The River Valley emerged as an industrial center due to its unique landscape, and it was modern infrastructure that rendered this environment profitable. Massive hydroelectric dams powered the mill and community; water reservoirs and piping circulated fresh spring water; bridges and highways facilitated the circulation of goods; and, most recently, mills have begun to capture wind energy, while deep wells maximize the extraction of groundwater.
In this feature, media artists Steve Norton & N.B.Aldrich produce a six-minute soundscape that captures the relationships between infrastructure and environment. Based on recordings from two locations in the town of Rumford, the soundscape represents dueling realities of the present, “two Rumfords” that heighten the tensions between industrial development and environment, softscape and hardscape, past and present. It provokes the question: Which sounds might the community most cherish, and what do they represent? —Maine’s River Valley report editors