New Brunswick History and Other Stuff

St. John River – Andover to Fredericton

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The St. John River With Ice Piled Against the Bridge in Andover, N.B.

The following is from The St. John River in Maine, Quebec, and New Brunswick written in 1894 by J.W. Bailey; and this segment includes that part of the river between Andover and Fredericton.

Bailey’s descriptions are not limited to the main river, but also include tributary rivers and streams. The work describes, in effect, the entire watershed. He had a particular interest in identifying fishing areas, but the work is broader than that and is primarily geographical.


The St. John River From Andover to Fredericton in 1894

I – From Andover to Woodstock

Between Andover and Woodstock (fifty miles) the St. John winds about from east to west, and west to east, in a series of gentle curves, the general course remaining north and south. It is everywhere a moderately deep and very swiftly flowing river, not varying greatly in width except where the channel separates to inclose an island. Many natural terraces are found, often forming banks of gravel and sand from thirty to fifty feet high; elsewhere the hills slope up from the water’s edge to a considerable height. On both terraces and slopes the land is fertile and under cultivation. From the summit of Moose Mountain, a rugged peak, over eight hundred feet high, in the vicinity of the Muniac stream, deriving its name from a resemblance, when viewed at a distance, to the body and hornless head of a moose, a magnificent view may be obtained of the river, winding, for many miles, like a silvery streak, through a country so patched with dark spruce forest, and cultivated tracts of a lighter green, as to give the whole scene the appearance of a gigantic chess-board. A similar view is obtained from Stickney Brook ridge, nearly opposite Florenceville.

Andover village, which consists of a long row of pleasant cottages near the brink of a terrace overlooking the river and the picturesquely wooded ridge that rises abruptly from the opposite bank, is the dividing point between the English and French civilizations of Western New Brunswick. Having passed it, on our downward voyage, we find the settled country not so much confined to the river valley as hitherto, but extending for many miles to the eastward and westward. A branch of the Canadian Pacific Railway follows the east bank quite closely, utilizing the level table lands on the natural terraces. The principal villages along the river are Kent, Florenceville, Hartland, and Upper Woodstock, while Glassville, Centreville, and other small distributing centres are scattered over “the back country.” At the mouth of Hardwood Creek there is a village bearing the unpoetical name of “Bumfraw,” a rather humorous corruption of the French “bois franche.” Upper Woodstock is called “Hardscrabble,” rather ridiculously, because it is a “hard scrabble,” or difficult and laborious task, to ascend a rapid below it.

In the first few miles below Andover, large masses of rock, seemingly detached, rise here and there above the river’s surface, but they are not surrounded by rough water. The current is swift everywhere, but most rapid at “Fitz Herbert’s Rips” (between the two Guisiguit rivers), on the channels surrounding Green Island, above the Big Presque Isle River, and from the Little Presque Isle to Hartland Bar.

The principal streams entering from the west are the Rivière du Chute, the Upper and Lower Guisiguit, and the Big and Little Presque Isle rivers; the principal ones entering from the east are the Muniac, Monquart, Shikitehawk, and Beccaguimec rivers. The Rivière du Chute is a small stream of very clear water, with a natural fall at the mouth, the height of which has been reduced from sixty to eight feet by long-continued erosive action. The Monquart and Shikitehawk are also transparently clear, and should be good for trout, but they rise in a very mountainous country near the sources of the Odell River (a branch of the Tobique) and the Southwest Branch of the Miramichi, and are too shallow and rocky for a convenient ascent by canoe. There is a rather picturesque ravine and fall on the Shikitehawk, and at Kent Station, near its mouth, an excellent portage road, but sixteen miles in length, connects the St. John River with the Miramichi at Foreston. The Miramichi is a famous salmon stream, and many sportsmen use this road annually as an easy way of reaching it. The Big Presque Isle River (not to be confounded with its namesake on the Aroostook) is a goodly stream of clear and rapid water, running forty miles, and more or less navigable by canoe for half that distance. It winds around Mars Hill, of international celebrity, which is the highest mountain on the middle St. John (1,600 feet), and commands an unrivaled view of the country. Two miles below Hartland the Little Pokiok stream emerges from a cavernous cleft in the rocks. In fact, many minor brooks along this part of the river, and Acker Brook especially, flow for some distance through deep ravines.

