Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘Olde Tyme Moosehead’ Category

The Moosehead Lake Hotel / Long Branch

The Moosehead Lake Hotel / Long Branch

By Travis H. W. Wallace

Moosehead Lake Hotel had been built in the days when vacationers arrived by passenger train. The hotel towered near the railroad trestle in the Junction and could be seen in the distance from any direction, four stories tall and rambling, with classic, stately lines and a mansard roof and a white-painted 2nd floor balcony porch that hung in the air near the street. From this porch I could look out over the street and down onto Wiggin Stream and the row of small, working-class homes along the opposite bank. High on the ridge beyond these homes stood the lumber mill that gave the Junction its sound—a far-off din of screeching saws and diesel engines and warning beeps that settled over the valley every day from morning until night, and no one ever complained about the noise because it meant that men were working.
The people who stayed at the old hotel were the blue-collar sportsmen who traveled to northwestern Maine for the woods and the water and the remoteness. They neither sought luxury or found it. Though never been known for elegant accommodations, by the 1970’s Moosehead Lake Hotel had also become dated and tired. Guest rooms still opened with skeleton keys and hallway floors squeaked beneath your feet, and the long balcony porch, now weathered and warped, stretched along the building’s front like a wrinkle on an old woman’s brow. Few rooms had private baths, fewer still had TVs. None offered air conditioning. But guests appreciated the clean rooms and modest rates with hearty meals and boxed lunches included in the price. They also enjoyed the staff’s genuine, small-town hospitality. And, of course, they loved the hotel’s street-level barroom, called The Long Branch. Everybody loved The Long Branch.
Spend enough time in Maine’s north country and you’ll encounter people who drank at “The Branch.” Each will tell you in his own way that there’s never been another place like it, and then you’ll hear the stories. If you’re lucky, you might hear about the day Dave Holmbom married wife number four while standing behind the bar in front of the Budweiser tap, the Protestant minister presiding, or the night that Charlie Barriault, irritated at having been shut off by the bartender, fetched a chainsaw from his truck and attempted to cut down the cedar posts that held up the ceiling and the three floors above it. You might hear about the otherwise quiet afternoon when Rollie Lizotte found himself being thrown out the front door only to be thrown back in a minute later—this time through a window. If you’re very lucky, as I have been, you may encounter a man—a senior citizen now–who will tell you about his very first visit to The Long Branch.
The man and his friend were from out of town. They’d spent the morning fishing for trout at a small pond north of Greenville and were heading home when they decided to stop at The Long Branch for a drink. The two fishermen found the place empty, not a customer or employee in sight, and they hesitated inside the entrance, wondering if perhaps the barroom hadn’t yet opened for the day. But then they heard the smacking sound of billiard balls coming from out back and decided to stay. They sat down at the bar and waited. The bartender appeared a moment later, a man is in his 60s with a horseshoe of white hair and a pool cue in his hand. “Hello there! What can I get for you, fellas?”
The men ordered whiskey and gingers and the bartender rested his pool cue against the bar rail and began scooping ice into glasses.
The man telling you this story will then offer this aside: “Now I did a lot of drinkin’ in my time, but I never saw a bartender make a drink like this, anywhere. Ever.” The man will then go on with his story. He’ll tell you how the bartender placed two ice-filled glasses on the bar. Then he’ll tell you how the bartender opened two cans of Gingerale and placed those on the bar. Then he’ll tell you how the bartender placed a bottle of Canadian Club on the bar, said, “Holler if you need anything,” took his pool cue and walked away.
I heard this story many years ago. The man who told it to me chuckled hard at the memory and I smiled at him and felt the sting around my eyes because he’d been talking about my Dad.

