White Nose Pete, a fabled brook trout. Cornelia “Fly Rod” Crosby, Maine’s first licensed guide. Carrie Stevens, who landed a nearly 7-pound fish, then a name for herself.

They’ll all be in there. Rangeley is halfway to a one-of-a-kind museum.

Don Palmer, head of the Rangeley Region Guides’ & Sportsmen’s Association and the historical society, said work will break ground this fall on the Rangeley Outdoor Sporting Heritage Museum. Two acres have already been purchased in the center of Oquossoc village and nearly half-a-million dollars raised, in just a year.

“I think people will come to Rangeley from all over the country to see this museum,” Palmer said. “We think we have something here.”

With an entrance designed to look like the town’s old Nash taxidermy shop, the log cabin-style building will have displays that start with North American Indians, cover the 1800s boom when the farming community became famous for its fish, and work up to the present, he said.

The museum will showcase more than 150 different patterns of Stevens’ fly-fishing ties, the largest display of her flies in the world. Stevens, using one of her own flies, caught a 6-pound-13-ounce brook trout in Upper Dam in 1924 – about four times the size of an average brook trout – and helped cement the area’s reputation as a fishing destination.

“It propelled her into the fly-tying business,” Palmer said. She gave creations names like Kelly’s Killer and Rooster’s Regret. Today, originals sell for as much as $800 at auction, he said.

Crosby, taxidermist and artist Herb Welch and other local sporting celebrities will also be featured.

The museum’s opening date will depend on funds. The project is estimated at $700,000 for land, building and displays; $100,000 for acquisitions; and $200,000 for an endowment.

To that end, the museum is offering donation rights to 24 artifacts already in hand, starting at $10,000. At the top of that list: White Nose Pete, a wooden brook trout with a snout full of flies. Between $50,000 and $100,000 will get the future donor a “donated by” plaque next to the fish, as it rests in the museum.

One hundred years ago when fishermen lost a fly, they blamed it on White Nose. In the 1920s, Shang Wheeler, a famous decoy carver and a friend of Stevens’, carved a bust of the mythical fish with its mouth full of hooks and feathers. He hand-painted a ditty on the base:

“Here’s all that’s left of White Nose Pete, he died because he couldn’t eat.”

“That’s probably the premiere piece of folk art in the area,” Palmer said. “The work itself is exceptionally done.”

Local and summer residents all have been generous so far, Palmer said.

“Many of the families that have been coming here for years and years, they support the project,” he said. “They’ve been able to make some very significant donations, both in terms of financial and volunteering. … Their families are going to be part of the museum.”

Go and do

Rangeley Outdoor Sporting Heritage Museum Fundraising Auction & Dinner

Meal, followed by live and silent auctions. Items include Carrie Stevens flies, carved loon decoy, Nantucket basket.

When: Aug. 16, 4:30-7:30 p.m.

Where: Bald Mountain Camps, Rangeley

Cost: Donation of $50 a person

FMI: 864-3671

For more about the museum: rangeleyoutdoormuseum.org or contact Don Palmer at 864-5647


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