The 'Peg Leg' Railroad
By Richard F. Palmer (Copyrighted)
"The true lover of the Adirondack sport knows no other entrance to the gateway to the North Woods than by way of Boonville. From thence to the Forge House and the far-famed Fulton Chain of Lakes. The idea that there is any other entrance or gateway to the woods of importance to the true sportsman is an utter absurdity." Boonville Herald, May 11, 1882.
For generations the southern gateway into the Fulton Chain of Lakes region of the Adirondacks was over the rough and tumble Brown's Tract Road from Boonville to old Forge. The first 12 miles to Moose River was fairly smooth. But the rest of the journey aboard Frank Barrett's "Lightning Express" buckboard was an eleven-and-a-half-mile bone-jolting ride not soon to be forgotten. (1)
Public transportation between the Fulton Chain of Lakes had long consisted of several buckboard lines that carried passengers, freight and mail on a scheduled basis. In 1882 an old timecard shows the so-called "Old Line" buckboard leaving the Utica & Black River Railroad station at 8 a.m., and arriving at the Forge House at 4 p.m. In the other direction, the buckboard was to leave the Forge House at 9 a.m. and arrive at Boonville at 5 p.m. The distance was 26 miles. (2)
By the 1880s the Adirondack region was rapidly becoming a sportsman's and vacationer's paradise, and hotels and camps were springing up to cater to this burgeoning business. As people in ever-increasing numbers began to "discover" this unspoiled region, it became evident that a better mode of transportation was warranted. Travelers were becoming less tolerant of these primitive horse-drawn conveyances since the inception of railroads. Some efforts appear to have been made to improve the Brown's Tract Road over the years, but to not much satisfaction.
The Lowville Journal & Republican reported on Nov. 11,1886:
Some improvements are to be made on the Brown's Tract road next week, a route that is noted for its exceeding roughness. The work will be under the supervision of Mr. F.A. Barrett, who will see that the funds for the purpose are honestly and judiciously expended. The work will consist in rebuilding the corduroy bridges, removing some of the boulders that are in the road and corduroying the mudholes. The work is greatly needed, and tourists will appreciate it.
One of the most graphic accounts of travel over the portion of the road from Moose River to Old Forge is found in the Boonville Herald of June 30, 1881, which says in part:
We found the road not much better than when we were last through the Tract. Mudholes of unfathomable depths had to be forded, rocks of huge dimensions had to be straddled and climbed, sharp pitches had to be ascended and descended, sloughs long and short to be fathomed, corduroy roads, with transverse poles to be crossed to the imminent danger of a person with slender spinal column - all making a journey of a dozen miles, affording the wayfarer, according to Frank Barrett, just 385,559 jolts and jounces, each one giving him a little lest acute than given by the torturing rack and screw of the Spanish Inquisition. And yet we endured all with the meek patience of a martyr and are alive and well to recount our pains and perils.
Still another traveler wrote:
It is about as rough as it is possible for a road to be; it runs up over great rocks, down into mudholes that appear to be bottomless, and such in reality is the case in some places; then we find it improved(?) by bits of corduroy that end in more mudholes. Winter travel wasn't much better. It was noted that for two miles the road was exceedingly rough..."big boulders stood out of the ground and in order to get the sleigh over we were obliged to skid up the stones. (3)
The Boonville Herald was very vocal on this topic. On June 28, 1887 it noted that the road continued to be in disrepair. "Corduroy bridges are rotten and defective and the entire road needs to be improved. At the present time Pathmaster George Goodsell has a small force upon the road, probably as large as the amount of money to be expended will warrant, but not enough to make this road what it ought to be."
How the "Peg Leg" evolved
There had to be something better. The answer seemed to be a railroad which would afford a much easier and agreeable route for tourists bound for resorts on the Fulton Chain of Lakes. Although the motivation to build a railroad was gaining momentum, it had been discussed at least 30 years before it became a reality. On April 14, 1857 the New York State Legislature passed an act creating the Mohawk & Moose River Railroad Company. In vague terms, the southern terminus was to be on the Erie Canal in Montgomery or Herkimer counties, and continuing northward to "some point on the Moose River lakes in Herkimer or Hamilton counties." (4)
The plan was to construct the line from Little Falls to the Brown's Tract to tap the iron ore and timber resources of the region. Among its most avid promoters was none other than Erastus Corning, the first president of the New York Central; industrialist, and mayor of Albany. Although the proposed line was apparently surveyed, this scheme was never carried out. One newspaper editor had this pang of regret:
The immense region to the North of us, we had hoped would be sacred for the people of New York to recruit their sovereign health, by 'camping out,' surrounded by Nature's attractions in their grandest mood. But such is the march of progress. (5)
More 'paper' railroads
In 1871 the Salisbury Iron Company purchased the Port Leyden Iron Works and about 50,000 acres of land on the east side of the Black River, extending to the Brown's Tract. They proposed to manufacture charcoal iron from ore, by the use of coal produced from wood. This would require construction of a 6 1/2-mile railroad from Port Leyden to Booth's Mills. From there, it was planned that C.J. Lyon & Co., which had large timber holdings, would extend it another 4 1/2 miles to their tannery at Moose River, which was consuming about 6,000 cords of bark annually. The other part of the plan was to extend it another 10 miles to Fulton Chain. Nothing happened.
In 1882, a group of Syracuse businessmen reportedly planned to build a railroad from Port Leyden to the Fulton Chain of Lakes, a distance of 20 miles. The Black River & Fulton Chain Railroad was capitalized for $250,000. It was to be built to transport iron ore and lumber. This, too, never got beyond the discussion stage. (6)
A strong argument for a railroad from Port Leyden to the Fulton Chain of Lakes appeared in the March 16, 1882 issue of the Boonville Herald. The writer said "This, of all other places, may properly be denominated the 'Sportsman's Paradise.' " Comparatively few people visit it now, only because it is difficult of access. With this road constructed, the tourist would have a most easy journey to where he could take boats and go to any place he might desire."
Businessmen build the railroad
The region, upon which the writer waxed so eloquently as just waiting to be discovered by the outside world, remained the domain of only the most hail and hearty for another six years when three local businessmen, Dr. Alexander H. Crosby, Samuel F. Garmon and G. Henry P. Gould formed the first "Fulton Chain Railroad." This is not to be confused with a railroad by the same name that built the spur from Thendara to Old Forge a few years later.
Early in May, 1888 a survey team set out to examine the ground between Old Forge and Moose River with a view of selecting the easiest grade. Two feet of snow still in the woods hampered their efforts for awhile, but eventually they made a thorough examination of the entire route. It was decided to bypass the old Brown's Tract Road to avoid grades. Originally it was planned to build the Fulton Chain Railroad from Moose River Settlement some 14 miles to Old Forge”. (7)
Mrs. deCamp feared forest fires
Mrs. Julia L. deCamp, who with her husband, William Scott deCamp, owned considerable timber lands in the region, objected to the proposal, fearing sparks from locomotives would set the forests on fire. Eventually she agreed to a revised plan that terminated the railroad at Minnehaha instead of Old Forge. In turn, Mrs. deCamp offered to provide the connecting link by building and operating a steamboat on the Moose River between there and Old Forge. This would be accomplished by building a dam at Minnehaha to raise the level of the river to make it navigable. The railroad would be about eight miles long, and the steamboat journey, nine miles.
