Hanging above a window in our Twitchell Lake cabin northeast of Big Moose, Herkimer County, in the Adirondacks is this five-foot-long saw with a handle at both ends, and a row of sharp knife-like teeth. I have never used it, but now know it is an antique crosscut saw for use by one or two persons.
According to Bill Gove’s Logging Railroads of the Adirondacks, this tool was not introduced to the Adirondack logging industry until 1890, when lumbermen Patrick Ducey and Peter MacFarland came from Michigan and “brought with them a new technique of sawing trees instead of chopping them.” Before then all logs were felled and cut up using the double-bit axe. The new saw marked a major shift in the industry, increasing logging output significantly and giving the woods a new look – stumps were now perfectly level, harvested lower than they were normally cut by axe, and more of the log was saved for milling.
In the decades from 1880 to 1900 the new owner of Twitchell Lake, William Seward Webb organized what had seemed impossible up to then – crossing the Adirondack wilderness with a railroad. Seward’s railroad opened vast areas of virgin timber to the lumberman, created new frontier towns all along his rail line, and established a huge private preserve. At the same time he got into legal trouble with the State of New York, and brought “the gilded age” to the heart of the wilderness. It was the establishment of the Forest Preserve and the Adirondack Park in this same era – with oversight by New York State – that helped preserve Twitchell’s wilderness character.
Pressures Under Twitchell Lake’s New Owner
Twitchell Lake was held by six owners between 1860 and 1891. The Lewis County landlord of Brown’s Tract, Lyman R. Lyon, sold most of its eight townships to the Adirondac Estate & Railroad Company during the Civil War. This company took over the Sackett Harbor & Saratoga Railroad’s 1848 Charter for a cross-Adirondack route. The huge 120,000-acre swath Webb collected for his railroad project in 1891 included 77,000 acres purchased from Ravaud K. Hawley, President of the Adirondack Timber & Mineral Company.
This logging conglomerate included all the major players in the region, including Beaver Falls’ “Lumber King” Theodore Basselin. Interestingly, all these big real estate transfers back to the Civil War involved lumbering businesses connected with railroading interests, intent on cooperating to access the untouched virgin timber in the interior. Timber harvest was a sure bet to finance railroad construction, the reasoning went. The legislative act that created the Forest Preserve in 1885 outlawed commercial activities such as logging on State Forest Preserve lands, mandating that these areas “be forever kept as wild forest lands.” After the Webb purchase, however, Twitchell Lake was at his personal discretion, not part of the Forest Preserve.
The “patron guide” of Twitchell Lake, Hiram Burke, had to obtain Webb’s permission to continue hosting his sporting parties out of the cabin he had built in 1870 on the lake’s northwest shore (pictured here). This is believed to be the lake’s first building, constructed in an era which experienced a second huge wave of sports tourists visiting the lake, a significant number of them from Copenhagen, N.Y., where the Twitchell family, namesake for the lake, were dairy farmers.
One of the ways Burke exercised his proprietorship of the lake was to name three of the eight ponds in Twitchell Lake’s orbit after his best customers, so today’s Jock Pond was “Marenus” for Charles S. Mereness, District Attorney for Denmark Township, where Copenhagen was located; Razorback was dubbed “Arthur Pond” for Eugene B. Arthur, head of a Lowville law firm; and Oswego was most likely named for the Oswego party which frequented Twitchell and helped Burke’s father-in-law Chauncey Smith build his wilderness outpost just off the Carthage-to-Champlain Road about six miles to the north of Twitchell. The only name to stick was Oswego Pond. Most of these ponds still sat what was then still virgin forest, though Burke and his clients would have encountered giant spruce stumps surrounding a lumber camp Twitchell Lake’s Lumber Camp #1, which was active in the early part of this era – located between South Pond and Twitchell Creek.
