Friday, October 9, 2015

Bible Point - Island Falls, Maine and Theodore Roosevelt

Bible Point State Historic Site
PWM image 10-6-2015
I first learned of Bible Point in Island Falls (ME) from Maine author, Andrew Vietze. Andrew's 2010 book, Becoming Teddy Roosevelt: How a Maine Guide Inspired America's 26th President, speaks to how Theodore Roosevelt utilized the site. (paragraph on page 48).

On Tuesday, October 6, 2015, I headed up to check out Bible Point. Here are some pictures. Click here for the video story of the adventure along Merriman Road.  This video story is made up of stills and video clips of the trip in, the walk-a-round at Bible Point, and the return trip exiting Merriman Road. The description below fails to mention that Merriman Road is a gravel road along which has an active logging harvest is currently taking place. The permits for the harvest are posted along Merriman Road. This made for a very interesting expedition to Bible Point. 

The description of the site at Maine.gov:
Location: From Island Falls, take the Merriman Road to its end, then follow the hiking trail along the western shore of the West Branch of the Mattawamkeag River approximately one mile.
Bible Point, a 27-acre property near the south end of Mattawamkeag Lake, made famous by Teddy Roosevelt who visited the area beginning in 1878. As a young man under the guidance of his lifelong friend and guide Bill Sewall, Roosevelt camped at the southern end of Mattawamkeag Lake and hunted and fished throughout the area. It is reported that, each day, Roosevelt would take his bible and hike to a beautiful point of land at the confluence of the West Branch of the Mattawamkeag River and First Brook where he would read the bible.  A plaque was erected in 1921 by Roosevelt's biographer Hermann Hagedorn and it reads:

This plaque commemorates Theodore Roosevelt's love for the area.
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"This place, to which a great man in his youth liked to come to commune with God and with the wonder and beauty of the visible world, is dedicated to the happy memory of THEODORE ROOSEVELT. Stranger, rest here and consider what one man, having faith in the right and love for his fellow man was able to do for his country." Hermann Hagedorn
Click here for a video walk-around at Bible Point.


Straight ahead to the point where First Brook (on the right just out of sight)
merges with the West Branch of the Mattawamkeag River (seen on the right).
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This Blogger in a selfie. PWM image 10-6-2015
Within this kiosk are the typed text of Theodore Roosevelt's, March 20, 1918
letter titled, My Debt to Maine and a copy of said letter in TR's own hand.
TR buttons, courtesy of Theodore Roosevelt Association :) The buttons were
removed after photo opps. To see the entire text of TR's letter, My Debt to Maine,
scroll down to the bottom of this post.
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First Brook as it enters the Bible Point area. PWM image 10-6-2015
Along the walking trail to/from Bible Point.
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Along the walking trail to Bible Point.
Evidence that a Pileated Woodpecker
paid a visit? PWM image 10-6-2015


Along the walking trial to/from Bible Point.
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Along the walking trail to/from Bible Point.
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Some images along Merriman Road 

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Collection area for the harvested logs. Logs that have delivered by a skidder
are then stacked by the machine seen in the background here.
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Harvested logs stacked in a collection area. PWM image 10-6-2015
Starting at the top, the first star is Island Falls. The star below Island Falls
is the beginning of Merriman Road. It is about 7 miles along Merriman Road,
heading southeast, that you come to the next star. This represents where you
turn left and travel for about a mile. At the next star, Merriman "Road" ends and a trail
for ATVs or Snowmobiles begins. Follow this trail for about a mile and you come
upon Bible Point, the final star. The only time I saw any signs for Bible Point
was when turning left about 7 miles in, there were a couple of
plastic signs with an arrow and Bible Point handwritten on the sign.
Screen shot 10-9-2015
After having traveled along Merriman Road, these "veins" and small, cleared
areas along the road now are known. The veins are trails made by a skidder
as it harvests and drags trees to the collection areas along the road. These
collection areas are cleared areas along the road where the trees are stacked
for loading. Screen shot 10-9-2015
Expanded view of harvesting trails and collection area.
Screen shot 10-9-2015

Sign in the yard at the original Sewall homestead in Island Falls where
Theodore Roosevelt stayed during his three visits in 1878/79.
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The original Sewall homestead where Theodore
Roosevelt stayed during his three visits to Island Falls in 1878/79.
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In the kiosk at Bible Point is the typed text and a copy of the handwritten letter by TR titled, My Debt to Maine. This letter was originally published in 1919 in a book titled, Maine My State, by The Maine Writers Research Club.
Within the acknowledgments is written, "Col. Theodore Roosevelt responded to the request for a contribution to this book, by sending the story, and the manuscript, written in pencil by his own hand, is a priceless treasure."
I happen to have a copy of the book that belonged to my father. It was given to him on April 9, 1947, while he was attending high school.



