Saturday, April 13, 2013

Looking out for Maine

Maine Forest Service Watchmen, Cooper, Maine 1919 - click to enlarge
Photo: Maine Forest Service via
  Because Maine is about 95% forest; fire is a dangerous thing, as was experienced by the 1947 fires on Mount Desert Island and York County.
  The Maine Forest Service has a long history and though they now use aircraft to watch for fires but the planes replaced the towers.  At one time there were 171 towers actively used for fire protection, including one in my old home of Medford (which is still standing).
  There are some personal notes at the end of this post.
A Forest Service Watch Woman at Number Nine Mountain, Aroostook County c1920 - click to enlarge
Photo: Maine Forest Service via

The tower at Number Nine Mountain in 1920 - click to enlarge
This is the type in Medford
Photo: Maine Forest Service via

Remember that "elastic sleeve" I told you about?  Here's the rest of the story:
  I noticed that after about a half day my hand appeared red and shiny (just the last two days).
  apparently the thing was a bit too tight.  Here's the scene:
   The damned thing grub hold of my arm and squooze, I didn't ever think that blasted thing
   would turn on me like that.  My wife said I'd get flea bites, but I notice that when I asked
   her to bring my bottle of water from the kitchen she didn't say "fetch!"

Friday, April 12, 2013

Vacations of long ago were luxurious in Maine

Fisk House, Old Orchard Beach in 1907 - click to enlarge
Photo: Maine Historical Society via
  In the late 1800's and before World War Two, Maine was host to quite a large number of "luxury hotels".  The large hotels were built on the ocean front or near large lakes for the most part.  From the golf courses and spas at Poland Springs, to the super luxury of Bar Harbor; Maine hosted thousands of vacationers each year.
  The Mount Kineo Hotel on Moosehead Lake was actually owned by Maine Central Railroad, and other railroads owned hotels too.  The trains of that era brought people from all over the eastern US.
In that polite society, that seems to have passed us by, guests were treated "as good as the queen".
The Mount Kineo Hotel in 1915, a fine establishment. - click to enlarge
Photo: Maine Historical Society via
Summit Springs Hotel, Poland, Maine near Sebago Lake and
Poland Springs golf courses. - click to enlarge
Photo: Maine Historical Society via

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Into Space in Andover

The Bubble, it housed the horn antenna - click to enlarge
Photo: Maine Historical Society via
  The western Maine, Oxford County Town of Andover had a population of 762 in 1962, it's grown a bit more, in 2010 there were 811 souls in town.
  Before the launch of Telstar, the Bell Labs satellite that would bring all of us in to a more modern age there needed to be a receiver(s) on Earth.  Andover, Maine was selected because of where it was, in a valley surrounded by mountains to keep down microwave interference.
  A 340 ton horn antenna (illustration below) on tracks that turned it around or back or front was constructed, the antenna was housed in an inflatable "bubble".  The building that housed the other components was located nearby.
  Because of Telstar we here in the USA could make phone calls to Europe or Asia, and transmit television too.  It was because of Telstar that you were able to watch the Tokyo Olympics "live" in 1964.  The local people in Andover and neighboring towns were excited by the sudden "fame"; when the new area high school was constructed in Bethel it was named Telstar High School.
  The station is now obsolete even with the Bubble replaced by three large dishes, and the property has been sold to a hoped for industrial use.
The Horn Antenna (see the man on the framework?) - click to enlarge
the man is right over the word "man".
Photo: Maine Historical Society via

The Bubble and Technical Building - click to enlarge
Photo: Maine Historical Society via

an aerial view - click to enlarge
Photo: Maine Historical Society via

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Irish on the Portland waterfront

The schooner Viking unloads southern pine on Brown's Wharf c1885 - click to enlarge
Photo: Maine Historical Society via
  In the earlier times labor was kind of hard to get for demanding hard work.  It seems that each time that happened there was a new wave of immigrant labor; Chinese for the railroad building or Irish for the stevedore.
  There were already a small group of black people who had followed the molasses, from the West Indies, who worked the waterfront - but not enough of them.  Enter the Irish.  Of course being Roman Catholic and uneducated they were treated as a "necessary nuisance".  The local KKK grew even more with this arrival, for them the Irish weren't welcome.
  When the Grand Trunk Railroad opened Portland as an ice-free port the main commodity, in addition to lumber, was Canadian grain.  The largest import appeared to be molasses and Portland was a major refiner of sugar.  To move all of these goods the Irish were needed.
  The St. Dominic Church at the foot of Munjoy Hill was booming, it was the "Irish Church" and it still may be, if it's open.  The Catholic population grew to sufficient number that a Bishop was appointed for Maine in 1855.  From that day until the present every Bishop of the Diocese of Maine has had an Irish surname, no surprise.
The Hoist Wheel at Union Wharf, installed in 1762, the photo is from 1962.
Union Wharf was destroyed by fire in 1969. - click to enlarge
Photo: Maine Historical Society via
Sledging timbers on Long Wharf in this undated photo. - click to enlarge
Photo: Maine Historical Society via