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 (Mattawamkeag, Mattawamkeag Lake/River, Bible Point)
1879 - February/March - Island Falls (Mattawamkeag, Lumber Camps/Oxbow area)
1879 - August/September - Mattawamkeag, Mattawamkeag Lake/River, East Branch of the Penobscot River, Wassataquoik River, Katahdin Lake, Mount Katahdin, Sandy Brook, Moose Pond, Oxbow, Aroostook River, Little Munsungan Stream/Lake, Munsungan Lake, Upper Munsungan (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

     Being listed in the National Register of Historic Places carries 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 a depth of character too. And through storytelling, it will facilitate some intriguing and diverse storylines, 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 and generate interest in developing collaboration among stakeholders around the State to work together in creating a visitor-friendly state-wide tour guide of all communities throughout the State of Maine that have a connection to Theodore Roosevelt. A Theodore Roosevelt Maine Trail through Maine, if you will. 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 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 through 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
Harvard University, Cambridge, MA

     A few answers, and now, a few new questions have emerged. There is no mention of an act of bullying that has 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; however, since that research, we have found out details on the stage line and on the Lake House...and we are making progress on the steamships :)
  • 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.

We are still seeking information on Mr. Peter Strong, the guide for TR during his fly fishing trip at Echo Lake near Dexter on August 26th.

We are still searching for details on the name of the steamer TR took from Greenville to Kineo House (2nd one). The location of Echo Lake brings up a question of logistics and timing based on TR's entries - more research necessary.

Will are also looking to find other support materials (photos, etc.) that will add more context.

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 a 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

The Androscoggin Historical Society has a
copy of the 1872 Auburn Directory. The
above advertisement is from that directory.
It shows that the Frye Stagecoach line
had a schedule to leave Dexter at 11 a.m.
for Greenville during the summer of 1872:)

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 during
1848 and burned in 1868. The second Mount Kineo House was built during
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

The Lake House in Greenville, Maine

The image above and text from 1880 Farrar's Illustrated
Guide Book to Moosehead Lake and Vicinity.

     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 in 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 cataloged 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

     We will need to add Bowdoin College in Brunswick to this map. Theodore Roosevelt was a supporter of Robert Peary and his expedition to the North Pole vis the SS Roosevelt :)

Theodore Roosevelt traveled all over Maine. By foot, snowshoe, buckboard, train,
interurban, carriage, sleigh, canoe, boat, steamer, and rowboat. 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 Interurban

Restoration work continues on the Narcissus. The Narcissus is more than 100 years old now and has so many incredible stories to share. The restoration is but one.

     The Narcissus is featured in the national Gold Award-winning novel, Teddy Roosevelt, Millie, and the Elegant Ride. The "Elegant Ride" is the Narcissus. Theodore Roosevelt was a passenger on the Narcissus on August 18, 1914, between Lewiston and Portland, Maine, during campaigning for the Progressive Party candidates. June 2020

Independent book publisher, Phil Morse, holding
the Gold Book Award Winner plaque for
 the Middle Reader category for The Eric
Hoffer Book Award. Congratulations to
award-winning Maine author,
Jean M. Flahive

     The paperback edition of Teddy Roosevelt, Millie, and the Elegant Ride can be purchased online through the Seashore Trolley Museum's store website. Books purchased through the Museum's website directly benefit the Museum and the Narcissus project. Amazon book purchases also benefit the Museum and the Narcissus.

