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Alfred Hempstead’s late 1920’s research on logging on the West Branch of the Penobscot and its tributaries resulted in his publication of The Penobscot Boom and The Development of the West Branch of The Penobscot River for Log Driving in 1930. No other publication containing such a collection of information preceded his work and none have been printed since. Hempstead’s research, which is frequently cited, focused on determining when logging began on the river and each of its main tributaries, how loggers worked in cooperation with each other, and what they needed for infrastructure for the drives. In some situations Hempstead made calculated guesses about when something took place, in others he shared what he could find, and in several he simply acknowledged he could not find the information for which he was looking. Hempstead did not have resources such as the index to Maine Legislative Acts and Resolves, computer word searches for newspaper archives and other printed matter, online census type data, the indexed collections at the Maine State Archives, and logging families’ personal papers that have been collected by historical societies and libraries around the State of Maine. These sources lead to answers of some of Hempstead’s questions, more information about some of the tributaries he mentions, and clarification of particular events. This article traces the sequence of events from 1828 to 1976, noting that log drives and use of some of the dams Hempstead wrote about continued for another 41 years after he completed his book in 1930.


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