The Boonville Herald on June 2, 1888 reported that "Work on the railroad from Moose River to Old Forge goes steadily forward and though not as fast as predicted, yet with abundant prospects of being completed about half-way this fall. It is not yet learned whether the right-of-way can be obtained if steam is used, there being some objection to a locomotive by the deCamp family, through whose land the railroad will pass for nearly half the distance. It is feared that forest fires will result if a locomotive is used for power."
At the time it was predicted that:
In place of the 1,000 that now go to Brown's Tract there will be 10,000 when the road is completed, and large hotels will take the place of the modest and unpretentious camps that now dot the shores of the lakes. To many this will be a delight, to others who have gone to the Fulton Chain year after year for rest and quiet it will be a source of regret. Game will diminish, the fish, even with the hatchery, will become less plenty, and the happy hunting grounds of many a sportsman changed to a resort of fashion as on the eastern side of the woods.
The time for this change has been steadily advancing. First, one steamboat and then two are introduced on the lakes. Others will doubtless follow should the railroad be built and people in great numbers be give a breath of the fragrant forest air of the Adirondacks. The time will come sooner or later, and it might as well be now as in future years, that the north woods are open by easy lines of travel to all who desire to be invigorated in body and mind. To be sure, it may break down the idols that have long been worshipped, but for the greatest good to the greatest number let the gates of the entrance to the Adirondacks stand not only ajar; let them be open wide. (8)
To make the north branch of the Moose River navigable for a light draft steamboat from Jones' Camp (Minnehaha) to Fulton Chain, workmen under the direction of H. Dwight Grant of Boonville constructed a series of wing or "bracket" dams to confine the water to mid-channel in wide and shallow places. These dams were designed to be removed during high water. A lock and dam were built at Little Rapids, midway between Jones' Camp and Old Forge. The lock was built of timber and was 50 feet long and 14 feet wide.
A side-wheel, open-sided steamboat called the "Fawn" was built during the winter of 1888 by Theodore Seeber to transport passengers from Minnehaha to Fulton Chain. It was launched in April, 1889. This was a double-decked side-wheeler with ample capacity for passengers, their freight and baggage. At Little Rapids, the midway point, a lock 50 feet long and 14 feet wide, constructed of timber, was built to allow the steamer to overcome this obstacle and proceed on up the river to what was later the state highway bridge at Fulton Chain, today called Thendara. Structures made of earth and timber called bracket dams were created near Minnehaha to raise the level of the Moose River. At Fulton Chain, passengers were again met by buckboards and carriages to take them into Old Forge. (9)
The grade for the new railroad was far from being level. Survey work was done by the naked eye, going around what they couldn't go through, following the lay of the land which had an up and down profile. No official map of the line has ever been found. Initially, it was reported that the trains would be drawn by horses. The possibility of making it an electric railway was also considered. But Mr. Gould, the chief promoter of the railroad, decided against the use of horses and trolleys and contracted with the Ryther & Pringle machine shop of Carthage, N.Y. to fabricate a locomotive using a boiler and steam engine furnished by Ames Iron Works of Oswego, N.Y. (9)
Although it was built as cheaply as possible, work progressed on building the three-foot, narrow-gauge railroad, essentially duplicating the wooden stringer method employed some 40 years previous. It was built by Lafayette Wetmore, at that time a prominent lumberman of Crystaldale in Lewis County. Steel rails were expensive and there was plenty of wood around. Wetmore set up a temporary sawmill powered by a steam traction engine at Moose River Settlement. (10)
Wooden Rails instead of steel
The rail structure was created by cutting the straightest spruce and hemlock trees that could be found. They were hewn down, end to end, as stringers. On smooth ground the timbers rested on the ground. At uneven places, blocks of wood were used as shims. Lengthwise on the top of these heavy timbers, sawed stringers or ribbons were spiked. As far as can be determined, nothing resembling traditional railroad tracks was used.
The track structure was completely of wood and constructed to 36-inch gauge. It was noted that that "the railway is cut through the forests by felling trees." A more powerful traction engine was brought in to replace the first one used to saw the ties and stringers so that work could progress more rapidly. It was originally planned to place a light iron rail on the stringers, but this does not appear to have been done. (11)
By mid July, five of the eight miles of line had been graded and rails laid for nearly four miles. The railroad was graded only for part of the way, most of it being upon timber crib-work. The wooden rails measured three by five inches, laid part of the way on ties, and the rest on hewn timbers. There were no serious gulches or large streams to cross.
This interesting article appeared in the Boonville Herald, June 28, 1888:
It has become a settled fact that a locomotive will be used on the railroad from Moose River to Old Forge or Fulton Chain of Lakes. The Carthage Republican of Tuesday says: Messrs. Ryther & Pringle, of this village, will make the engine for the narrow gauge railway to be built by Messrs. G.H.P. Gould and other Lewis county capitalists, between Old Forge and Moose River. The boiler and engine were made by the Ames Iron company, of Oswego; Messrs. Ryther & Pringle place it upon trucks and make the proper connections, etc., transforming it from an engine to a locomotive. There will be one piston, located directly underneath the boiler.
First locomotive a failure
Soon, this locally-produced locomotive arrived, but its trial trip did not prove at all gratifying. The locomotive was placed on the track, but almost immediately stalled on a grade after proceeding only about 30 yards. It was generally conceded that it was not suited for such a railroad with rough terrain. Some onlookers scoffed that this was no way to build a railroad, much less run in it. Ryther & Pringle also built a 25-foot open-side passenger car for the railroad that summer. It could accommodate 25 passengers. One end of the car had a bulkhead to prevent sparks and rain from beating in on the passengers. The same firm also constructed a boxcar to transport baggage and freight. Both cars sat on two four-wheel trucks. (12)
Workmen did their best to keep the frail locomotive together and it was used hauling the work train to transport supplies and men to and from the rail head. Until something could be done to secure a more reliable locomotive the railroad contracted with F.A. Barrett, proprietor of the stage line from Boonville to Old Forge, to operate the railroad with horses. The line itself followed the natural contours of the land it passed through. The right of way was essentially a swath cut through the forest.
The railroad commenced running trains over five miles of the line on Monday, Sept. 18, 1888, the day following the signing of an agreement between Crosby, Garmon and Gould and Julia deCamp to build the railroad over a portion of her property to Jones Camp, or Minnehaha. Traveling into Brown's Tract by this means soon earned the reputation of being novel. (13)
The Boonville Herald of Sept. 27, 1888 noted:
The new and easier method of entering the woods will make this resort more popular than ever with the people of town and city and a large hotel will one of these days be erected on the Fulton Chain. There is a possibility of a railroad being built from Port Leyden eastward for conveying large guns to a target ground which may be selected by the government. All these changes and improvements will enhance the business interests of this section and people generally are pleased to see the work go on.
