RANGELEY — Long before the Old West produced its legendary cowboys, Maine had strong, independent, hardworking men and women who made a living in the forests without electricity, chain saws, skidders or hot showers.

The Rangeley Lakes Region Logging Museum’s mission is to keep those stories alive through journals, pictures and other artifacts. Collecting and caring for this rapidly disappearing legacy requires a continuous financial commitment, and museum volunteers hope to generate much of its funding through the upcoming annual summer auction.

This year’s event starts at 10 a.m. Saturday, July 7, at the museum, just north of Rangeley on Route 16. Bidders may preview items from 9 a.m. until the auction starts.

“This history is going to fade away if we don’t work to preserve it,” docent Carol Sullivan said. “There are so many great stories to share with future generations who don’t know the history of how people lived and worked here. It’s so very different than how we live today.”

Baby boomers have shown a renewed interest in their ancestors who lived and worked in the woods of Maine, she said.

“We had a visitor here recently who moved from out of state back to Madrid after he retired,” Sullivan said. “He was amazed at our photo collection, because there were so many of his “kin” in them.”

Rangeley was one of Maine’s most productive logging centers, due to its location between the headwaters of the Androscoggin and Kennebec rivers. Logging companies needed dependable access to get timber from Western Maine to the coast and onto ships.

Maine wood built the country’s ships, railroads, homes, businesses, and telegraph and telephone poles.

Merchant and individual donations provide support for the annual auction, Sullivan said.

“We have gift certificates galore, rounds of golf, ski passes, vacation rentals, hotel/motel stays, furniture, dishes, paintings and many unique crafts,” she said. “Take home a pie, some fudge or a loaf of freshly-baked banana bread from the kitchens of some of the best cooks in the state.”

The museum is at 221 Stratton Road (Route 16). Sullivan said the museum will be accepting donations for the auction until 5 p.m. Friday. Donors can call 864-3939 for more information.

The museum will also host the annual Knit, Crochet and Craft Sale from 9 a.m. to 3 p. m. Saturday, July 14.

The biggest event will be the 32nd annual Logging Festival and Parade on Friday, July 27, and Saturday, July 28.

For the complete schedule for this event and more information, visit rlrlm.org. The museum is open from 11 a. m. to 5 p. m., Wednesday through Sunday until Labor Day.

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