Thursday, May 14, 2015

Traveling To the Fulton Chain In 1892

1892 fulton chain club 1_0In March, 1889, a group of Jefferson County business men and a Thousand Islands cigarette magnate (Charles G. Emery of Calumet Island Castle) purchased a block of overt 6,000 acres extending from Fourth to Seventh Lakes over to Limekiln Lake.  They formed a club, the Fulton Chain Club, and advertised the region to attract wealthy investors, but failed at this venture and began selling lots to anyone.  Within the Prospectus for this club is a description of the Fulton Chain region containing a valuable snapshot in time, 1892, of this area’s history.

A copy of the prospectus is held by the Adirondack Museum, from which the excerpts below were taken (my comments are in brackets):

THE FULTON CHAIN CLUB.  The lands held by the Fulton Chain Cub are located in Township Three [Moose River Tract], Hamilton County.  They comprise an area of about 6,000 acres, and embrace within the space which is nearly square, the whole, or a portion, of six of the most beautiful lakes of the wilderness, namely, Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, Seventh, Limekiln and Fawn Lakes.  In addition to these are a number of ponds and trout streams of great value to the property.  Four of the lakes, designated by numerals, are a part of the lovely Fulton Chain, which has for more than fifty years been a theme for poets, descriptive writers and artists.

TRAVEL IN FORMER DAYS.  Thousands of those who had once felt the charm of life in this portion of the Adirondacks, commonly called the “John Brown Tract” were content in by-gone days to return hither by the most primitive and tedious of means, over roads rough beyond all belief [Brown’s Tract Road].  These obstacles now no longer exist.  The present journey into the woods is just varied and quaint enough to afford amusement and rest to the stranger.

1870 buell map corner top half (2)PRESENT MEANS OF ACCESS.  Stages leave Boonville and Port Leyden each morning for Moose River [Moose River Settlement], distant respectively, eleven and thirteen miles.  At the latter point, where extensive tanneries were formerly located, a good dinner is served at the Barrett Hotel [owned by Charles Barrett, formerly called Lawrence’s].

From this point the journey is resumed upon the recently completed and already famous wooden railroad, which is equipped with a small, but ambitious [First Fulton Chain Railroad, “Peg Leg”] locomotive and comfortable passenger cars, and extends eight miles along the Moose River to Minnehaha Landing, where the steamer “Fawn”, Capt. Crabb , awaits the traveler.  For nearly a dozen miles the “Fawn” breasts the winding current of the little forest-environed stream, every turn of its devious course opening a new vista to charm the beholder.  This brief voyage compares favorably with the celebrated Oklawahaha trip known to every visitor in Florida.  It may be safely asserted that no such experience awaits the summer wanderer in any other part of the United States.

It should be mentioned at this point that Dr. Webb’s projected railroad, a considerable portion of which has been already completed, has been surveyed through the forest, past Old Forge.  When this great work is done, superb vestibuled sleeping cars will bring the traveler leaving New York in the evening to the Old Forge House for breakfast.

OLD FORGE.  At the upper end of the “Fawn’s” voyage, a “carry-all” stage takes incoming visitors on to the new and handsome Forge House [built in 1871, burned in 1924], a mile distant, which overlooks First Lake.  This hotel is conducted by Messrs. Alger & Kitts [succeeded Joseph Harvey], and is one of the most attractive places in the woods.  It stands near the site of the old iron works, where nearly a century ago an abortive attempt was made to establish an industry [Herreshoff, 1819].  The old hammer and other relics of this venture lie in the grass near the house.  This and Arnold’s[originally Herreshoff’s Manor], not far away, are the oldest places of entertainment [probably the only] in the Brown Tract.

At Old Forge the State Trout Hatchery is located.  From this source a million young trout have been placed annually in the surrounding lakes for some years, thus insuring splendid fishing in the season.

A telephone line connects Old Forge with the outer world, and messages are delivered (as well as regular mails, twice daily) by steamboat at all points as far as the Hess Camp at the head of Fourth Lake.

AN EVENING VOYAGE.  After supper at the Forge House the speedy steam-yacht “Fulton” Capt. Sheppard, leaves for the camps above.  This voyage of two hours in the fading light of day is invested with charms altogether its own.  The hastening yacht courses in turn through lake and channel, touching now and then at landings where jolly parties of sojourners are gathered about ruddy fires built in front of the log structures, called in local parlance the “camps”.

There are three camps on First Lake, one on Second Lake, three on Third Lake, and about twenty-seven on Fourth Lake.  The majority of these are private, but a sufficient number are public to accommodate a considerable amount of transient patronage.  The “Fulton” completes her voyage near the head of Fourth Lake.  Hess Camp when completed will be the terminal.  A grand view of the lake and its cordon of mountains may be enjoyed from this place.

Cedar Island Camp is one of the most attractive points in the Adirondacks.  It is maintained as a public camp, having abundant room for guests, an excellent table, first-class boat-livery, a ten-pin alley, and other means of diversion.  Mr. Augur, the manager, is a hotel man of experience.

DISTANCES.  The following table of distances may be found of service to the reader:

Port Leyden to Old Forge, 24 miles

” ”          to 2nd Lake,   27 miles

” ”          to 3rd Lake,   29 miles

” ”          to 4th Lake,   31 miles

Port Leyden to 5th Lake,  36 miles

”  ”           to  6th Lake,  37 miles

”  ”           to  7th Lake,  38 miles

”  ”           to  8th Lake,  42 miles

The distance from Boonville is about two miles in excess of these figures.

