The following short articles appeared in the May 14, 1896, edition of the RANGELEY LAKES newspaper. This edition was “chock-a-block-full” (a Maine-ism meaning wicked stuffed) with “all the news that was fit to print” from our region. The early bird ice out fisherman had arrived and preparations were in full swing for the upcoming tourist season.

(Contemporary commentary found in italics, otherwise reprinted just as it was in 1896)

THE NEW ROAD (No not a highway or “road” as we know it today. This referred to a Railroad)

Railroad Commissioners to Look it Over This Week.

Rumford Falls, Me., May 11— The board of railroad commissioners will inspect the line of the Rumford Falls & Rangeley Road on Thursday. By that day, the rails will undoubtedly be laid into Bemis. If the railroad commissioners accept the line, as is probable, trains will be running to the Rangeleys by the last of this week or the first of next.

(And they found it acceptable indeed and the line eventually ran all the way to Kennebago hauling freight, passengers, and timber for many years. The line fed the Rumford mills and provided connections to the Maine Central RR there as well).


Vice-President Tucker, of the M. C. R. R., is having prepared a complete list of all the lakes, streams, ponds, and brooks in Maine where fishing is good, with prices of board and bait, kind of fish obtainable, guides and all such necessary information for the good of the seekers after sport. A good idea!

(And a great way to sell lots of tickets. The famous Cornelia “Fly Rod” Crosby would soon be hired to write, promote, and host VIPs for the Maine Central as well).

The Word from Billy’s (Referring to Billy Soule of Pleasant Island Camps)

Pleasant Island Camps, May 12. —The steamer made its first trip to Haines Landing Monday morning and will make regular trips every day from now on. The crew that is at work on Dutton’s steamer are getting along nicely. They have it about half planked and think it.

(Soule along with other early regional entrepreneurs Fred Barker at Bemis and Ed Grant at Beaver Island knew the value of the resource and its potential as the premiere sporting destination in the East. Here below shares Soule’s preparations to meet the trains at the new station at Bemis and transport them across Mooselookmeguntic and Cupsuptic to his sporting camps at Pleasant Island. A smart cookie he was. Check out his and other exhibits on famous Rangeley personalities at the Outdoor Heritage Museum in Oquossoc. It is a must see).

With Sportsmen


Will Wyman, the genial representative of Fletcher & Co., of Portland, is the luckiest man to date. Sunday, with Elliott Russell as guide, he landed three salmon weighing 8-1/2 lbs., 6-1/2lbs and 3lbs. This

shoves the Rangeley Lake House record up another notch, and, at the same time, makes a record which Elliott says won’t be beaten for the season.

(Landlocked Salmon are not native to the Rangeley watershed and were first introduced by the Oquossoc Angling Association in the Richardson Lakes around 1877 as “another angling opportunity” and to supplement the fast-depleting stocks of native brook trout. Smelt as a food source were also introduced. When this was written in 1896 the new introductions had been introduced to all the lakes and the growth rates of the salmon were significant. LL Salmon could eclipse 10 lbs. or more as they gorged themselves on the smelt and the native Blueback Trout which also hastened the end of that species in our watershed).

Ed Grant is getting ready for the open season on fish stories. Last week he set out a rose bush and a grape vine. ‘This week he is telling his friends that Marble, and Furbish, Butler & Oakes have agreed to take 10 bushels of grapes each per day from the vine the coming season. If there are any grapes left after this, they will be shipped down the lake and to the Boston market. He also says he has engaged 70 women to tie bouquets from his rose bush and expects to keep them busy all summer.

(Ed Grant of Beaver Pond Camps was a fantastic storyteller and seldom was it that he ever was completely “factual” in print or around a campfire…and that was his gift).

The following comes from Beaver Pond, and therefore must be— true: Frank Porter and Will Grant were fishing with pork the day after the ice went out. They’d caught a fair amount of trout when Frank had a bite. It pulled like a good one, but when they brought it to the top it proved to be a 3/4-pound trout encased in a long-necker (large whiskey or beer bottle) — only the trout’s head protruding. They had to break the bottle to get at the fish, but Will says the flavor of the fish was exceptionally fine. [It took the pair of them two weeks to manufacture the above yarn]


(They say, “apples don’t far fall from the tree” and it appears Ed Grant’s son Will had a flair for storytelling as well! Will would go on to operate Grant’s Camps at Kennebago which is still in operation today).

Elliott A. Russell was the successful guesser on the date of the ice going out of Rangeley Lake and receives Rangeley Lakes paper for one year. There were only six guesses of earlier dates, viz. Apr. 27, 30, May 1, 8, 9, 10. From Montreal came the 1st and 8th of May, but lots and lots for later dates.

(Ice out guessing contests Rangeley remains popular to this day).

The old Mountain View House and its new mate have been painted light yellow with white trimmings and looks pretty as a picture from the outside. Inside, the effect is even more pleasing. The general sitting-room, which occupies a major part of the first floor in the new part, is a beauty! The finish is natural wood with high wainscoting and the paper of a light tint which harmonizes nicely. The floor is made of narrow hard wood strips and offers glorious possibilities for the dances. But the most enjoyable thing of all is the great brick fireplace with wide arching opening, which will take “four-foot wood” without sawing, and ’round which many a jolly yarn will be spun. The early visitors like the change of things very much. (The Mountainview in Oquossoc was second only to the Rangeley Lake House in terms of size and was often completely booked months in advance of the season).

The Mountain View House in Oquossoc premiered a new wing for the 1896 summer season.

Get ready for soon the mud will dry and when the leaves on the poplars are about the size of a mouse’s ear the fishing will be good and the flatlanders will have returned with the sunshiny days of Spring! “Let’em come, be nice & treat’em right and always remember that we was heyah furst, which makes us the smaaht ones!”

And be sure to make time to get outside and make some outdoor history of your own.

Comments are not available on this story.