In this episode of A New York Minute In History Podcast, State Historian Devin Lander and Saratoga County Historian Lauren Roberts tell the story of Boston Corners, also known as Hell’s Acres, which once belonged to Massachusetts, but was ceded to New York State by an act of Congress in 1855. [Read more…] about Hell’s Acres in the Taconic Mountains
The Old Trail: A Lyon Mountain History
Many years ago, a new trail replaced the old trail on Lyon Mountain in the town of Dannemora in Clinton County, NY, which had degraded with sections ranging from grassy to rocky to bouldery to muddy to extremely steep, muddy, and slippery.
It was a mess compared to paths built by modern trail crews. In 2006, ADK’s Algonquin Chapter completed the plans for a new trail, which was built in the summer of 2008. [Read more…] about The Old Trail: A Lyon Mountain History
Logging The Adirondacks: A Legal Logjam (1880-1900)
An early 20th century Adirondack lawsuit pitted a small Big Moose Lake sportsman and landowner Aaron Lloyd against a team of powerful opponents, John Adams Dix and his Moose River Lumber Company with Dr. William Seward Webb and his Nehasane Park Association.
A second suit reversed the plaintiff and defendant, Webb vs. Lloyd, and appeared to be linked to the first complaint. Clearly this was a classic David versus Goliath clash. These cases would have been the fodder for conversations around the campfire in the Big Moose area for almost a decade.
On the surface, the complaints concerned the harvest of millions of board feet of virgin timber and flooding Big Moose Lake to get these logs to market, with Webb behind both actions. [Read more…] about Logging The Adirondacks: A Legal Logjam (1880-1900)
Logging The Adirondacks From The West (1800-1820)
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)
Simeon DeWitt: America’s Surveyor General
Tjerck Claeszen DeWitt immigrated to New Amsterdam (now New York City) from Grootholt in Zunterlant in 1656. Grootholt means Great Wood and Zunterland was probably located on the southern border of East Friesland, a German territory on the North Sea only ten miles from the most northerly province of the Netherlands.
By 1657, Tjerck DeWitt married Barber (Barbara) Andrieszen (also Andriessen) in the New Amsterdam Dutch Church and moved to Beverwyck (now Albany). While in Beverwyck, he purchased a house. At this time Albany contained 342 houses and about 1,000 residents, about 600 of whom were members of the Dutch Church. [Read more…] about Simeon DeWitt: America’s Surveyor General
Jack Sheppard: Civil War Vet, Panther Hunter, Adirondack Guide & Steamboat Operator
Jack Sheppard came to the Fulton Chain region of the Western Adirondacks after roaming the West as a youth and then served in the Union Army during the Civil War.
These experiences equipped Sheppard with the knowledge, skills, and social network to become a successful guide and enabled him to shift his occupation from guide to innkeeper, to builder, to businessman. He never married or raised a family, but when he left the Adirondacks in 1892 he left behind a long list of devoted friends that reads like a virtual who’s who of Adirondack history. [Read more…] about Jack Sheppard: Civil War Vet, Panther Hunter, Adirondack Guide & Steamboat Operator
Deep In The Adirondack Woods, A Colvin Survey Benchmark Revealed
As a boy growing up in the Battle Hill section of White Plains, NY, I remember my excitement at reading a brass memorial telling me “George Washington slept here.” White Plains was the site of a battle during the American Revolution.
Now as an adult I have had the thrill of learning that Verplanck Colvin surveyed Twitchell Lake and took measurements on the shore where my log cabin stands in Big Moose, NY. That realization launched me on a quest to find a benchmark placed by one of Colvin’s surveyors on an important boundary line nearby. [Read more…] about Deep In The Adirondack Woods, A Colvin Survey Benchmark Revealed
Naming the Lakes of the Eckford Chain
In the summer of 2017 I decided to paddle the Eckford Chain of Lakes in the Adirodnacks. We set out one fine August morning from Raquette Lake, crossed the lake, and proceeded up the Marion River, through the carry, putting back in at the Utowana dock, continuing through Utowana Lake into Eagle Lake, and then into Blue Mountain Lake before pulling our boats out at the Blue Mountain beach.
Our conversation (and questions) turned to the name Eckford Chain of Lakes. [Read more…] about Naming the Lakes of the Eckford Chain
An Adirondack Surveyor’s Unpublished Work Reflects On A “Wild and Woolly” Career
Frank Tweedy’s four-years of Adirondack surveying under Verplanck Colvin prepared him for a 43-year career as Topographical Engineer with the US Geological Survey (1884-1927).
After completing his survey of the Beaver River Basin and the Totten & Crossfield Purchase’s western line (1876-79), Frank served as Sanitary Engineer in Newport, R. I. (1880-81) before signing on with the Northern Transcontinental Survey based in Newport (1882-83). His contributions to mapping the Rocky Mountains stand as a big part of his legacy. [Read more…] about An Adirondack Surveyor’s Unpublished Work Reflects On A “Wild and Woolly” Career
An Adirondack Surveyor’s Basecamp At Twitchell Lake
As Frank Tweedy approached the end of his four-year stint with forest surveyor Squire Snell on Verplanck Colvin’s Adirondack Survey, Southwest Division, he was no longer a tenderfoot, but a veteran surveyor and topographer, with many miles of survey work in the Beaver River basin and six expertly drawn maps to his credit.
His southern trek to finish the Totten and Crossfield Tract boundary line necessitated a new base camp well south of Beaver River. Twitchell Lake in Big Moose was the perfect location. [Read more…] about An Adirondack Surveyor’s Basecamp At Twitchell Lake