What follows appeared on page 1 of the RANGELEY LAKES newspaper, of March 4, 1897. In this edition of Snaps Shots in Time, we share the story of the first public house in the region, the Indian Rock Hotel. One might think that this pertains to Camp Kennebago down at Indian Rock, but not so fast. This instead was the predecessor to the Greenvale Hose on the shores of Greenvale Cove. This account also shares the adventures of Rangeley’s first official “hotel guests’ given the IRH was our first “hotel”. If this early innkeeper and his first guests only knew of the THOUSANDS that would follow in the coming years! Enjoy and get ready as we are only 70 short days or so away from the return of the next welcome crop of “summer people”.

(Editor’s note: Contemporary commentary in italics, otherwise copy is reprinted just as it was in 1897).


First Public House in Rangeley Region. Indian Rock Hotel was Name Under which it was Christened.

Many Prominent People Have Enjoyed its Hospitality and Found Sport

In 1860 E. (Darwin Prescott moved to Greenvale Plantation and took charge of the sawmill, near where the Greenvale past office is now located. He lived in the mill house now occupied by Frank Bight. Mr. and Mrs. Prescott took care of the very few sportsmen that chanced to visit the lakes. During the year 1861, the number in-, creased so that the idea of opening a public house dawned upon them, and in the spring of 1862, Mr. Prescott bought the Hoar farm and house which afterwards became the well-known Greenvale House. About May 1, 1862, there arrived at this new hotel the following well remembered sportsmen: Ira Leonard, Samuel Pierce, and Jacob Nichols, from Massachusetts. It was then decided to put up a sign, and the name of Indian Rock Hotel was selected. The sign was made and painted and Mr. Leonard was boss in putting it up. A hole was dug, and the post put in and held in place by poles till rocks could be rolled in to hold securely. Mr. Leonard was holding the post in position, when a large stone was thrown against it with such force as to let loose one of the poles and down it came on the head of the poor boss. As Mr. Prescott remembers it, there were some remarks made by Mr. Leonard when he picked himself up. They were of such nature that it is not deemed necessary to record them here, that duty having been attended to by one who notes all things. But the post was set up at last, and ••Indian Hock Hotel” was duly christened. For a few years this was the only hotel on Rangeley lake, and as business increased the house was enlarged and the name changed to Greenvale House. Mr. Prescott left the hotel in 1871 and was succeeded by Henry T. Kimball. Since then, the house has had many proprietors up to 1895, when it was burned. When Rangeley has grown to a good-sized town and become the leading inland summer resort of the State, the attractions of the cascade stream, which flows through the old hotel grounds, may cause another hotel to spring up from its ashes. The first party that Mr. Prescott had after moving to Greenvale was C. M. Bailey and Dr. Bailey, of Winthrop^ and Barlow Stevens, of New York, a native of Phillips or Berlin, and G. W. Eveleth, of Phillips, now residing in Denver, Colo. This party were headed for the outlet of Rangeley Lake, but told Mr. Prescott they would return such a day and would want a 6 o’clock dinner and they wanted trout. This was in July 1860, and on the day named Mr. Prescott’s son, Augustus, went fishing and returned in a short time with a large string of handsome trout. As it was just in the height of the season for strawberries a quantity of them were picked and when the fishermen returned and found such a feast, they could hardly find words with which to express their approval. The rate of board established was $1 per day but Mr. Bailey paid double that amount saying he would not take any change in return. In September of the same year, Mr. Prescott, Dan Quimby and Watt Moulton started one afternoon to row down to the foot of the lake. They had an old boat not much like the boats of the present time, the oars were heavy and clumsy and long before they reached the outlet it was dark. Once in a while, an object could be made out when they were near the shore. Finally, they heard the sound of oars not far off and knowing no one but George Soule would be in that vicinity they hailed him and received his reply and following him they reached the shore. They camped in the remains of the old Rangeley mill. Next morning, they asked Mr. Soule if he couldn’t’ t give them some fish and save them the trouble of fishing. He thought he might have a few and went into his camp and brought out a couple of three and five pounds weight. “Oh, you have got more than these that will spoil if you don’ t get rid of them,” said Mr. Prescott. “That’s so,” said Mr. Soule, “and if you will take them home with you, I’ll give you all I have.” “We’ll do that certainly” was the reply.” They repented when Mr. Soule staggered out with a bushel basket heaped with trout. However, they strung them on a rope and got them into their boat. When they reached the other end of the lake, they had a mile to carry them. A fence rail was produced, and the rope full of fish fastened to this and the swaying of the fish as they wended their way home caused them to make a very crooked trail. The rail bent so that at times some of the fish dragged on the ground. In the lot were two that weighed after being dressed 15 pounds, one seven and the other eight. These two were given to a man from Gardiner. This was in the days of no protection, it was “catch as catch can.” Thirty-six years later with all the protection the lakes have had, this amount would be very insignificant if the same method of taking was resorted to. Look at the tons of fish that were seen on the spawning beds last fall. Protection does protect, there can be no doubt of it. Reign of Lace Begins.

Until next time, remember to generously tip your guide, barkeep, waitperson, and housekeeper…and be sure to get outside and make some Outdoor History of your own in Legendary Rangeley!

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