By the beginning of this era (1880), the larger logging operations in Beaver Falls – just north of where Beaver River empties into the Black River — had reached up the course of the Beaver well into Totten & Crossfield’s Township 42, and up the larger tributaries like Twitchell Creek and the Red Horse Chain. Norcross & Saunders was the most likely lumbering operation to open Twitchell Lake’s Lumber Camp #1 about 1878, owning a mill complex in Beaver Falls from 1869 to 1885, when Theodore Basselin purchased their holdings and began his climb to become the western Adirondack “Lumber King.” These operations cut all white pine that lined the shores of lakes and ponds and then aimed primarily for the rich stands of virgin spruce up mountain banks along the rivers and streams. Logs were cut in thirteen-foot lengths, stockpiled in winter, and floated in spring river-drives down to the mills in Beaver Falls.
This era would see major changes in the logging industry, with exhaustion of hemlock stands cut for the leather industry, a move from softwood to hardwood harvesting as the paper industry expanded, and a shift from river drives to a brand-new method for getting logs to the mill. With the advent of a north-south railroad over Beaver River and through Big Moose, the mills in Beaver Falls were replaced by mills built alongside this rail line, and lumber delivered now by freight train to Utica, Herkimer, and points south. At the end of this era, a major mill fire in Beaver Falls would close a chapter in lumbering history. A Journal & Republican article reported this sad news, with a detailed description of the Basselin mill complex (receipt seen here):
“The mill yard covers about ten acres, nearly all of which is made ground, or, in fact, is the refuse from the mill, being made up of saw dust and pieces of wood and slabs to the depth of from 10 to 20 feet. In the mill yard was stacked about 10,000,00 feet of lumber, all but about 2,000,000 feet of which was burned. The fire also ran to all parts of the yard, and it will require a long time and persistent work to subdue the fire in the saw dust and refuse covering the yard … The sawmill proper was a wooden structure, 65 by 112 feet, with three trestles extending from the same to the bank of the river. The mill was erected in 1888 and was equipped with two circular saws and one gang. Employment was given to 125 men, and the capacity was 125,000 feet of lumber every ten hours. During the greater part of the season the mill was operated night and day. The mill supplied the E. H. Barnes & Co. box factory with nearly all its material, and also the material for the kindling wood manufactured by the Standard Wood company of New York. The Barnes company mill, which is leased by the company from Mr. Basselin, was somewhat damaged, as was also the large barns owned by Mr. Basselin. The Barnes company employed 65 men, and it will be unable to run owing to the cutting off of the supply of lumber. The same is also true of the kindling wood factory, where employment was given to about 40 hands. The small planing mill owned by Mr. Basselin, and standing close to the Barnes company mill, was not materially damaged … There is practically no doubt that the mill will be rebuilt at once. Mr. Basselin has contracts to supply the Barnes company and Standard Wood company with stock that must be filled. The Van Amber mill has been secured to saw out the present supply of logs, and work was commenced yesterday [September 21, 1899].”
Basselin did rebuild at the convergence of the Beaver and Black Rivers, but with a shift to paper production, his lumbering operation now targeted at hardwood, cut into four-foot instead of thirteen-foot lengths. The Lewis County lumbering connection with Brown’s Tract was ending and river drives would soon yield to the new railroad.
Short Story of a Successful Railroad
In 1890, Dr. Webb (pictured here) was president of the Wagner Railroad Company. With many seasons as a sportsman in the Adirondacks, he knew about the rich lumbering possibilities as well as the public’s growing interest in resorts. For him, “An Adirondack railroad was the key to both opportunities” (Barnett’s Big Moose Lake). He was banking on revenue from lumbering and cottage sales.
From the outset, the Webb railroad project was derided as a rich man’s foolishness, a hobby horse to transport him into his own private preserve. Donaldson’s in his History of the Adirondacks humorously dubbed it “Webb’s Golden Chariot Route.” The public seriously underestimated Dr. William Seward Webb (1851-1926). Trained as a medical doctor, he married railroad magnate William H. Vanderbilt’s youngest daughter Lila – apparently against Vanderbilt’s wishes – only later joining the family railroad business. The highlight of his new career was a dream no one else had been able to achieve, a cross-Adirondack railway. This project went under two names, first as the Adirondack & St. Lawrence Railroad and then as the Mohawk & Malone Railroad.
