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Getting Around in Early Millinocket

Odds and Ends From The MUSEUM!

By Trudy Wyman, Curator, Millinocket Historical Society Museum

           

Early Millinocket citizens had few choices for getting around Millinocket, but luckily the growing town was confined to a fairly small area. A person’s own two feet got them from point A to point B. The railroad brought people to the growing community, but in the early days, no automobiles. Museum photos show some men (wearing suits and ties) on horseback. Others show well-dressed men and ladies in fashionable dresses strolling along dirt-covered Penobscot Avenue visiting the few new businesses.

Horse-drawn carts moved building materials around the growing community. In the winter, the cart wheels were replaced by sled runners. Horses pulled grocery and milk wagons, ice carts and carts delivering coal. In the early days, many of the mill workers rode bicycles to work during the snow-free months.

There were livery stables where horses and vehicles (horse-drawn) were kept for hire and where stabling was provided for other people’s horses. One was on Penobscot Avenue across from the park.  They were essentially a barn with a peaked roof. Hay would be stored in the loft above where the horses and wagons/carts were kept. Joseph McEwen owned a livery and stable (location unknown). His ad said, “look for the big steel gray team at the depot.” He also rented hacks (taxis) for weddings and funerals. Powers Livery Stable on Central Street advertised “all kinds of livery work promptly attended to.” Signs on his carriages at the railroad station advertised the Great Northern Hotel. Photos show several awaiting passengers at the train station.

If you had your own horse and wagon to get around town, A. Davis was a blacksmith and also built wagons to order. A. H. Russell’s ad proclaimed "prompt passenger service to and from all trains.”  H. W. Howard did horse shoeing and general jobbing as well as carriage repair.

The Laverty book states the “first automobile was seen in Millinocket in 1902. People drove from Massachusetts to visit the Powers family.” The local paper stated, “Mrs. Powers claims the honor of being the first lady in Millinocket that had the honor to ride in the horseless machine.” Dr. Bryant claimed to be the first in town to own an automobile (a Reo, arrived by train). These early noisy vehicles were known to cause scares to the local horses and runaways were common. However, the livery stable operators received more business as more and more autos arrived due to the break downs. Their horses were in demand to tow the broken-down horseless carriages back to the owner’s homes.

By the 1920’s, the automobile was taking over and the livery stables became more blacksmith shops/garages. The trains were still the major way of traveling out of town for years as roads were practically non-existent. In the beginning, the only roads out of Millinocket were the tote road leading to Medway and the Sourdnahunk tote road leading to lumber operations on the West Branch. By 1916, GNP built Rip Dam and a “road” was extended from Greenville. It wasn’t until the 1940’s that the “green bridge” was constructed and the road (Rte.11) made it possible for automobiles to travel to Brownville and points south.



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