Jeep Wilcox, Storyteller

P08411: Jeep Wilcox (center) with Sandy Ives and Peggy Yocom at the 2002 National Folk Festival in Bangor, Maine.

Traditional storyteller Gaylon “Jeep” Wilcox of Rangeley, Maine, weaves stories and poems together in his own unique style. He tells tales about his experiences: some that are true, some that are not quite true, and some that are not true at all. Most of his stories relate to the people and the beauty of the Rangeley Lakes Region in the western mountains of Maine. Born and raised in Rangeley, Jeep has spent most of his life in the woods of the region, working as a woodsman, river driver, and more. His fascination with the woods was so strong that by the time he was five, his parents dared not leave him alone outside for fear that he would wander off into the woods. His nickname came from his father’s observation, “He’s like one of those Jeeps, traveling down some old trail or logging tote-road off the beaten path.” He started writing story-poems on birch trees when he was ten using a pen, pencil, or jack-knife as he wandered these trails and roads, and over time visitors and locals alike noticed these poems on trees. They quickly became the talk of the town and Jeep has been sharing his stories with people ever since.