The challenges Webb had to overcome were more than daunting. His project has been well documented by a writer in close contact with him during the eighteen months it took to complete – Charles H. Burnett, author of Conquering the Wilderness:
“After a century of effort, backed by the resources of the State and of private capitalists, the great heart of the Adirondack region was accessible only by the most primitive means of transportation. Its mountain ranges, its forests, and its lakes had proved an impassable barrier to the construction of highways, canals, or railroads, and vast sections were without any means of approach except by trail and pack basket.”
It is true, Webb did have a personal interest in establishing a private preserve in the heart of the wilderness, and that he fitted a rail car to take him from his New York City office to that remote refuge. More pertinently, in his new capacity as a business leader he foresaw the profit potential from a shorter connection between the Eastern US and Canada. Mass tourism was growing and the potential for logging revenue for a rail into virgin timberland was inestimable. Burnett chronicled the many details in the Webb railroad deal, with the purchase of the Herkimer, Newport & Poland Narrow Gauge Railroad as the southern starting point for his project, but all attempts at cooperation with other rail companies for the rest of the route northward, came up empty.
On top of this, the state of New York refused to grant him any right-of-way, citing the 1885 Forest Preserve law. Bottom line: With part of his cross-Adirondack railroad already in hand, Webb decided to use his own family fortune to fund the rest of the project. Surveyors mapped out a 160-mile route from the Mohawk River to the northern town of Malone and Herkimer lawyer Charles E. Snyder was retained to purchase the parcels for the proposed route. Twitchell Lake resident and historian Paul Crouch cited a firsthand source for an alternative survey plan that would have threaded the rail route right between Twitchell Lake’s east and Big Moose Lake’s western shore, an option that would have radically altered the region’s character. One hundred feet higher in elevation than the final Big Moose Station route, this plan was abandoned.
Early in 1891, contracts were drawn up, engineering parties assigned along the route, and the work commenced in earnest. Bill Gove in his book Logging Railroads in the Adirondacks, described the dramatic execution of project plans. “Webb’s army” consisted of four thousand workers from Alabama, Italy, Ireland, Spain, Mexico, Quebec, the St. Regis Mohawks, and others distributed in camps all along the line, rapidly carving a 100-foot-wide swath through the virgin forest.
After blasting impeding bedrock, each section employed five “gangs,” as follows: The first gang cleared 50 feet to either side of the survey line of all the trees; the second gang followed immediately behind, piling and burning all the timber in the middle of that path; the third gang came with horse-drawn brush-breaking plows to pull the stumps and burn them on those same fires; the pick-and-shovel men of the fourth gang soon approached to create a level grade, removing high and filling in low spots; and the fifth gang then laid down railroad ties, spiking the rails in place. Webb spared no expense to complete his project as soon as possible, at an estimated cost topping $40,000 per mile.
Completing a project like this in just eighteen months without modern equipment and machinery is still considered nothing less than extraordinary. Everything had to be done by hand, with supplies for the many remote camps carried in for miles on men’s backs, winter, and summer, to keep the work going. Burnett reports that “the cement for the abutments of Twitchell Creek bridge cost seven dollars a barrel just for transportation from Fulton Chain.” Burnett attributed the success of this enterprise largely to the remarkable qualities of charisma and leadership possessed by Webb, with one of his engineers quoted as saying, “There was not a man on the line but would stand on his head for the Doctor.” While this was true, Bill Marleau does quote Seth Rozon – Big Moose’s own member of the St. Regis, saying all he could remember years later was “hard work, lots of flies, little pay, not much food” (Marleau, Big Moose Station). New York Almanack founder John Warren has written about the hardships faced by the railroads workers.
The early nay-sayers to this railroad project never expected this outcome described by Burnett: Finally, on October 12, 1892, about half a mile north of Twitchell Creek Bridge, the two ends met, and the last spike was driven. There was little ceremony, but much jubilation. The honor of driving the last spike was awarded to a young Assistant Engineer. He was undoubtedly a better engineer than he was a track-layer, for he swung at the spike a dozen times before he hit it, much to the disgust of the workers assembled. Twelve days later, on October 24, 1892, trains were running through on scheduled time from New York to Montreal. A railroad of one hundred and ninety-one miles through a wilderness had been constructed and placed in operation within eighteen months from the time the surveys were started.
