Talk about Lake Maranacook! Descant on its fabled glories. Parade its transcendent beauties. But when compared with the eighteen square miles of iridescent surface displayed by Lake Cobbosseecontee’s, Winthrop’s sluggish pond fades into insignificance. Cobbosseecontee is indeed a lake, cradled among the craggy hills, like a sleeping giant; it's pearly waters (intelligible) the fertile shores of five of our most important farming towns. Like a diadem, it rests on the furrowed brow of old Kennebec, the fairest, the loveliest of all Nature's handiwork.
Dotted with evergreen islets like floating emeralds, indented by coves, veritable fairy grottoes of green, intersected by bold promontories and slender tapering points, it is indeed almost a glimpse of paradise. Located four and one-half miles directly west of the three sister cities, this magnificent sheet of water, with an average width of two miles, stretches from Manchester and the shapely pines of Hammond's Grove away south, nine miles to the rugged hills and sylvan dales of granite-ribbed Monmouth. Let the reader step into a boat at the grove and proceed down the lake. As he moves off, Cony's dapper little steamer will be encountered, ready to awaken the echoes with its piping whistle. First on the right, cleaving the water like a gigantic wedge, is Long Point, and peeping through the leafy foliage is discovered the quiet little settlement of East Winthrop, with its tapering church spire, so characteristic of every New England Village. A mile father and the tiny island of Ladies Delight is reached. It was here that several years ago Dr. Babcock and Mr. Sanborn met a tragic death.
These unfortunate gentlemen, during a shower, took refuge on the island, under a cedar tree. A blinding flash was seen, the clash of a thunder-bolt heard, and shortly afterward, the ghastly corpses of the poor men were discovered. Even now, the withering effect of the fatal bolt is apparent on the trunk of the tree. Looking westward is the little hamlet of Baileyville, embowered in cool and airy maples. Across in Manchester dwell the peaceful and honest-hearted Quakers. On the hill, their plain and unpretending Meeting House looms up.
Another mile brings the voyager to Shaw's or Hodgton's Island. A decade ago, this was the resort of a numerous class of pleasure seekers. Then it was that Harry Hodgton ran his steamer on the lake, and had a bowling alley, dance hall and cookhouse on the Island. All these have now disappeared. Last year, however, a cottage was erected by Henry Harding of Hallowell.
Quite a large part of the island is covered with cedar thickets. These are the favorite haunts of the untamable partridge. Half a mile to the eastward is the Basin, and at its foot, the new “Outlet House” with its attendant fleet of boats. Here the Cobbossee stream commences on it serpentine wanderings to busy Gardiner and the Kennebec River. Formerly, at the Outlet, hard by the banks of the stream, the Aborigines built their wigwams, counted their scalp-locks and whiffed from the peace pipe the fragrance smoke of the kinnikmie. Often times the farmer's plow turns up rude stone implements, relics of the savage life. Immediately south from Shaw’s Island towers the mossy and weather-beaten hemlocks of Horseshoe Isle, the largest in the lake, about a mile and three-quarter in length, by three-quarters in breadth. Many years ago, some eccentric farmer attempted to hew out a farm from among its rugged beeches and maples. He even built a house and barn. But the solitude of the place was too much for human nature and it is now deserted. Tradition says the body of Sagre, the first man ever hung in Maine, was buried on this Island; the relatives of the murderer stealthily by night interred the corpse in the deep recesses of the forest. Three miles south is Two Tree Island, a mere pile of rocks, and perched on them are two stately pine trees like warning monitors pointing heavenward. Soundings of over one-hundred feet have been taken in the vicinity. Here were the happy hunting grounds of the white perch fisherman. In these cool and secluded depths, the perch delighted to revel, and it was possible almost any time to haul in a bushel of the scaly fellows. This has passed away.
In an evil hour, Samuel Groves, otherwise “Sam Grouse” of Manchester, plotted against the horny tribe, stretched his net and depleted their ranks to such an extent that it is almost idleness to fish for white perch now.
Uncle Sammy however finally ceased his predatorial labors, and went into the shoe business at the county factory. Two miles below is the lower extremity of the lake where the inlet “Jack “stream pours in its flood and furnishes water power for the grist and saw mills at East Monmouth. This stream is the outlet of the numerous chain of ponds which extend through Winthrop and Monmouth; and even the immaculate Maranacook, through its banks, pays tribute to the sparkling waters of Cobbosseecontee.
Even as above the surface of the lake all nature is filled with budding life, so beneath is a minute world teeming with its finny inhabitants. Roaming among the weeds, whisking through the lily pads, gamboling around the boulders, are the perch, the voracious pike and gamey bass. If you want genuine soul inspiring sport, then cast your fly in this neighborhood. See Cobbossee and live. Take your rod and live. Pitch your tent in some forest dell, stretch your hammock, hang your chowder kettle and take your ease.
Are you a sallow dyspeptic? You will be astonished at the demands of your stomach. Throw brown bread and graham to the dogs, and feast on Island Chowder. Are you a drudge of the city, a lawyer, a merchant? You will be surprised at the renewed vigor, the rest to your tired brains which this primitive life will give you, and, when evening falls, you can sink into sweet and refreshing slumber, lulled by the murmur of the wavelets, and the plaintiff notes of the whippoorwill. Ere long the train locomotives of the narrow gauge will whirl around the head of the lake.
Commodious hotels will be erected, and spacious grounds laid out. Then, O shades of extant Maranacook, beware, for a rose will fall from your Chaplet.
(Question: Do we sense a bit of competiveness here?)
Do you remember Joe Emery's Lake House located just before the Outlet Bridge on the Pond Road? Do you have any interesting stories regarding this popular Lake Cobbossee hotel that burned down sometime in the early 1940s? Val has come up with the following interesting story from the Lewiston Sun, the full date to be provided later.
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!"