Located in northern Maine, The Patten Lumbermen’s Museum richly explores a unique way of life for generations of Mainers.
By Ian Aldrich
Sep 04 2016
The 1820 Camp replicates the simple living quarters Maine loggers called home during their winters in the woods in the early 19th century.
While on assignment recently for Yankee in northern Maine, I visited The Patten Lumbermen’s Museum in Patten, Maine. This town of just a thousand people is not a place you stumble across. Up and up you go, past Portland and Augusta, past Bangor and even Millinocket until you reach a place unlike any other in New England.
In the shadow of Mt. Katahdin, this is the Maine of wilderness and lakes. It’s where Henry David Thoreau traveled and wrote about; and where last month Burt’s Bees founder, Roxanne Quimby, donated 87,500 acres to the federal government to be made into the country’s newest national monument, Katahdin Woods & Waters. It’s also where generations of Maine lumbermen made their living.
Maine’s logging industry stretches back to 1600s, when early visitors felled the pine giants that dominated the forests. From these woods came the building blocks for a new nation: wood for homes and ships. In the late 19th century, Maine’s paper industry took root and generations of men worked the forests to keep the big mills going. Each winter, teams of men set up camps to live and work. Through the bitter Maine winters they cut the trees, and then drove the logs down river once spring hit.
The story of this work, of the culture it spawned, and the evolutions it experienced and sometimes, weathered, is all fascinatingly captured at The Lumbermen’s Museum, an institution founded in 1963 by Lore Rogers, the son of a lumberman, and Caleb Scribner, an artist and game warden. Photographs, videos, a treasure trove of old tools and a campus of buildings richly inform visitors of what life was like for generations of Mainers. Only 2,000 people stream through the museum’s doors each year, but we suspect that over time, this place, which sits near the northern entry point to Maine’s new national monument, will attract more visitors.
Here’s a closer look at what you can expect to find should you visit.
Exploring the museum was a fascinating experience. Have you ever visited The Patten Lumbermen’s Museum?
The Patten Lumbermen’s Museum. 61 Shin Pond Rd., Patten. 207-528-2650; lumbermensmuseum.org