Centrally located between the headwaters of both the Androscoggin and Kennebec Rivers, Rangeley has long been one of Maine’s logging centers. Native Americans used the forest of spruce, balsam fir, beech, birch, and poplar for their homes, canoes, foods, and medicines.
Timber rights attracted the first white settlers to the area in 1794, and 1833 saw the beginning of the first woods industry shingle mill. Several decades later, booms of logs and, later, pulp were towed across Rangeley’s lakes and driven down her rivers.
Rangeley’s forests were home to some of the last stands of virgin spruce. This rich heritage, combined with active logging operations, makes Rangeley an ideal location for a museum dedicated to western Maine’s timber heritage.
In 1968, logger Rodney Richard watched as a Brown Paper Company foreman was about to push an old snubbing machine over a bank. “If you’re going to do that,” Rodney called out, “I’ll take it home.” He did and his dream of a logging museum began to take shape.
In 1979, Rodney, with a group of six loggers, homemakers, and area residents, founded the Rangeley Lakes Region Logging Museum, intent on collecting materials and raising money for land and buildings.
The Museum is open Wednesday through Sunday, 10-4, and by appointment. Our collection now consists of hundreds of artifacts from regional logging operations, including two snubbing machines, sleds, crosscut and chain saws, the White Brothers’ forerunner of the skidder, and one of the last of the bateau used on the Dead River drives. Our exhibits on traditional art by western Maine lumbermen include the fan towers of William Richard, the model drag drays and logging sleds of Carl Trafton, and the chain saw carvings of Rodney Richard and Rodney Richard Junior. And, we also own the nineteen oil paintings of Alden Grant, grandson of the founder of Grants’ Kennebago Camps that document life in the region’s lumber camps from 1915 to 1928.
In 1994, we published Logging in the Maine Woods: The Paintings of Alden Grant, an 80-page book with essays about Grant and life in the timberwoods, illustrated with a color photograph of each painting.
Every year on the last Friday and Saturday in July, we sponsor the Logging Festival Days in Rangeley to celebrate the region’s timber heritage. Activities include a Friday afternoon burying of the beans, logging camp style; a Friday evening program of music, entertainment, and a Loggers’ Hall of Fame; and a Saturday morning parade of floats, bands, and logging equipment. Saturday afternoon is filled with more music, artists & crafters, a woodsmen’s competition with chain sawing, pulp piling, axe throwing, and more, and the best beanhole bean noon meal in the northeast. Throughout the weekend, the Museum and its exhibits are open to the public.
Rangeley Logging Museum’s timeline history
1968 – Rodney Richard, Sr. collects first major piece of equipment for RLRLM. A Brown Paper Company foreman was about to push an old snubbing machine over the bank. “If you’re going to do that,” Rodney said, “I’ll take it home with me.” And he did.
Early 1970s – Rodney talks to Rangeley individuals & organizations about creating a logging museum. In Fall 1975, he and Peggy Yocom of the Smithsonian speak with Historical Society.
1979 – Incorporation of the Rangeley Lakes Region Logging Museum, a non-profit organization. Board of Directors: Robert Beal, Edwina Green, Lawrence Haines, Barbara Jones, Elliot Raymond, John Richard, and Rodney Richard, Sr.
July 1980 – Demonstration by Woodsmen’s Team of the University of Maine, Orono, on Rodney and Lucille Richard’s front lawn, Main Street, Rangeley.
14 August 1981 – 1st Festival. Logging Museum Field Day, Hinkley Field. Demonstrations on care and handling equipment such as chain saws. Chainsaw carving by Rodney Richard. Instructions on filing saws for “weekend wood cutters.” Loggers competition, childrens’ games. 10 am to 5 pm.
31 July 1982 – 2nd Festival. Beanhole beans served at the Festival by Irving White, Wayne and Emmie White of Carthage. Tiger White, Irving’s brother from Carthage, bakes the reflector-oven biscuits.
30 July 1983 – 3rd Festival. Museum Field Day at Hinkley Field. First parade chaired by Lucille Richard and Edwina Green.
27, 28 July 1984 – 4th Festival. First two-day event. Logging Museum Field Days. Burying of the Beans,
26, 27 July 1985 – 5th Festival. First Friday night program: First Loggers Hall of Fame. Arundel Country Cloggers perform in parade.
June 1986 – Museum buys an 18-acre site in Dallas Plantation from Georgia Pacific Corporation that helped make the purchase possible by deeding the property on favorable items. Land used to be a gravel pit.
July 1986; 25 & 26th – 6th Festival; Logging Museum Festival in honor of Paul Higgins. Sandy River Ramblers perform at Rangeley Inn, funding in part from Maine Arts Commission.
