Western Maine Memories

| April 12, 2012

Letter from Bob Parsons, Feb. 10, 2012

Dear Mr. Pinkham,

I enjoyed your book “Mountains of Maine,” and walked a great deal of the territory you described, though not nearly 3,000 miles.
I’d like to add to your description of the Oquossuc/Kennebago/Cupsuptic area. You noted the rail spur leading up the Swift River and across to Bemis. When I was quite young, I worked for Dr. Henry H. Hazen, the U. S. Consultant on Syphilology and Dermatology, of Washington, D. C. and George Washington Medical School, who had been coming to Cupsuptic Lake since he was a young man, before there were any roads to the lake. He and Mrs. Hazen got on a sleeper in D. C., and didn’t get off till Oquossuc, from where they got to Haines Landing, where they travelled by boat through the Narrows to their cottage atop the ledge on the west shore of the east arm of the lake, about 1/3 mile down shore from the Brown Farm (Brown Paper).
That rail spur went from Bemis up the east shore of Mooselook to Oquossuc, then north across Rangeley Stream, then Whetstone Brook, then Kamankeag Brook, then John’s Pond Brook to the west end of Kennebago Lake and at least to Little Kennebago Lake, and probably up toward Big Island Pond. I haven’t walked past Little Kennebago, but I can vouch for the rest. It was good fishing, even for a kid on a bicycle on the RR bed, though I was more interested in roaming than fishing.
Later, I took my two oldest kids to Grant’s Camps for a week. Ed, who had guided at the Oquossuc Angling Association, had died by then. Bill had retired from Pleasant Island (he was Nick Morrison’s manager for the resort), where he was a notorious teller of tales.
It’s beautiful country, even after the Main Line folks and the Bostonians and New Yorkers have crowded in, and privatized their fishing grounds. I can smell it, and see the sky line after a summer storm and a rainbow over Spotted Mountain. I grew up there, and I miss it.
Robert L. Parsons

P. S. If you take your time after turning left (west) off the Long Falls Dam Road, proceeding along the south shore of Flagstaff Lake, at a sandy rise between the lake and a small depression, you might find a little hole in the alders, through which a trail goes up the notch between Big and Little Bigelow. It may be too grown up to find now; it’s been years since I walked it. I’m not sure that’s what you describe as Sam Parson’s Trail, but the one to which I refer is maybe 2 miles short of my cousin Roy’s old place, undoubtedly now under water, like Flagstaff Village. R. P.

P. S. S. About Gulf Hagas, where I have not been, except to ford the Pleasant River downstream from it, after a tough walk along the A. T. with our Swedish Exchange Student, who called White Camp, “straight oop”—– The folks I grew up amongst in East New Portland characterized very tangled and thick woods as a “hagas hole”
If there was a trout stream in such a place, you could be pretty sure you’d be the only person there, and that you’d be notably scratched up by the time you got out, maybe with a broken fish rod, to say nothing of black flies and minges. R. P

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