Thursday, March 21, 2013

Don't swim in the river

Logs waiting at the Ambajejus c1950 - click to enlarge
Photo: Ambajejus Boom House via
  There's a very large pile of logs waiting to enter the Penobscot River waterways in 1950.  But the piles left every spring for a hundred years before and a number of years after.  Logs were marked by the destination mill and removed from the river at sites strung along the river.  The Penobscot, Kennebec and Androscogin Rivers all had log drives.
  Drivers, as they were called, were in one of the most dangerous occupations I can think of.   Standing on top of a raft of logs loosely tied and making sure the logs stayed moving.  They used Pike Poles to guide the logs and themselves, and Peaveys to sort the logs later.  It's even hard to think of harder work, but I'm biased because I live here.
  In Bangor near the Library there is a Memorial Statue of the River Driver, a lone man riding on a small group of logs.  River drives polluted the rivers and the work stopped after the Clean Water Act.

Skowhegan Falls, year unknown - click to enlarge
Photo: Skowhegan Historical Society via
  The photo was probably taken in the spring as logs wait to clear the rocks and round a curve just below the falls.  No men rode over the falls.
Work starts on the West Branch of the Penobscot c1900 - click to enlarge
Photo: Patten Lumberman's Museum via

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