What follows are some clippings from Page 1 of the December 26, 1895 edition of the RANGELEY LAKES newspaper. As anyone who has ever spent a winter in Rangeley knows, the weather in these parts can be quite fickle. Flatlanders believe that all we get is snow and of course we get our share and then some, however we also experience some ‘unexpected’ thaws. It seems that this was the case in late December 1895, as parts of this edition illustrate. But never believe for one minute that Old Man Winter will eventually hold sway and for that, I am thankful being a snow lover. WE NEED IT in support of our local skiing and snowmobiling economy with the added bonus of clean firewood being twitched out over a nice white blanket. Do your snow dance, think snow, and enjoy this edition from our region’s storied past. Happy New Year!

(Editor’s note: Contemporary commentary in italics, otherwise copy is reprinted just as it was in 1895, although some paragraphs or lines are omitted for space reason’s).


If the warm spell had lasted much longer, we would have had a fresh crop of spring poets. (Back in the day locally written poetry seems to have graced every issue of the RANGELY LAKES & here is a sample from this edition).

Now lovely maids whose hearts beat high

Shall stand beneath the mistletoe,

While in the purpled eastern sky

Sweet symbols of this day shall glow.

Let evergreen and holly make

Their wreaths for every human door

And good cheer, for the Master’s sake,

Come without stint to rich and poor.

Ring, Christmas bells, this joyous morn

Let not your peals or music cease,

For oh this day a King was born

The gentle, heaven crowned Prince of Peace. – Joel Benton.

In the estimate of the State assessors Franklin County is credited with owning 250 bicycles. What in the world do they call the other 600 (at least) machines that are being ridden? (Although invented in 1817, the bicycle experienced a true boom in North America in the 1890’s and Franklin Co. and Rangeley were hotbeds for the new fangled ‘modern’ chain driven models with inflatable tires).

A Brooklyn judge has decided that a bicycle is a “vehicle,” and that if a man leaves his wheel standing in the gutter, he can collect damages from the teamster who runs over it. So, it is necessary to be a vehicle in order to get damages. (Horse drawn wagons were the ‘18-wheelers’ of their day, and a 21st century log truck driver can perhaps empathize with the teamsters of yesteryear at this verdict)

The Railroad Commissioners say this in their last report: The Rumford Falls and Rangeley Lakes railroad extends from Rumford Falls to a point on the Range- ley lakes known as Bemis Station. It is practically an extension of the Portland and Rumford Falls railway and is now operated as far as the station known as Houghton’s, a distance of eighteen miles. This part of the line is very well built, with a good roadbed and track, well ballasted, in good line and surface, and rides remarkably well for a new line. The steel bridge over the Androscoggin river at Rumford Falls is a first-class modern structure; the trestle of wood is well built and in the best condition. The bridges on the line are of wood, of good design, well built, with a good margin of safety. At present it is being operated by the Portland and Rumford Falls railway, which furnishes all the equipment. The track is laid to a point about six miles beyond Houghton’s, and it is the intention of the company to finish it to Bemis stream, to be ready for operation quite early in the season of 1896. (The line eventually went on to Oquossoc and then Kennebago. The ultimate goal of connecting with the Canadian Pacific line in Megantic was, of course, never realized. The heavy flooding as a result of the 1936 hurricane took out many of the trestles mentioned above and ended this railroad for good).


The Telephone office in this place has had a new instrument and switchboard, so that communication between Rangeley and Phillips, or Phillips south can be carried on independently. It is an English instrument very similar to those in use in the English Postal service. New instruments have been put in at Forster’s toothpick mill and at Dr. Badger’s office in Strong.

Ben Whittemore has cut 1500 cakes of ice from Cottle brook, for parties living in that vicinity.

(Below some of the results of the Thaw)

The ice went out of the river Sunday noon.

May or December, which? On the 21st, two English violets, in full bloom, were picked in the garden at Ambleside. From this violet bed, flowers have been gathered every month in the year save the first two.

