LEWISTON — Within the next year, there will be a new draw to Lewiston and Auburn’s riverside, thanks to the Museum in the Streets Project. The “L-A River History Trail” will feature up to 30 freestanding signs in L-A’s downtown areas that depict images and stories from the past and celebrate today’s community.

Public feedback on the history trail will be collected in an online survey form until Friday, Feb. 2. Those participating in the anonymous survey have a chance to influence how the project takes shape and which stories and places it features. Access the survey at tinyurl.com/LAhistoryTrail or via Museum L-A’s website.

The L-A River History Trail project working group includes Grow L+A, Museum L-A, Androscoggin Historical Society, Androscoggin Land Trust, Healthy Androscoggin, Bates College and the cities of Lewiston and Auburn. Students in the Environmental Studies program at Bates College will collect survey data and help develop the signs for their capstone project. They will also use the Androscoggin Land Trust’s existing Smartphone Travelstorys App guided history tour as a foundation.

“The Great Falls and the Androscoggin River are the reason Lewiston and Auburn exist as we know them today,” said Rachel Desgrosseilliers of Museum L-A. “Abenaki Indians used the riverfront as a seasonal village because of the many natural resources found here, including fish. The river was the power source for the mills and factories that brought many people to the area. Today the river and the canal system remain the center of our communities and we believe there is great potential here for cultural, recreational and economic growth.”

The cities of Lewiston and Auburn have approved funding to develop the history tour using the Museum in the Streets model seen in other parts of Maine and cities around the world. Signs will be placed along a trail route to guide visitors from one site to the next, from the top of the Great Falls to lesser-known places of historic interest and natural beauty.

“We hope that this project will establish a River Historic District in L-A,” said Peter Rubins of Grow L+A. “Historic districts draw people to urban centers to quench their curiosity and enjoy the arts, the food, the architecture and the people. L-A has them all.”

The community feedback survey will collect people’s ideas about what historic topics and sites are most important to them. Although the first phase of the Museum in the Streets project will focus on the Androscoggin River and cannot cover every topic, the feedback will be saved for future projects.

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