The bar opened at 1:00 o’clock each afternoon and so my father and I would arrive in late morning. He parked the pickup truck out in front and I slid across the seat and he set me down. I heard the sounds of the lumber mill coming down from the hill across the stream and I felt the summer heat radiate up from the asphalt. The air always felt warmer here than at home. We moved into the shade beneath the porch and Dad unlocked the hotel’s wide wooden front door and then I followed him past the lobby and the staircase to the barroom. The heavy door shut behind us with its rhythmic whoosh and satisfying clank, and then the only sounds were the hum of beer coolers and our footsteps along the plywood floor. We walked amid a strange daytime darkness through a maze of tables and chairs and bar stools, and the air felt cool and smelled of cigarette smoke and stale beer.
Dad went behind the bar to the circuit breaker box. He snapped the switches one by one and The Long Branch revealed itself section by section. On came the florescent light over the air hockey table, then the light over the pool table, the foosball table, the other pool table, then the wall lights on each side of the fireplace, the entryway lights and finally, the bar lights themselves. He flipped one more switch to turn on the jukebox and it flickered to life in silence. Sometimes the jukebox would turn on in mid-song at extremely loud volume, filling the room with the twang of whatever 1970s country record had been playing at closing time the previous night. Whenever this happened, Dad would walk over and reach behind the jukebox to lower its volume. He liked music, only not so loud so early.
My father swept the floor with the push broom while I retrieved my Big Wheel from the dance floor and went for a cruise. I rode giant loops around the building’s first-floor, pedaling down the middle of the two-sided bar and continuing on down the hall. I took a sharp right after the liquor closet and drove through the hotel lobby, past the the ladies’ room and the men’s room and the staircase and back into the bar through the main entrance. Dad moved tables and chairs as he swept, providing me with a brand new obstacle course each time I came barreling through the door. I zigged and zagged as fast as I could peddle, and as long as I didn’t drive through any dirt piles, my father never seemed to mind.
When he’d finished sweeping, Dad took the change drawer out of the safe and placed it in the cash register. I climbed onto a stool and watched him count the money.
“Daddy?”
“…eight, nine, ten, yes, dear?”
“Can I have a Shirley Temple?”
“…thirteen, fourteen, fifteen–what do you say?”
“Please?”
“…seventeen–sure, give me just a minute, Trav, and I’ll make you one. Eighteen, nineteen…”
When he’d finished counting, Dad filled the ice bin and made my Shirley Temple, spooning cherries into it from a gallon jar. He tossed a cardboard coaster in front of me and set down my drink. “That’ll be fifty cents.”
“Daddy, you know I don’t have any money.”
“Well, that’s alright. Your credit is good,” he said with a wink.
I drank my Shirley Temple and stabbed the cherries at the bottom of my glass while Dad restocked the bar. He filled the reach-in cooler with fresh bottles of Budweiser and Busch and lifted each liquor bottle from the rack and held it up to the light to check its level. If one appeared low, he jotted it on a piece of paper. Next, he placed red hot dogs and fresh hot dog buns in the steamer and filled the chip rack and wiped down the bar with a wet towel. Hot, soapy water helped erase the rings of beer. Finally, he fetched the string mop and metal wash bucket from the closet and filled it with hot water and Lestoil, and as he waved the mop back-and-forth across the gray painted floor, the strong chemical pine smell filled the room and signaled a brand new day.
The floor was still damp when Dad walked across it to the picture window and pulled the string on the neon OPEN sign. He went back behind the bar and called me over to the cash register. He pushed the NO SALE button and the drawer sprang open with a loud “ca-ching.” My father took two quarters and dropped them into my hand. “Rack ’em up!” he said. Time to play pool.

Read Full Post »

Doug Kane of the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife raises a moose to record its weight Monday afternoon in Greenville during the first day of moose hunting season. The moose, brought in by Gary Clifford and Jared Pulsifer of Bristol, weighed in at 740 pounds. (NEWS Photo by Anthony Robert La Penna) Courtesy Bangor Daily News Archives

By Deidre Felming Of the News Staff

Courtesy Bangor Daily News Tuesday October 10, 2000

KOKADJO – Hunting fans numbering in the hundreds were all down in Greenville, from 9:30 a.m. after the dead moose started rolling into the tagging station and into the afternoon. Matt Tainter didn’t need them. The 15-year old from from Woolwich had 11 onlookers in Kokadjo standing by, impressed – and he had an 846-lb. bull moose.

“This makes up for all the work dragging it out of the woods,” said Jim Tainter, as he watched his son retell his tale to the small crowd at the Kokadjo Settlement. “I got drawn (in the moose lottery). Matt was my subpermittee. I didn’t even bring a gun. It’s more of a thrill watching him do it, taking a kid to hunt.”

On the first day of the Maine Moose hunt – and the 20th anniversary of its reinstatement after a 50-year halt – Matt Tainter bagged one of the largest bulls tagged in the south central zone. Dropping it some 20 miles north of Greenville, the moose hunt hot spot, he could have shown off his massive bull, its rack with a 51-inch spread, and the fact he’s just a junior hunter, but hubris is not in the spirit of the hunt.

