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Discovering Local History: The Ambajejus Lake Boom House

Discovering Local History:  The Ambajejus Lake Boom House

Daniel Soucier, MA Student

Ambajejus Lake Boom House

Ambajejus Lake is located approximately ten miles from Millinocket, Maine.  Nestled at the head of the lake, accessible by boat in the summer and snowmobile in the winter, is the Ambajejus Boom House.  Originally constructed in 1835, the boom house was a functional part of the log drives and paper mills in the region until 1971.  The pictured building was built in 1907 and, interestingly, is the only remaining structure which remains of the West Branch of the Penobscot River log drives.

This location would be great for historians of Maine interested in labor, environmental, technological, and cultural histories.  Located inside is primary and secondary source information including logging artifacts, cultural artifacts, as well as written and printed documents.   One of the most interesting pieces of evidence was the Great Northern Paper Company’s labor schedule for the 1917 – 1918 season.  Inspection of this document revealed that the average laborer made approximately $1.65 per day.  Skilled positions such as the lead saw filer and lead blacksmith made $2.50 per day.  The most well-paid position in the camp was to the lead cook who received $2.75 per day, 1 2/3 the pay of those performing manual labor.

‘Big Mike the cook’s chair’

The cook, as provider for the whole camp, was clearly the man who ruled the roost.  When eating or lounging in the house the men sat on small wooden chairs or squeezed onto benches.  The cook, however, had his own special chair.  Looking almost like a throne, squeezed between two benches in the image above, ‘Big Mike the cook’s chair’ was very large and carefully crafted out of Dri-Ki –wood washed ashore.  It was padded with canvas and had a high back support.  Unmistakably the best seat in the house.

Many other discoveries lie in wait for the curious explorer of this secluded museum.  Those interested can feel free to contact me via email at daniel.soucier@umit.maine.edu.  The information in this post came from information posted on site at the boom house.  The pictures were used with the permission of Timeless Treasures Studio.

Daniel Soucier, “Discovering Local History:  The Ambajejus Lake Boom House,” Khronikos: the University of Maine graduate history student blog (blog), November 7, 2012, https://khronikosum.wordpress.com/2012/11/07/discovering-local-history-the-ambajejus-lake-boom-house/.

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