Thursday, May 4, 2023

Will Martin’s 1902 Tragedy


old black and white photo of men posing

Photograph of a group of guides and sports posing with deer heads. Back row: 2. Henry Smith, 5. George Lyon, 7. John or Ed Roark; Seated: 2. Ben Muncil. Photograph by Charles Derby. Photo credit: Paul Smith’s College Joan Weill Adirondack Library Archives

By Richard E. Tucker

On Sunday morning, 2 February 1902, when Will Martin and Ed Rork set out from McColloms to check their trapline, it was just a regular winter day.  So far as they knew, they were going to check their traps laid at various places between McColloms and Madawaska.  They would eat dinner at the Madawaska House with their fellow guide and friend Jimmy Eccles at the New York & Ottawa train stop of the same name situated near the outlet of Madawaska Pond and return to McColloms around dark.  This was not unusual.  They had done it many times before.

The weather that morning offered no clues as to what was about to happen.  Yes, the barometer had been falling, and yes, it was snowing lightly, winds were calm, but this was nothing unusual for this time of year.  Temperatures had been warm for the week prior and were still hovering around freezing.  The snowpack was thin and moist.  Travel would be fast and easy along the trail through the woods between McColloms and Madawaska.

What they did not know and could not have known is that the Weather Bureau had been issuing warnings of an approaching severe winter storm.  Their report was carried in The Watertown Times, but clearly the hotel/resort in McColloms where they were living had not yet received this issue of the Times, or even if it had, more certainly, neither Martin nor Rork had read it, otherwise they might never have set out to inspect their trapline on that Sunday morning.

As it was, when they started, it was snowing very lightly as it had been since mid-day the day before.  In the light winds the warm snow was sticking to everything on which it fell, creating a “transcendentally beautiful robe” of white.  In other words, it was a beautiful day in early February, seemingly a good day to check their trapline.

They made quick work of it, arriving at Madawaska well in time for Jimmy Eccles at the Madawaska House to make them a fine dinner and to catch up on the local news.  They left Madawaska thinking they had plenty of time to walk back to McColloms.

By evening Sunday, 2 February, even without a ‘weather report’, it was clear to everyone at McColloms that a major winter storm was under way.  They began wondering the whereabouts of Messrs Martin and Rork.  Where were they?

When they did not arrive back at McColloms as expected, even though a snowstorm was underway, it was still not considered a big deal.  They were experienced woodsman, guides even, who had made this walk many times before.  No one was particularly worried.  They had surely taken shelter in one of the crude cabins kept along the trail between McColloms and Madawaska, or perhaps they had even decided to stay at the Madawaska House—they would show up on Monday.

For his part, at Madawaska, Jimmy Eccles could only assume that that they would arrive safely at home in McColloms.

The route taken by Rork and Martin is the trail at the bottom of the map crossing Rice Lake across the road from McColloms, circling around the south side of Rice Mountain before heading north and then west to Madawaska, avoiding the wettest areas of Quebec Brook.  Madawaska House is one of the buildings at the end of the road on the west side of Madawaska Pond.

The route taken by Rork and Martin is the trail at the bottom of the map crossing Rice Lake across the road from McColloms, circling around the south side of Rice Mountain before heading north and then west to Madawaska, avoiding the wettest areas of Quebec Brook. Madawaska House is one of the buildings at the end of the road on the west side of Madawaska Pond. Historical Topographic Map Collection

Background information as of early February 1902:  It had been an easy winter so far.  With no huge snowstorms, the snowpack was still thin.  Travel through the woods was easy, especially on a well-used trail.  Nonetheless, experienced woodsmen, Martin and Rork had brought their snowshoes, even if they were not wearing them.  They knew Mother Nature to be a fickle master—they were prepared for whatever she threw at them.

