A Preliminary Bibliography of the Mountains of Western Maine

Philip Marshall, Ph.D., Yale University School of Forestry The

Mountain Conservancy of Northern New England Phillips, ME 2015


This bibliography, prepared at the request of Dr. George N. Appell, Ph.D., President of The Mountain Conservancy, is the product of five months of exploration in the scientific and historical literature of their landscape of western Maine, and Franklin County in particular. Though no claim is made for its completeness, it is hoped that this document may provide a baseline from which future conservation and research efforts can be directed.

The scientific literature of the region is notably incomplete and uneven in scope. Certain aspects such as the alpine plants of Saddleback Mountain (Knowlton 1903; May & Davis 1978) and the fragile soils they occupy (Bockheim & Struchtemeyer 1969), have been extraordinarily well characterized given the small land area they represent. On the other hand, very little has been published on the insects of the region despite their critical position near the base of the terrestrial food web, with the exception of certain charismatic groups such as the dragonflies (Harvey 1902; Vogt & Heinrich 1983). Published research in mammalian biology is much more extensive, but even that has tended to emphasize a few charismatic predator species such as coyotes, bobcats, and foxes (e.g. Richens & Hugie 1974; Major 1983; Harrison & Harrison 1984). Likewise, research on the region’s fisheries has really only looked at Atlantic salmon (Legault 2005; Saunders et al. 2006) and blueback trout (Everhart & Waters 1965). The attention paid to these species is certainly justified, but by examining them more or less in isolation we risk losing sight of the larger system. It’s a rare study such as Schilling (2008), on the interaction of fish and aquatic invertebrates, that considers how the different parts of the system fit together across trophic levels. This is the only way we can hope to understand the mechanisms at work in ecosystems, especially as they are destabilized and pushed into new critical states as a result of climate change and other environmental perturbations.

The place of people in the landscape is an ancient question. The 12,000-year history of indigenous cultures in western Maine is explored by Bourque (2001); what happened to them after the arrival of European settlers is the topic addressed by Ghere (1993). For their archaeological remains, see Spiess & Hedden (1993) and Spiess et al. (2000). Moving forward to the present, some of the sociological issues of resource-extractive economies in western Maine are discussed by Beckley (1995).

The topic of transportation networks deserve special attention. The few region-specific studies on the ecological effects of trails and roads (e.g. Baldwin et al. 2007) have focused on the Appalachian Trail Corridor. However, the issue of roads and trails in habitat fragmentation is much larger than this narrow focus would imply, so several general (non-regional) sources have also been included to fill out the treatment of this broad and important topic. In contrast, the history of Franklin County’s famous Sandy River & Rangeley Lakes narrow gauge railroad (1879-1935) has received so much attention from scholars and authors around the world that there are almost too many publications to mention. A selection of the most authoritative books and articles on the history of the SR&RL railroad system is provided here in recognition of its central importance in the historical utilization of forest resources in Redington and Madrid Townships and Dallas and Coplin Plantations among others, as well as the history of outdoor recreation on the Rangeley Lakes. The region and its resources cannot be understood without it.

Maine’s strong history and heritage in agriculture and forestry, combined with the long-standing New England tradition of amateur natural history, has engendered a prodigious literature. Long-established New England journals such as Appalachia (published in Boston since 1876) and Rhodora (since 1899), as well as the Maine Naturalist (both versions!), are an invaluable resource in this, as are the several Maine-specific bibliographies, such as Boardman (1893) and Smith (1985) on agriculture, Smith (1971) on forestry and lumbering, and Nelson (1982) on indigenous peoples. All of these are recommended as general sources.

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