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Presque Isle: The Star City

Harvesting Potatoes

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A Potato Harvesting Scene, Presque Isle, 1945
A Potato Harvesting Scene, Presque Isle, 1945

Item Contributed by
Presque Isle Historical Society

This painting by Richard Ellery is well known to Presque Isle residents. It was first put in the lobby of the new Northern National Bank building in 1946. It remained in the bank until it was acquired by the City of Presque Isle. It can be seen on the third floor of City Hall on Second Street. The painting shows 1940's potato harvesting stages, including digging, picking, and loading onto a truck.

On the left is a two-row digger operated by two men. A man is behind the digger picking potatoes. A full basket of potatoes is being emptied into a barrel. The farm owner, Mr. Conant is walking across the field by two potato pickers.

On the right, two men are loading a barrel by hand. The man is on the truck is placing the barrels.

Other trucks had a hydraulic hoist. These were operated by the truck driver.

Families from the northern part of Aroostook from the Fort Kent, Madawaska, and Van Buren areas would come to Presque Isle to work in various harvesting jobs. Usually the farmer would provide housing for these families. This house for picker’s families was usually not as fancy as the farmer’s house. It became know in local parlance as a “picker’s shack”. This painting, done in 1945 shows the Collins and the Albert families from St, Agatha working various aspects of the harvest.