RANGELEY — The Rangeley Lakes Region Logging Museum inducted Robert “Bobby” Wilbur of Rangeley into the Loggers Hall of Fame on July 23.

Begun in 1985, the museum’s Loggers Hall of Fame honors people who have worked in the woods for a significant part of their lives and who have made valuable contributions to lumbering in the western Maine mountains.

“It’s one of the most important things we do,” said museum president emeritus and retired logger Rodney Richard Sr.

Wilbur joins a distinguished list of local woodsmen that includes William Coolong, Cary Keep, Stan Bartash, Raymond Vallee, Edwin Lowell, Lewis Abbott, Clem Field and Bud Field.

“I’ve been in the woods all my life, and I love it,” said Wilbur. “I can’t imagine doing anything else.”

Of his 32 years and counting with Seven Islands, he said, “It’s an interesting industry, and it’s never the same thing every day. I can be laying out a road for half a day or a few hours. The next thing, I’m running over and checking a job, I’ll have a harvesting job and then the end of the day I could be going and checking the gravel crew on the road.”

In August of 1978, just after he graduated from Rangeley High School, Russ Hughes hired Wilbur as a scaler for Seven Islands. Wilbur learned from Hughes as well as men such as Jim Turner, Phil Richard and Morris Henderson.

“They all trained me,” he said. “I worked with them for a long time, and then they gave me my own jobs.”

He laughed as he remembered his Thursday night “dates,” with his then girlfriend, now wife, Leeanna Lowell Wilbur. “Leeanna used to help me do the summaries. Instead of taking her out on Thursday nights, I’d say, ‘I got to do a summary. You want to help me?’ So she’d be running the calculator, tallying numbers I had for scaling logs, and we’d write up summaries for contractors for payment.” Wilbur still maintains his scaler’s license.

After he had worked at Seven Islands for several years, the foresters sought him out. As his interest in forestry grew, Wilbur attended the Maritime Forest Rangers School in Fredrickton, New Brunswick, from 1982 to 1984 and graduated with his Professional Foresters License.

Back with Seven Islands, the first thing he did was supervise the skidder crews. “I had 80 skidders,” he said, “and every day I would try to walk as many skidders on the job as I could, physically, with a foreman and make sure that they were doing what they were supposed to be doing.”

Wilbur has witnessed many changes during his years at Seven Islands and whether it be LURC or the state Forest Practices Act, he has kept up with the new regulations about harvesting limits, bald eagle nests and much more. Other changes have come when the ownership shifts on the land that abuts Seven Islands’ holdings: from Brown Company to Boise Cascade to James River to Mead to NewPage.

Reflecting on his years in the Maine forest so far, he said, “What’s amazing, after being in the woods as long as I have now, when you harvest an area, you think, ‘I probably won’t be here the next time somebody comes back to cut this.’ In some areas, though, I’ve had to go back, and I’m cutting wood in stands that I cut in 20 years ago. And I think, ‘Wow! These trees are really good and healthy. I’m glad I did a good job the first time.’ “

The Loggers Hall of Fame plaque with Wilbur’s name on it hangs in the museum, and the public is invited to view it during museum hours from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays through Labor Day or by appointment by calling 864-5551.


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