By the end of October, 1888 the railroad was completed within two and a half miles of Minnehaha, and for a mile and a half ran along the west bank of the Moose River, affording passengers an excellent view of the rapids. Further construction and improvements were suspended until spring as winter set in. Meanwhile, there was a rumor that the Rome, Watertown & Ogdensburg Railroad might build a branch line from Boonville to Moose River to connect with the Fulton Chain Railroad. This would have entirely eliminated the buckboards and increased travel into the Adirondacks from this gateway considerably. (14)
After the failure of the Ryther & Pringle contraption, Gould decided to purchase a more conventional tank locomotive from H.K. Porter Co. of Pittsburg, Pa. for $3,000. It was construction number 1032, of the 0-4-2 wheel arrangement tank engine It weighed 17,000 pounds, with cylinders of 7-inch bore and 12-inch stroke. The locomotive was only 14 feet long, with the cab being about five feet square. It was described as being very compact "and a tasty looking piece of machinery." The small locomotive was soon delivered by the Rome, Watertown & Ogdensburg Railroad at Port Leyden, where it was unloaded from a flatcar. Getting it to Moose River Settlement, 11 miles to the east, posed somewhat of a problem since there was no railroad.
But Superintendent John McBeth came up with a solution. Two sections of what today would be called panel track were fabricated. The locomotive was steamed up and, after it passed onto one section, the track behind it was moved by the track gang and placed ahead of the locomotive. By steadily repeating this procedure countless times, the locomotive successfully arrived at Moose River Settlement under its own power two days later, on May 11, 1889, without incident. (15)
The Railroad Opens
The railroad appears to have opened for business on June 10, 1889, just in time to take advantage of the tourist season. Engineer W.H. Draper blew the whistle and they were off. On some parts of the line the engine would stall and it was necessary for the passengers to "give the engine a lift." When this occurred, a "block system" was employed, consisting of placing chunks of wood under the wheels to prevent the train from slipping backwards when it stalled on a grade. But no one complained as it was far superior to jouncing through the woods on a buckboard that was set aside for use during the off season or when the railroad was out of commission. The scheduled running time was an hour and 20 minutes. (16)
Meanwhile, the paddle wheel steamboat "Fawn" was launched in April, 1889. The boat is said to have been built on the fish hatchery grounds below the dam in Old Forge by Theodore Seeber. To traverse the circuitous Moose River, the paddle wheels were installed so they could operate independently in forward or reverse positions. John Sprague of Moose River assisted Seeber with the installation of the engine and boiler. This boat would carry travelers for the balance of the trip to Fulton Chain.
As predicted, the new service quickly gained in popularity, and the Brown's Tract Road, and its erstwhile buckboard became a thing of the past, only to be resurrected during emergencies and during the winter months. The fare from Boonville to Old Forge on the new route was three dollars per person. The train left Moose River Settlement at 1 p.m. after passengers had sufficient time to dine at Charlie Barrett's Moose River House. then the travelers would board the little train for a novel eight-mile journey through the forest to Minnehaha.
The "Peg Leg," as it was soon dubbed, did a thriving business during its first full season of existence. It was seen as a unique work of rural mechanism, conforming as much as possible to its surrounding environment. One traveler noted "its curves are gracefully abundant and its aspiring grades." The open car barely offered much protection in this forest where the rains descended perpendicularly, due to the lack of wind. Initially there were no structures that could be called depots. All that was at Minnehaha was an empty log cabin that furnished shelter in case of a storm. A siding was built there to allow baggage to be conveyed to the river and loaded on to the steamboat "Fawn." E.H. Sawyer was the first captain and Leonard Ingersol of Port Leyden acted as engineer of the new boat. (17)
After the railroad ceased operations for the season on Oct. 10, crews went to work repairing the track and grading down some of the hills. (18)
Many travelers to the North Woods enjoyed sharing their experiences of riding the line. Following is an excerpt from an account published in the Utica Daily Press on July 20, 1889:
Hess Camp, Fourth Lake, July 17 -The trip from Utica into the Fourth Lake of the Fulton chain of lakes is an enjoyable, bur rather a long day's journey. We left Utica on the Rome, Watertown & Ogdensburg railroad at 6:35 a.m., arriving in Boonville in time for breakfast at the Hulburt House, and by the time we had done justice to the spread Frank Barrett had our baggage looked after, and was ready with his line of stages to carry us to our first stopping place, Moose River, a distance of 18 1/2 miles over a very sandy and hilly country.
Arriving at the Moose River House at 12 o'clock, we were ready to dispose of the excellent dinner that Host Barrett, a brother of the proprietor of the stage line, placed before us, with an appetite sharpened to a razor-like keeness by the jostlings we received. We thought it the best dinner we had ever eaten. At 1 o'clock you hear a new sound for this region, the call of a locomotive whistle, and all start for the station of the Fulton Chain Railroad. This is a novelty in the line of steam railroads.
The road was originally intended for a horse railroad, and is laid through a dense forest for a distance of nine miles to a landing on the Moose river called Minnehaha, or better known as Jones Camp. The grade in some places is very steep, being 150 feet to the mile. The rails are made of birch scantlings, three by four inches, running lengthwise, which lay on a sort of corduroy road. After the road was built the proprietor concluded to use steam instead of horsepower. When we arrived at the starting point (there is no station) you see the entire rolling stock of the Fulton Chain Railroad. It consists of a small dummy engine and an open coach, which will seat about 30 people. This coach serves also as a freight and baggage car.
After looking at the wooden rails and the small engine, we felt as though we would rather take our chances strapped to a buckboard, but we were assured that it was perfectly safe and got aboard. If the man with the "Drop the nickle in the slot and get your life insured" were to place one of his machines at the starting point of this road, he would make his fortune.
At 1:15, W.H. Draper, who fills the position of engineer, conductor and general manager, rang the bell and we started. We had had a short run, when we came to a heavy grade, which was too much for our small engine, and after making about a quarter of a mile of the grade we were stuck. We then returned to our starting point and tried it again. This time we did not go as far as on our first attempt, and all hands were required to get out and push, which a number of the men did, but they soon gave out, and again we returned for a fresh start.
After putting sand on the tracks and getting a good head of steam, we made the third trial, and with the help of some laboring men that were working near us, we reached the summit of the hill. After this we ran along nicely for half an hour, over about as uneven a road as one could imagine. We came to a small brook, where we stopped for water. A hose was dropped into the brook and the water pumped into the boiler.
All around in the clear water we could see speckled trout. Our next stop was when we tried to get around a sharp curve but got stuck fast, and all hands did their best at pushing again, and with the aid of crowbars, &c., succeeded in making the curve. One more stop and we arrived at Minnehaha, after a really enjoyable ride of two hours. Here we went about the steamer Fawn, which is a new boat, run in connection with the railroad and owned by W.S. DeCamp. It is a well built boat but rather slow, as it takes three hours to go eight miles. The ride up the river is a delightful one, the river winding like a punctual succession of the letter S with the banks overhead with bushes or fringed with lofty trees.
Syracuse University English Professor J. Scott Clark, told of his experience of a trip from Boonville to Old Forge which was published in the Syracuse Journal on Sept. 9, 1889:
Fourth Lake, August 30, 1889
Here we are again. Yes, but there is nothing new about that. To readers, The Fulton Chain is almost as familiar as Salina street. True, but how did we come? That is the question. Whether 'tis better to bear the bumps of an outrageous buckboard or - but we forebear. The reminiscence is too painful. Listen then, ye seekers after ozone and adipose, salmon and venison, who for twenty years or less have annually bumped and rolled and sw-quoted Wagner's operas - all the painful way from Moose River to Old Forge-ye, who have found it necessary to halt for a day at the foot of the chain while your broken bones were set and your pants reseated - listen, I say, while I unfold a tale of sylvan ease and beauty - a tale of ready rolling and gently gliding.
