Scribner’s Mill will take you ‘Back to the Past’ this Saturday
HARRISON — Imagine one of America’s earliest sawmills in full operation, with oxen hauling logs to the river, blacksmiths repairing tools and mill family members busily working in the mill, farmhouse and barn.
Imagine being able to feel, hear, smell, see and taste what it was like to experience this way of life. This Saturday, Aug. 4, visitors to Scribner’s Mill in Harrison will be able to do just that, when the 21st annual Back to the Past celebration is held.
It is very rare to find original mills still in existence that are located on their original site and are operational, and the theme of the 2012 Back to the Past honors the fact that the mill is the only early industrial sawmill left in the United States. Five generations of Scribners lived there, and it owes its survival to Jesse Scribner, who lived well into his 90s and kept the mill operating with its original equipment until the 1940s, long after most other early sash sawmills had been abandoned.
Scribner’s Mill, located on the Crooked River just south of Bolsters Mills, will once again be transformed into a bustling turn-of-the-century mill and homestead on Saturday, Aug. 4, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. This year, the mill is celebrating its unique “One of a Kind” status as the only early industrial sawmill left in the United States
For the second year in a row, a Teamsters Rally will be a special attraction, with the chance to see eight teams of oxen all hitched together, head to tail, trekking up Scribner’s Mill Road. Oxen were traditionally used to haul logs to the mill, and Dottie Bell of Waterford will lead demonstrations of the oxen teams separately and as a group throughout the day.
Those attending Saturday’s event, which runs from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., will hear the hum of old mill machinery, much of it original and still intact. In its heyday as an industrial sawmill, Scribner’s mill manufactured barrel staves, shingles, clapboards and apple boxes. Scribner’s Mill, which operated from 1847 to 1962, is the only mid-19th century sash sawmill remaining in North America that remains on its original site and still has much of its original equipment, thanks in part to Jesse Scribner, who kept operating the mill the old-fashioned way long after other mills had transitioned to more modern technology.
At Back to the Past, you can watch and help barrels being made in the Cooper’s Shop inside the mill, and buy one for $40. After blacksmiths fire up the forge in the nearby blacksmith shed, you can have the barrels branded with the Scribner’s Mill logo. Beside the blacksmith shop, you’ll see a farrier at work, replacing horseshoes on her team of horses.
Another treat will be the rare chance to see eight teams of oxen hitched together head to tail, marching up Scribner’s Mill Road. The teamsters will give working steer demonstrations throughout the day, and offer ox cart rides for the children.
Also offered will be tours of the 1850 homestead, with demonstrations of quilting, weaving, spinning, rug hooking, basketry, beekeeping and the making of ice cream. Visitors will be able to watch a video in the barn showing a real sash sawmill operation in action. In the millpond area, antique tractors and other machinery will be demonstrated. At the side of the millpond is a new Ice House, housing a donated collection of antique ice-making tools.
Supervised children’s activities will be available in and around the corn shed, led by volunteers from the Bridgton Historical Society. The children will be invited to take part in a pillow fight, make their own candles, or play an old-time hoop-stick game. There will be free wagon rides from a beautiful pair of Belgian horses.
The Highland String Trio will return again this year to provide fiddling-folk music from 1:30 to 3 p.m.; from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., Americana and roots music will be provided by Rusty Wood, aka drummer Rusty Wiltjer and Brad Hooper.
Back to the Past will also feature an old-fashioned Pig & Turkey Roast and Baked Bean Supper at 4:30 p.m., at a cost of $10 for adults, $6 for children. Lunch includes bison burgers and lobster rolls, and homemade pies and lemonade will also be available.
The site is handicapped accessible, with golf cart transportation available for those who find it difficult to walk long distances. Handicapped parking is at the homestead site, while regular parking is just up the hill on Scribner’s Mill Road. In case of rain that goes beyond scattered showers, the event will be postponed to Sunday, Aug. 5.
There will be a $6 admission fee, with children 12 and under admitted free. Proceeds are used to help in the restoration of the 1847 sawmill site. Travelers can reach Scribner’s Mill from Route 35 at Carsley Road, Route 117 at Maple Ridge, and Route 121 at Bolsters Mills Road. Watch for yellow and black Back to the Past signs.
For more information, call 583-4289 or 513-7337.