RANGELEY – On Route 16 between Rangeley and Stratton is the Maine Forestry Museum, dedicated to the history and current practices of one of Maine’s largest industries: forestry.
This weekend the museum is bustling with activity for the 42nd Annual Logging Festival. Friday morning the festival kicked off with the first ever Working Forest Tour, hosted by Seven Islands Land Company. Guests were invited on a guided tour of an active logging operation on land owned by the Pingree Family and managed by Seven Islands. Prior to the tour, Resource Manager Nathan Kay outlined a number of goals and principles for a sustainable forest management model, then gave visual examples in the active operation. Foresters from Seven Islands work closely with the contractors who perform the harvests, and the tour on Friday included a visit with the GCA Logging crew.
Participants had the opportunity to see both a skidder and a processor working in the forest and to ask questions about sustainable forestry, the ecological and environmental impacts of forestry operations, and careers in forestry.
This was the first year of hosting a working forest tour, but Maine Forestry Museum President Scott Stevens hopes to continue the event in future years.
Following the tour, the Logging Festival got underway for Friday’s events, including the famous Burying of the Beans. A long-time forestry tradition, the process starts more than 24 hours before the beans will be served. Early in the morning, fires are built in rock-lined holes in the ground, and fed for several hours. Huge kettles with tight-fitting lids are prepared and filled with all the ingredients for a good pot of baked beans. Once the rocks are heated through, the embers are shoveled out and the kettles are placed into the holes, and the hot embers are packed around the kettles. The holes are capped over with sand and the beans are left to cook slowly overnight for lunch the next day.
Starting off Saturday morning at 10 a.m. sharp, the Logging Parade runs along Main Street in Rangeley with loaded big rigs, antique cars, floats, horses, cloggers, and many others. A flyover will take place during the parade in memory of Steve Philbrick and his dedication to the Rangeley community.
After the parade, the museum opens up for the second day of the festival, which runs from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Through the day the museum grounds will be open with exhibits, venders and artisans, and a plethora of children’s activities. A special exhibit this year is the Clark 880 skidder, the largest cable skidder ever made. These skidders are almost too large to be used effectively in a timber harvest in the Maine woods, but over the years they have been put to good use on other assignments such as winching out other skidders stuck in the mud, moving a washed-out iron bridge in the Kennebec River in Skowhegan, and recovering railroad cars after a train derailment near Jackman. At approximately 33 tons and 13 feet, four inches wide, this machine was used in a variety of ways by A&A Brochu Logging over the years. The current owners, Joe Rand and Denny Rand of Wilton, have graciously allowed Maine Forestry Museum to share it with the public for this weekend. The skidder will be on display at the logging festival, Saturday and after the festival on Sunday.
The clogger performance from Northern Explosion will start off around 11:30 a.m. along with the opening ceremonies, followed by the Forestry Hall of Fame inductions at 12 p.m. The logging competition will start at 12:30 and run throughout the afternoon.
Tim Martin has been nominated for the Forestry Hall of Fame, and will be inducted on Saturday. Tim Martin, of Freeman Township, grew up in the culture of logging. He spent summers in the Ken Ames logging camps in Lang Town at the foot of East Kennebago Mountain. He was taught to drive a skidder at eight years old by his father Rodney Martin and uncle Greg Adams. At 12 years old he stump cut firewood with his grandfather, Bud Adams. At 15, he was plowing woods roads and servicing equipment for GCA Logging. He took the Forestry and Wood Harvesting course at Foster Tech and graduated from Mt. Blue High School in 1992.
Tim has worked as both a conventional and mechanical logger for GCA, Rangeley Logging, Timber Express and Mark Beauregard. Since 2006, he has worked mainly operating a wood processor. He currently works for GCA Logging. GCA President Aaron Adams said of Tim that he can put him in any job and not have to worry about him. “He knows what to do and how to do it well.”
Tim is married to Amy and they have two adult children, Makayla and Michael. For fun, he often cuts wood on the weekends with his cable skidder, around twenty loads per year.
This year, GCA Logging and the Adams family are also joining the Forestry Hall of Fame. Logging since 1978, late owner Gregory Adams learned the trade of cutting wood from his father while growing up in rural Western Maine. Greg graduated from Mt. Blue High School in Farmington in 1978 and began harvesting wood the day after graduation. Eventually he was able to buy his first piece of equipment, a Timberjack 225 skidder.
Ten years later, GCA Logging was founded in Avon by Gregory Adams and Andrea Adams. Incorporated in 1987, GCA began with 5 employees. Since then, the company has grown to employ almost 50 people. Today, GCA Logging, Inc. is one of the largest logging operations in Franklin County, using both cut to length and whole tree systems, as well as road building, excavation and land clearing. In 2017, son Aaron Adams shifted into the role of president of GCA Logging, Inc.
GCA has worked on all major landowners in and around Franklin County and numerous smaller landowners. They worked on Franklin Memorial Hospital property and recently the major expansion of ski trails and real estate development at Sugarloaf.
“They receive high praise from the foresters they work with,” reads the Maine Forestry Museum nomination. “One forester noted that GCA had completed two complicated and difficult harvesting projects on time and with extreme professionalism. The foresters valued working with GCA for Aaron’s “can-do” attitude and cooperation with the forester’s goals. All GCA employees are praised by the foresters for their professionalism and pride in their work. Neighboring landowners have even mentioned how courteous the GCA crew were when they were operating on their local roads.”
Andrea Adams has the distinction of being the fifth woman to be inducted into the Hall of Fame. In 2021, Patti Cormier, Mary Dunham, Sarah Medina and Trisha Quinn were the first four.
“GCA Logging is a true family business. It has been often noted that Andrea Adams, who was there at the start, is the glue that holds the operation together with strict attention to detail and years of knowledge about all aspects of the business. Andrea noted that many of their employees have been with GCA for over 15 and 20 years and they are like family. As for her own family, sons Aaron and Josh grew up in the office business. They were in the office with Andrea or out plowing woods roads at night in a pickup, one with Greg and one with Andrea. They would do their homework in the truck and then sleep in a sleeping bag and their parents would get them back in time to go to school. Andrea mentioned that at times during high school the boys would have to leave school to go run equipment in the woods if an employee was out sick or for some other reason. Today, Aaron’s wife Nikki works in the GCA office several days a week with their three children.”
“The Maine Forestry Museum is pleased to acknowledge Greg, Andrea and Aaron Adams as members of the Maine Forestry Museum Hall of Fame. Our hats are off to all GCA employees and their families for setting a high standard in sustainable forestry practices.”
The Maine Forestry Museum is located at 221 Stratton Road (Route 16) in Dallas Plantation, just east of Rangeley. For more information, visit maineforestrymuseum.org