by Nick Kaye
BRADLEY — The Maine Forest and Logging Museum, an organization dedicated to forest and logging industry education and preservation, has announced Jill Packard as its new executive director. The selection was made after a statewide search process.
“I’m interested in really broadening the educational base,” said Packard. She sees various opportunities to connect the material at the Maine Forest and Logging Museum to local school curriculums and state educational standards. “I believe that our forests and logging industry are two of Maine’s most important resources. Educating people about those things ensures the sustainability of not only Maine’s economic base, but its cultural and natural heritage as well.”
As the new executive director, Packard also plans to make a greater part of the museum’s collection of artifacts available for public viewing.
Packard brings an extensive education to the organization. She has completed bachelor’s degrees in both art history and political science at Bowling Green State University and a master’s degree in environmental science at Ohio University in Ohio, where she wrote her thesis on environmental education and sustainability. She is engaged currently in doctoral coursework in public policy analysis and administration at Walden University, an online school.
Packard has served in numerous capacities over the years. She is the founding president of the Hemophilia Alliance of Maine, a position she has filled since 2010, the cofounder and facilitator for the Hemophilia Federation of America’s Care ACCESS Working Group, the owner and operator of MCXI Music, and a member of various professional and charitable boards.
The Maine Forest and Logging Museum has been run by a group of dedicated volunteers since it was founded in 1960. Its mission is to “collect, preserve and share artifacts, tools, equipment and stories relating to the history of the Maine woods — particularly the pioneer and lumbering periods.” It is located on approximately 400 acres on the Blackman Stream in Bradley with Leonard’s Mills, home to the only operational water wheel powered up-and-down sawmill in Maine, at its center.
Considered a “living history site,” the museum presents historical artifacts, tools and equipment in an open and interactive manner. On select weekends, volunteers don period clothing and stage re-enactments and demonstrations.
The museum recently completed a new machinery hall, which will house a machine shop and a pair of Lombard Steam Log Haulers. These haulers, constructed at the beginning of the 20th century by Alvin Lombard of Waterville, were the first vehicles to use a continuous track for propulsion. One of the machines is on loan from the Crooker family of Brunswick and the other, belonging to the museum, was the recent subject of a University of Maine mechanical engineering capstone restoration project. It is estimated that only 12 such machines remain intact today.
There is also a secondary mill complex in the works on the museum’s premises. It will house a rotary saw mill, a shingle machine and a clapboard mill from the early 1900s. The museum is seeking experienced volunteers to operate these machines during re-enactments and demonstrations.
This summer, the museum will hosting several events. Coming up first, on Sunday, July 13, is a yard sale featuring the work of artists who use the forest as a medium or inspiration. Other events include “Men and Their Machines,” “Life in the American Revolution,” and “Living History Days.” For a full schedule with dates and pricing, visit LeonardsMills.com. The museum is open daily for self-guided tours.