The Dead River, sometimes called the West Branch, is a 42.6-mile-long (68.6 km) river in central Maine in the United States. Its source is Flagstaff Lake, where its two main tributaries, South Branch Dead River and North Branch Dead River, join (45°09′41″N 70°25′55″W). It flows generally east to join the Kennebec River at The Forks, Maine.
The Dead River played a role in the American Revolution. In the fall of 1775 then newly-commissioned Colonel Benedict Arnold led a force of over 1000 men on a grueling trip through Maine, as part of the invasion of Canada. Ascending the Kennebec in bateaux, they avoided the rapids of the lower Dead River via a portage of about 12 miles (20 km) at the "Great Carrying Place" (Carrying Place–Carrying Place Town, Maine Townships 1–2, Range 3, BKP WKR) to a position above Long Falls (now drowned in Flagstaff Lake). They proceeded up the North Branch of the Dead River, through the Chain of Ponds to Arnold Pond in Coburn Gore (T.2/3 R.6 WBKP), and across the height of land into the watershed of Quebec's Chaudière River.
The logging industry is prominent in the area. Flagstaff Lake was formed by Long Falls Dam in 1950, to regulate the flow of the Dead River into the Kennebec River. At the time, the river drive was still a primary means of delivering timber to the pulp mills downstream. Although improved highways and the trucking industry have replaced the river drive, water releases continue to serve hydroelectric power-generating plants downstream.
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