MF 033 Machias River Project

Northeast Archives of Folklore and Oral History: MF 033 Machias River Project

Number of accessions: 20
Dates when interviews were conducted: mostly 1986, also 1989
Principal interviewers: Edward D. “Sandy” Ives
Finding aides: transcripts
Access restrictions: none
Description: This collection consists of nineteen interviews totaling approximately thirty-two hours conducted by Edward D. “Sandy” Ives in 1986 with men who worked in the woods and on the riverdrives along the Machias River. In part it grew out of the “Stump to Ship” project in which the 1930 logging film was revived and shown around the state. Many of the interviewees in the Machias River Project came from the audiences for the film.

1904 Frank Dowling, interviewed by Edward D. “Sandy” Ives, March 8 and October 3, 1986, Machias, Maine. Dowling discusses his experiences working in the woods and on river drives along the Machias; work for the Machias Lumber Company in the early 1900s; running logs down Third Lake; supper while running logs and description of a baker; definitions of log-running terminology; seeing Haley’s Comet in 1910; importance of releasing correct amount of water from dams; hemlock bark used to tan leather; camp life and lice; service along the Maginot Line during WWI; gambling in lumber camps; crew composition; importance of advanced preparation; role of a key log in a jam; construction and use of cats; capstan rafts; seasonal patterns of a lumberman’s work; nineteenth century practice of being paid in company store credit; lumbermen’s wages; woodcutting tools; a knotter’s job; leaving a flat stump; job of the undercutter; job of the sawyers; description of trivoy/travois; making a capstan; role of the wind in moving logs on water; feelings the lumbermen had for the company; working logs through narrow passages; whittling; and deflecting logs away from bends. Text: 81 pp. transcript, plus letters, diagrams and manuscript pages. Recording: T 1922 – T 1923, C 0435, CD 2137, CD 2142, CD 2143 (2 CD set) 2 ½ hours.

1905 Irving Bangs, interviewed by Edward D. “Sandy” Ives, March 8, 1986, Machias, Maine. Bangs discusses his experiences working in the woods along the Machias River beginning in the late 1930s; driving logs using a splash-dam; driving boom logs; how he began scaling; surveying work as mediating a fight; building roads to transport pulpwood; French-Canadians as good workers; no need to replant because seedlings were left standing; skidders as wasteful; introduction of chain saws and problems with early chain saws; and handling poached meat. Text: 30 pp. transcript. Recording: C 0234 1 hour.

1906 Orris W. McKeown, interviewed by Edward D. “Sandy” Ives, March 9, 1989, Alexander, Maine. McKeown talks about the winter in the late 1920s he worked on a logging road; keeping the main road clear; construction of woods camp; lack of local men; process of making roads; branch roads and main roads; how to skid a rock and skid a turn; good food fed to workers; tools used to maintain the roads; Wilbur Day; and George Magoon, his grandfather. Text: 23 pp. transcript. Recording: T 1924 45 mins.

1907 Richard Gaddis, interviewed by Edward D. “Sandy” Ives, March 10, 1986, in East Machias, Maine. Gaddis discusses working along the Machias River, particularly with his family lumbering and blueberry business; log driving; explanation of photographs and documents; wages in the 1930s; use of housing on horses; logging season dictated by need for frozen lakes and ground; construction of woods camps; use of both horses and tractors; sizes of wood desired; company supplying horses and tools; care for injuries; tricks to avoid logjams; WWII service; combining lumber and blueberries for full-time work; and a typical day cutting trees after and before WWII. Includes photocopies of documents including logging agreement; account books for Gaddis camps 1920-1940 and some records from 1940s and 1950s; daybook from 1906-1908; Machias Log Driving Co. ledger for 1853 and 1855; and Pope Harris & Co. ledgers from 1890s. Text: 47 pp. transcript. Recording: T 1925 – T 1926 1 1/3 hours. Photographs: P 6146 – P 6162.

