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Driving Boots and Wangan

Now on display in the logging room of the museum is a fairly large wooden crate with stenciling on one end stating the crate contained Lumbermen’s Driving Boots, sizes 6-9. It has been generously offered on loan to the museum by John Stanley of Mattawamkeag. Stanley had previously donated a pair of spiked logger’s boots which are also displayed. The crate’s arrival brought about questions as to whether logger’s boots were purchased with or without the spikes and did the men bring them with them to the woods or purchase them in nearby towns such as Millinocket or elsewhere. One source (McLeod) sates that many of the loggers were hired by labor agencies (Bangor, Boston, etc.) and most arrived with no winter work clothing. Further research led to information about the “wangan.” The wangan or commissary was an early logging camp fixture. Each man would have an account “on the books” Available were work clothes such as pants, shirts, stockings, underwear, stockings, wool and leather mittens and gloves, and the work boots. The wangan also carried cigarettes, cigarette tobacco, pipe tobacco, chewing tobacco and cigarette papers. The men could purchase Sportsmen fly dope in bottles and pine tar in sealed cans. It was said that pine tar mixed with lard was more resistant to flies and perspiration! Also from the wangan, the men could get a “few medicines like liniment, salts and some pain killers that were 99% alcohol.” It is still a mystery as to whether the boots that arrived in the crate (estimated c1920’s) came to a business in the area or directly to a lumber camp to add to the wangan. Did the boots have spikes or not? Stanley stated that often the boots came with a box of screw-in spikes. This crate had boots sizes 6-9, so it appears these loggers had small feet! A 1901 record mentioned in McLeod’s GNP history, indicates two pair of shoes one man ordered on his wangan account cost $2.50 and $4.50. His purchases that season came to $33.74 which would be nearly seven weeks of his pay! The “wangan” was not always a building at the camp. The term sometimes referred to a section of a space at the camp or for supplies transported by horse to a more remote area. Sometimes a wagon was used and it moved from place to place. In some parts of the United States, the wangan or supplies were on a raft on the river.

Museum open Thursday, Friday, Saturday Noon-3PM In the Museum Store! ***2022 Calendars, Everybody Loves a Parade! $14.00 each, add $5 each by mail *** Preowned yearbooks - $10.00 each. *** Matted photos, various prices – GNP mill, Little Italy, river drives, Mt. Katahdin. *** DVD’s, Little Italy Part 1 and Part 2 available at the museum ($15 each) or mail order ($15 each). ***Books: “Within Katahdin’s Realm, Log Drives and Sporting Camps” (Bill Geller) $30.00; “Logging Towboats & Boom Jumpers” (Moody) $18.00; “Tanglefoot,” (Edwards) $15.00; “The Nighthawk,” (Edwards) $15.00; “Millinocket” (D. Duplisea) $20.00; “A Little Taste of History” cookbooks - $15.00; both Laverty books, $25 history & $10 architecture; “Our Real World,” (M. Murphy) $15.00; “No Time for Moss (McKeen) $15.00 and several preowned books (out of print) by local authors. *** All items may be mailed – add $5 SH each item. *** For information, groups or appointments, contact Curator Trudy Wyman, 723-5477. *** By mail at Millinocket Historical Society, P. O. Box 11, Facebook or by email at or

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