I have been asked why Webb was in such a hurry to complete this mammoth project in a year and a half. It’s only speculation, but Webb was the defendant in multiple lawsuits by other railroad companies attempting to shut down his shortcut from the Grand Central line to Montreal. He faced stiff resistance from the state and private landowners on rights-of-way, and he may have been into Vanderbilt money to complete the project. Upon completion, lumber and tourism profits did pay back his investment handsomely.
The picture here shows the author at the summit of the Webb line, a short stroll north of the Big Moose Station and 2,040 feet above sea level. The ramifications for this successful railroad project both for the logging industry and for mass tourism were enormous. It was a game changer. For one thing, it represented a major shift in logging from Beaver River drives down to Lewis Falls, to railroad transportation with milling at two brand new towns along this Mohawk & Malone Railroad: Beaver River and McKeever.
A Private Park & Game Preserve
Webb’s family connection with the Vanderbilts gave him more than his marriage partner and a career change. It also explained his passion for the Adirondacks and his early experiment with conservation. Throughout the 1880s Webb made annual trips to the Tupper Lake area to hunt and fish with his new brother-in-law Frederick Vanderbilt, joining together to purchase 10,000 acres to start what they called “The Kildare Club.” Beaver River historian Ed Pitts has done substantial research and writing on Webb, noting this: “I believe Webb came up with the idea of building his own private camp on a much grander scale during his trips to the Kildare Club.”
Of the lands purchased for the Adirondack & St. Lawrence Railroad, Webb kept some of the most beautiful lakes, streams, and primeval forest in the Adirondacks as a private park, at the source of the Beaver River, naming it “Na-Ha-Sa-Ne,” which was said to be a Native American term for “crossing on a stick of timber.” In 1893 he built Nehasane Lodge on the shores of Smith’s Lake, which he renamed Lake Lila in honor of his wife. Together they entertained friends and relatives for many years during the fishing and hunting seasons.
The map here shows two versions of the preserve which Webb incorporated as “The Nahasane Park Association,” the 115,000-acre version depicted on an 1894 railroad map to the left and the scaled down 40,000-acre park from his own 1898 survey, after he sold 75,000 acres to the state in 1896 for $600,000. That sale was to settle damages from the state’s raising the 1886 dam on Stillwater Reservoir another five feet in 1893, further flooding his land and preventing his using the Beaver River to float his logs to Beaver Falls for milling.
This larger map supports Bill Marleau’s speculative claim that Webb may have wanted to include Big Moose and Twitchell Lakes in his Park but used his extensive Brown’s Tract holdings as leverage with the state, thus avoiding the thorny border and title issues for these areas. Nehasane’s 1898 location on the right lay in Township 38 of the Totten & Crossfield Purchase.
We get a grand description of Webb’s great camp from a visit by twenty railroad officials in April of 1895, leaving Grand Central Station in the early morning and arriving at his private Nehasane railroad stop later that day, published in The Ogdensburg Journal on April 10, 1894:
“The main room, or parlor, was seemingly designed to cultivate indolence. It contains innumerable cozy corners and a mammoth chimney constructed of great blocks of stone found on the place. The chimney is about 15 feet wide and more than 30 feet high. Its open fireplace, in which ponderous logs are kept constantly ablaze, would furnish standing room for half a score o£ men. The andirons are two short pieces of railroad iron. Stuffed animals and birds are placed here and there, and skins of various sizes are strewn about. A superb skin of an enormous grizzly bear lies in the center of the floor, and some remarkable deer heads ornament the walls.”
The celebrity from that excursion was the wife of the head of the Wagner Palace Car Company, Mrs. John Yager, who caught two seven-pound trout while fishing on Lake Lila. Just a year later, Webb entertained another group by this fireplace in what sounds like a who’s who of important NYS officials. In 1895, they were on an official inspection tour of flooding damage caused by the Beaver River dam, mainly to Webb property, a very curious mix of business and pleasure.