From Boonville or Port Leyden to Moose river is the same old story. The sand clouds are just as thick as ever, in spite of the eight inches of rain for '89; the sun is just as hot, the hills as steep and the off horse bites the 'nigh one just the same. And at Moose river, the old half way house - mine host Charlie Barrett - sets up just as good a dinner as ever. But -"Hark! I hear a voice!" It is the voice of neither panther, partridge, deer, nor duck - it is a voice of the beast never before seen in these parts by an ante-eighty-niner. Again the wilds echo to the shrill note, and we rush across the bridge to find - not a terrible monster of the woods - nothing more nor less than a kind of mongrel locomotive, half cab, half tender, half saw-mill, half - but language fails us in the presence of this strange beast, which is nevertheless apparently quite tame.
A grizzled veteran stands apparently on the beast's tail and holds it by the throttle. Like the renowned navigator of the "Nancy Bell"who was "the captain bold and the midshipmite and the bo'sun tight, and the crew of the captain's gig," this gentleman fills numerous responsible offices. He is engineer, conductor, baggageman, fireman, etc., etc. a kind of sheet-anchor to hold down the charger's nose and prevent him from cavorting too wildly through the wood, is another mongrel machine - a cross between a wheelbarrow and a hand-car. On this our heavy luggage is deposited, to be pushed through the wilderness. In the rear of our steed is mongrel number three. Imagine, if you can, the upper story of the bathhouse at Pleasant Beach cut off horizontally from the bathhouse below and set upon the trucks of a freight car. The seats are upholstered with a kind of brown jeans. The standards of this "observation (it is a very observing) car" are of gaspipe, and the roof of galvanized iron, supported by slats of wood.
But while we have been making these observations, the bell has been ringing, the steed is snorting for the hill just ahead is steep - on we jump and away we go - not over the traditional rock and corduroy, that is not directly over, for the corduroy has been surmounted, longitudinally by two lines of large half-hewn spruce logs, firmly joined together by frequent cross-pieces, and on the upper hewn surface of these logs have been firmly spiked sound birch scantlings, about 3x5 inches in size.
This novel road extends for eight miles through the otherwise unbroken forest in as straight a line as the larger boulders will permit. Grade is of no consequence. At some points it is as steep as 200 feet to the mile though most of the route is fairly near to level. The heaviest grade is on the curve just as we leave Moose River. Our mongrel steed seems to realize this, and away he dashes with a determined snort. He wheezes, struggles bravely, retards, stops, backs down, and we make a backward toboggan slide to our starting point. Our multiform conductor-engineer sets his teeth grimly together, jams a few more blocks of wood into the animal's mouth, waits till his ire is thoroughly up and away we dash again.
It was a noble struggle, but alas! After this effort has been made once or twice, each time more heroically, until the sympathies of the passengers can stand it no longer, and just as Pegasus begins to weaken for the fourth time, near the summit, all jump off, and lend a willing hand, push mightily - and we are up the hill. Our noble steed seems to appreciate this lift, down the gentle decline on the other side with a vim that lasts unaided to the other end of the line.
A word more about the track. There has been little time and less earth for filling so far, so all depressions are filled with logs and poles, laid cob-house fashion. Sometimes these crazy-looking supports lift us many feet above terra firma, and timid "tender-foots" are inclined to second the assertion of a Utica quill-driver, who recently wrote that if the man with the drop-a-nickel-in-the-slot-and-get-your-life-insured machine would set up one of his machines at the Moose river-end of this "railroad," he would soon make his fortune.
But. seriously, there is very little danger. Our heterogeneous engineer, etc., is as careful as he is numerous; he goes very slowly over shaky-looking places, and there have been, thus far, no accidents or derailments. But our steed is growing restless. He looks faint. He shows all the indications of great thirst, so we stop while crossing a beautiful little trout stream, and Pegasus or his keeper, drops down a proboscis, in the shape of a leather hose, and sucks in deep, delicious drafts of this stream, fresh from nature's fountain head.
Then up goes the proboscis and on go we, now up, now down, now dodging under a partially fallen tree; now just grazing the side of a mountainous boulder; now catching a tuft of beautiful vistas flickered light and shade through the noble forest; now stopping again while Pegasus again quenches his elephantine thirst, and so, after an hour and a half of perhaps the most novel experience of a life-time, we roll proudly up to the log station at Minnehaha, better known to ye sufferers of ye olden time as Jones' Camp.
In a word, the Fulton Chain Railroad is a success. By another year or two improved gradation, a good dirt filling, and the proposed iron track will make it as smooth and safe as one could wish. Just now, it is worth coming to the woods, just to see and ride upon this picturesque conglomeration of mongrel mechanism.
A female traveler said that after dining at the Moose River House she and her party walked a short distance, boarded the train "drawn by the iron horse within the shadow of the great wilderness, and are soon plunging into its far-reaching depths." She described the curves as being "gracefully abundant and its grades aspiring." As yet no depots had been built and an empty log cabin at Minnehaha "furnishes shelter in case of a storm." (19)
The railroad ceased operations for the season of 1889 on Sept. 10 and the age-old buckboard lines were pressed back into service for the winter months. Considerable maintenance and repair work as well as grade improvements were carried out that fall. Also, some work was done to improve river navigation, including a new dam at Little Rapids. This work continued through until the following spring. Much work was done on grading and straightening curves. The steep grade at Moose River Settlement was cut down 20 feet at the top and 12 feet at the bottom. A new depot measuring 30 by 40-feet was erected at Moose River. (20)
The "Peg Leg" did not go into operation again until May 1, 1890. Not much news appeared that season other than casual references in the Boonville Herald about a large amount of travel to the camps and lakes. It was noted that "it is during the past ten years that the Adirondacks have boomed as a summer resort." (21)
The trip from Moose River to Minnehaha usually took about an hour and a half under the most favorable circumstances. Once, during a period of heavy rainfall, for which the Adirondacks is noted, it was feared that the Moose River would take the railroad downstream. The wooden rails became thoroughly saturated and slippery. Invariably the little train stalled, and the conductor, who also acted as station agent, brakeman, switchman and fireman, asked everyone aboard to get off and put their shoulders to the wheel and push the train up hill.
For this privilege the passengers who would have normally paid the dollar fare had the pleasure of riding free. After one of these very arduous spells of pushing the eight-ton engine and passenger car up the heavy grade the passengers climbed back on board. The conductor remarked "it was plain sailing now the rest of the journey." (22)
The "Peg Leg" in 1891
Seneca Ray Stoddard, in his 1891 edition of his guidebook, "The Adirondacks: Illustrated," had this to say about the little railroad:
The Fulton Chain Railway is interesting as beginning and ending in the woods, and having no connection by rail with the outside world. It is a marvel in railroads and rolling stock, worth traveling a long distance to see, and somehow it seems more part of the great wilderness than the conventional iron monster and steel tracks that one is accustomed to in the outside world.
