All Things Maine
All Things Maine

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Androscoggin Odors

The Lewiston Sun Journal asked five candidates for governor their opinions on the quality of Androscoggin River water. Then they placed five goldfish (each named for a different candidate) in a tank of the water to see how they would fare. You can watch them on Goldfish cam.

Today's paper also has an Androscoggin River timeline, and the story of a Bates professor who sniffed the river for a quarter-century.
Back in June 1943, Bates College professor Walter Lawrance headed out to the banks of the Androscoggin River, to eight different spots, and took a whiff.

He went back every day, every summer, and did the same thing, for 24 years.

The chemist’s nose kept the official record of just how bad the river smelled. In a science that was probably well-reasoned but lost over time, the river got an average odor rating of 36 that first year. At its worst in 1941, when public indignation — and the stink — reached a pitch, he gave it a 65. He smelled into the past, apparently, for that estimate.

By the summer of 1958, according to Lawrance’s nose, the river’s smell hit zero on his scale and stayed there. But while it wasn’t odiferous by his standard, the problem wasn’t over. [Link]
[Photo credit: Mike Timberlake]

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