Old and new logging equipment, big trucks, musicians, Masons on motorcycles, and antique cars cruised by cheering crowds, as the Western Maine town paid tribute to the woodsmen and women who made the town a hub of the state’s logging industry for a century.

Elijah “Tiger” White’s Muscle No. 3, one of the earliest known straight-frame skidders, rumbled along, towed the float for Lumberjack Hall of Fame inductees over the last five years.

After the parade, the festival, sponsored by the Rangeley Lakes Region Logging Museum, kicked into high gear on the museum grounds.

Beans had cooked overnight in a hole and were served up to the crowds. Burying beans and using open-fired reflector ovens to bake biscuits was common during the early days in the logging camps throughout the western Maine mountains.

Many visitors stopped to greet the Logging Museum’s ambassador, Rodney Richard. Nicknamed the Mad Whittler, the retired logger and carver is one of the founders of the nonprofit group dedicated to preserving antique logging equipment, photos, stories and artifacts related to the industry.

“We had great feedback from folks as they were leaving,” organizer and museum docent Carol Sullivan said. “The new entertainment segment with Timber Tina and her crew from the Great Maine Lumberjack Show was a hit by all accounts.”

Sullivan said volunteers did a head count and took some demographic notes at the front gate indicating that the 2012 show was the best ever and the crowd was the largest ever.

“When I take into account that they didn’t mark down every single entry, we can assume that we had close to 750 attendees,” she said. “Over 400 hot dogs sold, and the beans were sold out before 2 p.m., so we’re going to need more bean holes next year.”

Rangeley resident Wendell Steward was inducted into the Logger’s Hall of Fame on Friday. Born in 1929, Steward started working in the woods with his father at age 9, cutting white birch on their Long Pond farm and selling it to the Brackley Wood Turning Mill in Strong.

“I guess kids can’t do that kind of work today,” he chuckled. “But that’s what we did back then.”

He worked on the Dead River log drives for 15 years and for Otis Oakes, Kempton Lumber Co., the Redington Navy Base and D.C. Morton. He also worked as Rangeley’s road foreman for 20 years. He and his wife, Marylyn, have four children, Brad, Wendelyn, Melissa and Corey.


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