Jervis McEntee Diaries

Tuesday September 10, 1878

Jervis McEntee Diary Entry, September 10, 1878, from the Jervis McEntee papers, 1850-1905, in the Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution

We left our camp early yesterday morning and embarked with all our belongings in the birches, each having a birch and a man to paddle it and entered Quakish lake which is merely a broadening of the West branch. It was delightful sailing along through these solitudes and the sweet early morning and the exhilaration of entering upon new scenes disposed us all to a sense of happiness and pleasureable expectancy. At the end of two miles we came to rapids of a mile around which we walked while the men poled the birches and their cargo up to the dam where they took a part of our stores yesterday and where we awaited them. Here was a great dam with gates, and log ways most substantially constructed and a log camp with tools and a blacksmiths forge. On a table in the house some postal cards had been left by an upward bound party with the request that the first party passing down would take them to Medway and mail them. Will Osborn [?] amused himself and us vainly trying to shoot a duck. Presently the men came up, the stores were unloaded on their log flume and the birches drawn across to the water above called North Twin lake, where they were again loaded and we got in and proceeded on our delightful journey. The sun shone very hot and the water was perfectly still and our little fleet responded to us from the crystal depths. From North Twin we passed into Pemadumcook and thence into Ambigegis stopping an hour on a sandy shore to cook our dinner. At the head of a bay of Ambigegis we came to a carry of 40 rods to Milinoket where every thing had to be unloaded and "backed" over, birches and all when we again embarked and came six miles to our camp. All the while Katahdin loomed up before us a great plume of cloud on his top and a strong favoring wind blew us on our happy course. We landed after sunset on a beautiful sandy shore with a background of pines, the tent was put up and supper got and not a great while after we rolled ourselves with our blankets and slept. I got up at midnight for two of my companions were sawing hemlock boards with a coarse saw and they came to frequent knots over which they hesitated and stumbled and then went on their monotonous way until the end came when both pieces apparently dropped and they sat up and stared vacantly about and asked "where we were". The moon shone brightly, the lake was still and the sky cloudless and not a sound disturbed the wilderness silence except at intervals the wild scream of the loon. This morning the clouds hung low and it looked as though we were to have rain, but the wind began to blow and has blown all day. After breakfast Will and I took a birch and went up sandy stream a mile or so to try the trout but the wind blew too hard and we returned for dinner. Since then I have done some washing and written this. Two of our men have gone back to the dam 20 miles for the balance of our stores and will be gone two days. This lake is six miles long with many low islands and fine sand beaches, and Katahdin showing from almost every part of it. We are encamped in a delightful spot. Not a very fine view of the mountain but so pleasant with the sandy shore and the pine and birch forest behind it that we feel as though we could stay here a long time. The men have built us a new camp, a vey neat and comfortable one and we shall occupy it tonight. There are a good many black files and the weather is warm for the region but a most delightful temperature. I am seated in the clean granite sand with my back against a dead pine, the waves curling up the shore and the sound of the axes coming to me as the men busy themselves about the camp. It is amusing to note how the useful interests us and how little the ornamental here. The men have just been a mile or more across the lake to get some long split cedar boards we saw yesterday and any rude convenience forms a topic of interested talk.

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