Written by Barbara Tetreault
By Paula Kinney
Androscoggin Valley Chamber of Commerce
The 5th annual Jericho ATV Festival weekend celebration is upon us. Many of our visitors have already arrived and many more will be descending upon us throughout the week. The Chamber office has been humming, and I want to share the kudos, nice comments, and excitement. The ATV/UTV community is growing everyday and they absolutely love it here!
After the festival last year, the kudos began pouring in:
"Gorgeous scenery! Pretty smooth trails... and wicked nice people."
"Absolutely gorgeous up there and the people were so welcoming.... and Berlin loves ATVS and it showed."
"Thank you to everyone who takes part in making the trails a success."
These are just a sample of the many, many emails, calls & Facebook comments we received. They cannot say enough about our community (and they cannot wait to come back).
Our community is a great place to live, work and play. The support that the ATV Festival Committee has received over the past couple of months for this event is overwhelming. Every time we thought we hit a roadblock, someone had a connection in the community and that connection pulled through for us. From privately owned businesses to the city department, they supported our efforts in many ways to get this festival to where it is this year. Last, but definitely not leas, are the volunteers. They are so valuable; we could never pull off an event of this magnitude without you. We are thrilled about all the new attractions at this year's festival. These new events signal the growth of the festival and of our community. The festival attracts thousands of riders and spectators from across the region and we look forward to watching the growth and playing in the mud. It's almost showtime -- let's keep up the good work everyone and welcome our visitors to this fine area we call home!
Happy trails everyone. Stay safe and Have fun!
Androscoggin Valley Chamber of Commerce
Last Updated on Wednesday, 30 July 2014 19:54
Once upon a Berlin Time
Hello fellow Berlinites. I would like to continue with the pulpwood trip from the woods to the mills in Berlin, New Hampshire. I ended last week's story with the pulp wood being sent into the Kennebago River.
Besides all of this wood coming down from the far reaches of Western Maine, many other camps were operating in other parts of Maine and New Hampshire whose water emptied into the Androscoggin River for the trip to Berlin. So, one can imagine the amount of men that were working in the woods.
A sluiceway was constructed at the dam on the Kennebago River so that the flow of water was controlled by its operators. Log drivers stood on plank runways that were on either side of the entrance to these sluices and with an iron pike at the end of a long pole, shoved the wood through. In logging terms, this was called "polling" pulpwood.
After passing through the power house dam in Oquossoc, Maine, the wood was driven nine more miles down the Kennebago River to a point where it emptied into Cupsuptic Lake or the upper end of Mooslookmeguntic Lake. This was known as the Indian Rock "booming out" camp.
It was here in 1945 that a crew of men, under the guidance of Phil Lapointe, prepared in advance a string of 40 foot logs, which were joined together by boom chains. These so-called booms were strung out and as the pulpwood floated into the lake, it was secured by this string of boom logs. About 100 of these 40 foot logs comprised the outside of the enclosure, which was nearly one mile in circumference.
When this was filled, the two ends of the boom logs were joined together by men in boats and the pulpwood was ready for the next step in its journey to the mills of Berlin. This was called the towing operation.
So, it was now time to tow the wood across the big lakes. These lakes were Mooslookmeguntic, Richardson, and Umbagog. Also included was towing wood across Pond in the River.
As the booms were made up for towing, they contained from 3,500 to 5,000 cords of pulpwood each. From Indian Rock, it was the Steamer Frost that towed each boom to Upper Dam (the outlet of Mooselookmeguntic Lake). This was a distance of eleven miles.
The Frost was a specially designed steel towboat, which incorporated many of well-known Captain Rowell's ideas. It was a squat sturdily constructed affair, 90 feet long, with a 20 foot beam. Steam power was furnished to the engine by an oil burning boiler. Side paddle wheels which operated independently of each other, furnished this boat's propulsion to get across the lake.
Also operated by the engine were two large winding drums. One contained 5,000 feet (almost a mile) of steel towing cable and the other had several hundred feet of anchor cable.
