Town of Portage Lake
Organized 1872 and incorporated March 24, 1909
Town office location: 20 School Street, P.O. Box 255, Portage Lake, Maine 04768
Phone # 207 435-4361; Email --email@example.com
The lake of Portage is located at the base of two hills. It is one of the Fish River chain of lakes and rivers. The town of Portage is located at the northern end of the Appalachian Mountain Range. The residents that live in this area have an ancestry that is of Acadian, Quebecan, English, Scottish or Irish descent. Portage was named after the French word of the same name, which means 'the act of carrying a canoe from one body of water to another.' The Tobique Indians were known to "portage" their canoes from Little Machias Lake to Portage Lake. The white settlers used the French word "portage" to describe their own use of the waterways. Lumbermen from New Brunswick came up the Aroostook River to Little Machias Stream and then to Portage Lake; their mission was to look for pine. Mail in the 1800's was delivered by stagecoach from Bangor and came through Patten, Maine. During the wintertime, a carrier brought the mail from Patten to Portage by snowshoe. There were two reasons why the area started to grow. The first reason was a result of the Fish River Railroad being completed in 1902; the second reason was because the notion of traveling from Ashland to Fort Kent became a reality. Then, material could be delivered daily instead of weekly. Capt. Iverson, captain of the ship "Moss" from Norway, built the first sawmill in Portage. Capt. Iverson later became owner and operator of the "Portage" and "Juanita" steamboats; Iverson was able to transport people to different areas of the lake. The steamboats were used for many years, but after Capt. Iverson went blind, the "Portage" was beached on the shore of the lake. The boiler was sold to the Northeastland Hotel in Presque Isle, and the engine went to Cormier's Mill. The fate of the "Juanita" is unknown. Portage is a very picturesque area; the orange, yellow and red trees make the landscape gorgeous in the fall. During the winter season, Portage is an excellent place to cross country ski, ice fish, snowshoe, snowmobile and to hunt. The Portage Lakers Snowmobile Club has lots of well groomed trails and lots of activities during the winter as well. During the summer, activities include: boating, fishing, jet skiing, swimming, camping, and horseback riding. Some common animals to look for are moose, bears, loons, Canadain geese and herds of deer. Seasonal sporting camps are available for those desiring the wilderness setting. Many residents live in their lakeside camps the whole calendar year.
The thirty-seven acre, nine-hole golf course is located over the top of Hayward Hill, which overlooks a mountain range and a lake; there is also a six-acre public beach. Outdoor tennis courts, basketball courts, soccer / softball / baseball fields and an archery range are available for those interested in sports. To enjoy the scenic route, the road atlases advise a tourist to turn west off Interstate 95, south of Houlton and follow Route 212 over to Route 11 north. This gives you the scenic route through Northern Maine up to Fort Kent, Maine, which is on the border of Canada. There are wooded roads if you wish to do the forest adventure. There is close to 3 million acres of privately owned timber land, and it's possible to travel these privately owned wooded roads all the way northwest to Allagash and also South to Bangor; however, additional information, such as maps and brochures, would be necessary in order to experience the wilderness and not get lost. This information is available at the checkpoint gates.
Since the 1900s, this area has been more of a resort area. As the land was getting cleared, farming began to develop; by the middle of this century, however, little farming existed.
If you enjoy wildlife, this is the place to visit.