Pamola Motor Lodge Project A Part Of Millinocket's Economic Recovery

Published: Mar. 2, 2018 at 5:56 PM EST
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The Pamola Motor Lodge in Millinocket has been a staple in the area for decades.

After the high paying jobs went away when the mill closed in 2008, many were forced to think outside the box when it comes to bringing more commerce to the area.

As Alyssa Thurlow reports, the new owners of the lodge plan to do everything they can to help put the town back on the map.

"Good afternoon. Thank you for calling the Pamola. This is Karen. How may I help you?"

The Pamola Motor Lodge has been a fixture on Millinocket's Central Street for decades.

But ever since the closure of the region's two mills, many jobs went away, and so did the commerce.

Now, two Millinocket natives are doing their best to turn things around.

"The hotel is old. It needs repair. I'm working and putting every penny back into it.," said Owner, Chris Carr.

The Pamola Motor Lodge has been a mainstay for snowmobilers and folks visiting Baxter State Park for years, but like much in Millinocket these days, it's about moving forward.

"I have some ideas to improve that. Give them the sites in the campground for an affordable rate with a new vending room. I'm putting in washer and dryer hook-ups, shower house, and coin-op showers, and just trying to make it more accommodating to them, so they'll stay a little longer," said Carr.

Chris Carr and his wife bought the lodge back in December of 2016.

Carr says while he has never worked in the hospitality industry before, he has some ideas about how to make it the region's new economic focus.

"I've changed the bar around. There used to be beer signs everywhere. I put some nice pictures up. I got brand new tables. We've got a pretty competitive pool league in town with nine ball Sundays, Women's League Tuesdays, and I have made it grow a little bit doing tournaments every night, and providing a good place for people to hang out, drink cheap beer, and play pool."

Since Millinocket's downtown is about a mile away from the motel, Carr also started a taxi service, the Pamola Shuttle, to attract locals. It's the only one in town.

And one big boost in the redevelopment of Millinocket is the addition of the marathon.

"More and more people are interested in the buzz that's starting to happen about Millinocket, kind of the rebirth of the city after the mills left, and what not. We're seeing a lot of increased traffic and Chris is jumping on the opportunity to be there for the lodging to support people," explained Jamie Brundrett of the Katahdin Area Chamber of Commerce.

Carr's Pamola Project is coming along. And business in the slower seasons is picking up. The best part? He's already booked for next year's marathon.