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.

Why the long form handwriting on paper, you ask?  “Didn’t you tell us you had borrowed a laptop?”   Well, I did say it was an old laptop.  Turns out the battery life is only two hours.  So it is best to do my drafts by hand and only transcribe a polished final version onto the computer.

You see, one thing has not changed between 1878 and now at the Thacher Camp:  we still don’t have electricity (though now it’s an act of will to be off-grid).  Our neighbors on Indian Point have electricity, but we stand firm in our desire for no modern electronics to distract us from the beauty that surrounds us.

We do have a generator.   In fact, just last week a brand new Generac was installed, but we only use it every two or three days to pump water up into tanks in the attic for our gravity-fed water system.

I think perhaps the greatest joy I get in writing this long form, is the possibly that 100 years from now my great-great-grandson might find this yellowed piece of paper in a metal box in the attic – alongside letters by George Hornell Thacher.


Related Stories

Tom is the great great grandson of the very first “summer folk” on Blue Mountain Lake. The Thacher family built the first private summer home on Thacher Island in 1867.

Tom has spent every summer of his life on Indian Point of Raquette Lake on lands purchased by his family in 1876. In researching the origins of his family’s century old, one-room cabin, Tom is discovering over 200 years of Adirondack History seen through the lens of one plot of land.

Extended versions of this article and other stories and photos can be found at Fifty Acres of Beach and Wood which chronicles tales of iconic characters of Adirondack history whose footprints have graced the shores of Indian Point.

Tom is currently fundraising to publish a book of his research. The proceeds from the book will support the Adirondack Lakes Center for the Arts. You can make a contribution to the book fund here:

3 Responses

  1. Bruce Van Deuson says:

    Tom, I wondered if you had electricity out there. We’ll be on Sixth Lake next Sunday, for labor day week. Other than the usual tomes written about the history of the places and people of the Adirondacks which can be had at Hosse’s and Old Forge Hdwre, can you give me the names of any which may not be obvious?

    The little nuggets I’ve picked out of your writings so far have added immeasurably to my understanding of Nessmuk’s relationship with your ancestors, and provided clues to other directions.

    I contacted Adirondack Almanack to ask about back issues, but I need to give them a list. Have you kept a list of issues your articles appeared in? If you have, would you be so kind as to send me that list.

    Thanks and appreciate your help,


    • Tom Thacher says:

      Hi Bruce,

      At the bottom of the bio section that shows my photo, you can click on “More Posts” and it brings you to a page with all of my articles that have been published on Adirondack Almanack.

      Thanks for reading,

  2. Larry Miller says:

    My email crashed. Can you send me an email so that I can capture your address?

Wait! Before you go:

Catch up on all your Adirondack
news, delivered weekly to your inbox