Snapshots in time: driving
I hope you enjoy these clippings found in the July 18, 1895 edition of the RANGELEY LAKES newspaper. We live in crazy times, so take a few moments to experience what life in Rangeley once was like, and perhaps be inspired to slow down and appreciate some of the ‘finer things’, the joys of a much simpler life. …Or in some cases, how far we have or have NOT come. I wish the reader the gift of discernment to better determine who is who?
(Bill’s comments in italics, otherwise all copies have been reprinted as they appeared in 1895).
One of the most enjoyable day trips one can take from Rangeley or the surrounding area is a trip up Mount Bald Head. It must necessarily leave from the Mountain View House by boat through the exit. From the landing, the ascent, with a few exceptions, is very easy, a good path leads to the summit, from where a view of unparalleled beauty awaits you. If Proprietor Bowley has not yet done so, he offers to have the path put in first class order, so that the horses can be ridden. Another improvement would be to have some of the trees that obstruct the view cut down, or what would be better, build a log tower on the highest point of elevation high enough to look down on them. Some form of shelter should also be constructed to be used in the event of a sudden downpour. We have offered these suggestions and will gladly inform visitors when they are carried out. Still, no visitor to Rangeley should leave without making the climb.
To this day, a climb to the summit of Bald Mountain is a MUST for any visitor (and a summer ritual for wise summer residents or “townies.”) Of course, a lot has changed since 1896. Today Today the trailhead is located on the west side of Bald Mt. Rd., while the article places it at the Steamboat Landing once located on Oquossoc Cove where the marina is today. A state-operated fire tower was built atop Bald in the early 1900s, but with the advent of aircraft, all of the older fire towers were abandoned. West Kennebago and Saddleback also had staffed fire towers. Today, the just frame support for the Bald Mt Fire Tower remains and now serves as the once-hoped-for viewing platform in the story above.
Below is an “ironic” list of state gambling law revisions…
New baggage limits announced
Here is the latest revision of the Laws of the Game:
-Book agents can be killed from August 1 to October 1
-Spring of poets from March 1 to July 1
-Scandal dealers from January 1 to December 31 inclusive
– Umbrella borrowers, from February 1 to May 1 and from August 1 to November 1.
-A year-round view of life insurance agents, fellows who borrow their neighbor’s papers, and obituary poets.
It seems odd that “Open Season” hasn’t been expanded to include politicians on this list yet. It may be that insignificant things such as the rule of law, ethical behavior and honesty were much more important in 1896, also making this list of bag limits.
In the past, we’ve shared a few mentions of what was “in” both locally and nationally in the late 1800s…the bicycle. Rangeley was fascinated by “riding the wheel”. The bikes mentioned below consisted of a large wheel (about 4 to 6 feet high) with pedals, surrounded by a fork and a frame with just a seat, handlebars and a small rear wheel for the online stability. Raw to say the least. These were nothing like the expensive, multi-geared, carbon-frame, full-suspension machines of today. The wheel had very rudimentary brakes, if at all! For many, The Wheel supplanted the horse (no vets, feeding or shovel pooping). One day the local doctor drove his wheel to Strong and back, just to visit a patient. In 1890, George Pilkington Mills (despite his rather languid-sounding middle name) set a record 259 miles on his wheel. Be aware that the roads were just buggy trails at best and nothing was paved. “The Wheel” itself looks like pure torture to drive, let alone ride. In fact, it was also the name given to a real medieval instrument of torture! Needless to say, these early cyclists were determined, obviously fit and tough!
Mount the wheel
A group of Phillips cyclists made the trip from Dead River Station to Eustis last week. While they were there it rained so hard that the return trip was staged, that is, all but Henry True came back that way. He stuck to his wheel and did a record one hour and five minutes from Green’s to Dead River Station. The group consisted of Mr. and Mrs. JW Brackett, of the Phillips Phonograph, HW True and his wife, and Fred N. Beal, Superintendent of the Sandy River Railroad.
Seems old Henry True was a stubborn old Yankee, a bit of a Mudder, and the Neil Armstrong, without the PEDs, of his day… Or he had a fight with his wife who had the good sense to take over the stage. .
What a beautiful summer it was! I send greetings and best wishes to all my old Rangeley friends. I hope everyone reading this appreciates how special Rangeley is and that you enjoy every moment you have the chance to be there. Be sure to have fun creating your own Rangeley story, because who knows, in 126 years, someone might be reprinting your exploits in the Paypah?