Climate, Trees & Ecosystems

TreeBuds.jpgLong-term weather patterns, including day and night temperatures, precipitation, air pressures, and wind direction, that effect a change in climate is part of a program called “Climate, Trees & Ecosystems,” that is taking place on Thursday, Aug. 22, at 7 p.m. in The Center for Moosehead History, 6 Lakeview St., downtown Greenville.

The program provides a fascinating account of the physiological responses of northeastern forests to long-term weather patterns and an historical overview of the data that has been collected over decades of field research.

Jay Wason, assistant professor of Forest Ecosystem Physiology at the University of Maine, will present information about climate patterns in relation to forests and ecosystems. Sean Birkel, research assistant professor at the University of Maine and Maine State Climatologist, will provide an overview of Maine’s climate, general impacts, and what may be expected in the future.

Dr. Wason joined the University of Maine School of Forest Resources faculty in 2018. Prior to that, he was a post-doctoral research associate at the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies. His research centers on the physiological responses of northeastern forests to climate conditions. He is especially interested in spruce-fir forests.

Professor Birkel’s expertise is in climate and ice sheet modeling, with research including Pleistocene glaciation, Maine historical climatology, and today’s changes in the environment.

For more information, please contact the Moosehead Historical Society & Museums, 207-695-2909.  $5 suggested admission.


Maine Soldiers at Gettysburg

2008_39_0001A Civil War Veterans

Hold at Any Hazard is the telling about Maine soldiers in the Battle of Gettysburg by Civil War aficionado Scott Settlemire.  Hold comes to The Center of Moosehead History, 6 Lakeview St., downtown Greenville on Wednesday, Aug. 7, at 7 p.m. 

Mr. Settlemire has studied the Civil War for 40 years, reading primary sources and visiting most of the major battlefields. Many Maine soldiers fought at Gettysburg at critical times and places. On Wednesday, he takes the words of these Maine men from diaries, letters, and unit histories to describe their experiences in what became a major turning point in American military history. Maps and photographs help put the intimate stories of these Maine men into context.

Scott Settlemire is a chemical engineer. He grew up in Maine and began his career at the Rumford paper mill. He is married to Candace Ayer, daughter of Nancy Ayer of Rockwood. The Settlemires currently live in Ohio and often return to Moosehead Lake. 


FRIDAY, JULY 26, 2019

3:30 PM

Center for Moosehead History
6 Lakeview Street, Greenville

The Men Behind Early Timbering, 1836 Moosehead steamboat

Rare facts of early logging speculation and the making of the first steamboat on Moosehead Lake

Wednesday, July 3, at 6 pm
Shaw Public Library

Marilyn Sterling-Gondek

THE JUNCTION — There’s plenty of intrigue, including a mysterious disappearance and suspicion of murder, in the rare details unveiled in “The Men Behind the 1836 Moosehead.”

The little known facts behind the early logging ventures and first steamboat on Moosehead Lake is revealed by first-rate researcher and historian Marilyn Sterling-Gondek at Shaw Public Library, Wednesday, July 3, at 6:00 p.m. $3 suggested donation for the program.

As Gondek tells it, the steamship Moosehead was put into service in 1836 by a group of men that includes Moses Burnham and Samuel Fitzgerald. It was for them that the two ponds near Squaw Mountain (now Big Moose) were named. Burnham and Fitzgerald also founded The Moosehead Lake Steam Navigation Company, an important early business venture for logging on the lake.

Some of the men who pioneered the first efforts at large-scale logging in the Moosehead Lake Region are tied to The Forks, where logs were sluiced from the East Outlet down to the junction of the Dead and Kennebec rivers. Their stories are woven into the history of the great timber speculation of William Bingham’s Kennebec Purchase, the Moosehead Dam Company, and the Kennebec Log Driving Company. Gondek ties the efforts of these early timber speculators together on July 3, with as yet unseen images & maps.

