Kennebec kĕn´əbĕk [key], river, 164 mi (264 km) long, rising in Moosehead Lake, NW Maine, and flowing S to the Atlantic; the Androscoggin River is its chief tributary. Samuel de Champlain explored the area in 1604–5; in 1607, George Popham established a short-lived colony, Fort St. George, at its mouth. Trading posts were established shortly after 1625. In 1775, American Gen. Benedict Arnold's expedition went up the Kennebec en route to Quebec. Lumber and, in the 19th cent., ice were shipped down the river to the coast, and shipbuilding flourished along its banks. Villages such as Augusta and Waterville, established near power sites, became industrial centers.

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