkettville Road.  The Buruketville Rd. is not shown on this map; it goes north from Burkettville to south Montville passing west of West Appleton.  The Plains Road, as it is now called, shown on this 1938 map, is now unused and impassable east of the Burkettville crossing.  Its historic significance lies in its being the vestigial remains of the principal east west colonial road from both Belfast and Duck Trap to Augusta.  Prior to European settlement and use, the road was probably the principal Indian trail from Penobscot Bay to the falls at Cushnoc (Augusta) on the Kennebec River.  This trail, which we call the Cushnoc Trail, had two branches; both later became important colonial roads.  The southern branch ran from Duck Trap, just north of Lincolnville on US Rte. 1, to Searsmont.  The northern branch ran from Belfast to Searsmont.  From Searsmont the shortest route to the Kennebec River is through W. Appleton, S. Liberty and Somerville, then west on Route 105 to Augusta.  The later colonial road follows the ancient Indian trail that provided access for Native Americans living in the eastern maritime provinces traveling the coast of Maine east of Penobscot Bay providing quick access (2 days walk) to the upper Kennebec River while avoiding the hazardous passage about Pemaquid Point or the tedious tidewater portages to the west of Pemaquid.

Also of interest is a second trail from Belfast to N. Searsmont and then west to Augusta.  Not clearly shown on this map, this trail went directly to the important Native American camping site at the Kingdom Falls (Muskingum.)  This pathway can still be followed in part today as it runs west from the Kingdom to McFarland's Corner, up Bolin Mountain branching southwest along the Boynton Road.  This trail, which later became a stagecoach route, cuts southwest across Rte. 3 reconnecting with the south branch of the Cushnoc Trail via the Banton Rd.  While Delorme Map 13 in the Maine Atlas doesn't show the old connection of the Boynton Rd. with the Bolin Mt. Road, it was later used as a stagecoach road to Augusta from Liberty just as the Plains and county roads were used as stagecoach roads from Searsmont and S. Liberty to Augusta in the 19th century.  A northern branch of the Cushnoc Trail continued on the Bolin Mt. Rd. after its intersection with the Boynton Rd. west over the Sheepscot River to Palermo.  The route west of the Sheepscot River to Palermo is not obvious on the Delorme Map 13 but old timers living in Montville and Palermo could probably trace its route.

These cross Norumbega backcountry routes had particular significance to the early settlers of the region.  Vestigal trails first became improved and widened by use of oxen for mast and then raw lumber transport.  Of special note is the access provided to the ice-free trading center of Belfast for settlers with cordwood, lathes, staves and other milled products for the coasting trade during the long winters when the Kennebec River was choked with ice.  Winter travel with sleigh and oxen was probably common from points as far west as China, Palermo, Washington, Somerville and Windsor.

The erie silence of the now virtually uninhabited length of the Plains Road towards W. Appleton is a stark reminder that some of the backcountry roads in Norumbega follow trails that are millennia in age.  So too with the Boynton road north of Lake St. George.  Still remembered as the stagecoach route by old timers, the Boynton Rd. typifies the absolute practicality of ancient Indian trails: not only following the short route from the Muskingum and McFarland's Corner to the falls at Cushnoc, the trail cuts along the warm south side of Bolin Mt. well above the deep snows of the marshes and valleys below, but also well below the wind swept top of Bolin Mountain.  These were the winter routes of Native Americans in prehistoric times utilizing snowshoe, sledge and toboggan to bring beaver pelts and moose hide to accessible canoe routes for the spring trips to semi permanent villages at the coastal tidewater.  Later these tidewater villages became the haunts of both peaceful and marauding European traders seeking beaver pelts in the half century preceding the establishment of the colonial trading posts of the historic period.