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Run of River will be a whitewater recreation area in and around the Kennebec River Gorge in downtown Skowhegan, Maine, that will enhance quality of life for residents and position Skowhegan as a tourist destination.

A strategic community development project, Run of River will diversify the economy, spur business development and tourism, create jobs, attract entrepreneurs and new residents, improve health and wellness of citizens, engage local youth, and transform Skowhegan into an even more vibrant, bustling cultural center for years to come.


Note: The header photo shows one type of event Run of River may draw, a boaterX heat at the Maine Whitewater Championship on the West Branch Penobscot River.

Elements

Nowhere else in New England can you spend an afternoon paddling on three quality rapids and then pull out on shore, change out of your wetsuit and stash your watercraft at the riverside boathouse/events center, and walk to the nearby pub for a bite to eat and a local craft brew. Run of River will provide this experience and more.

Free and open to all, Run of River will offer opportunities to stroll along the river and through Coburn Park; explore four-season trails on 300 acres; fish in restored, pristine waters; and experience nature via other options that will inevitably spring up—a zip-line ride down the gorge, a narrated raft trip, or paddleboard yoga.

For this vision to become a reality, the following elements will be necessary:

Benefits

With a focus on inclusivity, physical activity, wellness, community development, and economic development and diversification, Run of River will bolster human connections and combat rising poverty, unemployment, and obesity rates in one of the poorest and least healthy counties in the state.

Need

With poverty and unemployment rising and the health of our citizens at an all-time low, Somerset County needs Run of River now.

In a 2014 Community Health Needs Assessment, Somerset ranked 15th out of 16 counties in health outcomes and dead last for quality of life.

As of 2016, more than a third of Somerset County adults are obese.

According to the most recent data (2011-2015), nearly a fifth of the county population is in poverty—and one quarter of all Somerset County children are in poverty.

At 5.8 percent, Somerset County’s 2016 unemployment rate was the second highest in the state.

In 2016 local paper mill Sappi—which represents 47 percent of Skowhegan’s tax base—was devalued by $64 million, resulting in a loss of $1.2 million in tax revenue for the town. The recent closures of Madison Paper and other mills around the state underscore how critical it is that we diversify the local economy.

Meanwhile, the outdoor recreation industry is booming, and whitewater paddling is a growing sport.

More than half of American travelers are considered adventure travelers, adding to the number of potential visitors—and the ensuing economic impact.

While there are dozens of wildly successful whitewater venues around the country, Run of River would be the first of its kind in New England.  It has the potential to make Skowhegan the go-to destination for regional whitewater recreation and events—and a compelling venue for major national events as well.

Fundraising

We invite you to help transform Skowhegan!


The Run of River Committee is seeking funds via grants and a capital campaign. For information on ways to give, please click here.

We are fundraising in three phases:

Phase 1:  $5.7 million

Progress toward Phase 1 fundraising goal: $1,436,160

25 %

Whitewater Park
(permitting, final design, and construction)

Slalom Course

Trails
(comprehensive study, expansion, and development)

Wayfinding and Interpretive Signage

Marketing Campaign


 

Phase 2:  $4.5 million

Riverfront Promenade

Trails Groomer

Recreation Area Maintenance Endowment


 

Phase 3:  $5.6 million

Boathouse/Events Center

Operations/Event-Planning Staff

Boathouse/Events Center Maintenance Endowment

For more details, please see the Run of River business plan.