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Arts and Culture

Life on the Maine Frontier, Through the Lens of Blacksmith/Woodsman Isaac Simpson

A new film that explores the lives of turn-of-the-20th century Mainers through photography airs tonight and Saturday on MPBN Television. In "The Maine Frontier: Through the Lens of Isaac Simpson," filmmaker and musician Sumner McKane tells the story of Isaac Walton Simpson. Simpson was a mechanic, a blacksmith, a barber, a woodsman and a photographer - and in this last capacity he took thousands of glass-plate photographs between about 1895 and 1910. He photographed farmers, loggers, construction crews, mill workers and their bosses. He and his wife, Effie, were also the parents of 13 children. Some of Simpson's photographs have been destroyed, but many survived. "The Maine Frontier" tells Simpson's story, and the stories of the people he photographed, using those photos, narration, and McKane's own original music. MPBN's Nora Flaherty talked with Sumner McKane about the film, and began by asking him how he came to find out about Isaac Walton Simpson's story in the first place.