Working the Land

In this 65-minute DVD, originally shot on b&w 16mm, we get a full scope of what working at the lumber camps in northern New England looked like, and much more from this film knowledgeably narrated by C. A. Hamilton. It is hard to believe it was less than hundred years ago that pulp wood and lumber were (in some places) still being pulled out of the Maine woods with teams of horses and brought to the riverside or laid out on a frozen pond for the spring log drive.

DVD review: Working-the-Land-DVD coverIn Working the Land: The Upper Kennebec Valley Region of Maine in the 1930s, we see trees come down, teams pulling wood, great shots of a river drive at Moxie Falls in Moxie Gore, ME, and late spring scenes using the teams to grow hay and oats to feed the horses year-round. Plus some nice shots of haying and collecting shocks of oats by hand and a threshing machine run by a stationary engine making oats and oat straw. And many good scenes of lumber camp and general farm life in the 1930s!

At the end of the film are some interesting shots of plowing snow with a large V-plow on a truck in the town of Bingham, Maine and a model T truck set up to run on a railroad track on the Someset Railroad from Bingham to Rockwood. An amazing look into the past of northern New England. New from the N-News, $14.95 plus $2.75 s&h.

In The Blood DVD

Film director Sumner McKane weaves together a fascinating story of the history of logging in Maine. Using vintage footage and images, McKane offers a short history lesson of the northernmost New England logger and river man in In The Blood: Uncovering the Life, Skills & Character of the Turn of the Century Maine Lumbermen and River Drivers.

In The Blood DVD coverWonderful short movies and still images of camp life abound with audio interviews of men remembering their time working out in the middle of the woods. There are discussions of staying warm in the bunks, drying clothes on the “stink pole” and having beans three times a day along with donuts, Johnny cakes and lots of coffee.

These log camps ran from October to March and men were hired and paid based on their skills and their job in camp. Working from before sun-up to after dark six days a week, lumber camp wasn’t for the faint of heart.

Come March it was time to get the logs down river – and here again, they lived a life of constant danger. Rivers and streams were dammed to hold back the spring water until the logs were ready and there was enough volume to wash the logs downstream. There is amazing footage of men working on rivers and lakes, and discussion of log booms, capstans, walking the logs and dealing with jams. At $19.95 plus $4 S&H this film is both history lesson and entertainment. DVD only.

Harold Brock DVD

Harold Brock DVD cover

In June of 2009 I traveled to Iowa to interview Harold Brock, chief designer of the 9N tractor project. It was a little overwhelming to sit down and talk with a man who worked intimately with Henry Ford, Edsel Ford, Henry Ford II, had met Thomas Edison, Harry Ferguson and many other legends of modern invention and industry. The idea of having a tunnel back in time to talk to someone who was there, was an intriguing project to tackle. Producing a video interview takes a lot of time and money. Collecting up the gear, traveling and postproduction work were all things I felt the N-News couldn’t afford either the money or the time to do. But, author Bob Pripps … Continue reading