There were 79 moose tagged in Greenville by 6:20 p.m. Monday, a total way down from last year’s first day, when 101 were tagged by the end of the day. Wildlife biologist Doug Kane said the drop in his region (where 185 permits were given out last year and this year) is part of a downward trend he expects will continue as old clear-cuts grow in and affect hunters’ visibility. He said the trend would make the six-day hunt more difficult.

“I don’t think we’ll break 100 this year,” Kane said at dusk. “The one thing is the change in vegetation. Hunters are at a disadvantage. It will only get worse.

This year, by the fourth day, (the numbers bagged) will balance out (to match last year’s totals). Over time, I expect to see the success decline, just by the way the habitat is changing.”

But on Monday the revelers at Moosehead Lake didn’t care about totals tagged, nor did the hunters. They were all there for the communal thrill.

“I met a woman here (who came to watch) who lives right near me at home. When I was in the 1980 hunt, we were in Millinocket. (Getting the south central zone) is a blessing,” said Diane Morency of Wells after her husband, Raymond, had his 900-pound moose tagged in Greenville. “A lot of people take the week and come up here to see this.”

Chet Hawkins was one such pilgrim. The 80-year old from East Machias drove four hours to see the start of the moose season with hundreds of others in Greenville, as he has for the past seven years. He said he would then drive to three or four other tagging stations – to Clayton Lake, to Ashland and beyond – to share in the mooaw hunt with different hunters.

Hawkins’ name has never been drawn in the lottery, but he has experience nonetheless.

“I’ve hunted moose in Newfoundland for 39 years. I’ve gotten one every year.” Hawkins said. Then added for the sake of disbelievers: “That’s 39 moose.”

C.J. Greene is another pilgrim. Perhaps best know as the singing waitress at Thompson’s Restaurant in Bingham, Greene has no big-game hunting experience. Yet she traveled to Greenville from Skowhegan with her husband, Jeff, for opening day of moose season of the past 13 years. They drove last year in the blizzard. Greene was there with her friend Sandra Kelleher of Benton, on Monday.

“This tagging station is one of the furthest away. But it’s the people, it’s the atmosphere,” Greene said. “I love the Greenville area. My dream is to retire here.”

However, the constant crowd the food vendors and taxidermists, not to mention the continual line of six to eight moose-toting trucks, were of no interest to Tainters.

Their hunt began at 6 a.m., their first moose sighting came at 9:30 a.m., and their work getting it from the skidder hole it fell into to their truck extended another 3 ½ hours as they wrestled with its stiff carcass, wondering whether they’d have to cut it up in the woods. Jim Tainter said the simple, quiet, muddy lot at Kokadjo suited them fine when their work was done. All Matt Tainter wanted was a big bull moose.

“He was the first one we saw. We drove by him and he was just standing there. He ran off and I shot him in the neck and the back,” Matt Tainter said. “He probably was 75 yards away. There wasn’t much around him. I wanted a big one. I would have waited for one.”

Jim Tainter, who does a bit of taxidermy work, said the huge rack would have to become a proper display.

Raymond Morency also was considering having his bull and its 54-inch rack mounted. Morency’s moose was just smaller than the heaviest of the day tagged at Greenville, a 975-pounder.

Overall, keepsakes and trophies were not among the first thoughts of most hunters.

“People who don’t hunt don’t understand, but the meat!” said Diane Morency, her hands to heaven, her eyes closed. “My father is a little Italian from Portland. He’ll make meatballs with it.”

At 9 a.m. at Greenville, Mark Reifschneider of Canaan was filled with as much enthusiasm – and his bull was nearly half the size.

“It’s not a monster, but it’s going to make damn good eating.” Reifschneider said of his 500-pound moose.

Yvonne Reifschneider followed this claim with a substantial list of the people who will have to share in her husband’s prize: the guide who helped them, the woman minding their dog, and her mother. But she said the person who inspired their entry in the moose hunt would not share in the feast, even though he was the most beneficial.

“My father (Henri Caron) died four years ago. He was watching for us,” she said. “He lived to hunt. Twice he brought us hone moose from Canada.”

Read Full Post »

This is one of the earliest photographs of an airplane at Moosehead Lake in the Moosehead Historical Museum files. It is believed to have been taken in 1915 and shows an early Curtiss floatplane in East Cove.
~Photo courtesy Moosehead Historical Society

By Shelagh Talbot

GREENVILLE— Seaplanes have been around for a long time. And, for more than 80 years, people have flown and landed on Moosehead Lake via the intrepid flying services of the time, one being Curtis-Wright Flying Service in 1931. Now with the annual International Seaplane Fly-In slated for Sept. 6 – 9, 2012, it’s a good time to remember the rich and colorful flying history of the Moosehead Region. The perfect place to start would be the Moosehead Lake Aviation Museum, which is housed in the Center for Moosehead History on Lakeview St. in Greenville.

