What follows first appeared in the BOSTON TRANSCRIPT newspaper and was reprinted in the September 5, 1895, edition of the RANGELY LAKES. It begins by suggesting a revolutionary and inspiring concept for its time… catch & release fishing. I particularly enjoyed the subtle reasoning for what was a novel idea at the time. The piece goes on to describe two very impressive brook trout landed here in the Rangeley region. These two beauties were then immortalized in a portrait by a famous Boston artist, Baldwin Coolidge and the impressive artwork was a fixture in the dinning room of the Upper Dam House for many years. After the Upper Dam House closed it was acquired by the Harden family of the Barker Hotel. It was generously donated by Harden’s, the descendants of Captain Barker himself, to the Outdoor Heritage Museum where it hangs as a key feature of the Main Gallery. Please come see it and other important relics of our region’s proud history and be sure to get outside and make some outdoor history of your own!

(Editor’s comments in italics)

19th century painting by Baldwin Coolidge now hangs in the Outdoor Heritage Museum

A large measure of the’ delight experienced in fishing for trout of whatever description lies in the admiration of the subtle beauties of the fish after it has been landed. It causes a pang even to the seasoned fisherman to think of destroying those sleek and beautiful trout, and even the thought of gustatory joys does not quite dispel it. Occasionally some wealthy sportsman, having landed a remarkable prize, sends it off to have its picture painted, but seldom is this a complete satisfaction. It is not quite the same as the fish when it came to the landing net, gleaming with color intensified by the moisture and the excitement of the moment. There is now on exhibition in Boston a picture in which figure, two of the most noted trout ever taken in Rangeley waters. Every man who has been to the Middle Dam for the past fifteen years has heard about them, and has hoped that he might retake the female, which was returned to the lake immediately after being caught in October 1880. “Her weight and measurements were first carefully taken and coloring noted, and from these notes her picture was painted on the same canvas with a huge male taken at about the same time. The male was killed in landing, and his portrait was therefore painted from the flesh. Baldwin Coolidge is the artist, and he has represented the fish with a most remarkable fidelity to- nature. Each marking and spot, and every variation of color and tone, is faithfully brought out. and yet it is not over-wrought and in no way suggests a painted trout within a painted pool—to corrupt a quotation. As it was in the spawning season that the fish were caught, the painter has represented them lying near the sandy bottom,’ the female on the nest and the male standing guard just above. Some anglers who have never seen the trout at that season have criticized the protruding under jaw of the male fish in this picture as unnatural, but this is a peculiarity of the male trout during the spawning time and is his weapon of offence and defense. If any doubter will visit the Smithsonian Institution of Washington, he may see the selfsame trout preserved. It is usually unlawful to fish during this season, but the Oquossoc Angling Association of New York, of which the gentleman who landed this big male was a member, has the privilege of casting at the Middle Dam for three days in October, providing that all fish landed alive be returned to the water at once. Those which happen to be killed in the fight are kept. The male above referred to, succumbed in the struggle. He weighed twelve pounds and measured twenty-seven inches in length. The female weighed nine pounds or a little more. The picture, which is owned by Bradlee Whidden, of this city, will be on exhibition for about a month, and although painted so long ago, these fish are so celebrated among Rangeley fishermen that many will be glad to see their pictures.

Local News

Captain Barker’s new steamer “Florence” was launched Saturday. It was the intention to have got her into water Friday, but the work was delayed. The regulation bottle was broken on the prow by the Captain’s daughter, Florence, as the boat went down the ways. Captain Howard says she will be a fine one. A large number were present.

Captain Fred Barker owned & operated a total of 8 steamers on Mooselookmeguntic over the years, but the Florence was recognized as the best of his fleet. He also owned three different lodging properties. Not bad for a young teenage boy who walked into the woods on snowshoes with everything he owned in his backpack.

Ansel Soule is engaged by the Fish and Game Commissioners to watch the Kennebago stream. He reports the handsomest lot of trout ever seen, running from 4 to 10 lbs.

The practice of guarding the spawning beds was necessary because the Warden Service was in its early stages and greatly undermanned, so the Fish Commissioners hired local guides to protect the vulnerable brookies from poachers.

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