Percival Baxter and Katahdin, ca. 1962
Percival P. Baxter stands in front of Katahdin, ca. 1962. This photograph shows Baxter with the first piece of land he purchased for the Park (Katahdin) and the last piece of land he purchased (Abol Stream area).
Baxter State Park Purpose
12 MSRA Pt. 2; c. 211; sub-c. 3; §900
(All quotations are directly from the letters and deeds submitted to the State of Maine by Percival P. Baxter during his lifetime.)
Seldom has a more generous gift been presented to a people than has been given by Percival Proctor Baxter to the people of the State of Maine. It is incumbent upon them, the recipients, to preserve the trust impressed upon them, to ensure for themselves and for future generations the fullest use of Baxter State Park consistent with the desires of the donor.
Governor Baxter's expressed desires were that this park "shall forever be retained and used for state forest, public park and public recreational purposes ... shall forever be kept and remain in the natural wild state ... shall forever be kept and remain as a sanctuary for beasts and birds."
Lest those that follow, uncertain of Governor Baxter's wishes, seek to define his desires in ways inharmonious with their original intent, this section is enacted.
It shall be the object of the Baxter State Park Authority to preserve the grandeur and beauty of Maine's highest peak, Mount Katahdin, as well as the 45 other mountains, the numerous lakes, ponds and streams; to subordinate its own wishes to the intent of Governor Baxter; to recognize his wish that, in this era of change, one thing of natural beauty remain constant.
This intent must be interpreted so as not to separate this park from the people to whom it was given; but rather seek to have it enjoyed and "used to the fullest extent but in the right unspoiled manner."
As a public forest it shall remain in its natural wild state and when "the Forests of our State have been cut off and disappeared, when civilization has encroached upon the land we now refer to as 'Wild Land,' this park will give the people of succeeding generations a living example of what the State of Maine was 'in the good old days' before the song of the woodsman's axe and the whine of the power saw was heard in the land."
As a public park and a place of recreation, it is apparent that it is intended for "those persons who enjoy the wilderness" and that the repeated use of the word "recreation" refers to the use of this park compatible with its natural state as a wilderness area and an expanse "for those who love nature and who are willing to walk and make an effort to get close to nature ... with pleasant foot-trails built and attractive camp-sites laid out in the valleys, by the brooks, and on the shores of the water."
As a tract kept in its "natural wild state," it is intended that "everything in connection with the park must be left simple and natural and must remain as nearly as possible as it was when only the Indians and the animals roamed at will through these areas ..." Access to the park shall be provided only "as may be necessary to accommodate those persons who wish to enjoy the great unspoiled area that now is the property of our State ..."
As a "sanctuary for beasts and birds" it shall be forever a "sanctuary and home for the creatures of the wild," and as refuge "against hunting, trapping and killing" where "hunting with cameras will take the place of hunting with guns."
While this area bears the name park, it is not to be confused with the existing state park system and is to "be separately administered free from any connection with the larger State Park Commission." (Bureau of Parks and Lands) That system, purchased with the funds of the people, must change from time to time to accommodate changing circumstances and the varying desires of its proprietors; not so, Baxter State Park, purchased by the generosity of one man, richly endowed, and presented to the people with specific stipulations.
"While I am living I fear no encroachments on the park, but as time passes and new men appear upon the scene, there may be a tendency to overlook these restrictions and thus break the spirit of these gifts."
Solemnly cognizant of the responsibility, it shall always be the purpose of the authority to satisfy the terms of the Trust.