Telos Dam and Cut (Canal)
In the 1830s Amos Roberts and the Strickland
Brothers bought Township 6, Range 11, a piece of land that
contains the drainages into two major watersheds; Webster
Lake, a headwater of the East Branch of the Penobscot River,
and Telos Lake which in its natural state is a headwater of
the Allagash River. In order to get logs harvested from the
area around Telos and Chamberlain Lakes down to the West Branch
and thus into Bangor where American interests could profit,
these owners needed to devise a way to move the logs from
Telos over to Webster Lake.
In 1838 they engaged Shepard Boody to devise a way to get
Chamberlain Lake to flow against its natural current, down
into Telos Lake, then on to the West Branch basin. Boody proposed
the raising of waters in Chamberlain Lake via a dam and then
the digging of a canal across the space between Telos and
Webster Lakes. This area included a ravine that dropped approximately
47 feet into Webster Lake. By fall 1841 the two dams were
in place and a canal ten to fifteen feet wide and one to six
feet deep stretched from Telos to Chamberlain Lake. It was
thereafter known as the Telos Cut.
Built in 1841 for the landowners of T6-R11, the Telos Dam
worked in conjunction with the canal and a dam at the outlet
of Chamberlain Lake to redirect the flow of water in Chamberlain
and Telos lakes south toward the Penobscot River basin where
American interests could control the lumber that moved along
it. This was contrary to its natural flow that took lumber
north toward the St. John River basin and waters controlled
by Canadian interests.
The dam enabled its owners to control the flow into the canal
and thus collect a toll per 1,000 board feet of lumber from
any landowner along these lakes who wanted to drive their
logs to Bangor mills and markets. However, it also made them
dependent on the ability of the Chamberlain Lake dam to retain
enough water in Telos Lake to force the move southward against
its natural northward flow. This led to a series of controversies
involving owners of the Telos Dam and Cut and the owners of
the Chamberlain Lake Dam.
The dams at Telos have been repaired or rebuilt many times.
The last crude log dam was replaced in 1924 by a timber crib
dam. Sections of the dam have been replaced numerous times
since then. Currently, it is a timber crib structure rebuilt
in the 1980s, by its then-owner the East Branch Improvement
Company, with non-native materials and earthen abutments incorporating
steel sheet piling cutoff walls.
Telos and Lock Dams and their associated
structures were acquired by the DPPL in 2000 in order
to continue management of water levels consistent with the
Waterways management objectives and to prevent changed
or expanded private use of the associated buildings in a manner
inconsistent with the Waterways management objectives.
The dams are maintained and managed by DPPL as part of
the Waterway. DPPL has no plans for these dams, except
to improve their condition and maintain them, nor does DPPL
intend to change the flow regimes from those currently in
effect. It is anticipated that some of the buildings at the
dam sites that are in poor repair and have no historical significance
will be removed.