Southern Aroostook has unique museums
History is an integral part of Aroostook County life, no matter the season. These southern Aroostook museums offer visitors a chance to experience a part of Maine's past:
A hint of Maine's lumbering past can be found at the Lumberman's Museum in Patten. The museum is located on the Shin Pond Road, near the north entrance to Baxter State Park.
About 4,000 artifacts are on display in the museum's nine buildings, including Lombard log haulers, axes, chainsaws and other tools of the lumbering trade. The complex also contains a blacksmith shop, bateaux and an old lumber camp. Admission charge is $2.50 for adults, $1 for children 6-12 years old and free for kids five and under. It's open through Columbus Day. Hours are 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday. Picnic tables are available for family outings, and tour groups are also welcome.
To get there, take exit 59 off Interstate 95 and follow Route 159 toward Patten for about 11 miles. At the end of Route 159 (which now becomes Houlton Street), take a right onto Main Street, follow Main for about ˝ mile then bear left by a gas station. The museum is located about ˝ mile on the right.
The Museum of Modern Fashion in Island Falls features vintage clothing and accessories from the pre-Victorian, Victorian and Edwardian eras, clothing from the 1920s to the 1950s, eyeglasses, hair combs and other such items.
Founded in 1983, the museum was a result of 44 years worth of collecting men's, women's and children's antique clothing by Frances Webb Stratton. It's centrally located in the heart of Island Falls and open from Monday through Thursday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and by appointment. Donations of $3 per adult, $2 per senior citizen and $1 for children under 12 are appreciated, according to the owner.
Displays cover 14 of the building's 17 rooms, evoking a home-like atmosphere for the visitors. The rooms also have their own themes, such as Sheila and Diane's Millinery and Dressmaker Shoppe, Yesteryear Room, Hat Boutique, Sadie and Viv's Tea Room, Jim and Barry's Haberdashery Shoppe, Children's Room, La Salle Mariee Bridal Room and the Island Falls Room.
A pair of books can also be purchased to supplement the museum's financing. My Life on the Line describes the owner's experiences growing up on the Maine/New Brunswick border during the Great Depression, and costs $12. Surviving: An Acadian Chronicle traces her paternal ancestors from 17th century France and their migration across the Maritime provinces, Quebec and The County. This book costs $18.
Among Houlton's many historic places is the Aroostook Historical and Art Museum, located on Maine Street in Houlton. The museum houses a replica of the Bloodless Aroostook War which settled the Maine/Canadian border. There are also other historical collections available for perusing. The museum is open Monday through Friday from May to September and October 12 through Jan. 4, and by appointment.