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Location Challenge: Androscoggin River

2012 February 27

Documerica photo by Charles Steinhacker Rumford, Maine 06/1973

On October 28, 1971, Maine Senator Edmund S. Muskie put forward a call to address the severe water pollution that plagued our waterways. Building from the only existing law on the subject, the 1948 Federal Water Pollution Control Act, he called for greater regulation, oversight, and prevention of waste that could be dumped into United States waters. Senator Muskie was spurred to action through his personal experience living along the Androscoggin River and growing up in Rumford, Maine.

Growing public awareness and concern for controlling water pollution helped achieve sweeping amendments in 1972. As amended in 1977, the law then became commonly known as the Clean Water Act.

During this time of monumental change, Documerica photographer Charles Steinhacker was also covering the Androscoggin River from end to end throughout June of 1973. From the New Hampshire headwaters to the coast of Maine, his images tell a tremendous story of the priorites that changed along the way and shaped the health of the river.

Documerica photo by Charles Steinhacker 06/1973


Documerica photo by Charles Steinhacker 06/1973


Documerica photo by Charles Steinhacker 06/1973


Documerica photo by Charles Steinhacker 06/1973


Oxford Paper Company Viewed from Bridge Across the Androscoggin River 06/1973

So this location challenge is a call to nearby college students (Bates that’s you), Androscoggin River enthusiasts (Androscoggin River Watershed Council, that’s you!), and anyone else who lives alongside and experiences this mighty river today; what has changed?

Follow the route of Steinhacker, see if you can pull together a photographic expedition! Together we can compare what 40 years of greater awareness for environmental protection has accomplished. What recreational and industrial activities remain today?

Get involved and share your photos with State of the Environment we can’t wait to see the environment as you do!

Each week, we’ll pull out a new location challenge, but feel free to submit based on a past challenge or find your own! See how close Documerica came to where you live and travel. You just might be surprised.

Documerica photos by location in the National Archives online catalog
Browse the Documerica photos available on Flickr

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