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Snowshoe Maker

This slideshow contains 6 items
1
Mellie Dunham making snowshoes, ca. 1925

Mellie Dunham making snowshoes, ca. 1925

Item 18986 info
Maine Historical Society/MaineToday Media

Mellie Dunham was the foremost maker of quality, handmade snowshoes during his lifetime.

Clarence Smith, also of Norway made the first pair of snowshoes with a turned up toe in about 1870. 

Dunham began making snowshoes in about 1873 with a mold Clarence Smith shared with him.

Dunham then broadened the toe and made a long and short style that became the model for local makers and manufacturers.


2
Mellie Dunham making snowshoes, ca. 1925

Mellie Dunham making snowshoes, ca. 1925

Item 18987 info
Maine Historical Society/MaineToday Media

The Oxford County Advertiser reported on December 4, 1885:

"A.M. Dunham is employing his spare time in making snowshoes. He has made a number of pairs and they are good ones. He has a most excellent pattern. They are filled with raw hide and will last a life time. He has several pairs on hand and for sale."


3
Mellie Dunham snowshoe workshop, Norway, ca. 1915

Mellie Dunham snowshoe workshop, Norway, ca. 1915

Item 79929 info
Norway Historical Society

On January 4, 1895, the newspaper reported:

"A.M. Dunham has made 75 pairs of snowshoes this last year. The snowshoes Mr. Dunham makes are considered a very superior kind and he has a big demand for them."


4
Mellie Dunham making snowshoes, Norway, 1924

Mellie Dunham making snowshoes, Norway, 1924

Item 79927 info
Norway Historical Society

In 1900 Dunham produced 114 pairs of snowshoes.

He took his snowshoes to the 1901 Sportsman's Show in New York City and to the 1902 Massachusetts Sportsman's Show.

These trade shows promoted outdoor activities and tourism.

In 1902, Dunham built a shop across the road from the farm and his son-in-law, Nathan Noble, joined the growing business.

In 1903, Dunham taught his nephew Walter F. Tubbs, a neighbor on Crockett Ridge, to make snowshoes. Tubbs joined the business.

In 1904 Dunham's shop made 344 pairs and was the largest maker of snowshoes in Maine.


5
Peary snowshoes, Norway, ca. 1905

Peary snowshoes, Norway, ca. 1905

Item 79928 info
Norway Historical Society

Mellie Dunham made snowshoes for Commodore Robert E. Peary's last two Arctic explorations.

In 1905 Peary ordered 62 pairs of snowshoes and he placed a duplicate order for the second expedition in 1909, when Peary reached the North Pole.

The Arctic snowshoes were a special design that were unusually long and narrow.

Several pairs were as long as 60 inches by 10 or 12 inches wide. Forty-eight pairs were 12 by 48 inches wide.


6
Dunham snowshoe advertising card, Norway, ca. 1907

Dunham snowshoe advertising card, Norway, ca. 1907

Item 79926 info
Norway Historical Society

In 1909 Dunham and Noble founded the Norway Snow Shoe Company.

They enlarged the shop in 1910.

In 1915 they offered a dozen different models and by the next year, they were making about 525 pairs a year.

By 1924 Nathan Noble was the proprietor.


This slideshow contains 6 items