The Owls Head Transportation Museum will hold its fifth annual Snow Movers Winter Transportation Festival next weekend, assisted by the Maine Snowmobile Association. This year’s two-day event will be held from 9:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday and will feature Lombard Log Hauler demonstrations, Model T snowmobile rides, horse-drawn sleigh rides, dog sleds and an antique snowmobile parade, as well as many family-oriented activities throughout the weekend.
“It started out as an antique snowmobile meet, but we realized there are many things in Maine that were used to move in the snow,” said Park Morrison, the public relations director for the Owls Head Transportation Museum. “Snow is so much of our culture here in Maine. It is all about winter transportation, and snowmobiles are a big part of that.”
In fact, snowmobiles — converted Model Ts equipped with snow tracks — were used in the early 20th century as a means to reach people in the Maine wilderness in the wintertime.
The book “The Big-Little World of Doc Pritham,” written by Maine author Dorothy Clarke Wilson, describes the early use of the snowmobile by the Greenville doctor:
“It was in the fall of 1923 that Dr. F. W. Pritham bought his first snowmobile, a Ford Model T coupe connected to caterpillar treads constructed of canvas, with a metal shoe to give a toehold. Though the Great Northern had one, it was still such a curiosity in town that both children and adults flocked to inspect the new contraption.
“ ‘Dr. F. J. Pritham,’ recorded in The Northern in February, 1927, ‘who was the first to drive a car into Chesuncook Village by the tote road, has set another record. On January 10, he filled the tank of his snowmobile with 30 gallons of gasoline and started for Chamberlain Lake. He drove to Grant Farm, Deer Pond, and Chesuncook Village; here he crossed Chesuncook Lake and Gero Island and went up Umbazooksus Meadows past Longley Pond to the head of Umbazooksus Lake. The doctor left his car here and proceeded to the camp at the mouth of Ellis Brook on Chamberlain Lake on snowshoes, a distance of five miles. The doctor had run his car farther north than anyone had ever gone before in this country with a motor vehicle. The return trip of about 70 miles was made in seven hours.’ “
Anyone owning a pre-1991 snowmobile, snow blower, sleigh, toboggan, sled or ice boat is invited to exhibit their winter vehicles and receive free admission to the event. Museum members also receive free admission. All MSA members will receive a discount admission, and all visitors under the age of 18 are admitted free. The cost for admission for others is $12.
Several collectors and experts on antique and vintage snowmobiles will be on hand to showcase some of their rare models. Snowmobile clubs also are invited to reserve free booth space to promote their club.
There will be a snow vehicle marketplace, where people can bring their snowmobiles to sell or shop to purchase a new snowmobile. Interested sellers should contact the museum for information about arranging for a vendor space.
Displays and exhibits will be both indoors and outdoors. On Sunday, there will be a demonstration of a 1914 steam-powered Lombard Log Hauler. The 15-ton machine is currently on loan from Harry Crooker family. There are also horse-drawn logging demonstrations on both days.
At noontime each day there will be parade of antique snowmobiles and snow plows, led by the museum’s 1926 Model T snowmobile.
Other activities include snowmobile movies in the museum’s auditorium and antique snowmobile demonstrations. Children’s activities include a foam airplane workshop, held from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. both days. The museum’s Piper Super Cub will be available for coastal plane rides, weather permitting.
Cathy Genthner is a registered Maine Guide licensed to guide snowmobile trips. She owns River Bluff Camps in Medford, located off ITS-83. She can be reached at: