The Intimacy of Weeds Above A Superfund Site

Corinna Maine, Incorporated 1816. (1)

I am drawn to these spots , these edges, these interludes. They are just past broken, and beginning to heal. Nature knows her task and sets to it. The human place takes longer to revive and its future is less certain.   Here at the end of last winter there were many migrating saltwater fowl on their way North to the  St. Lawrence . Now in the  Fall a thriving cache of common wild native plants. The proud edifice of the town library  rises still on the hill over my shoulder .

Just above where the mill once stood dyeing and spilling, along the river’s edge, I am surrounded by milkweed, joe-pye, and goldenrod; wild grape and cucumber, sumac, and aster and an unidentified viburnum.   I spot one unwanted interloper, the fruiting barberry, and a fine surprise,  a stand of white morning glory, which until now was unknown in these parts. Upstream across the river is  an old farm well established. This is the East Branch of the Sebasticook a decade into remediation in this old mill town,well worn and compromised, altered and revered. All of this in contrast to the nearly bare earth below at the remedial site itself, behind its chainlink fence with empty containers strewn about ( I walked away unwilling to take a picture).

(1) It was first called T4 R4 NWP (or Township 4, Range 4, North of the Waldo Patent). On June 30, 1804, Dr. John Warren of Boston bought 23,040 acres (93 km2) on speculation from Massachusetts for two cents an acre, or $460.80. To encourage settlement, he gave away some land and built a combination gristmill and sawmill. The town would be incorporated on December 11, 1816, as Corinna, named after Dr. Warren’s daughter.[5][6]
The first homes were built of hewn logs. Corinna developed into a farming community, with water powered mills at the outlet of Corundel Lake. After the arrival of the Dexter and Newport Railroad in 1865-1866, the village developed into a small mill town. Industries would include sawmills, planing mills, woolen textile mills, and a door, sash and blind factory. There were also boot and shoemaking shops and an iron foundry.[7] The Eastland Woolen Mill manufactured woolen materials from the 1930s until it closed in 1997, after which it was demolished.[8]
The 22-acre Eastland Woolen Mill Superfund site is located on Main Street in downtown Corinna, Maine. A textile mill operated at the site from 1909 until 1996. Disposal practices resulted in contamination of sediments in the East Branch of the Sebasticook River as well as soil and groundwater. In 1999, EPA placed the site on the National Priorities List (NPL). Cleanup activities included removal of hazardous materials, the mill and contaminated soils.