Many of the lakes in John Brown’s Tract had guides who took their sporting parties to their own fishing or hunting camps north and south of the Beaver River. This is how lakes like Hitchcock, Beach, and Salmon got their names.
Bill Marleau, author of Big Moose Station (1986) described the guide Hiram Burke (1839-1903) this way: » Continue Reading.
On July 8, 1874, The Lowville JournalandRepublican ran an article about a party of six men who trekked to Twitchell Lake in Big Moose, NY, for a nine-day stay. They came by horse and buggy up the Number Four Road through Watson Township from some town to the west.
After a brief stay at the Fenton House in the hamlet of Number Four and an overnight at Wardwell’s on Beaver River’s Stillwater, they crossed Twitchell Creek and tramped a mile south off the Carthage to Lake Champlain Road to Wood’s Lake: » Continue Reading.
“Melancholy Occurrence” was a fairly common expression for a tragic event in the middle of the 19th century. A search of historic newspapers revealed the phrase was used some 250 times from 1820 to 1870. Several of these were murder cases, such as the son of the Spanish Consul being stabbed through the heart with a cane sword by an angry neighbor. But most were unexpected events such as a fatal strike by lightening, a young fire victim, or a drowning.
One occurred at Twitchell Lake. In a December 3, 1856 article titled “Melancholy Occurrence,” The Lewis County Banner reported that Briggs Wightman stepped onto ice while hunting, crashed through, and drowned. Adirondack Guide named Amos Spafford (1824-1897) came out on the north shore of Twitchell Lake and observed a hat and a gun lying next to a large hole in the ice. » Continue Reading.
The Club Camp is often mentioned as the first permanent structure built on Big Moose Lake. The word permanent is rather ironic because this hunting and fishing establishment had a relatively short history of just 28 years. Today the camp’s origins, visitors, and sad end seem largely forgotten.
According to Joseph F. Grady’s The Adirondacks: Fulton Chain-Big Moose Region (1933), the Club Camp was constructed in 1878 at the request of several sportsmen from New York City who had been spending summers on the lake in previous years.
At the time, Big Moose, near Old Forge, NY, was difficult to reach — the railroad would not arrive in the area until 1892. Before 1878, only lean-tos or shanties were available on Big Moose, notably that of businessman William “Billy” Dutton, which was built in 1876, and that of guide Jack Sheppard which was set up around the same time. » Continue Reading.
Ever wonder how one of the hundreds of lakes and ponds in the Adirondack Mountains got its name? Around Brown’s Tract, there are lakes named from nature such as Loon, Beaver, Trout, Gull, Bear, and Moose. There are also a dozen or more lakes named for noted guides or people who lived in or frequented the area during the Sporting Era (1860 to 1890), including Mosier, Francis, Hitchcock, Beach, Tuttle, Thayer, Smith, Salmon, and Wood.
An Adirondack historian who knew some of the nineteenth century Beaver River and Fulton Chain guides, Joseph F. Grady, reported in his 1933 history of the Fulton Chain and Big Moose region that Twitchell Lake “derives its name from Charles Twitchell, an amateur sportsman of Lewis County, who frequented its shores in the mid-century period [the mid-1800s].”
The Twitchell Lake History Committee is working on documenting the story of Twitchell Lake in Big Moose, NY, and how it was named, with an account of the individual camps, hotels, and highlights down through the years. Twitchell Lake is 5 to 6 miles south of the old Champlain Road, now under the Stillwater Reservoir.
For over 12 years the Conables have hosted a social event at their camp on Twitchell Lake with a poetry competition, the winner receiving honors as “Poet Laureate of Twitchell Lake.” » Continue Reading.
In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, three generations of the Crego family worked as wilderness guides in the Western Adirondacks. Along the way, they raised families, worked for prominent employers, adapted to new forms of transportation, and helped lay the groundwork for the conservation movement in New York State. » Continue Reading.
In the late 19th century, the Adirondacks became a prime summer destination for sportsmen and their families who enjoyed the region’s hunting, fishing, and fresh air. By the 1880s, wealthy businessmen were building permanent camps on even the remotest lakes, including Big Moose, near Old Forge. Sometime after 1880, local guides Jack Sheppard and Richard C. Crego built a summer camp on South Bay of Big Moose Lake for F. C. Moore of New York City.