Near the head of Fourth Lake the waters of the lakes above pour down through the outlet.  About two miles of this shore of Fourth Lake upon each side of the outlet is owned by the Fulton Chain Club, and embraces much of the best water-front upon this lake, being elevated, well-wooded, and commanding a magnificent view.  This is destined to become a highly popular stretch for private camps.

1a P740 5th lake lumber mill066Just at the outlet Mr. Fred Hess, one of the best known woodsmen, and the superintendent of the Fulton Chain Club’s property, has his home and is building a hotel, the lumber for its construction being sawn close at hand at his new mill [built in 1890 on land bought from the club] upon the outlet between Fifth and Sixth Lakes.  The new hotel will closely resemble the popular Antler’s upon Raquette Lake, and will afford a delightful forest home for not only sportsmen but their families [Finished around 1893, was actually a log structure according to Grady and Gerster, burned in September 1896 according to Gerster, rebuilt as Hess Inn by Boshart and Moshier in 1897, later renamed The Arrowhead].

GUIDES.  There are probably fifty or sixty competent guides upon the Fulton Chain.  As a general thing they own their handsome boats, and are open for engagement at three dollars per diem.

THE FULTON CHAIN CLUB PRESERVE.  Under the pilotage of one of those faithful hunters, young Abner Blakeman [popular Inlet guide, died in 1925 in a tragic auto accident], the writer recently explored the greater part of the Fulton Chain Club’s lands and lakes.  The outlet from Fifth Lake, flowing into Fourth Lake at Hess’ Camp, forms a water lane of great beauty, just sufficiently wide and deep to enable the guide to navigate his boat against its clear swift current. Fifth Lake is entirely surrounded with the dense foliage of the forest.  It is a favorite spot for trout fishing.  A brief carry around the cascades above, where the State dam is located, is next in order, and then the channel to Sixth Lake is reached.  From this lake there is a splendid view of Black Mountain, which is upon the company’s tract.  The lake is full of brook trout.

Seventh Lake is reached through an outlet.  The shores, like those of Fourth Lake, which it closely resembles, are high and heavily clad with fine timber.  Several well-built private camps have already been erected upon this lake, that of Mr.Miller [Brayton B. Miller] being shown in the illustration [not shown here].  It is said that the salmon trout caught in this lake are often of unusual size. Eighth Lake is reached from the inlet of Seventh Lake by a well-worn portage of a little more than a mile.  Some magnificent specimens of ancient pines are seen along this path. Eighth Lake is remarkable for its translucent waters, which reflect upon the glassy surface a duplicate in reverse of the beautiful shore by which it is environed.  Near the head of the lake is a fine spring where passers-by usually halt for lunch.  Midway in the lake is a rocky islet upon which the veteran guide and trapper Alva Dunning has one of his camps. Eighth Lake is located entirely in the midst of State land.

Brown Tract Inlet is all that now intervenes between the Fulton Chain Lakes and the broad waters of Raquette Lake.  From Dunning’s camp we turned back, and, retracing our path, reached Fourth Lake at sunset.

A VISIT TO LIMEKILN LAKE.  From each of these lakes, trails lead away to other picturesque lakelets and ponds where the deer resort to feed in large numbers.  The writer visited but two of these, namely Limekiln and Fawn Lakes.  The trail to Limekiln Lake springs from the almost precipitous shores of Fifth Lake, and is fully three miles long, but, although steep and toilsome in places, is unusually good and very enjoyable.  If the adventurer, halting wearily along this carry, has felt any regret at the undertaking, it will be instantly dissipated when the lovely waters of Limekiln  come into view, its dancing waves plashing up along a half mile of smooth sandy beach bordering its eastern margin.  This is the ideal spot for a hunter’s dinner.  Beneath the noble pines that stand in silent review behind this golden shore we build a fire.  The pack basket gives up its treasures.  Coffee is made, a trout or so is caught and broiled, a bark table is improvised; sparkling clear spring water flowing close at hand is the wine in which we toast our present happiness and the success of the Fulton Chain Club…

Half a mile to the eastward of Limekiln Lake beach, and reached by a very indistinct trail, is Fawn Lake, where at any time deer may be seen grazing along the meadow or swimming in the pools.  This is magnificent hunting ground.  There is but a single camp [possibly Lawrence’s who also built a camp on Moss Lake in the 1880s] upon Limekiln Lake, and that one only occupied occasionally for a day or so by its owner.  The deer resort to the grassy shallows of its bays, or, when pursued by dogs [the “hound law” would soon be passed outlawing this style of hunting], wade for distances along the sandy bottom to destroy the scent.  Wild fowl are numerous upon this lake.  Its rocky headlands are suggestive of the Thousand Islands, an effect enhanced by the group of lovely pine-clad islets near its western end.

[The above was intended to attract investors to the Club, with rules similar to the neighboring Adirondack League Club, but it did not succeed. James Galvin, a director, proceeded to sell hundreds of shore line lots that later became the beginning of the Town of Inlet.]


Charles Herr

Since the early 1980s when Charles Herr purchased a camp in Inlet he has been interested in the history of the Fulton Chain region of the Adirondacks. He has been contributing history articles about the times and people of the Fulton Chain, covering transportation, steamboats, hotels and most importantly, the people to the Weekly Adirondack of Old Forge since November 2006.

His ambition is to uncover local and regional Fulton Chain history about people and events prior to 1930 and little covered in the histories of the region. He was the first president of the Inlet Historical Society and presents summer programs on Inlet history at the Town Hall in Arrowhead Park in Inlet, NY. His first book, The Fulton Chain-Early Settlement, Roads, Steamboats, Railroads and Hotels, will be available May 2017. More information is available at www.facebook.com/herrstory .




One Response

  1. Tim Rowland says:

    Great stuff. Love the ‘two tier’ phone-call system.