Did you hear the one about the guide who took his wealthy client out trolling for lake trout? His customer paid more attention to his bottle of whiskey than his fishing line, finishing off the quart while sharing not a drop with the guide. Looking at his empty bottle, the gentleman remarked to his guide, “I am sorry not to have offered you any, but I never let my guide drink on a trip.” To which the guide retorted, “You are quite right sir; one drunk in a boat is enough.”
It is rare that one can trace a joke back to its origins, but in this case, my family is the butt of the joke. » Continue Reading.
Just 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.
Our family has two large metal boxes filled with George Hornell Thacher’s handwritten letters. We are fortunate to have three letters written from the Thacher “Camp” on Indian Point on Raquette Lake.
George Hornell Thacher’s correspondence to his son George Jr. dated August 7, 1881 is a unique piece of history. He references a tragic affair which became the talk of the major NY newspapers
Camp, Aug. 7th, 1881 Dear George,
My health is about as usual. Nothing new here of importance except the recapture of Parker yesterday, the desperado, the man who outraged a lady on the carry between Forked and Long Lakes. He was arrested at Lowville while fleeing to Canada and taken back to Long Lake where he got away from the constable. Yesterday the same officer overhauled him on Forked Lake near the outlet, shot and broke his arm and recaptured him. The lady was a sister of the wife of U.S. Senator Platt of Connecticut. Parker was a newcomer here and took up the business of guiding. He was guiding her to Long Lake and perpetrated the deed near Butter Milk Falls.
P.S. Parker was shot through the arm and breast. The Doctor says he will die probably before night. The way of the transgressor is hard. 10 A.M.
The Troy Press said, “Probably no event occurring in the Adirondack region has caused as much comment and excitement as the crime that is attributed to Charles Parker.” » Continue Reading.
John 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.
Writing in The Adirondack; or Life in the Woods (1849) Joel Tyler Headley remarked that Indian Point on Raquette Lake was so-named “because there was once an Indian settlement upon it”. But until recently, the idea of large, permanent Native American settlements within the Adirondacks has been discounted by scholars. Ongoing research however, suggests that may not be the case.
On thing we do know for sure is that Adirondack interior was a seasonal hunting ground for the Iroquoian and Algonquin-speaking communities and there is considerable evidence that the Raquette Lake area was used extensively by the Mohawk. » Continue Reading.
The mysterious original cabin of the Thachers on Indian Point received numerous mentions in the newspapers of the day. However, the earliest evidence of its existence comes from a single sentence in the text of Aber & King’s The History of Hamilton County.
Bishop Gabriels, then a priest, celebrated Mass at the Thatcher Camp on July 11, 12, 13, and 14, 1878.
It refers to Rev. Henry Gabriels who at the time was President of the St. Joseph Seminary in Troy, NY and who later became the Bishop of the Diocese of Ogdensburg, which encompasses all of the Adirondacks. Can we simply assume that the original cabin was built in 1878, or might it have existed prior to this first reference? After all, the family purchased the land in 1876. » Continue Reading.
“Yonder comes the boat of Woods and Beach, the two solitary dwellers of this region. It is rather a singular coincidence that the only two inhabitants of this wilderness should be named Woods and Beach. I should not wonder if the next comers should be called ‘Hemlock’ and ‘Pine’.”
– Joel Tyler Headley, The Adirondack or Life in the Woods
Indian Point was the focal point of Raquette Lake because Beach and Wood were the center of hospitality for the earliest adventurers in the region: Ebenezer Emmons in 1840, Jon Todd in 1843, Joel Tyler Headley in 1844-1846. Our knowledge of Beach and Wood comes from the writings of these and later visitors. » Continue Reading.
Whenever and wherever the original Thacher cabin was built on Indian Point is my research holy grail. Delving into the details of the few literary mentions of the cabin might yield clues.
The famous wilderness writer George Washington Sears, pen name Nessmuk, wrote of meeting my great great grandfather George Hornell Thacher at his cabin on Indian Point.
“There are enthusiastic anglers, however, whose specialty is trolling for lake trout. A gentleman by the name of Thatcher (sic), who has a fine residence on Raquette Lake – which he calls a camp – makes this his leading sport, and keeps a log of his fishing, putting nothing on record of less than ten pounds weight.”
