Saturday, June 30, 2012

The Island Maneskootuk, Rangely Lake Maine


      How many lake islands in Maine have had a best-seller written about them?  One, as far as I know.

     Maneskootuk Island, or Doctor’s Island in Rangeley Lake, Maine.  The book is The Islanders by Elizabeth Foster and tells the story of the house her grandfather, Frederick Dickson built on the island, their many summers there and especially of the garden her grandfather built and lovingly tended.

   Our paddling companion had read that book and a follow up book by Carolyn Scofield.   A gardener herself, she wanted to see the remnants of the massive garden.
Approaching Maneskootuk
        And so we set off from the Rangeley boat launch in our trio of boats: a Wilderness Systems Zephyr, Current Designs Sirocco, and Old Town Tandem Otter.  We started early in the morning, to avoid wind driven waves that can build during the day.

                The Otter moved smoothly, although we were not ideally positioned in the boat.  The front seat serves as a brace for the back seat.  Unfortunately, the back seat did not move easily, so we were further back than was ideal for boat trim.  However, we were well matched paddlers, and despite the Otter’s 29” beam we had no trouble setting a good pace. 

                It helped that on the way our gardening companion entertained us with tales of the island and the steamboat which used to carry visitors out.
A bright log cottage
        Maneskootuk is a private island, festooned with No Trespassing signs and decorated with assorted houses, cottages and sculpture.  The original grand house burned in 1939.  We worked our way about the island until at last, on the southern slope we were rewarded with views of the garden remnants in eight glorious terraces.


            Maneskootuk is an Abnaki phrase, picked out by Frederick Dickson to describe the island.  It means “Place of the Big Trout”.  And, in case you’re wondering, he was not a doctor, but a lawyer.  Doctor’s Island reflects a later use of the island, as camps (cottages) only doctors were permitted to rent. 
Amazing mountains serve as a backdrop to the lake
                The Islanders is available from many sources.  However, the follow up book,  The Island Maneskootuk by Carolyn Scofield, telling about later owners of the island, is harder to find.  One source is the Ecopelagicon Nature Store in Rangeley. (Ecopelagicon also rents kayaks, sells gear and arranges shuttles.)   
Our intrepid explorers heading back to Rangeley
Launch:  Rangeley Town Park.  No charge, restrooms open by 8AM.  4 miles to go out, around the island and back.  The Old Town Otter worked well, though I doubt we would have been happy had waves been slopping into the large cockpit.

23 comments:

  1. This island was also called Persian Island in 1960's.

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    1. I spent two glorious summers (1957 and 1958) in this beautiful island, then called Persian Island. To this day the memory of these two summers are the most precious memories of my life. As a six year old Persian girl away from home for the first time, I got the taste of the American dream in the prosperous 50's and fell in love with everything American. To this day I am so grateful to my uncle who had bought and named the island for his family. God bless his soul for thus giving us a piece of heaven.

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    2. Thank you “Trio Boats” and the pictures of my “beloved Island” where I spent the happiest times of my life. I still have the newspaper then called Rangeley Record, Vol. 24 – No.2 dated Friday, June 28, 1957 - front-page “Doctor’s Island sold to Persian Family – a slice of Persia has been transplanted in the Rangeley Lakes Region”. The new owner was my brother and thanks to him I was able to discover this piece of paradise.

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  2. I spent two glorious summers (1957 and 1958) in this beautiful island,
    > then called Persian Island. To this day the memory of these two summers
    > are the most precious memories of my life. As a six year old Persian girl
    > away from home for the first time, I got the taste of the American dream
    > in the prosperous 50's and fell in love with everything American. To this
    > day I am so grateful to my uncle who had bought and named the island for his family. God bless his soul for thus giving us a piece of
    > heaven.
    >
    > So now let's make the island famous through our blogs!

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    1. Thank you so much for your post! It sounds like you have wonderful memories of Persian Island and Maine! It was fun for us to paddle around the island, but I'm very glad you've found the pictures and they've reminded you of those very special summers. It seems like it must be a very magical place; it certainly inspires delightful books.

