Almanack Contributor Charles Herr

Charles Herr

Since the early 1980s when Charles Herr purchased a camp in Inlet he has been interested in the history of the Fulton Chain region of the Adirondacks. He has been contributing history articles about the times and people of the Fulton Chain, covering transportation, steamboats, hotels and most importantly, the people to the Weekly Adirondack of Old Forge since November 2006.

His ambition is to uncover local and regional Fulton Chain history about people and events prior to 1930 and little covered in the histories of the region. He was the first president of the Inlet Historical Society and presents summer programs on Inlet history at the Town Hall in Arrowhead Park in Inlet, NY. His first book, The Fulton Chain-Early Settlement, Roads, Steamboats, Railroads and Hotels, will be available May 2017. More information is available at www.facebook.com/herrstory .


Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Forge House History: The Forge Company Years

1870 buuell 1897 P418 1 Map Old Forge village026In October 1895, Victor Adams assembled a group of investors together in Little Falls and secured an arrangement with Garmon and Crosby to purchase a 50% interest in the Forge Tract properties. The group’s business plan was to enlarge and improve the Forge House, to build a two-mile railroad from Fulton Chain Station to the Forge House dock and to begin development of the tract into a resort town.  They would eventually also establish a transportation company that would buy the independent public steamers on the lower four lakes.

The name of the syndicate would be The Old Forge Company, often referred to as the Old Forge Improvement Company.  In addition to Garmon, Crosby and Adams, the directors would also include Nelson R. Gilbert, J. Judson Gilbert, Homer P. Snyder and Hadley Jones.  Samuel F. Garmon was the company’s first president and Titus Sheard was a director in the new railroad company.  The company soon completed surveys of the Forge Tract, laid out the first streets named after most of these individuals in Spring 1896 and filed the first village map with the Herkimer County Clerk’s Office. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Forge House History: The Garmon And Crosby Years

1880 front porch forge houseP323AEunice B. Lamberton sold the 1,358 acre Forge Tract in 1888 for $10,000 to Dr. Alexander Crosby and Samuel Garmon.

Dr. Crosby was born in Martinsburg in 1836. He began his medical practice in 1862 and moved to Lowville in 1867.  He rapidly built up a large practice and was for many years considered one of the most skilled physicians and surgeons in the state, often called in to testify at criminal cases.  In 1875, Crosby was elected to the State Assembly, was later a Democratic Party state chairman and was on both the State Board of Charities and Lewis County pensioners’ board.  Crosby died in 1911. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Forge House History: The Country Hotel Years

1909 forge house from pond_0If any image represents early Fulton Chain history, it is the Forge House atop the elevation overlooking the pond as a king viewing his realm. When the hotel burned in 1924, prominent citizens planned to quickly rebuild it but the era of the big summer hotel had ended, replaced by smaller, shorter stay motoring hotels to cater to the automobile tourist.

Today, its location is a grassy knoll across from the Old Forge Fire Department building, down the street from the Old Forge Hardware store and behind the Forge Hotel sign.  But while the Forge House existed, the traveler was given the name of an individual there who would not fail to provide necessary comforts.  This narrative is about the hotel’s owners, and about the proprietors and managers who usually were not the owners. » 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.


Thursday, September 4, 2014

Charlie Herr: The Holls Inn Tavern Plates

1935 holls inn tavern with wedding plates PC2249In 1935, Hans and Oscar Hall, German-born brothers with extensive  European and American hotel culinary and management experience, purchased the Araho Hotel property and began a long period of home-away-home customer service lasting until shortly after 2006.  The main hotel building, which they named Holls Inn, was architecturally the same as the hotel built by Charles O’Hara in 1923 and years later would be expanded.   The Araho Hotel was located on the south shore of Fourth Lake in the town of Inlet on a tract previously owned by Astral Oil (later Standard Oil) Brooklyn millionaire Charles Pratt.  Pratt’s Camp, built in the 1870s, was among the first on the Fulton Chain. » Continue Reading.


Thursday, August 14, 2014

Alexander Lamberton:
Old Forge Pioneer And Nature Preservationist

Alexander Lamberton Medallion B 100_2137Lamberton Street, among the shorter (and newer) streets in Old Forge which  connects Park Avenue to Fulton Street at the Fire Station, is named for one of Old Forge’s earliest historical figures, Alexander Byron Lamberton.

Unknown to most Fulton Chain residents, Lamberton is usually mentioned only as the family who sold the Forge House and Tract to Dr. Alexander Crosby and Samuel Garmon in 1888.  But if you go to the popular Lamberton Conservatory at Highland Park in Rochester, you will see his image memorialized in a large bronze medallion above its entrance.  The crest to the right of the medallion contains a cross, deer head, crest and scroll.