Nehasane Park enclosed 8000 acres inside a nine-foot-high wire fence stocked with big game from Canada and the western US, in addition to its native white-tailed deer. In his article “Get Out! Keep Out!” Ed Pitts described the elaborate lengths to which Webb went to keep guides and sportsmen out of what had been their favorite fishing and hunting grounds since 1845. By 1893, fifty private clubs and preserves like Nehasane claimed a total of 940,000 acres, nearly a quarter of the entire Adirondacks. The only access to outsiders at Nahasane was possession of a Webb “Stop Permit” for one of Webb’s two rail stops, Nehasane or Keepawa. Ed Pitts explained how this was supposed to work:
“He called this smaller station “Keepawa” and insisted that train conductors pronounce its name “Keep Away.” Both these stations could only be used by his family, employees and guests who possessed a written “Stop Permit” signed by Webb or one of his managers.”
The Honorable George W. Smith was referring specifically to Webb with his efforts to alter the new game laws to his own advantage when the judge published his opinion in NYS papers in 1896 under the title “The Forests: A Scheme to Tie Up the Wilderness for a Favored Few Who Can Pay for a Lease”:
“The pernicious work of these men is seen in the act stealthily passed by the last Legislature for submitting an amendment to the constitution permitting the leasing of five-acre tracts for a term of years, an entering wedge for other measures to fritter away, piece-meal, the barrier afforded by the constitution. The objections to this nullifying proposition are manifold. It establishes a system of privilege and favoritism at war with the common right and the enjoyment of the park by the general public. It will lead to the appropriation of all the choicest spots on lakes and streams, and finally shut off, practically, sportsmen and people of moderate means. It will finally bring in all the abuses and vexations caused by private ownership. It will corrupt an enterprise conceived in the generous purpose of giving equal rights to all comers, into a system of monopoly and privilege controlled by money and by political favors.”
As owner of one of the larger private parks in the Adirondacks, Webb became aware of the debate on forest preservation and conservation. His brother-in-law George W. Vanderbilt had hired one of the emerging forestry leaders in America to manage the family’s Biltmore estate in North Carolina, one Gifford Pinchot, soon to be appointed as U.S. Forester for twelve years.
In 1896, Webb invited Pinchot to run a two-year Nehasane experiment, according to Burnett, “to demonstrate the wisdom of removing only the mature timber and leaving plenty of trees, under proper seed-producing conditions, to perpetuate the forests … Both Dr. Webb and Mr. Pinchot realized that if the methods proposed were to have any value it must be shown that American lumbermen could actually get better returns from their investments in spruce lands through conservative lumbering and successive crops rather than by considering the productiveness of those lands as of merely temporary interest.”
With his ownership of Township 8 in Brown’s Tract, Webb had special plans for the prized lakes within its borders, including Big Moose and Twitchell. Though he may have harbored hopes to include these within his park, he did anticipate selling all the prime parcels surrounding these lakes for cottage and hotel development. The principles of scientific forestry made such good business sense to him, that he crafted these into what has become known as “the Webb Covenant.” This covenant has been incorporated into all the early cottage and hotel deeds for the Twitchell, Big Moose, and Fourth Lake allotments, with stipulations about forest fire prevention, public access to all trails on private lands, and the exclusion of any commercial, agricultural, or manufacturing projects on or near those lakes. This, he assumed, would heighten land value, and maximize sales and profits.
Rise of the Branch Railroads & Logging Towns
Webb completed his Adirondack railroad at an estimated out of pocket cost of six million dollars. On May 1, 1893, he leased his entire rail line to the New York Central & Hudson River Railroad, which ran it as its new Adirondack Division until 1913 when it gained full ownership. However, it was still popularly known as Webb’s Mohawk & Malone Railroad. This narrow map shows the Mohawk & Malone with the Big Moose Station (and Twitchell Lake) near its midpoint, based on Bill Gove’s map in Logging Railroads of the Adirondacks (I added the stations in black, lakes and river labels in blue, and logging railroads in red). Webb’s project opened access to millions of acres of virgin timber to the lumber industry. The Forest Preserve act of 1885 excluded all lumbering on land owned by the state. Webb used his covenant to convince the state that the many lumbering contracts he planned to draft were based on principles of scientific forestry.
A whole string of new lumber towns sprang up overnight along the Mohawk & Malone – ten of them as hubs for branch railroads that would access and move logs to a lumber mill – with McKeever, Minnehaha, Thendara, Moulin, Carter, Big Moose, Wood’s Lake, Beaver River, Little Rapids, and Brandreth listed on this 35-mile rail stretch (south to north). Additional logging stops opened later between these stops, such as Buck Pond just north of the Big Moose Station.
The picture here shows hemlock harvesting for leather production continuing well past 1900. Gove tells the stories behind each of these new settlements, the towns lasting as long as there were logs to harvest. Two mills processed logs on this line, McKeever in the south and Beaver River to the north. The importance of logging is highlighted by Gove:
“Logs were the initial freight item on Webb’s Adirondack and St. Lawrence Railroad, and forest products remained important throughout the life of the division. Temporary sidings were built in a number of locations along the line, where cars loaded with logs or lumber could be picked up … The entire Adirondack region had over seven thousand men working in a total of 150 logging camps. Webb’s railroad had become a gateway to tremendous areas of merchantable timber and busy logging operations. A log train through Herkimer village was a frequent late afternoon occurrence as the New York Central brought in a train load of logs for the Standard Desk Company.”
New York State Governor John Alden Dix had the first of the logging railroads built in 1897 to move five million board feet in logs from his Lake Rondaxe skidway to Carter station, after William & Julia deCamp blocked his planned log drive down the middle branch of the Moose River, winning a lawsuit to levy every log floated through the deCamp park lands. The “deceptive maneuver” employed by Dix to accomplish his goal has definite movie potential, reflecting the litigious nature of this decade as well as the shift from river drives to log trains. In short, Dix hired Webb’s lawyer, Charles Snyder, to pursue deCamp permission for a railroad right-of-way across their land for the Raquette Lake Railroad, which would serve camp owners there.
That company’s Board of Directors was its own who’s who of powerful American industrialists, including Collis P. Huntington, J. Piermont Morgan, Alfred G. Vanderbilt, William C. Whitney, Henry Payne Whitney, W. Seward Webb, and Senator Chauncey M. Depew. This group thus gained rail access in 1899 to their Great Camps on Raquette Lake and Dix added a three-mile rail spur to get his logs to the mill, avoiding the Moose River toll. From Carter they were moved south on the New York Central Railroad to the McKeever mill complex which had begun as a railroad construction camp in 1892.
Dix ran the Moose River Lumber Company with the Thomson brothers – LeMon and Edward – adding a 5.5-mile rail line in 1903 to service six lumber camps along the south branch of the Moose River (Gove, p. 73). The Raquette Lake Railroad would see some seven hundred million board feet of spruce, white pine, and later hardwood, transported to the McKeever mills in the following decade. The other logging railroads shown on the map included above, Wood’s Lake, and Brandreth’s Mac-A-Mac, were added in the next era for new logging operations.
One of the lumber towns to survive into the new century was Big Moose, with early hotels on Twitchell and Big Moose Lakes following rough logging roads for their buckboard and carriage traffic. A road to the Fulton Chain was built in 1894. The road from Big Moose to Stillwater Reservoir was not built until 1955. Bill Marleau brings this wild and wooly frontier town to life in his folksy Big Moose Station, with the author’s watercolor “First Train Through” capturing what that milestone event may have looked like as the first train pulled in from Montreal on October 24, 1892. The the first train through originated in New York City, and then went to Montreal.
Big Moose Station sat on mounds of gravel graded across a sizable marsh, a sidetrack nearby for transferring Dix logs from wagon to train, as they arrived from his lumber camps near Twitchell Lake. Marleau’s 1896 map of Big Moose shows several hotels, a bar, a schoolhouse, a boarding house, a church, and a half dozen log cabins clustered on both sides of the tracks. The first postmaster, Henry H. Covey, was also the owner of Camp Crag on Big Moose Lake. His son Earl built the Twitchell Lake Inn, that lake’s first hotel, in 1898. Marleau named and described five Irish immigrant families who left canal jobs in Canada to become Big Moose’s first pioneers:
“When the canals began losing out to the railroads many canalers became railroad men … They all originally came to Big Moose to work on the railroad and sometime in 1893 or ’94, built cabins in Big Moose, moved their families there and became its first settlers. When railroad work became scarce, they worked on John Dix’s logging jobs.”
