Sunday, March 30, 2008

Katahdin Lodge in 1977-78

This was what Katahdin Lodge looks like after my Uncle Finley K. Clarke had worked on it for 7 or 8 years. The man was very good at most everything he did. Truth be told, he was Ace of several trades, and Jack of a few more—not "Jack of all trades, Ace of none" like many people are said to be.

The property that Katahdin Lodge sets on was once a stage coach stop, a "way station". For many years, it was an inn for travelers. I knew exactly where the main building of the original inn was located. I knew because the old cellar to it had once been used as a septic tank for the Lodge, and the grass grew higher right above it. I mowed that grass many times, always pushing the lawn mower swiftly while stepping lightly over the old septic tank. It had been covered with wooden planks, a long time ago, and there was no telling how rotten the boards had become over the years. I definitely did not want to fall into what was fertilizing the grass there. There is a small, family grave yard on the property that dates from the 1800s. That was for the people who ran the way station.

I can't recall the year it was built, but a man named Art Sharpe built the first version of Katahdin Lodge. I'm pretty sure that his name had an "e" on the end of it, because Fin once said that Art was "a sharpee, all right". Fin was referring to Art Sharpe's way of conducting business. Art had made the way station cellar into the septic tank. He also had used old boards from abandoned farms and houses around the area. In 1969, Finley and I were tearing out walls and rebuilding the inside of the Lodge, we saw 2 x 4s that had turned grey from the weather when those wall studs had been part of an old falling down house. We also had piles of saw dust fall out from the insides of walls. Sawdust was used for insulation. It's a bad fire hazard, but it does have some insulating value.

The last time I saw Art Sharpe, he and another old timer were going out to poach a deer. Finley and I encountered them when they were in their International Harvester four wheel drive jeep type vehicle driving down an old, rarely used dirt road to some abandoned farm fields. We had some bear baits back there and where coming out that road. We stopped to chat with Art for a minute.

Art was kinda' too quiet and shaky looking, when he said that he was going back there to show his friend, the passenger, where there was an old dump to root around on looking for antiques. But Fin knew better. He and I both could tell that Art looked real surprised, and slightly shook up, to see anyone else back there. And Fin saw there was a deer hunting rifle laying on the seat and floor between the two old timers, and partially covered by a jacket.

But two old Mainers were going to harvest some food for their families, so that type of poaching is tolerated by most northern Mainers. Including some game wardens. I was hanging out in Earl Giggy's Esso Station and tiny country store in Patten once, when a game warden told this one guy, "I don't mind if a person takes (kills) a half a dozen deer a year, as long as they need it to feed their family with. But don't ever just shoot a deer or moose and let it lay or just take the prime meat off its hind quarters and leave the rest. You do that and I will come after you and arrest you."

Sometime during the later 1950s or early 1960s, Art Sharpe sold the Lodge to a man from Maryland named Harold Schmidt.

In 1965, Finley bought a fifty percent interest in Katahdin Lodge from Harold Schmidt.

Eventually, Finley became the sole owner of the Lodge.

Barbara and Wayne Birmingham. This couple of slightly larger than average persons could really dance; they could Rock n' Roll, smooth and gracefully together. They were great friends of Fin and Marty's, and mine too. I thoroughly enjoyed their company. This set of photos was taken on New Years Day 1978.

One of these young folks is Wayne or Barbara's child. As I remember it, 2 of their children and the kid's boyfriends or girlfriend's came up to the Lodge to spend New Years Day with us. And there was always at least one cat living at the Lodge.

My Aunt Martha goofin' for me and my camera, as Barb tries to keep from laughing too hard at us. There was always at least one house pet dog living at the Lodge too.

Wayne and Fin putting together the traditional New Years Day jigsaw puzzle.

Fin and Marty grew up next door to each other, in the wonderful little town of Sparrows Point, Maryland. "The Point" was a company town, owned by the Bethlehem Steel Mill Corporation. Every family who lived On The Point had a family member who worked in the steel mills there. The town was torn down in 1973, to make way for a humongous new blast furnace.

Up until that time, The Point was a lot like Patten, Maine. A small town where almost everyone knew a sizable number of the other residents of the town. Both towns were 99% crime free. No drinking alcohol was sold on The Point, and the only alcohol sold in Patten was from the state liquor store. So neither town had a bar. All of this helped Fin and Marty to easily fit right in up in the Patten area.

Before buying into Katahdin Lodge, Fin worked as a bricklayer Down The Point. And Marty worked in the main office there. In 1965, they had their house in Dundalk, Maryland paid off, and their car and pick up truck too.

Finley and Martha never had any children. They were securely in love, and I have always believed that they made love often enough, but there was a physical, medical problem preventing them from conceiving the children they so deeply desired. My family never knew what that unfortunate medical problem was, but Fin and Marty had seen doctors about it.

Fin worked a lot of overtime Down The Point, and then after work he often went hunting. He would pull a twenty hour shift of laying brick and block, then go home, pack up and head for Maryland's Eastern Shore to do some duck or deer hunting. He hunted all over the United States and up into Canada. The last two years that Fin and Marty lived in Dundalk, they never bought meat. They had a tall freezer full of wild game meat that Fin had harvested. That love of eating meat from wild game animals also helped them to fit right in up in Maine.

In 1965, Finley went on a hunting trip up to Katahdin Lodge. That was when Harold Schmidt offered Fin a 50% partnership in the Lodge. Finley accepted the offer, he and Marty quit their jobs, sold their home in Maryland and moved to Maine.

Fin and Marty weren't living and working at the Lodge for very long before it was all theirs. The reason why is not a nice story. But I have sworn to myself never to place any negative facts on this web site, so all you need to know is that Fin and Marty took over the Lodge and made it a very successful and profitable business venture.

And! They repaired, improved and built up the property to what you see in the photo at the beginning of this page.

Compare that to the older 1968-69 era photos of the Lodge on other pages of this web site, and you will see for yourself that Fin and Marty did an outstanding job of making Katahdin Lodge the attractive place that it still is today.

Fin and Marty retired some years ago, and then they sold the Lodge to some fairly religious Christians. I have exchanged some emails with the new owners, and they have an excellent web site. There is a link to the site at the top right side of this page, under, Katahdin Valley Area Web Sites.

Katahdin Lodge is a great place to go on a hunting trip, fishing expedition, snowmobile or all terrain vehicle off road adventure, the star gazing opportunities are awesome and it's good bird watching there.

Katahdin Lodge is a nice place to go on a family oriented, outdoors adventure vacation up in God's Country.

See this website as a book, viewing it a page at a time. Turn the pages by clicking on that OLDER POST button below. 

Click on HOME under this to go to the first page.

There is a table of contents over in the right hand column at the bottom of every page - under BLOG ARCHIVE. 

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