What Rork and Martin came to realize very soon after leaving Madawaska House is that while dining with Mr. Eccles a winter storm had set in.  Snow was coming down harder, the wind was picking up and the temperature was dropping; it was already around 20 F.  The snowfall, now cold and dry, and blown by the wind was swirling in their faces.  Nonetheless, they kept heading for home at McColloms.

As pleasant a day as it had been while checking their traps along the way toward Madawaska, going back to McColloms was a completely different thing.  The duo gradually came to realize they were in a different situation.  Snowfall and falling temperatures were not the problem.  It was the wind.

It was blowing a gale, even in the woods.  The new snow gradually became deep enough especially where drifts had piled up.  They donned their snowshoes.  The wind continued to get worse and worse.  Visibility was approaching nil.  It got worse as sunset approached.  They had an increasingly difficult time following the trail which otherwise would have been obvious.

They realized they had to hurry if they wanted to get back to McColloms before it got even worse.  They tried to hurry, but the snow was building up, getting deeper seemingly by the minute, and they could only go so fast.  Swirling snow was blinding and in the diminishing daylight it became very difficult to stay on what was normally an obvious path.  Besides that, they were getting tired.

At some point, Ed Rork became ill with cramps.  We do not know if these were leg cramps from the exertion of hurrying through the deep snow or whether he was afflicted with a gastrointestinal problem.  What is clear is he slowed down dramatically due to either one or the other.  They were moving slower and slower and the storm was getting worse and worse . . .

mccolloms to madawaska map

National Geographic/Trails Illustrated topographic map, Adirondack Park–Saranac/Paul Smiths, Map #746, 1:75,000, revised 2013. It gives a modern overview of the area.

 By Monday morning they had not shown up at McColloms.

And by Monday morning, newspapers all around the state were reporting the ferocious snowstorm.  So much snow had fallen so quickly and with such drifting that not only were all roads and highways snowed-in making travel by road impassible by stagecoach or otherwise, but even the railroads were paralyzed.  Despite their valiant efforts, the railroads had been unable to keep their tracks clear.  The US mail remained stuck on railroad mail cars in-station, undelivered.

Indeed, several papers around the state reported rail workers killed while working the switchyards because the winds and swirling snow blinded them to approaching trains.  This snowed-in situation continued into Tuesday when most railroads gradually began resuming service, and at least a few roads and highways were beginning to be passable once again.  Some places remained snowed-in until Wednesday.

Elizabethtown, Essex County, reported 14 inches of new snow by Sunday morning and by Monday morning, some 20 inches had fallen ‘on the level’ without accounting for drifting.

By this time (Sunday noon), newspapers later reported that the wind had begun to make itself felt, and the snow in a short time was piled many feet deep making it impossible for the Lake Placid stage to make its regular daily trip.  Mails were late, and it is reported that no trains were able to make their way from the north until Monday night.  The storm, though expected by many, will inconvenience the local lumbermen and farmers in hauling logs, wood, etc.. whether by road or rail.

Massena, St. Lawrence County, reported the worst storm of the season:  Snow began falling early Sunday and toward night the wind began to blow a gale and kept it up until Monday night.  While probably not much more than a foot of snow fell in this section, yet the wind piled it up in drifts many feet deep.  Crossroads were blocked and they were not broken out until Tuesday.  Dairies were shut down—they had no milk to process; farmers could not deliver their milk until Tuesday.

Railroads were most affected.  The train due to leave Massena at 6:15 am did not get away until nearly nine o’clock and was three hours late arrival at Watertown.  The train due to leave here at 10:45 got away about noon and the 3:00 o’clock train got away about on time.  No trains on either the Grand Trunk or New York Central arrived until about five o’clock Tuesday morning.  Snowplows were busy day and night trying to keep the rail tracks clear for traffic.

An extra freight got stuck in the snow near Massena Sunday night about eight o’clock and remained there until two o’clock Monday morning.  In the village the snowplows and a gang of men worked faithfully all day Monday and were not able to get all the walks cleared, and not until Tuesday noon were all the walks passable.

