What follows has been redacted from a column entitled “Rangeley Recollections” found on page one of the January 28, 1897 edition of the RANGELEY LAKES newspaper.  Just as we do here in the faithful old HIGHLANDER, the ‘LAKES shared stories of earlier times in the region. The following harkens back to the 1840- 50’s!
Please enjoy these charming old tales of our wonderful region and be sure to make some safe and enjoyable Rangeley history of your own.
(Contemporary commentary in italics)

I have a pleasant memory of a night in a Kennebago logging camp with William Hoar and his brother, Daniel, who were part of a considerable crew of choppers. I went in with Raymond Toothaker, whose skill as a reinsman didn’t save us from a spill into the snow at a declivitous (there’s a word to spring on your friends this week. It means; moderately steep) point of the tote road. We carried a bag of onions, and as we reached the camp before the men had got in after their day’s work, the odor of the vegetables, mingling with that of frying pork, gratefully accosted their nostrils at a distance. Only one man of the gang objected to the smell, and he was nearly driven back by it. The others were made happy by the unexpected treat, which agreeably varied the regular fare of pork and beans baked in a pit, and fried pork and molasses with hot biscuits. Those who have not tested the last-named combination, at the end of a cold day of hard work in winter, have missed the treat of a lifetime. The sleeping area of the camp that night was a little overtaxed by the visitors, and one veteran woodsman was driven from the field bed for a nap on the deaconseat—a sacrifice to hospitality for which he was rewarded by a long life and the power to work at logging until he had passed the scriptural limit of life. (Sorry sleeping in a cozy fashion in a ‘field bed’, which is basically a long box type bunk running the length of the cabin wall filled with fir or cedar tips for a mattress and big wool blankets to be shared by all! Imagine THAT cuddlefest! Especially after the excessive consumption of baked beans. YIKES!)

Early camping at Indian Rock

Shooting the rapids of the outlet of Lake Oquossoc was one of the unsuccessful adventures of my boyhood at the Lakes, but I was only one of a party of three. We launched our boat just below the old mills (These were a water powered grist mill and saw mill built by Squire Rangeley in 1825) and went along swimmingly until we came to a great tree which had fallen across the stream (commonly known as a “sweeper” and have drowned many) and rested close to the water. We went against the obstruction with a great bump, and then the boat whirled around and went under the tree sidewise. But we had suddenly concluded not to go with it, and three astonished youngsters were sitting astride the tree when the boat emerged below and was proceeding to leave us on our perch and make the rest of the voyage to Indian Rock without a pilot, when the muscular boy of the crew seized hold of the craft and detained it. Then we crawled ashore, hauled the boat out of water and laboriously dragged it along the old carry as far as the Eddy. There we made another launch and completed the voyage without mishap. After a good time of several days in camp at Indian Rock and in fishing the adjacent waters, we returned to Rangeley via Haynes’ Landing, carrying the boat across to the Oquossoc outlet on our shoulders.
In 1843 Capt. Kimball’s “home camp” near the head of Lake Cupsuptic sheltered a party of ladies and their escort from Boston, with John Oakes as guide. There was an early row to the bog for a moose, who failed to put in an appearance, and nobody was hurt but the boy of the party, who got a tap on the ear with a paddle for making too much noise, with another paddle. When we got back to camp for a breakfast of fried partridges, we found that the hungry camp keepers, fired by the odor of the cooking birds, had taken them from the frying-pan with their fingers and disposed of them without ceremony. Near the present site of the camp of Senator Frye (it’s still there on Eagle Point and known as the Hobart-Hand property) we found a patch of blueberries which we added to our commissary and stewed for dinner, and I guess we enjoyed it all as well as we should have enjoyed a table d’hote repast in the club dining room at Indian Rock (Oquossoc Angling Association’s Camp Kennebago which is also still there).
An earlier visit to the “old home camp’ was one winter with Ira Plaisted and Alonzo Butler. We had stopped at the Narrows (once the rapids that existed between Cupsuptic and Mooselookmeguntic lakes prior to Upper Dam being rebuilt in 1878 and the resulting rise in lake levels) to fish through the ice and while the two older ones were so engaged the young scamp of the party drove away with the horse and pung (one horse sleigh) up the lake. With a purpose not to be overhauled until he had given his companions a good bit of exercise, he was standing up and playing the whip when the horse justifiably struck back with both hind feet and the boy received a fair knockout well above the belt. Then he tumbled out of the sleigh and awaited his pursuers while the horse made for the nearest point of land. When Plaisted and Butler arrived at the scene of the catastrophe and saw the physical distress of the boy, they considerately decided not to add to it by a deserved “licking,” and then went after and captured the fugitive horse. When we reached the home camp we found snow in the fireplace, but it soon yielded to a cheerful blaze, before which we sat and discussed the contents of our lunch box.
Next to the distinction of getting struck by lightning, I suppose, is just escaping an electric bolt. One night when going home with my father from the mill at the outlet we got under a wayside pine tree for partial protection from a sudden shower. In passing by that tree the next day we noticed that lightning had passed down almost its entire length, splitting off a long, narrow ribbon of bark and fibre. I do not remember that anybody or any building at the Lakes ever came any nearer harm by lightning than this.   -Old Laker.

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