Many within the Rangeley Lakes Area know of Cornelia “Fly Rod” Crosby, and the way the legendary fly fisher and author labored tirelessly to advertise outside actions in Maine within the late 1800s. Now extra folks will find out how Crosby, the state’s first Registered Maine Information, launched Maine as an ecotourism vacation spot lengthy earlier than ecotourism was a phrase.
A statue commissioned by two Rangeley summer time residents will likely be unveiled on Feb. 14 at the Maine Division of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife headquarters in Augusta, the primary public venue the place the statue will likely be displayed.
“Think about a girl within the 1800s serving to to craft the laws for the Registered Maine Guides license to (make certain) guides have been accountable outside folks. She was so forward of her time. Think about the standing of girls on the time she did that. There most likely wasn’t a girl within the legislature,” stated Grasp Maine Information Roger Lambert of Robust. “In her time she was arguably probably the most identified Maine particular person, apart from Joshua Chamberlain. I wager at the moment lower than 5% of the folks in Maine know who she is.”
Born in 1854, Crosby started to pursue an outside life searching and fishing round Phillips, her birthplace in Franklin County, after contracting tuberculosis. When she began actively fishing in her 20s, her love and success exploring native trout ponds earned her the identify “Fly Rod,” which she later took as a pen identify when she wrote for her hometown newspaper.
Her outside column quickly was picked up by nationwide publications. Her outside adventures within the Rangeley area appeared within the Chicago Night Publish and the St. Paul Occasions in Minnesota, in response to her biographers, Julia Hunter and Earle Shettleworth Jr., the Maine state historian.
The Maine Central Railroad employed Crosby to advertise Maine’s sporting camps at a time when rich hunters, fly fishers and nature fans ventured to the Maine woods for clear air, pure magnificence and large fish. Crosby traveled to sporting expos to assist draw folks to the Maine’s woods. At Madison Sq. Backyard in New York Metropolis she arrange a life-sized log cabin with animal mounts. One time she transported a field automobile filled with stocked trout in a fish tank to show.
Again at house, Crosby grew a repute as an ardent conservationist. She labored with the state’s first committee to ascertain fishing and searching bag limits to assist protect Maine’s pure assets.
But as well-known as she turned, “Fly Rod” was finest identified for her love of the Maine woods, as she shared in a well-known quote: “I scribble a bit for numerous sporting journals, and I’d relatively fish any day than go to heaven.”
Robert Cram and Michael Mooney commissioned the carved picket statue with New Hampshire artist Brian Stockman initially for his or her camp on Richardson Lakes within the Rangeley area.
“When Brian Stockman completed it, we have been blown away and began considering how many individuals in Maine would see it if we had it 10 miles down a logging highway,” Cram stated. “We figured it wanted to be extra within the pubic eye. We firmly imagine artwork must be seen so we mortgage out our artwork assortment all through the nation.”
The Farmington-based Excessive Peaks Alliance helped to discover a public venue for the statue the place it might assist inform Crosby’s story, since educating the general public about Crosby’s legacy is a part of its mission. In 2011 the alliance constructed a 25-mile path in honor of Fly Rod that stretched from Phillips to Rangeley, the place she typically fished.
“One factor I like about Fly Rod is she confirmed the distinction one particular person could make. She is an instance of how we profit from Maine’s pure assets and in addition how we are able to take duty for them,” stated Brent West, the alliance’s govt director.
As a result of the Maine State Museum presently is present process intensive renovations, IFW stepped in to assist show the Crosby statue within the very place the place folks come to take the information’s take a look at. Historic details about Crosby’s life will likely be included with the statue.
Guides in western Maine think about “Fly Rod” as notable a champion of the Maine outside as any in historical past.
Registered Maine Information Sheri Oldham shelp it’s ironic Crosby’s story will likely be made extra public right now – after a public well being disaster despatched folks in droves into the outside for the bodily and psychological well being advantages.
“Historical past repeats,” stated Oldham, an lively member of the Rangeley Area Guides and Sportsmen’s Affiliation. “The rationale Fly Rod spent a lot time outside was as a result of she had tuberculosis, a really contagious bacterial illness. So she realized find out how to fly fish. And Rangeley was nice for it. Now 125 years later, due to COVID, folks have rediscovered Rangeley as an outside vacation spot. Actually the growth within the new housing development and tourism speaks to that.”
Lambert, one of many founding members of the Excessive Peaks Alliance, stated the 25-mile path constructed via Crosby’s hometown a decade in the past was at all times meant as a place to begin to start telling Crosby’s life story. Now he hopes the statue set up at IFW is without doubt one of the first such monuments commemorating Fly Rod’s legacy.
“I at all times thought there ought to be a bronze statue of her on the capitol (advanced) in Augusta,” Lambert stated of Crosby, who died in Lewiston at age 92 in 1946. “She is related at the moment as a result of we have to preserve the connection to the outside. Plenty of guides and land trusts are attempting to maintain folks related with Mom Earth. She championed that concept again then. One of many causes I turned a information was to advertise Maine. She wrote the e-book on it.”