Sunday, October 23, 2016

Theodore Roosevelt & The Narcissus - Connecting Maine Communities

August 18, 1914 - Theodore Roosevelt aboard the Narcissus, waving to
the gathered townspeople in Gray, Maine. The Narcissus has been listed
in the National Register of Historic Places since 1980. It is currently under
restoration at Seashore Trolley Museum in Kennebunkport, Maine.
Image courtesy of Gray Historical Society

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 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 them to help support the Narcissus financially, as it undergoes a complete restoration over the next few years at Seashore Trolley Museum in Kennebunkport, Maine. As an interurban, the Narcissus connected people with communities in Maine. Theodore Roosevelt was well known for his skills as an orator, connecting people with places and/or ideas.
Theodore Roosevelt and the Narcissus should work together connecting Maine communities.

TR Trips to Maine

1872 - August - Moosehead Lake (Dexter, Greenville, Moosehead Lake Region)
1878 - August/September - Island Falls (Mattawaumkeag, Mattawaumkeag Lake/River, Bible Point)
1879 - February/March - Island Falls (Mattawaumkeag, Lumber Camps/Oxbow area)
1879 - August/September - Mattawaumkeag, Mattawaumkeag Lake/River, East Branch of the Penobscot River, Wassataquoik River, Katahdin Lake, Mount Katahdin, Sandy Brook, Moose Pond, Oxbow, Aroostook River, Little Munsungun Stream/Lake, Munsungun Lake, Upper Munsungun (Chase) Lake, Wytopitlock, Kingman
1880 - August - Mount Desert Island - Bar Harbor, Schooner Head, Newport Mountain, Otter Creek
1902 - August 26 - Old Orchard Beach - Speech
         - August 26 - Portland - Speech - visit
         - August 26 - Lewiston - Speech
         - August 26 - Augusta - Speech
         - August 27 - Bangor - Speech
         - August 27 - Waterville - Speech
         - August 27 - Ellsworth - Speech
         - August 27 - Bangor - Speech - visit
1912 - March 23 - Portland
1914 - August 18 - Lewiston (Narcissus), Gray, Portland
1916 - August 31 - Portland (PLI Interurban), Gray, Lewiston
1918 - March 28 - Portland
1918 - July 25-August 10 - Islesboro, Dark Harbor

Communities/Organizations that have a TR Connection(s) - Maine

On its own merits as a nationally significant piece of electric railway history that is being restored, the Narcissus has numerous chapters of captivating stories to share. One example is the story around TR being a passenger on the Narcissus. But, this electric railway beauty has depth of character too. And through storytelling, will facilitate some intriguing and diverse story lines, that through direct or indirect relationships, will provide Maine residents and visitors alike, a renewed perspective on many communities throughout the state.  My hope is, that this post will provide some context and perspective to this statement.

I speak for myself, when I say that over the 25+ years of my being a member at Seashore Trolley Museum, there has been a number of commonly voiced questions asked over and over within the active membership. How do we increase membership? Ditto, Attendance? Ditto, General Fund Donations? And, How is the collection "relevant" to the people from the past two or three generations that have been, for the most part, removed from any direct experience with electric streetcars/trolleys? How do we engage those generations to care about the collection, choose to volunteer, contribute in some meaningful way financially, or as a recurring visitor?

 The Answer(s)? Well, my sense is that the Narcissus, with TR as its motorman, may become the catalyst to instill collaboration among stakeholders around the state. Which, in turn, might result in some positive outcomes in regards to those questions.  Here goes....

The original mirror, with buffalo horns, from Theodore Roosevelt's Elkhorn
Ranch reflecting the image of the three men that used the mirror daily in the
North Dakota ranch during the mid-1880s. (l-r) Theodore Roosevelt, Wilmot
Dow, and William Sewall. The mirror was a gift made by Wilmot Dow's
grandson, John A Dow, (son of Badlands Baby, Wilmot E Dow), to the
Presque Isle Historical Society (ME). The image of the three men is from
February 1879 in Maine. 
TRC 520.12.015 PWM

My interest in Theodore Roosevelt started in 2010, while I was searching for details relating to his August 18, 1914, visit to Maine. I was looking to have the executive director of the Theodore Roosevelt Association write a letter of support for a grant application that would benefit the Narcissus. As the project manager for the Narcissus restoration, I felt that having had Theodore Roosevelt as a passenger on the Narcissus would become a very important talking point in developing support for the project. As my research progressed, I found myself becoming fascinated with Theodore Roosevelt and his profound attachment to Maine. Clearly to me,  his three trips to Island Falls (August 1878, February 1879, & August 1879), spending weeks tramping, canoeing, snowshoeing, riding in sleighs and buckboards; through the woods, lakes, rivers, and up the mountains of Maine with William Sewall and Wilmot Dow, cemented TR's attachment to Maine and its people. Those three trips to Maine followed an earlier visit (1872) and were followed by several more over the years, until his final trip in August of 1918, when he, his wife and other family members stayed in a cottage in Dark Harbor, on Islesboro, to grieve their loss of the youngest of TR's sons, Quentin.