My Debt To Maine
by Col. Theodore Roosevelt

     I owe  a personal debt to Maine because of my association with certain staunch friends in Aroostook County; an association that helped and benefitted me thruout my life in more ways than one.
    It is over forty years ago that I first went to Island Falls and stayed with the Sewall family. I repeated the visit three or four times. I made a couple hunting trips in the fall, with Bill Sewall and Wilmot Dow; and one winter I spent three or four weeks on snowshoes with them, visiting a couple of lumber-camps. I was not a boy of any natural prowess and for that very reason the vigorous out-door life was just what I needed.
     It was a matter of pride with me to keep up with my stalwart associates, and to shift for myself, and to treat with indifference what ever hardship or fatigue came our way. In their company I would have been ashamed to complain! And I thoroughly enjoyed it. I was rather tired by some of the all-day tramps, especially in the deep snow, when my webbed racquets gave me "snowshoe feet", or when we wadded up the Munsungin in shallow water, dragging a dugout, until my ankles became raw from slipping on the smooth underwater stones; and I still remember with qualified joy the ascent and especially the descent of Katahdin in moccasins, worn because, to the deep disapproval of my companions, I had lost one of my heavy shoes in crossing a river at the riffle.
     I also remember such delicious nights, under a lean-to, by stream or lake, in the clear fall weather, or in winter on balsam boughs in front of a blazing stump, when we had beaten down and shoveled away the deep snow, and kept our foot-gear away from the fire, so that it should not thaw and freeze;-and the meals of venison, trout or partridge; and one meal consisting of muskrat and a fish-duck, which, being exceedingly hungry, we heartily appreciated.
     But the bodily benefit was not the largest part of the good done me. I was accepted as part of the household; and the family and friends represented in their lives the kind of Americanism-self-respecting, duty-performing, life-enjoyong-which is the most valuable possession that any generation can hand on to the next. It was as native to our soil as "William Henry's Letters to his Grandmother"-I hope there are still readers of that delightful volume of my youth, even although it was published fifty years ago.
     Mrs. Sewall, the mother, was a dear old lady; and Miss Sewall, the sister, was a most capable manager of the house. Bill Sewall at the time had two brothers. Sam was a deacon. Dave was NOT a deacon. It was from Dave that I heard an expression which after remained in my mind. He was speaking of a local personage of shifty character who was very adroit in using fair-sounding words which completely nullified the meaning of other fair-sounding word which preceded them. "His words weasel the meaning of the words in front of them," said Dave, "just like a weasel when he sucks the meat out of an egg and leaves nothing but the shell;" and I always remembered "weasel words" as applicable to certain forms of oratory, especially political oratory, which I do not admire.
     Once, while driving in a wagon with Dave, up an exceedingly wet and rocky backwoods road, with the water pouring down the middle, I asked him how in Aroostook County they were able to tell its roads from its rivers. "No beaver dams in the roads," instantly responded Dave.
     At one of the logging-camps I became good friends with a quiet, resolute-looking man, named Brown, one for the choppers; and afterwards I stopped at his house and was as much struck with his good and pretty wife as I had been with him. He had served in the Civil War and had been wounded. His creed was that peace was a great blessing, but that even so great a blessing could be purchased as too dear a price. I did not see him again until thirty-seven years later when he came to a meeting at which I spoke in Portland. He had shaved off his beard and was an old man and I did not at first recognize him; but after the first sentence, I knew him and very glad indeed I was to see him once more.
     In the eighties I started  little cattle-ranch on the Little Missouri, in the then territory of Dakota, and I got Bill Sewall and Wilmot Dow to join me. By the time they had both married and they brought out Mrs. Sewall and Mrs. Dow. There was already a little girl in the Sewall family, and two babies were born on the ranch. Thanks to Mrs. Sewall and Mrs. Dow, we were most comfortable. The ranch-house and all the out-buildings at the home-ranch- the Elkhorn- were made of cotton-wood logs and were put up by Bill and Wilmot who were mighty men with the axe. I got them to put on a veranda; and in one room, where I kept my books and did my writing, we built a big fireplace, and I imported a couple of rocking-chairs. (Only one would have made me feel too selfish.) The veranda, the open fireplace, the books and the rocking-chairs represented my special luxuries; I think Mrs. Sewall and Mrs. Dow enjoyed them almost as much as I did.
     We had stoves to keep us warm in the bitter winter weather and bearskin and buffalo-robes. Bill and Wilmot and I and usually one or two cowhands worked hard, but it was enjoyable work and the hunting on which we relied for all our meat was, of course, sheer fun. When the winter weather set in, we usually made a regular hunt to get the winter meat and we hung our game in the cottonwood trees which stretched before our house. I remember once when we had a bull elk and several deer hanging up and another time when we had a couple of antelope and a yearling mountain-sheep. The house of hewn logs was clean and comfortable and we were all of us young and strong and happy.
     Wilmot was from every standpoint one of the best men I ever knew. He has been dead for many years. His widow is now Mrs. Pride; and her present husband is also one of my valued friends.
     When I was President, the Sewalls and Prides came down to Washington to visit me. We talked over everything, public and private, past and present; the education and future careers of our children; the proper attitude of the United States in external and internal matters. We all of us looked at the really important matters of public policy and private conduct from substantially the same viewpoint. Never were there more welcome guests at the White House.                                                                                                                                                                   - Theodore Roosevelt
     Sagamore Hill, March 20, 1918.