Malone, Franklin County, reported “No storm in recent years in northern New York has reached such serious proportions as the one now prevailing.  It commenced at noon on Sunday and in less than eight hours three feet of snow had fallen.  For the last ten hours the wind has been blowing a gale.  The New York Central train from Utica is five hours late and similar conditions exist on the Rutland railroad.  In the country no one attempts to stir out.”

Yet, by Tuesday, Rork and Martin were still out, lost somewhere in the storm.

They had not yet appeared at McColloms.  They were very late, at least by a day, a long time during a major winter storm.

Initial newspaper reports about these two guides being lost during the storm began to appear on Wednesday, 5 February 1902.  These reports were sketchy at best and details varied from newspaper to newspaper.  The only certain fact amongst these initial reports was that Will Martin, an Adirondack guide, of the Town of Brighton, had frozen to death during the blizzard of Sunday and Monday, on a walk that would normally have been ‘all in a day’s work’.

A few newspaper reports presented enough details to put a story together (Author’s note:  What follows in italics paraphrases several newspaper reports):  “Will Martin, a well-known Adirondack guide, had lost his life in the fierce blizzard which raged through this section Sunday and Monday (2-3 Feb 1902)(Author’s note:  This was not the even biggest storm that occurred in this region in February 1902.  Two weeks later, a far worse blizzard occurred on 16-18 Feb 1902, followed only a week later by yet another of equal size.)  In the company of his friend and fellow guide, Edward Rork, Martin had started from McCollom’s Sunday morning to go to Madawaska, on the far side of Madawaska Flow, a distance of only 5 or 6 miles, intending to return on Monday, while attending to their trapline on the way.  After nearly reaching their destination, these reports suggested that Rork was taken seriously ill and the two men took shelter in an old camp nearby, thinking perhaps Rork would feel better after a rest.  Instead, his condition became worse, and Martin started back for McCollum’s during the blinding snowstorm to get aid for his companion.”

By early Tuesday, 4 February, Clarence McArthur, the proprietor of McCollom’s, feared the worst and set out to look for them with one other.  After passing by Martin’s snowshoes on Rice Lake, they followed his track and they quickly came upon Mr. Rork in the woods very near Rice Lake in a mental funk, trying to work his way home through snow three feet deep, but greatly exhausted and with feet and hands badly frostbitten.

McArthur made it his mission to bring Rork back to McColloms as quickly as possible to thaw out his hands and feet.

On their way back across Rice Lake, they came upon the lifeless form of Martin almost completely covered with snow with the exception of one mitten and a part of his leg and boot.  But for this chance sighting, Martin’s body might never have been found.

McArthur realizing that this was an ‘unattended death scene’ left Martin’s body ‘as is’, untouched and undisturbed, knowing that the coroner would want to see it for himself.  He knew he had to notify Dr. George H. Oliver, the Franklin County coroner, of this discovery before disturbing it.

Upon arriving back at McColloms with Mr. Rork, McArthur wired a telegram to Dr. Oliver in Malone detailing the situation and the scene he had discovered on Rice Lake.  He told Dr. Oliver that McColloms was snowed in and that it would probably be two or three days before the roads would be open again.  Unlike the Madawaska House, his hotel/resort was not yet equipped with telephone service so all of his communications with the rest of the world were by telegram.

Dr. Oliver responded in kind by wire with instructions to remove the body from the snow, and that he would visit McColloms “as soon as possible”.  He also provided medical guidance to Mr. McArthur on how best to treat Mr. Rork’s frostbite.

Two days later, The Malone Palladium published McArthur’s telegram verbatim for all its readers.  This eye-witness report of Martin’s death was big news.  It made the severity of the recent snowstorm quite more personal.  One can only surmise from this that many readers of The Palladium would somehow know who Will Martin and Ed Rork were.

