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
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