Farewell to a Friend
By Rod Fraser

This year, on March 16th, we said farewell to an old friend when the Chesuncook Lake House burned to the ground. Thankfully, the Suprenant family, guests and workers were all able to exit the house safely. With the loss of this historic house, goes a landmark destination that most of us who have been enjoying the Maine woods have visited both winter and summer. It was almost unbelievable. I received a phone call from my friend Mike Murray early on the morning of March 17th. Following his call, I received several others. As you readers now, I just wrote of an awesome ride and lunch with a group of friends at the lake house last month.

Since learning of this tragic fire, I have has time to reflect back on the many times I have visited that house over the years with my family and friends. I enjoyed taking my son and daughter there by snowmobile, and telling them how my grandfather and his brothers lived there. They worked on the river drives and on the Great Northern paper company boats that towed the logs down Chesuncook Lake to Ripogenus Lake and the dam to be sent down the West Branch of the Penobscot to the mill in my home town of Millinocket. I remember all of the stories my grandfather John and his brother Bob used to tell us of the goings on in the village at that time.

The house was built by Ansel Smith in 1864 and was listed in the National Historical Register. Since that time, it has hosted untold numbers of outdoorsmen and loggers working and visiting the Maine woods around Chesuncook Lake. In 1923, Governor Percival Baxter canoed the Allagash while in office and is the only Maine governor to do so. On his trip to the Allagash, he stayed at the Chesuncook Lake House which at that time, was still owned and operated by Ansel Smith.

Over the years writing this column, I have mentioned the lake house many times. It was and will be again, a destination in its own right. But also, it is a key stop for anyone going to the trains on Eagle Lake from Millinocket or Greenville. It was the place to stop for good food, non-ethanol gas and a friendly inviting atmosphere. After the fire, on March 24th, the Suprenants sponsored a “last ride” of the season and were on hand to supply gas to the hundreds of riders that rode up for the day. With all of the the pain, anguish and disappointment they must be feeling, they still worked to support the snowmobilers who wanted to ride the area one more time before the end of the season.

The good news for us outdoor enthusiasts, the Suprenant family has said that they plan on rebuilding immediately. I look forward to watching progress on a new lake house and a new chapter beginning in the history of Chesuncook Village. When they open the new house for business, I will be excited to visit the new, but will still look back at the old with very fond memories. If you wish to show your appreciation and support for the Suprenant family, you can make a donation to a fund that has been established to assist hem at www.gofundme.com/chesuncook-lake-house-rebuild-fund.

Rod Fraser is an avid outdoorsman, and 20 year Navy veteran. Originally from Maine and now living in Massachusetts, Rod has written extensively about snowmobiling in New England and his latest book is available at www.snowmobileenthusiast.com. Email rjfraserjrusn@yahoo.com.

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