In 2011 The Moosehead Historical Society and Museum received significant donations from Telford and Karen Allen III and Henry and Ellen Hinman in honor of Telford Allen Jr.,” said to Executive Director Candy Russell. “It is those funds which have enabled the Society to establish the Moosehead Lake Aviation Museum.  We have collected numerous artifacts, photographs and paper ephemera relating to the early aviation in this region.  We have found the local community to be very generous in both donating and loaning us articles for our aviation exhibits.  Because of the support we received the displays represent the very important contributions that float planes, bush pilots, the Department of Inland Fisheries & Wildlife, the Maine Forest Service and the Greenville Municipal Airport have played in the region’s history.

The ejection seat probably belonging to B52 Stratofortress pilot Lt. Col. Dante E. Bulli. The seat was recovered this past May and is on display at the Moosehead Lake Aviation Museum. ~Shelagh Talbot photo

One of the stars of the display is an ejection seat, which most likely belonged to Lt. Col. Dante E. Bulli who survived the horrific crash of a B52 Stratofortress-C in January of 1963. Sgt. Bruce Reed of the Maine Forest Service discovered the seat last fall when he was out hunting. It was retrieved this past May and brought down the mountain by Moosehead Riders Snowmobile Club member Dave Demers, Forest Ranger Doug Huettner and Ranger Pilot Chris Blackie. The battered seat is testament to the miraculous survival of Lt. Col. Bulli, who was piloting the doomed Stratofortress when the plane lost its vertical stabilizer and plunged into Elephant Mountain.

Many photographs are on display, chronicling the flying history of the region and the pilots that made their mark. It’s astounding to see some of the very old planes, some of which look like they could not make it off the ground let alone off the waters of a large lake like Moosehead.

In 2012 the Aviation Museum was expanded to include an additional exhibit room.  This room celebrates the contribution to aviation history made by Charles Lindbergh. Lindbergh was definitely a pioneer in aviation and he was the first to accomplish a solo nonstop flight across the Atlantic Ocean on May 20-21,1927. A large, souvenir tapestry almost fills one wall, with a portrait of the young pilot framed by the French and American flags. There is also a striking, pencil portrait of Lindbergh. Items from the museum’s collection supplement this fascinating Lindbergh exhibit, which was generously loaned to the museum by Michael McKendry.

The museum includes exhibits representing the history of the early floatplanes, both personal and commercial, the importance of bush pilots, the development of Greenville’s Municipal Airport, and the involvement of pilots from the Department of Inland Fisheries & Wildlife and the Maine Forestry.

The exhibit continues to grow. Recently wide wooden floatplane skis were donated and are displayed near the previously mentioned ejection seat.

As the exhibit grows additional items are always more than welcome. “We continue to be in need of photographs, pictures, film footage (such as home movies), paper ephemera, stories, interviews, or artifacts,” Russell said. “While outright donation of materials would be most appreciated, it will be possible to scan photographs and other ephemera, or accept items on loan.”

There is much to see in the Moosehead Lake Aviation Museum along with other unique exhibits in the Center for Moosehead History (formerly known as the Community House). Call 695-2909 for further information or visit online at moosheadhistory.org.

Read Full Post »

By Shelagh Talbot

GREENVILLE— More and more people are interested in their family history as evidenced by the many genealogical websites that have popped up in recent years. Folks may not realize it, but right here in Greenville we have our own gem of genealogical information, the organization known as the Moosehead Historical Society and Museums. It was described by William Cook, past President of Maine Archives and Museums as one of the finest small town

Nancy Ayers helps a visitor with some information at the Carriage House on the grounds of the Eveleth-Crafts-Sheridan Museum on Pritham Ave. This service is one of many offered by the Historical Society.
~Talbot photo

museums in Maine, if not all of New England. The Carriage House, where the office is located on the Pritham Ave. campus, holds a treasure trove of archival information about the area as well as the people who lived here.

It all started on a summer evening 50 years ago this July, when a group of dedicated residents thought something should be done to preserve the rich history of this unique part of the world. Activities in those early days focused on collecting ephemera and artifacts of historic interest and finding them an appropriate home. Early meetings were held in the Greenville Town Hall and exhibits were scattered about town at places including the Shaw Public Library, Bangor Savings Bank and the Northeastern Bank.