Gondek is an historian from the Old Canada Road Historical Society in Bingham. Her specialty is primary source research. She holds degrees from Bowdoin and Harvard.

McEachern trucks, Atlas Plywood tractor moved Coburn Steamboat building to make American Legion’s permanent home

The Cecil R. Cole Post #94 American Legion on Pritham Avenue is the very same building that used to be the offices of the Coburn Steamboat Company in Greenville Junction. During the early boom years before roads were built, the Coburn offices at the Junction were used to conduct the business of transporting freight and passengers north from Greenville to Rockwood and Mt. Kineo. When the road between Greenville and Rockwood was completed in the mid-1930s, business subsided on the wharf. By 1944, the Coburn building was closed.

2010_34_0004 Am.Legion building being moved

The Coburn Steam Co. office was moved across the ice on Moosehead Lake from Greenville Jct. Wharf to Pritnam Ave.                             2010.34.0004                                    

For the sum of one dollar, historical records indicate that in 1947 the Coburn building was given to the American Legion by Louis Oakes, who rose to become a great benefactor of the Town of Greenville from his early days as a surveyor with the Hollingsworth & Whitney Company. Mr. Oakes had the brick school built and gave it to the Town of Greenville; it opened in 1935 and remains in operation today.

In the winter of 1947, Dominic Murray and Gerald Peachey supervised a crew of six men to maneuver the Coburn building from the Junction onto its lot on West Street, now known as Pritham Ave.

Four trucks owned by C.W. McEachern and a tractor owned by Atlas Plywood were used to move the building across the ice on Moosehead Lake to its permanent home.
2010_34_0006 Am. Legion building on ice

A bulldozer pushes while trucks pull the Coburn building across Moosehead Lake          2010.34.0006

The building, constructed of concrete, measuring 22 feet by 67 feet and weighing 70 tons, was hauled 900 feet up a 30-foot grade by three tractors. The land on West Street was offered by the Rev. Robert Mayhew, long-time pastor of the Union Evangelical Church in Greenville and founder of the Log Chapel in Rockwood. It wasn’t until the mid-1950s that the American Legion building was set on a cellar foundation. Over the years, many renovations to the building were made from the financial contributions of the Legion Auxiliary. The final payment on a mortgage was made August 2, 1960. Today, the Cecil R. Cole Post #94 continues to be an active part of the area’s communities.

Ski Squaw!

Mountain holds popularity, economic hope
as it nears its sixth decade of operation


Squaw Mountain Ski Resort, nestled on what is now called Big Moose Mountain in the unorganized territory near Greenville, has held its own, sometimes precariously, as it nears its sixth decade in operation.

It began with a belief by Louis Oakes in the great recreational possibilities of the Moosehead Lake region. Oakes, an early forestland surveyor for the Hollingsworth & Whitney Company, became a tremendous benefactor of the Town of Greenville. He built the school, town sidewalks, and gave the American Legion its first permanent home.

2009_49_0001  Squaw Mtn. Ski Patrol

The 1970 Squaw Mountain Ski Patrol. Front row: Lou Champagne, Barnie Thomson, Dick Perry, Moe Lorisky, Sandy McFarland. 2nd row: Charlie King, unknown, Patty McFarland. 3rd row: Dick Rulin, Dave Bouchard.

Mr. Oakes, and his grandson, Louis Oakes Hilton, became intimately associated with the start-up business of the ski mountain. Louis Oakes owned the land surrounding Mountain View Pond (Fitzgerald Pond). Of the land encompassing the potential ski area, 100 acres were leased from him in the early 1960s for an initial 10-year period, with an option to renew it for five years at an annual fee of $500. The lease provided that, if Mr. Oakes owned or Louis Hilton inherited the land before the lease expired, it would be sold to the Squaw Mountain Corporation, founded with the idea of building a ski resort. The sale price would be determined by the number of acres purchased, and figured at the price of wild land, before the ski area was built. Thus began the building of a ski area that today continues to hold its popularity and economic hope for an area increasingly turning to outdoor recreation to maintain its vitality.

