The Dana W. Brown Collection
Odds and Ends From The MUSEUM!
By Trudy Wyman, Curator, Millinocket Historical Society Museum
Walking into the Logging/River Drive room at the museum, the visitor gets a view of a large display of axes, saws, log stamps, bark spuds and more. The majority of tools displayed are from the collection donated in 2014 by Dana W. Brown of Millinocket. That spring, volunteers moved the tools from Dana’s cellar “museum” to the new MHS site on Central Street.
Dana had been visiting the “old” museum in the town’s municipal building where he loved to sit and talk about the time he had spent in his early years at the Ambejejus boom house working and exploring the area. He talked about the booms and the “headworks” that were used to close the booms. They were a log raft with a windlass or capstan (similar to those on sailing ships). The headworks were operated ahead of the boom of logs being moved across a lake. A small handmade model of a headworks made by Dana is displayed in the logging room.
Dana Brown spent most of his life in Millinocket, graduating from Stearns HS in 1940. He attended the University of Maine then was employed for GNP’s Woodlands Dept. where he worked on the conveyer that peeled hemlock at Quakish Lake. He soon left, went West looking for different opportunities and ended up in Arizona where he met his wife. His interest in Native American artifacts increased at that time. He went on to amass a collection of local artifacts and a few items from other area of the U.S. These may be seen at the museum. He was always willing to tell the story of finding each one. On display with the artifacts is a photo of teenage Dana and his buddy Don Helstrom, Sr. at a camp near Millinocket on one of their artifact expeditions.
Because the Ambejejus job was seasonal, Dana took a job at the local Post Office where he worked for about 30 years until retirement. That was when his own personal museum in his cellar began to take shape. In addition to his personal finds at camp, in his travels in the woods around Millinocket and the lakes, he and wife Jane went to yard sales and explored old barns searching for treasures to add to his collection. The result was a museum in his cellar that rival that of any collector. He loved to show it off and explain where everything came from, its use and more.
That collection (tools and Native American artifacts) may be seen at the MHS museum. We are privileged to have the collection and to have known Dana. Near the end of his life, he liked to visit the museum and tell more stories of where each item was found and how it was used!