In his popular 19th century regional guidebook, Captain Charles described Parmacheenee Lake as, “one of the most beautiful sheets of water I have ever seen.” And the well-traveled Captain gave a fair assessment in my view. It is gorgeous, but alas unless you are with the timber management company or an association member who has a key you cannot drive there. You can walk up through the gorge carved by the Magalloway River from the inlet of Aziscohos Lake or hike through Danforth’s Ravine from the Cupsuptic River as described below. Then you can always mountain bike in from one of the gates as I first did more than forty years ago. No matter how you get there, the place is worthy of the effort. It is truly gorgeous country.  What follows appeared in the October 24, 1895, edition of the RANGELEY LAKES newspaper and describes a trip to “God’s Country” in 1895. It features a cast of legendary regional characters, foremost among them John Danforth who trapped the region with Fred Barker and then pounded out a career as a successful sporting camp operator. His book, co-authored with Barker, “Hunting and Trapping on the Upper Magalloway and Parmacheenee” (reprints at Amazon or Abe Books) is well worth the read. In my view, it is best read on winter evenings by the fire with a nice snifter of your favorite adult beverage. Dan Heywood is also mentioned and his diary as Danforth’s lead guide at Camp Caribou, can be read for free online. However, as a sampler of Parmacheenee’s splendor 19th century style…read on and always remember to get outside and make some great Rangeley history of your own!


  1. I. Herrick Writes of a Visit to See John Danforth…A Few Days Since.

When Dan Heywood said, “Go to Parmacheenee with me.” I couldn’t resist the temptation, as it had been over three years since I had been at Camp Caribou, where I have enjoyed many happy days in years past. On the morning of the 16th, we started with the intention of killing lots of partridges and four deer, as four deer are all two persons are entitled to. We arrived at Camp Cupsuptic about 1 pm, and as Billy had not fastened the camp against passers-by, we made some tea and ate our lunch. After lunch, everything looked so cheerful about camp that we concluded to stop over that night and get some partridges and what deer came our way. We arrived at camp about dark, and I was one partridge ahead of Dan; but I won’t state just how many each had, for I don’t remember how many the law allows to one person. Next morning, we started off across the carry and it had a very lonesome appearance, as it is almost entirely forsaken now. When we reached Danforth’s Ravine, that too presented a very forlorn aspect, as the bridge had been tipped down into the Ravine; a precaution against accident, I suppose, for it would become unsafe in time, thereby giving someone a bad fall. As we neared the landing at Black Cat Brook we were thinking and talking of the hard time in store for us walking around the lake to the farm, for there are boats kept at that landing since the travel goes the other way. It was raining, with now and then a little snow mixed in, and as all woodsmen well know, that is VERT UNCOMFORTABLE WEATHER to travel in through brushy wood. When we reached the point to’ turn off from the trail, Dan said, “Let’s just go down to the landing and see if there is any boat in sight;” and to our surprise there was one on the shore, and right in the trail a stick marked: “Boat left for Daniel Heywood.” I never was more pleased to find a boat. Well, in we jumped, and about twenty minutes found us at the farm horse, where we were cheerfully met by Mr. and Mrs. Danforth, also young Richie, who had grown so that I did not at first know him. It did not seem quite right to find everyone at the farm, as I had never seen Camp Caribou closed before. After a hearty meal, John said: “Take your rifle and come with me.” This I did, and in a short time we were at the hatchery, which, by the way, I have no doubt is the best one in the State of Maine. It is certainly a credit to the builder and Parmacheenee Club, and will, in a few years, increase the fishing in that region. After looking all around the hatchery, John said: “Now let’s take a little stroll and try for a deer, as I will act as guide, and with a marksman like you, we can get one easily.” [He smiled when he made the last remark]. It was a very disagreeable afternoon, as it snowed and blew very hard, all the time growing colder, and the wind seemed to come from all points of the compass, which made it a little hard for deer hunting. Several times I told John we were lost, for we went through swamps and over ridges, sometimes with the wind at our backs and sometimes in our faces. But losing John Danforth in the woods around Parmacheenee would be a very hard thing to do. Just before dark we came to an old tote road which took us to the Dam on Moose Brook, and from there we took another road to camp. I enjoyed the evening very much, smoking and talking over old times with John and Dan. Next morning, I went over to the Island to take a look at OLD CAMP CARIBOU, after which Dan rowed me to the boat landing where we took a parting drink (of brook water-) and I struck out fox- home. There was about one inch of snow on the ground, but the leaves were frozen and to get a deer was almost impossible, so I paid no attention to the many tracks which I saw. Tracked several partridge and lost them all by not being a quick shot enough to hit them on the wing with a rifle. I did manage to get a black duck on Fox Pond by finding him asleep, which gave me plenty of time to take aim. When I got to the foot of Little Falls, the first object that caught my eye was a large doe hanging on the piazza. I opened the door of the camp and there saw a man who informed me that he and his friend, who was at that time hunting for more, got the deer the day before. I afterward learned that his friend was Elmer Thomas, of old-time steamboat and moose-calling fame. When I reached Cupsuptic Lake I found a west wind blowing which made it very easy to row to Haines Landing, where I arrived about 4 p.m. After crossing the carry and stopped with Landlord Bowley at Mountain View, where they are making many improvements for another season. Arrived home the following morning after a most enjoyable trip, which I hope to repeat before another three years shall pass. -E. I. Herrick, Rangeley, Oct. 23, 1895.

John Danforth (far right) with his Camp Caribou Guides at Danforth’s Ravine. Dan Heywood is at top right. Extracted from the right panel of a Starbird stereograph, 1896.

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