Lamberton’s single entry in the Adirondack Mountain Club’s Adirondack Bibliography is for an 1876 article about his adventures bringing salmon fry to the John Brown Tract.  His role in Fulton Chain and Adirondack history is largely unheralded, but more important than many realize.   » Continue Reading.


Saturday, July 26, 2014

Benjamin Harrison’s 1895 Flag Speech

1895 Forge House flag raisingDuring ex-President Benjamin Harrison’s first summer stay in 1895 at Dodd’s Camp, he gave a rare public address commemorating the raising of a new 112 foot flagstaff holding an 18 x 24 foot flag.  This address, given on a rainy July 27, 1895 afternoon, was later printed in the Lowville Journal & Republican. Though the language is somewhat dated, its sentiments are just as inspirational today when we consider the struggles our diverse republic faces as a free nation.

Place yourself on the Old Forge dock facing, perhaps in the Forge Motel direction, and imagine a rainy day (not too difficult), a large flag and a former President with a long historical family tradition.  Listen as Benjamin Harrison rises to speak…Oh, an interruption as Riley Parsons gets the crowd to give a “tiger” cheer.  Then Harrison speaks, without the benefits of a wireless microphone… » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Lt. Gov. Woodruff and the Raquette Lake Railroad

adirondack news ad 1900Just when I think I have learned all of the origins and instigators for the building of the Raquette Lake Railroad during 1899, I find a new participant.

I have read of Collis Huntington’s impatience with the inefficiencies of the Fulton Chain steamers and stages from Old Forge’s transportation monopoly’s companies, his sitting on a keg of nails during a long wait.  Also,  that his wife refused to visit him at Pine Knot until this builder of the transcontinental railroad built a railroad to their camp.  Dr. William Seward Webb did plan in 1892 on a road from Clearwater to Raquette Lake.  Later, the Raquette Lake Railroad would use the two mile lumber railroad built in 1897-1898 by John Dix to Rondaxe Lake as the beginning of this road’s route.

In the Harold Hochschild private history Township 34 excerpt published by the Adirondack Museum, we learn that William West Durant determined that the Delaware & Hudson Company would not be extending his father’s line past North Creek.  This meant that Dr. Webb’s line built in 1892 would be the only railroad available to connect Raquette and Blue Mountain Lakes to major population centers.  Hochschild wrote that it was Durant who thought a railroad should be built connecting with the New York Central and that, lacking the funds to do so, Durant interested Collis Huntington in the project. » Continue Reading.


Thursday, July 10, 2014

The Old Forge Company: Defeat and Decline

P1686 Forge House  1900 or so from postcard039At the stockholders and directors meetings of the Old Forge Company held in December, 1900 at Little Falls were Dr. Alexander Crosby, Judson J. Gilbert, Homer P. Snyder and Eugene Arthur, representing 90% of the Company’s shares.  Snyder was elected vice-president and Nelson R. Gilbert was continued as treasurer, a position held since 1896.

For the first time since its founding, the Company elected a new president, Dr. Alexander Crosby, replacing Samuel Garmon, and a new secretary, Eugene A. Arthur, replacing Hadley Jones.  Eugene Arthur was appointed to handle land contracts for a salary plus expenses.  According to Charles Snyder, “the members of these companies have gotten into a row among themselves and that only one or two of them are financially capable of seeing things through.” » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, July 2, 2014

The Old Forge Company Against Collis Huntington’s RR

fulton chain rr boat adirondack news ad 1900John Pierpont Morgan owned Camp Uncas.  To reach the railroad connection for his Manhattan headquarters, he faced two options, neither to his liking.  He could race his team up Durant’s new road from Uncas, passed the Seventh-Eighth Lake Carry, reached the Sucker Brook Bay Road (now Uncas Road) and turned left for Eagle Bay to hopefully meet the scheduled Crosby Transportation Company steamer.  Then he transferred in Old Forge to the Fulton Chain Railroad terminus for the two mile spur to Fulton Chain Station.  Instead of going to Eagle Bay, he could have continued north about a mile from Eagle Bay and followed the Durant trail past Cascade Mountain to connect with the road from Big Moose Lake and meet the railroad at Big Moose Station.

Collis P. Huntington owned Pine Knot on Raquette Lake.  I do not know if he ever sat on a keg of nails on a Company steamer to Eagle Bay as some suggest, but he wrote about his experiences on the tedious series of stages, carries and small steamers necessary to travel from Fourth Lake to Brown’s Tract Inlet, crossing the road from Camp Uncas used by Morgan.

