AUBURN — People in Danville are wondering what Dan Giguere is up to building a locomotive-style treehouse. Drivers sit in disbelief as they look at the structure in his sugarbush, he said.

The Lewiston resident, his brothers, Gabe and Richard, and his good friend, Mike Cyr, are constructing a steam locomotive out of wood in a stand of maples and poplar trees that Guigure plans to use as a sugarhouse.

“Your gonna do what in a tree?” Giguere said he heard often before his project on Old Danville Road got off the ground.

Each spring, Giguere boils the sap from maple trees in an old sugarhouse about a quarter-mile up the hill from his train-in-progress. The sap runs through fixed lines downhill into the sugarhouse. Any sap downhill from the sugarhouse must be carried uphill to be boiled down.

“I’m too old to be lugging stuff,” Giguere, 59, said.

Dan Giguere of Lewiston works on top of the treehouse Tuesday that resembles a train locomotive in the Danville neighborhood of Auburn. Giguere will use the train as a sugarhouse next spring. Daryn Slover/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

So, rather than carry sap up the hill and so that guests won’t have to hike in the quarter-mile to watch the maple syrup process, Giguere decided to bring his sugarhouse closer to the road.

Guests have not always had to hike up to the sugarhouse. Raymond Hearn tapped the hillside sugarbush in the 1950s and ’60s and collected the sap at first with a horse and then with a Lombard tractor.

Dan Gigure drew a train locomotive before he began building it in a stand of trees in the Danville neighborhood of Auburn. Dan Giguere photo

Hearn and some Maine Turnpike builders built the Rock Maple Mountain Railroad, a rail line by which Hearn would bring visitors to his sugarhouse aboard a gas-powered engine with five work cars. The turnpike workers stayed with Hearn’s family while they built the turnpike through Auburn and helped Hearn build the railroad to return the favor.

“In keeping with the history of the property, I put a train on it,” Giguere said.

Come March, steam will be rising from Giguere’s train.

The locomotive will be his sugarhouse, with an evaporator inside the front of the train and a car behind the engine to collect the sap that will run downhill from his 56 acres.

“I am behind where I should be, but that’s the plan,” Giguere said of his preparedness for Maine Maple Sunday in March.

Giguere said other than a clubhouse for his children when they were little, he has never built anything that caught one’s attention.

“People pull up in their cars and just sit there in disbelief,” he said. “The whole town of Danville is wondering what the heck is happening up here.”

Giguere said the treehouse idea came to him after watching the television show “Treehouse Masters.” One episode showed a treehouse built for professional basketball player Shaquille O’Neal and another episode had one built to be a brewery.

“If he can do it. I can do it,” Giguere said about “Treehouse Masters” host Pete Nelson.

Like the railroad that inspired Giguere to build his locomotive, Giguere’s train sugarhouse will be called Rock Maple Mountain. The sugarhouse will stand on a mix of maple and poplar trees.

“I’m not going to tap those trees,” Giguere said. “I think they are working hard enough.”


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