The Daicey Pond Cabin Repair Project

The Daicey Pond Campground is closed for camping from May 2024 to April 2025 to repair the cabins for continued public use.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why do the cabins need such extensive repair? Aren’t they regularly maintained?

The cabins have indeed been regularly maintained! Park staff consistently undertake projects to improve and keep up the campgrounds. However, these cabins are pretty old. Maurice York built the original cabins between 1899 and the 1920’s. Between 1946 and 1969, Earle York Jr. and his wife Jeannette completely disassembled, redesigned, and rebuilt the cabins, reusing many of the same logs. While this major undertaking was an incredibly impressive feat for just two people, they could not have foreseen how many years of use Park visitors would get from their cabins. There are structural repair needs that go beyond the regular maintenance that has been done over the years.

Is this a renovation or a restoration?

The word “renovation” often evokes images of major changes – switching out the countertops in your kitchen for something that better suits your aesthetic, or knocking down a wall to make one large bedroom out of two smaller ones. It is a term that is linked with the idea of modernizing something. Conversely, “restoration” brings to mind attempts to salvage historical architecture before it can crumble or to revitalize centuries-old oil paintings that have lost their luster to time, with the intention being that these things should look exactly the way they did when they were new. This term is associated with the conservation of the past. At Baxter State Park, our primary mission is conservation, and so this project falls much closer to being a restoration than a renovation. We recognize that the unique character and aesthetic of these cabins is part of why they’re so special to so many people. To that end, our goal is to change as little as we can while still making them habitable. We want them to look and feel largely the same when we’re done working on them.

If the goal is to keep them mostly the same, what will be different?

They’ll be a lot more comfortable to stay in! Permeability to the elements will be greatly reduced, and the wood under your feet and above your head will be sturdier. If you pay close attention, you may notice some structural differences on some of the cabins that will make the roofs and other components last longer. And while we’ll use similar wood construction, new timber will look, well…new. As time goes on, these materials will weather, just as the originally constructed cabins did.

Why now? How much work does each cabin really need?

We’ve reached the point where we must act. Seven of the ten cabins currently require major repairs, or we risk losing them altogether. Two cabins will need full replacement, though as stated before, replacement designs will attempt to recapture the aesthetic and character of the old cabins as much as possible. One cabin was built more recently and needs no further work at this time.  

Why does the whole campground have to close? Why are they all being worked on at once instead of one or two a year?

In short- for you, our visitors! When you camp at Daicey Pond, you probably hope to fall asleep listening to the gentle lapping of waves against the shore, the evening symphony of croaking frogs, chirping crickets, and fish rising to their dinner. You also probably hope to awaken to the sounds of ovenbirds calling out teacher teacher teacher or the soft whisper of wind through the balsam fir. You want to sit on your porch and enjoy an unobstructed view of Katahdin looming over green, green, green. What you likely don’t want is to spend the next three to four years having this view always marred by orange construction cones or listening to the cacophony of heavy machinery. After careful consideration of all possible options and a robust review process, the Park Authority, Advisory Committee, and staff have determined that a complete campground closure will have the least impact on the wilderness experience of campground users. Completing the work in a concentrated timeframe is also the most logistically feasible and time and cost effective way to accomplish this project.

Is Daicey Pond going to close down completely? Can we still fish/hike/recreate in other ways during the work?

We anticipate that only the cabins and the campground proper will be off limits. You’ll still be able to access the pond and all of the surrounding trails, as well as the Daicey Pond Library.

We really like our Daicey Pond campground rangers. Where will they  be next year?

Don’t worry, they’ll still be at Daicey Pond (among other parts of the Park, as is their usual habit) throughout the project to answer your questions and ensure safe day use of the area while construction is ongoing.

History of the Daicey Pond Campground

First established by Maurice York in 1899, the campground that sits upon the shores of Daicey Pond predates both Baxter State Park and the Tote Road that now provides access to it. York first created the camp, initially known as Twin Pine Camps, in the tradition of Maine’s famed sporting camps. Governor Baxter purchased the parcel of land that includes Kidney and Daicey Ponds in 1941, before officially adding their acreage to Baxter State Park in 1945. While the York family continued to run Twin Pine Camps for almost a quarter of a century after Baxter State Park acquired Daicey Pond, the campground has been run by the Park since 1969.

Further Reading: Katahdin: An Historic Journey by John W. Neff.

Twin Pine Sporting Camps

Sporting camps, which first gained a foothold across the state in the mid-1800s, are a unique part of Maine’s heritage that stretches back almost to the state’s creation in 1820. The camps were typically the result of a partnership between individual entrepreneurs and large lumber companies, in which the latter would lease out pockets of land for recreational purposes such as hunting, hiking, and fishing, so long as those recreational activities didn’t interfere with lumbering operations. Between the late 1800’s and mid-1900’s, much of the land that Baxter State Park now occupies was owned by the Great Northern Paper Company. Completion of the Bangor & Aroostook Railroad in 1890 and the introduction of steamboats into the lakes and river systems around northern Maine allowed the public greater access into the depths of the North Maine Woods, which in turn gave rise to sporting camps in the area.

At first, most of the sporting camps were reachable only by a combination of travel by train, steam boat, canoe, and foot. They became more accessible after the completion and subsequent improvement of the Greenville-Millinocket Tote Road in the 1930’s. The isolated nature of the sporting camps made them a haven for outdoor enthusiasts, and they continued to be popular destinations well into the mid 1900’s.