Over the next few days, as the world restored itself to normal from the recent snowstorm, the trains began running once again, mail was again delivered, the roads and highways gradually became passable.  And after receiving clearance from Dr. Oliver, Clarence McArthur had his people recover Will Martin’s body from Rice Pond.  In the meantime, McArthur or others notified Martin’s people of his unfortunate demise during the storm.

In the meantime, once word got out, other newspapers anxious to add the story of Will Martin’s death to the storm’s death toll began using rumor and hearsay to make up their stories to fill their column space.

While some suggest that neither Rork nor Martin ever got to Madawaska at all, they speculated all kinds of other things to create their story.  They supposed that Martin, in trying to get back to McColloms, to seek rescue of his friend Rork, wandered around blindly and became exhausted and laid down to rest, but under the sad condition, froze to death.  It turns out that these early newspaper articles of this harrowing struggle in the blizzard published across the state and beyond had gotten much of the story quite wrong.

We know that both got to Madawaska and had dinner with Jimmy Eccles because Jimmy later told them so.  He also told them that they both left Madawaska around 4:30 pm on Sunday.

Martin had not wandered about blindly.  He never lost the trail.  He had not abandoned his friend Ed Rork—it had been their mutual agreement to separate.  He was going for help and he was planning to return with others to save his friend.

Man holding a deer head

A photo of Ed Rork in Martin Podskoch’s fire tower book, Adirondack Fire Towers, Their History and Lore: The Northern Districts, p. 265.

What really happened

Here is what really happened, as pieced together by The Malone Farmer over the next week or so and was featured in a frontpage article on 12 February 1902:

The sad death of William Martin, an Adirondack guide, near C.A. McArthur’s hotel at McColloms in the Town of Brighton during the storm last week has cast a gloom over this entire section.  Since the first reports were printed much additional information has been received which prove the heroic struggle which Martin made to bring assistance to his companion, who was ill.  It appears that Martin and Edward Rork left McArthur’s Sunday morning to look after a set of traps that Martin had on the St. Regis River.  They had dinner at the hotel on Madawaska, formerly conducted by W.J. Alfred, and started back about 4:30 in the afternoon.  Ordinarily they would have covered the distance, six miles, in a short time, but the walking was hard, and the wind kept the air so full of snow that traveling was exceedingly difficult.

They abandoned an open trail through a clearing for one through the woods hoping to escape the storm’s fury somewhat.  Darkness came on quickly and only by striking matches could the blazed trees along the trail be followed.  To add to their troubles Rork was taken with cramps and found it impossible to proceed further.  Martin volunteered to push on to McArthur’s and return with assistance, Rork agreeing to remain behind at that point.

The details of Martin’s struggle the balance of that fearful night will never be known, but that he made a great fight and kept unerringly to the trail has been learned by friends who have since been over the ground.  The snow was deep and light, his snowshoes sinking in nearly a foot at every step, which hampered him greatly, for every thong was broken and he had taken off his suspenders with which he had tried to keep them in place, but finally abandoned it and stood them up together in the snow at the side of the trail.  Then he pushed on, though evidently greatly exhausted, for places were found where he sat down to rest and his steps grew shorter toward the last.  He succeeded in reaching Rice Pond, only 80 rods from the house, when the last particle of strength was exhausted, for here his body was found on the ice frozen stiff and almost completely buried in snow.  Each boot was covered with an accumulation of ice and snow as large as a pail which indicates how extremely difficult the traveling must have been.  Martin had over fifty dollars on his person and a Colt’s revolver, with three chambers empty—possibly discharged in the hope of attracting attention.

Unaware of any of this, Mr. McArthur sat up late Sunday night thinking the men would come in but finally concluded they had stopped at an old camp occasionally used.  Monday, he wired St. Regis Falls requesting a telephone message be sent to Madawaska inquiring when the guides had left.  Still thinking that they would come in during that day no great uneasiness was felt, though towards nightfall some effort had been made to find them.