Woodstock (4,500) is the third city in size and commercial importance within the St. John River valley. It contains many pleasing private residences, but no very noteworthy public buildings, and is the trade centre for the populous agricultural districts of Carleton County.

II – the Beccaguimec River

At Hartland village, twelve miles above Woodstock, the Beccaguimec River enters the St. John from the east, a stream, that is, in its general course, the most crooked of all the tributaries, while having a greater descent between source and mouth than any other branch of equal length. It is more or less “canoeable” for seventeen or eighteen miles, the rapid descent being largely caused by a few falls on the north branch; and the Coldstream, a tributary, is also navigable at medium water. The north and south branches flow from opposite directions for fifteen miles above their junction, and then their valleys gradually approach until at their heads they overlap. “Guimec” Lake, the source of the south branch, is small but picturesque, and most easily reached from Millville, a station on the Canadian Pacific Railway.

In 1885 two Geological explorers attempted to reach “Guimec” Lake by wading up the stream. Toiling onward, now in the water, now in the neighboring swamps, while the miserable brook dwindled down to microscopical proportions, they reached a great morass, and still no lake in sight. A rain came on, no light one, and unable to return by reason of approaching darkness, supperless, shelterless, wet and worn, they stretched upon a heap of rotten wood, composing their weary limbs for sleeplessness. When morning dawned they rose much unrefreshed, and shaking off the ants and centipedes set forth for Millville. It was a most inglorious retreat.

The Beccaguimec water is pure and clear, and the trout fishing on the north branch probably the best obtainable between Andover and Fredericton.

III – The Meduxnikeag River.

The Meduxnikeag River (drainage area about 420 square miles), which unites with the St. John at Woodstock, is formed by the junction of two streams of nearly equal size twelve miles above the mouth, one flowing southerly from the Aroostook watershed, the other northerly through one of the richest farming districts of Maine. Houlton, an ambitious rival of Woodstock, and the metropolis of Aroostook County, is situated on the south branch. Its business section is clustered about an open square, from which pleasant residential streets extend in several directions.

In the more remote country districts above Grand Falls, the watercourses afford the most convenient or only routes for travel; consequently the degree of each stream’s “navigability” is a matter of common knowledge; but below Andover the country is so covered by a network of roads, that a person interested in any stream whose current it requires a more or less experienced poler to overcome, rather prefers to walk or drive there than to incur fatigue and strain his canoe in the arduous exercise of swinging the pole. Especially is this true of the Meduxnikeag, but the possible canoeist may be interested in learning that there is a waterfall near the forks, and a very pretty valley from there to Woodstock.

IV – From Woodstock to Fredericton

Quite various are the aspects which the river presents between Woodstock and Fredericton, a distance of sixty-three miles. Above Eel River the current is everywhere swift, the channel often splitting to inclose an alluvial island. Indeed, we find no islands in the St. John above Belleisle Bay which are not composed purely of alluvium, or glacial drift. The hills reach a considerable altitude on both sides of the valley, although the immediate river banks are neither as uniformly abrupt nor as stony as in the vicinity of Monquart and Muniac; hence affording better facilities for camping. The scenery is decidedly picturesque, especially for ten miles below Woodstock and the same distance above Fredericton. A granite belt crosses the valley between the Eel and Nacawick rivers, and as no geological formation roughens a country like a granite one, whether granite in situ or granite superficially distributed by glacial action, the river becomes obstructed by ledges and loose lying drift, over which the water pours in a rapid called the Meductic Fall. Canoes may descend without inconvenience by keeping well to the right-hand bank, and the Woodstock steamer ascends at high water. In fact the Meductic is a mere pigmy when compared with such aquatic toboggan slides as endanger navigation above the Allagash. Below the fall the river is more sluggish and much deeper, with a maximum depth of fifty-four feet at Pokiok Eddy, measured at low water. There was an ancient fort above Meductic, on the west bank, and near it an Indian burial ground, the site of which is now overgrown by hawthorn-trees.

