Preserving Millinocket’s heritage, one story at a time.

Month: August 2020

The “Green Bridge”

Odds and Ends From The MUSEUM!
By Trudy Wyman, Curator, Millinocket Society Museum

The bridge across the West Branch on Rte. 11, sometimes called the “green bridge” is scheduled to be repaired or replaced. At the museum, an email from a Maine DOT representative asked for information regarding the bridge and road toward Brownville. This query led us to uncover several interesting pieces of information on the subject.
Talk began in 1926, but it was 1948 before the bridge was completed and all the previous bits and pieces of road were improved to make Millinocket to Brownville by automobile a reality. The museum has a pen (donated by the Speed family) used by Governor Hildreth to sign the order for the bridge and two photos of the governor and local dignitaries from the local Chamber of Commerce. People and businesses on the Millinocket side of the bridge were excited for this event.
A 1946 scrapbook in the collection had an article from another perspective. It looked at the need for a decent road and bridge and how the lack of such was costing the businesses in Brownville, Milo and surrounding towns.
Examples cited: 1) Ernest Ladd, owner of four sawmills (Brownville) had to get his pine logs via roads from Mattawamkeag and Lincoln; 2) John Lewis Industries 200 employees (Brownville) made tongue depressors for the Army and Navy and wooden knives, forks and spoons and used birch brought by truck from Howland or shipped from Ft. Kent; 3) In Milo, both American Thread Co. (used wooden spools) and B and A Railroad would benefit from a road direct from Millinocket.
Another resource (Sawtelle’s Ebeemee, North Brownville and the Prairie, gives this timeline for the road. In 1939, legislature appropriated monies to complete road; 1939-40, WPA & Dept. Transportation worked on Brownville end and construction reached North Twin dam area; WPA workers were transported in a dump truck with a canopy which was removed during day for construction work.
The Millinocket Chamber of Commerce was very much involved in this project from start (1920’s) to finish (1948). Some local men involved were: Frank Speed, Jack Ward, GB Moran, Carl Stockwell, Frank Rush and Frank Bowler.

In the Museum Store!
*** Get your 2021 Calendars! Theme: Millinocket, Oh! How We’ve Changed! $12 each, mail orders add $5 SH each calendar. Each page has several photos from different areas of town (Society Hill, park area, Medway Rd., Outer Bates St., Across Tracks, Aroostook Ave., and more).
*** Preowned yearbooks – $10.00 each.
*** Matted photos, various prices – GNP mill, Little Italy, river drives, Mt. Katahdin.
*** DVD’s, Little Italy Part 1 and Part 2 available at the museum ($15 each) or mail order ($15 each).
***Books: “Within Katahdin’s Realm, Log Drives and Sporting Camps” (Bill Geller) $30.00; “Logging Towboats & Boom Jumpers” (Moody) $18.00; “Tanglefoot,” (Edwards) $15.00; “Millinocket” (D. Duplisea) $20.00; “A Little Taste of History” cookbooks – $15.00; both Laverty books, $25 history & $10 architecture; “No Time for Moss (McKeen) $15.00 and several preowned books (out of print) by local authors.
*** All items may be mailed – add $5 SH each item.
*** For information, groups or appointments, contact Curator Trudy Wyman, 723-5477 or trudy18@beeline-online.net or the Millinocket Historical Society, P. O. Box 11, on the web at www.millinockethistoricalsociety.org or on Facebook.

Fred Gilbert, Spruce Wood Dept.

Odds and Ends From The MUSEUM!
By Trudy Wyman, Curator, Millinocket Society Museum

