Posts Tagged ‘Raquette Lake’

Sunday, February 22, 2015

The Triangulation of Verplanck Colvin

Screen Shot 2015-02-16 at 4.08.49 PM“Few fully understand what the Adirondack wilderness really is. It is a mystery even to those who have crossed and recrossed it by boats along it avenues, the lakes; and on foot through its vast and silent recesses…In this remote section, filed with the most rugged mountains, where unnamed waterfalls pour in snowy tresses from the dark overhanging cliffs…the adventurous trapper or explorer must carry upon his back his blankets and heavy stock of food. Yet, though the woodsman may pass his lifetime in some of the wilderness, it is still a mystery to him.”

– Verplanck Colvin, Superintendent of the Adirondack Survey » Continue Reading.


Thursday, February 12, 2015

Raquette Lake Winter Carnival This Weekend

Cross Cut Chainsaw Competition RLThe Raquette Lake Winter Carnival will be held this weekend and will feature a snowshoe trek to Great Camp Sagamore. Ice Golf, Frying Pan Toss, a cross-cut and chainsaw competition, and more.

The event will kick off Friday night, February 13th at the Raquette Lake Fire Hall, starting at 5 pm with an all you can eat $10 Pasta Dinner to benefit the Raquette Lake Ladies Softball Team featuring assorted pastas, salad, garlic bread, and dessert (take out available). » Continue Reading.


Sunday, January 18, 2015

Early Forestry Education On Raquette Lake

Post Standard 06211915An article in the June 21, 1915, Syracuse Post-Standard was the first anyone in our family had heard of the role our property on Indian Point played in the evolution of early forestry education in the United States.

The August Forest Camp was a miniature village of 9×9 tents where approximately twelve boys and men lived while participating in morning instruction and afternoon fieldwork. The month long program included elementary forestry, zoology, botany and fungi courses taught by prominent U. S. pioneers of forestry science. An old Adirondack guide also taught a week of Woodcraft “such as a man should know who wishes to spend any length of time in the woods”. » Continue Reading.


Sunday, December 21, 2014

Adirondack Murray’s Guide Honest John

Honest john“Honest John Plumbley [sic], the prince of guides, patient as a hound, and as faithful, – a man who knows the wilderness as a farmer knows his fields, whose instinct is never at fault, whose temper is never ruffled, whose paddle is silent as falling snow, whose eye is true along the sights, whose pancakes are the wonder of the woods…”

– Rev. William H. H. Murray, Adventures in the Wilderness, 1869.

William H. H. Murray is widely credited with bringing the masses to the Adirondacks.   The historian Warder Cadbury said, “Murray quite literally popularized both wilderness and the Adirondacks.” “Murray’s Rush”, the onslaught of tourists who rushed to the mountains in response to his book, gave rise to the claim that the Adirondacks are the birthplace of the American vacation.

John Plumley* is the man who brought the Adirondacks to Murray. » Continue Reading.


Sunday, November 23, 2014

Sir John Johnson’s Escape: A Tale Retold

SJJ portait 2The legend of Sir John Johnson’s role in naming Raquette Lake has been written and re-written for more than a century.   Below is the earliest source I have found, from the 1891 Annual Report of the New York State Forest Commission.

Its name is founded on a bit of history, hitherto traditional. During the War of the Revolution, a party of Indians and British soldiers, under command of Sir John Johnson… passed through the wilderness on their way from the Mohawk Valley to Canada. It was in the winter time, and, on reaching this lake, the party was overtaken by a sudden thaw, which made further travel on snow-shoes impossible. As the Indians and soldiers did not want to carry their snow-shoes, or raquettes, as they termed them, they piled them up and covered them over, making a large heap that remained there many years. The expedition had reached the South Inlet when the thaw set in, and it was there, on a point of land, that the pile was made… Old Mr. Woods, the pioneer settler of Raquette Lake, heard this story from the Indians themselves, and often pointed out to hunters the decaying fragments of the raquettes.

Believing that “Old Mr. Woods” refers to William Wood, I was intrigued to unravel the mysteries of this folklore. Wood was known to be close friends with local Native Americans, and the passage continues with a reference to Woods “in company with ‘Honest John Plumley’, Murray’s celebrated guide”. Wood sold his land on Indian Point to Plumley in 1859. » Continue Reading.


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.


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, September 7, 2014

The Case of the Indian Arrow Etched in Stone

Screen Shot 2014-09-03 at 9.50.31 PMMy cousin Stephen Fitzpatrick showed me a mark that is chiseled into a rock just outside the front door of our family’s little red one-room cabin on Indian Point. The mark vaguely appears like an arrow but with a crosshair at the top instead of a point. Stephen applied an ink dye to the mark so it is more visible in this photo.

Stephen remembers asking his mother about the mark, and she said that her father claimed it was there when he first came to the Point in 1910.

The mark itself is intriguing, but the mystery deepened when Stephen explained that the crosshair is actually a compass rose.   The large line runs almost perfectly north-south, and the smaller line is nearly east-west.

Curiosity piqued, I firmly slapped on my amateur sleuth’s cap. » Continue Reading.


Sunday, August 24, 2014

Technology Today: A Letter from Thacher Camp

Letter from Thacher Camp Alas, the best laid plans… I am finally here at Thacher Camp on Indian Point of Raquette Lake for two weeks.  I had grand ideas of endless writing and to prepare, I had copied a treasure trove of my research files onto a 32 gigabyte flash drive and borrowed an old laptop from a friend.  Then I discovered on my arrival that the flash drive is dead.

What to do?  I began to think back to the precious few letters that I have which were written by George Hornell Thacher while sitting in the 1878 cabin, somewhere not far from this cabin in which I sit today.  He probably wrote on paper with pen or pencil under the soft glow of an oil lamp, whereas I am here with pen and paper under the pulsating glow of the Humphrey three-mantel gas chandelier that hangs above our dining table. » Continue Reading.


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