The sharpest and most peculiar twist in the river channel below Grand Falls is the Nackawick Bend, after rounding which the stream runs perfectly straight for eighteen miles in a wide and shallow bed filled with islands. People sometimes call this straight course the Upper Reach, as it is of equal length with the Long Reach below Gagetown, although quite unlike in every other respect. The shallow waters and sand-bars, though accompanied by a quickening of the current, allow teams to ford the channel in various places during the summer months. Horses would probably have to swim some distance in crossing elsewhere below Edmundston, unless at the great bar near Hartland. At the foot of the Upper Reach the river turns again, at an exact right angle; a whirlpool, known as Burgoyne’s Eddy, forming at high water, near the right-hand bank. The current slackens very much, and the water for nine miles is as deep as in the narrow channel below Meductic; then the whole appearance of the river changes once more. The Keswick stream enters from the north, ten miles above Fredericton, and below it the river bed is literally choked with islands of all dimensions, and divided into innumerable channels of varying width, depth, and rapidity. High hills, higher than any we have seen below Eel River, uprise on both sides, their slopes being in great part under cultivation. From the various summits, and more especially from Rockland Hill, a view of the closely clustered Keswick Islands is obtained, such as is ever appreciated, and rarely forgotten. At Sugar Island, the largest of the group, the St. John measures two miles and a half from bank to bank, its greatest width above Fredericton. Savage Island, the second in area, was a famous rendezvous of the Maliseets in early days, and here they are said to have been attacked by the restless Mohawks, who descended the river for scalps and glory. A bird’s-eye view of the island may be had from Clarke’s or Currie’s Mountain, a detached precipitous peak, with a ravine behind, where many more of our inoffensive Maliseets became prematurely bald at the touch of the keen-edged tomahawk, unless tradition lies. All the islands are low, grassy, and fringed with elm-trees and bushes, and, excepting a few small portions of them, annually submerged by the spring floods. The few dry spots are little hummocks, formed from nothing more durable than the common alluvium, on which early settlers and adventurous farmers built houses occasionally in years gone by. How they must have enjoyed the spectacle of the spring ice roaring, grinding, and crunching on every side, and momentarily threatening to pile against their little cottages and sweep them ruthlessly down-stream! For three days, at least, these farmers on the knolls, provided they had missed the last opportunity of reaching the main land, must have moved in a social circle exclusively confined to members of their own families,— a sufficient time to enable our friend, Mr. Harvey, to reach civilization from his log house on the Allagash. Between Sugar and Savage islands the principal body of the water shifts from the southwest to the northeast side of the valley, through a channel called the Grand Passage, but it gradually returns before reaching Fredericton.

The extraordinary tides of the Bay of Fundy influence the river as far as Chapel Bar, above Spring Hill, so we find no more swift currents. On this account the Fredericton canoeists are better accustomed to the paddle than the pole.

V – Minor Tributaries Below Woodstock

We now return to Woodstock to see what tributarial contributions the St. John receives between that city and Fredericton. The principal ones, briefly enumerated, are as follows: from the left-hand side, Gibson’s Mill Stream, and the Nackawick, Koack, Mactaquac, Keswick, and Nashwaaksis rivers; from the right-hand side, Bull’s Creek, the Eel, Shogomoc, and Pokiok rivers, and Upper Garden’s and Long’s creeks. The highest fall in the St. John River system, to the writer’s knowledge and belief, is that called Hay’s Fall, on a small brook entering the main river midway between Bull’s Creek and Eel River. Here the water takes a perpendicular leap of ninety feet from a rugged cliff, at the brow and base of which good views may be obtained. A thick growth of tall spruces and firs adds picturesqueness, but the stream is unfortunately so small as to disappear entirely in the summer season, when the fall dwindles gradually down to a collection of wet and dripping moss.

