Brewer News

Concept designs for trail unveiled

3.24.2006 – Where was the first settlement of Penobscot Indians discovered when European travelers began navigating the Penobscot River centuries ago and landed in what is now Brewer?

And before the three bridges were constructed connecting Bangor and Brewer, where and how did people get across the waterway?

The answer to both of those historic questions, and many more fascinating facts about the region’s history, industries and cultures, will be found along Brewer’s Historic Waterfront Trail, Robert West, consultant for Informal Learning Experiences Inc. of Washington, D.C., said Tuesday.

The firm was hired in July to create the trail’s concept designs, which were unveiled by West during this week’s City Council meeting.

“Brewer possesses a rich natural and cultural history,” he said. “There is some neat stuff that has happened here.”
The riverside walking trail, which eventually will stretch from the former Eastern Fine Paper Co. mill in South Brewer to Indian Head Trail Park, located north of the Penobscot Bridge, is expected to have 11 spots where people can learn about local lore and the community’s long history.

Riverside mills, brick making and boat building, along with ice harvesting, fishing and the old ferry system, were all crucial parts of the region’s past and will be spotlighted along the trail.

“It’s a recreational trail for bikers, joggers, hikers, birdwatchers” that also will be utilized as a teaching resource by local schools, West said.

Stories, including one about a pair of visiting white beluga whales in 1954, and others about flooding and the river’s destructive power, are the nucleus of the historic trail and will be told through the riverside exhibits.

Interactive displays that draw people of all ages to the Penobscot River are the goal of the trail, D’arcy Main-Boyington, Brewer director of economic development, said.

The trail system is expected to include a river history museum, a visitor’s center, interactive informational kiosks, and audiovisual interactive displays, she said.

A children’s garden, located behind Dead River Co., is the first part of the trail to be completed. It will be planted with native Maine flora and other plants this spring.

Construction on the trail itself is expected to begin sometime this year and is being paid for by the U.S. Department of Transportation, in partnership with Brewer, City Manager Steve Bost said Wednesday.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture also pitched in $50,000 of the $62,500 concept plan costs, with the city’s match being the remaining $12,500.

Several experts have worked on the project, including cultural and social historian Marilyn Zoidis, a Bangor native now with the Smithsonian Institution in Washington. She, along with a dozen others, met in Brewer in September to brainstorm about trail ideas. West’s designs are a result of the meetings.

Walking trails are planned for both sides of the river, and part of the design firm’s job is to ensure the two plans are comparable and do not duplicate features. A final report is expected next month, said West, who added that the project has been a pleasure to do because of the varied and interesting history of the region.

His firm designed the walking trail so “you’ll find a place where your face, or your father’s or mother’s face, appears,” West said.

A copyright article from the Bangor Daily News, Friday, March 24, 2006.