Located on the West side of Moosehead Lake on the mouth of the East Outlet of the Kennebec River, Wilsons Camps is known as the longest, continuously operated sporting camps in the state of Maine. We are conveniently located between Greenville and Rockwood, Maine where you can find numerous outdoor activities!
It all started after the surrender of General Robert E. Lee at Appomattox on April 9th, 1865, when Henry I. Wilson returned from the Civil War to his home in Massachusetts and decided that he wanted to move north, away from the city, in search of an untroubled frontier. Henry bought a house on the north end of the lake, but soon after filled the position of dam operator on the East Outlet. The position was said to be ‘cursed’, as the last three dam operators had either drowned or been killed operating the mill, but after surviving four years in the Civil War, Henry wasn’t afraid of a little curse!
Upon taking the job Henry floated his two-story house from the north end of the lake down onto the property, which stood for nearly 140 years and was the front part of the hotel, which was facing the lake. Soon after, Wilsons became a huge draw for sportsmen from all over the country, including the 18th president Ulysses S. Grant. The inn was the center of attention, staffing guides, guests, and hosting a large dining area and kitchen staff. In 2004, the hotel was deemed irreparable and control burned to the ground. Hopes of a new lodge being built are still high. In addition to the hotel, 17 rental cabins were constructed, part of one is still standing and one of the 15 cabins available for rent today.
The next major figure to run the sporting camps was Alfred Wilson, with the help of his two sons Donald and Alfred J., known as Junior. While Fred and Junior were busy guiding and trapping, Don graduated from the University of Maine with a mechanical engineering degree and was pursuing a career in the engineering field. Unfortunately Junior’s untimely death due to drowning off of Pratt’s Point on September 18th, 1936 resulted in Don leaving his engineering career to come back and help run the camps.
After being passed down through four generations of Wilsons over 109 years, the camps were sold to Wayne and Shan (Shirley) Snell, who ran the camps for 19 years before their son and his wife, Scott and Alison Snell took over in 2002. For nearly 18 years Scott and Alison have been running the camps, and in 2015 celebrated the 150th anniversary of Wilsons on Moosehead Lake.
About Your Hosts
Scott has lived most of his life here at the property since 1983, while his parents ran the business. He moved ‘away’ a couple times, but the draw to return to his roots never went away. In the spring of 2002 his parents announced they were ready for their next chapter, and they were selling the camps. They had a few interested parties, most of which were planning to turn the cabins and property into a private vacation spot. The thought of Wilsons being closed to the public and him never being able to walk over to the dam to fish again, wore hard on his mind. After a few discussions with his wife, Alison, they decided to see if taking over the family business was an option.
They met with banks, financial planners, potential investors, and Scott’s parents of course, and came up with a plan. It was scary, but what in life isn’t worth a risk? With a soon to be 6 year old and an 18 month old baby, they began packing up and moving into one of the camps. Luckily, Wayne and Shan were able to let them move in next door in order to begin to learn the day-to-day operations for a bit before jumping right in!
We moved here as 4, with 1 dog and 1 cat. We soon expanded to 5 humans (all boys except Alison), several cats and dogs (we’ve even had bunnies and birds along the way!) The boys have been a huge part of our business. There is no better place on earth to raise and spend time with children! They love the outdoors, and we love teaching them and watching them grow.
On 1/6/16 an amazing milestone was passed, which will solidify the future for Wilsons on Moosehead Lake! We had the opportunity to purchase a very important piece of the puzzle here; so important that it allowed us to finally put it all together. We were able to put together the “package” and purchase Wilsons along with a large portion of land that had been leased for many, many years.
It started for us in 2002 with a dream and two young children (soon to be three). It turned into hard work, uncertainty, determination and incredible relationships with so many new and repeat guests we now consider family.
So, Thank You just doesn’t seem enough. Thank you to our many, many guests, we couldn’t have done it without you! After over 150 years in business, Wilsons’ future is a little brighter today!
Wilsons continues to be a stand out spot for sportsmen and vacationers alike! To read up more on the elaborate history of Wilsons, check out the book ‘The History of East Outlet Moosehead Lake, Maine & Wilsons on Moosehead Lake” by Donald A. Wilson.