The Tug Hill region is east of Lake Ontario, north of Oneida Lake, and west of the Adirondack Mountains, from which it is separated by the Black River Valley. It encompasses parts of Jefferson, Lewis, Oneida, and Oswego Counties. [Read more…] about Tug Hill: A Historical Primer
The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has finalized the Unit Management Plan (UMP) for the Tug Hill East Unit.
The Tug Hill East Unit covers a total of 22,886 acres of public land in seven State Forests, one Unique Area, and 13 Detached Forest Preserve parcels in the Lewis County towns of Lewis, Martinsburg, Osceola, Turin, and West Turin, the Oneida County town of Ava, and the Oswego County town of Redfield. [Read more…] about Management Plan For Tug Hill East State Lands Completed
After achieving his railroad dream and completing his Nehasane wilderness refuge – reachable using his own luxury rail car – William Seward Webb found himself in a major conflict with the State of New York.
Inlet historian Charles Herr tells this part of the story expertly, in his history of the Fulton Chain. My map here highlights that land aquisition by the State in yellow, totaling 74,585 acres of Brown’s Tract and in the Totten & Crossfield Purchase. Webb retained ownership of lakes like Twitchell and Big Moose because he intended those for later cottage and hotel sales. [Read more…] about Central Adirondacks Lumbering Operations (1880-1900)
For example, studying the pattern of coffee grounds in the bottom of one’s cup, a practice known as tasseomancy, will nearly always reveal that someone forgot to put a filter in the coffeemaker basket. And haruspicy, the study of the fresh entrails of a gutted animal, is consistently right in concluding the animal is dead. [Read more…] about Reading Bug Tracks on Tea Leaves
The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has announced the completion of two aquatic habitat improvement projects in Jefferson County.
These habitat enhancements, on the Black River below the town of Dexter and in Chaumont Bay, Jefferson County, were implemented in partnership with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and create new spawning habitat for native fish species that are critical for local economies and ecological diversity in the region. [Read more…] about Aquatic Habitat Improvements Projects in Jefferson County
One of the earliest written accounts of Jock’s Lake in the Adirondacks (about twenty-five miles east of Boonville) was given by Jeptha Simms in his 1850 book Trappers of New York: A Biography of Nicholas Stoner & Nathaniel Foster:
“Jock’s Lake, so-called after Jock (Jonathan) Wright, an early trapper upon its shores, is a very pretty lake, five or six miles long, though not very wide; and is situated in the north-eastern or wilderness portion of Herkimer County, some ten miles from a place called Noblesborough. Its outlet is one of the sources of the west branch of West Canada Creek.” [Read more…] about Jock Wright & Dut Barber: Honondaga Lake History
My uncle Frank Sherry taught my brother Tom and I orienteering, using a map and compass to navigate through the woods and find a remote pond or other location. We were teenagers and it was an exciting way to spend a Saturday.
On one of these adventures we were in search of Silver Dollar Pond to the east of Twitchell Lake in Northern Herkimer County,when we stumbled on our first lumber camp. The telltale signs were pieces of metal hanging from a tree and protruding from the ground, with old bottles half-buried in the forest floor. We made note of the location on our map, a half-mile from Twitchell, and returned to explore it. It wasn’t long before we located the camp dump, from which we dug up the items pictured here.
These and other objects triggered an active discussion on the date of this old camp, with an imaginative re-creation of what life might have been like for a lumberjacks living and working there. [Read more…] about An Adirondack Lumber Camp at Twitchell Lake, 1860-80
One of the most satisfying pastimes for me at our summer home on Twitchell Lake in Big Moose in the Adirondacks in Northern Herkimer County), was taking the camp guide boat out for a spin. That privilege was earned by passing the family test, a solo swim across the lake, about the distance of a football field.
Weighing just over 30 pounds, this unique 14-foot wooden craft sped through the water powered by two oars. A cabin shelf still displays several awards for winning the annual guide boat race. I fondly remember the one-mile hikes to neighboring Oswego Pond, trailing my older brother Burt carrying that guide boat on his shoulders using a hand-carved yoke, my father in the lead bearing the oars and fishing gear. [Read more…] about Logging the Adirondack Interior, Spurring Preservation (1840-60)
In the 1820s the State of New York encouraged Adirondack exploration and settlement, benefiting from the land sales and taxes (when they were paid). Lewis County newspapers were abuzz with praise for the 1825 completion of the Erie Canal, and in less than a year, the Black River Gazette launched a discussion on “improving” the Black River as a connection between the canal and the St. Lawrence River, anticipating the economic benefit Adirondack timber would bring when this opened a commercial route to the rest of the world:
“The quantity of lumber which might be drawn from those vast forests, now covering a soil which would anticipate the desires of a husbandman are beyond all calculation. For it is a fact admitted by all who have the least acquaintance with this section of country, that a greater quantity of wood, timber, lath, staves, boards, shingles, masts and spars might be drawn from this northern triangle, by means of a Canal, than any other district or county in the state.” [Read more…] about Up Every River: Logging The Adirondacks (1820-40)
In the nineteenth century Lewis County settlements east of the Black River were just getting established; most of these included at least one saw mill. By 1820 these settlements were beginning to push their way up the rivers into the Adirondacks, and new mills were being built along their courses. A Copenhagen, NY farmer on Tug Hill, viewing the Adirondack panorama spread out to his east, wrote the following in a Journal & Republican article titled “North Woods Wonder:”
“All the wilderness is strewn with lakes as if some great mirror had been shattered by an Almighty hand, and scattered through the forests for Nature to make her toilet by … And how the rivers meander the woods as the veins of a human hand. There are Beaver, Moose, and Indian, Bog, Grass and Racket… And how rough and shaggy the wilderness is with mountains … Let them pass unnamed.”
One of these “shattered” gems was Twitchell Lake. [Read more…] about Logging The Adirondacks From The West (1800-1820)