On Tuesday morning Mr. McArthur and one or two others had become thoroughly aroused and started out on a search.  It was not long before they met Rork slowly working his way in.  He called to them to know where Martin was and when told that he had not been seen became at once delirious and is still in such a serious condition that he has not been able to give scarcely any account of his experience.  Both his feet were frozen half-way to the ankles but have been well cared for, Dr. Oliver directing by telephone the necessary treatment, not being able to reach there for two or three days because of the storm but hopes to save them.

From Sunday night until Tuesday forenoon Rork never closed his eyes and kept constantly in motion, running around a tree to keep warm, knowing that if he lay down it meant certain death.  When found, his legs were dreadfully swollen from which he suffered severely until after his feet became frozen and numb, then the pain seemed to leave him and he started for home.

Both of these men were sturdy, energetic, and well-trained woodsmen and had not all their matches had been used up trying to follow the trail before they were aware of it, they would have built a fire when Rork was compelled to stop and waited for daylight.

Post-death circumstances:

William E. Martin, the long-widowed father of the deceased, residing at Providence, R.I., came to the funeral services in response to a message wired to him.  Newspapers mention one brother, but leave him nameless.

Weeks later, we learn this brother was Will’s youngest brother, Alexander, who lived in Seneca Falls, NY.  Alex had written a heart-felt thank you letter to The Adirondack News in St. Regis Falls acknowledging prompt processing of Will’s life insurance check from the Modern Woodmen of America.

In his obituary, Martin, was said to have been well known in Malone and that he had enlisted in the 203rd Regiment, Infantry, New York Volunteers where he served as a cook for Company M while at Camp Black, Long Island.  This article fails to say that he served in that capacity for most of his service, not only at Camp Black, but also at Camp Wetherill in South Carolina until he was mustered out with the rest of his company on 25 March 1899.

He carried $2000 in life insurance:  $1,000 in the Foresters’ Lodge in Santa Clara and $1,000 with the Modern Woodmen of America in St. Regis Falls.  His brother, Alexander Martin, placed a heart-felt thank you letter in the St. Regis Falls newspaper addressed to the Modern Woodmen of America for their promptness in processing the life insurance cheque.

He was only 42 years of age and was well known by the local hunters in this vicinity.

Additional insights

While the abovementioned newspaper article of 12 Feb 1902 probably made sense to its readers in 1902, it now seems necessary to provide clarification for at least some of what it says:

Re. Mr. Martin’s trapline on the St. Regis River:  While this is true when looking at the big picture considering the whole of the St. Regis River drainage, it is quite more precise to suggest that at least some of his traps were more precisely situated on Quebec Brook, a tributary of the St. Regis River, upstream of Madawaska Pond, which is not really a pond, but an impoundment created by a dam on Quebec Brook.

Re. Madawaska Station:  In 1902 this was a train stop on the New York & Ottawa RR near the outlet of Madawaska Pond.  This train stop probably did not exist before 1893 even though the railroad had been running through this area since about 1886.  Kudish suggests that the station was established somewhere between 1893 and 1896.  From contemporary newspaper articles, we know that W.J. Alfred established his ‘hotel’ there in June of 1895 to take advantage of the train stop to bring clients to his new establishment which he intended as a new hunting and fishing lodge in this area.

Re. Jimmy Eccles:  We know that shortly after establishing his Madawaska House at the Madawaska train stop, he (Alfred) hired Jimmy Eccles, a well-known, reliable Adirondack guide to run and manage it for him.

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Richard Tucker was born and raised on a potato farm in Gabriels, NY. He has had a life-long focus on the history of the Adirondacks and the potato industry in northern New York. He is senior editor of "The Adirondack Chronology" and the progenitor and author of "A Potato Chronology" and "A Potato Glossary", each published online. For several years, he was chair of the Adirondack Research Library, now of Union College. His writing has appeared in American Alpine Journal, Canadian Alpine Journal, Journal of the New England Ski Museum, Adirondack Life, Adirondack Explorer, Adirondack Almanack among others. His research on various topics has appeared in the published works of many others.

