In a letter dated April 19, 1901, Dr. William Seward Webb informed J. Pierpont Morgan in New York City that, on behalf of the Raquette Lake Railway directors, he was accepting the option from the Old Forge Company to purchase the two mile Fulton Chain Railroad and the docks and boats of the Crosby Transportation Company.
Dr. Webb informed Morgan that the purchase price was $45,000, but additional amounts necessary for repairing the railroad lines and upgrading the docks brought the total costs to $56,000. Dr. Webb also asked Morgan and the other partners copied in the letter to send him their share of the purchase price. The other paying partners were Collis P. Huntington, William C. Whitney and Harry Payne Whitney. » Continue Reading.
From 1892 to 1895, steamboat managers tried to outdo each other to attract passengers arriving on Dr. Webb’s railroad. But these efforts suffered from the growing pains of an embryonic village and bad business practices from Fulton Chain to the Old Forge dock.
As the Utica Sunday Tribune reported, “At the depot everyday are ‘pullers in’ and ‘runners’ for the several boats which run to the head of the lakes. As soon as a traveler alights from the train he is importuned to take this or that boat. Then, if he consents to go on a certain boat, perhaps the ‘runner’ for the other boat will get the check for his baggage, and passenger and baggage will go up the lakes on separate boats. The baggage man had no badge and the men who operate two of the boats go daily down to Remsen to ‘drum up’ business on the way between that station and Fulton Chain.” It was hoped that Dr. Webb’s agent H. D. Carter would take steps to “obliterate the nuisances which are hampering this resort”. » Continue Reading.
In the wake of two explosive derailments in the past two weeks involving crude oil from the Bakken region of North Dakota and western Canada, the Center for Biological Diversity is calling for a moratorium on rail transport of the oil in the Northeast.
Trains travel to Albany and the Hudson River Valley from the north as well as west-east rail lines that border the Adirondack region, bearing the same incendiary crude that has been involved in a total of five major rail accidents since summer 2013.
In 2008, an exhibit at the Goodsell Museum in Old Forge honored the train stations used by the railroads of the West Central Adirondacks. The first railroad in the region, nicknamed the “Peg Leg Railroad” or “Wooden Railroad”, did not quite extend to the Forge Tract as planned. But a more “green” option, in both literal and modern metaphorical terms, provided the additional distance not permitted to this railroad. The vehicle of the landowner’s choice was a steamer that, in the event of a boiler fire, would have sufficient water available to quench the fire.
Julia deCamp’s father Lyman R. Lyon originally owned all of Township 8, John Brown’s Tract, a replica map of which you can buy at the Goodsell Museum. Lyon conveyed a two-thirds portion that eventually was acquired by the Sacketts Harbor Railroad Company and subsequently mortgaged in the 1850s. A few corporate owners and receiverships later, this portion was acquired by Thomas C. Durant for his Adirondack Company that built the railroad from Saratoga Springs to North Creek. » Continue Reading.
Sources can be scarce when tracking down information for a region where precious few histories have been written. We are fortunate that the few we have are wonderful works, even though too many need reprinting. Such a work is David Beetle’s Up Old Forge Way. Originally published in 1948, this book provided readers with a humorous, introductory history of Fulton Chain lakes, hamlets and people. His sources were books, newspaper accounts and people’s recall of events in some cases fifty years after they occurred.
From Beetle’s book, we read that John Dix, a former governor, needed to float his company’s piled logs from the north branch of the Moose River (Township 8) through deCamp lands (Townships 1 & 7) to the company’s McKeever mill. Beetle wrote that Dix did not want to pay deCamps’ tolls for this river use, so Dix took them to court and repeatedly lost. Consequently, he needed to build a logging railroad from Clearwater to Rondaxe Lake. Dix got attorney Charles Snyder to get “Railroader” Thomas C. Durant to buy the right of way from deCamp with Dix’s money. W. S. deCamp would later wonder how Dix received this right of way in 1897.
Let’s correct two errors. Two later books also include this story and mention that this John Dix was governor before and after this episode. John Adams Dix was governor 1873-1874, died in 1879, and John Alden Dix, the one above, was governor 1911-1912. Also, Thomas C. Durant, William West’s father, had died in 1885, dead for twelve years by the time of the event described. What follows is what I have learned about the events, the people involved and the transaction itself. » Continue Reading.
The books of Henry Harter and Harold Hochschild discuss the building of the short-lived Raquette Lake Railway, its millionaire owners and probable origins. These include Mrs. Huntington threatening not to visit Collis Huntington’s Pine Knot Camp if she had to continue using the Fulton Chain steamers, riding on buckboard and boat carries beyond Fourth Lake.
Maybe Mr. Huntington, not finding an empty seat, got the idea after sitting on a keg of nails on one steamer ride. No doubt tycoons as Durant, Morgan, Vanderbilt and Whitney envied Dr. Webb’s ability to ride a private train to his Nehasane Preserve from New York. » Continue Reading.
This was not the bike trip I had hoped for. It seemed like a good idea, until I saw my girlfriend Liz dragging her bicycle up and over slippery rocks in a rushing stream. After a push and pull to gain some ground and a quick break to study the best way to rock hop with a bike in hand, she stumbled and fell. While dropping her beloved Surly bicycle into the water in an attempt to gain her balance she just groaned with exasperation. Now, with the bike partially submerged and her feet wet, we were both starting to question our reasoning. Not only were we fording streams, we found ourselves dragging bicycles over downed trees, ducking and weaving around overhanging branches, pushing through thick brush only to find the path strangled by even more vegetation and debris.
