Memorial honors fallen migrant workers

GARFIELD PLANTATION, Maine — The Maine Division of the Society of American Foresters recently dedicated a monument to 14 migrant workers who perished in a vehicle accident September 12, 2002, when crossing the Allagash River at John’s Bridge on T9 R13 WELS in Piscataquis County.

The granite monument, located near the Six Mile Gate checkpoint in the North Maine Woods, was dedicated during a memorial service on July 22. It is engraved with the names of the 14 men who died in the accident, as well as the name of the lone survivor.
The workers were from Honduras and Guatemala and had been employed by Evergreen Forestry Company, a contractor working on lands of Seven Islands Land Company.

The service included members of the Maine Division of SAF, employees and other representatives of corporate land owners, employees of the Maine Department of Conservation and several migrant workers from Horizon Forestry LLC of Virginia, who employ H2B workers from Honduras that return each summer to work in the Maine woods. Two of the workers attending the memorial service were related to workers who perished in the accident.

Several speakers from the attending organizations made presentations. Deacon Al Burleigh and his wife, Sonja, from St. Mary of the Visitation Church in Houlton led the group in prayer and reflection for those who perished in 2002, and on behalf of family and friends who lost loved ones in this accident.

Fundraising efforts to establish a memorial were initiated in 2002 by members of the student chapter of the Society of American Foresters at the University of Maine in Orono. Seven Island Lands Company contributed additional funds needed to complete the project.

Placing the memorial at a site in the Maine woods was confounded by property issues at the site of the accident, as it was on the Allagash Wilderness Waterway. North Maine Woods graciously made a site available at Six Mile Gate on the American Realty Road on Garfield Plantation, west of Ashland, to allow completion of the project.

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