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A favored summer location for the southeastern coast region of Maine, Bunganut Pond offers everything the lakelubber wants-even loons. The odd name derives from a Native American term meaning 'place of the rocks', an apt description of the lake's rocky shoreline. Originally a smaller natural pond, the outlet was dammed by the nearby Shaker religious colony to power a sawmill in the early 1800s. The excellent stonework of the dam they built far outlasted the short-lived Shaker settlement. The original dam was finally replaced in the 1950s when a storm washed out the historic original structure.
Bunganut Pond, sometimes called Bunganut Lake, has limited public access. The nearby town of Lyman maintains a small town park along the north shore where hand-carried boats can access the water. Two commercial campgrounds offer camping along the shore of the irregularly-shaped lake. Both offer full hook-ups, RV space, and a few seasonal campsites. One even offers a camp cabin for rent. Much of the shoreline is privately owned. The 300-acre lake meanders into several bays and coves, giving it a shoreline of nearly six miles. Many of the property owners have docks where they can tie up their own watercraft. The Bunganut Pond Association monitors water quality and assists property owners with getting full enjoyment from their lovely lakefront property.
Pontooning, canoeing, kayaking, water skiing, tubing and other water sports are enjoyed during warm weather. Locals will quickly tell you which cove the loons nest in-and admonish you not to disturb them. The many rocks near shore can make boating treacherous to those who don't know the water. When the lake levels are drawn down in winter, the rock-strewn exposed bottom makes it clear why it was called 'place of the rocks'. However, the rocks serve to provide perfect habitat for the many fish which are found here.
Anglers will find largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, American eel, white perch, sunfish, chain pickerel, yellow perch and rainbow smelt for the catching. A few brown trout, hold-outs from years past when the Maine Department of Inland Waters and Fisheries stocked the lake, may occasionally be caught. The trout didn't do very well for a variety of reasons, and the state no longer stocks the lake due to limited public access. Fishermen will need the correct state fishing license, and all regular regulations must be followed.
The cottages and homes along Bunganut Pond run the gamut from rough weekend cottages to large and expensive homes. Lucky visitors can often find a private property that rents their 'lake place' by the night or the week. Many of these vacation rentals come equipped with a canoe or fishing boat, and most have decks and docks. Although there are few businesses near the lake, the town of Alfred is only two miles down Highway 202 with several eating establishments, gas stations, and the usual services located in the area.
Alfred was the home of the Maine Shaker Community starting in 1793. A series of economic disasters and the general disadvantages of a sect that forbade procreation led to the Alfred settlement coming to an end. By 1931, the last of the Shakers left Alfred and merged with the larger group at Sabbathday Lake to the north, the only group of Shakers still in existence in the country. A group of local residents, the Friends of the Alfred Shaker Museum, created a museum in a renovated Shaker carriage house. Open to the public, the Museum offers exhibits and instruction in Shaker crafts and an interpretation of their religious philosophy of life. Regular festivals, a popular speaker series, and Shaker dinners are offered throughout the year.
The Massabesic Experimental Forest is located just south of Alfred. Although dedicated to research on forest products and sustainable forestry, the Forest holds a large number of trails that are open to the public. Some trails are designated for ATV use, while others are reserved for foot traffic and equestrians. The membership-controlled Hollis Equestrian Park utilizes many of the horseback trails for use by its members. Other trails are used by mountain bikers and designated off-leash, dog walking trails. Atlantic seacoast beaches are only half an hour from Bunganut Pond, along with all of the scenic sights and oceanfront resorts the Maine coast is noted for. Lobster dinners and crab boils are common during the summer, and numerous artisans and craftsmen sell their wares at quaint little shops along the highways closer to the larger towns. Well-known Kennebunkport is only 25 miles away.
A trip to Portland takes less than an hour, a city with shopping, sightseeing, specialty restaurants, and big-city entertainment. Here, one can arrange for sight-seeing tours, boat tours, deep-sea fishing excursions, and educational experiences. Numerous historic locations preserve some of the nation's earliest economic adventures in fishing and forestry. Learn about the local coastline and which animals and crustaceans thrive here. Portland has several noted museums, such as the Portland Museum of Art, Portland Science Center, and Children's Museum and Theatre of Maine. Those with a yen for the weird and wonderful will enjoy the little International Cryptozoology Museum where the world of nature wanders into the realm of 'possibly impossible'.
Although lodgings at Bunganut Pond are limited to camping and private rentals, the area between the lake and the coast holds a wealth of small inns, guest cottages, and bed & breakfasts. If a trip to southern Maine is in your stars, check out Bunganut Pond, the Shakers, the lobster-and Bigfoot.
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