By Shelagh Talbot
GREENVILLE— With the 40th anniversary of the International Seaplane Fly-In, taking place Sept. 5 – 8, 2013, the Center for Moosehead History, home to the Moosehead Lake Aviation Museum, has created a special exhibit of some equally special memorabilia for the forthcoming event.
One exhibit room is dedicated to the renowned amphibious DC-3, which was conceived, and constructed in Greenville, flown off Moosehead Lake. In
1985 Folsom’s Air Service located a set of floats for the DC-3. “It was my idea originally to buy it,” Max Folsom said. He, his father, Louis O. Hilton and Herman Bayerdorffer formed a company, HBF, Inc. to recreate a WWII amphibious DC-3. It was quite the project taking over six years, and countless hours to put the heavy DC-3 on pontoons. “Just to build the fuselage up so it could take the floats was a two-year job,” observed Max. There are photographs of the amazing plane in action – a video is at the ready to watch her fly. Chances are either Louis Hilton or one of the Folsoms were at the helm. The floats have since been removed but this plane can still be viewed at the Greenville Municipal Airport.
The Aviation Museum, which opened two years ago, is “dedicated to the dauntless pilots who contributed to the region’s memorable aviation activities, events and history.” It’s fascinating to see the history of aviation come alive before your eyes. Some of the old planes are from the earliest days of flying. There are so many things to see – from amazing photographs to the beautifully displayed articles written by, or about, the pilots of the Moosehead Region.
The Aviation Museum celebrates the pioneers of aviation and offers a fascinating insight into what it was like to be a bush pilot during those long-ago days. I especially enjoyed reading about the many bush pilots that daringly landed in smaller ponds or under some hazardous conditions – like on the ice! It was nice to see women included amongst the “derring-do” men of that day. Old leather aviation jackets complement a beautifully handmade diorama of a floatplane camp, created by artist Paul Tartachny. There is much to see in these two rooms alone, but like the commercial says – wait, there’s more! In the Fireplace Room, in addition to more information about bush pilots, sits a battered ejection seat which came from the B52 Stratofortress which crashed on Elephant Mountain over 50 years ago. The Moosehead Snowmobile Riders Club, which holds an honor ceremony every January on the date of the crash, has been generous to the museum in sharing a number of these artifacts.
Information about the Fly-In can be found as well and you can view some vintage photographs and other artifacts pertaining to earlier shows. It’s a nice way to round out your visit to the Fly-In Event.
If you’re interested in adventure on the ground, the main room of the Center for Moosehead History is featuring old-time hunting. On the wall hangs what is purportedly to be the last legal elk shot in Maine… but that’s part of a mystery, because in a glass case not far from the elk is a pair of winter boots made from the knee hide of an elk, also purportedly to have been the last one shot. Then there’s the story of the first Maine Guide, a remarkable woman (Cornelia Thurza Crosby), nicknamed Fly Rod Crosby for her uncanny ability to catch fish, all the while wearing the heavy skirts and accouterments of a woman during the 1800s. In addition to having been a legendary angler, she was considered a crack shot and also bagged the last legitimately shot elk in Maine. So who knows? These mysteries and more are waiting to be uncovered. You can also view a typical woods camp during the latter part of the 1800s through the early 1900s. Things were a lot simpler then – no GPS, I-Phones and computers. A brown ash basket was used to tote your gear and food necessities. This display is thoughtfully put together; it looks like the owner of the campsite stepped away for a few minutes. Everything is there to settle in for the hunting or fishing trip to come.
Discover as well a beautiful display of Native American artifacts, stone tools and arrows gracefully created out of Kineo rhyolite and other material. Down the center aisle a display case is filled with the tools of the trade of Doctors who lived in Greenville and served the folks in the outlying Moosehead region. Some of them were pilots too, including Dr. Fichtner.
There’s a lot to see at the Center for Moosehead History as well as its sister building on the main campus, the Eveleth-Crafts-Sheridan house located on Pritham Ave. With the theme being “Through the Years”, the house is open for tours Wednesday through Friday until early October from 1 to 4 p.m. The Carriage House, which also houses the Lumberman’s Museum, is open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Tuesday through Friday all year. The Center for Moosehead History, located at 6 Lakeview, is open Thursday – Sunday 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. and as stated earlier, houses the Aviation Museum. Visit these museums on line at mooseheadhistory.org or email firstname.lastname@example.org. You may also call them at 207-695-2909.