What follows first appeared in the September 24, 1896, edition of the RANGELEY LAKES newspaper. On page one, a beautifully written ode to Fall in the Western Mountains of Maine.

(All copy reprinted just as it appeared in 1896. Additional commentary shared in italics).


Changes Among the Denizens of the Woods and Sportsmen

The horns of the deer are beginning to harden. Some of the old bucks may brush their velveted horns against a bush, now and then just to see how they hang, like the hunter who takes his rifle from the case in the early spring and sights it at an imaginary deer or moose. The deer’s red coat is getting ragged, and the short blue coat begins to show through in places. The cold nights in the mountains have kept the flies from bothering the deer, and now they drink at little brooks oftener than in the big streams where they have learned that the hunters commence to sit, rifle in hand, about this time of year awaiting them. Instead of lying in the shade all day merely stirring now and then to get out of the sun and stretch its legs the deer lies on the sunny side of a bush, where its sides heave up and down and the glint of the dewdrops on its coat flickers in the eyes of a blue jay or partridge, sometimes in the eyes of a still hunter. The squirrels are shucking beechnuts, dropping the shells on the dry leaves with a loud clatter. The chipmunk chirps and the blue jay yells. The leaves show the colors of autumn; the yellow of a birch leaf is tinged with green and the red of a maple is hazy. The birds are dusky. The brilliant love colors of spring are pale and worn, and molting time has changed the old finery for the rich, warm coat of fall and winter. The songs of the birds are different, or peeps and chirps have taken the place of the songs. The migrating birds are anxious, too. They hop and cast their glances upward, as if looking to the weather. The woodchucks are getting fat and run like chunks of putty. The young birds’ feathers are larger, the birds heavier, and their flight faster. The mother partridge is less solicitous for the safety of her flock, flies further when aroused by a man or a dog, and sometimes leaves the young birds to shift for themselves for hours while she goes somewhere—perhaps to dust on a sandy wood trail. The snakes bask no more in the roads and open place, and the mud turtles lie for hours on the logs, plunging off only when alarmed. The shirt-waisted tourists put on heavier clothes, and the men keep on their coats, sportsmen are cleaning their guns and sighting them for the last time before they start for the woods. The fisherman’s place on the stream is taken by the watcher, the floater, and the canoe loads of hunters bound further up. It will be many days before the shotguns begin to bark at the ducks and geese, but even now the shells and proper loads are discussed, a question which sooner or later the hunter solves for himself.

Rangeley entrepreneur J.L. York operated sporting camps at Loon Lake and Kennebago as well as a fox farm.

Local Paragraphs


Saddleback was tipped with snow Wednesday morning.

Ice formed during Tuesday night at several places in the village. To make up for the cold September, October must be lovely weather.

One can only imagine how fast the snowbirds would leave town with ice on the puddles and snow on Saddleback in September!

“Rangeley should have an advertisement posted at every cross-road in the United States” remarked an enthusiastic visitor recently.

Rangeley’s popularity as a destination? The more things change the more they stay the same!

Loon Lake- Proprietor York has had several calls for circulars relating to his camps, from Massachusetts people. Next year Mr. York intends to get out an illustrated circular relative to them. There is no better place for the huntsman to go than here. Deer can be seen most every day coming down to the water on the west shore. Partridges are plenty and-indications point to a good number at the opening of the hunting season.


With his success in the camp business, J.L. York would go on to own and operate another set of camps on the eastern end of Kennebago Lake. He also owned a fox farm supplying pelts to furriers eager to meet the huge demand for toasty fur coats. Wild fur was becoming harder to trap as the resource was severely depleted. Back in the day, “fashionable” fur and basic wool were the primary options when it came to cold weather apparel.

Mr. Arthur Jones died at Pleasant Island camps Wednesday night of last week. Mr. Jones’ home was at Portland but owing to poor health he had made Rangeley and vicinity his stopping place each year for a long time and was a familiar figure upon the street when he felt able to go out. Mr. Jones had the old-fashioned consumption (Tuberculosis) and his friends wondered that he lived so long as he did. He traveled south and west, hoping that the climate would better agree with him, but the disease was of such a nature that it yielded not.

Many of Rangeley’s regular summer visitors came for relief from respiratory ailments in the region’s clean mountain. However, this was true for the wealthy few who could afford room and board at the $10-$15 per week, which equates to about $530 in today’s dollars. Others came to escape hay fever allergies and oppressive air quality issues from the coal fired industries and poor sanitation that existed in the hot cities in the summer. With no A/C, city dwellers had no choice but to open the windows and the urban air was extremely unhealthful.

The short article below is fascinating in several ways. Did you know that for over 70 years, beginning in the mid-19th century, Maine was traditionally Republican? Not surprising given Abraham Lincoln happened to be a Republican.

The article also shares how in 1896, the Democrats and Republicans had joined forces to defeat the misguided efforts of a new Party, the “Free Silvers”. The new political party wanted to print $450,000,000 million in unbacked paper currency. That equals $15.9 Billion in today’s dollars which is roughly one third of the 45 Billion just added to the IRS “enforcement” efforts, but I digress.

This new threat caused the Republicans and Dems to work together in 1896 because they had learned an important lesson from history. They knew that if huge amounts of unbacked currency were printed and circulated, as the Free Silvers were calling for, it would cause the country great harm in the form of,  yes…. INFLATION!


The two Parties, who today are painfully at one another’s throats in the quest to remain in power, had remarkably joined forces to stymie the “Free Silver” movement. Back in the “Good Old Days” they united because they had learned from a previous fiscal mistake made during the “Greenback Craze” (1868-1888). Excessive amounts of additional currency had been printed to help pay for the massive U.S. Government spending caused by the devastating American Civil War. Certainly, saving the Union and ending slavery were absolutely necessary causes for what historically always proves to be fiscally irresponsible. The money had to be spent, however America still suffered the consequences as the Greenback Craze resulted crippling inflation, the “Panic of 1873” on Wall Street, and a long Depression. From Page 4:

Maine is naturally Republican; it has been so for years, with the exception of the time of the greenback craze and the fusion of parties at that time. This year, after the Chicago convention, it was boldly claimed that Maine was as good as won by the Free Silverites, but Republicans and Democrats, who well remembered the attempted “State-Steal”, desired no more of those days and both stepped forward, each with a shoulder to the wheel, and rolled up a plurality of 50,000 (votes) on last election day, simply to show the country that the claims put forth by the Free Silver party were nothing but idle boasts. It was to be a campaign of education and evidently it educated.

We can learn so much from history. Have a great week and be sure to make some great Rangeley history of your own!



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