Each spring, as canoe race season begins, we get questions about the origin of names for the rivers; Passagassawakeag River, Soadabscook Stream, Piscatiquis River, Kenduskeag Stream.
Maine enjoys a rich Indian Heritage. The original inhabitants of the area that is now Maine included The Maliseet tribe, The Passamaquoddy tribe, The Abenaki tribe, The Penobscot Indians, and the The Micmac tribe. From these tribes, the names on many Maine places originated.
The River we get most questions about is the Passagassawakeag River.
The "Passy" as we refer to it, is the quick name for the Passagassawakeag, which is shortened from it's original name. We won't even attempt that pronunciation!
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia:
"The Passagassawakeag River (pas-uh-gas-uh-WAH-keg; pa-SAH-ga-suh-WAH-keg) is a 16-mile-long (26 km) river in Waldo County, Maine in the United States. From the outlet of Lake Passagassawakeag (44°30′04″N 69°07′59″W) in Brooks, it runs south and east to its estuary in Belfast, Maine. The river empties into Belfast Bay, an inlet of Penobscot Bay, where it passes under US Route 1.
The waterway's name is of local Indian origin and is believed to mean "a sturgeon's place" or "a place for spearing sturgeon by torchlight." Penobscot is also an Indian name which is said to mean "place of ghosts."
Locals refer to the river as the "Passy," or humorously, the "Passy gassy rum keg." "
So as you travel Maine, check out the sources of some other interesting places names and their heritage!