Shack Hill, Little Italy, Tin Can Alley and The Flat were names associated with certain areas of Millinocket in earlier days and some of those names are still used today. A recent museum visitor inquired about the origin of these names and it has had museum volunteers doing some research on the subject. Two sources have been helpful, Dorothy Laverty’s Millinocket, Magic City of Maine’s Wilderness and The Katahdin Times article from 1997 by Judy Heikkinen.
Shack Hill was the name given to the hill behind the mill site. It consisted of tents, hovels, shacks, lean-tos, larders and rough tarred paper shacks. There was no town yet so no regular housing was available. The Laverty book refers to this area as “the town’s first housing development.” This was also the area where the early businessmen set up shop. As the mill grew, some Shack Hill buildings were moved and the location became a storage area for tree-length long logs. Nearby, the other side of the stream, became known as Little Italy. This name came from the large number of Italian workers who needed housing close to the mill. This area has a rich history that needs to be documented.
An early town street was Aroostook Avenue and the section near the mill gate at first housed Greek and then Polish families. We found two different mentions as to why it became known as Tin Can Alley. One version suggests some houses had a shiny galvanized siding on them. Another version states that prior to becoming a housing area, it was a dumping spot for tin cans, metal and glass. (In early days, the only items folks had to throw away were glass bottles and metals such as tin cans as the pigs got any food scraps and wood stoves consumed what little other trash families had.)
Low land near Millinocket Stream became known as The Flat. The ends of State Street and Congress Street to Central Street near the bridge became the location of some early town houses. Across the bridge, a road was constructed to Medway. The museum has a large c1911 photo on display of the bridge and a portion of the town.
Later columns will describe other town areas with unique names. Please share your knowledge of these town area names with us as we would like to learn more!
*** A Little Taste of History, a new cookbook featuring recipes from many Millinocket pioneer families and their descendants (wives of mill employees, businessmen, school and town employees and more. Includes some photos and personal notes. 200 pages. Each cookbook is $15.00 (mail orders add $5.00 SH each book). At the museum, Memories of Maine Gallery, Steel Magnolias, Katahdin General, Gracie’s Aunt’s Emporium & by mail.
***2018 Calendar with vintage photos – still available. Just $10.00 (by mail add $4.00SH).
***Get your orders in for one of the laser engraved pavers. Cost $100.00 each. Up to 3 lines with up to 15 letters, symbols, spaces per line. Contact museum for form or more details. Another group of pavers will be in before July 4.
*** Museum HOURS…. Open Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays from noon – 3 PM. The new OPEN sign will be lit. Weather permitting!
***Contact me, Curator Trudy Wyman, 723-5477 or email@example.com. For groups or appointments, contact the Millinocket Historical Society at P. O. Box 11, on the web at www.millinockethistoricalsociety.org or on Facebook.