Living History on the Maine Frontier


This past weekend my family participated in the Maine Forest and Logging Museum’s Living History Days event. The museum, located in Bradley, Maine, was founded in the 1960s as a living history site in which the lifeways and crafts of the late 18th-century Maine frontier is demonstrated. The site is known as “Leonard’s Mills” because of an archaeological discovery of five sawmills on Blackman Stream. My wife and I have been volunteering at Leonard’s Mills for years.

All the interpreters dress in period clothing, cook period food, and demonstrate many other aspects of 18th-century frontier life (including the use of a recreated water-powered sash mill). My family looks forward to this weekend every year. We’re usually stationed at the settler’s log cabin and even get to spend the nights there. This enables us to bring an assortment of recreated 18th-century furniture that I’ve made. Usually Julia demonstrates cooking and baking at the fire and discusses various aspects of domestic life. I always bring my portable Nicholson workbench and my tool chest to demonstrate period woodworking.


This event is so full of visitors that most years very little progress can be made on any given project. There is a lot of talking and rabbit trail demonstration that happens so if I get anything put together, I’m pleased. This year, I brought a small pile of maple and birch to begin building a table. This project is a great opportunity to demonstrate ripping, planing, mortise-and-tenon joinery, drawbore assembly, and tapering legs. Over the two days, I was pleased to find that I got almost all of the table’s base constructed. All I need are two more rails and then I can glue and drawbore the joinery.

Back home now, we’re taking this morning to unpack the van of the weekend’s debris. Then it’s back to regular life. After spending the morning editing the Tables video at his house, Mike will come over to work on the new work shop a bit. We’ve got to finalize our plans for these windows so we can pick up another pile of sashes from the antique dealer I’ve been buying from. We’ve got no more events booked this year. We’ll finish up that Tables video but, besides that, all Mike and I are doing the next few months is working on the shop. Can’t wait to get this thing closed in.



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