Prior to 1820, Maine was part of Massachusetts. Access was by river systems with the main rivers flowing south. The main pathways to northern Maine were:
- Travel up the St John River
- Travel up the Penobscot River taking the East Branch toward Staceyville, or taking the West Branch to portages leading to the Allagash and Aroostook Rivers.
- Travel up the Kennebec River to Moosehead Lake going across Northeast Carry to the West Branch of the Penobscot River, then portage to the Aroostook River or Allagash River
- Travel from the St Lawrence River to Temisquata Lake then down to the St John River