In partnership with the Maine Memory Network Maine Memory Network

Strong, a Mussul Unsquit village

A Legacy of Woods and Waters

"Fly Rod" Crosby

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Fannie Brackley and doe, ca. 1937
Fannie Brackley and doe, ca. 1937
Crosby served as a role model for young women interested in the outdoors.
Item Contributed by
Strong Historical Society

Cornelia “Fly Rod” Crosby died on Armistice Day in 1946 at the Marcotte Home in Lewiston. In her final years she had struggled with poor health, failing eyesight and had suffered a nervous breakdown in 1926. She was no longer able to live in Phillips year round, but would return to Saint Anthony's Cottage every summer. In the winter she stayed with friends in Lewiston. The Rangeley Record ran her obituary ending with this message: “Rangeley has lost one of its most famous people and America has lost its most famous woman sportsman. May her soul rest in peace.”

Today, Fly Rod’s legacy is evident in Strong and other communities of Northern Franklin County through active guide associations, local celebration of the region's outdoor heritage and grassroots efforts to conserve natural resources. Crosby was a woman engaged in the outdoor and tourism industries at a time when it was overwhelmingly dominated by men. She was and continues to be a source of inspiration for women anglers, hunters, writers and recreators.

Sandy River and Rangeley Lakes Railroad station, Strong, ca. 1910
Sandy River and Rangeley Lakes Railroad station, Strong, ca. 1910
Today one can still hitch ride on the Sandy River & Rangeley Lakes Railroad at their museum in downtown Phillips.
Item Contributed by
Strong Historical Society

Toward the end of her life she helped construct a catholic church in the village of Oquossoc, located between Rangeley and Mooselukmeguntic lakes. Our Lady of the Lakes chapel is still there and holds regular services during the summer. Next door, the Outdoor Sporting Heritage Museum enshrines the region’s rich hunting and fishing tradition, as well as local luminaries such as Carrie Stevens and Ms. Crosby. The Rangeley Region Sportsman and Guides Association is a very active group that advocates for local guides, habitat and wildlife conservation.

The High Peaks Alliance located in Strong and Phillips, advocates for public access to back-country recreation. This small grass-roots organization has developed a new commemorative trail called the Fly Rod Crosby Trail which will eventually stretch 45 miles and connect the communities of Strong, Avon, Phillips, Madrid, Sandy River, Dallas and Rangeley through back-country hiking and multi-use trails. The goal of the trail is to “help residents and visitors take an active interest in preserving the unique character of High Peaks communities and resources.” Local efforts such as the Strong Historical Society, High Peaks Alliance and Rangeley Region Sports and Guides Association speak to Ms. Crosby’s legacy of conservation, economic development and a commitment to preservation of the “Maine Woods experience” for future generations.