What follows appeared on page 1 of the RANGELEY LAKES newspaper, of March 25, 1897. In this edition of Snaps Shots in Time, we share some interesting snippets taken from the paper. In the first, the editor shares how the owners of Madison Square Garden in New York were holding their last edition of the Sportsman show in New York. Cornelia “Fly Rod” Crosby at this point was quite famous as a regular “star” in this annual event as she promoted Maine Central Railroad’s interests by getting folks to visit Maine from her “Camp Kennebago” exhibit. She was also a regular featured writer for the Phillips Phonograph and handed out copies of their Sportsman’s edition from her exhibit. She evidently had some sway with the promoters as the competing edition of the “RANGELEY LAKES” despite having printed and delivered 10,000 copies was not permitted in the building as was Maine Central RR’s competitors in the region the Megantic & Franklin RR. Evidently, star power mattered. The Outdoor Heritage Museum has several vintage photos from this show, as well as a World Record Brook Trout & the poster that promoted its appearance at the 1897 show.

Enjoy what follows and be sure to make some great history of your own in our beautiful region!

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

There will be no more Sportsmen’s Expositions in Madison Square Garden, New York. The owners of the building have to meet a deficit of $10,000 a year and have got to a point where a majority of the stockholders wish to sell. Mr. Bailey, of Barnum & Bailey, is to be the purchaser and he will convert it into a winter circus like the Paris Hippodrome. Bro. Hunter of the Farmington Chronicle has this to say in reference to the shut-out of RANGELEY LAKES; “Is the sportsmen’s exhibition now being held in New York city a public affair or is it only a catch-penny affair gotten up by manufacturers of sporting goods, or those interested in summer resorts, to further their own interests? is the question being asked by many people nowadays. There are certainly reasons for surmising the latter, from the fact that the Rangeley Lakes, a newspaper specially devoted to the interests of the region whose name it bears, was shut out from the exhibition last year and is again shut out this year.” Not only RANGELY LAKES, but the Franklin & Megantic railroad were debarred from placing on exhibition photographic views of the lower Dead River region that that company had had taken. Oh yes, it is a Maine Exhibit so far as it pays ME is concerned.

The Bailey brothers, who are famous for their partnership with P.T. Barnum of circus fame were major owners of various railroads that the circus traveled on. The fact that the previous shareholders of MSG were “losing $10,000 a year”, would be probably amusing to the world-famous venue’s current owners. The home of the Rangers, Knicks and numerous other major events and concerts probably spends that amount on hotdogs to be sold in a single night!

From Page 4 a 19th century version of a fender bender was reported…

Mr. Benjamin Butler, of Avon, was thrown from his sleigh one day last week, cutting a slight gash in his head and shaking him up badly.

Early Fishing at the Rangeleys

In conversation with Mrs. Sarah Soule, an early settler of Rangeley, some interesting facts are brought out in regard to the fishing at the Rangeleys in the early 40’s. Mrs. Soule’s husband, who was a hunter, trapper, and guide, had gone with his boat across the lake on business, and not returning at the time designated, Mrs. Soule became somewhat worried about him. She was then living on the other side of the lake and not far from the shore. She thought she would go down and see if she couldn’t’ see him coming. She could not and decided to wait for him on the shore. His fish-pole and line were leaning against a clump of alders, and to pass away the time she concluded to try and catch a mess of trout. As she took the pole and line, she saw that it was minus the bait. Nothing daunted she took an alder leaf, rolled it up in the shape of a green worm and threw it on the sparkling water. She no sooner made the cast than there was a break. In less than an hours’ time she took 25 pounds of trout from the lake, two of which weighed about five pounds each.

The next time the trout are jumping, and you can’t quite match the hatch, just try Mrs. Soule’s vegetarian approach?

Mountain Lions are currently extirpated from Maine. Puma concolor holds the Guinness World Record for the animal with the most common names. It is known as the mountain lion, cougar, puma, catamount, and about 40 other names in English. In keeping with its Linnaean name, scientists call the cat a puma, but back in the day here in Maine, how about the very un-PC, “Indian Devil” …


Demons of The Woods Made Sportsmen ‘s Hair Stand Up

The plaintive cry of the Indian devil has again been heard in the swamps above Mt. Katahdin. A New York man and his guide were camping for the night in a little hut of boughs, which had been erected as a temporary shelter. Shortly before midnight, the men were awakened by piercing scream, which proceeded from the deep woods surrounding the hut. The men had scarcely opened their eyes when the cry was answered by au equally weird scream from the opposite side of the camp. Seizing their rifles, the two men peered out into the darkness but could distinguish nothing. Only the smoldering embers remained of their fire. Soon, however, the still night air began to vibrate with an almost indistinguishable sound, which gradually grew in volume until it developed into a shuddering scream, as of a woman in mortal agony. Before the sound had died away the answer came again. Both men knew what the creatures were that were making the cries. The animals had apparently taken up positions in the high trees which surrounded the camp and the men knew that it would be folly to venture outside the shelter for it is a habit of the Indian devil to wait till its victim is beneath the limb on which it clings and then to drop upon his shoulders. Once the long claws of the Indian devil are fixed in its victim’s neck, the unfortunate man stands poor chances of escaping a ghastly death. Suddenly the hunters heard a heavy thud. One of the animals had either fallen or jumped from a tree directly in front of the hut. In an instant the guide had thrown a heap of brush upon the embers of the fire. The dry wood immediately began to burn, casting a brilliant light deep into the woods. About 20 yards from the fire stood a cat like creature* with blazing eyes and glittering fangs. The animal was evidently dazed by the flames and did not move for a moment. Before either of the hunters could raise his gun, however, the creature glided away like a shadow, its short legs moving with such rapidity that it did not seem to be running but rather wiggling like a snake. The fire was kept burning all night, and nothing further was seen of the Indian devils: but the New York man’s ideas of Maine’s game have changed.

Was it a pair of mountain lions or was it a pair of Fisher and a couple of well- stimulated imaginations, we will never know? However, a fisher has a terrifying screech of its own. The described short legs, ability to move about the tree branches at great speed, the size enhanced by distance in the firelight and the description of its wiggling away lends itself not to a catamount, but perhaps a fisher. At least to this writer, anyway. I still loved the story.

The first boat of any size on the lakes was made in 1845 by the late George Soule. It was about 20 feet long, fitted for four pairs of oars, and generally took four men to propel it through the water. This boat was a “wonder,” but it served its purpose and closed its course in helping along a bonfire made by unruly boys.

Truly a great piece of history, and for this local historian a great “find” that we will share at OHM. However, given the fact that Native Americans had probably built birch bark canoes of various lengths including “war canoes” in impressive lengths, as well as dugouts, for a few thousand years prior, this claim truly doesn’t hold any water! Have a great week everyone.

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