Gorham art teacher Allie Rimkunas shows her rendering of the historic Cumberland and Oxford Canal aqueduct over the Little River. Robert Lowell / American Journal

A Gorham art teacher has helped document the town’s history with her depiction of a long-gone engineering feat that allowed the Cumberland and Oxford Canal to cross the Little River up to 150 years ago.

A canal plaque is displayed in the Mosher Barn at Shaw Cherry Hill Farm. Robert Lowell / American Journal

Great Falls Elementary School’s Allie Rimkunas drew her color rendering of the wooden aqueduct from an aerial perspective, showing its stone piers and railings and a canal boat pulled on a tow path by a white horse.

The framed rendering will be displayed at Baxter Memorial Library, and a copy has been incorporated into a trail kiosk at Shaw Cherry Hill Farm, where parts of the canal remain visible. Another copy is displayed in the farm’s Mosher Barn.

Gorham historians Dale Rines and Don Wescott contacted Rimkunas and commissioned her to produce the work. No known photographs of the aqueduct exist, Rines said.

Rimkunas said Rines’ and Wescott’s tales about the canal’s impact on history of Gorham “piqued” her interest.

“I love telling my students about the canal and its history so close to our school,” she said. “I’ve even dug a little bit of clay from the canal and made some bowls from it that we use in the art room.”


She describes her finished project as both a drawing and a painting.

“The medium is Inktense, a water-based ink pencil that is permanent and colorfast once dry. I was able to get very fine detail with the pencil and blend the colors with water,” she said. “It was tricky, but eventually I was able to get the effects I wanted.”

“She did a wonderful job,” said Wescott, a canal historian.

The Cumberland and Oxford Canal linking Sebago Lake with Portland operated from 1830 until 1872 when the railroad outmoded it. Canal boat cargo included lumber, agricultural products and locally manufactured gunpowder used in the Civil War. The canal followed the westerly side of the Presumpscot River until it reached Westbrook. Four feet deep, it then extended past today’s Westbrook Middle School to the Stroudwater section of Portland and the Fore River, which leads into Portland Harbor.

Wescott checked Google Earth to learn that the aqueduct over the Little River was approximately 100 feet long. It had two stone piers in the Little River and those remains, which Wescott referred to as “collapsed rubble,” are located in the river about a quarter-mile from Mosher Road. Rimkunas spent time at the site of the rubble, even observing reflections in the Little River there to make her rendering historically accurate.

An earlier illustration of the aqueduct, Wescott said, was depicted as Harold Titcomb of Westbrook envisioned it in his 1984 book, “Take My Hand: Ten days on the Cumberland and Oxford Canal.”

Rimkunas was named Maine Art Education Association’s Elementary Art Teacher of the Year in 2019.

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