The track is of wood, 3 feet gauge, the locomotive a nondescript, but it gets there with the traveler, and none are found to wish it otherwise. The road was built especially to meet a long-felt need - a boon from Boonville - that a thumped and jolted public is not slow to appreciate, and for which thanks are due to G.H.P. Gould and Dr. A.H. Crosby of that section. It is 8 miles in length, extending from Moose River to "Minnehaha," foot of the Stillwater, from which point a steamboat runs to the Old Forge. Fare by rail and boat, $2.00. (23)
The "Peg Leg" became the center of attention when the New York Herald started picking on G.H.P. Gould, who, at the time, was also an Assemblyman. The newspaper claimed he used his influence to prevent his little line from coming under the scrutiny of the New York State Railroad Commission. At the time, this powerful commission kept close tabs on the railroad operations. But somehow, the "Peg Leg" had escaped their notice.
A Herald reporter, during his investigation into alleged inequities of the state Fish, Forest and Game Commission, happened to spot "Fulton Chain Railroad" while looking at an 1890 map of the Adirondacks. But he could find no record of this railroad ever being incorporated. The reporter said when he asked a commission official if the Fulton Chain Railroad had ever filed any reports, "he stared at me blankly. 'Where is that railroad?' he asked, 'I never heard of it.' " The laws regarding railroads in New York State required that they be incorporated, which this was not.
The reporter replied, "Why, it runs through two counties. It starts at Lawrence's or Moose River post office in Lewis county, and runs to the Forge House in Herkimer County." Even though this was not correct - it only ran to Minnehaha - the astonished commission official said, "We know nothing of any such railroad. Let me see if our accountant knows anything about it. The accountant had never heard of the Moose River or Fulton Chain Railroad, but said he had heard about a logging railroad being built somewhere in the region.
When questioned about this, Gould said his attorney had advised him that under the circumstances it was unnecessary to form a railroad company since it was all built on Gould's own property and did not connect with any other railroad. Thus, the Railroad Commission had no jurisdiction. But the point of the investigation was to expose Garmon's alleged conflict of being a partner in a railroad venture and a hotel proprietor while at the same time being employed by the state as a forest warden. After the initial newspaper reports, the matter appears to have been dropped.
Aside from this, a Utica Herald article dated January 18, 1891 explained how the project evolved and reveals details on the railroad found nowhere else. It stated that Gould, Dr. Alexander Crosby and Samuel Garmon made a verbal agreement. Gould would provide the right of way and Crosby and Garmon would finance constructing and equipping the railroad. Garmon soon fell behind on his financial obligations and Gould bought out his share in June, 1889. Also, Garmon bowed out because he felt that purchasing a new locomotive was an unnecessary expense as the Adirondack & St. Lawrence Railroad would ultimately render it obsolete.
The Boonville Herald enthusiastically reported:
" All aboard for Old Forge" is now shouted at the Moose River terminus of the Fulton Chain Railroad. The first trip of the season was made yesterday (April 29, 1891). Nothing but a 'wooden-legged' railroad should ever penetrate the Adirondacks. One of the chief beauties of the forest domain is its remoteness from civilization. 'Show me the man that called this a wooden-legged railroad!' says the tourist who rides behind the iron horse into Brown's Tract. 'One road like this is worth a thousand buckboards.' Despite the fun that is being created over our wooden-legged railroad, it manages to 'get there all the same,' and no one prefers buckboards. One good point about this is that it is no injury to the game, as bears and deer are frequently seen crossing the track just in time to escape being run over by the train. (24)
That season, there were some personnel changes made. Charles McMaster of Trenton became the engineer of locomotive No. 2, and James Cummins of Moose River was appointed fireman. James McBeth returned and resumed his role as ticket agent, conductor and telegraph operator. One day in August, for some unknown reason, the engineer and fireman refused to work any longer and it was thought that the buckboards would have to be pressed into service. McBeth, who was quite skilled in the different crafts of railroading, took charge, and the railroad remained in operation. (25)
An interesting sidelight of 1891 was a proposal of the Adirondack League Club to build a tram railroad from the soon-to-be completed Adirondack & St. Lawrence Railroad from Old Forge to Jock's Lake, a distance of 11 miles. Apparently this was to haul out logs. At the time the club owned 93,000 acres of forest lands. They reportedly requested a right of way across about a mile of property owned by Dr. Alexander H. Crosby and Samuel F. Garmon. As far as can be ascertained, this tram railroad was never built. In this instance, a tram railroad was a temporary set of tracks - little more than logs secured by cross ties - used to haul logs out of the forest. They usually employed horses or traction engines as motive power. There were several such operations in this region over the years. (26)
Tourists and sportsmen poured into the Fulton Chain region in ever-increasing numbers and 1891 seems to have been a banner year for the little railroad, especially after all of the free publicity it was receiving. Following is an excerpt from the Utica Daily Press of Aug. 29, 1891:
Leaving Boonville by Goodsell & Barrett's line of stages we arrive at Moose River in time for dinner, where we had our first taste of venison, and an excellent dinner it was. Host Charles Barrett is one of the hotel men you read about but seldom meet with, and it is hoped he will long continue in the business. After dinner we boarded the Fulton Chain Railroad, which is as much of a novelty as ever.
Here you are sure to get a bit of railroad experience that is always varied, just filled with risk enough to make it interesting. With the little locomotive, a baggage car and one open coach, we made a start up the wooden rails, but as we had a pretty heavy load we did not succeed in making the first grade until the second attempt, when we were fairly started on our eight-mile ride , with our eyes rapidly filling with cinders, which were very abundant.
Travel on this road is not considered at all dangerous, but is sure to set you thinking of your sins and wondering if your insurance policies are all right. Last Monday (Aug. 24) they had the only accident of any consequence this summer, when the baggage car was thrown off the track by a defective rail. No one was injured, but the whole party, which numbered over 30 on their way home, was obliged to remain in Boonville all night as they reached there too late for the trains.
When you go into the woods you expect to put up with a few inconveniences, and this road seems to fit the place, and it is to be regretted that it will probably not be run many more seasons as it is stated on good authority that Dr. Webb secured today, the right of way for his new road from the owners of the Fulton Chain railroad. The ride up Moose river was a beautiful one, but rather monotonous, as it takes about three hours to go ten miles to Old Forge.
The Fulton Chain Railroad would continue in operation for the balance of the 1891 season, and through the spring and early summer of 1892. Anticipating its eventual demise, Gould sold three miles of the right of way along the middle branch of the Moose River to the "Mohawk & Adirondack" Railroad on Nov. 12, 1891 for $1,000. The line emerged from the forest just south of what is now called Minnehaha and followed the river northward. It crossed under the latter road just north of the Moose River bridge, paralleling the river for some distance, and terminating at what apparently was the original site. (27)
One of the classic accounts of a trip from New York to Old Forge during this time period appeared in the New York Times on Nov. 22, 1891, entitled "A Complicated Journey." Following is an excerpt:
But fame has come to the village of Moose River. It is a terminus. It is at one end of one of the most extraordinary pieces of railroad to be found in the world, and you cannot travel over this road without going to Moose River, for there are no way stations. The official name of this thoroughfare is the Fulton Chain Railroad, and it would be a simple act of justice to spell the definite article in its title with a capital "T." When you consider this road, you will inevitably come to believe that its builder happened to drop it where it is, for it begins nowhere and it ends at a like place. When you see it you will say that the builder had curious ideas of railroad construction, and when he dropped it, it did not strike square.