The usual conception of a towing operation was that the boat simply attached its cable to the boom of logs and started away with it. However, the procedure that was used was entirely different from this. Unless the wind was favorable, it was nearly impossible on a straight tow to move a vast boom of pulpwood, nearly a mile in circumference, with the power furnished by the paddle wheels alone.
What actually happened was that a heavy steel anchor cable was run out from one end of the boat and the anchor was dropped into the water. Gradually the boat backed off, taking up the tension on the anchor cable, until the anchor was made secure.
Meanwhile, on the other end of the boat, nearly a mile of towing cable attached to the boom was run out. With the boat firmly anchored, the engineer started the winch and the cable was wound in, hauling the booms slowly up to the boat. The boat then hauled up the anchor and moved ahead to a new location while unwinding the cable.
This process was repeated over and over all the way down the lake, until the boom being towed reached its destination at Upper Dam, were it was sluiced to Richardson Lake at a lower level and boomed again. Pulpwood booms were towed at the rate of approximately one half mile per hour. This boat took twenty two hours to cross the lake under good conditions. If the wind came up, it took much longer and became very hazardous.
The string of 40 foot boom logs was then taken in a tow by a smaller boat and brought back up the lake and used again to make up the next boom of logs.
This towing operation which took place on Lake Mooselookmeguntic gives one an idea of the procedure which was followed in the other lakes, through which the pulpwood had to travel.
Now, what did a crew in one of these towboats consist of? Well, the Frost crew had two captains, two engineers, two firemen, a line man, a cook and a motor boat operator. The crews lived on board the boat working six hours shifts around-the-clock. Crew quarters were on the first deck, with the wheelhouse and Captain's quarters on the upper deck.
After being towed down Richardson Lake by the steamer Rowell, pulpwood was again released at Middle Dam and sluiced into Rapid River. A short way down Rapid River, it flowed into a body of water known as "Pond in the River", where it was again boomed. Here, the boom was towed a short distance by a boat called the "Alligator". Again the wood was released through a dam into Rapid River.
Traveling down Rapid River, the pulpwood finally reached Umbagog Lake, where it was boomed again and towed by the Steamer Diamond down the lake and released into the Androscoggin River.
After floating down the Androscoggin River to Errol dam, it was again sluiced by Gordon Bragg's crew and sent on its way to its final destination in Berlin. There were points along the river that the logs were held back for many miles until they were needed at the mills. Places like this were Bog Brook, above Milan and in Berlin. It was quite a sight to see these logs in the river.
The tremendous amount of planning, effort and work necessary to drive these many thousands of cords of pulpwood from the woods to the mills each spring was surprising. As mentioned earlier, some of this wood came from a closer proximity, but some came from a distance of nearly one hundred miles. Many problems and difficulties were encountered and overcome by these woodsmen, boatsmen and log drivers, before this vast amount of pulpwood was finally landed and piled in mountain sized heaps near the mills.
The pulpwood was 4 foot long softwood that was floated to Berlin, but in earlier days, this same thing was done with 16 foot logs for the sawmill where Heritage Park is today. These were the logs that created our famous river drivers of yesteryear.
I hope that these two stories have enlightened my readers about what took place in the logging era of Berlin's earlier days. A film made in 1945 called "King Spruce" shows a lot of what I wrote about.
Last Updated on Tuesday, 29 July 2014 16:28
Recently, the New England States Committee on Electricity (NESCOE), which represents the six New England states and its Governors on regional electricity issues, proposed an initiative that would socialize the cost of natural gas pipeline expansion as well as transmission lines associated with large-scale hydropower imports from Canada. The initiative has been rightfully met with abundant scrutiny and skepticism.
For the past few years natural gas prices have been rising and, along with escalating electricity costs, have made New England less attractive to new businesses as well as for expansion of existing businesses. Limited pipeline capacity caused drastic price spikes that saw electricity prices average $132 per MWh this winter—forcing some companies to shut down because of the high energy costs. While pipeline expansion might provide some temporary relief, it will not reduce our overreliance on natural gas for electricity generation—now at roughly 50%.
