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For the perfect Northern Maine hideaway, there's nothing better than Meduxnekeag Lake in Aroostook County. Also called Drew's Lake, Meduxnekeag was created in 1947 when a small dam was built across the headwaters of the Meduxnekeag River. The resulting impoundment is 1,144 acres of inviting water, wooded scenery and wild nature. Private except for a public boat launch on the eastern bay, the lake holds relatively few homes and cottages along its 18-mile shoreline. The reason for much of the solitude is that there are few all-season roads in the area, and snow this far north gets deep enough to make the few private roads impassable. Year-round homes are limited to the north shore, with very few cottages at the south end. Meduxnekeag Lake is far from sources of light pollution, making the stars appear larger than life and close enough to touch. It's the kind of place that begs for plaid flannel shirts and ghost stories around the campfire at night.
According to State reports from 1989, Meduxnekeag Lake holds American eel, pumpkinseed sunfish, yellow perch, chain pickerel, white perch, rainbow smelt, splake (a hybrid of lake trout and brook trout), redbreast sunfish, lake chub, landlocked salmon, brook trout and brown trout. The trout are the most sought-after species by visiting fishermen. The incoming small streams and the shallow, rocky shoals make for great fly fishing. Ice fishing is allowed, with restrictions placed by the State as to times and creel limits. It is best to obtain a current copy of Maine fishing regulations as they change often. Streams and lakes in this area of northern Maine are known for excellent trout fishing; several locations for accessing other lakes are nearby, including Nickerson Lake State Park less than five miles away.
The Meduxnekeag River flows east into the St. Johns River near the border with Canada. Traditionally, the Maliseet Native American tribe, headquartered in Houlton, have hunted and fished the St. Johns River valley and have international permission to cross the border between tribal settlements unhindered. The tribe's craftsmen make beautiful baskets out of native materials which can sometimes be found for sale in the area.
Little information is available for Meduxnekeag Lake. Repots from State sources are several years old, and the lake doesn't have any major resorts or glitzy websites devoted to it. Several islands dot the surface, some large enough to hold cabins. The Drew's Lake Property Owners Association bands together to solve problems and monitors water quality in conjunction with state-wide groups. A few years ago, they raised enough money to buy the dam from the State and rebuild it. The result is a small but cohesive community where neighbors look out for each other and their precious lake, monitor the number of chicks hatched by the resident loon parents, catch trout and socialize. The only public road ends at the boat ramp, with the rest private roads and private property. There are several wetland areas along the shoreline.
Little boating information is available, and there are no marinas or fuel locations on the shore. Although motorized boats are allowed, canoes and kayaks are ideal for paddling silently along the shoreline to sight moose, bald eagles, waterfowl and various mammals. Meduxnekeag Lake regularly has real estate for sale, often existing homes. Building lots are also available, and several-acre lakeview parcels are surprisingly inexpensive. There are no campgrounds on the lake, but camping areas and small resorts are found within a 10-mile radius. Small motels and guest rentals are common in the area, often on nearby lakes.
Two small villages are located near Meduxnekeag Lake: Linneus and New Limerick. They offer gas, a few supplies and services. Linneus also has a highly-recommended restaurant known for good seafood dishes. The area is mostly potato farms, the major crop in this agricultural area other than timber products. The 'big city' nearby is Houlton, almost 10 miles to the east. Houlton, in typical tongue-in-cheek Maine humor, says that it is best known for being the 'end of I-95'. Just east of town is the customs entry point to New Brunswick, Canada. Houlton is larger than other towns in the area; the thriving small city of 6,000 people is the main services hub for the area. Founded over two hundred years ago, several preserved homes in the town appear on the National Register of Historic Homes.
The Aroostook Historical & Art Museum is worth a visit, as is the Hancock Barracks. The Barracks was occupied by the local militias in the "Bloodless Aroostook War". No shots were fired in the border incident that kept the area on edge in 1839-1839, an international incident that was finally settled when the United States and Britain agreed to a negotiated border line between the US and Britain's colony, New Brunswick. Houlton offers shopping, a variety of dining choices and entertainment in the form of golf courses, movie theaters and nightspots. The Houlton Visitors Center is part of the Maine Solar System Model; this model places the sun and planets at different places along Route 1 in Aroostook County. Houlton is the home of the dwarf planet Pluto; the sun in this system is 38.6 miles to the north in the Northern Maine Museum of Science at Presque Isle. Children will want to visit this three-story museum on the campus of the University of Maine at Presque Isle. It's worth the trip and a very good smaller museum with many educational exhibits.
Hunters and back-country fishermen alike will be able to find all types of guide services locally. Moose are commonly seen in the area on nature walks, and country roads are great for cycling and nature observation. Cross-country skiing and snowmobiling are favored winter activities. In fact, Aroostook County claims over 2,300 miles of snowmobile trails, often along power line right-of-ways and abandoned railroad beds. Maine is the perfect spot for antique hunters to spend a week or two searching the local small shops for the ideal item. Because Maine was a sea-faring center for most of the 19th century, one-of-a-kind items still show up near the coast that were originally brought home by the captains of schooners that called at exotic ports around the world.
Meduxnekeag Lake, or Drew's Lake, is the perfect place to get off the beaten path. Life is simpler here away from the interferences of modern living. Interaction with civilization can be on your terms. A few weeks or months at Meduxnekeag Lake, and it will be hard to return to city living. Come experience the solitude and the relaxing sound of waves washing along the shore of Meduxnekeag Lake.
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