2002_19_0202 Downhill ski race - Ralph Ryder far left

Kids gather for the 1949 Penquis Winter Sports meet. Greenville’s Ralph Ryder is on far left.                  2002.19.0202

In the winter of 1963, Squaw Mountain skiing opened with two T-bars, a base building, and 32-acres of trails. In 1969, four major landowners, including Great Northern Paper Co., Scott Paper Co., J.M. Huber Corp., and the Louis Oakes Estate, formed a corporation to build a new complex. The complex would be operated by the Squaw Mountain Corp., a group of local businessmen with a vision of seeing it run as a family friendly, affordable ski resort to benefit the entire region. Scott Paper Company eventually became the sole owner. By 1974 Scott asked the State of Maine to take it over, and it did, but by 1980 the state also decided to sell. The state leased the premises to Greenville businessman Duane Lander, who had been associated with Squaw operations from the beginning.

“We dreamt of this day. For us, this was more than a dedication –
it was a milestone in the life of our people in the Moosehead region.”
Louis O. Hilton, 1963

The ski mountain developed, with 100 acres for trails and the addition of a 3,000 foot triple chairlift, 6,000 foot double lift, 2,000 foot T-Bar, and 800 foot pony lift. Squaw offered cross-country skiing, 17 trails, and a 61-unit hotel with an indoor pool, two tennis courts, game rooms, restaurant and conference center.

Throughout time, the ski resort faltered financially but was ever popular with the public, with skiers coming from all over central Maine and parts of Canada to “Ski Squaw!” It was considered to offer one of the most beautiful vistas in Maine.  

2013_0086 Squaw Mtn lodge

The lower lodge, in about 1966

The International Sea- plane Fly-In used to hold its annual banquet there. After several successive financial tumbles and changes in management, including a bankruptcy, in 1995 James Confalone purchased the lease, then the ski area. Mr. Confalone and his investors began a broad renovation of the main lodge, which included a new gym, atrium with heated pool, floor to ceiling large stone fireplace, granite check-in counter, and upgraded hotel rooms. But he, too, ran into financial complications, renovations stopped, and the hotel closed. Despite financial pains, an abiding loyalty continues to the mountain, and its hope for bringing economic vitality to the area.

2009_53_0008 panorama view Squaw

Skiing the view from the Penobscot Trail                              2009.53.0008

In order to keep ski operations running, in 2012 a group of local residents got together and formed the non-profit corporation “Friends of Squaw,” which has been operating the lower ski trails, ski rentals, and restaurant since. In addition, the non-profit Red Eagle Foundation (named after famed Greenville Native American “Chief Henry Red Eagle,” Henry Perley), was incorporated. While Confalone continues to own the mountain and the resort remains closed, both non-profits are committed to the mountain and ran a successful 2019 winter of skiing.

Friends of Squaw is keeping the lower mountain active during winters, with a popular restaurant run by local chef Gary Dethlefsen and a base chalet, both renovated through the efforts of Friends. Rates are some of the best in the state, and the views remain outstanding. Lift tickets for adults ran $35 this season and Squaw remains a popular destination in the greater Bangor area for family skiing.

Today the Red Eagle Foundation continues to run a successful ski program for kids. In addition, retired forester and Greenville resident Rocky Rockwell continues coaching the Greenville High School Ski Team. This year GHS student Jessica Cobb skied to a 14th place state finish for Slalom racing.

Jessica Cobb skiing

GHS Ski Team standout Jessica Cobb, winter 2019                          Photo courtesy of Jonathan Pratt, Moosehead Matters

The deep snow and cold weather of the 2019 winter season kept skiers and snowboarders at Squaw cool and happy customers.

“Maine’s future Number One industry will be tourism. Squaw Mountain
and the Moose- head Lake Region look forward to being the leader
in this field in the state of Maine.”                       
Duane Lander, 1988