What follows are some clippings from the February 13, 1896 edition of the RANGELEY LAKES newspaper.

(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 reasons).

In this 1910 photo, a Rumford Falls & Rangeley Lakes locomotive pulls 19 flatcars of logs (approx. 95,000 board feet) through Houghton on its way to the mill in Rumford. Remarkably, this one train represents less than one half of the total being harvested daily, by the lumber camps along this line.

IT’S EASY
To Build Railroads on Paper
The Talk of the Kennebago Road

It is easy to build railroads on paper. Since the Kennebago routes have been under discussion, up to the present time, three hundred and forty-seven and a half miles of that kind have been built. One is located from near Gull pond, where it leaves the present P. & R., goes along past Greeley ponds, Loon Lake, Cow pond and in through the “Straights” to Kennebago. Another starts from the same place, climbs over the rise, skirts round back of Loon Lake, into Davis township, gradually climbing Spotted Mountain, and gets through the “Straights” without any trouble. One more runs west between Haley and Gull ponds and gets there just the same. The latest one is to continue the P. & R. across Mam street, swing round near the steamer wharf; follow the lake shore to the steam mill; cross the street and come out near the trotting park; skirt round the hills and strike Spotted Mountain; follow east along the side of that, where “30 million feet of lumber can be rolled down the mountain to the track.” Then through the “Straights” again. These “Straights” serve to bother the road builders quite a little, and “zig-zagging” is proposed to get through. They are located where Spotted mountain joins the next range, in western phraseology, being a pass. Modern engineering overcomes everything in the line of obstacles, and no doubt would find the “straights” comparatively easy to conquer. In any case, every proposed railroad makes Rangelev the terminus, and each route is based on more dollars and cents for the Company, whether they want either lumber, passengers, or both.

None of the three proposed narrow-gauge spurs were ever built, of course. In fact, the standard gauge Rumford Falls & Rangeley Lakes RR line beat the SR&RL ‘baby train’ to the punch and completed the line from Oquossoc up to the west end of Kennebago Lake sometime after 1903. Both regional railroads hauled freight & passengers, but the main goal of whether a spur or new line was constructed was determined by the quantity of available timber to be cut along the proposed line. To help understand the economic impact hauling wood had on the railroads was shared in the prior issue of the RANGELEY LAKES…

Houghton – Business here is good although we have not had snow as the lumbermen wanted, yet the logs have been steadily moving down the line at 15 to 20 carloads per day from the Bemis branch, so-called, 12 to 15 from the Houghton branch and about 15 from East branch.

Consider this; If a 19th century flatcar on the RF&RL RR held approx. 5,OOO feet of wood, then the above illustrates that 225,000 ft. of wood, from just along that line, were being cut by hand, twitched out by teams of horses and loaded onto railroad cars…every day! That equals approx. 60 acres of cleared forest per day! Add to that, all the wood being cut along the 375 miles of track of the SR&RL narrow gauge network in Franklin Co., plus all the pulp & timber being floated down the rivers & lakes to Berlin, and it is no wonder that this part of Maine is significantly more forested today than it was in the late 19th century!

Capturing a Page 1 headline was an article below that covered a more recent subject of great debate over the last two decades or more. As they say, “Everything that’s old is at once, new again”.

PROPOSED NATIONAL PARK IN MAINE

To Be Located in the Great Fish and Game Region.

Hon. T. H. Wentworth. Fish and Game Commissioner has in view a plan for a national park in the great fish and game region of Maine and is now at work upon it looking up the necessary statistics, etc., which will be presented to the Government, if the plan is fully carried out. The park as mapped out by Mr. Wentworth would comprise the territory between Penobscot Pond, the East Branch, Shin Pond, or twenty-five townships in all, with 700,000 acres. In the centre is Mt. Katahdin. The branches of the East and West Branches are the best spawning grounds for sea salmon, and nowhere are there so many trout ponds as in that section. Millinocket is a beautiful lake with many attractive islands. The best moose section is north of Mt. Katahdin and is also a great region for deer. Caribou are migratory, but Mt. Katahdin is the Mecca of the animals. It is not proposed to enclose the park, but keep it guarded as a permanent breeding ground, which would also supply the region outside the park, and to have a perpetual close time. From its excellent location, its attractiveness, stock of fish and game, its pure air, absence of reptiles, etc., Mr. Wentworth believes that it is the place of all others in the State for a national park, or great game preserve which could be enjoyed by people from all over the land.

Some puzzling advice on appropriate ear placement was found on Page 2

An authority on the just proportions of the human form divine says, “The ears should be so placed as not to be higher than the eyebrows or lower than the tip of the nose. People who are dressing for a party should not forget this”.

Before you run to the mirror to check…I for one, would still welcome any of my party guests who forgot to lower or raise their ears while dressing for my shindig. However, a true friend would politely suggest to the more self-conscious, that perhaps a hat or a scarf might be a ‘fashionable accessory,’ for a Party Animal Pal?

Speaking of parties, below please find a short piece from Page 4 explaining the economics of whisky, which at the time cost approx. $4.00 per gallon.

A bushel of corn is said to make four gallons of whiskey. The farmer gets forty cents, the railroad $1, the government $3.60, the manufacturer about $5 and the saloon keeper $6, out of the $16 for which it is sold, while the drinker gets the refuse and—delirium tremens.

I bet that whisky could also raise or lower your ears?

And below, a “tried and true recipe” from the “COZY CORNER FOR THE LADIES” section of the paper.

BESWICK SPONGE CAKE

Take three eggs, beat three minutes, then add one and a half cup of sugar, and beat five minutes; add one teacup flour, and one teaspoon cream tarter, and beat three minutes; and one-half teaspoon (baking) soda dissolved in one-half cup cold water, and another cup of flour; beat enough to mix well. Flavor and bake in a deep pan in a slow oven. (Remember, these folks in the 19th century were using woodfired cookstoves, so a “slow oven” probably suggests 325 degrees, perhaps?) This is true and tried. – I. M. H. Phillips.

Until next time, just be glad you are not cutting trees by axe and crosscut saw all day… all winter and eating baked beans and sleeping in a single room with 50 men… every day! So, go ahead and make a vintage recipe sponge cake, and check your ear level before leaving the house for one of those Covid 19 super-spreader house parties that might be going on. Otherwise, please have a great week (unless you have other plans) and be careful as you create some Rangeley History of your own! Who knows, maybe some 124 years from now, someone will retell the tale?

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