The mission of the Maine Forest and Logging Museum is to preserve, celebrate and educate people about the sustainable forest culture of Maine. The MFLM is a nonprofit organization incorporated in 1960, and is unique within the State in its focus on forest resources in a cultural context.
We have many events that focus on the forest and our goal is to embrace all the the forest is and has been! We believe that everyone has a way that they can actively engage with the forest, and to support that, we have regular programming to help people find ‘their place in the woods’.
Our larger events often combine an interactive Living History format with an operating “up-and-down” sawmill, and a variety of other interpretative sites that include an authentic blacksmith shop, bateaux, trappers’ line camp, covered bridge, and a settlers’ log cabin. With school tours and public programs at Leonard’s Mills, the Museum provides to residents of the state and visitors an educational and enjoyable experience through living history. The buildings, collections, research, and – most importantly – the educational and public programs of the Museum are the accomplishments of hundreds of volunteers from throughout the State (drawing from the entire Maine Highlands region, and from points as far as Fryeburg, Millinocket, and Houlton).
In the mid 1950’s a group of enthusiastic volunteers, mostly associated with forestry, proposed the establishment of a museum to preserve and portray the history of the logging and lumbering industries in Maine. As an “outdoor museum”, this proposal would create a unique and innovative way to educate people of all ages about Maine’s forest heritage. Eastern Maine had been built on logging and lumbering, and there was nothing to portray that part of our history other than a statue of Paul Bunyon in Bangor. During the next decade, volunteers collected artifacts, documents, tools, and stories to preserve which seemed doomed to be forgotten by generations removed from that logging and lumbering way of life. The next obvious conundrum arose in the form of a need for space. Where would these artifacts be housed? How would the be made available to the public?
A unique plan was crafted to present a “living history site” to share authentic artifacts and portrayals of craftsmen, housing, and food that were part of a woodcutters life on the Maine frontier. A search for the appropriate spot for such an site eventually located “Leonard’s Mills”, as archaeologists had found evidence of five sawmills on Blackman Stream. During the late 1960’s, a total of 204 acres of the Penobscot Experimental Forest were deeded as a donation to MFLM by the following companies: Scott Paper Co., Great Northern Paper Co., International Paper Co., St. Regis Paper Co., Diamond International Corp., Boise Cascade Paper Group, Dead River Co., Prentiss & Carlisle Co., J.W. Sewall Co., J.M. Huber Corp., Seven Islands Land Co., J.D. Irving Ltd. Shortly thereafter, other lands were donated by Pierce Webber and Edmund Nolette. More recently, Beverly Spencer donated additional acreage. In total MFLM now owns more than 450 acres.
In November 1960 fifteen supporters of the idea of a “Forestry and Logging Museum” petitioned the State of Maine for incorporation. Those Officers and Directors included:
Dwight Demeritt – Head of the School of Forestry at U Maine 1934-1946
William Hepburn – Forest Mgr. Diamond Match Timber Unit at Oakland, ME
Fred Holt – Maine Forest Service, Augusta
A. D. Nutting – Head of the School of Forestry at U Maine 1958 – 1971, Formerly Forest Commissioner State of ME
Earl Spaulding – Dead River Co.
Philip Coolidge – Forestry Consultant – Bangor, ME
Louis Freedman – Penobscot Chemical Fibre Timberlands Manager
William Hilton – Great Northern Paper Timberlands Manager – Bangor Office
Austin Wilkins – Forest Commissioner State of Maine
John Maines – Great Northern Paper Timberlands Manager – Bangor Office
Joel Marsh – Maine Forest Service Augusta
Ernest Rand – Oxford Paper Co.
Edwin Giddings – Penobscot Chemical Fibre Timberlands Mgr.
F. E. Pearson – St Croix Paper Woodlands Mgr. Woodland, ME
Omar Sawyer – Hollingsworth & Whitney Timberlands Mgr. Waterville, ME
The site of Leonard’s Mills in 1968 consisted of forestland, the remnants of a stone dam, and Blackman Stream. Visionaries created a few diagrams of this living history site, all focusing on a water-powered sawmill with a community of re-enactors harvesting timber, running the mill, making various wood products, living in camps, and period dwellings, as Maine’s early settlers would have done.
History isn’t limited to one period, and Maine’s forest heritage continues into the present. Later development at Leonard’s Mills has preserved equipment, machinery, tools, photos, and documents into the 1900’s. A collection of chainsaws, a clapboard mill, Lombard Log-hauler, shingle mill, and rotary sawmill have all begun to come alive to portray life in the 1900’s, as it related to lumbering and wood products.
Incorporated Nov. 21, 1960: