Posts Tagged ‘Adirondack Guides’

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Mitchell Sabattis, Abenaki Guide and Boatbuilder

Screen Shot 2014-10-20 at 9.17.23 PMWhen I walk the land around Matthew Beach’s original hut and William Wood’s shanty on Raquette Lake’s Indian Point, I imagine the Abenaki guide Mitchell Sabattis pulling into their landings in a canoe or guideboat made by his own hand. Indian Point was a waypoint for many a traveler boating through the Central Adirondacks.

While it is impossible to know how often Sabattis visited those acres, we have written record of at least three occasions: his trips with Joel Tyler Headley in 1844-46, accompanying C. W. Webber in 1849, and an expedition of women who explored the region in 1873 (beautifully told in Barbara McMartin’s book To the Lake of the Skies).

Sabattis guided for my great-great-grandfather George Hornell Thacher in 1862 as he explored the region from a base camp Sabattis had on Blue Mountain Lake’s Crane Point. Even if Thacher and his guide traveled to Raquette Lake however, it’s unlikely they spent a night on Indian Point.  Sabattis maintained a campsite from 1852 to 1877 on Watch Point according to Ken Hawks, who now owns the property. » Continue Reading.



Sunday, October 12, 2014

Joel Headley:
Among The First To Popularize The Adirondacks

Screen Shot 2014-10-06 at 2.45.55 PMAnd how solemn it is to move all day through a majestic colonnade of trees and feel that you are in a boundless cathedral whose organ notes swell and die away with the passing wind like some grand requiem. Still more exciting is it to lie at midnight by your camp fire and watch the moon sailing up amid the trees or listen to the cry of the loon, wild and lonely, on the wild and lonely lake, or the hoot of the owl in the deep recesses of the forest. - Joel Tyler Headley

Many have probably heard of “Adirondack Murray”, the Reverend William H. H. Murray who wrote Adventures in the Wilderness in 1869.  His book is credited with driving throngs of tourists to escape the cities for the Adirondacks in the latter quarter of the nineteenth century. However, it was Joel Tyler Headley two decades earlier who wrote the seminal book The Adirondack or Life in the Woods in 1849 that brought the first wave of wealthy sports to explore the region. » Continue Reading.



Sunday, September 28, 2014

Blue Mountain Lake’s Thacher Island Revisited

GHTSr & TomYou see me here standing where my great-great grandfather George Hornell Thacher Sr. once stood on the porch of the family lodge built in 1867 on Thacher Island on Blue Mountain Lake.   The photo is not dated but given his aged appearance (no, the guy on the left), I believe it to be from the early 1880s.

My father spoke of visiting his uncle on the island as a young boy in the 1940s.   No Thacher has had the opportunity to walk the island since then. It had always been a dream of mine to visit my family’s first summer home. A dream fulfilled thanks to the hospitality of John and Janet O’Loughlin, whose family has owned the island for over two decades. » Continue Reading.



Thursday, September 11, 2014

The Fulton Chain and Raquette Lake Steamboat Company

photo 4During the summer of 2014, on the lawn at the Goodsell Museum in Old Forge, Kyle Kristiansen, using a metal detector, discovered a metal object. Digging it up, he uncovered a buried metal luggage tag containing the intials “F.C & R.L.S.B.CO.”

These letters stand for the Fulton Chain and Raquette Lake Steamboat Company, a short-lived and relatively unknown concern established for carrying passengers and cargo from Fourth Lake to Raquette Lake in the days before automobiles connected the region.

This is a history of that company and its successors to that trade.  We will probably never discover how that item arrived on the lawn in the Town of Webb. » Continue Reading.



Sunday, July 27, 2014

The Roots Of A Classic Adirondack Guide Joke

GHT portraitDid you hear the one about the guide who took his wealthy client out trolling for lake trout? His customer paid more attention to his bottle of whiskey than his fishing line, finishing off the quart while sharing not a drop with the guide. Looking at his empty bottle, the gentleman remarked to his guide, “I am sorry not to have offered you any, but I never let my guide drink on a trip.” To which the guide retorted, “You are quite right sir; one drunk in a boat is enough.”

It is rare that one can trace a joke back to its origins, but in this case, my family is the butt of the joke. » Continue Reading.



Sunday, July 13, 2014

Forked Laked: The Capture And Death of Charles Parker

GHTLetterOur family has two large metal boxes filled with George Hornell Thacher’s handwritten letters.   We are fortunate to have three letters written from the Thacher “Camp” on Indian Point on Raquette Lake.

George Hornell Thacher’s correspondence to his son George Jr. dated August 7, 1881 is a unique piece of history.  He references a tragic affair which became the talk of the major NY newspapers

Camp, Aug. 7th, 1881
Dear George,

My health is about as usual. Nothing new here of importance except the recapture of Parker yesterday, the desperado, the man who outraged a lady on the carry between Forked and Long Lakes.  He was arrested at Lowville while fleeing to Canada and taken back to Long Lake where he got away from the constable.  Yesterday the same officer overhauled him on Forked Lake near the outlet, shot and broke his arm and recaptured him.  The lady was a sister of the wife of U.S. Senator Platt of Connecticut.  Parker was a newcomer here and took up the business of guiding.  He was guiding her to Long Lake and perpetrated the deed near Butter Milk Falls.

Father

P.S. Parker was shot through the arm and breast.  The Doctor says he will die probably before night.  The way of the transgressor is hard. 10 A.M.

The Troy Press said, “Probably no event occurring in the Adirondack region has caused as much comment and excitement as the crime that is attributed to Charles Parker.” » Continue Reading.



Monday, July 7, 2014

State Takes Rafting Company To Court Again

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe owner of Hudson River Rafting Company is scheduled to appear in State Supreme Court on Tuesday afternoon to answer accusations that he is operating his business in violation of a court order.

Assistant State Attorney General G. Nicholas Garin is asking Justice Richard Giardino to forbid Hudson River Rafting from operating whitewater trips on rivers that require licensed guides until its owner, Patrick Cunningham, replenishes a $50,000 performance bond. » Continue Reading.



Sunday, June 8, 2014

Raquette Lake in 1878

Screen Shot 2014-06-07 at 7.01.30 AMThe mysterious original cabin of the Thachers on Indian Point received numerous mentions in the newspapers of the day.  However, the earliest evidence of its existence comes from a single sentence in the text of Aber & King’s The History of Hamilton County.

Bishop Gabriels, then a priest, celebrated Mass at the Thatcher Camp on July 11, 12, 13, and 14, 1878.

It refers to Rev. Henry Gabriels who at the time was President of the St. Joseph Seminary in Troy, NY and who later became the Bishop of the Diocese of Ogdensburg, which encompasses all of the Adirondacks.   Can we simply assume that the original cabin was built in 1878, or might it have existed prior to this first reference?  After all, the family purchased the land in 1876. » Continue Reading.



Sunday, June 1, 2014

Raquette Lake’s First Settlers:
Matthew Beach and William Wood

1849-Birch-Pt-sketch“Yonder comes the boat of Woods and Beach, the two solitary dwellers of this region. It is rather a singular coincidence that the only two inhabitants of this wilderness should be named Woods and Beach. I should not wonder if the next comers should be called ‘Hemlock’ and ‘Pine’.” 

- Joel Tyler Headley, The Adirondack or Life in the Woods

Indian Point was the focal point of Raquette Lake because Beach and Wood were the center of hospitality for the earliest adventurers in the region: Ebenezer Emmons in 1840, Jon Todd in 1843, Joel Tyler Headley in 1844-1846.  Our knowledge of Beach and Wood comes from the writings of these and later visitors. » Continue Reading.



Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Fred Hess: Inlet Guide and Hotel Builder

hessphotoMuch of what we know of Fred Hess is from the books by Joseph Grady (The Story of a Wilderness) and David Beetle (Up Old Forge Way): that he was born in 1840, came to the Fulton Chain in the 1870s with his family and built three lodges, one at Cedar Island and two on the shores of Fourth Lake.  Successful as a builder and guide but a failure financially, Fred left Inlet and died years later in Augusta, Maine.

Using census data, the newspapers of his era and contemporary travel journals, I have constructed a life history of Fred Hess and his family which corrects some of the above.  The biggest surprise for me was discovering his connection by marriage to three notable pioneering families of Boonville and the Fulton Chain region: Grant, Lawrence and Meeker. » Continue Reading.



Wednesday, April 9, 2014

The Herreshoff Manor: Witness to Tragedy

P506 Herreshoff Manor 1892Photographs of the Herreshoff Manor that stood in today’s Thendara depict what could easily pass for a haunted house.  It seems that the building, which stood on an elevation of land not present today, overlooking then (1892) newly built Fulton Chain Station, would collapse with the next stiff breeze.

The story of this structure cannot be told without telling of the trials of its occupants:  Herreshoff, Foster, Waters, Grant, Arnold, Short and Sperry.  Tragedy would be the common thread among those connected with this building. » Continue Reading.



Sunday, March 9, 2014

Getting to Blue Mountain Lake in the 19th Century

1922 Marion River RRMy trip to the Adirondacks from our home in Western Massachusetts ends when I see the water of Raquette Lake’s South Bay – a three-and-a-half hour drive.  OK, my wife insists the trip is not over until we unload the car, pack the boat, traverse the lake, unload the boat and schlep everything into the cabin.  A five-hour ordeal in her mind, but serenity fills me the minute I see the water.

Be it three-and-a-half hours or five, our trip is nothing compared to the arduous travels my great-great-grandfather took to reach these shores. He had been among the very first to summer on Blue Mountain Lake, building the first private summer home on Thacher Island in 1867.

In 1862, George Hornell Thacher first traveled to the region guided by Mitchell Sabattis.  At that time, the railroad to North Creek and the stage road from North Creek to Blue Mountain Lake did not exist.  Access to Blue Mountain Lake was only from the north, down from Long Lake.  The trip from Albany took three or four days. » Continue Reading.



Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Youth Adirondack Guide Program Meeting Planned

Adirondack GuidesThe 4-H Adirondack Guide Program orientation meeting will be held on Thursday, February 6th, 2014, 6:30 p.m. at  the Cornell University Cooperative Extension Education Center, 377 Schroon River Road in Warrensburg, NY.

The 4-H Adirondack Guide Program is a unique program open to boys and girls (12-18 years old) who would like to explore, in depth, natural resource related topics.  The program gives teenagers an opportunity to gain knowledge in the biological sciences, and develop outdoor leadership skills. Activities include field trips and classes, canoe and camping trips, and community service projects. Topics taught include map and compass reading; canoeing; tree and wildlife identification; camping safety and survival skills; first aid training; and environmental career exploration. » Continue Reading.



Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Fulton Chain Steamers 101: Beginnings 1876-1895

Steamer Clearwater Fulton ChainMuch has been written of the steamers that operated on the Fulton Chain from Old Forge to the “head” of Fourth Lake. Regional histories describe the first steamboats introduced as well as those of the Fulton Navigation Company’s service at the beginning of the 20th century.  After examining the newspapers covering early happenings in the region, I learned more about early public passenger and freight steamers.

Having covered the pickle boats and mail boats in other articles, they will not be included here.  This work will be confined to only the steamers catering to passenger and cargo transport on the lower Chain lakes.  I am going to divide this discussion into three parts: Beginnings, the Crosby Transportation Company years and the Fulton Navigation Company years.  This narrative covers the first period. » Continue Reading.



Wednesday, December 18, 2013

1878: The Vice President and the First Lady Go Fishing

3a22497rNews in 1878 that Vice President William Almon Wheeler of Malone, a recent widower, would be taking First Lady Lucy Hayes fishing in the Adirondacks without her husband, gave New Yorkers something else to talk about besides President Rutherford B.  Hayes’s latest feud with New York’s U.S. Senator Roscoe Conkling.

Wheeler had been disappearing into the Adirondacks to fish since he was a poor boy growing up in Malone, the county seat for Franklin County, located on the Canadian border. By the time he became a lawyer, state legislator, bank executive and railroad president, his annual fishing trips became newsworthy. As early as 1864, newspapers reported that Wheeler was heading into “the South Woods” or “the great Southern Wilderness” with a group of his political and business friends for a week of fishing. » Continue Reading.



Monday, December 16, 2013

Hudson River Rafting Owner Fined $25,000

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe owner of Hudson River Rafting Company has been fined $25,000 for sending customers on whitewater trips without a licensed guide—violating a court order just a few days after reopening his business following earlier legal troubles.

