Messalonskee Lake, Maine, USA

Lake Locations:

USA - New England - Maine - Kennebec & Moose River Valleys -

Also known as:  Snow Pond, Nine Mile Pond

The last lake in the Belgrade Lakes chain of lakes is 3691-acre Messalonskee Lake. Located in the Kennebec and Moose River Valleys Region, Messalonskee Lake was originally called Snow Pond after one of the first Europeans to settle there. Because the lake lies along Messalonskee Stream, the name was changed around 1900 to correspond with it. It is thought the Abenaki name means ‘white clay’. Also known occasionally as Nine-Mile Pond, the lake is well-known among visitors, locals and environmentalists. No matter what its called, Messalonskee Lake has played a vital part in the development of inland Maine.

Early settlers arrived around the middle of the 1700s, likely by following Messalonskee Stream up from its mouth at the Kennebec River. Farming was not very profitable due to the rocky ground but the fast-moving stream provided ideal water-power for early industry. By 1790, a dam had been built across the outlet from Messalonskee Lake to power grist and saw mills. Within a few years, there were four dams built across the stream between the small village then known as West Waterville and Waterville on the Kennebec. Besides enlarging the lake, the dams took advantage of the 120 ft drop along the stream to power a booming business in axe and scythe production. Over the years, other businesses began here, including tanneries, furniture and carriage shops, iron foundries, machine shops, boat and casket makers, shingle mills, tool handles, edge tool manufacturers and woolen mills. A small company formed in the town to produce electrical power from water power. That company became Central Maine Power Company, largest electrical utility in Maine. Cascade Woolen Mill, the last large business to use the water power of the Messalonskee, closed in the 1990s. West Waterville, renamed Oakland in 1883, no longer saw itself as an industrial town and instead concentrated its efforts on the tourism industry and services to summer lake residents.

By 1870, the area around Messalonskee Lake had begun to attract visitors who came to enjoy not only Messalonskee Lake but the other lakes in the Belgrade Lakes region. At one time, a streetcar line ran from Waterville to the lake bringing businessmen and visitors to the area. The Sunset Railroad came through town on its way to the resorts on Moosehead Lake. Amusements such as dance pavilions and a steamboat, and lodgings called ‘camps’ quickly grew up in the area to take advantage of new opportunities for business. A thriving ‘summer colony’ grew up along the shore of Messalonskee Lake. With the coming of the automobile, more ‘summer people’ began to build private cottages along the shores. By the time Oakland’s industrial age ended, it had already begun transforming itself into a service economy to serve its lake residents.

Fishing is good at Messalonskee Lake. Summer and winter both bring anglers to the lake who try to outwit black crappie, chain pickerel, largemouth bass, northern pike, pumpkinseed, smallmouth bass, walleye, white and yellow perch. But the most popular fish the lake has to offer are brown trout, brook trout, landlocked salmon, lake trout and splake – all stocked regularly. The weed beds along undeveloped portions of the shore are particularly productive. Several boat ramps are provided for smaller boats and canoe fishing is popular. In winter, ice fishing brings the winter residents out to try their hand at the same game fish.

Summer residents and their guests along the shore of Messalonskee Lake find ample opportunities for swimming, boating, windsurfing, picnicking, wildlife viewing, camping, hiking and geocaching. There are numerous trails around the entire Belgrade Lakes area for hiking, bicycling snowmobiling, cross-country skiing and other outdoor activities. A full schedule of local festivals occurs all year round. Such annual events as the annual antique boat parade and regular ‘bean-hole’ dinners aren’t to be missed for true Maine lakes atmosphere. For those unfamiliar with the term, bean-holes are a method of baking beans in a cast-iron pot buried in hot coals overnight in a hole in the ground. A mainstay of lumbermen, the method of cooking beans was reportedly learned from the Penobscot Native Americans. A great many Maine lake people wouldn’t consider a get-together complete without a pot of bean-hole beans.