Theodore Roosevelt is omnipresent in Maine. From Kittery to Presque Isle, TR has left his mark throughout Maine. If not TR himself, admirers have, on his behalf. Theodore Roosevelt is one of the most recognized Presidents of the United States. I think, collectively, we could do more to enhance the general population's understanding of TR's relationship with Maine, by making his trips/travels in Maine more well known. By presenting  a state-wide picture and then articulating the individual communities he spent time in, or has some indirect relationship to, visitors will develop an innate interest. Many of the TR stories are very compelling. Leading to people wanting to visit those communities for a look-see.

This post will begin to explain my efforts to create a map that encompasses Theodore Roosevelt's connections to a number of communities throughout the State of Maine. My feeling is that, with some help, maybe a lot of help, this map activity could become the first step in developing a more comprehensive state-wide project.  The outcome of that might become, say, the:
 "Theodore Roosevelt Maine Heritage Trail"  TR4ME - Heritage Trail

Face page of folded Map & Guide
for the Thoreau-Wabanaki Trail.

These thoughts to connect various communities in Maine developed as I visited and conducted research in some of those communities that TR and the Narcissus had visited. The thoughts became much more concrete when I attended my first Maine Woods Forever (MWF) Roundtable meeting at Unity College in Unity, Maine (October 15, 2015). One of the board members of MWF, Mimi McConnell, had shared some of the MWF print materials with me. One of those was a map and guide of the Thoreau-Wabanaki Trail. MWF worked with Michael Hermann and The University of Maine Press in Orono, ME to produce this beautiful guide to Thoreau's Travels in the Maine Woods during his trips to northern Maine in 1846, 1853, and 1857. As I examined the map/guide, I felt inspired to work towards developing a similar quality product for what may become the TR4ME-Heritage Trail. During that Roundtable meeting, I also met MWF board member, Bart DeWolf. Bart, having learned of my TR connection, told me he had a desire to research the vintage print/media materials available on the various trails and camps leading to Mount Katahdin from the early 1880s though early 1900s. His interest was to develop a plan to conduct an expedition, probably several over time, in hopes of determining the most likely route/trail that TR had used in his approach and ultimately, his ascension, to the summit of Mount Katahdin, in what is now Baxter State Park.  A significant portion of the probable trail that TR used to approach Katahdin is through the land of the new Katahdin Woods and Water National Monument. See Map

Map side of unfolded Thoreau-Wabanaki Trail
Map and Guide.

Guide side of unfolded Thoreau-Wabanaki Trail Map & Guide.

Here is an example of where one of TR trips to Maine connects communities and provides opportunities for residents and visitors to visit those communities today and to experience the natural surroundings, investigate area history, and meet locals, while casually following along the trail that TR took.

TR's own biography and any number of historians have spoken to TR's first trip to Maine. He was 13 years old. Basically, he traveled by train to Maine in August 1872. Then traveled by stagecoach to stay at a camp at Moosehead Lake. The stagecoach ride became a life-changing event for TR. During the ride, he was bullied by a couple of young boys. TR, was physically unable to defend himself. Following that incident, he made a pledge to himself to work diligently to become physically fit, so he could defend himself in the future. The steps he took to do just that are well documented. This stagecoach ride in Maine in 1872, clearly had a direct impact on the boy who would become the man that we now know.

So, for me, in a very brief explanation of TR's visit, I see, what I consider to be an opportunity.
I want to know more details about TR's time in Maine in 1872. I searched in published books for more details. I wasn't successful in finding many answers locally. Even some info I did find had conflicting dates and stories of his visit. Nothing on what railroad company he traveled to Maine on. What town/city did he arrive in? What stagecoach line did he take to Moosehead? What town did he arrive in? What camp did he travel too? Did he take a steamer? What was the steamer's name? Was it a boys summer camp? Did someone meet him and spend time with him in the area? What did he do during his stay? To name a few.