Click Here to go to the Museum Store webpage to order online

Click Here to go to the Amazon page to order the book online

Click Here to go to the ebook page

Books are available at these local bookstores in Maine:
The Book Review, Falmouth
The Bookworm, Gorham
Letterpress Books, Portland
Nonesuch Books and More, South Portland
Sherman's Maine Coast Book Shops - All locations

Teddy Roosevelt, Millie, and the Elegant Ride
by Jean M. Flahive
Illustrations by Amy J. Gagnon

     Millie Thayer is a headstrong farmer's daughter who chases her dreams in a way you would expect a little girl nicknamed "Spitfire" would-running full tilt and with her eyes on the stars. Dreaming of leaving the farm life, working in the city, and fighting for women's right to vote, Millie imagines flying away on a magic carpet. One day, that flying carpet shows up in the form of an electric trolley that cuts across her farm. A fortune-teller predicts that Millie's path will cross that of someone famous. Suddenly, she finds herself caught up in events that shake the nation, Maine, and her family. Despairing that her dreams may be shattered, Millie learns, in an unexpected way, that dreams can be shared.
A resource for teachers 
Maine Historical Society has created companion lesson plans inspired by Teddy Roosevelt, Millie, and the Elegant Ride - These State-standard-based lesson plans for classroom use in grades 6, 7, and 8 are now completed. They will be uploaded to the Maine Memory Network and will be included with the other statewide lesson plans K-12. Once a link is available, it will be posted here. The lesson plans will also be uploaded and available through the Seashore Trolley Museum's website later in July 2020. Go to the Teacher Resource Page in the pulldown for more details.

The ebook is available through Amazon Kindle Click HERE

The audiobook is now available Click HERE to go to the Audible page.

2-minute, 30-second, Retail Audio Sample of the Audiobook 

Award-winning author, Jean M. Flahive


Click Here to read the post - Coveted Blueink Starred Review  - Notable Book - January 20, 2020

Click Here to read the post - Three 5-Star Reviews from Readers' Favorite posted on January 6, 2020

Click Here to read January 24, 2020 - Four-Star Clarion Review

Click Here to read January 19, 2020 - Theodore Roosevelt Center Blog Post Review

Click Here to read the December 25, 2019 4-Stars out of 4-Stars Review through OnlineBookClub

Please Consider a Donation to the Narcissus Project to help us tell the incredible story of the Narcissus through the interpretation portion of the Narcissus Project.

     Here is an example of how donations to the Narcissus Project now will help with the interpretation portion of the project. The interpretation programming will include exhibits, displays, education programming. During 2019, through generous donations to the Narcissus Project, we were able to conserve, replicate, and have high resolutions digital image files made of the original, 1910, 25.5-foot long, surveyor map of the elevation and grade of the 30-mile private right-of-way of the Portland, Gray, and Lewiston Railroad (Portland-Lewiston Interurban)
Thank You!

MUST-READ! - Click Here 

   Inside the Donald G. Curry Town House Restoration Shop, the Narcissus is in the midst of major work as we strive to complete its restoration. We are now planning the interpretation portion of the Narcissus Project. Donations to the Narcissus Project may be used in the future to help tell the incredible 100-plus-year-old story of the Narcissus. Your donation to the Narcissus is helping to make the dream of the project's success, a reality.

See below for Donation options -
It starts with YOU
Your Donation Matters
Make a Donation TODAY

Please Help the Narcissus. 
Donation Options to Help the Narcissus Project:

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 for our Current Funding Partners
20th Century Electric Railway Foundation - 2018 - Major Gift, 2017/2014 Matching Grants
Renaissance Charitable Foundation (LPCT) by Fiduciary Trust Charitable Giving Fund
Mass Bay RRE - 2018 Railroad Preservation Grant 
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 2018/2017/2016/2015
* The W. S. Libbey Family - Awalt, Conley, Graf, Holman, Libbey, McAvoy, McLaughlin, Meldrum, O'Halloran, Salto, - 2018/2017
* 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
* LogMein - Matching Employee Donation
* IBM - Matching Employee/Retiree Donations
* Fidelity Charitable Grant - Matching Employee Donations
* Richard E. Erwin Grant - 2017/2016

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 Register Treasure at
Seashore Trolley Museum in Kennebunkport, Maine.
PWM photo

Please Consider Making a Donation to the project of the National Register of Historic Places member, Narcissus. We are currently raising funds to tell the incredible story 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 - Index

The 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
Seashore Trolley Museum in Kennebunkport, Maine.

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