There is relatively little development along Messalonskee Lake’s shoreline. Extensive wetlands and bogs provide prime wildlife habitat. For this reason, canoeing and kayaking are favored activities here. Although power boating is allowed, more visitors engage in pontooning and floating the lake, binoculars in hand. A favored area for birding and wildlife watching is the bog area at the south-west end of the lake. Home to warblers, bald eagles, turtles, bullfrogs, and a variety of other wildlife, the area is famed as a home to the rare, carnivorous pitcher plant. A rare colony of nesting black terns lives here, one of the few in Maine. The inlet Messalonskee Stream is float-able all the way to Long Pond. Along the way, red wing blackbirds lay claim to the cattails and small shrubs. Blue herons and snapping turtles fish the shallows or sun themselves along the shore. The the Messalonskee Lake Association works actively to preserve the natural flora and fauna by protecting it’s habitat. The proximity of the lake to Colby College in Waterville means that there is much interest in studying the environment of the lake and its water quality with an eye toward improvements.

Lost in nature’s solitude, the silent paddler can’t be blamed for thinking they are imagining the sounds of a string quartet or flute solo wafting on the breeze. More likely, it’s the students at the New England Music Camp practicing along the south shore. The camp, established in 1937, provides specialized instruction for gifted musicians ages 12 to 18 in a camp setting. Several times a year, the camp performs public concerts to the delight of natives and visitors alike.

Should the visitor somehow feel the need to head back toward busy metro areas, Augusta is only 18 miles from Oakland. A great history tour in Augusta is Old Fort Western: the oldest surviving wooden fort in America. For the shoppers, LL Bean and the Freeport Outlets (excellent shopping) are only an hour away. The seacoast is just an hour’s drive to the east. And even smaller Waterville provides a variety of special treasures such as Perkins Arboretum at Colby College.

Vacation rentals can be found in nearly any configuration around Messalonskee Lake. There are still resort ‘camps’ in existence, and private cottage rentals can be found year round. Picturesque New England Inns and bed-and-breakfast rooms are plentiful in the area. Lakefront and lake view real estate is sometimes found in the area. Who knows? After a visit, you may decide you, too want to become a Maine Laker. Come to Messalonskee Lake and find out if it’s for you.

Things to do at Messalonskee Lake

  • Vacation Rentals
  • Fishing
  • Ice Fishing
  • Boating
  • Swimming
  • Canoeing
  • Kayaking
  • Camping
  • Picnicking
  • Hiking
  • Biking
  • Cross-Country Skiing
  • Snowmobiling
  • Wildlife Viewing
  • Birding
  • Antiquing
  • Shopping

Fish species found at Messalonskee Lake

  • Bass
  • Black Bass
  • Black Crappie
  • Brook Trout
  • Brown Trout
  • Chain Pickerel
  • Crappie
  • Lake Trout
  • Largemouth Bass
  • Northern Pike
  • Perch
  • Pickerel
  • Pike
  • Pumpkinseed
  • Salmon
  • Smallmouth Bass
  • Splake Trout
  • Sunfish
  • Trout
  • Walleye
  • Yellow Perch

Messalonskee Lake Photo Gallery

    Messalonskee Lake Statistics & Helpful Links

    divider

    Lake Type: Natural Freshwater Lake, Dammed

    Surface Area: 3,510 acres

    Shoreline Length: 30 miles

    Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 234 feet

    Average Depth: 33 feet

    Maximum Depth: 113 feet

    Water Volume: 110,427 acre-feet

    Water Residence Time: 230

    Drainage Area: 117 sq. miles

    Trophic State: Mesotrophic

    Spread the word! Share our Messalonskee Lake article with your fellow Lake Lubbers!

    Trophic State | LakeLubbers

    Trophic State measures the level of algae and nutrients in a lake.

    An oligotrophic lake is very clear (blue in color) and does not support much plant or fish life. A hyper-oligotrophic lake is the clearest of all lakes, and is nearly devoid of plants and fish.

    A mesotrophic lake is slightly green and supports a moderate degree of plant and fish life. A lake's most desired trophic state is generally this mid-point - the mesotrophic state.

    A eutrophic lake is somewhat murky and supports a large amount of plant and fish life. A hypereutrophic lake is clouded with algae, plant life, and fish life. A eutrophic or hyper-eutrophic lake can be difficult to navigate by boat - and is often an unpleasant place to swim.

    The use of phosphorus-rich and nitrogen-rich fertilizer on lawns and golf courses surrounding a lake can cause it to become eutrophic or hypereutrophic.