Gibson’s Mill Stream is very much larger, and the narrows, three miles above the mouth, containing a series of rough cascades flanked by perpendicular cliffs of a great but as yet unmeasured height, will repay a visit at any time. As was noted of Acker Brook, above Woodstock, a very small stream may have a very deep valley of erosion, a fact again illustrated by the presence of a deep ravine midway between Eel and Shogomoc rivers, where the little Sullivan’s Creek trickles out to the St. John. So the small Koack River has eroded a chasm so dark and cavernous that all attempts to take photographs within are said to fail through insufficiency of light. The shadows of lofty firs and spruces contribute materially to the gloom of this romantic spot. Within the chasm there is a fall, perhaps eighty feet in height. Upper and Lower Garden’s and Kelly’s creeks all have picturesque falls, and they were tolerably good trout brooks some years ago. The Mactaquac is somewhat larger, and has two principal tributaries, one flowing from Scotch Lake in Queensbury. Its lower valley presents an attractive appearance, but the upper waters are rarely visited by sportsmen, and probably unattainable by canoe in the fishing season.

VI – Eel River

Eel River rises in a small pond, called the Third Eel River Lake, near Skiff Lake, the source of a branch of the St. Croix. It drains an area of two hundred and thirty square miles, probably deriving its name from the crooked course it takes while doing so. The first of the three Eel River lakes is the largest, receiving the overflow of the second through a small unnavigable stream of very rapid descent. From the first lake to Benton village navigation by canoe is comparatively easy, although short portages are necessary around two waterfalls, one a few miles below the lake, the other at Dinnen’s Mill, above the mouth of a tributary oddly named Pok’o’moonshine Brook. Some people say that “Pok’o’moonshine” is of Indian origin, and others that “pok” is an abbreviation of “poke,” meaning a ray, as a “poke of light.” The existence of a lake called Sunpoke on the Oromocto River has a decided tendency to support the latter view. In early times Eel River was a much used thoroughfare between the St. John and the St. Croix, a portage of three miles, called Metagmuckschesh, connecting it with North Lake, the head of the Chiputnetecook chain. Metagmuckschesh has been a great Indian road for centuries, various reputable writers asserting that the flat rocks (a coarse granite), over which the narrow file of Indians passed, have been worn to a depth of several inches by the tread of moccasined feet. Mr. Frederick Kidder, in his work on “Military operations in Eastern Maine and Nova Scotia during the Revolution,” says of this pathway: “It has undoubtedly been used for many centuries, and may be pronounced the most ancient evidence of mankind in New England.” In 1777, Col. John Allen, attended by about five hundred Indians and colonists, a majority of whom were women and children, ascended Eel River and crossed Metagmuckschesh to North Lake, departing from Fort Meductic on the 13th day of July. The lower course of Eel River is obstructed by falls and rapids, on which account the Indians carried their canoes overland from Meductic to Benton (five miles) when journeying westward from the St. John to the St. Croix and Matawamkeag via Metagmuckschesh, but frequently descended the stream when traveling the opposite way.

The pickerel, a veritable fresh-water shark, seems to have received in the First Eel River Lake its primary introduction to the waters of the St. John, whence it has spread over all the lower tributaries, wherever the current is sluggish, proving an inveterate foe to many other fishes, more especially to trout. Its fondness for the trout probably arises from the fact of their being scaleless, and consequently more “swallowable.” Luckily the pickerel dislikes rapid water, and is seldom found in the St. John above Eel River.

VII-  The Shogomoc River

The Shogomoc River, although within the region of granite, is navigable from a short distance above the mouth. At the mouth we find it a most tumultuous torrent, rushing among, and tumbling over, a typical collection of ledges and granitic boulders. There are innumerable lakes on the stream (Great Shogomoc Lake being very much the largest), and several of them are abundantly stocked with trout. The Shogomoc rises near the Palfrey Mountains, and Canterbury Station, on the Woodstock branch of the Canadian Pacific Railway, is the most convenient starting point for persons desirous of visiting the upper waters.

VIII – The Pokiok River

The word “Pokiok” is said to mean “narrow opening,” and we certainly find on this river a very narrow opening. Barely twenty-five feet apart, but from fifty to seventy feet high, and accurately perpendicular, are the dark red granite walls that inclose the Pokiok near its confluence with the St. John. Within this strange chasm the water makes a series of leaps, aggregating about seventy-five feet in height, and roars and foams most furiously. In the flood season the scene presented is intensely picturesque, more especially as in driving along the Woodstock road one cannot see the ravine until almost directly over it. A sluiceway has been constructed for the passage of planks from the mill, down which an elderly “Pokiokean,” whose valor is at least on a par with his discretion, rides frequently on floating timber, for the moderate remuneration of twenty-five cents per trip. When paddling down the St. John in early spring a blast of cold air is felt, which proceeds directly from the Pokiok gorge, and is laden with the peculiar odor of the fall.