On the weekend, the lumbermen of this era populated Big Moose bars. Townspeople knew of their arrival by the mixed smells of Sloan’s Liniment and fly dope made of pine tar and citronella slathered all over for sore muscles and protection from pesky insects. At the height of its logging glory, Marleau colorfully described his hometown as “full of lumberjacks, drunk and sober, wild, cursing, swearing teamsters, hard drinking, fighting tobacco chewing Irishmen.” The Mohawk & Malone was now poised and ready for hauling logs, and Webb owned vast acreage of virgin timber. He would contract lumber firms to carry out this part of his plan.
Illustrations, from above: Picture of an antique crosscut saw taken by Noel Sherry and hanging in his cabin; picture of the Burke Shanty on Twitchell Lake from The Story of a Wilderness by Joseph E. Grady (p. 204); illustration from Forest & Stream Magazine, August 1873; Wikipedia Photo of William Seward Webb, ca 1902; laying a Logging Railroad near Cranberry Lake, 1913 (NYSA_A3045-78_1695); Noel Sherry at the High Point on Webb’s Railroad; Nehasane Park Maps Compared, 1894 & 1898; Nehasane Lodge Living Room, ca 1900, Thomas E. Marr Photo (Courtesy of Adirondack Experience); Nehasane Lodge Living Room, ca 1900, Thomas E. Marr Photographer, ADK Experience Photo; Lumber Company Railroads Spawned by Webb’s M&M Railroad, Created by Noel Sherry from William Gove Maps; Hemlock Bark on Jackworks of Mac-A-Mac Railroad, ca 1915 (William Gove, p. 44); and watercolor of First Train Through the Big Moose Station in 1892, Painted by Noel Sherry.
Sources: Bill Gove’s Logging Railroads in the Adirondacks, p. 37; “Fire in Castorland: Basselin’s Mill & 8 Million Feet of Lumber Burned” in Lowville’s Journal & Republican (September 21, 1899); Alfred L. Donaldson’s History of the Adirondacks (Volume 2, 1921); Charles H. Burnett’s Conquering the Wilderness: The Building of the Adirondack & St. Lawrence Railroad by William Seward Webb, 1891-92 (1932); “Twitchell and Thereabouts” by Paul A. Crouch & Beatrice E. Noble (1968); Email communication with Ed Pitts (December 19, 2021); “Ne-ha-sa-ne or the Beaver River” in Ed Pitts Annals of the Beaver River (https://beaverriverhistory.blogspot.com/); (“Spring in the Woods: An Afternoon at Dr. Webb’s Lodge” in The Ogdensburg Journal (April 10, 1894); “The Forestry Commission” in The Herkimer Democrat (July 3, 1895); Ed Pitts’ Beaver River Country: An Adirondack History (Syracuse University Press, 2022); and “The Forests: A Scheme to Tie Up the Wilderness for a Favored Few Who Can Pay for a Lease” in The Herkimer Democrat (June 17, 1896).
Big Burly says
What a gr8 writeup of the early history of this undertaking ! A typo perhaps however … the lease by Webb to the NY Central could not have occurred in 1863 — rather consider it to have been in 1893.
Thanks for the stellar scholarship and sharing it with readers of John’s excellent blog.
NOEL A SHERRY says
Hello Big Burly,
Thanks for the complements, and so glad I can share the fruits of my research for our Twitchell Lake History Project. It has been so much fun researching “Logging & Preservation in the Central Adirondacks” and I will have quite a few more articles before I finish it up.
The typo is one of us (John, me, or his assistant). You are right, 63 shoul be 93. Good catch.
John Warren says
Thanks Big Burly,
I’ve made the correction t the date.
Thanks for reading New York Almanack!
Jim Fox says
This is not only comprehensive but interesting; from the lengths of logs for different markets and cost of concrete for the Twitchell bridge, to Webb’s five gangs with different jobs to build the M&M, and the NYC lady’s prize trout from Lake Lila. I loved it, Noel!
NOEL A SHERRY says
Thanks much Jim. My writing philosophy is I have to enjoy what I have written, along with detail and accuracy, so those touches are me discovering info that makes it interesting for me. Glad you found that too. More to come.