1908 Newell Beam interviewed by Edward D. “Sandy” Ives, March 10–May 25, 1986, Cutler, Maine. Beam talks about his experiences working in the woods along the Machais River; breaking through heavy snow; a block of land owned by two companies; logging around Fifth Lake in the early 1920s; pay fluctuations and what the company provided; description of photographs; construction of camp buildings and beds; lice and ridding the camp of lice; superiority of selective cutting; camp life and recreation in the evenings; sings and recites “The Jam on Gerry’s Rock”; predominance of local workers; peeling pulpwood and hemlock; axes; number of logs the could be gotten from a tree; how to lead a tree; problem of trees getting caught in birches; crew composition; road maintenance; toilet facilities; games and tricks; special jobs in the camps; difference between single and double camps; hunting and poaching on Sundays; footwear; scaling logs; marking logs; using horses in the woods; Sunday recreation; scaling units; use of Lombards to haul logs; burning trees to create light; camp meals; and locations of lumber camps. Includes drawing and catalog of Beam’s homemade cassettes plus two homemade cassettes of Beam’s storytelling and singing. Text: 139 pp. transcript. Recording: T 1927 – T 1928, T 1941, C 0235 CD 2134, C 0236 CD 2135, C 0249 CD 2136 4 hours. Photographs: P 6163 – P 6166.

1909 Maurice Berry, interviewed by Edward D. “Sandy” Ives, March 11, 1986, East Machias, Maine. Berry talks about his experiences working in the woods along the Machias River; his father’s cork boots; use of water carts to keep roads iced; stories of Wilbur Day; description of a staddle of hay; woods camp recreation; peeling hemlock; working the water cart; skidding roads; pisaghees and Johnny-jump-ups; how Blasphemy Swamp got its name; and stories about George Magoon. Also included: collection of Berry’s “I Remember, I Remember” columns from the Machias Valley News and Observer, 1985. Text: 58 pp. transcript. Recording: T 1929 – T 1930 1 ½ hours.

1910 Francis Healy, interviewed by Edward D. “Sandy” Ives, March 11 and October 3, 1986, Machias, Maine. Healy discusses his work in the woods and drives along the Machias River for St. Regis Pulp and Paper; camping out during river drives; blowing up a dam beavers had added to; the ‘Driving Rock’ which was used to tell when the water level was good for driving logs; using 300 pick-poles a season; 100 men working the drive; uselessness of young inexperienced men; road maintenance; building a mill in Whitneyville; sorting of logs by company; launching logs into the lakes and moving them downstream; working with the wind; danger when a logjam was broken; running Carrick Pitch; staying at Wilbur Day’s house during a drive; stories of Wilbur Day; icing roads; construction of a capstan raft; using a boom to drive logs through an eddy; and description of pictures. Text: 94 pp. transcript and diagram. Recording: T 1931 – T 1932, C 0437 – C 0438 3 hours.

1911 Robert Wright, interviewed by Edward D. “Sandy” Ives, March 12 and October 6, 1986, Machias, Maine. Wright talks about his experiences driving and supervising the final years of Machias River drives; quantities of logs; dates for river drives; job positions in a woods camp; location of dams; the ‘Driving Rock’ in the Machias River; names of river branches; splash dams on small streams; tradition of eating four meals daily; reasons for the end of river driving; scows; the fun of riding down falls; blousing boots to keep feet dry; modernization of river driving by the 1950s; board feet acquired in the final years; spotting roads; his perspective on clear-cutting; length of drives and size of crews; other jobs held by river drivers, usually also for the lumber company; not cutting lumber wood prior to September; red rot; using splash boards to control water flow; tasks of the feeder; size of woods camps; division of labor in a two-man team; introduction of chain saws; and the need to log in different places. Plus Wright’s 5 pp. commentary, “Water Use on the Machias River during 1968.” Text: 71 pp. transcript, plus 5 pp. commentary. Recording: 2 hours C 0237 – C 0238, C 0432.