Fred A. Gilbert, in the early days of Great Northern, presided over the Spruce Wood Department. According to several sources available at the museum, Gilbert was described as colorful, controversial and energetic. He was continuously on the go, giving personal attention to even the most obscure details of his department. He was described as having a “rough tongue.” Novelist Holman Day gave Gilbert the nickname “Baron Fred, the lord of men.”
Gilbert knew how to handle men and his people at all levels were devoted to him. They called him Mr. Gilbert or F.A. He didn’t like if someone tried to put something over on him and was hard on malingerers and those who did not follow orders. On the other hand, if someone was in trouble he would help or if an old-timer was having a hard time doing a full day’s work, Gilbert might assign him an easy spot as dam tender or camp watchman.
Gilbert established conservative cutting practices, set up fire prevention policies and firefighting procedures. He suggested for years that all of the Bangor offices be moved to Millinocket and that the Boston and New York offices merge. It was said that Gilbert had in his head an inventory of all horses, machines and tools in the camps. He knew all the bosses and superintendents, contractors and supervisors.
In the 1920’s, after Garret Schenck’s death, Wm. Whitcomb took control of the company as president. It appears that there was a difference of opinion between Whitcomb and Gilbert. Whitcomb took over decision making for several aspects of the Spruce Wood Department and reversed some of Gilbert’s decisions. This finally led to Gilbert’s resignation in 1929.
The museum acquired the “Gilbert desk” a couple years ago from the library. A letter accompanying the desk states: the desk was purchased by Gilbert between 1918 and 1925 from a Boston store dealing in fine and rare antiques. It may have previously been in the Jordan family (founder of Jordan-Marsh stores). Gilbert used it as his personal desk in his home in Hampden. It was later used by family members before being given to the library by grandson Roger Smith. Smith recently contacted the museum and was pleased to know the desk is now on display at the museum in the Logging Room.

In the Museum Store!
*** Get your 2021 Calendars! Theme: Millinocket, Oh! How We’ve Changed! $12 each, mail orders add $5 SH each calendar. Each page has several photos from different areas of town (Society Hill, park area, Medway Rd., Outer Bates St., Across Tracks, Aroostook Ave., and more).
*** Preowned yearbooks – $10.00 each.
*** Matted photos, various prices – GNP mill, Little Italy, river drives, Mt. Katahdin.
*** DVD’s, Little Italy Part 1 and Part 2 available at the museum ($15 each) or mail order ($15 each).
***Books: “Within Katahdin’s Realm, Log Drives and Sporting Camps” (Bill Geller) $30.00; “Logging Towboats & Boom Jumpers” (Moody) $18.00; “Tanglefoot,” (Edwards) $15.00; “Millinocket” (D. Duplisea) $20.00; “A Little Taste of History” cookbooks – $15.00; both Laverty books, $25 history & $10 architecture; “No Time for Moss (McKeen) $15.00 and several preowned books (out of print) by local authors.
*** All items may be mailed – add $5 SH each item.
*** For information, groups or appointments, contact Curator Trudy Wyman, 723-5477 or trudy18@beeline-online.net or the Millinocket Historical Society, P. O. Box 11, on the web at www.millinockethistoricalsociety.org or on Facebook.

New Items at Museum

Odds and Ends From The MUSEUM!
By Trudy Wyman, Curator, Millinocket Society Museum

There has been a flurry of items being donated to the museum in the last few weeks…people have taken advantage of extra at-home time to do some sorting and weeding out! The museum’s military collection continues to grow. Rodney Gagnon added photos of Delores Graham (WWII Army Nurse Corps) and Dale Jandreau (USAF) and Bret Rideout (US Navy), both more recent military men. John Sears added some 1945 photos of Jim DeLois with other soldiers in Europe during WWII. We continue to display photos of local military men and women. The museum has also received a WWI military uniform (unknown owner) and Francis Elliott’s white navy uniform (no hat) and a large photo of Elliott (WWII). These were received from the former local VFW post, named after Elliott who died in WWII. Some VFW hats and other VFW items are now at the museum.
As usual, donated items cover a wide variety of topics. These include: a 2020 graduation program (Rick McGibbon); a 2001 Millinocket 100th birthday tea towel and a Levasseur’s True Value carpenter’s apron (Margie King); three 1940’s Great Northern stock certificates (Eric Vermeersh); and a Girl Scout vest, sash and several badges (James Day). More next week!
Progress is being made on the second floor renovations. Dry wall has been installed and painting is finished. Electrical work is in progress and the flooring is being laid down. Heating will be installed soon. In other news, the museum roof needs new shingles before snow falls. This had been planned as part of the third phase of renovations and grant seeking, but instead needs to be done this fall. If anyone wishes to help out, donations may be sent to Millinocket Historical Society, PO Box 11, Millinocket, ME 04462. Every $5 or $10 would help! Thanks!!
The 2020 batch of new engraved pavers are finally here and should be in place soon although later than originally planned due to this year’s unusual circumstances. Orders are now being taken for the next group of pavers to be installed hopefully by July 4th 2021. Visit the museum for information or contact us for a form to be mailed to you!