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    2. carol garrigues scofieldAugust 3, 2012 at 8:57 AM

      Hi, I knew the Afshaw family well and we have now been on the island for 42 summers. wondering who this is.....I never knew Nassar had a sister. i knew his brother and kids. Shala is married to one of our best friends.

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    3. These comments can be confusing, because there is some duplication. But there are two commenters from the Persian Island era. One is a sibling of Nassar; if Nassar had no sister, that would be his brother. The second is a niece who visited the island as a child.

      You've done an amazing job with the island! I hope it brings you many more years of happiness!

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    4. Carol, Shala is my younger sister's age and was just a toddler when we visited! Her older sister, Sheharazad, was older than me and I thought she was the most beautiful and exotic girl I had ever seen. I am so delighted to have found this blog. Nasser's (ex) wife, Yvonne, is my mother's sister.

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  3. Thank you "trio Boats" for your blog and the pictures of my “beloved Island” where I spent the happiest times of my life. I still have the newspaper clipping then called Rangeley Record, Vol. 24 – No.2 dated Friday, June 28, 1957 - front page heading “Doctor’s Island sold to Persian Family – a slice of Persia has been transplanted in the Rangeley Lakes Region”. The new owner was my brother and thanks to him, we were able to discovers this piece of paradise.

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  4. Sorry for double entries!

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    1. I do that all the time; fortunately I can delete mine. Thank you again, I appreciate you taking the time to comment!

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  5. I just read The Islanders and, in google searching on Maneskootuk, happened on your blog entry. Thank you for this wonderful documentation of an intriquing place!

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    1. You're welcome. My friend is now reading a book by Mr. Dickson, which he published under a pseudonym. Hopefully I can add information about that book later.

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  6. Mr. Dickson's book is, "And the Wilderness Blossomed" published in 1901 under the pseudonym Almon Dexter.

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  7. Nasser Afshar has several brothers and sisters - I am the youngest sister, Jaleh, of Nasser who posted the first comment about the Persian Island. I think I remember the Garrigues family living across from the Island as a good friend of our family.

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    1. Thank you for your information. It must have been tough to have your brother persecuted by his government, and all the struggles that came along with that. I hope things have improved for all.

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    2. Nasser Afshar was married to my Aunt Yvonne and I was so blessed to have been able to visit this island with my family. Jaleh, if you read this, I would love to connect with you!

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  8. I spent three of the most memorable summers of my life on Maneskootuk -- 1971-1973 -- as an impressionable young teenage boy from R.I. I was a guest of the island's current owners. Although nearly 40 years have passed, I remember those days like they were only a few summers ago.

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    1. That sounds like an amazing experience! The Scofields seem like a fascinating family. Maneskootuk certainly reigns in all its visitor's hearts

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    2. Me, too! I was a young, impressionable art student from Providence, and Robert and Carol did a great job of installing in the campers a love of nature, art, and lots of fun, always! I even remember Mrs. Garigues!

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  9. I have just come upon this site for only the second time, and it thrills me to read these comments about our beloved Maneskootuk. Another summer is about over and although we had a lot of trees down this year, the place looks terrific. Robert works in his studio too, and we'd love to hear/see former "campers". our four grandchildren especially love the island- water ski, swim, make rafts, garden, and explore. What could be better for our old age!

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  10. My uncle was the "Persian" of this island, and the 6 year old girl that replied above must have been one of my cousins! We spent about a week here in either the late 50's or early 60's and being from a New England Catholic Italian family, I was enthralled with my newly-met cousins from Persia, the extended families, the exotic food and customs. I will never forget a beautiful summer afternoon where they presented an amazing buffet of tantalizing foods and flavors I had never experienced and entertained us with Mideastern music and dance. This place has held a special place in my heart ever since. I rarely see my aunt, but she is in her 90s and the last surviving of 4 sisters. Thank you so much for sharing this!

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