    Lakes for Vacation and Recreation

    Except as noted, Copyright © LakeLubbers LLC. All Rights Reserved.

    Catchment or Drainage Area | LakeLubbers

    This is the surrounding area that drains into a lake, including land, rivers and their tributaries. This is also known as the lake's "catchment basin".

    Small lakes at the highest peaks of mountains have small drainage areas. The world's oceans have the largest drainage areas.


    Lakes for Vacation and Recreation

    Except as noted, Copyright © LakeLubbers LLC. All Rights Reserved.

    Lake-Area Population | LakeLubbers

    This is the estimated number of people who live in a house with a view of a lake, plus those who self-describe the lake as their home, for example: "I live at Smith Mountain Lake."


    Lakes for Vacation and Recreation

    Except as noted, Copyright © LakeLubbers LLC. All Rights Reserved.

    Water Residence Time | LakeLubbers

    This is the estimated time that it takes for an amount of water equal to the entire volume of a lake to flow out of - or evaporate from - the lake.

    Residence Time can be as short as a few days for fast-flowing small lakes, and can exceed 100 years for slow-flowing large lakes.


    Lakes for Vacation and Recreation

    Except as noted, Copyright © LakeLubbers LLC. All Rights Reserved.

    Completion Year | LakeLubbers

    This is the year that a reservoir was first filled to the reservoir's normal elevation - or the year that a natural lake was first dammed. A large reservoir can take more than a year to fill after its dam is first closed.

    The Grand Anicut in southern India is generally considered the world's oldest dam that still operates. Grand Anicut was constructed in the second century BC. It now impounds an irrigation network that includes roughly one million acres.

    You can find many of the the world's newest reservoirs on LakeLubbers. Many of the world's oldest reservoirs appear on the last page of that list.


    Lakes for Vacation and Recreation

    Except as noted, Copyright © LakeLubbers LLC. All Rights Reserved.

    Water Volume | LakeLubbers

    This is the estimated volume of water that a lake contains -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. By this measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is Siberia's Lake Baikal.

    You can find many of the the world's largest lakes (by water volume) on LakeLubbers.

    Water Volume can be measured in acre-feet, in cubic miles, or in cubic kilometers. One acre-foot is the amount of water needed to cover one acre (43,560 square feet) to a depth of one foot. One cubic mile equals 3,379,200 acre-feet. One cubic kilometer equals 810,713 acre-feet.

    1 acre-foot is equal to 325,851 US gallons. Siberia's Lake Baikal contains about 6,276,367,740,000,000 gallons of freshwater - nearly 1 million gallons for every living person on earth.

    The other - and more widely used - measure of a lake's size is the lake's surface acreage. By that measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is North America's Lake Superior.


    Lakes for Vacation and Recreation

    Except as noted, Copyright © LakeLubbers LLC. All Rights Reserved.

    Maximum Depth | LakeLubbers

    This is the estimated greatest depth of the water in a lake -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. The world's deepest lake is Siberia's Lake Baikal; that lake's maximum depth is estimated at 5,314 feet.

    You can find many of the the world's deepest lakes on LakeLubbers. If you select the last page of that list, you will find the (maximum depth of) the shallowest lakes in our database.


    Lakes for Vacation and Recreation

    Except as noted, Copyright © LakeLubbers LLC. All Rights Reserved.

    Average Depth | LakeLubbers

    This is the estimated average depth of the water in a lake -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. If the water volume and surface area of a lake are known, an estimate of the lake's average depth can be calculated:

    Water volume ÷ Surface Area = Average Depth

    Example: 1,000,000 acre-feet ÷ 20,000 acres = 50 feet average depth


    Lakes for Vacation and Recreation

    Except as noted, Copyright © LakeLubbers LLC. All Rights Reserved.

    Maximum Elevation | LakeLubbers

    This is a lake's highest water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level, that can occur during flooding. A lake's highest possible maximum elevation is usually the top of the lake's dam or spillway.

    At lakes that include residential development, government regulations usually forbid the construction of homes below a lake's maximum elevation.


    Lakes for Vacation and Recreation

    Except as noted, Copyright © LakeLubbers LLC. All Rights Reserved.

