Scroll through for a look at some of Pelletier’s collection.
By Will Grunewald
Photographed by Michael D. Wilson
The oldest chainsaw in Louie Pelletier’s collection was driven by air pressure, for divers to use underwater during World War II. Pelletier also has a saw from Bangor’s D.D. Terrill Saw Co. (the only chainsaw manufacturer ever based in Maine, as best he knows), a few unwieldy two-man saws (a style obsolete by midcentury), and some 300 others, all at Louie’s Antique Chain Saws, in Allagash. Pelletier made a living doing woods work, and in 1969, he started repping a Swedish saw company on the side. By then, the saw industry had consolidated and the machines had reached modern form — compact, lightweight, with chain brakes and shock-absorbing handles — but Pelletier had a soft spot for outmoded and idiosyncratic models. He’d trade for or buy them locally when he could, and lately, he’s taken to eBay. “I thought I was the only nut doing this,” he says, “but I’m bidding against people all over the world.” Until five years ago, he kept the saws in his home garage. “One day, my wife put them all outside,” Pelletier says. “I had an antique truck too. I came home to find a big cardboard sign in front that said ‘Free’.” So he moved the saws across the street, where he and his son run a woodshop, Allagash Wood Products, and turned an outbuilding into a museum. Now, school groups and scout troops are regular visitors. “The younger generation has never seen some of this old stuff,” he says. “I just want to protect it from going to the junkyard.
The museum doesn’t have set hours, but Pelletier is almost always around to greet visitors during the day.