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!
CYC recently received an interesting bit of Lake Cobbossee history regarding our Ladies Delight Island. And remember, our lighthouse was not even constructed until 1908! Do you have anything to add to this article that Val discovered in the old Kennebec Journal? Enjoy the read! And, thanks to Valerie Dawes who lives in Manchester and recently joined the Manchester Historical Society for submitting this story.
Kennebec Journal 1874 August 15
Dr. Babcock of Hallowell and Thomas Sanborn of Boston killed by Lightning.
Dr. J. L. Babcock of Hallowell in company with Mr. Thomas Sanborn of Boston went on to the (first?) Winthrop Pond for the purpose of fishing on Thursday morning. They were out during the great thunder tempest and did not return that day. No suspicion was excited as it was supposed that they had left the pond, and gone to a friends at the other side of the pond.
Yesterday afternoon Mr. (?) and Mr. Edward (?) went to the pond in search of the missing pair, as at that time some alarm had been manifested as to their whereabouts. Some men in the pond who were inquired of, said they thought they had seen a boat, but saw no men. On proceeding father, the parties came to the little island in the pond known as “Lady's Delight”, by the side of which was anchored Babcock’s and Sanborn's boat. Under a cedar tree, not far from the boat, were found the bodies of Dr. Babcock and Mr. Sanborn cold in death, killed by lightning. They were on each side of the tree, under which they had probably taken refuge from the tempest. Dr. Babcock’s watch was stopped at thirteen minutes before nine o’clock, indicating the time of the sad event. Dr. Babcock was badly burned and his clothes torn from head to foot, even the very soles of his boots being ripped off. He was an unmarried man, greatly respected in Hallowell for his upright deportment and Christian character. He was about 30 years of age. Mr. Sanborn bore no marks of lightning. He was on a visit to his father in Manchester. He was about thirty-five ………………. leaves a wife and two children…….. sad calamity comes. (The last three lines of the newspaper article are too difficult to make out)
More Interesting Manchester History from an Early Kennebec Journal
Also submitted by Val Dawes of the Manchester Historical Society that has a
"Mission to preserve and promote the rich history of Manchester, Maine"
August 27, 1880 Kennebec Journal
There appears to be an animal of a newfangled species roaming through the forest of Manchester, terrifying people out of their wits. One morning last week, Loring Farr, Esquire, on a meadow near his house, saw an animal about as large as a sheep run shrieking along, chasing a smaller animal, which appeared to escape, when the large animal spring into a tree, gave a yell, and disappeared.Several days afterwards some children out blackberrying say animal of ferocious aspect coming towards them. They ran and the animal chased them but was unable to overtake them.They described it as being size of a large dog running in a crouching manner. It was of a tawny color, with stripes on its sides, and had a long tail.Mr. Richard Dunn of Hallowell, also saw an animal under his hayrack and threw a stone at it, upon which it sprang up and chased them into his barn, growling savagely at the same time, afterwards going leisurely off across the field. The creature has been seen by others since, and of what genus the animal is no one has yet discovered.
(*** Could it have been an escaped pet in 1880? Sightings today, that’s the common theory we hear! **** Val)
See more from Val and the Manchester Historical Society on the Valerie Dawes page!
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!
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!"