Our neighbor here in Florida is a gent by the name of Paul Arnold. One day Paul was out working on his RV and I moseyed over to see what he was up to. (Men are naturally attracted to expensive toys and cold beer). Paul and I got to talking, and, what do you know, Paul is big fan of the Rangeley area. So, I am guessing you think that is quite a coincidence, two Rangeley lovers living side by side in Florida! But there is even more. It turns out Paul’s brother Ken once ran Mitigwa Camps on Dodge Pond! And, Paul himself was a counselor at the camps. I had no knowledge of Mitigwa and my interest was piqued! The following is an excerpt from Gary Priest’s book – History of Rangeley Hotels and Camps:

This was a boys’ camp located on the north shore of Dodge Pond. It opened in the summer of 1919 under the ownership of George W. Fairchild on land owned by Austin and Edna Hinkley. It consisted of a main lodge with kitchen attached and 5 sleeping cabins with five counselors and 20 boys. Fairchild purchased the land in April 1921 and sold it in May 1921 to Mitigwa Inc. owned by Franklin Gray. Under his guidance the camp grew to 20 buildings, a ball field, 2 tennis courts, a rifle range and two 50-foot wharfs on the 800-foot waterfront. The number of campers increased from 20 to 100. There was no road to the camp and all baggage and supplies had to be transported by boat. He operated it for over 20 years and sold it in January 1946 to Leon and Ruth Nixon. The Nixons built the road to the camp in 1953 and continued operations much the same as the Grays had done. The Nixons leased it for the 1965 season to Michael Kober, Robert Grahn, and Ken Arnold under the name Camp Mitigwa Inc.

According to additional info I found on-line, Ken Arnold, Robert Grahn and William Harman bought the camp from the Nixon’s in 1966 for $60,000. Arnold and company operated the camp until 1972 but could never make it work financially. In 1975 the camps were sold to a forester named Blin Wing for $40,000. According to Ken Arnold, the first thing Wing did was burn or take down the cabins to get them off the tax rolls. I couldn’t find any info on Blin Wing but apparently there was a large contingent of Wing’s living in the Stratton area. Ken Wing was coauthor of the book “Lost Villages of Flagstaff Lake” which describes the flooding caused by the construction of the Long Falls dam.

Apparently, today, there is little left of the Camp Mitigwa complex. The one building that escaped Wing’s demolition, and may remain today, is what was the Recreation Hall. Another relic that may still stand is the Seeley Lodge fireplace. Along the shore, remnants of the old wharfs still survive and can be seen on Goggle Earth. I feel a spring explore of what was once camp Mitigwa in my future!

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