I enjoy reading old newspapers. Especially the ones circulated here in Rangeley over a century ago. They share the news of a time that appears far less complicated and the hopes its people held for the very future that we now reside in. I find these old chronicles fascinating for what they can teach us and for a familiarity with region covered. They cause me to wonder what this place looked and felt like then and what the people who lived here were like. It is also fun to learn what the passing of time proved they were right about and where they miss the mark.

Will someone look back on us a hundred years from now, and this beautiful little corner of our crazy world and be entertained (or horrified) by what our observations, experiences and opinions were? Probably. Will the record of what we felt was important or visionary, prompt a chuckle over how quaint or “old fashioned” it will appear in 2120?

Hand typeset letters and engraved images laboriously placed in the plates of a small printing press 100 years ago just seem to mean more to me and I believe, can teach us a thing or two. Is it because all the work it took to print a newspaper meant more than just casually punching a few keys on a keyboard and instantly sharing a thought with the whole world? Well I, for one, am glad they went through the trouble.

As I turn the pages in these old papers and read about long-gone souls, I marvel at their work ethic, simple family-oriented lives and I wonder what it would be like to chat with them. As I read, often I do not envy them for their encounters with 19th century medical arts, for their attitudes towards women or the natural resources they thought were in exhaustible. When it comes to those things, and a few others, there remains no such thing as the “Good Old Days”. But the fishing…. Wow!

So, please read on and maybe try out a recipe for a delectable dish shared over a century ago. It could be a great opportunity to actually “taste” history. Please do not forget to make some great history of your own. Just be sure it can be something you would be proud of, some 125 years from now. Enjoy the following collection of short articles and snippets from the pages of the July 23, 1896 edition of the RANGELEY LAKES newspaper.

Our local climate may be warming…but at least our History is cool!

(Editor’s note: Current commentary in italics, otherwise copy is reprinted just as it was in 1896).

First the headline story…



it Will be an Up-to- date Affair.

There will be a Grove. Base Ball Grounds

and Bicycle Track. Work to begin at once.

There is, in contemplation a project, which if carried out, as it no doubt will be, will give Rangeley one of the finest and best trotting Parks in this county. The coveted ground is just beyond the steam mill and with the exception of a little rise on the West end is as level as land can be found. The ideas advanced by the projectors are to have a trotting track to be used also for bicycle riding, a baseball ground, which, by the way would be perfect in every particular, a grove, situated close to the water’s edge for picnics or pleasure seekers who want a place to go for rest and a chance to inhale the invigorating and health-giving perfumes of the pine, fir and spruce, and in all it will be a pleasure ground in general for everybody.

1905 photo of Rangeley’s horse racing track, “Kennebago Racetrack”. Step up and place your wagers, Folks!

Rangeley- Lakes, in company with Mr. George Young, recently, took a walk over the whole lot and from observations it can be seen that this would be just the place that is needed for the benefit of visitors. There will be horse sheds erected on the side next to the steam mill. The grandstand will be on the west side and will command a view of the entire course. Besides all this the occupant will be treated to one of the finest views that can be had in this vicinity. The judges Stand will be directly opposite. The woods that line the water’s edge the entire length will be trimmed out and the ground cleaned up which will make one of the prettiest groves imaginable. The land is high from the water and is hard -and dry. A wharf will be built so that the steamers can land at the park.

The woods following round to the north of the grandstand will be cut clear to the land of Mrs. Hinkley thus giving a good view in that direction. Several parties are interested in this idea and those who have expressed any opinion are highly elated over the fine prospect with which it is being met.

A large number of shares have already been taken and as soon as arrangements can be perfected work will be begun, i It is the intention to have it ready by the Fourth of July, 1897, when a grand opening will be had. It is in easy access to the village and it will be so constructed that a person standing in the centre, can see every foot of the track.

There are many fine horses in Rangeley find the interest in racing is growing every year.

(Given this description it seems the land mentioned would be in the vicinity of Rangeley Builders Supply and the track was never constructed, however a racetrack was built further up the hill on the way to the airport. It was a much cruder affair than the plan outlined above, and it was known as the “Kennebago Racetrack”. See photo from 1905. Not exactly Churchill Downs, but you could wager from the comfort of your motorcar and bring your own beer!)

The New Rangeley.

What a place Rangeley will be when the shore of the lake is lined with cottages and hotels and all filled with summer visitors. This is the Rangeley of the future, and not so very far in the future either. There will be dozens of steamers and launches (run by electricity) plying back and forth between the different points. Then how business will hum. -E. T. Burley, Esq., of Lawrence, Mass

Might be Added with Profit.

There seems to be a sentiment in the air that Rangeley is to grow in the way of summer travel. That sentiment is caused by some indication or other. Rangeley Lakes was talking with a gentleman from one of the large cities. He is staying at the Rangeley Lake House. It is his second season here. He has spent a large portion of his summers in the resorts of New Hampshire, but a little conversation on the subject of summer resorts, brought out some things which might be made to the eventual advantage of all concerned. After extolling Rangeley and her surroundings this gentleman went on to say what he thought it would be a good thing and would be enjoyed by everybody. In the first place he thought another boat, for the purpose of taking out pleasure parties and to be used for that purpose alone, would be appreciated. The second addition spoken of was a coach or other style of wagon for the purpose of conveying persons here and there, have it running all the time. This would give everybody a chance to suit their taste. Another thing which seems to be a favorite pastime with a number of people is the walk from Rangeley to Kennebago, stopping at Loon Lake to dinner. All these things go to help make up the full quota of pleasure with the summer visitor. ‘‘The last of all,” says the gentleman, “advertise the place, you can’t do it too much. Let the people know, all over the United- States, what a nice place it is. Build another large hotel and you will see one of the greatest summer resorts in the New England States.”

