by Judy Thomson of the Garnet Lake Conservation Association
Garnet Lake, its north end in Johnsburg and its south in Thurman, is not one of the larger Adirondack lakes nor is it one of the best known. With three-quarters of the lake surrounded by “Forever Wild” state land, fewer than 50 families live on and around it, though visitors stop by for kayaking and canoeing.
In her new book, A Gem of the Adirondacks: Garnet Lake, author Candace O’Connor—whose family is one of those 50— makes the case that this lake is one of the loveliest, with its undeveloped shoreline and its view of the majestic Crane Mountain. And in his foreword, environmentalist Bill McKibben echoes that view, calling it: “Not the biggest, not the deepest, not the clearest lake that ever was. But the sweetest.”
During the 19th century, Garnet Lake was Mill Creek Pond, where campers came to fish bullheads and pickerel. Lumbermen clearcut nearby forests and floated logs down Mill Creek to the Hudson River. Then a series of dams at the north end deepened and enlarged the lake. Soon a few lakeside inns and resorts sprang up, attracting guests, and waves of buyers bought property and began building cottages.
In her book, O’Connor traces this history using archival materials, early newspaper accounts, family journals and interviews with residents, who told her remarkable stories. Jay Putnam, a boy on the old Putnam farm in the 1940s, recalled acting as a tour guide for Crane Mountain hikers – and then sprinting back down the mountain in seven-and-a-half minutes flat. Jim Mosher, a former lake resident, remembers rescuing a run-away canoe piloted by Ethel Kennedy during the 1967 White Water Derby.
The book — hard cover and lavishly illustrated in full color — also benefits from nearly 500 photos generously loaned to the project from the Adirondack Research Library of Union College, the Wild Center, photographer Bob Clark, and others. All the contemporary shots in the book were taken by longtime lake resident, Bob Manning
Today, the book is available for sale at several North Creek establishments: Hudson River Trading Co., Izzy’s Market & Deli, and H’Art Studio and Gallery. All profits go to the Garnet Lake Conservation Association (GLCA) dam fund. For more information, check the GLCA website at: https://www.garnetlake.org
Photo at top: A Gem of the Adirondacks: Garnet Lake by author Candace O’Connor. Photo provided by Judy Thomson of the Garnet Lake Conservation Association.