Cornelia “Fly Rod” Crosby, portrayed by Pam Matthews of Phillips, rode with visitors at the Sandy River & Rangeley Lakes Railroad Museum to the roundhouse and back Saturday morning during the inaugural Fly Rod Crosby Days at Fox Carleton Pond Sporting Camps in Phillips. (Valerie Tucker photo)

PHILLIPS — Maine Guide Nancy Taylor had some advice for Angel Truman of Farmingdale who was trying to perfect her fly-fishing cast at the inaugural Fly Rod Crosby Days event on the Sandy River on Saturday. 

Smooth out the small hesitation in your back-and-forth movements, Taylor advised.

“It’s all about weight and mechanics,” she told Truman.” You can have the worst mechanics in the world, but if the line is doing what you want it to, you’ll be all right.”

Cornelia “Fly Rod” Crosby of Phillips was the state’s first registered Maine Guide. She was a journalist, an expert fly-fisher and hunter, and a conservationist. She grew up in Phillips, guided in Rangeley and is buried in Strong.

The three-day celebration of Crosby began Friday at Fox Carleton Pond Sporting Camps with fly-casting lessons, panning for gold and western Maine history lessons.

Many visitors walked the first part of the Fly Rod Crosby Trail, a 45-mile stretch along the Sandy River from Phillips to the Rangeley village of Oquossoc.

Crosby also worked for the Sandy River & Rangeley Lakes Railroad. People gathered Saturday at the railroad museum for a ride with a Crosby re-enactor on the narrow gauge railroad. Pam Matthews, in clothing she sewed based on a photo of Crosby, led the hourlong tour to the railroad’s roundhouse and back to the restored station.

According to lore, Matthews said, the railroad opened in the 1890s because western Maine residents needed a way to get vacationers to the Rangeley region. The Sandy River Railroad and the Philips and Rangeley railroad jointly operated a passenger train called the Fast Fly Fisherman. Although the railroad no longer runs between Farmington and Rangeley, the museum offers rides throughout the summer.

Crosby, born in 1854, got her first bamboo fly rod in 1878 from nearby Farmington rod maker Charles E. Wheeler. In 1895, Crosby carried tanks of trout on the Maine Central Railroad to the first annual Sportsmen’s Exposition in New York City. She and two Rangeley guides manned a Maine booth displaying taxidermy and a log cabin.

While attending the 1897 Sportsmen’s Exposition, Crosby was informed of the passage of an important bill in Maine. A telegram from Maine Commissioner of Inland Fisheries and Game Charles Oak to Miss C.T. Crosby in Phillips on March 19, 1897, said simply, “Guide bill passed today almost unanimously.”

For years, through the Maine Sportsmen’s Fish and Game Association, she pushed for the licensing of guides as a way to generate funds for fish and game protection. She was a friend of Annie Oakley’s and met many famous statesmen, including President Theodore Roosevelt. One interesting fact, Matthews said, was that Crosby didn’t support women’s right to vote movement.

She died in 1946.

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.

filed under: