Steamer Rangeley at Mountain View House in Oquossoc Cove. The boathouse in the background at Indian Point is still standing!

Every year those of us that enjoy ‘Lake Life’ – fisherman, boaters, floatplanes, paddlers, lakefront owners and small businesses that thrive on the many associated lake activities – patiently wait for the ice to clear on our beautiful Rangeley Lakes.

Below are some Ice-Out tidbits that I have researched or learned from some reputable local sources – most notably Mama Koob, when she and a group of her wonderful friends educated me on one of my first cruises aboard our Oquossoc Lady back in 2009!

Let’s talk dates: As part of my cruise narration, I always bring up the topic of Ice-Out. Most of the time I get an “Oh my gosh, that late” response from the passengers – some are even shocked to learn that the entire lake freezes!  If there appears to be interest, I continue to explain that the earliest recorded Ice-Out was April 14th (1921 & 1945) and the latest recorded Ice-Out was May 24th (1882) – that is 6 days before Memorial Day, which was observed on May 30 from 1868 to 1970. Where do these dates come from? Well of course our highly regarded Rangeley Public Library Resource Directory (I prefer phonebook) that lists Rangeley Lake Ice-Out dates from 1880 to 2019. Ice out dates for all Maine lakes, from 2003-2019, can also be found on the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry (DACF) web site. Other than a day or two difference, the Library Book and DACF dates are the same for Rangeley Lake.

When is Ice-Out officially determined? According to my research and local sources, it is declared when a boat can travel the ‘old steamboat route’ from Greenvale Cove to the Town of Rangeley to Oquossoc Cove and back to Greenvale Cove. Historically the steamboat landing at South Rangeley wasn’t built, and therefore not part of the steamer route, until approximately 1901 when the R.F. & R.L. RR was extended from Bemis to the southwest corner of Rangeley Lake. All this said, it sounds like a reasonable explanation as to when Ice-Out is determined.  It still boggles my mind that the beautiful steamer Rangeley puffed her way along the waters of Rangeley Lake!

Who determines Ice-Out? That would be our Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (MDIF&W) Game Wardens who report the date to the local community and State Officials.  I’m still hoping someday to offer an early season “Titanic Cruise” where I can get passengers out to see and hear the last honeycombed sheets of ice crumbling as the winds push them around. I’m just not sure I want to worry about a wind shift that might maroon us in the ice!

So, my last question – actually a math problem. What is the AVERAGE Ice-Out date on Rangeley Lake?  I haven’t had the patience to determine this date and might suggest this calculation as a challenge to some of our stay-at-home High School mathematicians. Grab the 2019 Rangeley phonebook, use a starting date of April 14th and an ending date of May, 24th, take the Ice-Out dates listed for 1880 through 2019 and calculate the historic Arithmetic Average (mean) date for Ice-Out. You can email your answer to [email protected] and I’ll make you famous by posting your name (and date) on our business Facebook page!

Don’t forget to go to Rivers Edge Sports Facebook Page and submit your date and time for their 2nd Annual Rangeley Lake Ice-Out Contest. Look for the April 4th post with guidelines for submission and a chance to win some nice gift certificates.


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