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logging history - Flowed Lands/Lake Colden...

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  • logging history - Flowed Lands/Lake Colden...

    More logging stuff - I promise I'm almost done with this topic!
    While my previous posts were about the Ausable drainage and thus J & J Roger's (they had a mill in Ausable Forks and thus logged that side of the high peaks), I think some history about the Finch Pruyn operations in the high peaks would be of interest to some (especially with their recent sales to the state - Boreas Ponds etc.). I'll finish up J & J in a final logging related post as they had a few more interesting areas they logged that may be familiar and interesting to people on this forum...
    Finch Pruyn had a mill in Glens Falls and thus worked in drainages that fed the Hudson (Boreas, Opalescent, the Branch etc.). They worked on their own lands as well as lands owned by others (McIntyre Iron Co. for one). Two major areas they logged in the high peaks region were the Dix/Boreas lands (which they owned) and the Upper Works to Marcy area (which they bought the timber rights to). They also worked an adjacent area - the southern Santanoni Range - on land they owned. Most of this work took place from 1913 - 1919.
    In the Dix Range, Finch Pruyn leased land to a lodging concern on Elk Lake for many years. In the late 1950s/early 1960s, the current owners/family bought this land from Finch Pruyn and began operating the Elk Lake Lodge. The dam at Elk Lake was originally for logging purposes as were the Boreas Ponds dams (circa 1890s).
    The operations around Tahawus and the Upper Works were also run by Finch Pruyn. This land was owned by McIntyre Iron Co. (and leased to the Tahawus Club - a recreationally oriented club). Finch Pruyn built dams one mile up Calamity Brook (1913, very evident today), at Calamity Pond (1915, making that pond 3 times as large as it currently is and forcing a temporary relocation of the Henderson Monument), at Flowed Lands (1915) and they possibly built a dam at Lake Colden but on this dam topic (ha, ha, ha) I need to do a bit more research...Basically Finch Pruyn began at the Upper Works and worked their way up towards Marcy, finishing at Uphill Brook (Buckley's Camp) in 1919...
    While Finch Pruyn did install a crib dam at Flowed Lands in 1915, that dam was not the first dam on that site. Around 1850 the McIntyre Iron Co. began the construction of their "new blast furnace" and they realized it would require much more water than the old, 1844 furnace did. They built a dam at Flowed Lands to change the course of the Opalescent River and have it flow into Calamity Brook. They also dug a canal from Flowed Lands to Calamity Pond circa 1850 which is very evident today. Logging occurred in this area but I'm not sure if it reached Lake Colden. In the late 1800s, the Tahawus Club built a cabin on Lake Colden (Teddy Roosevelt stayed there the night before his ascent of Marcy and subsequent "ride to the Presidency"). They also built a dam on Lake Colden, presumably to improve the lake for their members.
    In 1920, the state, due to a recently passed bond act, finally had the funds to start purchasing the heart of the Adirondack Park. They appropriated the Lake Colden Gore, forcing the McIntyre Iron Co. to sell. Needless to say, the Club was pissed! The state relented regarding the Preston Ponds and allowed the Club to retain ownership of that area. Finch Pruyn sued the state as they had bought the timber rights to the lands around Lake Colden and they were out. They won in court and the state had to pay them in 1923 approximately $750,000. Thus Lake Colden may have been spared the axe...
    Lastly, Finch Pruyn's Buckley Camp was built in 1918, where Uphill and Feldspar Brooks meet. Old photos show many artifacts but I haven't located the exact location of that camp yet. Buckley's wasn't approached from Lake Colden but was approached from the pass between Cliff and Redfield and from the roads at the base of Allen. This old Twin Brook Trail, is the current approach to the base of Cliff from Uphill Leanto and as 46ers know, is full of corduroy and mud! 15 years ago I followed this old trail from Uphill to the old Twin Brook Leanto site at the base of Allen (I had permission from the East River Rod and Gun Club to traverse their leased lands). I periodically lost the old trail but I stayed on the brook knowing this is what the old logging road and hiking trail had done. At some point, maybe a mile and a half from the height of the Redfield/Cliff Pass, I came upon an odd looking tree. I realized it was an old telephone pole complete with a wooden line holder on it. I had always heard that Buckley's (and the other Calamity Camps) had telephone service as well as electric generators but I was excited to come across this small bit of history...One old pole also exists on the Calamity Pond Trail just before the Pond (at last visit it was laying on the ground) and another old relic pole exists (at least it did 15 years ago) a little above Hanging Spear Falls...
    In the 1920s the Park was clearly on its way - Burnt sections, logging slash and debris were everywhere (the old loggers must have failed their Leave No Trace courses) but the High Peaks have since recovered...Actually, the area has recovered so well that unless we locate some of these old missing camps, they'll be gone forever...
    Last edited by Festus; 12-05-2016, 11:24 AM. Reason: error in dates

  • #2
    Hahaha, no, please don't be almost done. All of your posts have been super interesting.


    • #3
      Good stuff! I always wondered who and why the dam was built on Calamity Brook; this is the one about 1 mile from Upper Works at the site of the first swinging bridge and on top of the falls.

      I went exploring there one day and found old planks and square "blacksmith" nails. I had assumed that the MacIntyre works built it, but glad to now know it was FP.


      • #4
        Thanks for all of your interesting posts and the research that you have done. I'm sure you get a lot of enjoyment out of finding the facts and the artifacts. One can only imagine how hard it was to accomplish all of those feats with the limited equipment of the times. The displays at the Adirondack Museum help to see the methods they used.
        I'm not a Hippie, just a well groomed Mountain Man.


        • #5
          Regarding the phone lines, I'm pretty sure the the old pole on the Calamity Brook Trail is from the original Tahawus Club phone line to Lake Colden. Club members approached Colden via that route from Upper Works. When the State took control of Lake Colden, the Tahawus Club still controlled Upper Works and did not permit any access until sometime after WW II. The public access from the south was via the East River Trail that started at the mine site. The State then had to build their own phone line via Hanging Spear Falls. When that was supplanted by the line from the Marcy Dam side I don't know.
          Every time that wheel turns round, bound to measure just a little more ground.


          • #6
            Intersting stuff, please keep it coming!


            • #7
              festus, do you (or anyone else!) know when they first built a dam on elk lake? did subsequent dams raise the lake level?