This visit by Nessmuk was published in his 1884 book titled Woodcraft; however, it makes no mention of when the encounter actually occurred. » Continue Reading.
My cousin Stephen FitzPatrick’s curiosity was peeked by my writings. A piece of the puzzle had always been in his hands but he did not know it. Prompted by my last article, Stephen searched through boxes of his mother’s memorabilia and found the photo at left.
It’s dated 1910, the year of construction according to our family’s oral history. Could this be the first photo of the little red cabin? Our previous research had narrowed the window in time to between 1905 and 1918. This would appear to squeeze the date of construction to a mere five year period between 1905 and 1910. It was time to see what evidence I could find of the Thachers on Indian Point between the pages of books, newspaper articles and letters. » Continue Reading.
After my father’s sister Ellen married Michael FitzPatrick, both our families enjoyed summers together sharing the cabin on Raquette Lake’s Indian Point and two nearby lean-tos. That was until 1981, when our family built a new place on the north shore of the peninsula. Each summer, a growing brood of FitzPatrick cousins continues to inhabit the little, red one-room cabin at the point’s tip.
As a child I would fall asleep in the lean-to that sits just to the right of this cabin, being driven to sleep by the flames dancing in the stone fireplace and the hypnotic pulsing of the green and red lights which adorned the channel buoys in the Needles. » Continue Reading.
In 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.
My family began vacationing at Raquette Lake sometime in the mid-1970s, attracted by what is arguably the most beautiful lake in the Adirondacks. As the family grew, I began to look for a larger home and contacted a realtor who sent me a write up on North Point, considered one of the Great Camps and the former summer home of Lucy Carnegie.
I had seen the home while boating and, my curiosity piqued, looked it up in Harvey Kaiser’s book Great Camps of the Adirondacks (2003). I was interested to see who had designed this Swiss chalet style home, so unusual in design compared to the other camps in the area. Kaiser stated that, “The building plans and execution of interior details suggest influences beyond the techniques of local craftsmen, although no record of the architect exists.” » Continue Reading.
On Route 28 between Indian Lake and Blue Mountain Lake there is a sign about a half mile south of the junction with Route 28N in Blue Mountain Lake that marks the divide between the St. Lawrence River and Hudson River watersheds. The waters of Blue Mountain Lake flow through the Eckford Chain into Raquette Lake, north through Long Lake and the Raquette River eventually reaching the St. Lawrence Seaway. The waters of Durant Lake, only a half-mile from Blue, eventually flow into the Hudson River.
If Farrand Benedict had been successful with his grand plans for the Adirondacks from Lake Champlain to Lake Ontario, the waters of Blue, Raquette and Long lakes would today also flow to the Hudson River. » Continue Reading.
More than 200 property owners in the Town of Long Lake, Hamilton County, will receive letters asking if they want to resolve title issues to their properties as part of the Township 40 settlement, the State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) announced yesterday. The letters include a notarized statement form that must be returned to DEC within 90 days by any landowner who wants to be included in the settlement.
New York State voters approved a constitutional amendment last November that allows owners of the disputed properties to notify DEC whether they want their land parcel to be included in the Township 40 settlement. The State will release claims on properties whose owners “opt in” to the settlement. Those owners will have to sign a notarized statement, included with the letter, and will then be required to make a payment to the Town of Long Lake within one year. » Continue Reading.
“Thunk-Ping” “Thunk-Ping” echoed through the woods as the head of the sledge came down upon the maul. Rhythmically the forged steel struck the maul, driving the blade into the round section of the old oak deadfall’s trunk. My hands tried valiantly to not retreat, but hold fast to the maul handle as my father sent the sledge’s head crashing down.
Each summer we would split a deadfall and stack the wood in our shed for future fires in the Vermont Castings stove. Beautiful sunlight barely broke through the thick canopy of white pine and spruce as we sweated within a few hundred feet of our cabin. The sledge hit the maul over and over, sounding like the chimes of a slow clock that strikes its bell every ten seconds. » Continue Reading.
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