The general course of the river, from the source in Lake George, is almost exactly parallel to that of the St. John, while the flow is in the opposite direction. By portaging five miles from Lower Prince William to the lake, a down-stream circuit can be made (similar to that of the Fish or Madawaska rivers, although much shorter), the stream being readily navigable for canoes, and quite sluggish in places.

Three “Pokioks” are found in the St. John River system. Two have the narrow opening which the name is said to signify, but the third, a brook entering the Tobique four miles above Indian Point, and not previously mentioned, has but a simple fall at the mouth, which I found by barometric observation to be forty-five feet in height.

IX – The Nackawick River

The Nackawick River (drainage area one hundred and fifty square miles) enters the St. John from the northeast, three miles below Pokiok. It has three principal branches, all flowing from the same watershed that produces the Beccaguimee and Keswick rivers. A line of the Canadian Pacific Railway crosses two branches, and on the southeast or principal one we find Millville, an important centre for the local lumber trade. The Nackawick is unadapted for practical canoeing, and little would be gained by visiting the upper waters, except for the purpose of hooking small trout, which abound in most of them.

X – The Keswick River

The valleys of the Keswick and Mactaquac are separated by Keswick Ridge, which terminates at the St. John River in a precipitous cliff called “The Peddler’s Leap.” The Keswick stream rises near Beccaguimec Lake, previously mentioned, and runs forty miles, emptying into the channel behind Sugar Island.

So well watered is the basin of the St. John, that it would be quite impossible to find a tract of land four miles square not traversed by some brook or rivulet, and several different rivers always flow from every well-defined watershed. Thus, in the case before us, the Keswick, Nackawic and Beccaguimec all rise in a locality the central point of which is twenty-five miles east of Woodstock, but the mouths of the Keswick and Beccaguimec are sixty-five miles apart, measured along the valley of the St. John. The common watershed is an undulating country, traversed here and there by well-defined ridges, dotted with small lakes, and clad in a luxuriant greenwood forest. It is the border of New Brunswick’s greatest wilderness, a vast region, untenanted by other than the feræ naturæ of our common law, extending northeastward, without a break, to the Intercolonial Railway and the valley of the Restigouche River.

The Keswick’s principal branches unite twenty-two miles from the mouth of the stream, and below their confluence the valley gradually widens, finally becoming a fertile and thickly inhabited farming country. Two large tributaries enter from the east. The stream is navigable by canoe, except in the dry season, with just enough rough water to make things cheerful; and the railway follows nearly all its countless meanderings. It is not prominent among the fishing rivers, but small trout abound in the upper waters.

XI – The Nashwaak River

The Nashwaaksis has three principal branches, all uniting within a third of a mile, after the fashion of the Touladi and Tobique, and below the forks is navigable, generally speaking, when the Keswick is. It contains many deep pools, which would naturally harbor trout of very fair dimensions, but the small-boy crop in this vicinity is large, and small boys, here as elsewhere, take much delight in fishing. The east branch has a very pretty symmetrical fall, about fourteen feet high, with a deep and thickly wooded ravine below. Above the fall are the wild meadows, where myriads of small trout are hooked every twenty-fourth of May. McLeod’s Bluff, a bold face of volcanic rock with a huge talus at the base, overlooks the stream below the forks, and for an equal distance above the mouth the water is still, and the banks overgrown with leafy trees that cast their perfect reflections upon its surface. Here the young “Frederictonian” paddles his “best girl” on moonlight evenings, and the stilly air is often laden with the murmur of suppressed voices, blended with, and occasionally interrupted by, the buzz of the unceremonious mosquito.