Unfortunately, the past is coming back to haunt us. Policies enacted over the past decade have favored "green" energy initiatives like 30% production/investment tax subsidies to wind and solar, state-funded rebates for distributed generation, Renewable Portfolio Standards (RPS) and the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), among others. These policies have distorted the market and provided little incentive for base load power generators to invest in New England. Elected officials have pushed valuable nuclear and coal generators to the sidelines without providing us with any real solutions for replacing their power.
The six New England Governors are right in recognizing that we have a serious problem regarding the future reliability and cost of electricity in the region, but they are right for the wrong reasons. They are too concerned with meeting renewable energy mandates—all created by them (and their predecessors) with no thought as to how these policies might impact ratepayers. It is the result of the policies of elected officials that have left the region handcuffed.
Often behind these policies are the environmental non-profits, who cheer when reliable power plants providing thousands of megawatts of electricity get shutdown, and they fight projects like Northern Pass which can at least compensate for some of the power loss. They push billion dollar boondoggles like Cape Wind where ratepayers will pay billions for overpriced power. Worst of all, these groups are directly responsible for writing much of the overbearing, expensive and economically damaging legislation that is driving up costs for every ratepayer in the region.
Environmental and regulatory restrictions will prevent new coal or nuclear plants from entering the region any time soon; pipeline expansion proposals have and will be opposed by environmental groups and will no doubt result in lawsuits—presumably arguing that increased fossil fuel use will violate policies like Massachusetts' 2008 Global Warming Solutions Act or RGGI. NIMBY's don't want windmills or Canadian hydro. What's left? Expensive rooftop solar panels that operate 15% of the time? That isn't going to keep the lights on or incent businesses to come to the region.
In this environment our elected officials need to "do something" and are hoping that ratepayers bail them out. But why NESCOE would dangle the carrot of ratepayer subsidy for Canadian hydropower is truly perplexing. There is no need to subsidize hydro imports for any of the proposed projects. The Northern Pass Project is capable of providing 1200 MW of affordable, reliable base load power without tax or ratepayer subsidy. However, opposition to transmission towers in New Hampshire's North Country has led to demands of burial, delays and threats of future litigation – which appears to be driving the NESCOE proposal. Even worse, as reported earlier this year, this plan could lead to the use of eminent domain to Northern Pass developers and once again wreak havoc in the North Country.
What we are left with is the status quo of continually rising electricity prices and growing opposition to any infrastructure. Yet, the proposed solution is more government-led initiatives and mandates? Do we really trust the same group of people who have led us to the edge of the cliff to turn us around instead of jumping off?
So what should we do? NESCOE, with ISO's assistance, should take a long, hard look at the electricity markets (capacity and energy) and evaluate what causes a plant like Vermont Yankee and its 600 MW of carbon-free, reliable, base load power to leave the market and a project like Cape Wind and its $0.25 per kWh electricity to enter.
If New England's six Governors really want to fix things they should look at the mistakes of the past and freeze or outright repeal the very policies that have led us down this road. At the very least they should make every effort to avoid the same path of energy mandates, subsidized, favored energy solutions and legislative hurdles that prevent energy infrastructure from being built.
Marc Brown is the Executive Director of the New England Ratepayers Association, the non-profit dedicated to protecting ratepayers in New England
Last Updated on Monday, 28 July 2014 21:15
Today's article had its beginnings a couple of months ago, when I signed up for a professionally led photo tour from 25 July to 28 July in Down East Maine. As I begin this, I am at the desk in my room at the Bluebird Motel, in Machias, Maine. Early this afternoon, the group I am with will head out for a whale watching adventure with a local boat company.
Yesterday, Friday, the 25th of July, we all gathered around the blue Chevrolet van of our tour guide, John Slonina, of North Grafton, Massachusetts, for group introductions and the first of the weekend's adventures. It was late afternoon by the time we all arrived in Machias, so this shoot would be an evening one. We all climbed into John's van and headed off for Campobello Island and a view of the famed West Quoddy Head Lighthouse from the Canadian side.