In the Museum Store!
*** Get your 2021 Calendars! Theme: Millinocket, Oh! How We’ve Changed! $12 each, mail orders add $5 SH each calendar. Each page has several photos from different areas of town (Society Hill, park area, Medway Rd., Outer Bates St., Across Tracks, Aroostook Ave., and more).
*** Preowned yearbooks – $10.00 each.
*** Matted photos, various prices – GNP mill, Little Italy, river drives, Mt. Katahdin.
*** DVD’s, Little Italy Part 1 and Part 2 available at the museum ($15 each) or mail order ($15 each).
***Books: “Within Katahdin’s Realm, Log Drives and Sporting Camps” (Bill Geller) $30.00; “Logging Towboats & Boom Jumpers” (Moody) $18.00; “Tanglefoot,” (Edwards) $15.00; “Millinocket” (D. Duplisea) $20.00; “A Little Taste of History” cookbooks – $15.00; both Laverty books, $25 history & $10 architecture; “No Time for Moss (McKeen) $15.00 and several preowned books (out of print) by local authors.
*** All items may be mailed – add $5 SH each item.
*** For information, groups or appointments, contact Curator Trudy Wyman, 723-5477 or trudy18@beeline-online.net or the Millinocket Historical Society, P. O. Box 11, on the web at www.millinockethistoricalsociety.org or on Facebook.

Why Mill Built Here?

Odds and Ends From The MUSEUM!
By Trudy Wyman, Curator, Millinocket Society Museum

Why was the paper mill built here where there was no town? That is a question museum volunteers hear on a regular basis. The simple answer given is that in the late 1800’s the demand for newsprint in the larger east coast cities prompted a group of men to choose the northern Maine woods as the ideal place for a paper mill. McLeod’s The Northern, the Way I Remember gives some detail on this topic.
Early paper mills manufactured paper from rags so mills were built close to population centers. Later when wood grinders began being used, water power was needed so mills were built along rivers. Poplar was the first wood of choice in the early days, but then spruce was used as it made a stronger pulp. Therefore, northern New York, New England and eastern Canada became the choice for paper mills.
In Maine, papermaking began in 1731 when General Sam Waldo built a mill near the mouth of the Presumpscot River in Falmouth. Fire destroyed that mill along with many others during the next 100 years.
In 1897, the Maine Legislature chartered the Northern Development Company, with Charles Mullen and other Bangor timberland owners as incorporators and they were to develop the water power on the Penobscot River. In that same year, a group of influential businessmen (Chisholm, Russell and more) brought twenty New England paper mills together as the International Paper Company in an effort to control competition.
A few months later, Garret Schenck, (his Rumford Falls mills was one of the mills absorbed into International Paper), severed his connection with that company. Schenck got together with Mullen and they associated themselves with the Northern Development Company. This then became the Great Northern Paper Co., and in November, 1900, Schenck presided at the opening ceremonies of the GNP’s Millinocket mill. It was a statement against the other group that competition would remain a fact of life in the newsprint industry.
In 1899-1900, the Maine woods were opening up. Horse-drawn and ox-drawn vehicles traveled “highways” and “tote roads” to Medway and north. The B & A RR extended to Houlton” and “sports traveled via train and boat to secluded camps to hunt and fish. The Fowler Farm was situated on what would become the mill site. There was something here, just not a town!
The museum has a few preowned copies of mentioned book, The Northern, for sale.

