Why was Duck Pond Masting so easy?

The Most difficult aspect of the Masting trade was getting the ten ton logs to the nearest large river thru what was often ten miles of hilly wilderness. Hills killed so many oxen, spares were stationed along the route. The crushed animals were just cut out of the harness and quickly replaced and the work went on. Logs were moved during the winter and great preparation of ice tracks were an important preparation. What moves Duck Pond to the front of the line with just a cursory examination of the location can be seen today driving on Route 302 from the power line (below Hawkes Plaza) to the Dunkin Donut shop (and look left down the power line). You travel a short, remarkably flat, gentle downward slope all the way to the River. Duck Pond Masts would almost deliver themselves to the Presumpscott with a push. It would be a quicker trip requiring far fewer Oxen, Men, and Supplies transported across the Atlantic, and very few replacement Oxen too. So when the fate of the British Empire hung in the balance on the supply of ship masts in 1652, it would have been THE most logical place for Lord Prides highly skilled, and experienced lumberjacks, fresh out of the now denuded Nonesuch Forest to look. Great Pines suitable as masts for ships of the line were far and few between*, let alone easily accessible ones. Masting began in Maine in 1634. Surveys for Masts would have spotted this site well before 1650.


The Presumscott may be unique in that its last falls is a low gentle one which empties into tidal waters. This obviously provided advantages to the transportation loading process unavailable elsewhere. Duck Pond masts were probably loaded more easily than at the finest ports of the day. This tidal area at Presumpscott Falls was used to protect an entire shipment of masts stolen from the British during the American Revolution and as a result they bombed Portland.

Highland Lake Masts were likely the only "Ship of the Line" masts on the Presumpscott, its a small river system. Masts from Gorham went down Stroudwater. Its possible a primitive frame loading system from 1653 was still serviceable during the American Revolution (if indeed any was even originally required), assisting in putting the great sticks above the falls, beyond the reach of the British, despite a Royal Navy Warship, the HMS Senegal, sent to Casco Bay to procure them.

"Ship of the Line" masts were the nuclear bombs of their day. They decided National Power Balances. Twenty years following the Pilgrim’s landing at Plymouth Rock, “Masting” became New England’s first major industry. Just 30 years after Josephs arrival, Massachussets was frantically claiming all the masts left for the King with the Broad Arrow act of 1691. By 1700, the easiest masts were 20 miles from a river in Northern Maine.

*Forests and Seapower - Robert Albion P 241

Tall Trees Tough Men - Robert Pike P 49

Maritime History of Maine - William Hutchinson. ROWE P 34

Note: Lord Prides work orders may still exist in the Royal Navy Board Records !! (next year:))s

Joseph Pride