National Geographic : 1948 Oct
Steady, Now! An Aroostook Team, Muscles Straining, Competes in a Horse Pulling Contest The horses, driven by their owner and eyed critically by rival farmers, drag a heavy sledge loaded with sacks of fertilizer. Such events, along with sulky racing, cattle judging, and a blaring midway, annually attract all Aroostook to the Northern Maine Fair at Presque Isle (page 463). Larry, the potato salesman, secured his up turned canoe to the top of his car. On the rear seat we piled extra clothing and fishing tackle. Ahead lay a whole Sunday and a lake with salmon in it. What more could a man of Aroostook want-unless, perhaps, a bumper crop? But I remembered Gordon Fraser better than the fish we caught that day. At his camp on the edge of Square Lake we stopped for lunch. I commented on the pleasant spot. "Sure, this is God's own country," Fraser said, "but He doesn't stay here in winter." Gordon Fraser, however, did. During summer, Fraser's camp accom modates about 20 sporting guests. From Boston or New York, Cleveland or the Nether lands West Indies they come principally to fish. After the autumn hunting season, Gor don settles down to cut firewood and shovel snow. To fish remote lakes and ponds in the deep woods, flying boats transport scores of city sportsmen and local farmers. Small craft for the purpose are based all over the county. When I was there, the village of Portage had a plane for every ten persons living there. The only alternative to reaching destinations in the trackless wilderness by air requires days on foot (page 478). Solid forest covered Aroostook when the first pioneers pushed up from Massachusetts. Early in the 19th century a handful of settlers reported the vast timber resources of this north country. However, even after Maine became a State in 1820, the area remained relatively un touched by white men for another decade.* Mostly Indians moved along the river that ultimately gave the county a name; to them Aroostook meant "smooth water." Then American settlers and lumbermen grew interested in the territory; so did Canada. *See, in the NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE, "Maine, the Outpost State," by George Otis Smith, May, 1935.