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Items from The Northern Magazine

Odds and Ends From The MUSEUM!

By Trudy Wyman, Curator, Millinocket Historical Society Museum

The Northern, a monthly magazine published by the Spruce Wood Department, Division of Social Services, GNP existed for a few years in the 1920’s. It was referred to as “a magazine of contact between the management and the men.” The idea came from F. A. Gilbert. These magazines offered a variety of entertaining and informative news related to the GNP company woods operations, employees and the surrounding area. Included were photos and humorous anecdotes and poems. The first issue, April of 1921 consisted of only four pages. A sampling of summaries follows…

The movie man’s arrival at the logging camps was eagerly awaited. As many camps had no electricity, the movie man would arrive with two movie machines, cans of film, Victrola and a case of records for his Victrola plus a generator. The two movie men spent time in the camps and farms. The route traveled was known as a circuit.

The usual show consisted of a news reel, a two-reel comedy and a feature movie. Most evenings, a total of nine reels were shown. Movies titled Shameful Behavior and Sporting Life were well received and “proved to be less shocking than their names would indicate.” Eight Hoot Gibson cowboy films were shown and enjoyed by all. The Victrola was used to play records for the music that accompanied the film.

Issues include general news of happenings at the farms and camps. One issue informs: 1) a Sargent snow-plow drawn by a 10-ton Holt tractor passed by Grant Farm in route to Ripogenus Dam; 2) a base camp has been set up on the Grant Farm – Five Islands line where Morrill, Stewart and LeClair will maintain the telephone lines in the district; 3) at Chesuncook, a crew has been putting up ice. It is reported that the ice is of very good quality.

Examples of social interest include 1) Miss Eva Smith stopped at Grant Farm on her return to Chesuncook Village where she teaches school; 2) from Cooper Brook, Mr. Murphy has been in Waterville for a few days having his tonsils removed and Mr. Summers had the misfortune to break a leg and is now in the hospital; 3) Mr. Schenck attended the Maine – Colby basketball game.

Towboats were important to the GNP wood gathering operations. One issue describes “The Building of a Ship” and gives in detail the construction of the West Branch No. 2 to replace the A. B. Smith. “She’s built to stand. You can’t hurt her,” said her master builder, Charles Ingalls. O. A. Harkness made the model for the boat and drew the specifications.

Humorous anecdotes are included. From tourists visiting Chesuncook and Ripogenus came these questions. After strolling across Rip Dam, a man asked “What part of Canada am I in?” Another party drove onto the wharf at Chesuncook Dam and asked Cal Gunn, “Where can I get some water for my car’s radiator?” Cal replied, “Well, some people take it from this side of the wharf and some people take it from that side. And some people do take it from the end.”

The Northern was published from April, 1921 - October, 1928. There is also an “index to authors” issue. The Museum offers a thumb drive copy of all issues for $50.

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