White Water Rafting Company History

Jul
12

White Water Rafting Company History

At Crab Apple our guests often ask how and when people started white water rafting on The Kennebec River in Maine.

Let’s begin with a brief overview of The Forks Area in the 1970’s. While The Forks area was always driven by logging and outdoor tourism (primarily hunting and fishing), by the late 1970’s most people in the area were involved in the logging or log drives taking place on The Kennebec River. The whitewater rapids were always there, but instead of rafts the log drivers used large wooden dories to navigate the rapids. As environmental awareness started to take hold, the log drives became a thing of the past, and by 1976 the Kennebec River was free of logs jamming the rapids, and someone got the idea to navigate them with rubber rafts. By the late 1970’s rafting in The Forks started to take hold and it became a staple of employment and industry in the area.

Let’s jump ahead to 1981 when Chuck and Sharyn packed up their belongings in Massachusetts and moved to The Forks, Me and Crab Apple Whitewater was born. Originally Chuck taught school in the winter and Sharyn rented rooms out of their house/bed and breakfast. The inn was called Crab Apple Acres Inn. In the early 1980’s white water rafting and outdoor adventure sports were all the rage, and Chuck had a vision. He started rafting in 1983, calling his rafting company Crab Apple Whitewater after the inn. Consistent hydroelectric releases were negotiated between the white water rafting companies and the power company, and the industry saw a huge jump in both passengers and outfitters.

Throughout the 1990’s to the present, Maine whitewater rafting is one of the few places that can provide consistent whitewater releases and unspoiled wilderness every day of the week from April to October. Outfitters have come and gone (28 are no longer) but Crab Apple remains. Chuck and Sharyn started with two rafts, 10 lifejackets and an old van. Now three generations work in the business and our white water rafting company has expanded into western Massachusetts and Vermont. Paintball and Moose Safaris, as well as a full service bar, restaurant, outdoor heated pool and lodge await the white water rafting enthusiast in Maine. The rafting business and The Fork’s area has changed tremendously over the last 40 years, but great customer service and value will always be a staple at Crab Apple White Water.

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