1912 Clarence Berry, interviewed by Edward D. “Sandy” Ives, March 12, 1986, in Jacksonville, Maine. Berry discusses working in the woods and drives on the Machias River in the 1910s and 20s; working in a depot camp for the Jacksonville Lumber Company; description and construction of a capstan raft; fireplaces; bean-hole beans; tasks of bull-cooks; tools, the filer, and the blacksmith; clothing worn in woods camps; hiring on in Machias and walking upriver to drive; story of Calvin Graves who shot two wardens; beginning of a river drive; two-log cats; progression through Machias River Lakes; difficult patches for driving logs; use of dynamite to break up jams; use of anchors; camps along the river; food in woods and river camps; positions within a lumbering group; felling trees; working with foreigners; and use of a curved adze. Plus drawings and Berry’s 3 pp. “Riverdriving on the Machias River.” RESTRICTED. Text: 52 pp. transcript. Recording: T 1933 – T 1934 1 ½ hours.

1913 Adin R. McKeown, interviewed by Edward D. “Sandy” Ives, March 13 – May 24, 1986, Crawford, Maine. McKeown discusses his experiences working in the woods and on drives along the Machias River; founding of Sullivan’s lumber business; salvaging burnt timber; shared drives between Sullivan’s and Machias Lumber Company; towing log booms on lakes; playing baseball when wind was unfavorable; importance of dams and water levels; pay in the late 1910s; tasks of a road monkey; description of a camp on Love Lake; direction to fell trees; sizes of trees desired; using logs for transportation; sleeping accommodations; cork boots; learning to walk on logs; two-log cats as harder to work on than single logs; how to dynamite a logjam; Wilbur Day; capson [capstan?] rafts; not giving unsolicited advice to elders; brands of saws; early chain saws; scaler as unpopular figure; how he scaled logs; halfway houses en route to camps; responsibilities of rear crews; recreation and life in woods camps; how jams formed; and stations in trouble spots. Plus a drawing. Text: 83 pp. transcript. Recording: C 0239 – C 0240, C 0247 – C 0248 3 ½ hours.

1923 Gilbert Andrews Sr., interviewed by Edward D. “Sandy” Ives, May 18, 1986, Franklin, Maine. Andrews talks about his various jobs with the Machias Lumber Company mill in the 1920s; location of mills; sorting logs at the boom-house; use of a different mill for hemlock; job positions inside the mill; machinery used to cut logs; playing with bark balls; the edger; packing and shipping of the cut lumber; piling and drying lumber; pine as prone to mildew; sawing of cedar shingles; working on the bolter and with lath edges; ‘saw bobbers’ and the risk of ruining saw teeth by hitting metal; and his comments on the movie “From Stump to Ship,” identification of men in the film, and explanation of processes shown. Text: 57 pp. transcript, plus drawing. Recording: C 0242 – C 0243 1 ¾ hours.

1924 Lowell Vose, interviewed by Edward D. “Sandy” Ives, May 18, 1986, Harrington, Maine. Vose discusses his driving experience on the Machias River; hiring on with the Machias Lumber Company and walking upriver; location of the Main River camp; working in the rear; two-log rafts; moving logs in booms on lakes; clothing and getting wet; camping along the river at night; predominance of local men, including Indians (Native Americans); his brief time working in the mill; specific jobs in the mill; caulk boots and riding logs; and restriction of dangerous tasks to experienced drivers. Text: 27 pp. transcript. Recording: C 0244 ½ hour.

1925 Philip Armstrong, interviewed by Edward D. “Sandy” Ives, May 23, 1986, Calais, Maine. Armstrong describes working in the woods and river drives along the Machias; driving skid-team; filing saws; trigging in order to pile logs; moving logs on lakes with a capstan; building a tennis court; risks of river-driving; sleeping arrangements during a river drive; city camps (depot camps); and hunting stories. Text: 39 pp. transcript. Recording: C 0245 – C 0246 1 hour 10 mins.

