5-year-old Vance Tompkins of Lincoln helping Jeff Randall at the blacksmithing display at Living History Days on Oct. 5-6. Rosemary Lausier photo

BRADLEY — Hundreds of families and volunteers were transported back in time over the weekend as they gathered in Bradley at the Maine Forest and Logging Museum for its annual Living History Days.

Paul Dudley, playing the role of lieutenant with the 20th Maine infantry reenactors, entertained attendees walking through the encampment. Rosemary Lausier photo

The event has been held for more than 35 years, before there were any buildings on museum property. Museum executive director Sherry Davis said Living History Days began as a way to “bring awareness” to the property and serve as a fundraiser for expansion.

“Basically the events are an opportunity to get people out here, show them what we have, teach them about the history of Maine and the development of technology and the woods industry,” Davis said. “This event is a lot of fun.”

The event reenacts a broad range of time periods from late-Colonial and post-Revolution to early 19th century. The water-powered sawmill at Leonard’s Mill — a reconstruction of an early colonial settlement — and Lombard steam log haulers were fully functioning.

As in past years, reenactors from the 20th Regiment Maine Volunteer Infantry, Company B, set up camp on site showcasing life during the Civil War in 1863. Volunteers set up weapon and medicinal displays, sat around a fire and brought anyone who identified as the “press” to see the “lieutenant” and sign a document proving she was not a spy.

“The reenactors are multi-generational,” Davis said. “Now they have their grandchildren with them. It’s a club of friends that get out here once a year and have a really good time demonstrating and giving them [attendees] things to learn.”


Five-year volunteer Vanessa McSpadden — who was making the biscuits — said she could manage living during the early Colonial era, but just for a short time.

Vanessa McSpadden making biscuits at Living History Days in Bradley on Oct. 5-6. Rosemary Lausier photo

“It’s always easier when you don’t know anything better,” she said.

McSpadden was making the biscuits under the newly built shed by eagle scout Colby Stokes of Hermon. The shed replaced a 30-year old structure which included an enlarged roof to cover volunteers and a rock wall to level the land.

On the green, volunteers were dressed in Colonial garb showing children old skills including dipping candles, chopping wood, spinning wool, cider pressing and blacksmithing — where children assisted in billowing the heat and pounding metal. Attendees lined up for handmade biscuits and bean-hole beans which volunteers started preparing on Friday morning and baked underground.

Davis said the event allows children and their families to experience life that is completely unfamiliar to them, especially in the technological age.

“It’s getting kids to see that history is a lot of fun,” she said.

The Lombard steam log hauler fully functioning at Living History Days in Bradley, Rosemary Lausier photo

A horse-drawn carriage passes through the 20th Regiment Maine Volunteer Infantry, Company B at LIving History Days on Oct. 5-6. Rosemary Lausier photo

Volunteer Abigail Bean with Rascal at Living History Days Oct. 5-6. Rosemary Lausier photo

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