WEST BRANCH POND CAMPs      in the shadow of White Cap Mountain
West Branch Pond Camps - Postal Box 1153 - Greenville, Maine 04441- 207.695.2561

images and text ©MildredKennedy.com
West Branch Pond Camps

Township A, Range12

From Greenville, ME

Take the Lily Bay road north 17 miles,

turn east on the Frenchtown road

(right turnoff before Kokadjo).

Camps 10 miles in on dirt/gravel road.

Deep in Maine’s north woods West Branch Pond Camps maintains the American traditions of hospitality and outdoor life. The rutted path from Frenchtown road down the drive into the clearing delivers guests to another time. A time
where ample activities whet the appetite, and hearty meals complemented by the fresh mountain air set your head to the pillow for a long restful sleep. Maine’s longest continuously operating sporting camp, West Branch Pond Camps, have passed through four generations (five if you count Great Great Uncle Lewis Chadwick (Fred Chadwick’s brother)). Owner Eric Stirling, his wife Mildred, children Avis and Oscar, and Theo the dog welcome families returning yearly to celebrate their own traditions and new guests and day-trippers to explore and experience the camp’s multitude of offerings. The camps have been in Eric’s family for a hundred years, 1910-2010, and the tradition continues.

Transformed from a logging encampment to a moose hunting camp in 1881, Charles Randall of Milo established the sporting camp location at First West Branch Pond. Randall sold the camps to Lewis Chadwick in 1910 beginning the camp’s present family ownership. Moose hunting ceased in 1936 after a state ban. By this time, Fred and Abbie Chadwick had purchased
the camps. They converted operations to a fishing camp specializing in native squaretail trout. Thankfully the Moose remained a constant feature, as they are today, to welcome and entertain guests. Fred and Abbie ran operations in the 20s, 30s and 40s. Their daughter, Connie married returning World War two veteran Cliff Kealiher of Milo and took over operation in 1950. They passed the torch in 1973 when daughter Carol returned with Husband, Andrew Stirling, to operate the camps and raise their three boys. Now a grown man, Carol’s youngest son, Eric, took over operation in 2003. He remains true to the heritage and spirit of the Camps sharing his inherited passion for hospitality and outdoor life.

Nine rental cabins edge the shore while the main lodge stands overlooking White Cap’s reflection in the still waters of the pond. One of the oldest wooden structures in the Moosehead area, the main lodge or “Casino” as old timers called it, was built in 1914 by Joe Boudreau, a hermit and woodsman who lived nearby. When you enter the lodge, where guests dine, you can look up at the ceiling boards, which were all hand split and planed from cedar logs.
Each individual cabin is authentic log construction with comfortable accommodations: cozy and clean while maintaining the rustic charm. Hand-hewn full and twin beds with crisp sheets and ample wool blankets, piles of old National Geographic magazines and tireless games of cribbage and checkers greet the guest. A wood stove with plenty of firewood or the screened porch await your afternoon nap or a good read. Modern plumbing and hot water as well as electricity from dusk to 10pm provide the creature comforts for those to whom the creatures envisioned about an outhouse are a little too rustic!

Meals set the pace here. Eric continues the traditional cooking learned growing up at the camps. The banter of the kitchen cultivates much entertainment and rich meals for the guests. A hearty breakfast consists of eggs, French toast, pancakes or crepes, bacon or sausage and homemade toast. Many fishermen request their catch to be prepared as well. Eric rolls the trout in cornmeal then fries them in a cast-iron skillet. Prime Rib on Thursday night, a tradition started by Cliff Kealiher in 1960, remains a staple of the weekly menu. Eric’s apple pie and anadama bread learned from his mother, Carol, are often-requested recipes. A full turkey dinner with all fixings graces the noontime meal on Sunday. Other popular meals include pot roast on Monday, cornish game hens on Friday, and baby back ribs, home baked beans and cornbread on Saturday. Reservations required.

The camps are a return to a slower pace, but that is not to say things are by any means still. If you mean to recreate and/or burn some calories, there are plenty of things to do. The Appalachian Trail follows the ridge line of Whitecap Mountain. The base of the trail system is a short drive from the camps. The summit is a 3 1/2 mile hike. Moose abound around the shore of the pond and along nearby logging roads. A short ride in the car or a paddle in a canoe will put you in contact with these denizens of the north. Native brook trout thrive in the cool water of the pond and local streams. Fishing is done with flyrod only.  Although the trout are not large, averaging eight to twelve inches, they are a feisty catch and delicious when pan-fried. Each spring brings a returning flight of songbirds, ducks, osprey, and of course the resident pair of loons. Bird watching opportunities are excellent in the early morning along the wooded paths later used for cross-country skiing.

After a brief season of maintenance and repairs from October to January, the camps reopen welcoming cross country skiers and snowshoe enthusiasts.
The road to the camp is plowed making day skiing and lunch an option. Lodging consists of winterized cabins. Wood stoves provide heat.  Facilities include outhouses located behind the cabins and the common shower house behind the lodge. Only those who are seasoned winter enthusiasts should venture an extended visit during the winter season. Eric grooms the fifteen-kilometer trail network with a leveling and texturing drag for both ski touring and snowshoeing. In addition, local guide
Steve Madera of Song in the Woods Guide Service regularly runs his dog sleds around a particularly scenic loop trail. Silence is the dominant feature of winter with a carpet of satiny frost punctuated by hare tracks, wallowing Moose, and ruffed grouse. Please call ahead for trail conditions before venturing north.

At the end of their stay guests always regret having to leave their favorite cabins. But, they leave with the knowledge that next year’s season will remain familiar and welcoming at West Branch Pond Camps. 2010 was the hundredth anniversary of the Camps being in Eric’s Family. Eric, Mildred, Avis and Oscar welcome folks to join the celebration of continuous operation. May West Branch Pond Camps’ traditions become yours too.