One of their most popular fundraising events at the time was the Silver Tea celebration, held at the Shaw Public Library and hosted by Mrs. Julia Sheridan, whose beneficence to the society resulted in their acquiring the Eveleth-Crafts-Sheridan house. Businessman John Eveleth built this elegant Victorian home in the early 1890s as a wedding gift to his daughter Rebecca. Rebecca and her husband Arthur loved their home and filled it with the latest in technological advances for the time as well as the finest in furnishings and amenities. Julia Sheridan made it her home also after her parents passed away. When she died, she made provisions in her will that her home be given to the historical society as her lasting memorial. And what a gift it was! At first, a great deal of time was spent on repairs and needed safety-related improvements, but it wasn’t long before the Eveleth-Crafts-Sheridan Historical House was opened on a limited basis for guided tours. When Julia’s husband Phillip died 20 years ago, the Moosehead Historical Society became the benefactor of a trustee-managed investment endowment, which helps to maintain the museum.

Since 1981 the three executive directors, Elliot Levey, Dr. Everett Parker and current Director Candy Canders Russell have worked tirelessly to bring the Moosehead Historical Society and Museums to the point they are now. The most difficult tasks of artifact accessioning, accountability and preservation have allowed for the astounding collection of files in addition to the extraordinary items and artifacts on display.

The Carriage House, with its distinctive cupola, provides people with an ideal place to go for research about families and history of the Moosehead region. A wealth of information about so many subjects is there for your discovery. Perhaps you are looking for information about your own family history in the area. Perhaps you want to know more about Moosehead Lake’s first residents, the Native Americans. Maybe you want to know more about the logging industry and how it shaped Maine as well the United States in the early days. So many of these fascinating tidbits await your discovery at the Carriage House, which is open all year. Volunteers are glad to help you with your questions and offer direction when you are seeking information. There are also numerous books, CDs and videotapes available to enhance your own library. You might also find the perfect gift for someone special at the same time.

The Eveleth-Crafts-Sheridan house is open for tours Wed. through Friday until early October from 1 to 4 p.m. As mentioned earlier, the Carriage House, which also houses the Lumberman’s Museum, is open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Tues. through Fri. all year. You will also enjoy the Center for Moosehead History at 6 Lakeview St. the Center is open Thurs. – Sunday 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. and it houses the Aviation Museum as well as an extensive exhibit of Native American artifacts. Visit these museums on line at mooseheadhistory.org or email mooseheadhistory@myfairpoint.net. You may also call them at 207-695-2909.

Read Full Post »

Inland Fisheries & Wildlife plane stocking fish from the air using 70 gal. inside tank.
~Photo Courtesy Moosehead Historical Society

Courtesy Moosehead Historical Society

The Maine Warden Service began aerial fish stocking even before it acquired its first official aircraft in 1939. These first attempts consisted of simply removing the back seat of the departments borrowed Gull-Wing Stinson and transporting the fish in metal milk barrels. After landing on the selected body of water the pilot would stand on the float and pour the fish into the lake.

Soon internal tanks were designed and constructed to fit inside the aircraft. These tanks could hold more fish and now the fish could exit the aircraft through a valve and stove pipe affair. This allowed faster unloads and also the opportunity to stock some remote ponds that were unsuitable for landing. These internal tanks held their own as the department upgraded through a variety of aircraft including the Cessna 180.

This stovepipe exit had its own limitations. Water would drain similar to a sink, and the fish, rightly so, tried to avoid this whirlpool. Although a major improvement over handling the fish in the barrels, the drain time from full to empty proved to be a limitation in regards as to the size of the water body that could be stocked. A better system was needed.

During the 1960’s warden pilots and their staff mechanic designed and constructed the roll top, external tanks that are still in use today. The large opening on these tanks, combined with the spring assisted ability to roll and empty their contents, now allowed the department to efficiently stock waters that previously were not possible. Added benefits of an externally mounted tank are the ease of on-loading water and fish and it is no longer necessary to remove substantial amounts of the aircraft interior. Warden Pilots could not convert their Cessna from patrol vehicle to fish hauler in less than two hours.

Today’s aerial stocking program is run much the same way as it was in the late 1960’s. One difference is that the department now flies all Cessna 185’s and bottled oxygen is directed into each fish tank. The dispersal of oxygen directly into the water allows them to carry up to 90 pounds of fish in each tank, or 180 pounds per flight. On a typical day it is common for warden aircraft to deliver in excess of 10,000 pounds of fish into various lakes and ponds. During one particularly busy fall in recent years it was calculated that they stocked 16,000 pounds in one day, a department record.