But Morgan and Huntington knew that travelers deserved a faster and cheaper way to reach the North Woods. In Huntington’s words, “It is a health resort for the rich and poor, for in these forests may be found the castle, the cabin and the tent, and the inmates of these forests share alike in the life-giving air of the  woods”. » Continue Reading.


Thursday, June 26, 2014

The Old Forge Company:
Rise Of A Transportation Monopoly

Old Forge Co Stock Cert002A quick look at an Old Forge town map reveals streets named Garmon, Crosby, Adams, Gilbert and Sheard.  These are the oldest streets in town except for Main Street (Route 28), originally an extension of the Brown’s Tract Road.

The “main drag” was briefly named Harrison Avenue for former President Benjamin Harrison, the region’s most famous camper.  But this name was dropped from the maps of the Adirondack Development Corporation in the first part of the 20th century.

Recently, the Goodsell Musuem has been permitted by the Town of Webb to reinstate “Harrison Avenue” with a sign at the corner of Gilbert and Route 28.

Except for Main Street, these streets were created by the Old Forge Company, often called the Old Forge Improvement Company.  When its Directors established building lots through the woods of the Forge Tract, they assigned these names to the streets on the first village map filed in July 1896 with the Herkimer County Clerk.  What follows is part of a history of the Old Forge Company from its inception to 1899. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Some History Of The Old Forge Dam

264d_OF_DamThe historical publications Old Forge: Gateway to the Adirondacks and The Story of a Wilderness inform us that George Deis & Son operated a large lumber mill near the Old Forge dam until 1900 when they relocated to Thendara.

Adirondack Lakes by Thomas Gates shows a picture of the Ben and Ira Parsons’ boat shop at its second location on the knoll now occupied by Water’s Edge Motel.  Their dad Riley, along with John Sprague and Theodore Seeber, built Fulton Chain steamers and guideboats at a location next to the Deis sawmill during the 1890s, then they relocated in 1902.  In 1901, the Fulton Navigation Company sued to prevent competitors’ steamers from soliciting customers and landing at their dock and train depot area in front of the Forge House.

This series of events seemed unrelated until I found articles dating from midsummer 1900 when V. K. Kellogg, the attorney for the state’s Forest, Fish & Game Commission, and Herkimer County Sheriff Daniel Strobel served notice on the owners of businesses occupying state lands adjacent to the Old Forge dam.  » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Inlet History: A Short Biography of Philo Clark Wood

5d Philo C. Wood 002In December 1899, owner Dwight B. Sperry had just completed his first season of operating his newly built Hotel Glennmore and determined to lease it.  He selected two men from Constableville, NY.

One was George B. Conant who would be the hotel proprietor.  Conant’s hotel manager would be his brother-in law, Philo Clark Wood.  For Philo, this began a career of almost fifty years of hotel management, town development and civil service to the Towns of Webb and Inlet.

Philo’s ancestors, originally from Chatham, Middlesex County, CT, moved to the Town of Turin in Lewis County, NY sometime after the 1810 Census.  Philo’s grandparents (Nathaniel and Electa Caswell Wood) and great-grandparents (Joel and Mercy Clark Wood) are buried in the Constableville Rural Cemetery (West Turin).  » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Inlet History:
The Contributions of William D. Moshier

Moshier Fam cir1902Any discussion of Inlet’s early history brings to mind the names of those who sold land, who built the hotels, and who lived in the first dwellings that later became Inlet.  We often read about Tiffany, O’Hara, Kirch, Harwood, Kenwell, Delmarsh, Hess, Boshart, and others when speaking of the pioneers who were the building blocks of the village at the “head of Fourth Lake”.

An unheralded individual often encountered when examining the history of the Fifth Lake sawmill, the Arrowhead Hotel, the death of Burt Murdock when the “Marjorie” sank and even Inlet’s Chapel of the Lakes is William D. Moshier.  Your response may be – “Who”?

» Continue Reading.


Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Fred Hess: Inlet Guide and Hotel Builder

hessphotoMuch of what we know of Fred Hess is from the books by Joseph Grady (The Story of a Wilderness) and David Beetle (Up Old Forge Way): that he was born in 1840, came to the Fulton Chain in the 1870s with his family and built three lodges, one at Cedar Island and two on the shores of Fourth Lake.  Successful as a builder and guide but a failure financially, Fred left Inlet and died years later in Augusta, Maine.

Using census data, the newspapers of his era and contemporary travel journals, I have constructed a life history of Fred Hess and his family which corrects some of the above.  The biggest surprise for me was discovering his connection by marriage to three notable pioneering families of Boonville and the Fulton Chain region: Grant, Lawrence and Meeker. » Continue Reading.