XII – Fredericton

Emerging from the narrow opening of the Nashwaaksis we see before us the roofs and spires of Fredericton, the political, legal, and educational centre of New Brunswick, second in industrial importance, and first in natural beauty of location, of the various communities within the St. John River valley. The site of the city is a flat diluvial plain, two miles in length by one in width, laved by the river, and backed by wooded hills. The streets are broad and regular, those parallel with the water having been named after the reigning sovereigns at the time of the town’s incorporation. Queen and King streets are nearest the river bank, Charlotte and George the most remote, and Brunswick in the centre, the group thus forming the combination: “Queen Charlotte (and) King George (of the house of) Brunswick.”

Fredericton is justly termed “The Forest City” from the number and beauty of its shade trees. The elms attain a loftiness and graceful symmetry but rarely found, while willows of gigantic size adorn the water front in many places. Almost at the upper end of the flat, and opposite the Nashwaaksis, stands Government House, the official residence of nearly all New Brunswick’s governors, an historic pile, thoroughly suggestive of the preconfederate aristocracy. The cathedral, a beautiful Gothic edifice, modeled after the parish church at Sandringham in England, is also near the river, while half way up the hill behind the town stands the University of New Brunswick, formerly, and much more appropriately, termed “King’s College.” Among the more historic buildings are the Officers’ barracks, which overlook a level willow-shaded lawn, much used in peace for tennis, and in war for drill.

The number and beauty of the landed estates cannot fail to attract attention. Scattered about on plain and hillside, within the town, without the town, we find them everywhere: broad acres, spreading in grassy fields, and lawns, and fertile garden lots. Some tottering chimneys near the river bank denote the site of Rose Hall, a transitory asylum of the traitor Arnold subsequent to his discovery and inglorious northward flight; while at the western apex of the city flat, faced by the water, and shadowed by lofty pines, appears the ruined Hermitage.

Fredericton has been visited by several destructive conflagrations. In 1825 the Government House, with scores of shops and dwellings, was laid in ruins. The great fire of 1850 proved equally calamitous.

On the twenty-second day of February, 1785, Sir Guy Carleton made it the seat of government, when the ancient name “St. Anne’s” was changed to “Frederick Town” in honor of His Royal Highness, the Bishop of Osnaburg.

XIII – The Nashwaak River

The Nashwaak, running about seventy-five miles, and draining five hundred and eighty square miles, is somewhat larger than any tributary stream we have passed below the Tobique. It flows from St. Mary’s Lake, a remote little body of water much more easily reached by a portage of a few miles from the valley of the Southwest Miramichi than by ascending the river to which it gives rise. Indeed, it has been stated, by one familiar with the successive explorations of Central New Brunswick, that nobody ever succeeded in tracing the Nashwaak stream upwards to the lake. This, if true, is probably because the country in the vicinity of the lake resembles that surrounding the sources of the Napadogan stream, a principal tributary, entering from the east, twelve miles above Stanley. The writer visited the east branch of the Napadogan in 1885, and found there some extensive morasses, covered with a thick scrubby growth, as difficult to walk through as deep snow, and presenting a weird and gloomy appearance. The stream was divided occasionally into several channels, and the various members of the party became separated, and were only united again after much shouting and some hours spent in struggling aimlessly through the swamp.

As instances of a curious nomenclature often found in the St. John River system, we have mentioned “Bumfraw” and “Pok’o’moonshine” Brook, and the Nashwaak country is by no means lacking in odd names. Thus one of the most northerly tributaries, entering some ten miles below the lake, is very comically named “Doughboy Brook” by the lumbermen, in commemoration of a camp spree, when the men pelted each other with no less adhesive a commodity than soft dough. A few miles below this, where the river abruptly changes course from south to east, enter two streams which are “The Sisters,” but individually as “Miss Nashwaak” and “Sister Ann.”

Fourteen miles above Stanley, a little lake connects with the main Nashwaak by a short thoroughfare, and immediately below the river is dammed for lumbering purposes. In the pool below the dam small trout are as numerous as can be. At the Narrows, also, some seven miles above, we may angle successfully for these sportive speckled beauties. There we find the roughest rapids on the river. The Napadogan stream, which is one of the largest tributaries, flows entirely within the wilderness, is navigable, but not easily so, for canoes at medium water, and abounds with small trout. Rocky Brook rises in a bleak morass similar to that of the Napadogan. Grand John Brook, which enters the Nashwaak from the south, and bears the name of an old Indian who hunted at one time on all these waters, literally teems with small trout, but the narrowness of the channel makes it difficult to cast a fly with precision.

