Mill Town: Reckoning with What Remains by Kerri Arsenault

The Androscoggin River flows 178 miles south from its source in Errol, New Hampshire, to the northern end of the White Mountains, then crosses the border into Maine. It winds east across the state, through the heart of Maine’s villages, towns, and cities, until it is subsumed, first by the Kennebec estuary and finally by the Atlantic Ocean. The Androscoggin has borne the boons and burdens of Maine’s people, from the native Abenaki who gave the river her name and harvested her fish, to the paper magnates who built an industry on her banks and polluted her waters.

Writer and editor Kerri Arsenault grew up on the Androscoggin River in the small town of Mexico, Maine. The river and its paper mills fed her family, their finances, and the town’s collective economy for over a hundred years until the chemical by-products of the paper manufacturing trade poisoned it all.