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Biking around Bangor: Veazie Dam Figure 8

03/20/2014
Here's a shot looking upstream from a bluff in the Penobscot River hamlet of Vezie. Backhoes are working to remove the dam.

Here’s a shot looking upstream from a bluff in the Penobscot River hamlet of Veazie. Backhoes and dump trucks are working to remove the dam.

I know there’s snow on the ground right now, but come on…let’s go for a bike ride!

Over the last year, I’ve charted five great bike routes through the scenic outskirts of the Bangor metro area. All of these 90-minute rides feature beautiful destinations, challenging hills, relatively safe travel and a special something that can only be described as a “unique Maine charm.”

Saddle up, Mark in Maine readers, and enjoy the fall colors on this two-wheel mini-tour… without breaking a sweat:

THE VEAZIE DAM FIGURE 8

Veazie is a quiet little hamlet just east of Bangor on the Penobscot River so it makes a great destination.

This fall, the ride featured the added bonus: A place to watch an army of backhoes and dump trucks dismantle a century-old dam. A smorgasbord of government agencies, environmental groups and Native American tribes worked together to fund the multi-million dollar project designed to open 1,000 miles of river habitat to spawning salmon.

But salmon are something you eat after a bike ride.

Our 14-mile ride starts at Ohio Street with a blazing fast ride down the steep 14th Street hill, slicing between the Kenduskeg Stream and its rocky cliffs. After a zig-zag through the old  “Tree Streets” neighborhood we hit Mount Hope Avenue and head east.

The route passes a couple of creaky-floor variety stores, the high school football field and its newly refurbished grandstand and a dour, brick fortress that has been home to a state psychiatric institution since 1901. Surprisingly the old “insane hospital” has yet to make an appearance in a Stephen King novel.

There are many small general stores like this one in Bangor.

There are many small general stores like this one in Bangor.

Cameron Stadium is home to the Bangor High School Rams varsity football team. A new grandstand was built last summer, replacing a 69-year-old facility.

Cameron Stadium is home to the Bangor High School Rams varsity football team. A new grandstand was built last summer, replacing a 69-year-old facility.

The Bangor Mental Health Institute was opened in 1901 as the "Eastern Maine Insane Hospital." It's still a functioning facility and it's impressive buildings are on the National Register of Historic Places.

The Dorthea Dix Psychiatric Center was opened in 1901 as the “Eastern Maine Insane Hospital.” It’s still a functioning facility and its massive campus of  brick buildings are on the National Register of Historic Places.

But fear not King fans, a setting from one of his most famous horror movies is less than a mile away. Our Veazie Dam Figure 8 route takes us right through the guts of the film setting for “Pet Cemetery.”

Only in real life, there are human bones below the ground.

Mt. Hope Cemetery was established in 1834 and is the second oldest garden cemetery in the United States. It’s also hauntingly beautiful and, for better or worse, really one of those places that defines the soul of  Maine.

“This is what Maine looks like, if you’ve never been here. It’s kind of beautiful and creepy at the same time,”

Shannon Hess, YouTube tour of Mt. Hope Cemetery

This fort is the centerpiece of the Mount Hope Cemetry, the second oldest garden cemetery in the  United States. The fort was built in 1907 to honor Union soldiers.

This fort is the centerpiece of the Mount Hope cemetery. It was built in 1907 to honor Union soldiers who fought in the Civil War.

The Mount Hope Cemetery is the second oldest garden cemetery in the United States. It was built in 1834. It is the setting for the film "Pet Cemetery," based on a Stephen King novel.

The Mount Hope Cemetery is the second oldest garden cemetery in the United States. It was built in 1834. It is the setting for the film “Pet Cemetery,” based on a Stephen King novel.

After passing through the cemetery, it’s an easy ride up Highway 2 and into Veazie. Turn toward the river and head for the bluff top. It’s a good place for a water break and to take in a long, lazy view up river.

Then it’s time to head for home.

The busy Highway 2 rolls all the way back into downtown Bangor. I bike up the north side of the Kenduskeg Stream, bypassing the steep 14th Street hill. The Griffin Road bridge is the first place to cross back over the Kenduskeg and it leads to an Ohio Street connection, where the “Figure 8” is completed at the 14th Street intersection.

A dam fine ride.

Yes, that's heavy equipment in the background dismantling the Vezie Dam. The dam was removed from the Penobscot River last fall to open the river up to navigation and salmon beyond Bangor.

Yes, that’s heavy equipment in the background dismantling the Veazie Dam.

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One Comment
  1. John permalink

    Great story and photos!

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