Fishing camps are unique to the state of Maine.
Once there were over 300 of these camps offering excellent fishing and a summer vacation experience on Maine’s lakes and rivers. The camps were rustic, with sleeping cabins along the water and a central dining room.
Alden Camps was opened in 1911 when Arthur Fred Alden borrowed money from his father to finance the purchase of 120 acres of land on East Pond. The property had a farmhouse and a barn, both built in 1845. The borrowed money also provided funds so that Fred could contract to have six cottages built. Each cottage had two bedrooms, a sitting room and a porch. No bathrooms. By 1920, there were 17 cottages; a multi-room lodge along the lakefront and a large dining room had been added to the farmhouse. The central dining room was lighted by kerosene chandeliers, and the meals featured fresh vegetables, milk, cream, and eggs from the farm. Until the roads improved, families would travel to Oakland, ME by train on the Bar Harbor Express (overnight from Grand Central Station in N.Y.C.) or on the streamlined Flying Yankee. They were met at the Oakland railroad station by the camp vehicle, first a horse and carriage, then by Model T beach wagon (wish we still owned it!), and later by station wagon. Fishing for small mouth bass was the big attraction.
Arthur Fred died in 1922 and his wife, Florence, managed the resort until 1935. Her son, Fred, continued the family tradition by managing Camp from 1935 to 1956. Electricity and bathrooms were added and outboard motors replaced oars for the fishing boats. In 1957, Vesta Alden Putnam, bought out the other family members and owned and operated Alden Camps until 2004.
Under Vesta and George Putnam’s guidance, Alden Camps became a true family experience. A perfect team, they complemented each other in their management styles. Their mantra for operating camps was “Camp is a place where times stands (almost) still.” Fish continued to be important, but activities were added for the enjoyment of all family members. The original barn became a hub of social activities. George and Vesta’s grandson, Carter Putnam Minkel, together with his wife, Martha, became the sixth family member to manage Alden Camps.
Through out the years, all of the money generated from operating Camp has been reinvested in the facilities. Camp is still managed to provide a respite of family fun in a busy world.