We would be remiss if we did not take a moment to stop and thank the Damariscotta Mills Fish Ladder Restoration Committee. As the committee members will likely tell you, their task is not yet complete but they can see the finish line of the 10 year, $500,000 effort to restore the historic fish ladder.
Of course, their efforts haven’t just restored the ladder; they have rebuilt it better than before. We could just imagine some aging, gray-finned veteran snorting at the fancy new resting pools the younger spawn enjoy these days.
The ladder’s repair has much to do with the exceptional health of the local harvest. While alewife counts at other runs indicate a decline elsewhere, the population at Damariscotta Mills is positively booming.
We have to admit, when the idea of a festival in the Mills was first floated, when neighbors first started getting serious about raising the money needed to do the job, it seemed like a tall task. A half million dollars is a lot of benefit dinners and 50/50 raffles, but the goal approaches by the day.
We congratulate the members of the committee on their success to date, and marvel at their sheer dogged determination to see this thing through.
The fruit of their labors has burnished a jewel in the Midcoast region, brought the community together, revived a historic landmark and leaves as a lasting legacy, a stone monument that will likely outlive all who gather for the 2014 festival Memorial Day weekend.
Fifty, 80, 100 years from now, if there is a next time the community needs to rally to repair the fish ladder, they will have a blueprint on exactly how to do it.