There is a New Hampshire connection to the story of this renowned red-striped lighthouse. Because of his ever-faithful devotion to his country during America's War for Independence, New Hampshire-born Hopley Yeaton was appointed by President George Washington to be the first officer of the Revenue Cutter Service, which in time became the United States Coast Guard. (Yeaton would come to be known as "The Father of the Coast Guard.)
Hopley Yeaton had become fast friends with Colonel John Allan, a Revolutionary War hero, who made his home in Maine. By the late 1790s, both men now lived in retirement in Down East Maine. But troubles had been brewing in the area for years. Shipwrecks had become all too common along the rugged coastline, smuggling had become a major industry, and exactly where the border between the United States and Great Britain lay had long been in dispute.
For their services to their country, the two men had earned a considerable reputation with the United States Congress, and, therefore, a considerable amount of clout. In 1806, funds were authorized to build a lighthouse on West Quoddy Head, in Lubec, Maine. Safety of vessels traversing the dangerous waters of the channel was not Congress's only reason for allotting the funds. It was hoped that the building of the lighthouse would also settle once and for all the border issue with Great Britain.
While shooting the lighthouse from the Canadian side provided an interesting point of view, it was only the next day, when we went on the whale watch, mentioned above, that we were able to see and photograph the renowned beacon of safety in all it's colorful glory.
As for the whale watch, it would seem that the whales were watching out for us as intently as we were watching out for them. The couple that were sighted kept well away from our boat, and showed so little of their sizable bodies as to make pressing the shutter button, even with the long lenses most of us had brought with us, more effort than it was worth.
The Harbor seals, who had laid claim to their own little body of land surrounded by water, were much more accommodating. They ignored us, but they stayed put, not caring one whit whether we took their pictures or not. Well, the motto "You don't bother me, I don't bother you," is a wise one. Sometimes, I think more of us should try it.
At least the day's adventure provided a couple of pleasant hours on the water. That is never a bad thing, in my opinion.
Tomorrow, Sunday, is the day our group has been waiting for. Most, if not all, of us signed up for this photography adventure because of the planned boat trip to Machias Seal Island, home to thousands of Puffins. Weather permitting, we will be able to land on the island and proceed to provided blinds that will put us within a few feet of the adorable little birds with the orange-colored beaks.
As I write this, however, the weather forecast for the day is not promising, with thundershowers figuring prominently in the predictions. We'll see.
More on our adventures in Down East Maine next week, along with some photos.
Last Updated on Monday, 28 July 2014 21:08
Once upon a Berlin Time
Hello fellow Berlinites. I have written many stories about logging and the mills in Berlin. Each one could not have survived without the other, as it took pulpwood to make paper and it took woodsmen and river drivers to bring the pulpwood to the mills.
Many people still don't realize what it took to get these many cords of wood to the mills, so that our paper makers could produce their fine products. I hope this story explains to our younger generation about the pulpwood voyage from the woods to the mills, along with how far some of this wood came from. I found this story while dabbling in the year 1945. It was written in a Brown Bulletin and could not be found on the internet. Thus, this story will help preserve our great local history.
During the mid 1940s and many years before and after this time, the process involved in transporting thousands of cords of pulpwood yearly by water from the woods to the mills was many and varied.
The Brown Company operated softwood cutting camps in Maine and New Hampshire, with some of the camps in Maine were within four miles of the Canadian border. They used waterways such as brooks, rivers and lakes in all the sections as a medium for conveying the pulpwood to the local mills. One must remember that the Androscoggin watershed went up 100 miles north of the "Paper City", so some of the product had a long way to travel.
After all the pulpwood had been cut during the fall and winter at these northerly operations, it was hauled by horse drawn sleds to brooks, rivers, and lakes where it was dumped onto ice and piled along the banks. This was known as "Landing Pulpwood".