9 Responses

  1. Boreas says:

    A sad tale! Thanks for posting!

  2. JBF says:

    Richard, thanks for taking the time to research and document this. It is very much appreciated.

  3. Carol T. Marks says:

    What interesting history!!! My husband logged the Fischer property and now state forest in the area of Stillwater,and Number 4. Although he has passed away, I remember the tales of cutting timber and hauling to Tupper Lake. I know he would enjoy reading your article. I can just feel the coldness and snow that the two men experienced.Thank you for sharing.

  4. gail huntley says:

    Thanks for posting this wonderful article. So sad, It shows that no matter how skilled one is, Adirondack blizzards are definitely in charge. Well written. Could not stop reading and wanted more. Wonder what ever happened to Ed Rork and if he continued trapping.

    • Richard Tucker says:

      Funny you ask. Only yesterday, while researching something else, I inadvertently discovered that the guide, Ed Rork, somehow ended up at Royal Victoria Hospital in Montreal for treatment of the severe frostbite to his feet. Details are unknown, but it would seem that the doctors there saved his feet which were being considered for amputation, something which would surely have ended his guiding career and made a lot of other things in his life quite more difficult. Kudos go to the doctors in Montreal who would seem to have saved his feet. Now, to answer your question: I am not sure that Ed Rork was all that much of a trapper. Details are lacking, but I think he was merely accompanying his friend Will Martin, who was a trapper and fellow guide on that fateful day which in the beginning seemed like a nice day to spend in the woods. Anyway, after recovering from his frostbitten feet, Ed Rork was able to continue his work as an Adirondack guide taking ‘sports’ from the city into the woods hunting and fishing during the seasons. In 1926, he was chosen by Phelps Smith at the Paul Smith’s Hotel to be the chief fishing guide for President Coolidge during the summer of 1926 when the president was at White Pine Camp. I am presently working on the story of how that worked out . . .

  5. Jay says:

    Good article, giving moderns some idea of what an average “workday” entailed and the seriousness of hazards along the way. Glad to see you are still consolidating historical accounts of the Adirondacks, Richard! If you’re ever passing through our neck of the woods, drop by.

  6. Terry Castagnier says:

    After reading this article I believe you may have more info about the madawaska flow area . I am the owner of 37 acres on the south side of rice Mountain , on the flow. My uncle had this property in the family for many years . I am trying to find any information on the history of the camp known as The fox farm .Any help would be very much appreciated . Thank you.

    • Richard E. Tucker says:

      You must be referring to the Hogle Fox Farm near McColloms.

      It was established in 1920 by Edwin E. and Hollis Hogle at a site on the east side of the highway about a mile north of McColloms. They began building facilities to house foxes in the spring and by late fall they were ready for the foxes. At that time, Prince Edward Island, Canada, where the fox farming industry originated, was the place to buy breeding stock by those getting into the business. Foxes bred and raised on PEI were considered the best of their kind. In early November Edwin drove to Prince Edward Island, Canada, to pick up eight breeding pairs of silver black foxes. These sixteen foxes cost him $20,000 from which he expected to recoup all of his expenses fairly quickly.

      Nearly three years later, the Hogles had bred and raised enough foxes to offer fox pelts for sale. This was alleged to be the first sale of its kind in the North Country. Local newspapers raved about the quality of the furs and the exhorbitant prices expected to be offered for his fur. It was anticipated that each of the forty-five pelts being offered for sale would draw around $500 for a total of some $20,000.

      The Hogles invited several furriers to the farm to look over his operation and especially his fur, but it turns out that Mr. Jaeckel of the firm A. Jaeckel & Co. of New York, extensive furriers, had an inside edge. Jaeckel and a party of four friends visited the Hogle Fox Farm a week prior to the sale to look at the foxes and be entertained there by the Hogle brothers. While there it seems Mr. Jaeckel and the Hogles had completed arrangements for the purchase of the pelts of 45 selected silver black foxes being culled from his breeding stock and made a down payment of $10,000 with the remainder to be paid after appraisal by Jaeckel’s fox fur expert in NYC.