G.H.P. Gould of Lyons Falls and Dr. A.H. Crosby of Lowville built the Fulton Chain Railroad three years ago and it takes the place in the Summer of a corduroy wagon road that is said to be rougher riding and not half as funny.They are said to have spent $25,000 on it and its equipment. The rails are strips of wood spiked to logs. The equipment consists, or did until a lamentable disaster yet to be mentioned, of Locomotive No. 2; one box car in which freight, baggage, and, in rainy weather, passengers are carried; an open car, like those on the Sixth Avenue surface line in New-York, only much plainer, and a hand car. There is a story that there was once a locomotive No. 1, but this may not be true.
The popular name for the Fulton Chain Railroad is the "G.O.P.," which interpreted, is to say, "Get Off and Push." That is what the passengers are expected to do in an emergency, and this road has had more emergencies than any other railroad in the world. Mr. Gould and Dr. Crosby own the "G.O.P.," but they do not run it. The company was at the little station this September day, wearing a checked jumper and smiling cheerfully. It loaded the freight and baggage, sold the tickets, superintended getting the locomotive out of a "roundhouse," and in some occult way got it ahead of the two cars, and then stepped aboard and became the conductor. Two or three hundred yards from the station the company stopped the train and went back for the mail, which had been forgotten.
That was merely the first stop; the others soon passed beyond counting. Most of them were said to be to get up steam, which manifested a startling tendency to stay down. Sir John was told that the firebox was too small, and what was good enough for Sir John was surely good enough for other passengers. Sir John had another name, no doubt, but it was not disclosed. He was heard to ask how far it was from Moose River to St. Louis and it was conjectured that he was figuring how long it would take to get there by a "G.O.P." railroad.
The other terminus of the Fulton Chain Railroad is Minnehaha, which consists of a name and some tents, occupied by the surveyors and engineers of Dr. Webb's railroad. The locomotive poked its nose into the bushes in a dispirited sort of way, and it had gone to nibbling grass. The only surprise would have been that there was grass to nibble. . The passengers coldly turned their backs upon it and boarded a squat little side-wheel steamboat that bore the name of the Fawn and looked like a sunfish. The Fawn wiggled its way up the Moose River and turned curves so short that it had to hold its breath for fear its sides would touch. It passed through a little lock that made the Boy, who traveled the length of the Erie Canal last year, talk learnedly of "paddles" and "swelling out."
It is a lovely trip and a restful one, but it came to an end under a bridge. There was nothing there but a bridge, not even a name. (28)
During the night Wednesday, Oct. 1, 1891 a fire of suspicious origin destroyed the enginehouse, depot and freight house at Moose River Settlement. David Charbonneau, who discovered the fire at about midnight, found the building in a mass of flames. He gave the alrm. Agent James McBeth managed to make his way through the fire and smoke to the office to save the books and other important papers. Mr. Gould, who was in Poughkeepsie at the time, was immediately notified by telegram and arrived at the scene on Friday. The two locomotives were heavily damaged. Mr. Gould said he felt the fire "was either of incendiary origin, or was carelessly started by persons passing the night in the engine house." There was no insurance on the property, and the loss was given as between $5,000 and $7,000.
Since the tourist season hadn't quite ended, the buckboards were pressed back into service on the Brown's Tract Road. Since the fire put McBeth out of a job, he opened a saloon and boarding house at Nelson Lake. (29)
This fire was an unfortunate circumstance as all of the supplies for the construction of the Adirondack & St. Lawrence Railroad now had to be hauled by teams as the wooden railroad was, at least for the time being, inoperable. Never before had there been so much travel over the road between Port Leyden and Moose River, and never before had Charlie Barrett had so much business at his Moose River House. It then seemed the Fulton Chain Railroad would be abandoned, and visitors to the Fulton Chain would have to enjoy the "comforts" of the old buckboard until such time as the new railroad was completed. (30)
Undaunted, Gould was determined to continue operation of his little railroad right up until the day the Adirondack & St. Lawrence Railroad was completed to Fulton Chain, which was later renamed Thendara. The Utica Morning Herald, Oct. 12, 1891 noted:
LOWVILLE, Oct. 11. (Special.) - The locomotive used on passenger trains over the Moose River railroad, which was badly damaged by the fire which destroyed the engine house, depot, cars, etc., will be shipped to the manufacturers in Pennsylvania and repaired during the winter. It will be drawn by teams to Port Leyden, a distance of eleven miles. Messrs. Gould and Crosby expect to have the road in running order at the operating of business next spring.
The spring of 1892 found James McHale supervising a large force of men putting the railroad back into operating condition. (31) The Boonville Herald reported on April 21, 1892:
The Fulton Chain railroad will be operated this season and the track is being put in readiness. The locomotive that was burned last season will be put in order and be ready for business about the first of May. This will be a great convenience to parties going to the woods.
For a brief period of time, the lack of a locomotive on the wooden railroad and the fact that the Adirondack & St. Lawrence Railroad was not yet completed to Fulton Chain created considerable inconvenience for the superintendent of the fish hatchery at Old Forge for the shipment of a large quantity of salmon fry to the south. Rather than risk loss transporting them over the Brown's Tract Road, the fry were transported by rowboats down the Moose River to Minnehaha and conveyed by handcar over the Fulton Chain railroad to Moose River Settlement; thence by stagecoach to Boonville. (32)
Locomotive No. 2 soon arrived back on the scene and made its first trip on May 24, 1892. Charles McMaster of Trenton was the engineer and Grant Bingham of Boonville was fireman. W.H. McGarry acted as conductor, general freight and passenger agent. A correspondent for the Boonville Herald noted that "Moose River seems to be quite a railroad center and yet we are not 'in it.'" This is referring to the fact that all of this activity was only temporary until the Adirondack & St. Lawrence Railroad was completed. Hundreds of tons of equipment and supplies had been shipped by horse and wagon to Moose River for the Enterprise Contract Co. which was building the A. & St. L. The supplies were then taken by every means possible to Fulton Chain over the Brown's Tract Road, on the handcar to Minnehaha, and on the steamboat "Fawn" which made several trips a day. (33)
Operation of the Fulton Chain Railroad during its last gasp of operation was not without at least one mishap. The Boonville Herald of June 23, 1892 reported:
The little iron horse took a severe tumble one day last week, caused by a broken rail which upset the engine. But as the passengers are always prepared to make the leap for life all escaped uninjured.
Progress ultimately caught up with the wooden railroad. The first passenger train over the Adirondack & St. Lawrence to Old Forge on Friday, July 1, 1892 ushered in a new era of convenient easy transportation to the region. People could now travel to the Adirondacks in style aboard palace and sleeping cars and partake of New York-style cuisine aboard the plush dining cars. The inconveniences of primitive travel were happily left behind. But the dear little wooden railroad that so faithfully transported travelers to the woods was not soon forgotten. What became of the locomotives and rolling stock is not known, but some say No. 2 spent the rest of its days rusting away at Moose River Settlement.