During the 1940's, an example of this was Kennebago No. 7 camp, which was located in the Kennebago district of Denison Bog Brook. This camp was in a Valley three miles up the side of the mountain from Seven Ponds Stream.
At this time, Jack Kingston, a figure well known for his long woods career and "tall stories", was the foreman. During the winter of 1944, his crew had cut and landed 4,000 cords of wood on Denison Bog Brook. Now this brook was not a very large one during the summer and it followed a winding and rocky course before it emptied into the Kennebago River in Northwestern Maine.
During the spring freshets, this same brook was a roaring torrent, taking pulpwood and everything else along in the wake of its muddy waters. However, this high water did not float away all of the pulpwood that was dumped and thrown into it.
It was therefore necessary to resort to certain other devices to re-float the rest of the wood which had overflowed the banks. For this purpose, a log and earthen dam was constructed near the headwaters of the brook.
With one man stationed at the dam to act as a gate tender, the main crew of 50 or so men worked down stream, throwing pulpwood into the current. When the dam was full the gates were opened and the stored water was released. I used to come across some of these dams while brook fishing in the Swift Diamond area many years ago and they were all dilapidated, but had some nice trout in them.
This release of water from the dam was known as a "head" and by means of this "head of water" the pulpwood remaining in the brook was carried downstream. This process was repeated several times a day, as fast as the dam would fill up.
Finally, any pulpwood on the rocks or banks and not carried away by this head of water, was thrown in by the river drivers, as they followed the last of the pulpwood down stream. This last operation was called "rearing" or "picking up the rear".
With the final driving of this brook, the pulpwood went into the Kennebago River. It was then joined by thousands of cords of other pulpwood which had been cut and trucked to this river bank location from distances of 14 miles away.
Now these woodsmen and river men got ready for the drive on the Kennebago River. Remember that all of this wood was headed to "The city that trees built".
The more distant Brown Company camps were in the valleys near the Canadian border with the general contour of the land sloping in a northerly direction and the brooks draining into the Chain of Ponds region.
For this reason the pulpwood cut their in the winter had to be trucked "over the hump" or height of land and landed on the Kennebago River for driving along with the pulpwood cut and other camps.
This wood was also dumped onto the ice in the river and after the river was filled, the rest of the wood was piled in tiers along its banks. Some of these piles were five and six tiers deep. They were also six and eight feet high and one half mile long. One must remember that all of this pulpwood was cut and sawed by hand back then.
When the ice finally went out in a northerly region, sometimes in early May, several hundred men, working along the riverbank in groups, threw the piled up pulpwood into the river.
To supplement this, several bulldozers were put into use to push the piles into the water. Back then, this was a very interesting sight to watch, as a bulldozer operator maneuvered his machine in and out of the river, toppling and pushing piles of wood into the fast moving current. A great saving in manpower was developed by the use of these fairly new powerful machines.
While this was taking place, other crews were busily engaged several miles down river, blasting a channel through the ice in the little Kennebago Lake.
Here, the pulpwood formed a "jam". Due to its sheltered location and the lack of current, the ice at this particular point had not gone out. Several men were out on the ice cutting holes and inserting sticks of dynamite, which were set off to blast large sections of ice free.
One must also bear in mind that the rivers, brooks and smaller streams were opened before the lakes and ponds. As they got high, the wood had to be thrown in or the power of the water would be lost. The river drivers and other woodsmen did not want this wood to back up and jam as it reached the Lake.
With this, other men were out in boats, using pick poles to float the ice out of the way. This was a dangerous job and required quite a bit of skill. If one fell out of the boat and into the ice water, they had to be pulled out right away. If they went under one of these large ice sections, they probably did not survive.
Once a channel was cut through the ice, the pulpwood was driven on down river until it reached a dam in Oquossoc, Maine. It was then floated through a sluiceway and thus the word "sluicing" was used.
I will continue with this one hundred mile pulpwood voyage from the woods to the mills in Berlin with my next writing, thus helping many readers understand how this huge operation took place.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 23 July 2014 12:59