Summer of 1986 – Rodney Richard begins removing the harvestable and dead timber from museum property. Completed in Fall 1987.
24, 25 July 1987 – 7th Logging Festival. Arundel Country Cloggers, Peggy Yocom.
14 August 1987 – Museum granted not-for-profit status by IRS. Carl Lewin & Robert Beal submitted paperwork on 17th of June 1986.
27 August 1987 – Carl Lewin draws up final plans for the Museum site and building. LURC approves plans on 4 January 1987.
15 February 1988 – Capital Donations begun: $5000 and above-Lumber King; $1000-Walking Boss; $500-
Cruiser/Head Chopper/Scaler/River Drive (choose 1 title); Others Bull Cook/Cookee/Striker/Road Monkey
Spring 1988 – M&H completes all site heavy grading. D.C. Morton provides equipment for the finish grading. H&W Ferguson excavates basement & foundation. Seven Islands, Stratton Lumber & White Mountain Lumber provide building materials. CMP erects pole for temporary electric power. All are donations.
29, 30 July 1988 – 8th Festival; First festival at Museum site. Lawrence Haines builds biscuit shed. Rodney C. Richard inducted into 4th Loggers Hall of Fame. Demonstration of a slasher.
9 August 1988 – Annual Meeting. Video of the Morton Brothers-1950’s logging operations shown.
Fall 1988 – volunteers create another half acre for extra Festival space.
Spring 1989 – Foundation and basement constructed. First floor framing and decking installed. Georgia Pacific provides gravel. Volunteers construct small pavilion to shelter Festival diners. Robbins Lumber Company donated first floor decking lumber. Harlan Doak installed furnace.
April 1990 – Volunteers erect framing for 2nd floor. Work continues throughout summer to enclose the building.
July 1990 – 10th festival. Portable band saw mill demo by Lathrop Mfgrs of Shushan, NY. Grants from ME Arts Commission & Expansion Arts of ME Community Foundation. Arundel Country Cloggers, Ben Guillemette Ensemble, Sandy River Ramblers, Orono Brass Quintet.
Fall 1990 -Museum employs G&H Haley to build rafters, install roof and 6 skylights to Museum building. After a decade of dreams and hard work, the Museum’s main building stands.
26, 27 July 1991 -11th Festival. Alden Grant exhibits his 19 paintings of logging in the Kennebago area. Maine Army National Guard Band, ME Attraction Cloggers; Old Crow Indian Band; Mount Blue Ramblers.
Winter 1991 – Fundraiser dinner for the Rangeley Shriners. Dave Tarby’s crew installed 2nd floor stairs. Shelton & Jean Noyes donate office desk, chairs, computer, large safe – moved by George Washington.
Spring 1992 -Work on the building siding begins. Russell Hughes arranged lumber & primer donation from Seven Islands and White Mountain Lumber.
1992 -Museum purchases Alden Grant paintings by grant and interest free loan from the Charles Shipman & Joan Whitney Payson Charitable Foundation. Franklin Savings Bank & Kingfield Savings Bank assists.
24, 25 July 1992 – 12th Festival. Maine Attraction Cloggers, Mount Blue Ramblers, Alden Grant. M&H demonstrates new Rottne forwarder.
1993 – 1995 – Museum receives 3 grants from Maine Council on the Arts & Rural Arts Fund.
July 1993 – 13th Festival. Andre and Adrian Brochu inducted into Logger’s Hall of Fame.
October 1993 -First Apple Festival.
June 1994 -Electricity comes to the Museum building, cooksheds.
29, 30 July 1994 -14th Festival. Museum publishes Logging in the Maine Woods: The Paintings of Alden Grant by Peggy Yocom, Steve Richard. ME Arts Commission grant.
Fall 1994 -Frank Hutchinson of Carthage donates “Muscles-3” – forerunner of skidder; Tiger White, Wayne White and others work to bring Muscles-3 to working condition.
July 1995 -Museum flooring finished on main & upper floors, stairways, railings installed, office finished,main floor wiring installed. Work done by A-One Builders, G&L Haley and Bob Freihoff-Lewin
28, 29 July 1995 – 15th Festival. Museum dedicates new sign to Lawrence Haines, Museum charter member who passed away 1 March 1995. Demos & exhibits of Lombard Log Hauler by the Crookers of Brunswick; Brochu – crusher; Tiger White with Muscles and M&H with Rottne forwarder. Dr. and Mrs. Donald Bowen donate his journal about his years (1941-42) as doctor for the Brown Company Magalloway lumber camps.
26, 27 July 1996 -16th Festival. Museum dedicates display case to William Richard, woodsman and fan-tower carver. Museum purchases model logging sleds of Carl Trafton.
