Last fall, while researching the history of Perkins Clearing and the West Canada Lake Wilderness for part four of my history on the State Land Master Plan, I came across a newspaper article published in the Fulton County Republican on February 4, 1909. The unnamed correspondent had interviewed several Adirondack trappers for the purpose of describing the solitary nature of their chosen occupation – and how their lifestyle was starting to conflict with the modernity of the twentieth century. Among the trappers he spoke with was 75-year-old Louie Seymour, called here “French Lewey.”
At the time this article was written, a profound flux in the way society perceived the Adirondack wilderness was in progress. The Adirondack Park was seventeen years old, fish and game laws were gaining teeth, and a series of devastating fires was about to convince New York State to take a more active role in the management of the region. By comparison, when these men entered the woods as youths the wilderness was considered a “no man’s land” where many of the rules of civilization didn’t always apply. Squatting was a way of life, and no one was counting the amount of venison in your pot or the trout on your line. » Continue Reading.