I hope you enjoy these clippings found in the July 18, 1895, edition of the RANGELEY LAKES newspaper. We live in crazy times, so let’s take a few moments to learn about what life in Rangeley was once like, and maybe be inspired to slow down and appreciate some of the ‘finer things’, the joys of a far simpler life… Or in some instances just how far we have or have NOT come. I wish the reader the gift of discernment to better determine which is which?

(Bill’s comments in Italics, otherwise all copy has been reprinted just as it appeared in 1895).

Mountain View

One of the pleasantest excursions that can be taken from Rangeley, or its surroundings, is a trip up Bald Head Mountain. It must necessarily start from the Mountain View House by boat across the outlet. From the landing the ascent, with few exceptions, is very easy, a good path leads to the top, from which a view of unsurpassed beauty lies before you. If Landlord Bowley has not yet done so, he proposes to have the path put in first class order, so that horses may be ridden up. Another improvement would be to have some of the trees that obstruct the view, cut, or what would be better, construct a tower of logs on the highest point of elevation sufficient to look over them. A shelter of some kind should also be built for use in case of a sudden shower. We have offered these suggestions and will gladly notify the visitors when they are carried out. Still, no visitor to Rangeley should leave without making the ascent.

To this very day, an ascent to the summit of Bald Mountain is a MUST for any visitor (and a rite of summer for wise summer residents or “townies”.) Of course, much has changed since 1896. Today the trailhead is located on the West side off Bald Mt. Rd., whereas the article places it at the steamer landing once located on Oquossoc Cove where the Marina is today. A State operated Fire Tower was built atop Bald in the early 1900’s, but with the advent of aircraft, all the old Fire Towers were abandoned. West Kennebago and Saddleback also had staffed fire towers. Today, the just frame stand for Bald Mt’s fire tower remains and now serves as the viewing platform once hoped for in the story above.

Below a “tongue in cheek” list of revisions to the State’s Game Laws…


New Bag Limits Announced

The following is the latest revision of the game laws:

-Book agents may be killed from August 1st to October 1st

-Spring poets from March 1st to July 1st

-Scandal mongers from January 1st to December 31st inclusive

-Umbrella borrowers, from February 1st to May 1st and from August 1st to November 1st.


-Open season all the year round on life insurance agents, the fellows who borrow their neighbor’s papers, and obituary poets.

It seems odd that “Open Season” had not yet been extended to include politicians in this list. It might be that trivial things such as the rule of law, ethical behavior and honesty were far more important back in 1896. And considering how many lawyer jokes there are today, you’d think they’d would of had a ‘shot’ at making this bag limit list as well.

In the past we have shared a few mentions of what was “all the rage” both locally and nationally in the late 1800’s…bicycling. Rangeley was enthralled with “riding the wheel”. The bikes referred to below consisted of a large wheel (some 4-6 feet tall) with pedals, surrounded by a fork and frame with just a seat, handlebars and a small rear wheel for in-line stability. Crude to say the least. These were nothing like today’s pricey multiple gear-carbon frame-full suspension machines. The Wheel had very crude brakes if any at all! For many, The Wheel was supplanting the horse (no vets, feeding or poop to shovel). The local doctor once rode his wheel all the way to Strong and back, just to visit a patient. In 1890, George Pilkington Mills (despite his rather languid sounding middle name) set a record of 259 miles on his Wheel. Please know that the roads were mere buggy paths at best, and nothing was paved. ‘The Wheel’ itself looks like pure torture to ride, let alone mount. In fact, it was also the name given to an actual medieval instrument of torture! Needless to say, these early cyclists were determined, obviously fit and tough!

Riding the Wheel

A party of Phillips bicyclists made the run from Dead River Station to Eustis last week. While they were there it rained so hard that the trip back was made by stage, that is, all save Henry True returned that way. He stuck to his wheel and made a record of one hour and five minutes from Green’s to Dead River Station. The party consisted of Mr. and Mrs. J. W. Brackett, of the Phillips Phonograph, H. W. True and wife and Fred N. Beal, superintendent of the Sandy River Railroad.

It seems old Henry True was a stubborn old Yankee, a bit of a Mudder, and the Neil Armstrong, sans the PEDs, of his day…Or he had gotten in a fight with his wife who had the good sense to take the Stage back.

What a beautiful summer it has been! I send greetings and best wishes to all my old friends in Rangeley. I hope everyone who reads this appreciates what a special place Rangeley is, and that you will relish every moment you are blessed to be there. Be sure to have fun making some great Rangeley history of your own, because who knows, 126 years from now someone might reprint your exploits in the Paypah?

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