July 1997 – Water comes to Museum building.
25, 26 July 1997 -17th Festival. John & Jackie Tyler donate half-scale model wagon sled. Museum exhibits Richardson Lake logging photographs donated by Allan Fraser.
24, 25 July 1998 -18th Festival. Museum exhibits photographs on “Muscles,” the forerunner of the skidder, invented by Elijah “Tiger” White.
July 1999 – 19th Festival. Opening of “Working the Woods” new exhibit by Peggy Yocom & Kathleen Mundell.
28, 29 July 2000 – 20th Anniversary Festival. New Exhibit of 1940’s logging photographs by Hazen and Ben Morton.
Summer 2000 – Pole barn construction begins. Mark Beauregard, Rodney Miller & CMP donate. Bathroom completed by Ron Haines, Craig Raymond, Leah Morton, Rangeley Builders & Perkins Plumbing. 10-panel version of “Working the Woods” becomes permanent exhibit. Rodney Richard, Richard Hill, Becky Haley Hill paint exterior walls. George Slinn & Homer Everhard trim outside corners of museum.
21 July 2001 – Knit & Crochet Show/Sale by Lucille Richard, Klara Haines, Margaret Yezil with ECW knits.
27, 28 July 2001 – 21st Festival. Mark Beauregard donates trailing log arch. Last bean hole dinner by Emmie & Wayne White – their 20th year.
Summer 2001 – First Presbyterian Youth Group, Ft. Lauderdale, FL on Rangeley mission paint outside of museum.
October 6, 2001 – Apple Festival.
20 July 2002 – Knit & Craft Show and Sale.
26, 27 July 2002 – 22nd Festival. Ralph Odom exhibits his wooden toys.
Summer 2003 – Becky Martineau donation of Toothaker letters
15 November 2006 – Board pays tribute to Lucille Richard who passed away.
Summer 2007 – Lucille Richard Pavilion built by volunteers to keep picnic tables dry; Ron Haines planned it.
2009 Season – Velma & Wayne Lessard landscaped museum building; planted grass & flowers around the Museum’s sign. Ron & Klara Haines created more space for museum displays, painted & framed outside doors.
2010 – Fundraiser for purchasing new metal roof; Gil Bolduc & crew installed for free.
2011 Season – Continue work on the GPS trail with Northern Forest Canoe Trail (NFCT) crew. Lifting, turning & restoring of the “Hinckley” building. New cedar fencing installed.
2012 Season – 32nd Festival. Sculptor; David Barten of Conway, MA donates 2 tool sculptures & 3 dioramas of Rangeley life. Rangeley School students compete in Art contest. Tuesday work crew blazed trails on museum grounds, built “911 Memorial Bridge” over Gull Pond Stream, painted museum’s exterior building, dray display at entrance, newly installed matching roofs on all structures by Gary Langille. Stage donation from Kevin Vining. State flag donated by Tom Saviello. Rangeley Lakes Building Supply donated 2 screen doors. NFCT continue to volunteer and work on trails.
2013 Season – 33rd Logging Festival. Muscles #3 on display by Lance White. Rangeley School students compete in Art Contest. Tuesday work crew repaired pole building damaged by microburst. New festival red pine seating donated and delivered by Nichols Brothers Logging of Rumford. Fallen pine from microburst came from Dick & Barbara Wigton’s property.
2014 Season – RLRLM President Ken Astor donates $10,000 to kick-off the museum’s building repair/renovation. New, full width, covered front porch added onto existing museum with new ADA covered ramp, built by Museum’s volunteer work crew men. Hancock Lumber, Stratton Lumber, Pleasant River Lumber, Mike Brochu Technopost, Lee Libby, Rangeley Lakes Building Supply and other businesses donate material to porch and log siding project as well as insulation for second floor to peak of roof. Rotted sill and insect damage replaced and repaired on building front; new log siding installed on front and one-side. David Barten of Conway, MA donates 3 permanent diorama exhibits to Museum. The Shelton C. Noyes family donates a large collection of local historical papers and photos, “Chief Broken Arrow” (tall, full-size carving), and bank chairs originally used at the Rangeley Heritage Trust Company. Maine Made Furniture donates lumber, collaborates with Forrest Bonney, fine wood craftsman to build live-edge table tops for the “library” section of Museum. Seacoast Security System donates entire security, intrusion, fire, heat sensor, motion detector system that includes no monthly charges. M & H Construction and Terry Morgan donate time to install a side road entrance for large logging machinery to enter museum fairgrounds. Ron Ray of Cupsuptic Welding develops and constructs “logging” barrel train for children and parade. Sikkens donates exterior log finishing materials. Many more individuals and businesses donate time, effort, consultation, labor and use of materials for site work and main building.