The Boonville Herald of Oct. 13, 1892 summed up the end of the little railroad:
The wooden railway which ran from Moose River, and once afforded the means of access to the tract, is now relegated to the past, and its fast decaying tracks now serve no other purpose, save by their presence to bear silent witness that they were once active factors and performed their part in this busy age.
S.R. Stoddard, in his 1892 edition of "the Adirondacks: Illustrated noted:
The Fulton Chain Railway is, or rather was, interesting as beginning and ending in the woods, and, incidentally, for roadbed and rolling stock. The track was of wood, three feet gauge, the locomotive a nondescript, but it got there with the traveler and none were found to wish it otherwise. It extended from Moose River to "Minnehaha" foot of the Stillwater, eight miles. Its history though brief was brilliant. Its closing was even more brilliant than its career, for it went up at last in flames which destroyed engine and rolling stock entire and a section of several feet of its wooden track. It was a great comfort to a thumped and jolted public entering from this direction, but the approach of the A. & St. L. R.R., with its powerful connections seemed to render the opening of the road for the season of '92 inadvisable.
(Mr. Stoddard was misinformed. There was a fire, but the engine was rebuilt and the cars escaped the fire. It operated until July, 1892).
In contrast, the little steamboat "Fawn" survived as a popular summertime excursion boat on the picturesque Moose River between Fulton Chain and Minnehaha for many more years to come. The Utica Daily Press of Aug. 29, 1894 describes it best:
One of the most interesting and charming trips by water in the Adirondack wilderness is that made daily by the steamer Fawn, from Fulton Chain station to Minnehaha and return. The picturesque stream is most beautiful, especially in autumn, when the wooded banks are clothed in those colors and tints which no breath but Jack Frost's can bring to life. This is the steamer which in days gone by was wont to convey to the bridge - one mile from Old Forge- those who were brought from Barrett's - Moose River - to Minnehaha by the unique wooden railroad. K.W. Crabb, "ye old pilot," is at the wheel, so the Fawn never strays from her path. No one ought to neglect enjoying this ride on the far famed river.
G.H.P. Gould - Pioneer North Country Entrepeneur
Gordias Henry P. Gould, who is credited with being the pioneer developer of the wood pulp and paper making industry in northern New York, was born in Lyons Falls on June 10, 1848, the son of Gordias H. and Mary Plumb Gould. He was educated at Fairfield Academy in Herkimer county, and attended Lowville Academy. After graduation he became bookkeeper for the firm of Snyder Brothers who operated a tannery at Port Leyden.
In 1869 he started his own lumber business at Moose River Settlement, where he remained until 1874. He then formed a copartnership with the heirs of Lyman R. Lyon, in the same business. He built a mill and began the manufacture of wood pulp. His sawmill had a capacity of 10 million feet a year.
It was in 1887 that Mr. Gould, after making a verbal agreement with Dr. Alexander Crosby and Samuel Garmon, conceived the idea of building a railroad solely for the convenience of tourists, fishermen and hunters. The old Brown's Tract Road could neither handle, nor was capable, of handling ever-increasing travel into the Adirondacks.
He built the railroad as cheaply as possible, mostly over a tract of land that he had owned since 1872. The rails were cut and fashioned into rails and ties from his own trees. The most expensive part of this enterprise was the purchase of an engine from Porter Locomotive Works which cost $3,000 when delivered at Port Leyden. The first locomotive, built in Carthage, proved to be a failure.
It was officially called the Fulton Chain Railroad. But scoffers referred to it as the "wooden legged" or "peg leg" railroad, from the fact that much of it was built up on trestle work. But the railroad soon proved to be a good investment and continued to be until the Adirondack & St. Lawrence Railroad was completed in 1892.
This was just a small "pocket change" sideline for Mr. Gould who made his fortune in papermaking, lumbering and early hydroelectric development - both in northern New York and Canada. He had extensive landholdings throughout the region. He formed the Gould Paper Company which for years had a large mill at Lyons Falls, and extensive logging operations in the Tug Hill region. Later, he helped develop and served as president and director of the Glenfield & Western Railroad, which essentially was built to haul timber to the railhead at Glenfield. He also controlled the Kosterville and Donnacona paper companies in Quebec.
Although he made his living from pulp and paper production, Mr. Gould took an active role in the formation of the Adirondack Forest Preserve in 1892. He was a firm believer in the preservation of the forests.
Mr. Gould was active in Democrat politics and staunchly supported Grover Cleveland in his bid for U.S. President in 1888. Later, he supported presidential candidates William McKinley and Theodore Roosevelt. On the local level he was elected supervisor of the town of Lyonsdale in 1877. In 1881 he was elected Assemblyman from his area on the Democratic ticket. He was generally held in high esteem all his life, both as a businessman and politician. He also was a member of Port Leyden Lodge 669, F.& A.M. (Masons).
During the fall of 1918 he suffered an attack of influenza and his health failed during the winter. Also, he was weakened by rheumatism. Eventually, he became bed ridden and it was felt something could be done for him at Clifton Springs Sanitarium. He was there for only a short time when he passed away on June 8, 1919.
Dr. Alexander Crosby
Dr. Alexander H. Crosby, G.H.P. Gould's leading partner in the Fulton Chain Road, was one of the Lowville area's most prominent physicians. He was born on Oct. 18, 1836 in Martinsburg, Lewis County, the eldest son of Hopkins and Mary Porter Crosby. He grew up on his father's farm and, in today's jargon, was "home schooled." His advanced schooling included Wellsboro Academy, Mansfield Seminary and Lowville Academy.
He decided he wanted to become a physician and for some time studied medicine with his uncle, Dr. Lyman Buckley of Sandy Creek, N.Y. Later he worked in the office of Dr. James T. Peden, an eminent physician of Martinsburg. He then studied medicine at Albany Medical College where he received his license to practice medicine.
Dr. Crosby began his own medical practice in January, 1862 in Martinsburg, which was then the county seat of Lewis county. In March, 1867 he moved to Lowville, which then became the county seat, where he resided the rest of his life. He earned the reputation of being one of the most skilled physicians and surgeons in northern New York. On several occasions he was called in as an expert witness in criminal cases. His testimony always carried weight both the judge and jury.
In politics Dr. Crosby was a Democrat for years, but later took an independent position. He was elected to the New York State Assembly on the Democratic ticket and during 1877-78 he served as a Congressman from the second Congressional District. He chaired the Lewis County Democratic Committee for two or three years. While serving as a member of the New York State Board of Charities he advocated better living conditions for people confined to pubic institutions. His other public service included being a member of the Lewis County Pension Examining Board that assisted many old veterans in securing pensions from the federal government.
On Feb. 23, 1864 he married Addie M. Macoy of Martinsburg, who died March 16, 1907. He then married Grace Rugg of Lowville who survived him. Dr. Crosby died on March 2, 1911.
Samuel F. Garmon
Samuel F. Garmon, so closely linked to with the development of the Old Forge region in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, was born in Watson, Lewis County, on March 24, 1840. He served in the Third New York Cavalry during the Civil War, and in his early years was superintendent of the Black River Canal. He served as a town supervisor and was a state forest warden.
