In partnership with the Maine Memory Network Maine Memory Network

Lincoln, Maine

A Town of Hearty, Resilient Souls

Mills & Paper Industry

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Text by George King, Lincoln Historical Society

Sorting gap, North Lincoln, 1910
Sorting gap, North Lincoln, 1910
Lincoln Historical Society

In the fall of 1825, the Wendell Brothers from Portsmouth, New Hampshire sent Ira Fish and 17 other men north to build dams for saw mills on Mattanawcook Stream. That winter, the men cut 5,000,000 board feet of lumber from the land where Mattanawcook Lake would eventually be, enough to run the three saws in the two saw mills for five years. In the beginning, all the lumber was used in Lincoln for homes, barns, businesses, and other needed buildings. In later years, after all the timber around the lake was cut, the lumbermen began cutting around Folsom and Upper Ponds, sending the wood down the streams for transport to the saw mill.

1950s video of logging on the Chain Lakes  
1950s video of logging on the Chain Lakesfrom the collection of Roger Morrison

The first thing to be built was a flume to send lumber along to the Penobscot River to market. In order to take lumber from both mills down the river, they had to be assembled into rafts. Ten rafts were hooked together with one man on each end to control them. Sometimes, shingles and short lumber were put on top of the rafts. Even today, 185 years later, the first dam bed logs can be spotted when the water is low and the sun overhead, looking down into the river from the bridge on West Broadway.

The Lombard Steam Log Hauler
Text by George King, Lincoln Historical Society

Alvin Lombard was born in Springfield, Maine in 1856. In the late 1890s, he was part-owner of a Lincoln saw mill and he later invented the first steam-powered log hauler at Waterville Iron Works in 1901. This log hauler featured a continuous track. There were known to be about 83 Lombard Log Haulers built by 1917. This invention was the start of replacing the horse to complete the heavy work in the woods. Around 1920, he came out with a smaller gas powered log hauler.

Lombard Loghauler, Lincoln, 1910
Lombard Loghauler, Lincoln, 1910
Lincoln Historical Society

The following was written by a current MJHS 7th grade student, Garrett Neal, and his grandmother, Rebecca McLaughlin.

My ancestor, Alvin Lombard, was born in 1856 and died in 1937. He is most famous for inventing a vehicle that changed the logging business, the Lombard Steam Log Hauler. He developed this idea while working as a blacksmith in Waterville.

When he was little, Alvin used to make little inventions for fun. He made a wood splitter powered by a water wheel, and he cut cucumbers slices with it. When he was older, he and his brother, Samuel, worked together to build things. Alvin designed the patents and his brother built the inventions. The Log Hauler’s patent was designed in 1901. Only 83 log haulers were made, and the idea was later used to design tanks for the military. One downfall to the Log Hauler was, it had no brakes. Even so, it was better than working your horses to pull out the logs, because the horses would wear out fast.

I am proud that I am related to Alvin Lombard, and I would loved to have met him if I could. Most of my family has worked in the woods just like Alvin, and I am amazed that he is six generations back in my family.

"Lombard Steam Log Hauler." America's Only Steam and Threshing Enthusiast Magazine: Steam Traction - Farm Collector. Web. 6 Apr. 2010. <>.

"Lombard Steam Log Hauler Goes Full Steam Ahead." Maine News, Weather, Sports Channel 6 NBC Portland | | Portland, ME. Web. 6 Apr. 2010. <>.

McLaughlin, Rebecca. "Alvin Lombard." Telephone interview. 5 Apr. 2010.