      When it was all said and done, the Hogles netted only $11,100 for the 45 fox pelts. The newspapers had over-hyped the value of the fox pelts. But even so, it was a decent early return on his investment.

      The Hogle Fox Farm, a.k.a. Hogle Silver Fox Farms, went on to become well known for its breeding stock (its main source of income) as well as its fur.
      At some point, Edwin bought the interest of his brother Hollis and ran the business alone till his death in 1930.

      During the 1920s, Edwin built a ‘commodious’ camp in Duane where he took refuge from his businesses and the hub-bub of Malone. He was a gregarious guy and loved to entertain his friends and business acquaintances. He often held gatherings at his camp in Duane and at the fur farm in McColloms. Being the businessman that he was, one can only imagine that these events were used to plant seeds for future business opportunities. There is nothing like face-to-face-time to acquire future customers and more sales with old customers.

      That is what I know about the fur farm in McColloms. I have not discovered what happened to the farm after his death in November 1930. I hope this helps answer your question.

    • Richard E. Tucker says:

      After posting the previous story about Hogle Fox Farm, niggling doubts began creeping into my mind. There was a problem. Hogle Fox Farm was in the wrong place, it was not on the south side of Rice Mountain or somewhere on Madawaska Flow/Quebec Brook as indicated by Mr. Castagnier. I began to realize there must have been another fox farm somewhere on the south side of Rice Mountain.
      The only thing I knew about the south side of Rice Mountain was that Jimmy Eccles had established a crude hunting camp there as an outpost of his hunting and fishing lodge, Camp Madawaska, near the New York & Ottawa train stop on Madawaska Flow. Deer hunting was particularly good on and around Rice Mountain, and many of his hunting clients liked to use his shanty there to hunt deer. It was an easy three-mile walk to get there.
      While researching the Will Martin tragedy, I had accumulated considerable information about Mr. Eccles, but nothing saying that he had ever taken up fox farming. Nonetheless, it was clear that he could have. In addition to his hunting, fishing and trapping skills, even as a young man, he had acquired a reputation as a very good taxidermist. One can imagine that could have tried raising foxes for their fur or for taxidermy to make extra money. I checked all my sources of information but discovered nothing saying that he ever raised foxes. Still . . . , something in the back of my mind was telling me that I had read something somewhere connecting him to foxes . . .
      Finally, I rediscovered where it said Mr. Eccles did indeed take up fox farming. It wasn’t something he had ever wanted to do. He was forced into it in March 1937 when the New York & Ottawa Railroad ceased operation and abandoned its trackage through Madawaska, effectively putting him out of business on the Flow. Without the railroad, Madawaska was simply too hard to get to.
      Not much is known about his fox farming operation. Here is what is known: When it became clear to Mr. Eccles that his time at Madawaska was over, he established his small fox farm on the east side of Madawaska Pond, probably where his hunting shanty was situated on the south side of Rice Mountain. This was not far from McColloms and was relatively easy to get to via an old woods road.
      Unlike the Hogles, Eccles was not in the business of selling mating pairs of foxes or fox pelts. He stuck with what he knew: hunting and trapping. His new business was to raise foxes, collect their urine, and sell it to hunters and trappers as an attractant or lure and as a scent-blocker. In the hunting and trapping world, fox urine is well-known for its pungent aroma. It is used to mask the odor of humans and their cosmetics from their prey. It is commonly applied to footwear, gloves, and other exterior surfaces so as to become invisible to the noses of prey.
      Source: “Fox farms,” and “Madawaska,” in Place Names of Franklin County, New York, by Kelsie B. Harder and Carol Paiement Poole, TEACH Services, Inc., Brushton, NY, 2008, ISBN-13: 978-1572585188, pp. 121, 192, 377.

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