Mark your calendars (purchase your Friday-opening tickets in advance) and plan to attend the 2017 Teddy Roosevelt Days Event July 21-23, 2017

A Benefit Event For the Narcissus Project!

Click Here: First Post on 2017 Teddy Roosevelt Days - W. S. Libbey's 1908 Stanley Steamer
Click Here: Second Post on 2017 Teddy Roosevelt Days - Suzanne Buzby Hersey - "My Maine"
Click Here: Third Post on 2017 Teddy Roosevelt Days - Wade Zahares - Artist


More details on the celebration will be announced soon.
The Friday activity requires a ticket to be purchased in
advance. There is limited seating for the Friday gala
opening activity. Saturday and Sunday are
general admission public offerings at

The Narcissus Project Blog was created in April 2015 for the purpose of reaching out to a large number of folks through the power of social media to introduce them to the Narcissus. The Narcissus is a luxury, high-speed, wooden electric interurban. The Narcissus was built in 1912 in Laconia, NH and operated on the Portland-Lewiston Interurban, in Maine, between Portland and Lewiston, from 1914 into 1933. Theodore Roosevelt was a passenger on the Narcissus on August 18, 1914. The blog posts appeal to folks with an interest in Theodore Roosevelt's connection to Maine, to folks generally interested in regional/local history, as well as those folks within the greater railway family. Hopefully, these posts will endear many of the readers to help support the Narcissus financially, as it undergoes a complete restoration over the next few years at Seashore Trolley Museum in Kennebunkport, Maine. 


More than Halfway There!!!
 ...to our $40,000 Matching Grant
Challenge Goal! - Please Help us reach the Goal by making a Donation Today to the
Narcissus Project Fund!


Thank You to our Current Funding Partners
* 20th Century Electric Railway Foundation - 2014/2016 Matching Grant Challenges
Thornton Academy (Saco, ME) - Staff & Alumni - Matching Grant Challenge
* New England Electric Railway Historical Society (Kennebunkport, ME) - Member Donations
Amherst Railway Society - 2015 Heritage Grant
National Railway Historical Society - 2016 & 2015 Heritage Preservation Grants
Enterprise Holding Foundation - 2015 Community Grant
Theodore Roosevelt Association - Member Donations
John Libby Family Association and Member Donations
* The Conley Family - In Memory of Scott Libbey 2015/2016
New Gloucester Historical Society and Member Donations
Gray Historical Society and Member Donations
Gray Public Library Association - Pat Barter Speaker Series
* IBM - Matching Employee/Retiree Donations
* Fidelity Charitable Grant - Matching Employee Donations
* Richard E. Erwin Grant


The Narcissus, with interior back-lit, stained glass windows are majestic.
Make a donation today, and it will be matched, dollar-for-dollar!
Help Theodore Roosevelt's Maine Ride get back on track! Once restored,
you will be able to ride in luxury on this National Historic Treasure at
Seashore Trolley Museum in Kennebunkport, Maine.
PWM photo

Please Consider Making a Donation to the Narcissus Restoration Project - See Options Below

$40,000 Matching Grant Challenge
to Benefit the
Narcissus Project!!

The 20th Century Electric Railway Foundation
has made a most generous challenge to raise funds
to benefit the Narcissus Project.

20th Century Electric Railway Foundation
will match, dollar-for-dollar, donations
made to the Narcissus Project Fund 816-A, to a 
maximum of $40,000!!!

With the combination of new donations and the
matching donations, a total of $80,000
will be raised for restoration work on the
Narcissus!

See below for Donation options -

It starts with YOU....
Make a Donation TODAY....
Your Donation will Be MATCHED
Dollar-for-Dollar....

