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Umbazooksus & Beyond: The Maine Woods Remembered

At the campsite, 1935
At the campsite, 1935
Maine Historical Society

Text by Candace Kanes

Images from Maine Historical Society, Phillips Historical Society, the Allen Family, L.L. Bean Corporate Archives, Maine State Museum and a private contributor

In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, thousands of American men and women "took to the woods" to restore their health, regain identity lost in industrial cities, escape from urban noise, pollution, and fast-paced life, or to experience the spiritual dimensions of the wilderness.

A large part of the appeal was that the "sports" or "rusticators," as woods visitors were called, could not predict what they might encounter and how they might respond.

Some of these visits examined here are a two-man canoe trip down the Allagash, a honeymoon adventure to Lobster Lake, an annual multi-week hunting and fishing trip to Ragged Lake, and various journeys to Katahdin, Maine's tallest peak. There have been hundreds of others.

The way those visitors memorialize their trips -- written accounts, photographs, scrapbooks, and created objects -- have helped to create a lore of the Maine woods, which in turn has drawn more visitors and their remembrances.

This two-part exhibit, drawn largely from the collections of the Maine Historical Society, is based on an exhibit featured at the MHS gallery from January-June 2005. L.L. Bean sponsored that exhibit.

Click on the links beneath the photos to view Part I: The Allagash and Lobster Lake; and Part II: Katahdin and Ragged Lake.