Aerial stocking begins soon after ice-out in mid May and again in late September when water temperatures cool so as not to shock the fish. Not all fish are air dropped. The pilot will land and release fish whenever feasible and especially with the more delicate species such as Landlocked Salmon. Brook Trout are highly adaptable to air drops as substantiated by divers whom have observed the effects on fish during actual airdrops. The time savings involved with utilizing aircraft proves to be less stressful on any fish that needs to get to an inaccessible or distant location when compared to an all day truck ride then a distant carry in buckets or specially designed backpacks.

*There is no date on this article or where it originated…will do a follow up story to see how stocking is done today….

Read Full Post »

Courtesy Bangor Daily News Archives, September 22, 1980

Associated Press

Courtesy Bangor Daily News

Packing high-powered rifles and lottery-won permits, the first of 700 hunters began arriving in the northern Maine woods Sunday for the first moose hunting season in 45 years.

Maine’s state animal may be hunted legally for five days-beginning a half-hour before sunrise Monday and ending at sundown Saturday.

“There have been a lot of hunters coming through Greenville,” a the southern end of Moosehead Lake, said Fish and Wildlife Department spokesman Thomas Shoener in a telephone interview Sunday.

Shoener said many hunters are stopping at his department’s regional headquarters in Greenville to leave their location in case they need to be notified of an emergency while they are in the wilderness.

Greenville is one of six “bagging stations,” set up on major routes in the northern two-fifths of the state, where killed moose will be registered and inspected by biologists studying the condition of the herd, Shoener said.

But a New York City based animal protection group called “Friend of Animals” last week called upon Gov. Joseph E. Brennan to call off the hunt, threatening to boycott Maine as a vacation spot. The group contended that Maine’s moose herd is so tame after 45 years of protection that shooting them would be “easier than shooting fish in a barrel.”

This actually marks the first time in 91 years that moose of either gender are legal hunting targets in Maine. During the last moose season in 1935, only bull moose in three counties could be killed.

More than 32,000 Mainers gambled $5 to win one of the 700 permits for the experimental, one-year season that was approved by the Legislature last year. Those whose names were drawn in June paid an additional $10 to hunt, and those who kill a moose must pay another $10 for the right to take it home.

The enabling legislature required that at least $85,000 of the income generated by the 1980 season be set aside for scientific research on the moose. Biologists will weigh, measure the antlers and check the reproductive systems of animals registered at the bagging stations this week, Shoener said.

Shoener estimated the size of Maine’s moose herd at between 15,000 and 20,000-up from about 6,000 in the late 1930’s and considered healthy enough now to stand the loss of 700 animals. Each permit holder can name another person to accompany him or her in the woods, but only one animal can be killed per license.

To prevent illegal hunting, additional wardens have been stationed in the woods and all other forms of hunting have been banned for the entire week, Shoener said. Simple possession of a firearm will be ample evidence to convict illegal hunters, he added.

“If they’re there with a gun, the law says they’re hunting,” he said.

Read Full Post »

Henry Perley, better known as Chief Henry Red Eagle
~Photo courtesy Moosehead Historical Society

By Shelagh Talbot

GREENVILLE— Well over fifty years ago, a group of local residents founded the Moosehead Historical Society and Museum. The acquisition of the “Ready Worker’s Community House” in 2005, which is now known as the Center for Moosehead History has allowed the society to highlight more of the history of the Moosehead Lake region, a history that goes back thousands of years to the time of Paleo-Indian tribes and later the Red Paint People. Over the years, many artifacts have been found in the area. The quality of fishing and hunting, combined with the site of rhyolite-laden Kineo made this part of the northeastern United States special for native people. It became a great gathering place during the warmer months. Essentially the Moosehead Lake Region has been attracting tourists for ages.

The exhibit at the Center for Moosehead History contains fine examples of spear points, arrowheads, and other weapons and tools from the Paleo-Indian period to the 16th century when there was initial contact with Europeans. As late as the 1890s, local tribes camped on Kineo beaches to enjoy the fishing and socializing.