(Some things never change, and I will leave it to the reader to determine what in the above that pertains to. I particularly enjoyed how a daylong walk to KENNEBAGO, and BACK was a THING! Wow!)


A telephone instrument has been put in the office at the depot. It is on the Farmington line, the Dirigo Company’s wire.

(And we complain about a lack of high-speed internet! Those big city high falutin’ folks in Phillips got a “telephone instrument” in 1896! Plus, the trials and tribulations of some of Phillips’ leading citizens was also shared)

Mr. Houghton went up to Perham stream fishing and lost a watch chain and charm valued at $25.00

Col. Robinson left his bunch of keys in his post office box one day last week. Inside an hour he missed them, but they had been taken from the box. He was obliged to send to Farmington for a new lock for his store door.

($25.00 in today’s value: $763! Ouch. And what scoundrel grabbed those keys?)

“Sandpaper Will Make A Board Smooth,

But It Isn’t Quite the Thing for a Man’s Face”

The Best Treatment for the Face is

Ellis’ Lotion… Once Used, Always Used.

As Good As the Best.

A 6 oz. Bottle for 50 Cents.

This Lotion will positively cure all facial blemishes.

Blackheads, Pimples, or Blotches, of every description, rendering the skin soft and the complexion clear.

(Were teenage boys using sandpaper on their pimples? Yikes. And this bit of “science” below. Today we test athletes for PED’s, back then… “pass the sugar bowl, Mom. I’m gunning for the Gold!”)

Sugar as Food.

The use of sugar is now advocated by medical men as a muscle producing food. If the ideas of Dr. Vaughan Harley are carried out, the college athlete not only of the f future, but the present, will train on a saccharine diet exclusively. Athletes are now seriously considering the idea. Some, it is said, have already put it into practice.

For years past it has been one of the fundamental theories of trainers that sugar was hurtful if taken in quantity, and athletes were told to hold the product of the cane in abhorrence as a thing only detrimental to their interest. Now Dr. Harley makes the claim that sugar is not only harmless, but that it is, on the contrary, one of the best of foods for producing muscle.

The doctor says that physiologists have demonstrated that sugar is the principal if not the only source of muscular activity, and that it is present in large quantities in the blood during the activity of muscles, while the blood returning from these muscles is free from sugar. In support of this claim Dr. Harley says that a person living on sugar for 24 hours could do nearly as much work as on an ordinary full diet.

(Straight sugar for 24 hours. Back in 1965 we called that Halloween)

Fought and Won

The party of Worcester gentlemen who have been living at the Oquossoc Club at Rangeley Lakes have covered themselves with glory by the capture of landlocked salmon. A specimen of the catch is on exhibition in the window of David M. Earle’s store. It is a seven-pound salmon, and beside it on a platter lies a three-pound trout, just for comparison. (A nice day of fishing, but “Catch & Stink”? Try asking a local shop-owner if you can stick your next big fish on a platter in a storefront window downtown for a couple of days).

F. C. Fowler, of Moodus, Conn., caught two trout last Friday on the big lake that weighed 8lbs. and 6lbs. respectively. They were taken to the taxidermist in Rangeley and will be mounted. They were handsome fish and the catcher might well be proud of his day’s work. (You would have to go to Labrador to repeat this feat today, although there are reports that a 6lb. Brookie was landed on Cupsuptic last year).

Tomatoes as a Stain Remover.

Ripe tomatoes will remove almost any kind of stain from the hands, and they can also be used to a great advantage on white cloth, removing ink spots as well as many others.

(Huh? So, this bit of helpful advice means that ripe tomatoes will remove ketchup stains from my white shirt?)

Peach Tapioca Pudding.

In a quart of water soak overnight a large cupful of tapioca. In the morning cook till it is soft, then add a pinch of salt, six heaping tablespoonfuls of sugar and the juice of a quart of nice peaches, stewed soft but not broken. Pour half of the tapioca into a buttered pudding dish, lay in the peaches, and pour over the remainder of the tapioca. Bake for an hour and serve with sweet cream.

(Wow, that sounds good! So does this next one. I wonder if Miss Lowell ever landed a husband with her butter laden recipes like this below?


Three lbs. Haddock. Boil in salted water. Flake it. One-pint milk scalded, poured over 1/4 lb. melted butter and a spoonful of flour. Season to taste with pepper and salt and a tablespoonful grated onion. Mix with fish and after putting in baking dish sprinkle a few cracker crumbs over top. Put on bits of butter and bake in a quick oven about twenty minutes. -Miss Lowell

(Pardon the pun, but she sounds like a “catch”. Gotta love a woman who knows her way around a “quick oven” ;).



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