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George “Nessmuk” Sears

April is National Poetry Month. One notable poet who lived not too far from the present location of the Lumber Museum was George “Nessmuk” Sears.

George Sears (1821-1890) was an adventurer, author and early conservationist who wrote under the pen name “Nessmuk” . Born in South Oxford (now Webster), Massachusetts, George grew up as an eyewitness to the early days of the American Industrial Revolution.  His home town was where Samuel Slater, known as the “Father of the American Factory System”, had his textile mills. In addition to his early exposure to factory life, George was also introduced to the outdoor life by a Native-American friend named Nessmuck (George would later honor his friend by adapting the name Nessmuck as his pen name). George decided that he preferred the outdoor life to the factory life and started to explore the county. In 1848 he moved to the North-Central Pennsylvania town of Wellsboro, where he would live the rest of his life. It was in Wellsboro that he built his reputation first as an outdoorsman then as a conservationist. 

His 1884 book “Woodcraft and Camping” and the articles he wrote for “Forests and Stream” magazine about his lightweight canoeing trips helped to popularize the notion of outdoor recreation. Just as he had been a witness to the early industrialization of American, George also witnessed the destruction of Penn’s Woods by the logging industry and tanneries. He wrote letters and articles decrying what he saw as the destruction of nature for profit and he joined lawsuits against the bark tanning and lumber industries. Whether he realized it or not these efforts made him one of America’s first conservationists.

In addition to the accounts of his adventures he also wrote poetry inspired by his love of nature and camping. A book of his poems, “Forest Runes” was published in 1887.

“Nessmuk” has been recognized by the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission with two historical markers, one located on the town square in Wellsboro, and the other located at Leonard Harrison State Park (the PA Grand Canyon).

Author Front-page image from “Woodcraft and Camping” 1884 (Public Domain)
Nessmuck Historical Marker, Wellsboro, PA.
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Climax Class A

Climax Locomotives are, like the Museum’s Shay Locomotive, a type of geared locomotive that proved useful in hauling logs. Climax locomotives were built in Cory Pennsylvania from 1888 until 1928 and approximately 1100 units were constructed. Climaxes came in three types (Class A, Class B and Class C) of these the Class A had quite the unique appearance. Built on a frame that resembled a flatcar with a boxcar-like enclosure, the Class A had two vertical cylinders and two-speed gearboxes. The Class A could have either a vertical or tee boiler mounted. Only two Class As are known to survive.

Here are a couple pictures of Climax Class As from the Museum’s Archives. Unfortunately there is no information to go with the photos.

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1934 CCC Social Program

One of the newest additions to the collection is this program from a CCC sponsored event illustrates one of the ways that the men of the CCC interacted with the communities near their camps. This event was held at the East Stroudsburg Armory and featured a Basketball game between a CCC team and the East Stroudsburg State Teachers College Jr. Varsity team and a Dance with music by Ken Brown and his Royal Dance Orchestra. Local company’s purchased ads in the program. Company 302 of the Civilian Conservation Corps was stationed at Camp S-93, Laurel Run.

This program served a dual purpose as a autograph book for Ralph Lynch and is filled with the signatures and hometowns of his fellow CCC members. (LM2019.19.1)
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Febriline or Lyon’s Tasteless Syrup of Quinine

Step right this way, friend, and behold the next selection from the Pennsylvania Lumber Museum’s patent medicine collection. While this tonic does fall under the category of patent medicine since it was made before any regulation, and the box does say it is registered with the patent office, it does differ in that it could have been effective. One of the listed uses was as a Malarial tonic, and Quinine is an effective treatment for malaria.

The box describes this tasteless syrup as “It is Pleasant to the taste. CHILDREN LIKE IT”. Which begs the question of how something tasteless has a pleasant taste? (L73.18.1 A,B)

Back of the Box.
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Happy St. Patty’s Day

Curator’s Corner

St. Patrick’s Day is a day for the wearing of the green. You know who wore green? The boys of the Civilian Conservation Corps, that’s who. For most of its existence, the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) did not have its own distinct dress uniform. The uniforms initially given to the CCC Boys consisted of a mix of old and new Army issue clothing. In the first years of the CCC, surplus World War I shirts and trousers were issued. That changed in 1939 when the CCC received a spruce green wool dress uniform designed specifically for them. It is unknown who owned this particular coat but it represents the dress coat worn by the CCC from 1939 until it was disbanded in 1942. (LM2019.16.1)

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Why does the Curator Have a Freezer?

Is there ice cream in there? I want some ice cream….Alas there is no ice cream in my freezer only artifacts. This freezer can be a useful tool to help with the preservation of some of the artifacts that come to the museum. Mold and insects can eat away and destroy some artifacts if they are allowed to infest a collection. Paper and textile items are at particular risk. Such items can be frozen to help treat against such dangers. Freezing an item will kill insects and active mold. (It will not kill inactive mold but as long as the item is not exposed to high humidity the mold should remain inactive and not spread) Currently I am in the process of freezing some paper material from the Emporium Lumber Company. These items had been stored in an area that wasn’t climate controlled and that could have been exposed to insects. Prior to being placed into the freezer they are wrapped in freezer paper to keep out moisture. These items then frozen as a precaution before they are moved into the main storage area.

A couple of ledgers from the Emporium Lumber Company that where frozen before they were placed into the archive storage.
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Smokey Bear Posters

To Help celebrate Smokey Bear’s 75th birthday this post highlights a new donation for two posters featuring everyone’s favorite Forest Fire preventing bear. These two posters, donated by the Brownawell Family, are 84 inches tall, making them by far the largest in our collection. These posters are so large they come in two pieces, known as 2-sheet posters.

The first poster (LM2019.14.1A-B) is from 1956.

The second poster is from 1963.

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Barnes Foot Power Former

Gift: Mr. and Mrs. A.W. deRoos (L71.11.3)
Image from a late 19th century W.F. & John Barnes Catalog

Before electric power tools there were human powered tools. This late 19th century wood working tool was foot operated using pedals. They would have been an improvement over hand tools and used by carpenters working in and around Pennsylvania’s Lumber towns.

This bicycle like Wood Former/ Shaper was made by the W.F. & John Barnes Company  and was used for molding edges and scroll work. This particular machine was given to William Chastain while he was a carpenter’s apprentice to his Uncle, Theodore Grabe, in Coudersport in the 1890’s. Mr. Chastain was born in Roulette, PA in 1875. In addition to working as a carpenter’s apprentice, he worked in local logging camps, often as a teamster, using his father’s horses. He moved with his family to Rochester, NY in 1909, where he spent the next 50 years working as a carpenter.

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Small Changes

Our main exhibit doesn’t change very often but we do try to limit how long some of our more sensitive artifacts, such as paper or fabric objects, are on display. This week we rotated some of the artifacts in our exhibit. One item was the BLOT Tobacco Package (OM77.152) which was rotated with the FRISHMUTH’S Tobacco Package (LM2011.3.55).

Stop on by and see if you can spot the other artifacts that where rotated.