I sent an email request for information to Heather Cole at Harvard University. Heather is the Curator of the Theodore Roosevelt Collection in the Houghton Library, at Harvard, in Cambridge, MA. Heather has been a great help to me over the past two or three years as I've called on her with research questions. Heather replied with a note and link to TR's diary entries of his Moosehead trip from August 1872. Awesome!

Theodore Roosevelt's journal page with entries of his time spent in Maine during his
August, 1872 visit.  Theodore Roosevelt Collection, Houghton Library,
Harvard University, Cambridge, MA

A few answers and now, a few new questions have emerged. There is no mention of an act of bullying having taken place during the stagecoach ride in either direction from or to Dexter.
I took this information and shared it with Candy Russell, Executive Director at the Moosehead Historical Society & Museums in Greenville, and also shared the info with Carol Feutado, Acquisitions staff member at Dexter Historical Society in Dexter.

Carol Feutado (Dexter HS) was able to uncover some interesting details:
  • The railroad that stopped in Dexter in 1872 was built in 1868 by the Dexter and Newport Railroad. It was leased by the Maine Central Railroad in 1869. Initially, the railroad station was located in the southern part of town, on what is now Railroad Avenue. The station was relocated into town in 1889. No time tables on hand.
  • There were many stage lines in Dexter over the years to places like Bangor, Skowhegan, and Greenville. Currently there are no specifications for them or any schedules/time tables. The stage would have traveled to Greenville from Dexter, on what was then the Valley Avenue Road. The road was built in 1836 and connected Bangor and Greenville, while passing through Dexter. The road no longer exists as a whole. There are a few sections here and there that are used locally.
  • Merchants' Exchange was built in 1866 and was enlarged in 1890. If the building looks white in an image, it's probably the earlier version. If the mage shows a tower on a darkish building, it's probably the more recent version. Torn down in the 1930s to make way for the Post Office.
  • The Lake House mentioned in TR's diary dated, Moosehead, August 27 was located in the Greenville area.
  • Jerry MacDonald of Dexter, was a stage driver in a listing dated, September 1870.

Still seeking information on Mr. Peter Strong -guide? for TR fly fishing at Echo Lake -Dexter on 26th
We are still searching for details on the name of the steamer TR took from Greenville to Kineo House (2nd one).
Will also find other support materials (photos, etc.) that will add more context.
The location of Echo Lake brings up a question of logistics and timing based on TR's entries - more research necessary.

Thirteen year old Theodore Roosevelt's diary entries speak to spending the night
of Wednesday, August 21, 1872 in a room at the Merchants' Exchange in
Dexter, Maine. He traveled by stagecoach all the next day and arrived in
Greenville. He would return to the Merchants' Exchange and stay there in a
room on the evening of Wednesday, August 28, 1872, before leaving on the train
for NY on the 29th, and arriving in NY on the 30th.
This image was scanned from black and white negative labeled
"Merchant's Exchange, Dexter, Maine L.D. Hayes, Proprietor." This is seemingly
a photograph of a rather ragged poster. It depicts tall buildings, perhaps a
hotel, surrounded by a vast crowd, which includes carriages and horses. Written
at the bottom of the poster are the words, "Merchants' Exchange, Dexter, ME.,
L.D. Hayes, Proprietor." From the Bert Call Collection at the University of Maine

Thirteen year old TR took a steamer from Greenville to the Kineo House.
On two occasions he paddled from Kineo House across the Lake to climb
Mount Kineo, seen here.
Steamer arriving at Mount Kineo in 1906
By Unknown photographer - Reproduced from an original postcard
published by G. W. Morris, Portland, Maine, Public Domain,

This image is of the "2nd" Kineo House, you are able to get a sense for
why thirteen year old TR would have made the notation "Good", in his diary,
after he wrote Kineo House :) The first Mount Kineo House was built in
1848 and burned in 1868. The second Mount Kineo House was built in
1870 and opened in 1871. This second house would burn in 1882. The
third Mount Kineo House opened in 1884. This third house burned
shortly after 1938. PWM postcard

From this one trip to Maine, in August of 1872, TR has opened the door to local history in the communities of Dexter, Greenville and the Moosehead Lake Region. These communities present themselves famously now to those folks that are aware. How many new visitors might these communities draw into the area to experience their spectacular landscapes and storied local history, if the TR connection is included into the local, regional, or State marketing plan?

