Posts Tagged ‘Fulton Chain’

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.


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.


Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Charlie Herr: The Founding Of The Town of Webb

1895 County MapOn a recent election day, I was reminded of the Supreme Court’s historic decision that determined the 2000 Presidential election and of the importance of every vote cast.  I learned of another close election while researching the building of the Sucker Brook Bay Road (now Uncas Road).  I also discovered why the building of the segment from Eagle Bay to Old Forge took five years while Sucker Brook Bay Road was completed within two.

Examining this delay revealed that a court ultimately approved the handling of highway contracts.  I also learned that a judge determined who would be the first supervisor for the new Town of Webb and that the decision was based on improperly completed ballots. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Charlie Herr: A History of the Uncas Roads

1896 8th lake eugene scrafford camp 2_0 aIn the off year election of 1918, New York voters elected a new governor (Al Smith) who later became the first Roman Catholic and Irish-American to run for President.  In that same election, voters also approved a constitutional amendment to the “forever wild” Article VII (rewritten as Article XIV in 1938) permitting the construction of a state highway on forest preserve lands from Saranac Lake to Old Forge by way of Blue Mountain and Raquette Lakes.  Until this highway was built, the road from Inlet to the north ended at Seventh Lake.

When the segment from Seventh Lake to Raquette Lake was completed in 1929, it became the route of choice to Raquette Lake from Eagle Bay, replacing what today begins at that place as Uncas Road and ends as Browns Tract Road ending at Antlers Road at Raquette Lake.  Its name changes at Browns Tract Ponds. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, April 9, 2014

The Herreshoff Manor: Witness to Tragedy

P506 Herreshoff Manor 1892Photographs of the Herreshoff Manor that stood in today’s Thendara depict what could easily pass for a haunted house.  It seems that the building, which stood on an elevation of land not present today, overlooking then (1892) newly built Fulton Chain Station, would collapse with the next stiff breeze.

The story of this structure cannot be told without telling of the trials of its occupants:  Herreshoff, Foster, Waters, Grant, Arnold, Short and Sperry.  Tragedy would be the common thread among those connected with this building. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Peg Leg Line: The First Fulton Chain Railroad

P3935-Peg-Leg-Railroad-Leaving-Moose-River-Settlement-enlargedEarly Brown’s Tract settlers Albert Jones and his son Eri had gotten into trouble with the law in 1877 for mistreating Eri’s wife, leaving her in a critical condition to be cared for by a neighbor.  Around the same time, like many early Brown’s Tract pioneers, they were squatters south of Thendara on the Moose River middle branch called Stillwater.

Albert had become sick and weak, presumably from a hard life as a businessman, lumber mill owner, rancher and breaker of horses for their Spanish owners in Mexico.  He claimed that if he was going to die, he wanted to die in the woods.  Temporarily, Adirondack weather was the cure and Albert and Eri set up Jones’s Camp as a boarding camp with boats for campers. It was a stopover twelve miles from the Forge along the Brown’s Tract Road. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Life and Times of the Raquette Lake Railway

1900 raquett lake railway schedule_0After the Raquette Lake Railway opened to the public on July 1, 1900, life on the Fulton Chain changed forever.  For its prime mover, Collis P. Huntington, life ended at Camp Pine Knot in August.  Huntington’s death left W. W. Durant without favorable money sources and his Blue Mountain and Raquette Lake Steamboat Company, as well as the newly built Marion River Carry Railroad and its terminal properties, were sold to Patrick Moynehan in May, 1901, then sold to the Webb interests in 1902.

I would like to tell the Railway’s story by telling the story of its stations.  When introducing the station’s name, I insert  its mile marker in parenthesis ( ) according to Michael Kudish’s Where Did the Tracks Go in the Central Adirondacks?. » Continue Reading.


Sunday, March 9, 2014

Getting to Blue Mountain Lake in the 19th Century

1922 Marion River RRMy trip to the Adirondacks from our home in Western Massachusetts ends when I see the water of Raquette Lake’s South Bay – a three-and-a-half hour drive.  OK, my wife insists the trip is not over until we unload the car, pack the boat, traverse the lake, unload the boat and schlep everything into the cabin.  A five-hour ordeal in her mind, but serenity fills me the minute I see the water.

Be it three-and-a-half hours or five, our trip is nothing compared to the arduous travels my great-great-grandfather took to reach these shores. He had been among the very first to summer on Blue Mountain Lake, building the first private summer home on Thacher Island in 1867.

In 1862, George Hornell Thacher first traveled to the region guided by Mitchell Sabattis.  At that time, the railroad to North Creek and the stage road from North Creek to Blue Mountain Lake did not exist.  Access to Blue Mountain Lake was only from the north, down from Long Lake.  The trip from Albany took three or four days. » Continue Reading.


Thursday, March 6, 2014

Charlie Herr: Building the Raquette Lake Railway

1909RR-Station-DockRPPC-LDriving to Old Forge, I pass the old Eagle Bay station, recalling that I had a tasty barbecue sub sandwich there in the early 1980s.  I continue, watching the hikers and bikers on the level path to my right, also watching for deer.  Passing North Woods Inn, I see a sign referring to a train wreck and, just around Daikers, the path to my right disappears into the woods.

I once biked into the woods there and found a historical marker that told of the Raquette Lake Railway.  I decided to learn more about this railroad that, along with Dr. Webb’s line, provided both the rich and the poor access into the Adirondacks.  Its story starts with the Adirondack railroads that preceded it. » Continue Reading.