In the Museum Store!
*** 2021 Calendars are here! Theme: Millinocket, Oh! How We’ve Changed! $12 each, mail orders add $5 SH each calendar. Each page has several photos from different areas of town (Society Hill, park area, Medway Rd., Outer Bates St., Across Tracks, Aroostook Ave., and more).
*** Preowned yearbooks – $10.00 each.
*** Matted photos, various prices – GNP mill, Little Italy, river drives, Mt. Katahdin.
*** DVD’s, Little Italy Part 1 and Part 2 available at the museum ($15 each) or mail order ($15 each).
***Books: “Within Katahdin’s Realm, Log Drives and Sporting Camps” (Bill Geller) $30.00; “Logging Towboats & Boom Jumpers” (Moody) $18.00; “Tanglefoot,” (Edwards) $15.00; “Millinocket” (D. Duplisea) $20.00; “A Little Taste of History” cookbooks – $15.00; both Laverty books, $25 history & $10 architecture; “No Time for Moss (McKeen) $15.00.
*** All items may be mailed – add $5 SH each item.
*** For information, groups or appointments, contact Curator Trudy Wyman, 723-5477 or trudy18@beeline-online.net or the Millinocket Historical Society, P. O. Box 11, on the web at www.millinockethistoricalsociety.org or on Facebook.

Millinocket Library

Odds and Ends From The MUSEUM!
By Trudy Wyman, Curator, Millinocket Society Museum

It’s been a long wait, but soon the newly remodeled Millinocket Memorial Library will open its doors. It’s been nearly 101 years since the library doors first opened in a small space on Central Street. Then there was the move to Maine Avenue and now a remodel that will make it even more enjoyable to visit. As a reminder, this week the following tells some of the library’s earlier history.
The library became a reality in 1919 when the town voted to raise $2,500.00 “to establish a free library to be dedicated to the memory of those who had died for their country.” In addition, Great Northern Paper Company added $1000.00 and Emma Schenck, wife of Garrett Schenck, GNP president, added $200. Local individuals donated numerous books for this first library. It was located in the Gonya Block next to the Corner Drug Store and faced Central Street. This memorial library opened on Armistice Day, November 11, 1919 and Mrs. Mae Shorey was the first librarian. A bronze plaque honoring the town’s war heroes was placed in the library at its dedication. By 1926, Millinocket’s 25th birthday, the library had over 6000 volumes.
A big change occurred in the 1960’s when the Great Northern Hotel was torn down and the lot was given to the town for public use. A new Millinocket Memorial Library building was constructed at the intersection of Maine Avenue and Hill Street. Opening and dedication ceremonies were held on December 11, 1963 and the new library had space not only for books, but also reading rooms, a lower level children’s room, a reference room, multi-use space as well as office and work space for staff. For more than 50 years that library served the community and the area well.
This writer had a sneak peek at the new interior a few days ago and the “new” library is nearly ready to provide visitors with the chance to renew their relationship with this special place in Millinocket. Can’t wait to get some new books!
The Millinocket Historical Society has provided a few photos of the library “through the years” in the two glass cases in the front entry.
Reminder, the museum is open and waiting for you to visit (social distancing and masks, please)!

In the Museum Store!
*** 2021 Calendars are here! Theme: Millinocket, Oh! How We’ve Changed! $12 each, mail orders add $5 SH each calendar. Each page has several photos from different areas of town (Society Hill, park area, Medway Rd., Outer Bates St., Across Tracks, Aroostook Ave., and more).
*** Preowned yearbooks – $10.00 each.
*** Matted photos, various prices – GNP mill, Little Italy, river drives, Mt. Katahdin.
*** DVD’s from both Little Italy Part 1 and Part 2 are available at the museum ($15 each) or mail order ($15 each).
***Books available: “Within Katahdin’s Realm, Log Drives and Sporting Camps” (Bill Geller) $30.00; “Logging Towboats & Boom Jumpers” (Moody) $18.00; “Tanglefoot,” (Edwards) $15.00; “Millinocket” (D. Duplisea) $20.00; “A Little Taste of History” cookbooks – $15.00; both Laverty books, $25 for history & $10 for architecture; “No Time for Moss (McKeen) $15.00.
*** All items may be mailed – add $5 SH each item.
*** For information, groups or appointments, contact Curator Trudy Wyman, 723-5477 or trudy18@beeline-online.net or the Millinocket Historical Society, P. O. Box 11, on the web at www.millinockethistoricalsociety.org or on Facebook.