Monday, December 11, 2006

Through the Fulton Chain, August 1914


Who Get Near to Nature in a Ten Day Trip in the Adirondacks

August 1914. To H.G. Dobson, "official log keeper" for the canoeing party which also included D.V. Bradley, A.E. Sizer, and A.L. Kimball, we are indebted for the following interesting account of their trip through the Fulton Chain of Lakes.

Although our trip was not taken in the interest of the public, or for any periodical, we are pleased to tell about it, if for no other reason than to see our writings in print. Before we started we had our trip thoroughly planned and were equipped with maps, compasses, firearms and fishing tackle. We left Brockport on Sunday morning, August 2, at four a.m., via auto in order to catch the 5:50 train at Rochester. Our trip through the Adirondack mountains was to start at Old Forge, at which place we had a pleasant visit with Dr. Lindsay formerly of this place. We rented our canoes there and obtained sufficient supplies for our immediate need. Our first camp was made in about 30 minutes, about three miles from Old Forge, near a cool spring. This land was part of a 10000 acre property owned by Lyon DeCamp, who gave us the permission to use the land for camping. We were already in the thick of the forest with no life in sight except the occasional passing of boats on their way to Fourth Lake. Our first rest was broken about two a.m., by the tearing of the paper covering on our "grub" which was hung in a tree. A shot brought the intruder down and showed it to be a porcupine.

We started in good time in the morning planning to save the middle of each day for rest. The trip through Second and Third Lakes was uneventful.

On Fourth Lake, we called at Seymour Point, where is located the summer camp of Mr. and Mrs. Wm. Sylvester. Mr. Sylvester might well take pride in showing his estates with its open camp, boat house, rustic bridge, and rustic stairways, crowned with a beautiful home like camp, all make of the hewn spruce with which the place behind the clearing is forested. He brings cold spring water from the woods, and by means of compression system has the whole camp piped with it. He has his own little saw mill, repair shops and plumbing equipment. He receives mail from the boat twice a day including Sunday and a fully stocked grocery boat comes to the door every day but Sunday. And yet will all these conveniences he is in the wilds, for deer graze in his potato patch each night and he has but to open the door to get the "smell of the woods."

Continuing our journey, we went the length of Fourth Lake to Inlet where a tiny stream afforded us passage to Fifth Lake which is little more than a pond. Here comes our first carry which although only half a mile, seemed as hard as any of the longer ones which came later. We were traveling so heavy that it required two trips to transport our whole "duffle". The canoes which naturally would seem to be difficult to carry, were provided at the center with a yoke, just fitting on the shoulders, and were a comparatively easy load. We paddled through Sixth Lake and into Seventh Lake at the end of which we made our second camp. The last mile of this journey was through broken stumps and logs, the channel marked by green shingles placed to right or left.

Between Seventh and Eighth was our second carry of one and one half miles. On this path we found much of interest including an eagle's nest, a platform on the extreme top of a dead pine, possibly 150 feet in height. The birds followed us for a mile scolding us for trespassing on their sacred preserve. Eighth Lake is owned entirely by the state and is the wildest and prettiest of the chain. It is probably three miles long and contains one island. There were probably fifteen to twenty camping parties on the shores, some transients, as we others spending more or less of the whole season. The fishing proved good here and we were rewarded with a hearty meal of bass. Here was another carry of about a mile to Brown's Tract Inlet which consisted of a well "paddled" path through reeds and water lilies. It was little over a mile as the crow flies, but with many turns we went about four before we arrived at Raquette Lake. On the inlet we saw two beaver mounds and we were told that they were now becoming quite numerous, having been introduced and protected by the State.

At Racquette Lake which is on the railroad, originally an old logging road, we learned our first war news. On this lake lives Mr. R.J. Collier, owner of Collier's Weekly, who was receiving a special press service by telegraph. He had given permission for the copies to be posted for the information of the public, so we learned the news up to the minute while we were there. He left while we were on the lake to see Glenn Curtiss to offer him $200,000 to act as War Correspondent for Collier's, and to carry him as passenger. Evidently his purpose failed for the papers have said nothing of the project. Mr. Collier owns one motor boat on the lake which plows through the water at 43 miles and also has a hydroplane at his camp. Our camp on this beautiful island dotted lake was on Indian Point, State Land, and was surrounded by white birches against a background of evergreens. Our second morning on this lake we noted the flags at half mast for the death of Mrs. Woodrow Wilson. We left in the afternoon with a heavy wind blowing at our backs. With our heavy loads, it took continual attention to keep boats headed and even then our boats shipped some water. At the carry between Racquette and Forked, we found a team to make the haul for us.

On each new lake we found new and interesting things and the scenery varied, so that it became not at all monotonous. At the end of Forked Lake, we lost our way for a little while and had to land across a heavily wooded point to get our bearings. We made camp at Racquette river (the lower part) near an old logging camp which is still kept open by the Norwood Co. for the purpose of housing guides and making carries. This carry around Buttermilk Falls and several lengths of rapids, not navigable, was about five miles and was made for us with a team. This old carry brought us through the wildest part of the mountains past the finest trout streams. Mr. La Pell occupied the camp and made the carry for us and in him, as in everyone we met, we found genuine friends who went out of their way to make things pleasant for us. We remarked on this fact several times and finally laid it to the fine mountain air, which made people feel so light hearted and whole souled.

We took up our journey again on Sunday morning, on Long Lake which is nothing but a widening of the river. We passed Deerland and Long Lake, both fashionable resorts reached by attractive automobile routes through the mountains. We made camp that night on West Island on which we found our first unoccupied open camp. Across to the mainland, a quarter of a mile, we found the finest spring we had struck and extremely cold. As we entered Long Lake that Sunday morning, we pass through fields of thousands of while water lilies, to my mind the most beautiful flower that grows. While at this site we witnessed a most peculiar sight, the passing of 14 canoes in the rain. It looked as though the German army was upon us as they came through the narrows. We found later that it was a summer school of boys from eight to twelve years old, who came from Baltimore, Md. We overtook them on the next day's carry and had pleasant visits with them. At the end of the lake we again entered the river, stopping Tuesday night at Axton, another camp leased from the State by Fred Woods, a guide. The spot was formerly used by the Cornell Institution for the study of forestry. There are several unoccupied houses there, any one of which was offered to us for the night. Mr. and Mrs. Woods made us feel as though we had always known them. Mrs. Woods sent us our first taste of fresh milk. Mr. Woods told us of the fishing holes and helped us get ready to go to the river for bullheads, of which we caught a big pailful about 11 p.m. Then he came down to our camp in the morning and showed us how to skin the fish.

Wednesday morning we left on the first leg of our journey, planning to reach Tupper Lake that night. During this run we made two short carries, which cut off the long curves in the river. We passed hundreds of wild ducks and came so close to them it would have been almost possible to touch them with a fish rod. Cranes were also numerous, and we afterward learned that there was a marsh on Tupper Lake on which most of the cranes of the country were hatched. At Tupper Lake we made an interesting trip through the Santa Clara Lumber Co's. mill, which close to 2000 logs a day were cut and the lumber sorted and piled. Here also we had an experience, which tended to mar out pleasures for the last of the trip. As we landed at the Tupper Lake dock, a motor boat brought to our feet a couple of youngsters who had fallen into the water. No heart action was present, even tho we detected a small pulse. We administered artificial respiration, and soon doctors were on the scene to direct us. We worked over an hour before the word was given that there was no hope. We packed our belongings early the next morning and reluctantly boarded the train at Tupper Lake, which was to carry us away. Our mountain vacation is over, but the memories are present, and will long remain with us.

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