The processing of this collection was funded
by gifts from the Pingree heirs.
The Phillips Library at the Peabody Essex Museum 132 Essex Street Salem, MA 01970 Phone: 978-745-9500 Fax: 978-531-1516
Chamberlain Farm (Me.)
Chamberlain Farm and Dam and Telos Canal
10.5 linear feet (16 boxes, 1 flat file)
The Chamberlain Farm and Dam
and Telos Canal records document the everyday business that was carried out in
managing the logging-related operations of the Chamberlain Farm, the Telos Farm, and
the Telos Canal in Maine.
SERIES I. Financial Records
A. Chamberlain Farm
B. Telos Farm
SERIES II. Inventories SERIES III. Other
Scope and Content Note
The Chamberlain Farm and Dam and Telos Canal records document the everyday business
that was carried out in managing the logging-related operations of the Chamberlain
Farm, the Telos Farm, and the Telos Canal in Maine. The majority of the items were
bound together, presumably by the creators of the materials. These items have been
kept together, with the folder title reflecting how the bundles were originally
labeled. This collection has been divided into three series.
Series I. Financial Records contains bills, receipts,
vouchers, and accounts of Chamberlain Farm and Telos Canal and Telos Farm. This
series has been divided into two subseries. Subseries A.
Chamberlain Farm contains financial records for Chamberlain Farm and some
for Chamberlain Dam. Subseries B. Telos Farm contains
some financial records for Telos Farm and the Telos Canal Company. Some of the
accounts involve Chamberlain Farm, its owners, and or its agents.
Series II. Inventories contains inventories from both
Chamberlain Farm and Telos Farm. The inventories are quite detailed, listing
everything from the number of nails to the number and age of hogs on the farm.
Series II. Other contains materials such as
correspondence, memoranda, maps, and plans. Of particular interest in this series is
a copy of an article "The Telos Canal", describing the history of the building of
the Canal and the Telos War that preceded it. There is also a list of the names of
stockholders in the Telos Canal Company in 1891, and some photographs.
In 1846, faced with the problem of getting supplies to remote locations for their
lumber workers, E. S. Coe (1814-1899) and his business partner, David Pingree
(1795-1863) built Chamberlain Farm, halfway up the
eastern shore of Chamberlain Lake, Maine (Bureau of Parks and Lands). Chamberlain
Farm provided hay, oats, and other produce for the livestock, vegetables for the
workers, and also served as a centrally located depot for all kinds of equipment and
goods. This was not the first farm which Coe and Pingree had built for this purpose,
but it was the largest and most remote (Bennett 76). Consisting of 600 acres, with
several large buildings, Chamberlain Farm was located between Chamberlain Dam, Telos
Dam, and Telos Canal, making it a convenient location (Bennett 77). In 1970,
Chamberlain Farm was placed in the restricted zone of the Allagash Wilderness
Waterway (Bennett 337).
The idea or need for the Chamberlain Dam and Telos Canal began in the 1830s, when lumber barons in Maine
sought a way to reverse the water flow of the Allagash River so that they would not
have to transport their lumber through British controlled ports in Canada via the
St. John River. To reverse the flow of the river from north to south, the levels of
multiple lakes had to be raised in order to move logs from the area around
Chamberlain and Telos Lakes into Webster Lake, a headwater of the East Branch of the
Penobscot River, and thus a direct route into Bangor where the logs could be sold.
In order to accomplish this, a dam was constructed to raise the water level of
Chamberlain Lake and another one was built in Telos Lake in 1841 (Bureau of Parks
and Lands). The Chamberlain Dam, now called Lock Dam, was built on the northeast
shore of Chamberlain Lake, while the Telos Dam was built on the south end of Telos
Lake (LaRoche). At the same time, a canal 10 to 15 feet wide and one to six feet
deep stretched 500 feet long from Telos Lake to Webster Lake—this became known as
the Telos Canal or Telos Cut (Bureau of Parks and Lands). The Chamberlain Dam worked
by raising the water level of Chamberlain Lake by 11 feet, which would then run down
into Telos Lake (Bennett 70). Meanwhile, Telos Dam worked by holding back the lake's
water until enough force could be created, where upon release it could drive the
logs through Telos Canal and into Webster Lake.
