Vacationing at Harry Dutton’s Camp

Dick Morrison is the last person alive who remembers spending the summer at his grandfather Harry Dutton’s camp on Metallak Island in Lake Umbagog. Until he was seventeen years old, he would go there with his family and spend a month every summer. The following videos are clips from family movies in Dick’s possession. These movies were taken in the 1930s and show his parents, his brother, and other members of the extended family enjoying their time at the camp.

In this first video, we approach the camp, as all visitors did, by launch from the mainland. The most prominent feature of the camp was the lighthouse, which according to Dick was a disguise for a large water tank, pumped full from the lake and used to power the camp’s plumbing system.

A summertime visit to the camp offered many types of outdoor activities, including fishing, boating, canoeing, swimming, badminton, and shooting, all of which can be seen on the next video.  In the first badminton clip, Alice (Dutton) Morrison, Dick’s mother, shows her form in the near court competing against her husband, Arthur W. Morrison. In the second clip, the older player on the near side is Harry Dutton’s son-in-law, Erving Morse, who was the last president of the Houghton & Dutton store. The shooters are Dick’s father, brother, and mother–Arthur W. Morrison, Arthur D. Morrison, and Alice. The boy in the canoe with the dog is Arthur D. Morrison.

Dick Morrison has very fond memories of visiting the camp, and has promised to put together a recording describing it in more detail, which I hope to post some time in the future. In the meantime, we will take one more tour around the camp by water before heading back to the mainland. What a fun and relaxing place the camp must have been, for both humans and dogs!

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Harry Dutton’s Camp

Harry Dutton’s lavish “camp,” located on Metallak Island in Lake Umbagog (just outside the town of Upton, Maine), was a popular summer vacation destination for all of the Duttons.

Upton, Maine

Lake Umbagog2

The camp was built in 1898-99 and remained in the possession of Harry’s descendants until the 1940s when it was eventually sold.

The construction of the camp was an event of much interest to the local population, as evidenced by this story published on the first page of the Lewiston [Maine] Sunday Journal, on 19 November 1898:

Bethel, Me., Nov. 19 (Special). The people of Bethel and vicinity are much interested in Upton, where Mr. Dutton of the well-known firm of Houghton, Dutton & Co., Boston, is erecting a summer house on Metalluck Island in Umbagog Lake. Bethel has often expressed a desire for railroad connection with the large lake country lying northerly of it, but now many think that the future holds more in store for this region if this vast territory is left undisturbed by the railroad. Development inevitably follows in the wake of the railroad and the wilderness of the great forests no longer remains. The territory now lying northerly of Bethel, and made up of Newry, Grafton, Upton and the lower Umbagog region still remains comparatively unbroken in its seclusion. Here the sportsmen can find immense tracts of almost virgin forest, and haunts as wild and rugged and unbroken as they were two centuries ago. Each year many come to this section from other states and enjoy its exceptional sporting facilities. But until recently no move has been made toward the development of the country as a summer retreat.

Mr. Dutton not long ago purchased Metalluck Island of its owners in Upton and at once began to get it into suitable condition for building. The island contains two or three acres and receives its name from the famous Metalluck, the last of the Androscoggin tribe of Indians, who for a long time dwelt on the shores of Umbagog lake and near this point. Mr. Dutton has built a breakwater of rocks around the island, so that its shores are fully protected. The house is being built near the shore and follows its contour to quite a degree. It is one story in height and the front will be 117 feet in length. There will be two wings, one of which will be 97 feet long and the other 77 feet. The building will be of considerable width and will cover quite a surface, thus affording accommodation for a large number. It will contain many fireplaces and will have all conveniences. Mr. Dutton intends to erect a lighthouse on the head of the island and undoubtedly will change the entire island into a veritable paradise of a summer retreat. Mr. Dutton has a nice summer house near Rangeley, but the railroad and its followers are not to his liking when seeking recreation. He had been in Upton looking after his interests but the charge of the entire matter is in the hands of Mr. Alva Coolidge of Upton. A large crew of men are at work upon the building and the outside work is being hastened as much as possible.

Stay tuned for my next blog post, in which I will take you on a boat tour around the island, compliments of Harry’s grandson Dick Morrison, and perhaps we’ll also be able to get in a game of badminton.