Pam and I visited my brother and sister-in-law, John and Jeanne, in Greenville, Maine. We stayed at a cottage on Moosehead Lake which is one of the largest fresh water lakes (outside the Great Lakes) in the U.S.
We explored several areas around Greenville one of which was the crash site of a Strategic Air Command (SAC) B-52 stratofortress which crashed on January 24, 1963.
The SAC bomber, which was based out of Westover Air Force Base in Massachusetts, was on a routine low-level radar exercise when the vertical stabilizer failed attempting it’s fly over Elephant Mountain 6 miles northeast of Greenville. The bomber was not carrying any armaments or weapons at the time of the crash. 7 crew members perished and two survived in the crash. One of the survivors’ ejection seat parachute failed; but fortunately he landed upright in five feet of snow, fracturing his skull and three ribs. He and the other survivor suffered the night in -28 degree Fahrenheit before they were rescued the following day. One of the crew members was able to parachute from the plane but died when he hit a tree on his way down. The others on board didn’t have time to escape since it took 10 seconds for the plane to crash after its stabilizer failed. The wreckage at the site is a memorial to the crew members that died in the accident; therefore the public is asked not to disturb or collect any of the thousands of plane parts and debris that are scattered all over the mountain.
Even though after the crash, some of the locals carried off parts to their homes; many items have either been returned to the crash site or donated to the local museum. There are also reports of parts even found on the other side of the mountain. The hiking trail to the crash site is relatively easy, and is only about half a mile long. There are also smaller trails in the surrounding area that leads to more wreckage. The main part of the crash site is about 300 yards long and you can see parts hanging in the trees or wedged tightly in the ground. When I was researching this incident, I read that about a week after the crash, another SAC bomber from New Mexico crashed when it’s vertical stabilizer failed as well. These two incidents brought back memories of a Cub Scout field trip, when we were allowed to board the stratofortress and fueling planes stationed at the SAC’s base in Roswell, New Mexico.
While we were at Moosehead Lake, we hired a fishing guide who took the four of us out on the Lake. We left the marina around 7:00 a.m. and cruised to an area the guide felt we’d have the best luck of catching fish. As mentioned above, Moosehead Lake is one of the largest lakes in the U.S. It’s surface area of 117 square miles has over 400 miles of shoreline. In some places, the lake is about 250 feet deep. Since there were five of us with fishing licenses, we were able to put 10 lines in the water. Our guide who was originally from Michigan and experienced at fishing in the Great Lakes, used gear that enabled us to fish in deep waters. He would attach our lures to the lines; then after he cast them out on the water, he attached the lines to outriggers with “cannon ball” weights which would sink our lures and lines to various depths (i.e. 50′, 80′, 100′, an so on). He also had a “fish finder” that indicated the depth of the lake, water temperature and trolling speed. We fished anywhere between 80 to 250 feet of water and trolled about 2.5 mph. The water was unusually warm–about 67 degrees Fahrenheit which makes the fish head for the cooler (deep) areas of the lake. I figured since the lake is so massive the fish would be all over the place and even further in the northern part of the lake, however our guide said that 85% of the fish in Moosehead Lake are in about 5% of the lake area. He also mentioned that the fish like to hang out near the schools of fish the Game and Fish stock the lake with. We hooked our first fish about an hour after we started and then caught six more before we headed back. It was beautiful fishing out on the lake. Lots of fabulous scenery after the morning fog burned off. As for the thrill of fishing on the lake, the guide would hook the fish and we would just reel them in so we felt like we were kids fishing off a dock with our parents for the very first time.
I landed the first fish–and won $3; while Pam had the bragging rights for catching the largest fish of the day–and won $15. After we came ashore, Pam and Jeanne went to the grocery store to buy fish dinner fixings while John and I met our guide at his business to learn how to filet the fish. We caught two salmon and four lake trout. It was a good memory for all and we learned a valuable lesson on catching fish in a deep water lake.
The day before we went fishing, we drove north of Greenville to see if we could spot a moose or two. We got to see Mount Kintahdin, the highest mountain (5,267 feet) in the northeast and is the beginning/ending of the 2,200 mile long Appalachian Trail. The “AT” as it’s called, runs through 14 states, north-south from Georgia to Maine. The road, which eventually went from asphalt to dirt, took us through some scenic and rugged terrain. As we were coming across a one-lane bridge over a creek, we spotted a mother moose and her calf walking out of a shallow pond and into the woods. We quickly turned the truck around and headed back up the road a few feet to a clearing and waited. Sure enough the two creatures came out of the forrest and faced us about 30 feet from the truck. The mother kept herself hidden by the trees (although we could see her a little); but the calf was very curious and came out of the trees into our view. It was definitely a Kodak moment.
Then after a while, they backed out and wandered off out of sight. So was the extent of our moose expedition. We learned later (from our fishing guide) that the moose population is slowly dwindling due to ticks. These parasites are so thick that they weaken the moose herds to where they cannot thrive like they normally used to. It’s sad to think such beautiful animals might wither away to extinction and that nothing can be done to save them.
It was great exploring some beautiful areas of Maine with John and Jeannne and look forward to seeing them before they leave for New Mexico. They’re plan is to swing through Burlington, Vermont in mid October and meet with us, Aaron and his girlfriend, Krystal. Until then we hope for the leaves to turn and see the real beauty of Fall in New England.