Bill Pierce, Executive Director of the Outdoor Heritage Museum  (slightly re-named this year, from the previous “Outdoor Sporting Heritage Museum” which proved to be a bit of a mouthful, as well as being slightly redundant) proudly handed me a large, glossy-paged and beautifully illustrated, 347-page book earlier this spring when I stopped in at the museum to find out my volunteering schedule for the summer.  “Check this out” Bill stated with his signature warm and engaging smile.

The grounds, and new sign, of the OUTDOOR HERITAGE MUSEUM in beautiful (and growing) downtown Oquossoc

He peeled a copy off the top of a pile of the new books in the OHM gift shop and handed the large and handsome volume to me.  Check it out I did,….after asking Bill a few questions about the book which I quickly recognized as being full of magnificent photographs and background stories regarding all that is beautiful and historic about the beautiful rods, reels, flies and much, much more that makes up the history and equipment of the popular worldwide flyfishing sport that is more of a passion than a simple pastime….and has been for the past couple of centuries.

Steve Woit’s beautifully-illustrated FLY FISHING TREASURES, the World of Fly Fishers and Collectors (2018) 347 pages of outstanding color photographs and text

Steve Woit’s 2018 publication FLY FISHING TREASURES, the world of fly fishers and collecting is sure to set the standard among beautifully illustrated books about this passion among those devotees who enjoy this outdoor sport, and all who appreciate the beauty of fine color photography that displays true technical art and artifacts much more than a mere catalog of gear.

“Check out page 220” directed Bill again.  I did just that and found a 12-page, beautifully illustrated spread on our fine museum in Oquossoc.  It is one of three museums in the section entitled “Treasures in Clubs and Museums”. The OHM is truly in fine company.

The other two fine entries in that section are The American Museum of Fly Fishing in Manchester, Vermont and the Flyfishers Club in London, England.  Both have been the longstanding repositories of all things beautiful and historic associated with flyfishing for many years.  Author Woit has them moving over a bit to share their historic standing with the equally impressive Outdoor Heritage Museum…the fine “upstart” museum that is increasingly attracting Mainers and people from away…really away….to our Rangeley Region.

The museum’s placement in this fine book is truly a testament to founders Don and Stephanie Palmer, The Rangeley Lakes Historical Society’s Board of Directors and most certainly the continuing stewardship of Executive Director, Bill Pierce.  It is Bill’s continuing and passionate directorship that is bringing this fine repository of the colorful outdoor sporting history of the Rangeley Lakes Region to the forefront of fascinating museums that populate New England’s finest and most fascinating places….to now include our attractive corner of Maine’s mountains, lakes and streams.

As I set the handsome book on a display case in the museum’s gift shop, and began paging through the twelve pages beautifully devoted to OHM’s content displays and and its surrounding property, I launched into my inevitable questions…borne of my signature, and admittedly insatiable curiosity.   “California and Colorado had their gold rushes, Rangeley had a brook trout rush” said Bill as he, in turn, launched into all that describes his unbridled enthusiasm about Rangeley and its signature outdoor sporting heritage.

“Our museum is a collection of artifacts that tell a history of a very talented, proud, and industrious people in this region” he then stated.  I quickly thought to myself:….”talented, proud, and industrious” very aptly describes Bill. He truly is one with his responsibilities associated with making the museum continuously better and better….as well as making sure more and more people experience it.

Bill Pierce, Executive Director of the OHM, in his element, with his familiar and welcoming smile

Bill continued with his signature enthusiasm: “Fred Barker (steamship captain and area entrepreneur in the late 1800’s) a very trustworthy, fair, and honest man once stated that the best $50 he ever spent was for his first Rangeley Boat”.  Beyond the famously large brook trout….the Rangeley Boat had much to do with the area’s colorful sporting history.

“All we are doing is telling the stories that originated here” he continued.  He then summed up his role at the museum as follows: “I don’t have a job, I have a hobby that gives me a paycheck”.  That pretty much covers it, I thought to myself. “We are all supposed to be doing this (history-recording) work. I am reminded of that every day here…it is truly an honor to be one of the stewards of the Region’s history…I can’t wait for the next Rangeley treasure that comes up those steps” he continued with his unabated and wide-eyed exuberance that reveals a man whose job fits him like a hand-made glove.

I could go on and on about this, our latest of many similar conversations in the past two or three years.  We both enjoy talking with each other about, and delving into, the colorful local history of these lakes and their history.  I suspect I am far from the only one who thoroughly enjoys a wide-ranging conversation with Bill.

The inclusion in Steve Woit’s beautiful and informative Fly Fishing Treasures book is just the latest form that deserved compliments for the Outdoor Heritage Museum have taken.  If you haven’t stopped in lately, I urge you to do so….and bring along a few visiting friends and/or relatives.  And be sure to check out the book!

There are excellent changing exhibits to inspect, of course, and if you are fortunate enough to talk with Bill, or have him show you around the museum, you will truly have a very memorable day in beautiful downtown Oquossoc, Maine being immersed in the Region’s colorful, (and increasingly recognized nationally) outdoor history.

We need to write, otherwise nobody will know who we are.

                                                                Garrison Keillor

Per usual, your thoughts and comments are welcome.  Jot them down on a 3”x5” card and slip it inside the log door on our mudroom on the rockbound west shore of Gull Pond….or simply launch an email in the direction of [email protected]

 


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