HISTORY OF RANGELEY OUTDOOR SPORTING HERITAGE


13,000 years ago Palaeo American Indians were drawn to the Rangeley Region of Maine’s Western Mountains to pursue migrating Caribou and the fabled brook trout that grew to trophy size. Thus began a tradition that continues today, of people drawn to the region for its incredible wildlife resources. In the 1860’s, George Shepard Page caught eight brook trout whose total weight was almost 52 pounds. When word of the huge trout spread to New York, Rangeley was forever transformed from a small rural farming community to a popular destination for sportsmen and sportswomen.

Stories of the fabulous brook trout, some weighing 11 pounds and more, soon eclipsed the reputations of the fabled Adirondacks and Catskills, but the increased fishing pressure on the wild trout population eventually took its toll. To offset the declining numbers and size of the brook trout, landlocked salmon were introduced in the 1870's. Their presence dramatically reduced the populations of blueback trout, which provided the forage that enabled the brook trout to reach trophy size. Onto this stage came some personalities that were to significantly contribute to the traditions and history of the Rangeley Region and the entire community of fly fishermen.

Ed Grant, a guide, camp owner and noted Maine storyteller, did much to establish the Kennebago area as prime location for trout fishing.

Fly Rod Crosby was the first to actively promote the area’s fishing and hunting through personal appearances and her writings.

• Captain Barker ran steamers connecting the newly arrived railroads and the camps that sprang up around Mooselookmeguntic lake, several of which he owned and operated.

• In the early 1900's, Herb Welch  of the village of Oquossoc, used his artistic talents to create lifelike mounts and paintings of the trophy fish caught from local waters.

• Perhaps the most important personality of the era was Carrie Stevens,  a milliner who summered at Upper Dam with her husband Wallace. Carrie designed and tied beautiful streamer flies, the best known of which is the Gray Ghost,  that are eagerly sought by collectors around the world.

While much has changed over the past 150 years, the voices of these early pioneers still echo today in the Outdoor Sporting Heritage Museum where the past and the present provide a backdrop for the future.
 

   
 

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