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Penobscot Lumbering Association Records

Identifier: SpC MS 0398

Scope and Contents

The Penobscot Lumbering Association records consist primarily of legal, financial, and lumbering records maintained by the Association from the time of its incorporation in 1854 through the early 20th century. The collection is arranged in seven series: Organization and Administration, Financial, Purchasing, Labor, Lumbering Operations, Miscellaneous, and Ancillary Companies.

The first series, Organization and Administration, contains primarily charters and leases, 1854-1953, with the Penobscot Boom Corporation, as well as contracts, 1929-1953, with I.W. Bussell and Co. of Bangor to raft all logs and later pulpwood and to take care of all four foot wood that came into the Penobscot Boom during the contract years. Also included is correspondence, 1896-1913, to and from Charles H. Adams, Treasurer of the Association.

The second series, Financial, contains trial balances, cashbooks, and journals, as well as a large group of ledgers, 1854-1912, of the Association. Ledgers for the Argyle, Pea Cove and Nebraska Booms are also included. Check registers, 1897-1909, and cancelled checks, 1901-1914, complete this series.

The third series, Purchasing, contains bills, receipts and accounts, 1905-1913, both for the Association and for supplies at various lumber camps.

The fourth series, Labor, contains time books and payroll information for loggers, 1879-1912.

The fifth and largest series, Lumbering Operations, gives detailed information on lumber handled at the booms. It opens with a memorandum book of the Penobscot Boom, 1854, of someone who went from boom to boom, recording work being done at each, logs being rafted, levels of water, etc. It continues with scalers' books, 1866-1918; volumes, 1888-1916, labelled "Lumber," which give date, raft, mark, mill and saw, kind, size, total, by whom sold, purchaser and vessel for logs coming through the booms; and a group of log agents' books, 1855-1893, which record the date, mark, logger's name, and total for logs at the various booms. This series also contains memo books detailing logs delivered and rafted at the boom, 1849-1911. Information about the wangans serving the lumber camps can also be found here.

The sixth series, Miscellaneous, contains various unidentified documents, a ledger possibly of a dentist, and minutes of meetings, 1896-1916, of the Mount Moriah Chapter, R.A. M. (Royal Arch Masons?), possibly belonging to Charles H. Adams, the Association Treasurer. The series ends with letter books of outgoing correspondence, 1901-1904, most from A.S. Buzzell, general agent and district manager for the Prudential Insurance Company in the eastern half of the state of Maine.

The seventh series, Ancillary Companies, contains records from companies that did business with the Association. It includes charters and other legal documents, dividend books, financial information, and reports of the Penobscot Boom Corporation. It also includes records of the Penobscot Log Driving Company, which had been incorporated in 1846 to drive all logs and other timber in the West branch of Penobscot River between the Chesuncook Dam and the East Branch to any place at or above the Penobscot Boom. Records include the company's charter and bylaws and financial information, 1860-1912, about its operation. The series ends with financial information, 1908-1909, and time books, 1909-1910, of I.W. Bussell and Co.


  • 1854-1953
  • Majority of material found within 1874-1912


Restrictions on Access

Kept at Fogler Library's offsite storage facility. One week's notice required for retrieval.

Use Restrictions

Information on literary rights available in the Library.

Historical Note

The Penobscot Lumbering Association, incorporated by an act of the Maine Legislature on April 5, 1854, with headquarters in Bangor, Maine, was an association of log owners. At its incorporation, the Association was authorized to take a fifteen-year lease on the piers, booms, shores, buildings, land and appurtenances of the Penobscot Boom Corporation. The Association had the duty to make all needed repairs to the boom and its connected structures, to take charge of all lumber which came into the boom, to raft it, and to make full and accurate scalings and surveys to ascertain the quantity of lumber rafted from the boom. The Association also had to guard the passageways or open spaces in the boom so no lumber could escape. The Association's Board of Trustees consisted of 74 members; any owner of lumber in the Penobscot River or intended to come into the Penobscot Boom could become a member, with each member allowed one vote for every hundred thousand feet of lumber belonging to him.

Details from the Proceedings of the Annual Meeting of the Penobscot Lumbering Association (1856) give insight into the reasons for forming the Association. This report states that during the 21 years that the Penobscot Boom was carried on by the Corporation there was generally a state of war existing between it and the lumbermen, with constant complaint that it was a soulless corporation, managed only with a view to making money out of lumbermen, and not for their interest, it did not raft fast enough, or too fast, or at the wrong time, etc. The report further indicates that in 1854 most of principal lumbermen on the river signed a petition to the Legislature urging it to take the boom out of the hands of the Corporation and organize an "Association of Lumbermen" to carry it on and to give the lumbermen management of their own property. The report concludes that with the formation of the Association, there was no longer any occasion for boom fights before the Legislature, costing thousands of dollars to lumbermen and putting the state to great expense.

In its initial contract in 1854, the Association was to pay the Penobscot Boom Corporation ten cents for each thousand feet of logs and other lumber passing through the boom. The trustees of the Association were also obligated to David Pingree and David A. Neal of Salem, Massachusetts, trustees of the Corporation, for $300,000 to take lease of the Corporation's boom. The lumbermen also had the opportunity to buy two-thirds of the stock in the Boom Corporation for $90,000.

The Penobscot Boom Corporation had been chartered in 1832 by Rufus Dwinel and others to maintain a boom across the Stillwater Branch of the Penobscot River to stop and secure logs, masts, spars and other lumber floating on the river. Its charter was amended at the incorporation of the Penobscot Lumbering Association to "relieve it from the duty of hanging the Boom or rafting the lumber therefrom or to secure it in or below the booms and from the duty of hereafter making any repairs upon the boom or any of its structures and from all liabilities arising from the escape of lumber during the period of the lease ..."

At the time of the Penobscot Lumbering Association's charter, provisions were also made for the governor and council to appoint annually three commissioners to examine all booms, piers and structures and to determine what should be done by the Association for the security and preservation of corporate property. The Commissioners were paid by the Association, with the provision that if five members wanted them to visit the boom to make sure that wood was rafted and secured, or that trips and passageways were properly guarded and the boom safe and secure, the Commissioners must do so. The Commissioners also appointed log agents paid by the Association to be at the booms during the season for running lumber; the duties of the agents were to superintend and assist in delivery of logs from the boom, to ensure that logs were properly secured in the eddies below and to keep a record of the number and marks of the logs and the delivery to respective owners.

The Association maintained several booms on the river including the Argyle, Lower Boom, Nebraska and Pea Cove Booms. As reflected in the collection, its leases extended through 1953.


6 cubic feet (6 boxes)

18 linear feet (ledgers)

Language of Materials



The Penobscot Lumbering Association records consist primarily of legal, financial, and lumbering records maintained by the Association from the time of its incorporation in 1854 through the early 20th century. The collection is arranged in seven series: Organization and Administration, Financial, Purchasing, Labor, Lumbering Operations, Miscellaneous, and Ancillary Companies.

Conservation Note

The collection has been re-housed in acid-free folder and boxes. Documents have been surface cleaned as needed and metal fasteners removed.

Guide to the Penobscot Lumbering Association Records
Box And Folder List Available
Brenda Howitson Steeves
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the Raymond H. Fogler Library Special Collections Repository

5729 Raymond H. Fogler Library
University of Maine
Orono ME 04469-5729 United States