Patten Lumbermen’s Museum
Region: The Maine Highlands
Activities: historical museum, family friendly
Admission: $10.00 ($8.00 ages 65+, $5.00 ages 4-12)
In 1820, when Maine was granted statehood, the dense forests of the north became home to hardworking lumbermen (not lumberjacks—those were on the west coast), where they spent months at a time culling timber from the forests and transporting it down rivers while living in primitive camps. A small town in northern Maine is home to a unique museum dedicated to sharing the history and stories of lumbermen, and it will transport you back in time.
The Patten Lumbermen’s Museum has a reception center with over 1,000 historic photos from 1850 to the early 1900s that show what daily camp life was like in the Maine woods. Outside, you’ll find a replica of an 1820s camp — a small rustic structure constructed of large spruce logs chinked with moss and mud, with a cedar shake roof. This would have been home to 8-12 lumbermen for months at a time, all of whom would have shared a community bed on the ground.
The museum also has a larger double camp with a cooking area separated from the bunkhouse by a “dingle,” which was used to store the camp’s grindstone and barrels of cod fish, salt pork, bully beef, and sometimes flour. Visitors will see an old Lombard Steam Log Hauler, which replaced oxen and horses to tow logs out of the woods and is the ancestor of army tanks. Ash Hill and Happy Corners (on the road to the museum) provide some of the best views of Katahdin.
Every August, the museum holds its Annual Bean-Hole Bean Dinner on the second Saturday of the month. Enjoy dishes including bean-hole baked beans made just like the river drivers used to do it, Maine’s own “red” hot dogs, Bakewell Cream biscuits made and baked by the open fire, and coffee boiled over the flames. With wagon rides, blacksmithing and wood turning demos, and music, it’s a fun day for the whole family.
After seeing what life was like for Paul Bunyan-type men, grab a bite to eat in town. Flatlander’s Smokehouse & Café and Taproom is the spot for delicious food and friendly service (open Thursday-Sunday for lunch and dinner), or try Craig’s Clam Shop for generous portions of seafood, fried clams, burgers and more.
For more adventure, drive the nearby Katahdin Woods & Waters National Scenic Byway, with incredible vistas, hiking trails and other outdoor activities. And don’t miss the views from Ash Hill and Happy Corners on the road to the museum, which include some of the best views of Katahdin!
If you want to stay longer, head to the Bradford House Bed & Breakfast, with 15 Victorian-style rooms and a pool, where each day begins with a homemade breakfast.
Bangor: 90 miles
Lewiston/Auburn: 195 miles
Portland: 218 miles