The kismet of the Dead River Valley’s lost towns was a product of the era of hydroelectric power in Maine!
In 1930, Central Maine Power began purchasing the land that would be flooded. In 1948 and 1949, the company hired crews to clear the flowage area. During the summer of 1949, smoke engulfed Flagstaff as the crews burned the brush that remained!
A year after that, the Long Falls Dam had been completed, its gates shut, and the towns of Flagstaff and Dead River were under water. Some of the town's structures, like its schoolhouse, were razed; others were moved out of the path of the diverted Dead River; some, because their owners had not settled on compensation with Central Maine Power Company, remained standing as the flood waters rose in Flagstaff (Maine Public Broadcasting 2000)!
Today, the reservoir that covers what was once the village of Flagstaff is Flagstaff Lake, Maine's largest man-made lake!
The people of the flooded towns relocated. Central Maine Power Company bought their properties, selling some houses back to families so they could be moved to higher ground (Broadcasting 2000). Some former Flagstaff residents moved to neighboring towns like Eustis, which is home to Flagstaff’s and Dead River’s relocated cemeteries, as well as Flagstaff Memorial Chapel!
The villages of Flagstaff and Dead River were casualties of progress. Interviews and writings by former residents convey the loss felt by all who had lived in the Dead River Valley. Again and again, residents also describe a sense of inevitability as demand for electricity increased and outsiders touted the benefits of harnessing the Dead and Kennebec Rivers. Maine’s industrial and individual power customers moved forward in part as the result of the sacrifice made by the people of Flagstaff and Dead River! 🌤🏘🌊