Online Theodore Roosevelt Trail - North Dakota

When I had sent an email off to Heather at Harvard, I also
sent an email inquiry about TR's visit to Moosehead Lake to Sharon Kilzer, project manager at the Theodore Roosevelt Center at Dickinson State University. Sharon is doing amazing work at the TRC in North Dakota. Thousands of TR items are being scanned and catalogued for availability online through the TRC. In my online search through the TRC materials, prior to hearing back from Sharon, I found this page, Theodore Roosevelt Trail - The page has a map of the United States and North Dakota is highlighted in red. There is a live link on the left of the page, under the text explaining the Trail - Theodore Roosevelt in North Dakota. Click on the link and a map of North Dakota appears. There are various colored triangles. A key describes the color code. Hover your pointer over a triangle and a short description appears. - Elkhorn Ranch - click on the triangle and it takes you to a page describing the topic with photos and digital links. I was so happy to find this page! It's very similar to what I was envisioning for the TR4ME-Heritage Trail online presence in Maine.

Sharon responded to my email inquiry and I expressed my excitement of finding the online TR Trail  with the North Dakota connections. Sharon is eager to assist in planning and discussing adding a highlighted "Maine" on the TR Trail map of the United States and integrating a "Theodore Roosevelt in Maine" live link that would lead to a map of Maine with colored triangles and links.

I am not a marketing professional. I am not a professional writer (grammar and other writing errors so noted). And next you'll learn I am not a professional sketch artist :)

Early in this post, you read the list. That list included the various trips Theodore Roosevelt made to Maine. I may have even missed one? The point I'm trying to make at this time is that TR has left us a gift here in Maine. A gift that keeps on giving. His Maine legacy is here, in his writings, the news stories, books written of his time he spent here, the friends he made here, and what those friends have also left for us. Each Maine community, and organization in that area, that was touched by TR, has a TR story to tell. We have an opportunity to uncover, collect, organize, review, research gaps/questions, refine an overall plan, and create something incredibly special with those stories, that will attract people to these special Maine places.
Connecting people and places, something that TR and the Narcissus both did very well :)

Interested in becoming involved, taking a role, helping to make it happen?
Contact Phil Morse - Narcissus project manager
Email -
Cell - 207-985-9723

Theodore Roosevelt traveled all over Maine. By foot, snowshoe, buckboard, train,
interurban, carriage, sleigh, canoe, boat, steamer, and row boat. TR got it done!
Now it's our turn :) Let's spread the word of TR's travels in Maine.
Working together we can create an inspiring, educational, professional
Theodore Roosevelt Maine Heritage Trail map
TR4ME-Heritage Trail

A Benefit Event For the Narcissus Project!

2017 Teddy Roosevelt Days at Seashore Trolley Museum

Click Here: For Full Schedule of All Activities  July 21-23 and online ticket sales to the Friday Opening Gala 
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. 

We Did It!! 

$40,000 Raised!

Your Donations to the Narcissus Combined to Achieve the Goal Set Nineteen Months Ago. Raise $40,000 for the Narcissus to Meet the Challenge of the Matching Grant from the 

This brings the Combined Total Amount of Donations to the
Narcissus, based on the 20th Century Electric Railway Foundation's matching grants to $100,000!  

The $40,000 donation will be the 2nd donation to the Narcissus from the 20th Century Electric Railway Foundation as a result of successfully raising funds for a matching grant. A previous $10,000 matching grant challenge was achieved in 2014.

Donations made to the Narcissus Fund 816-A, for the remainder of 2017 and until further notice,
 will be used for work and materials needed to restore the interior of the Narcissus.

See below for Donation options -

It starts with YOU....
Your Donation Matters....
Make a Donation TODAY....

Please Help the Narcissus
Donations are now being raised to restore the interior of the Narcissus.

Donation Options to Help Restore the Narcissus:

The New England Electric Railway Historical Society (NEERHS)
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 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: 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 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, or call 207-985-9723 - cell.

Thank You :)

Thank You to our Current Funding Partners
20th Century Electric Railway Foundation - 2017/2014 Matching Grant Challenges
Thornton Academy (Saco, ME) - Staff & Alumni - Matching Grant Challenge 2014
* 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 2017/2016/2015
The W. S. Libbey Family - Awalt, Conley, Graf, Holman, Libbey, McAvoy, McLaughlin, Meldrum, O'Halloran, Salto, - 2017
* The Hughes Family 2017/2016/2010
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 - 2017/2016
Seal Cove Auto Museum

The Narcissus, with interior back-lit, stained glass windows are majestic.
Make a donation today to help restore the interior of this Maine gem.
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. We are currently raising funds to restore the interior of this Maine gem.

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.

Click Here to See the list of All Previous Blog Posts - 100-Plus

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

Narcissus - July 31, 2015. Make a donation today. 
 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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