Cornelia "Fly Rod" Crosby
(1854 - 1946)

Cornelia "Fly Rod" Crosby was a writer, a hunter, an outdoor enthusiast, a publicity agent, and a precedent-setter. Fly Rod, as she was known in sporting journals and newspapers across the country, was the first registered guide in Maine, the first Maine woman to shoot a caribou, Maine's first paid publicity agent, and the first person to call Maine "the Nation's Playground"--a name that stuck. Born and raised in Phillips, Maine, Crosby began working as a housekeeper at the Rangeley House, a hotel in the North Woods. There, she explored the nearby rivers, lakes, streams, and forests of the Dead River region. She learned to hunt and to fly-fish, and began writing a column for the Phillips Phonograph about her outdoor experiences. Her column, called "Fly Rod's Notebook," was soon picked up and syndicated in national newspapers. In 1895, Fly Rod traveled to New York to promote the Maine outdoors at the Sportsmen's Show at Madison Square Garden. She impressed the crowds with her daring display, which included a Maine log cabin she had built herself, several stuffed deer, moose, and birds, and a tank full of trout and salmon (shipped by train from Bangor). Modeling a new lady's hunting outfit with a shortened skirt that shocked some observers, Fly Rod demonstrated her skill at fly fishing by casting into the fish tank. She succeeded in attracting thousands of visitors to Maine. In 1897, the Maine legislature honored her by granting her the first Maine guide license in the state.

Source: "First Lady of the Maine Woods," by Thomas A. Verde. Down East Magazine, August, 1998. p. 57 - 59.

[close window]