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Leon G. White, A Trip to the Camps

Odds and Ends From The MUSEUM!

By Trudy Wyman, Curator, Millinocket Historical Society Museum

Following is a transcribed version of a handwritten report by Leon G. White, GNP Bangor office employee in1919, after a trip into GNP woods camps. It was recently donated to the museum by family members. A few sentences omitted here for space.

“One June day in 1919, while on temporary assignment with Woodlands Purchasing Department, following my discharge from World War I, F. A. Gilbert, Woodlands Manager, GNP Co. called me into his office and advised me there were rumors around that certain perishable supplies stored in various storehouses beyond Ripogenus Dam, the previous spring, were spoiling. He furnished me a list of the Storehouses and stated he wanted me to visit each and report to him conditions as I found them, He also furnished me a “credential letter.” The Storehouses to be visited to be visited were Moose Pond, Jim Henderson Caretaker, Cuxabexis, Geo. Cassidy, Caretaker, Soper Brook, John E. Mew Caretaker, Sourdnahunk Lake, Ed. Sweeney Caretaker, and Foster Field, Ben Lapham, Caretaker.

The following day I went to Greenville on the B & A train, to Lily Bay on the steamboat Coburn, to Chesuncook Dam by GNP jitney, and to Moose Pond (on Chesuncook Lake via boat). What a beautiful trip it was as it afforded me an opportunity to observe roads and buildings on the East side of the Lake, but best of all I would see R Dam before my trip was complete. I had been to Pittston Farm in 1915 with Mr. Gilbert, so had some idea of roads, buildings and living conditions in that area.

At Chesuncook Dam I met Alex Gunn who was to transport me to Moose Pond, some 15 miles up Chesuncook Lake on the East side. “Roaring” James Henderson was caretaker at Moose Pond. It was late when I arrived so nothing was accomplished that day. Jim informed me his real profession was Teamster – “4 horse”, and he was only filling in at Moose Pond. He entertained me with “tall stories” of his past, and was eager for news from the “Big City.” The next morning we looked through the Storehouse, then he pointed out the tote road to Cuxabexis Depot Camp some 8 miles distant.

I arrived at the Depot Camp near noon and was greeted by Geo. Cassidy, a Blacksmith by trade, and a good one. He was also a very good cook, and shed his “blacksmith” apron for a “checkered” one he used in the kitchen. In the afternoon we went through the Storehouse, item by item, visited the hay shed, and the oat bins. Geo. suggested I stay with him that night as it was about 12 miles to Soper Brook.

The next morning George got me a nice breakfast and put me on the tote road to Soper Brook. The day was clear, but hot, and I drank a lot of water enroute. I recall the moose flies were very thick, and hungry too. Every once in a while I would break into a run for a 100 yds. or so, but the minute I was down to a walk the flies were at me again. I arrived at S B Depot camp near noon, and found Al Edgerly having his lunch. He was to take over the Operation and was doing a bit of cruising, having let the caretaker go “down river” for a few days. He was eating “sandwiches of bread and uncooked salt pork,” right out of the barrel. He asked me to join him, which I gladly accepted, but my sandwich was bread and oleo – no salt raw pork for me. We talked & I asked him to show me the road to Sourdnahunk Brook Storehouse, he stated it was about 10 miles.

Before I arrived at my destination, I became very ill, so much so I entered a set of logging camps on Sourd. Stream and as my clothes were wet, I took them off and hung them up to dry. I found an old mattress & put it on the table, intending to rest an hour, but shortly changed my mind and decided it would be better to proceed. Near 5 PM I arrived at Sourdnahunk Lake Storehouse where Sweeney was Caretaker. After relating my experience, he escorted me to his office & mixed me “some kind of concoction” which I drank. I ate nothing that night and very little the next morning, but was able to resume my journey after looking over the items in storage there.

My next stop was Foster Field Storehouse, some 12 miles distance. Ben Lapham was caretaker there. He was a pretty fair cook. I stayed that night, and the following morning came back to Soper Brook Depot where I lunched again with Mr. Edgerly, and in the afternoon went to Rip Dam where I stayed overnight, returning to Bangor the following day. Estimated mileage walked 60 miles.” Leon G. White

Leon G. White (left) & O.A. Harkness atop Katahdin

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