LOGGING TOWBOATS AND BOOM JUMPERS:  THE STORY OF O.A. HARKNESS, LOGGING “ADMIRAL” AND MECHANICAL “WIZARD”

Maine has a long and fascinating history of timber harvesting, especially the water and land movement of thousands of tons of logs overland and down the Penobscot River to the Bangor paper mills in the first half of the 20th century. And one man’s ingenuity made it all happen.

“Logging Towboats and Boom Jumpers” is Camden author Roger Allen Moody’s excellent story of O.A. Harkness, the mechanical genius who revolutionized the motor transport of logs on land and water from 1903 to 1951 — first for the Eastern Manufacturing Company and then for Great Northern Paper. Moody, a former Camden city manager and Knox County commissioner, is now a skilled historian of Maine’s logging industry.

Moody smartly tells how Harkness (1869-1951) developed new and efficient methods for moving huge log booms across Maine lakes to the Penobscot River with motorized towboats, and with boom-jumper boats. He explains how log booms (think floating corrals of 5-plus acres of logs) were towed, and how these two types of sturdy vessels were built and used.

Harkness also designed and built a very clever log transport tramway across the 3,000-foot land bridge between Eagle Lake and Chamberlain Lake, using 600 steel-wheeled trucks pulled back and forth by a 6,000-foot continuous loop cable.  In 1926 he also built a 13-mile railway from Eagle Lake to the West Branch of the Penobscot, using two locomotives and 60 cars to haul logs.

Additionally, Moody describes Harkness’ boundless energy and mechanical ability in developing the industrial use of tracked vehicles like the Lombard Log Hauler and crawler tractors to move logs from the woods to the lakes or the railway.  Harkness’ contributions deservedly earned him the title of “Wizard” of motor power.

See also “Logging and Lumbering in Maine” by Donald Wilson (Arcadia, 2001).

 

STAY HIDDEN

Hunting deaths during Maine’s deer season are not uncommon. And the death reported on Maquoit Island appears to be a slam-dunk easy first case for newly promoted Maine game warden investigator Mike Bowditch. But this hunting death investigation will not be so simple; in fact, it might be murder.

“Stay Hidden” is award-winning Maine novelist Paul Doiron’s ninth excellent mystery featuring Mike Bowditch, on his first assignment as a warden investigator. Bowditch has been a patrol game warden for eight years, with a checkered reputation for insubordination and disobedience, and he’s just about to screw up his first case as a plainclothes investigator.

When he arrives on Maquoit Island he finds a small, hostile community of fishermen who hate cops, an incompetent and obstructive island constable and an arrogant island patriarch who insists the death is accidental. Bowditch knows, however, that there are no hunting “accidents,” just “negligent hunting homicides.”

The victim is believed to be a visiting journalist, but mistaken identity shocks and confuses everyone, and the suspected hunter says he never fired a shot. Other evidence indicates the death was no accident, and Bowditch’s first investigation turns into a complex and dangerous case of deliberate murder.

He is the lone law enforcement officer on the island, and he gets no help from anyone — especially the sassy investigative journalist who turns out to be a shameless self-promoter looking for a lurid scoop. Now, Bowditch cannot figure out who the real victim was supposed to be.

Mike complicates his own investigation by ignoring his boss, talking too much and losing evidence, and is too easily manipulated by all the suspects and their obvious lies. Add neo-Nazis, illegal drugs, hair-trigger bullies, a murderous Hollywood hermit and tangled island romances, and Bowditch will be lucky if he doesn’t get killed next.

 

Bill Bushnell lives and writes in Harpswell.


Comments are not available on this story.

Augusta and Waterville news

Get news and events from your towns in your inbox every Friday.
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.