In politics he was a staunch Democrat and backed Grover Cleveland for president of the U.S. and was politically-connected in state and federal circles.
For many years he and Dr. Crosby were closely associated with land development that included and operation of such enterprises as the Forge House, the leading hotel in Old Forge, which they rebuilt in 1890. This famous landmark burned to the ground on July 2, 1924.
Mr. Garmon was also involved in the building of the "second" Fulton Chain Railroad from Thendara to Old Forge.
He died December 30, 1913 in Utica and was survived by his wife, Jennie; a daughter, Mrs. P.H. Powell of Bridgeport, Conn., a brother, James, and a sister, Mrs. Ellen Harvey of Syracuse.
1. "Brown's Tract Letters." Boonville Herald, June 30,1881.
2. Advertising card, "The Adirondacks. John Brown's Tract Side. The Old Line - 1882." Charles Phelps, Agent, Boonville, in collection of Town of Webb Historical Association, Old Forge, N.Y. Seneca Ray Stoddard's 1886 guidebook under Boonville lists "Special rigs to Forge House and Fulton Chain Lakes. Edwin R. Wallace's 1887 edition of his Guide to the Adirondacks says that at Port Leyden "Tourists enroute to the wilderness are furnished with guide and conveyances by the proprietor of the Douglas House, which was recently repaired and enlarged with a view to the accommodation of summer guests."
3. "In The Norh Woods" Boonville Herald, Sept. 2,1880; "A Trip Up Fulton Chain." Boonville Herald, March 30,1882.
4. PP. 897-8, Laws of New York. 80th Session, Act passed April 14,1857.
Incorporators were Erastus Corning, Edward C Delavan and Benjamin Tibbets of Albany; Abram R. Morris, John F. Butterworth and Anson G. Blake of NewYork; Albert G.Story of Little Falls, Oliver Ladue of Brocket's Bridge, John G. Pitt of Salisbury Center, William M. Dutton of Stratford, William Kingsbury of St. Johnsville and Albert Hough of Schenectady.
5. Utica Morning Herald, Oct. 2, 1858.
6. Utica Daily Observer, Aug. 9, 1871; Lowville Journal-Republican, January 5,1882.
7. Boonville Herald, May 3 and June 21, 1888.
8. Boonville Herald, June 8 and Oct. 25 and 30, 1888. The name "Fulton Chain" was officially changed to "Thendara" in December, 1919 and the name of the post office there changed to "Thendara" in January, 1920.
9. Boonville Herald, June 28, 1888; January 22,1891.
10. Obituary of Lafayette Wetmore in Lowville Journal and Republican, Feb. 3, 1910; P.14, "Early Days on Tug Hill" by Hazel Mae Wetmore, (no date), privately published; Watertown Daily Times, Oct. 11, 1888.
11. Boonville Herald, June 11 and 21,1888.
12. Boonville Herald, Aug. 2,1888, Feb. 2,1889, January 12, 1889.
13. Boonville Herald, Sept. 13, 1888; Agreement dated Sept. 18, 1888, Herkimer County Deed Book 138, pp 507-500.
14. Watertown Herald, Sept. 22,1888; Boonville Herald, Oct. 25,1888.
15. Boonville Herald , May 16, 1889 and January 22, 1891
16. Boonville Herald, June 3 and 27, 1889
17. Boonville Herald, April 4, July 11 and 25, 1889; January 22, 1891; P. 235, "The Adirondacks: Fulton Chain - Big Moose Region. The Story of a Wilderness" by Joseph F. Grady, Little Falls, 1937.
18. Boonville Herald, Oct. 3 and 10,1889
19. Watertown Herald, Oct. 10, 1889
20. Boonville Herald, Sept. 5, 1889, (quoting from a letter by Mrs. E. McCarthy)
21. Boonville Herald, Oct. 3,10 and 24 and Dec. 5, 1889; April 10, 1890.
22. Boonville Herald, April 24 and July 24, 1890
23. Boonville Herald, Jan. 1, 1891
24. Twenty-First Edition, Glens Falls, N.Y. Published by the Author.
25. Boonville Herald, April 30 and May 28, 1891.
26. Boonville Herald, May 14, and Aug. 19, 1891
27. Utica Herald, Sept. 23, 1891 and Boonville Herald, Sept. 24, 1891
28. Herkimer County Deeds, Book 144 P. 216; Map and Profile of the St. Lawrence & Adirondack Railroad (known by various names in a short period of time), dated Nov. 21, 1891. Filed in Herkimer County Clerk's office, Map Reference: KK5B-1
29. The Gilmore & Pittsburg Railroad, between Armstead, Montana, Salmon and Gilmore, Idaho, was also known as the "Get Off and Push" Railroad.
30. Boonville Herald, Oct. 1, 8 and 22, 1891; Utica Daily Press, Oct. 2, 1891; Utica Morning Herald, Oct. 6, 1891.
31. Boonville Herald, Feb. 18 and March 31, 1892.
32. Boonville Herald, May 5, 1892.
33. Boonville Herald, May 12, 19 and 26, and June 16, 1892.
34. Boonville Herald, May 19 and 26, and June 16, 1892.
I wish to thank the following for their assistance. I especially want to thank well-known artist John D. Mahaffy of Boonville for the excellent depiction of passengers pushing the "Peg Leg Railroad" train up a grade. Others who assisted me include the Adirondack Museum; George Cataldo of Glenfield who located some rare maps and other historical materials; Charles Herr of Baltimore, Md., and Inlet, N.Y.; railroad historian and author Michael Kudish of Arkville, N.Y.; Fynmore Studios of Boonville, N.Y. ; Peg Masters, Historian of the Town of Webb; Gail Murray, Director of the Town of Webb Historical Association in Old Forge; and railroad historian Douglas Preston of Utica.
--Richard F. Palmer, Syracuse, N.Y.
Watertown Times, July 21, 1891
In The Woods
The "Wooden-Legged" Railroad - A Bear on the Track - A Charming
A writer at Old Forge has the following to say concerning the Adirondacks:
The Fulton Chain railroad, sometimes disrespectfully dubbed the "wooden legged," is in excellent repair and the trip from Moose River to Minnehaha, the terminal, is made in about an hour. So popular a route is it, that even Sir Bruin, realizing its improved facilities for rapid transit tried it one day last week, but as he was compelled, quite hurriedly, to yield the right of way to the train, it is to be feared that his bearship's favorable opinion is tinctured by a grain of reflective doubt. All who were on board the train assert that he was a very large bear; and the sight of him immediately stimulated several to recite venerable tales of adventures with "the biggest bear, sir, I ever saw," of which which tales, the relator is always the hero.
The steamer "Fawn" makes daily trips between Minnehaha and Old Forge, in good time. It is very noticeable that she has learned the proper way to follow the winding channel and that Captain Crabb, (suggestive name, in this shallow navigation,) so skillfully brings her around the innumerable short bends in the river that her nose is not grazed nor her progress retarded.
As variety always attracts and pleases, the ever changing and beautiful scenery makes the steamer trip up Moose river anything but tiresom. Much work has made the road from the Old Forge landing to the Forge House a very good one and the ride over in the stage is much easier than heretofore.