Our plan was pretty simple; retrace the route of the abandoned D and H Railroad from Plattsburgh to Saranac Lake. The maps all showed it, locals talked about its existence and one bike shop mechanic told us he traveled the whole thing by dirt bike years ago. “Although, “he said, “the right of way seems to be lost in places.” After some roadside scouting of the railroad grade via our little Toyota, we concluded that the best place to begin was outside of Cadyville where there were no houses or any no trespassing signs blocking our way. » Continue Reading.
Teddy Roosevelt is not available to recreate his historic 1901 ride from the North Creek Train Depot, but nationally recognized Roosevelt reprisor Joe Wiegand will be on hand to fill those famous shoes.
On September 14-15 the Saratoga/North Creek Railway (SNCRR) is providing historic train rides, recreations and special excursions surrounding the theme of Teddy Roosevelt’s famed ride from Tahawus to North Creek. » Continue Reading.
The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) and the New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT) have announced that they will hold four public meetings in September about the management of the Remsen-Lake Placid Travel Corridor, a 119-mile nineteenth-century rail line in the western Adirondacks.
A bitter debate has raged in the Adirondacks over the past several years after rail-trail advocates began pushing to have the historic railroad tracks torn-up. In 2011, an organization calling themselves Adirondack Recreational Trail Advocates began calling for the outser of the tourist railroad operation and for conversion of the rail bed to a multi-use trail. More than 10,000 people have signed-on to a petition calling for the removal of the tracks. The trail advocates’ call for a reassessment of the corridor’s management plan has resulted in this round of public hearings. » Continue Reading.
The battle over use of a historic railroad corridor through the heart of the Adirondacks escalated this fall, with a growing number of local government leaders questioning the value of an excursion train that would operate from Old Forge to Lake Placid.
Regional development officials, meanwhile, affirmed their support for the Adirondack Scenic Railroad, describing it as an important tourism attraction and suggesting that the entire line could be back in regular use within two years, carrying visitors from as far away as New York City.
As of press time, six towns and villages along the line—along with St. Lawrence County’s legislature—have passed resolutions raising doubts about that vision. Some have urged state officials to reopen a unit management plan, written in 1992, that governs use of the state-owned corridor. Others have simply urged the Department of Transportation to tear up the tracks. “To keep the snowmobilers, that’s a key thing for Tupper Lake,” said Supervisor Roger Amell after the town board voted in October to ask the state to revisit the plan. » Continue Reading.
For more than a century, paddlers traveling between Utowana and Raquette lakes have used a trail known as the Marion River Carry — a portage around rapids in the Marion River. In recent years that access has been threatened after the owner announced plans to build several homes along Utowana Lake.
A fierce opposition to development near the carry was raised by local residents and outdoor enthusiasts and today the Open Space Institute (OSI) has announced that it has acquired 295 acres surrounding the Marion Carry. » Continue Reading.
Adirondack Museum Curator Hallie Bond will present a program on the history of food in the Adirondacks, particularly the connection between bread and beer. The program, called “Traditions in Bread and Beer: Lives of Adirondackers Before Modernization,” will involve discussion and displays; participants will be able to sample both ingredients and final products.
Bond is co-writing a book about traditional food of the Adirondacks and has discovered connections between bread and beer; the two were complementary tasks for early Adirondackers. Her presentation will address how they were made before World War II and how transportation networks, particularly railroads, were established. » Continue Reading.
Over the next two weekends, October 13-14 and 20–21 the Adirondack Scenic Railroad will be hosting it’s third annual Pumpkin Train. The trains will be departing the Thendara (Old Forge) Station at 10 am, 11:15 am, 12:30 pm, 1:45 pm and 3 pm on Saturdays and Sundays rain or shine.
Each train will travel North to the former site of the New York Central’s Carter Station. Along the way children will be on the lookout for ghosts and goblins and have an opportunity to win a jar of candy. At Carter Station, families can leave the train at Wally’s Pumpkin Patch. » Continue Reading.
The Adirondack Scenic Railroad will mark their 20th anniversary during this first weekend in September, 2012. In celebrating the occasion, Thendara Station will host a massive railfan event on Saturday, September 1st and Sunday, September 2nd starting at 11am daily.
The two day, family friendly celebration will have over half a dozen locomotives from companies such as EMD and ALCO, private rail cars, snow plows, classic freight cars and other railroad maintenance equipment. Guests are welcome to tour the cars and locomotives, sit at the controls and even try their hand at operating the locomotive simulator. Caboose hops will be available throughout the day featuring New York Central’s 705 and a historic caboose from the Boston & Maine Railroad. » Continue Reading.
The Fourth Annual Hobofest, an all-day music festival “at-the-tracks” in Saranac Lake NY celebrating railroad culture and the “hobo spirit,” is happening on Sunday, September 2nd. This year’s Hobofest will take place under the “big top,” to assure against the variables of weather, from noon until 11pm. Eat and Meet Grill & Larder will serve local fare, also a children’s activities booth and festival & artist merchandise tables.
This year’s special guest is Washington State legend, Baby Gramps. A former street musician and train buff, Gramps plays antique resonator National Steel guitars, and sings his own unique arrangements of rags, jazz, & blues songs from the 20’s & 30’s, and many originals with wordplay, humor, and throat singing. His appeal is to a wide range of audiences from “jam-band” – having toured with Phish and the Flecktones- to punk to old timey traditional and to kids of all ages. He has performed across the States, Canada, Europe, and Australia. » Continue Reading.
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