Greenville has had its share of famous Indians as well, including Louis Annance, who settled with his family at the southern end of Moosehead Lake. According to Mable Rogers Holt, writing Maine Indians In History And Legends, and, specifically in her chapter titled Aborigines at Moosehead Lake, “Louis Annance was the type – the true type – of North American Indian – tall, straight, broad-shouldered, athletic in his general make-up, copper-colored, high cheek-boned, a fine figure to look upon. Louis was an educated man, having attended Dartmouth College for two years, the tuition being free, according to a treaty once made between the English government and his tribe, the St. Francis Abanakis.” Annance was chief of this tribe as well. “He was prevented from finishing his course (of study) by the War of 1812,” according to Holt. “He spoke pure English, was an easy speaker and could converse with any educated person on almost every subject. Although he lived in the wilderness, he kept well-informed (sic) on the events of the times. He became a member of the Congregational Church in Greenville and of the Free and Accepted Masons.” During a canoe trip with his sons, the then Governor of Maine, Dr. John Hubbard was delighted to spend a day with his former Dartmouth classmate reminiscing about old times.

Holt also mentions, Mary Newall Tomah of Churchill Lake. “I remember (her) as a dignified old lady with whom I bartered vegetables or money for beautifully designed and woven baskets for various purposes, greatly prized by me,” she wrote. Mary Tomah was the grandmother of Henry Perley, better known as Chief Henry Red Eagle, of whom Holt penned, “ A full-blooded Algonquin, he is well-versed in woods lore, an experienced camp counselor, an instructor in wilderness camping. Much in demand as master of ceremonies at sportsmen’s shows, he is, more than this, an authority on Maine legends, a lecturer of note and a gifted writer, having sold more than a thousand articles and stories to prominent magazines.”

Red Eagle was much more than that. Valedictorian and Class President at Greenville High School, the young man had already achieved prominence by becoming the youngest licensed guide in the state of Maine at the age of 14. The Museum is in possession of a photograph of a teen-aged Red Eagle, impeccably dressed in suit and starched collar, holding a slide trombone. After he graduated he worked for a time at Harris Drug Store, but adventure called and he answered in a big way. He joined traveling shows, starting with the Kickapoo Medicine Show and including Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show. He was in the movies too – in the early days of short reels, working with such notables as Mary Pickford and Rudolph Valentino. He met his wife Wanna, an accomplished diver and swimmer appearing at the Hippodrome in New York City, while he was working with horses at Coney Island’s Dreamland. According to an article written by Dr. Everett L. Parker in the spring 2009 edition of Memories of Maine, Red Eagle once remarked, “ I got killed 90 times” in the movies. He brought Wanna with him to Greenville and she established a camp, Eagle Haven on Sugar Island for people who had been stricken with polio. The water therapy and swimming was beneficial and many, including President Franklin D. Roosevelt, who suffered from the disease, recognized her work.

There is so much to discover at the Center for Moosehead History. In addition to the fine Native American artifacts on display, books about the Native Americans of Moosehead Lake, including those mentioned, are available. Other displays including the Aviation Museum are equally fascinating. The building is located at 6 Lakeview Street in Greenville. Call 695-2909 for further information or visit online at moosheadhistory.org

Read Full Post »

A typical lumber camp crew in the late 1800s. Note the camp cook with his white hat at far left. Photo courtesy of the Moosehead Historical Society.

By Shelagh Talbot

GREENVILLE— With the 22nd annual celebration of Forest Heritage Days happening this coming weekend, August 10 – 11 in Greenville, the Moosehead Historical Museum on Pritham Ave. is also gearing up for the festivities by highlighting their Lumberman’s Museum housed in the basement of the Carriage House on the grounds of the Eveleth-Crafts-Sheridan house. In addition, the Woodlot Bus Tour will start at the Center for Moosehead History, the museum’s other campus located at 6 Lakeview Street in Greenville. The Bus Tour will begin at 8 a.m. and finish around 2 p.m. From 2 – 4 p.m. the Colby Woodsmen Team Demonstrations will occur outside near the Center.

The town of Greenville sprang up in large part because it was on the edge of a vast lake situated in the midst of miles and miles of magnificent forestland. Water was the main passageway for moving logs from the woods to the mills, making Moosehead Lake vital to the transport of wood. Originally surveyed in the late 1700s for huge white pine for masts and spars for the British fleet, the lumber industry shaped and defined Greenville for many, many years.

Early lumber crews would head into the woods in canoes by the mid 1800s; the star of the logging industry was the Bateaux – a 30-long graceful boat that helped the woodsmen herd the logs downstream. The centerpiece of the Lumberman’s Museum is just such a boat. It was last used by the Scott Paper Company on the Roach River log drive in the early 1960s and was donated to the museum by George and Linda Midla, who happened to own the Kokadjo General Store, situated near the Roach River and First Roach Pond. These bateaux were river workhorses and could carry as much as 1,000 pounds while only drawing about six inches of water. These boats were very heavy – about 700 pounds – but four wiry men could portage them over land from stream to stream.