Christmas Changes

The Yule log has given place to the steam radiator, the furnace register and the base burning heater, but we who are warmed by any of these means on Christmas eve are quite as likely to enjoy Christmas as were our forefathers and foremothers, who used to celebrate its festivities when gathered about the old-time fireplaces. There have been changes in heating apparatus, but human nature and Christmas remain as they wero and will probably so remain after the present apparatus has been displaced by electric heaters. We grumble about our furnaces, our radiators and our stoves and will probably grumble about our electric heaters, but in Yule log times our ancestors were often roasted on one side and frozen ow the other.

A Rangeley man claimed to have found the cave rumored to hold the treasure of Captain Kidd.

(There is a Discovery Channel production about treasure hunting off Grand Manan called ‘The Curse of Oak Island” and I wonder is they are aware of this man from Rangeley’s account?)

Weird Cave

A Rangeley Man Who Found the Cave of Capt. Kidd

Way down east in the bay of Fundy, is a cluster of islands known as the Grand Manan. The first one is twenty-one miles long and lies nine miles from this State; then comes Wood island, Green island, Pumpkin island, White Horse, Three Islands and many others, but the one I wish to write about is called The Two Island supposed to be the island where Robert Kidd, the Pirate, hid his treasures. This island is three miles long, by one wide, covered with a thick growth of birch and spruce. On the south west side, the bank is very high, with here and there a cove so a man could pass up and down the bank. In 1859 I stood on this bank and gazed out on the broad Atlantic. I could see here and there a ship as it plowed its way past this lonely isle where the gulls and the wild duck make their home, and the bald eagle sits on the crag, ready to dart on its prey as they come near. But I was going to tell you about Kidd’s cave. Where I stood the bank was two hundred feet high with a beach at the bottom, the beach is about one hundred feet wide, with a cliff on each side that reaches down to the water. Down this cliff I made my way foot by foot, till I stood on the beach, then turning to the right I walked up to the bank. Here I found a hole three feet wide by three and a half feet high. Down on my hands and knees I went and crawled six or seven feet into this dark place, it was so dark I could not see six inches in front of me. I took a candle and matches from my pocket which I carried with me for that purpose. Soon I had a light. Think of my surprise when I found myself in a room nearly fifteen by thirty feet in size. On my right the rock rose up fifteen feet high then forming an arch overhead, while on my left was a shelf that ran eight or ten feet, then making a turn it joined the arch. The floor was sand, with here and there a bone partly covered with a green moss or mold which had formed on them. I think they were leg or arm bones of persons who had perished in that cave where daylight could not find its way. My candle was nearly burned out. I had looked the cave all over and had not found Robert Kidd, but I found his name cut in solid stone on my right. My candle went out and as I made my way from the cave into the light of sun. I was glad that Robert Kidd had long ago been captured. Making my way up the cliff I once more stood on the bank. The sun was fast sinking in the western sky as I made my way to the east side of the isle, found my boat and crossed over to Wood island where I found food and shelter for the night.

– W. W. Rangeley Dec. 7. 1895.

(The more I read the reports and writings of Ed Grant, the more I enjoy his wit. His camps at Seven Ponds on the Canadian Border were popular and now serve as the location of the exclusive Megantic Fish & Game Club. Long before the present-day U.S. Border Patrol existed, Old ED had us covered).

Preparations for Defense Being Made on the Canadian Frontier!
[Special to Rangeley Lakes], Seven Pond Camps, Dec. 24th

Ed. Grant, as the direct representative of General Washington, in the line of truthfulness, has begun making stockades, palisades and lemonades to repel the expected invasion from Canada, upon the declaration of war between the United States and Great Britain.

He is ably seconded by Rufe Crosby, a well-known guide, who has been breveted Commodore, and who is to have full charge of the entire fleet in those waters. A line of traps has been set outside the intrenchments, as an extra precaution.

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