Supreme Court Justice Richard Giardino found Pat Cunningham, owner of the North Creek business, guilty of contempt of court, in a decision dated December 3.

Hudson River Rafting sent customers on trips with an unlicensed guide at least five times in July and August. In each instance, the guide put in the river at railroad tracks near the hamlet of North River. The rapids there are not as big as in the Hudson Gorge, but the first part of the trip takes place on a stretch of river where state law requires companies to provide licensed guides.

» Continue Reading.



Thursday, December 5, 2013

ESF Students Have Their Own Ideas For Essex Chain

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe Adirondack Park Agency is weighing seven options for the classification of the 17,320-acre Essex Chain Tract. Perhaps they should consider an eighth.

Three college students have studied the various issues pertaining to classification and come up with their own recommendation: designate the tract Wild Forest with special restrictions.

The students—Azaria Bower, Kayla Bartheleme, and Erin Ulcickas—collaborated on the project this fall during their semester at the Newcomb campus of the State University College of Environmental Science and Forestry. » Continue Reading.



Thursday, October 31, 2013

The Story of Two Graves: Nat Foster and Peter Waters

peter waters by bridge DSCF0717In January 2010, the Weekly Adirondack reported that the St. Regis Mohawk nation agreed to be a “consulting party” for the East Side Pumping Station project, a station to be built along the Moose River behind the American Legion building in Old Forge. The tribe was contacted because a member was buried in the proximity, on the opposite side of the river, about one hundred eighty years earlier. That person, Peter Waters (a.k.a. Drid), was shot fatally by Nathaniel Foster, Jr. on September 17, 1833 at a location known alternately as Murderer’s Point or Indian Point, where the channel from Old Forge meets First Lake.

Less than twenty years (1850) afterwards, the events preceding the shooting and its aftermath were described in great detail, including trial testimony, by Jeptha Simms in Trappers of New York, which remains the primary source for that part of John Brown’s Tract history today. While the events surrounding the shooting have become a part of history and folklore, influenced by changing attitudes about Foster and toward Native Americans, another parallel story can be told about the graves of these two men. The remains of the two men who were opposing forces when alive, shared unsettled treatment after their burial. » Continue Reading.



Wednesday, October 16, 2013

The Correction: Two Sides of Prison Life

Martha Joe Russell YusefJoe Hackett has spent time in prison. Yes, the well known local guide, columnist, and scout for Seventh Avenue has spent years in jail, not as a inmate, but as a recreation coordinator at Camp Gabriels, a former New York State Minimum Security prison shuttered a few years ago by the state.

Once a tuberculosis sanatorium, the 92-acre facility was sold to the state in 1982, which operated it as a 336 bed-prison until 2009. There many of the prisoners worked on forestry and community service-related, projects, yet not-withstanding, it was prison far, far from home and family for the men housed there. For them the “Dacks” was a cold, hostile and distant place.

The prison was built, as were most in the North Country, as an outcome of the ‘War of Drugs’ and in particular Rockefeller Drugs laws that resulted in mass incarceration and a resultant building boom here because most urban and suburban voters did not want prisons located in ‘their back yards.’ Under the leadership of the late Senator Ron Stafford, such projects were welcomed for the many solid salaries they offered and, as a result, New York Corrections is the largest employer in the North Country.

» Continue Reading.



Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Diane Chase: Visiting Long Lake’s Steamboat Buttercup

Steamboat ButtercupI have found that being a parent is akin to being a magician. I am always trying to keep one step ahead of my audience and want to keep the show as interesting as possible. Since history surrounds us in the Adirondacks, it isn’t always the traditional locations like museums where I am able to best demonstrate an issue. The stories behind the Great Camps, the people that built neighboring towns and the industries that help shape the Adirondacks are all various ways that I’ve tried to relate my children to a sense of place.

On a recent trip to Long Lake, I took my kids to the back lot behind the Long Lake Town Hall, near the Archives Building. Though from the road the wired cage looks like nothing special, on closer inspection it houses the remains of the steamboat Buttercup. Though the steamboat itself may not have special historic significance, its story indicates a time when average people took matters into their own hands in hopes of stopping the industrial revolution. » Continue Reading.



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