The heart of the logging operation was the logging camp. These were usually low-roofed buildings erected by crews during the summer months to house the loggers over the winter. Logging was much easier during winter months when road could be created of packed snow for the horses or oxen to drag logs out of the woods and stack them near streams and rivers for their eventual journey down the waterways.

Bob Cowan, who gives fascinating talks at the Lumberman’s Museum, explained the layout of an early lumber camp to a group of fascinated visitors. “The camps usually had a very low roof,” he said. “And the dirt floor beneath was divided by a huge log cut in half, known as the Deacon’s Bench. On one side were piles of fragrant fir boughs for mattresses – in the early days, men would all pile under one large heavy blanket, still in their wet wool clothes. By morning they would be essentially “baked dry” by their body heat. There was a smoke hole for the central fire where the cook would prepare meals for the voracious crew. Cowan said the crew’s diet consisted mainly of beans. Salt pork, salt cod, pickled beets, tea, molasses biscuits and flap jacks. “It was no easy trick making biscuits and such with no milk or eggs and a good cook was worth his weight in gold.” You would think that coffee would be a staple at lumber camps but the bags of beans were heavy, had to be ground and boiled. Tea was a sensible alternative. It came in large bricks that were virtually indestructible and lasted a long time. The camp cook would dip the kettle in a nearby stream and shave bits of tea off the block, boil it down and “voila!” you had a hot beverage that kept crews of lumbermen going. According to Cowan, one lumberman remarked that the camp cook made tea “strong enough to float a horseshoe and hot enough to melt it!”.

The bateau is the centerpiece of the Lumberman’s Museum, with the various tools and accouterments required to keep a crew of loggers or river drivers going – large kettle, pickpoles, huge axes, and saws are all on display and Cowan’s lively presentation is very informative. Folks leave with a great respect for the thousands of men who labored in the woods and on the rivers and streams to bring wood to the many mills perched along the Kennebec and Penobscot. Bangor, according to many Maine historians was the first city in the nation built specifically to support the timber industry and to entertain the logging crews and river drivers. The first lumber mill was built there in 1771 on the banks of the Penobscot and by 1860 there were close to 400 mills operating in the Bangor region.

If you are visiting Greenville during the weekend of Forest Heritage Days, and plan to stay past the weekend, take a little time the following week and step back into history. Visit the Lumberman’s Museum at the Eveleth-Crafts-Sheridan house on Pritham Ave. in Greenville. They are open Wed. – Fri. between 1p.m. and 4p.m. Special tours may be arranged on Saturdays. Please call 695-2909 for further information or visit http://www.mooseheadhistory.org.

Read Full Post »

There were two versions of the Twilight. The first vessel was constructed in Bath, Maine by a Mr. Patten in 1871 and was brought to Sangerville by the Bangor & Piscataquis Railroad, then hauled by 30 pairs of Oxen (60 animals) under direction of a Captain Frey to Moosehead Lake.
This vessel was rebuilt in 1888 under ownership of Coburn Steamboat Co. It operated on the lake until the early 1900s when it burned. In 1910, the second Twilight was built by Stillman Sawyer of Greenville for Coburn Steamboat Co., and was operated for many years by Capt. Cliff Sawyer of Greenville. The vessel sank at her mooring at Steamboat Point in mid-February 1943. Her remains can be seen today at low water. This photo is of the second vessel.
Information Courtesy Moosehead Historical Society
http://mooseheadhistory.org/

Read Full Post »

Photo by Joseph John Kirkbride in 1886

Pictured is Judge Ingersoll holding a fly rod on the edge of Moosehead Lake Maine. A little research turns up a Jonathan Edwards Ingersoll who was a judge in Cleveland. Judge Ingersoll spent his summers vacationing in Maine where he died of a stroke in 1899.  Ingersoll, originally from Massachusetts, was a surgeon during the Civil War and after the war began practice as a lawyer in Ohio where he eventually became a judge.

At 75,000 acres, Moosehead Lake is one of America’s largest natural freshwater lakes and is Maine’s largest lake. The Central Maine Lake is fed by waters from the Moose River which flows from near the Canada border into the lake. Moosehead Lake is considered a prime fishing lake today where anglers can land lake trout, brook trout, and landlocked salmon.

Read Full Post »