    Minimum Elevation | LakeLubbers

    This is a lake's lowest water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level, that can be reasonably expected to occur. Low lake levels can occur due to deliberate seasonal draw downs for irrigation or impending snow melt, reduced water inflows, drought and evaporation, residential or commercial water demands, and hydropower generation.

    Some lakes' minimum and maximum elevations are virtually the same. Lakes that generate hydropower may vary by several feet - according to power demand. Lakes whose primary purpose is to prevent flooding can seasonally vary by 100 feet or more.

    When some lakes reach their minimum elevation, their boat ramps may not be long enough to permit boat access - and boats docked on shallow parts of the lake may end up on dry ground. In those cases, kayakers and shore-based anglers may be among the few happy recreational users of the lake.


    Lakes for Vacation and Recreation

    Except as noted, Copyright © LakeLubbers LLC. All Rights Reserved.

    Normal Elevation | LakeLubbers

    This is a lake's normal water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level. For a reservoir, this water level is also known as "full pond" or "full pool".

    You can find many of the world's highest-elevated lakes on LakeLubbers. Lakes with the lowest elevations (known by LakeLubbers) are shown on the final page of that list.


    Lakes for Vacation and Recreation

    Except as noted, Copyright © LakeLubbers LLC. All Rights Reserved.

    Shoreline Length | LakeLubbers

    This is the length of the exterior shoreline around a lake - measured at the lake's normal elevation. The shoreline length can be considerably shorter or longer when lake water levels are lower or higher than normal.

    A lake with many coves has a much longer shoreline than a lake of similar surface area that is nearly circular in shape.

    When known, the shoreline miles that we report in our statistics include only the lake's exterior shoreline, and exclude the shorelines of islands located within a lake's boundaries. In lakes with many islands, those islands' combined shorelines may exceed a lake's exterior shoreline.

    You can find many of the world's longest-shoreline lakes on Lakelubbers.


    Lakes for Vacation and Recreation

    Except as noted, Copyright © LakeLubbers LLC. All Rights Reserved.

    Surface Area | LakeLubbers

    This is the area (acreage, square kilometers, etc.) of the top surface area of a lake - measured at a lake's normal elevation. The surface area can be considerably smaller or larger when lake levels are lower or higher than normal. North America's Lake Superior is the world's largest freshwater lake by this measure.

    The other measure of a lake's size is the lake's water volume. By that measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is Lake Baikal in Siberia.

    You can find many of the world's largest lakes (acres) on Lakelubbers. There is no widely-accepted minimum surface area that defines a lake. What Lakelubbers describes as a lake, you might call a pond. The smallest lake that Lakelubbers currently includes is Hawaii's 2-acre Lake Waiau.


    Lakes for Vacation and Recreation

    Except as noted, Copyright © LakeLubbers LLC. All Rights Reserved.

    Water Level Control | LakeLubbers

    This is the organization that controls water releases or outflows from the lake or reservoir. In the USA, this is often the US Army Corps of Engineers, a power company, a municipal water system, an irrigation district, or a paper manufacturing company. In the case of private or gated lakes, a homeowners' association may be the lake's controlling authority.

    Many lakes cross borders, including North America's Great Lakes. The control of such lakes and their coveted freshwater may be amicably shared - or hotly disputed.

    "Water wars" continue at many lakes as growing populations and crop irrigation needs compete for the freshwater that lakes contain.


    Lakes for Vacation and Recreation

    Except as noted, Copyright © LakeLubbers LLC. All Rights Reserved.

    Lake Type | LakeLubbers

    There are 3 basic types of lakes that are currently included on LakeLubbers. 2 types may be dammed or not dammed, producing 5 classifications.

    - A Reservoir is a man-made freshwater lake that is usually created by damming rivers.

    - A Natural Freshwater Lake occurs naturally - often by glacial activity - and has a salinity of less than 30 parts per thousand. It may be dammed to produce electricity or for other reasons.

    - A Natural Saltwater Lake occurs naturally and has a salinity of more than 30 parts per thousand (ppt). It may be dammed.

    "Brackish" water may be categorized as freshwater or saltwater, depending on its salt content (salinity). Oligohaline water has less than 15 ppt of salt. Mesohaline water has 15-29 ppt. Polyhaline has 30-335 ppt.


    Lakes for Vacation and Recreation

    Except as noted, Copyright © LakeLubbers LLC. All Rights Reserved.