Maurice York built his twelve cabins in the shadow of two towering white pines on Daicey Pond’s shores between 1899 and the 1920’s. The lease remained in the hands of the York family across 70 years and three generations. The Yorks were instrumental in shaping the areas around Daicey Pond into what they are today, alongside the MATC (Maine Appalachian Trail Club) crews that regularly stayed at Twin Pine Camps, the Hunt Brothers (who founded the neighboring Kidney Pond Camps), and some of the two camps’ regular “sports.” We have these parties to thank for the creation of the network of trails linking the area’s ponds, the first trails to ascend Sentinel, Doubletop, and OJI Mountains, and of course, the historic Hunt Trail, which is, to this day, the stretch of the Appalachian Trail which leads up Katahdin’s southwestern spur to the AT’s northern terminus on Baxter Peak.

The Appalachian Trail and Baxter State Park Move In

In 1930, Governor Percival P. Baxter purchased a 6,000 acre stretch of land around Katahdin from the Great Northern Paper Company, which led to the official founding of Baxter State Park in 1933. In the following decades, Governor Baxter continued to acquire and donate parcels of land to the state of Maine, with the Park now including over 200,000 acres.

Meanwhile, construction on the Appalachian Trail, which now stretches between Springer Mountain in Georgia and Katahdin’s summit, Baxter Peak, finally concluded in the mid-1930’s. Though initial plans for the AT set the northern terminus at Mount Washington in New Hampshire, Myron H. Avery – an important member of the ATC (Appalachian Trail Conservancy) and stalwart champion of the Katahdin region – convinced planners to continue the trail through Maine and up Katahdin. In 1933, he and three others painted a stretch of the AT’s renowned white blazes from Katahdin’s summit right through the middle of Twin Pine Camps and beyond.

In 1941, Governor Baxter purchased the parcel of land that includes Kidney and Daicey Ponds from the Garfield Land Company. He officially donated the land to the state of Maine in 1945, but he continued to honor leases with the sporting camps’ proprietors. It wasn’t until nearly a quarter of a century later, in 1969, that the state officially took over full responsibility for Daicey Pond Campground. Since then, Daicey Pond has been run by the staff of Baxter State Park.

An Evolving Campground

Change is an inevitability for all things that survive. Just as a river slowly carves new pathways into the landscape it inhabits, and just as a snake sheds an old skin once it’s become tight and worn out, the campground we now call Daicey Pond has changed in many ways since its initial founding in 1899. Though the 2024 Project will be a major work, it is only one of many changes that Daicey Pond has undergone in the last 125 years.

Though Maurice York began building cabins along Daicey Pond’s shore shortly after acquiring the lease for the land in 1899, he opened the camps before the cabins were ready to accommodate guests. Prior to the completion of the newer buildings, he ran the business from within several abandoned lumber camp buildings in the field below the pond, where the Day Use Parking Lot now sits. Visitors to Daicey Pond will recognize that these original buildings no longer exist.

Maurice York built his cabins on the shores of Daicey Pond. Between 1946 and 1969, Earle York Jr. and his wife Jeannette completely dismantled each of the cabins and rebuilt them away from the pond’s edge in the more private, secluded, and protected locations they now occupy. During this relocation, changes were also made to the cabin’s materials and designs.

In the 1930’s, Foster Field, which sits just under 2 miles away from Daicey Pond, was formerly the site of a large lumber camp. The log scaler there, who measured the size and quality of the logs from the operation, lived in a white building situated in the field. Though the CCC (Civilian Conservation Corps) razed most of the lumber camp’s buildings in the late 1930’s, the scaler’s house was given to the York Family and moved to Daicey Pond, where it underwent numerous renovations and continues to serve as the ranger station there.

Finally, in 2004, two of the original Daicey Pond cabins were removed and replaced with a single six person cabin in 2005, resulting in accommodation for the same number of people. The decision to remove the cabins arose from similar conditions to those now facing the remaining cabins – namely, that they were deteriorating as a result of time and constant use. Additionally, one of the cabins had made a notable environmental impact on the pond’s shores.

The work the Park is now undertaking on the remaining cabins represents the next chapter in the long history of this campground. In accordance with Governor Baxter’s wishes, our aim is to maintain the rustic conditions that visitors have experienced at Daicey Pond Campground for the better part of a century. We hope that our careful attention to the aesthetic of these old buildings will result in the maintenance of their original character, and visitors will continue to be able to imagine the rich history of the site.

Project updates

May 15, 2024 – Daicey Pond is open to day use. Vehicle traffic is not permitted past the day use parking area.

May 14, 2024 – The Daicey Pond Crew spent the first two weeks of May at Headquarters to take part in the Park’s spring training alongside other new and returning staff. The crew has now moved in at Daicey Pond and has begun work on Cabin 3 (Tamarack). Work is beginning from the ground up with new concrete footings being set in place, with locally sourced 8×8 tamarack posts and 2×6 tamarack braces.

February 26, 2024 – Staff from Baxter State Park’s Maintenance and Trails teams, including recently hired Project Manager Paul Sannicandro, took advantage of frozen ground and snow to move logs closer to the cabins where they will be used.

January 31, 2024 – Baxter State Park announced openings for Construction Crew Members, which were open until March 8th.

November 19, 2023 – Debarked logs are currently staged at Daicey Pond

November 17, 2023 – Baxter State Park announced the position for Maintenance Project Manager on the Daicey Pond Project, which was open to applications until January 6th, 2024.

October 2023 – Logs from the SFMA were peeled by a local contractor in Patten.

August 2023 – Logs for the project were cut and staged in the SFMA

March 2, 2023– A draft budget was presented to the Baxter State Park Authority. Based on initial assessments, 7 of the campground’s 10 cabins will undergo various levels of repair, and 2 cabins will be completely replaced.