Lake Cobbosseecontee lies within the borders of 5 towns including Manchester, Winthrop, Monmouth, Litchfield, and West Gardiner. It covers some 5,543 acres, is approximately 9 miles long, and has a maximum depth of just over 100 feet. The name Cobbosseecontee, dating back to the 1600s, means "the place of many sturgeon," and was apparently named by Abenaki Indians.
Early history of the lake refers to sailing regattas that began in the late 1800s, drew large crowds, and helped develop a growing social life around the lake. The Cobbosseecontee Sailing Fleet still races on Thursday nights off Molizigan Island, and continues to sponsor sailing regattas along with the CYC.
In 1903, the Augusta, Winthrop and Gardiner Street Railway created a recreation area on Island Park near the old Hotel Pines seen in here in the photo (note that the featured photo in the upper left was also taken just out in front of the Hotel Pines). They built a trolley system which brought people to swim, picnic, and enjoy dancing in the open air pavilion also pictured here. Steamboats like the one below, appeared on the lake and took folks to the numerous inns, hotels, cottages, and sporting camps. Joe Emery's Lakehouse was a favorite inn and it is where the song, Moonlight Bay, was likely written.
Lake Cobbosseecontee is truly an island-studded gem, one that has remained popular through many generations!
THANK YOU, GEORGE
Recently, the CYC received an email from a former Augusta resident, George Lambert, The Writer Fisherman. We would like to thank him for sharing his memories with us and suggest to you, that you visit the website that he mentions in his writings. There you will find much more information about George and some really fine photography. Here is that email. “Wow, does your site bring back wonderful memories from over 60 years ago! As the 'baby' in a family of 8 boys that grew up in Augusta, I was too young to attend any of the dances at Island Park but my older brothers all reminisced fondly of their joyful experiences at the dance pavilion.
Most every day in the summer, my friend Don and I hitchhiked to Cobbossee, and we were only 8 or 9 years old! Everybody knew us as we stood near the Augusta House with our fishing equipment, waiting to be picked up. Although Mom gave us money to take the bus, we kept those precious coins either to supplement our packed lunches with goodies at a store near the lake or the concession stand at the Park itself or to acquire more fishing gear. Poor Mom nearly fainted when, much after the fact, she heard about our hitchhiking adventures at such a tender age.
Every day at Cobbossee was Nirvana! We fished for perch, sunfish, and horn pout from the old bridge to Island Park, walked down to the pumping station and tried our luck for largemouths, smallies or pickerel, cooled off by jumping in the water for a swim, collected lures that anglers had lost on weeds, borrowed rowboats for an outing around the island, enjoyed our lunch under the pines, netted minnows, caught bullfrogs, watched sunning turtles, listened to birds, and generally enjoyed our Huck Finn idyll. Life did not get any better than this!
Thanks for the wonderful memories when kids were safe and free to enjoy and learn about the natural world around themselves without fear."
Following our reply and a request to allow us to publish his memories, George responded with another follow-up email.
"My only connection with the lake since I left Augusta has been to fish once or twice with one of my nephews, Phil, who also hails from Maine’s capitol city. While I began fishing as a bait and spin caster, I am now exclusively a fly fisherman who has had the good fortune of pursuing my avocation in fantastic venues throughout the world, including Scotland, Labrador, New Brunswick, Québec as well as stateside locations in Montana, Wyoming, New England and especially the Rangeley area. I now live in Kennebunk so I fish the Mousam River, both for browns and brookies in the fresh water portion and for stripers and blues in the saltwater area down by Parsons Beach.
When I was a kid, my brothers and I would fish both the Lake and Cobbossee stream for largemouth and smallmouth bass every chance we got. I have attached a picture of me with my first Cobbossee bass, taken when I was about 8 or 9 years. I also attached a recent photo of a brown from the Mousam River and a fat brookie taken on the Minipi River system in Labrador. The final picture is me landing a 25+ lbs. atlantic salmon taken on the Moisie River in northern Québec
Since retiring, I write documentaries and children’s books so my publisher insisted that I have a website. If you want more information about me and more photos of my fishing escapades you can check it out athttp://freewebs.com/gjlamb
When I start talking about fishing, I can carry on for a long time.”
A young George with his first Lake Cobbossee bass!
Landing a 25 lb salmon on the Moisie River in Quebec!
