Odds and Ends From The MUSEUM!
By Trudy Wyman, Curator, Millinocket Society Museum
Part 2 of the Pittston Farm story! The information is from two booklets on the History of Pittston Farm donated to the museum recently.
In 1913 GNP built a cannery at the farm. It was equipped with a steam boiler, two pressure cookers and other equipment used to process vegetables grown on the farm for winter use by working men. An electric light plant was installed between 1912 and 1914. It provided 200 lights and was powered by a 12-horsepower gasoline engine.
Planned recreation came to the woods in that time frame when a baseball team was formed and moving pictures were provided one or two evenings a week by the company’s Social Services Department. Some original Pittston Township buildings were demolished that same year with the raising of the Seboomook Dam.
At a time when many folks in Millinocket and area towns did not have telephone service, Pittston Farm did. In 1914, a telephone was strung on cedar poles from Pittston Farm to Rockwood and from there connected with the Moosehead Telephone and Telegraph Company. Full-time operators were employed at the farm. This system was used until the 1950’s when two-way radios came into use.
By 1921, improvements to the tote from Rockwood meant a work crew could leave Bangor in the morning and arrive at Pittston Farm by three in the afternoon. Mechanical equipment developed in the 1930’s brought about the beginning of change to how things were done at the GNP woods operations and farms.
Also located at Pittston Farm for a time was a company hospital with a 30-bed ward. It was located in the “new” boarding house. Elinor Hamilton, R.N., known as the “Wilderness Nurse” was in charge. She often had to travel to other wood’s camps so she had an assistant to do dressings and first aid at the hospital. Dr. Pritham of Greenville was the nearest doctor. He made “house calls” by early snow machines to the farm hospital.
The Pittston Farm Operation continued until the end of the river drives in the early 1970’s. Since then, the Boy Scouts used the site for a North Woods Adventure program for several years and then Pittston Farm has had a number of private owners.
The museum has a list of sources of information on the history of Pittston Farms along with several reference materials available for research at the museum. (Hempstead’s The Penobscot Boom, Ferland’s Yesterday, Today Tomorrow, and a complete set of The Northern magazines)