An Introduction to our Watershed

The Androscoggin is one of the largest rivers in Maine. From source to the sea, the "Andro" runs for 170 miles. The entire watershed (drainage basin) covers 3450 square miles, and includes 19 towns in New Hampshire and 91 towns in Maine. To the north, water drains into the St. Lawrence River. To our east is the Kennebec River Watershed. And to the west, the Connecticut River Watershed. The boundaries for all these different watersheds are the high mountain ridges separating one from the other. Water flows down one side of the mountain ridge or the other, defining the watershed.

The Androscoggin River Valley at Bethel, Maine, with the Presidential Range of New Hampshire in the background
photo by Russ Dillinghamcourtesy of Lewiston Sun Journal


Click here for a map that shows the Androscoggin watershed in a regional context.


The river has supported vigorous industrial use (primarily forest products) for approximately 200 years. A total of 28 dams on the Androscoggin produce power for public and industrial consumption. The industries in our area have changed a lot over the years, from yesterday's timber barons who declared that "the only good tree is one floating down the river" to today's more scientifically based forest-management practices. In the past, the only people you'd see on the river were carrying a peavey and undoing log jams. Now you might see trout fishermen, kayakers, and eagles all in the same stretch of water.

It also used to be that if one fell into the Androscoggin, one was taken directly to the hospital for fear of infections. It also used to be that visitors could smell the river from 20 miles away. The Androscoggin is in the middle of a renaissance - a very exciting rebirth. We have GAINED a new resource. While the river is still used to support industries, it can ALSO be used for fishing, boating, swimming, tourism, education, drinking water supply.. any number of possibilities that never existed before! Please click on one of the links at the top of the page to continue.