Francis Cruger Moore was born in Houston, TX in 1842. After the Civil War, he headed north to New York City, where through hard work, he became president (1889-1903) of the Continental Insurance Company.
Moore, his step-son Henry Evans, and their wives summered at Big Moose regularly. To reach the camp, Moore and his guests had to travel north to Boonville, NY, and then survive a tortuous 43-mile journey on primitive roads, a rickety wooden-railed railroad (The Peg Leg Railroad), a riverboat, and finally a guide boat across several lakes. Moore invested heavily in the main camp which stood near the present Manse of the Big Moose Community Chapel. By 1889, a second camp was built nearby for the Evanses. » Continue Reading.
The estate of author, conservationist, and former Adirondack Park Agency commissioner Anne LaBastille has donated her 32-acre “West of Wind” property on Twitchell Lake, north of Big Moose in the Western Adirondacks, according to the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC).
LaBastille, the famed writer and conservationist who died on July 1, 2011, envisioned that her land be protected to “preserve the natural, ecological, and historical integrity of my 30 acres of North Country wilderness, where writers can find inspiration in the Adirondacks.”
Anne LaBastille inspired many through her writings and work to protect wildlife and wild lands. Her autobiographical Woodswoman (1978) chronicled her journey from urban New Jersey to cabin dweller on an Adirondack lake. She lived without electricity, running water, or even a road to her 12′ by 12′ “West of Wind” cabin she built with friends and neighbors in 1964. » Continue Reading.
The wrangling over the future of the state-owned rail corridor that stretches 119 miles from Remsen to Lake Placid has proved to be one of the most contentious issues in the Adirondack Park in recent years.
The state Department of Environmental Conservation and Department of Transportation received hundreds of public comments, raising many of the same questions that have appeared in articles and comments on Adirondack Almanack.
In their final plan for the corridor, the departments summarized the comments and provided their official responses. Given the public interest in this topic, the Almanack is reprinting those comments and responses. The result is a post that is much longer than usual. Of course, you don’t have to read all the comments, but we bet some people will.
The state will allow Adirondack Scenic Railroad to run its tourist trains for just one more season on the tracks between Lake Placid and Saranac Lake, according to a final proposal by the state Department of Environmental Conservation and state Department of Transportation.
In the proposal, released last week, the departments are sticking with their original plan to remove 34 miles of track between Lake Placid and Tupper Lake – the north end of a 119-mile rail corridor owned by the state. » Continue Reading.
It comes as no surprise that the state has received hundreds of comments on its two-part proposal to (i) replace 34 miles of railroad tracks between Lake Placid and Tupper Lake with a recreational trail and (ii) rehabilitate 45 miles of tracks south of Tupper Lake to Big Moose. » Continue Reading.
Women’s History Month provides an opportunity to honor the women from the Adirondacks who have lived here, and those who have written about women who helped to preserve this special place and loved its many facets. A number of books have been published the last decade or so that chronicle the lives and stories of women who contributed to the history and culture of the Adirondacks.
“Weaving the Stories of Women’s Lives” is the theme for the 2015 National Women’s History Month. Two women ingrained into the fabric of my Adirondack life are Anne LaBastille and Barbara McMartin. » Continue Reading.
After four public meetings on the future of the eighty-mile rail corridor between Big Moose and Lake Placid, the public seems as divided as ever, and the state now must make a decision sure to leave many people unhappy.
The Department of Environmental Conservation and Department of Transportation plan to review the public comments and make a recommendation for the best use of the state-owned corridor. After the public has had a chance to weigh in on that recommendation, the departments will make a final decision. » Continue Reading.
The state Department of Transportation estimates that it would cost about $20 million to convert 70 miles of rail corridor between Big Moose and Lake Placid to a recreational trail.
Joe Hattrup says he can do it for free.
Hattrup asserts that the sale of the rails and other steel hardware would cover the costs of removing the tracks and creating a trail that could be used by snowmobilers in winter and cyclists in other seasons. The trail would have a stone-dust surface suitable for road bikes.
The Adirondack Almanack's contributors include veteran local writers, historians, naturalists, and outdoor enthusiasts from around the Adirondack region. The Almanack is the online news journal of Adirondack Explorer. Both are nonprofits supported by contributors, readers, and advertisers, and devoted to exploring, protecting, and unifying the Adirondack Park.
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