Civilization, that is to say settlement, has advanced thirty-four miles up the Nashwaak. At Stanley village, which is picturesquely perched on a hill slope, overlooking the valley, we find some houses partially constructed with imported timber, the people of old England formerly laboring under a slight misapprehension regarding the extent of available woodland in the New World. Stanley has a population of five hundred, which is doubled on election days and other auspicious occasions.

Below Stanley the stream is everywhere navigable for canoes under ordinary conditions; the valley is continuously settled, and fully as picturesque as that of any other tributary of the St. John. Large trout frequent the stream, an occasional one turning the scales at three pounds; but the most experienced angler can never be sure of a catch, so shy are they. A famous pool is that at the mouth of Lower McBean’s Brook, The river gradually increases in volume, receiving from the east the Budogan, or Cross Creek, the Undenack, or Upper McBean’s Brook, Lower McBean’s Brook, Manzer’s Creek, and the Pennioc; and receiving from the west Tay Creek and the Dunbar or Cleuristic stream. The trout in Cross Creek and the Undenack are numerous, although quite small, but on the Tay, which is the longest tributary, and “canoeable” at certain times, a few large fish may be taken. Precipitate bluffs of sandstone crop out on the Undenack, above and below McKenzie’s Brook, and in the talus beneath one of them, large but imperfect lepidodendrons and other fossilized plants of the Carboniferous era lie strewn about profusely. The Cleuristic divides two miles above the mouth, the principal branch being called Tin Kettle Brook, and one mile from the Nashwaak it has a very symmetrical fall of similar dimensions to that on the east branch of the Nashwaaksis. The Pennioc is the most sluggish of all these waters, and navigable for canoes about eight miles, where it flows through a thickly-settled valley, possessed of much rural beauty. Once the stream excelled all others for trout fishing, except perhaps the Tay; and even now, overfished as it is, the angler occasionally becomes the happy possessor of a much larger trout than he ever even dreamed of catching there.

At the mouth of the Pennioc we find a very large alluvial island, strangely large to be inclosed by a river of no greater volume than the Nashwaak. Marysville, two miles below this, which is the metropolis of the Nashwaak valley, is a thoroughly one-man place, as much so as Pullman, Illinois, its mushroom growth being entirely due to the enterprise of Mr. Gibson, who controls the Nashwaak lumber trade and manufactures cotton. A strange contrast is presented by the high brick walls of the cotton-mill, backed, as they are, by a greenwood forest which extends without a break to the horizon, a very sea of conical treetops. Indeed, a straight line may be drawn through this forest from a point two miles from Fredericton that will not cross any road or settlement between the St. John River valley and the Intercolonial Railway, and a similar line from the northwest branch of the Nashwaaksis to the Restigouche River. It would be interesting to compare the area of this huge wilderness with that of the similar one surrounding the sources of the St. John and Allagash rivers.

The Nashwaak was said to be, many years ago, navigable for wood boats below Marysville, and subsequently shallowed by deposits of silt and sawdust. Newspapers of 1860 mourn the deterioration of the once excellent trout fishing off the bar at the mouth, where now the water is barely deep enough to float a canoe in midsummer. Certainly there would be as much wisdom to-day in trying to shoot a mastodon on the upper Pennioc as in attempting to capture trout with a fly off Nashwaak Bar.

At Heron Lake, two and one half miles from Fredericton, some interesting glacial phenomena may be seen. The water now flows into the Nashwaaksis, but the lake is merely held in place by a narrow and steep-sided moraine of glacial drift, separating it from a deeply-wooded ravine that extends eastward into the Nashwaak valley. Probably Heron Lake was once the source of Hot Water Creek, a tortuous little stream branching from the Nashwaak half a mile above the mouth, with deep sluggish water, where perch and pickerel roam in shoals, sheltering beneath the grass and lily-pads.


Written by johnwood1946

June 26, 2013 at 9:23 AM

Posted in Uncategorized

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