Here is an Interesting Story from Gary Sawyer
This story first appeared on Gary's Facebook page on November 14, 2011.
"Thirty years ago on this date, I had the pleasure of officiating at the wedding of two friends who were also neighbors. I was a JP primarily to register voters, but I had all of the other powers of a Justice of the Peace. They had planned a simple ceremony in their living room with only two friends as witnesses. Although it had been seasonably chilly, the day was not unlike today. We borrowed another neighbor's runabout and the five of us went out to the Cobbossee Lighthouse. After reciting a brief statement and the vows had been made, I produced a bottle of champagne from a briefcase that I had toted along. We all set down our Old Milwaukee cans, drank a dedication 'toast' of the champagne, and lounged for at least five minutes. Very efficient; very lovely. Nice memory !!"
Gary lives on the north shore of Lake Cobbosseecontee overlooking Island Park, and we thank him for giving us permission to copy this delightful, romantic Cobbossee story!
And here is another submission from Gary received on November 16. "Brief Review of my Property" Enjoy!
"The property that I have owned since 1971 was at one time a marina. It is on Keyes Landing Lane in East Winthrop, just several hundred yards from the Manchester Town Line, and not far from the Island Park Bridge. Most charts (the 1900 version by Daniel C. Robinson, and the 1938 version of the Kennebec Journal among them) identify the area as Lily Bay, tucked into the islands off Manchester Bay. There are a couple of postcards citing the property as Pernette Cove. (See pc photos below.)
When I purchased the property, it had a "camp" structure and two out buildings. The Winthrop-Augusta sewer line had just been installed along the shore which apparently added several feet of stabilizing rocks and soil to the original property dimensions.
The site was prime for a marina. It was in a shallow cove, somewhat protected by the land mass of Island Park and Hersey Island. The Island Park Dance Hall and Amusement Area was built by the Augusta, Winthrop, and Gardiner Street Railway in order to attract riders on their trolleys. It worked!
Hundreds of people from all over the state, and beyond, would come to hear the Big Bands from throughout Maine, from Boston, from where-ever. The trolley would make its way from Augusta, along the shore and stop above my place to let people off to come down to rent boats, and then stop at the bridge to let people walk over to the dancehall.
It's a nice heritage. We have discovered several railroad spikes from the old rail bed, and I am told, that many an old nickel or dime have been discovered--thanks to metal dectectors.
Since acquiring the property, I have insulated, added onto the house--twice-- and pushed it back onto a new foundation. I love living here! I have my daughter and her two daughters here in the house.
Although the taxes are EXTREMELY high, I do not plan to leave it!!"
Joe Emery's Lakehouse at the Outlet in Manchester.
Do you remember?
So, do you remember dancing at Island Park at the north end of Lake Cobbosseecontee? Not only was this a popular night spot back in the days of trolley cars, but it was revived following WW II and again, dancers and music lovers from miles around came to while away the evening hours! Were you one of them? Did you ever listen to this particular group, one of so many that performed at Island Park? Do you remember the park theme song during the 50s? Moonlight Bay? "We were sailing along on Moonlight Bay......." How appropriate!
Erle, from Jacksonville, Florida, sent the CYC an email on Wednesday, October 12, 2011 regarding his memories of Island Park. We take this occasion to share the email with our readers and suggest that you follow his doing and send us your memories as well. In fact, if you have memories of life on Cobbossee in any form, send them along to us.
Erle wrote, "Among my fondest memories while at Kents Hill School between 1935 and 1939 was dancing at the open-air dance pavilion to the music of the great 18-piece dance bands. The instrumental sounds echoing throughout the surrounding forest was sensational. To a teen-ager, going to heaven was dancing at Island Park. Three or four of us day-school students used to drive to Island Park from Kents Hill to pick up dancing partners from the sidelines spending the entire evening ballroom dancing to the sounds of the big bands. Oh for the return of those days!"
Send us your memories today!
The old Island Park Bridge led to the popular dance pavilion on the left and to this very unique theater as well! Just a short trolley ride from Augusta, this was the place to be for a really good time during the early 1900s! Great music! Many well known dance bands.
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Early 20th century travel on Lake Cobbosseecontee was by steamboat and a trip around the lake could take 5 hours!
This site has been created by the CYC and is brought to you courtesy of Clark Marine of Manchester, Maine. "Fun on the water starts at Clark Marine!"