Golden Road (Maine)
The Golden Road is a 96-mile (154 km) private road built by the Great Northern Paper Company that stretches from the St. Zacharie Border Crossing to its former mill at Millinocket, Maine.
The road, which parallels the West Branch of the Penobscot River, was built between 1969 and 1972 to bring raw wood to the mill from the company’s 2.1 million acres (8,500 km2) of woodland in the Maine North Woods. Before the road was built logs were floated down the river to the mill.
The 32 miles (51 km) of the road from the Millinocket mill to Ripogenus Dam is paved and the remaining 65 miles (105 km) is stone.
Great Northern had always allowed private drivers access to the road (except for the portion next to the mill) and it is a major thoroughfare into the North Woods for sportsmen and white water paddlers on the Penobscot.
The road’s name is often believed to have been because of its cost (Great Northern said in the 1980s the cost of maintaining its road network was $6.8 million/year) but company officials said the road was actually considered a big cost savings—noting the shipping timber down the river took about 18 months and there would be loss of logs in the process and the road shortened the process to a few days. Others believe that the road was named after its appearance; the color of the dirt was so yellow that the road appeared to be the color gold.
Great Northern’s economic hold on the road has been greatly diminished, and it has announced plans to tear down almost all of the buildings at the Millinocket mill. The road is now owned by four companies. A proposal in 2007 for the state of Maine to investigate acquiring the road was defeated.
First let me start by saying the above picture is not mine as I have never been on the Golden
Road, at least till next week. For some time now I have been going over my camping gear and all my camera equipment in preparation for a long trip to the North Woods of Maine for an adventure in the wilderness of the east.
This is a screenshot of Maine from Google Earth. A full 2/3 of the state is nothing but forest with almost no homes on the 1/3 bordering Canada on the west side. This area will be my home for 5 days next week with nothing but what I bring with me. There are no towns, no power, no cell service, no hospitals and almost no people. Out there the deer outnumber the humans 500 to 1!
Saint Francis Lake is far up the Golden Road with only 2 campsites and no homes for miles. The campsites are at the lower west end of the lake where you see the road turn in.
This is Wadleigh Pond about another 10 miles or so up the road. This also has only 2 campsites and no homes along with a sandy beach at one of the sites. I will take a look at the beach site but I’m told you have to carry in all your gear the last 200 yards or so. Of the sites I will look at this one is said to be the most private.
If you look at the first picture of Maine above, another 50 miles or so above the largest lake you see, that’s where I’m going! Just me and Vinny with all the moose deer and bears. I am well prepared, excellent gear all from LL Bean, and I recently bought a small boat with a sail from Walker Bay along with a small outboard motor just for the fun of sailing and being on the water.
Along with all my gear I just purchased a used pro camcorder from Canon, model Vixia HF G20. It has tremendous features I will experiment with on this trip and post 2 or 3 videos of my time in the woods.
I also have a Neewer Gimbal to help steady the camera. It can be used with the video camera or the Canon 5D Mark iii I have. It is remarkable how much better the footage is with the gimbal.
Here is an unedited video that I shot today. (Caution, the sound is a little loud with my truck running!)
With the controls set to auto the video is overexposed, so future videos will be in manual mode for better control. It will take some practice but I should have a better grip on the quality during this vacation.
I drove all day today and I have 4 more days of driving before my vacation. I can hardly wait to hear nothing but the wind in the trees, Loon song on the lake. Bald Eagles fishing and maybe a visit from a moose or two! I will get some drone footage of sailing on the lake as well as the drive in. It will take a few posts to cover all I will capture so stay tuned!