In reality, everything did not work as smoothly, as each dam was owned by
private individuals, each with his own needs and interests (Bureau of Parks and
Lands). Chamberlain Dam was owned by David Pingree, while Telos Canal was owned by
Rufus Dwinel, who charged Pingree and others a toll to send logs through the Canal,
enforcing his toll through the use of armed men. This became known as the "Telos
War". Eventually the Maine Legislature's Committee on Interior Waters stepped in and
forced Dwinel to set a reasonable toll or risk his canal being opened to the public
(Bennett 76). At the same time, the legislature incorporated Dwinel's operation as
the Telos Company or Telos Canal Company (Wood 122). By 1891, E. S. Coe and David
Pingree's heirs, and James N. Chandler, an agent for Pingree and Coe, were
stockholders in the Telos Canal Company. Dwinel also owned a farm near the Telos
Canal; it is possible the farm is what was referred to as Telos Farm within this
collection. The hay, grain, and produce produced on the farm were used for the
logging operations (Maine Board of Agriculture 844).
In the 1850s, E. S. Coe redesigned Chamberlain Dam to include a series of locks
that were used to float groups of logs from Eagle Lake to Chamberlain Lake; however,
this process was slow and thus abandoned in the early 1900s in favor of a
steam-powered tramway. Eventually Bangor Hydro-Electric Company gained control of
Lock (Chamberlain) and Telos Dams, and managed them for down-stream power
generation. In 1962, wooden timbers were added to the dams to provide added
protection from ice movement and waves. In 2000, the Bangor Hydro-Electric Company
donated the dams to the state of Maine. Lock Dam was repaired in 2009, and is
considered to be a culturally important historical site in the Allagash Wilderness
This collection is indexed under the following headings in Philcat. Researchers desiring materials about related topics, persons,
or places should search the catalog using these headings.
Chandler, James N.
Coe, Eben Smith, 1814-1899
Coe, Thomas Upham, 1837-1920
Pingree, David, 1795-1863
Pingree, David, 1841-1932
Chamberlain Farm (Me.)
East Branch Dam Company (Me.)
Telos Canal Company (Me.)
Telos Farm (Me.)
Allagash River Watershed (Me.)
Chamberlain Dam (Me.)
Telos Dam (Me.)
Restrictions on Access
This collection is open for research use.
Requests for permission to publish material from the collection must be submitted in
writing to the Manuscript Librarian in the Phillips Library at the Peabody Essex
Chamberlain Farm and Dam and Telos Canal Records, MSS 916, Phillips Library, Peabody
Essex Museum, Salem, Mass.
This material was donated by Pingree family heirs. An article about the history of
the Telos Canal was donated by Stephen Wheatland on April 30, 1965. Three
photographs were a gift of Stephen Wheatland on May 19, 1977.
Collection processed by Hilary Streifer, December 2015.
Bennett, Dean B. The Wilderness from Chamberlain Farm: A Story
of Hope for the American Wild. Washington: Island Press/Shearwater Books,
The Chamberlain Farm and Dam and Telos Canal records document the everyday business that was carried out in managing the logging-related operations of the Chamberlain Farm, the Telos Farm, and the Telos Canal in Maine.
Chamberlain Farm (Me.); Telos Farm (Me.); Telos Canal Company (Me.); East Branch Dam Company (Me.); Allagash River Watershed (Me.); Chamberlain Dam (Me.); Telos Dam (Me.); Chandler, James N.; Coe, Eben Smith, 1814-1899; Coe, Thomas Upham, 1837-1920; Pingree, David, 1795-1863; Pingree, David, 1841-1932; Dams--Maine; Logging--Maine; Lumber trade
Requests for permission to publish material from the collection must be submitted in writing to the Manuscript Librarian in the Phillips Library at the Peabody Essex Museum.
This material was donated by Pingree family heirs. An article about the history of the Telos Canal was donated by Stephen Wheatland on April 30, 1965. Three photographs were a gift of Stephen Wheatland on May 19, 1977.