Story posted April 21, 2010
Celebrations of the first Earth Day, observed 40 years ago, were relatively quiet and took place mostly on college campuses.
The Bowdoin Orient reported that about 50 people from the town and from campus gathered on the banks of the Androscoggin River "to watch State Representative Mrs. Coffey from Sagadahoc fill six flasks with polluted river water" to be mailed to the major polluters and the state for analysis.
That reporting is included in the Portland Press Herald article, "Earth Day at 40: Mainers Remember Birth of a Movement," which reflects on how Maine was on the cutting edge of the environmental movement.
The article quotes Brownie Carson '69, longtime director of the Natural Resources Council of Maine and 2005 recipient of the Common Good Award, who says having just returned from Vietnam, he was at the time more engaged in the anti-war movement.
He does, however, recall the polluted Androscoggin River.
"You could smell it all over Brunswick on warm days," he says in the article.
The article points out that today, the Androscoggin "supports runs of migrating fish, including the endangered sturgeon, and is a popular recreational resource, with a new state park planned on its banks above Lewiston."
It also reports that the Clean Water Act played a key role in bringing about the recovery of the Androscoggin, a river that carried pollution past U.S. Sen. Edmund Muskie's home in Rumford at a time when he was crafting the legislation that embodies the essence of Earth Day.