1926 Maxwell E. Gray, interviewed by Edward D. “Sandy” Ives, May 19, 1986, Machias, Maine. Gray discusses working in the woods and river-driving along the Machias; moving logs on a frozen lake; cutting logs as best or only work during the Great Depression; earning extra money through poaching; walking to the start of the drive; camping in bush wickets; capstan rafts; temporary rafts; moving logs down Machias Lakes; water as a power source; and dangerous spots of water. Plus 4 pp. story about George Magoon and Wilbur Day. Text: 30 pp. transcript, plus 4 pp. story. Recording: T 1939 1 hour.

1927 Charles Cunningham, interviewed by Edward D. “Sandy” Ives, May 20, 1986, in Machias, Maine. Cunningham discusses his work as a saw filer in the Machias Lumber Company mill; the difference between braising and welding; frequency of saw teeth breaking; what caused a saw tooth to break; frequency of changing blades in various saws; demonstration of sharpening a saw; shaper and swage; saws used in the Whitneyville mill; and his sharpening business in 1986. Text: 21 pp. transcript. Recording: T 1940 1/2 hour. Photographs: P 6331 – P 6334.

1928 Victor Archer, interviewed by Edward D. “Sandy” Ives, May 21, 1986, Machias, Maine. Archer speaks about woods work and river driving along the Machias River; where he drove; moving logs down Fifth Lake; capstan rafts; log jams; driving Fifth Lake Stream; progression of the drive downstream; the unprofitable state of the blueberry business in 1986; spending winters in the woods with his family as a boy; pay rates; Wilbur Day and his autobiography; and John Bacon. Text: 29 pp. transcription. Recording: T 1942 1 hour.

1929 Donald McLellan, interviewed by Edward D. “Sandy” Ives, May 22, 1986, in South Princeton, Maine. McLellan talks about working in the Machias Region woods as an independent operator; use of trucks 1946-47; pay rates in the mid-late 1940s; how he worked as an independent operator; hauling logs; accidents in the woods; his cutting arrangements; dishonesty in scaling; pay in the mid-1930s; making homemade snowshoes out of barrel staves; spring poles; where he sold his lumber; introduction of chain saws in the early 1950s; road maintenance; and twitching/skidding lumber. Includes two articles written by McLellan for the Alexander-Crawford Historical Society newsletter, one sketched and one printed map of Pocomoonshine Lake. Text: 35 pp. transcript. Recording: T 1943 1 hour.

1930 Francis Handy, interviewed by Edward D. “Sandy” Ives, 1986, Machias, Maine. Tape: no cat. or trans. Handy describes and discusses photographs of Machias, Machias Lumber Co. and sawmill. Text: no catalog or transcript. Recording: C 0436, C 0439. Photos: P 6167 – P 6194, P 6344 – P 6354.

1937 Charles Dowling, interviewed by Edward D. “Sandy” Ives, 1986, Bangor, Maine. 4 pp. Tape: 1 hr. Dowling describes his experiences on the Machias River drives and working in the woods. Also some talk of hunting and fishing. Text: 1 pp. brief index, no transcript found. Recording: T 1944 1 hour.

1942 Earl Bonness, interviewed by Edward D. “Sandy” Ives, October 5, 1986, Grand Lake Stream, Maine. Bonness discusses his experiences working in the woods and river-driving along the Machias in the 1920s; moving the wangan; species of trees cut; Wilbur Day; a falling wedge and how it was used; murder of two game wardens by Calvin Graves; a drowning during a river drive; living conditions in a woods camp; method of dogging deer; old-time drivers who didn’t know how to swim; and making snowshoes. Text: 44 pp. transcript. Recording: C 0433 – C 0434 1 ½ hours.