Please Help the Narcissus

Various News stories during the summer of 2015 about the
Narcissus and its connection to Theodore Roosevelt. TR
was a passenger on the Narcissus on August 18, 1914.
Link to Libb(e)y Family connections

Click Here - Portland Public Library Presentation - History of the Portland-Lewiston Interurban
Click Here - W. S. Libbey - The Man and His Mill
Click Here - W. S. Libbey - His 1908 Stanley Steamer K 30-hp Semi-Racer
Click Here - W. Scott Libbey's 1908 Stanley Steamer History to be Featured - July 21, 2017
Click Here - Scrapbook Celebrates the People of the Portland-Lewiston Interurban
Click Here - May 18, 1914, Newspaper Story on the Passing of PLI Builder, W. Scott Libbey
Click Here - 102nd Anniversary of the Opening of the Portland-Lewiston Interurban
Click Here - 83rd anniversary of the Closing of the Portland-Lewiston Interurban
Click Here - Sophia, W. S. Libbey Descendant Visits the Narcissus
Click Here - Libb(e)y Family Connection to Narcissus becomes Personal
Click Here - Ode To the Grand Old Interurban
Click Here - The Portland-Lewiston Interurban "Bouquet" is Ordered (1912)

Links to Narcissus Restoration Work:
Click Here - Ornate Leaded Stained Glass Work
Click Here - Narcissus Enters Town House Restoration Shop
Click Here - Sorting and Cleaning Materials on Interior of the Narcissus
Click Here - September 7, 2015, Restoration Report
Click Here - December 7, 2015, Restoration Report
Click Here - December 14, 2015, Restoration Report
Click Here - Beautiful Brass of the Narcissus
Click Here - December 28, 2015 Restoration Update
Click Here - January 4, 2016, Restoration Update
Click Here - Vallee Family Photos of Narcissus 1960s
Click Here - February 11, 2016, Restoration Update
Click Here - A Wooden Interurban - Restoration Info
Click Here - NRHS 2016 Heritage Grant Award to Narcissus
Click Here - Announcement of 2016 Teddy Roosevelt Days Fundraising Event for the Narcissus
Click Here - Series of Restoration Posts related to work on exterior poplar frames
Click Here - Vintage Poplar used in Narcissus restoration
Click Here - Mahogany Sash passenger windows being restored
Click Here - "A President Has Ridden in My House!" - Video of Dan Vallee
Click Here - Teddy Roosevelt Days 2016 - Weekend Event Benefits the Narcissus
Click Here - August 2016 Restoration Update
Click Here - Mid-September Restoration Update
Click Here - Theodore Roosevelt & the Narcissus: Connecting Maine Communities
Click Here - How to Make New Seats for the Narcissus?
Click Here - 2016 Summary of Research and Outreach
Click Here - 2016 Restoration Summary


Donation Options to Help Restore the Narcissus:


is the 501c3 organization that owns and operates the Seashore Trolley Museum in Kennebunkport, ME and the National Streetcar
The NEERHS is registered with the IRS (EIN# 01-0244457) and was incorporated in Maine in 1941.

Check or Money Order ***** should be made payable to:
New England Electric Railway Historical Society (NEERHS)
In the memo please write: Narcissus Fund 816-A
Mail to: Seashore Trolley Museum
              P. O. Box A
              Kennebunkport, ME 04046

Credit Card ***** donations can be a one-time donation or you
may choose to have a specific amount charged to your card
automatically on a monthly basis. Please contact the Museum bookkeeper, Connie, via email at finance@NEERHS.org or by phone, 207-967-2712 ext. 5.

Online Donations - may be made by using a Credit Card: 
Click Here to make an online donation through the Museum's website - When at the Donation page: Fill in donor info, etc., when at "To which fund are you donating? Scroll down to "Other" and type in: 816-A Narcissus, then continue on filling in the required information.

Click Here for PayPal - to make an online donation: you can use email: finance@NEERHS.org and in the message box write:
For Narcissus fund 816-A

Donation of Securities ***** We also accept donations of
securities. You can contact the Museum bookkeeper, Connie, via email at finance@NEERHS.org or by phone, 207-967-2712 ext. 5,
for brokerage account information for accepting donated securities.

BONUS ***** If you work for a company/corporation that will
"match" an employee's donation to an approved 501c3 non-profit,
educational, organization, please be sure to complete the necessary paperwork with your employer so that your donation is matched :)

Questions? ***** Please contact Narcissus project manager:
Phil Morse, pmorse31@gmail.com or call 207-985-9723 - cell.
Thank You :)

Narcissus - July 31, 2015. Make a donation today, and it will be matched,
dollar-for-dollar! Help Theodore Roosevelt's Maine Ride get back on track!
Once restored, you will be able to ride in luxury on this
National Historic Treasure at
Seashore Trolley Museum in Kennebunkport, Maine.


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