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Old 07-26-2016, 10:57 PM   #1
DSettahr
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Something a little bit different: visiting the town of Beaver River

Photos here: https://picasaweb.google.com/dsettah...66165235037921

Just a quick write up for a trip that I wanted to share. Ever since I was a little kid and I'd heard of a town in the Adirondacks that had no roads to the outside world, and was accessible only by foot or by boat (or snowmobile in the winter), I'd always wanted to visit it. Earlier this summer, I was able to make that wish a reality when I hiked into Beaver River on the Stillwater Reservoir with a friend.

We hiked in via the old trail from Twitchell Lake to the south. Generally, the trail was in good shape and easy to follow, with some moderate ups and downs but nothing too overly difficult. Sections of the trail were a bit brushy but overall we made good time. The 7 or so miles of hiking into the town took us a bit less than 3 hours.

The town of Beaver River itself had a very interesting atmosphere. Most of the camps were fairly rustic, and electricity (and possibly even running water) aren't ubiquitous. Due to the lack of road connection to the outside world, there are numerous cars that have obviously be brought to to the town with no intention of ever being returned to the outside world. We saw a lot of junkers that were un-registered and un-inspected. Many town residents use ATVs or gas powered scooters and bikes to get around. I imagine that year-round residency is pretty rare. My friend remarked that the town "felt like an Alaskan town" on the frontier.

Our destination for the evening was the Norridgewock Lodge, located on Norridgewock Lake. Definitely a nice place to stay. In addition to motel-style rooms they also have cabins you can rent. There is also a restaurant and a bar. The food at the restaurant was amazing, and everything was, I thought, very reasonably priced. (Although apparently it is pretty expensive to come by ferry if you expect to have your car brought with you.)

During our stay, we took advantage of the opportunity to walk west along the old road that used to connect to the outside world, prior to the construction of the Stillwater Reservoir. We visited Colvin Rock, a rock engraved as part of Verplank Colvin's survey of the Totten and Crossfield Purchase. We also checked out the public docks north of the town, and visited Loon Lake to the west of the town. The Stillwater Reservoir looks nice- I've never visited the reservoir before and I would like to come back to paddle it and check out some of the campsites.

The hike out went pretty quickly as well, although we did miss one re-route around a section flooded by beavers. The old trail wasn't actually that bad, and we were able to make it through with dry feet nonetheless.

I highly recommend visiting Beaver River by foot or by canoe for those who are looking for a trip into a remote area that is also a nice alternative to backcountry camping, with actual amenities (being able to shower at our destination after a 7 mile hike in was particularly nice). I would definitely like to return in winter by ski, either via the trail or across the frozen lake.
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Old 07-26-2016, 11:45 PM   #2
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Thanks for this! Beaver River is on my list of places to visit as well. My parents used to spend a week snowmobiling in the Old Forge area each winter, and they STILL rave about the peanut butter pie at the Norridgewock, 30 years later!
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Old 07-27-2016, 07:40 AM   #3
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My mother taught school in Beaver River back in 1934. One room school that she also lived in, in one end. The building is still there as a home. The only way in and out was by rail. All the supplies and mail came in by train as it passed through on it's way to Malone. The return trip would take passengers to Big Moose,Old Forge,Utica and points beyond.
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Old 07-27-2016, 07:46 AM   #4
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cool !!
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Old 07-27-2016, 08:56 AM   #5
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Awesome, thanks for sharing! Almost every thread on here has lots of stuff to which I can say, "I didn't know that exists." Very cool!
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Old 07-27-2016, 09:14 AM   #6
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Thanks for posting, I used to look at the write-up for that trail in the ADK guide book and think it was something I would like to do someday. Last summer I went to Stillwater with my canoe but I didn't get quite all of the way to Beaver River. The island in Loon Lake is a very pretty spot with a campsite. I hope you will go back with a canoe, I think you'll find it's well worth the long ride over the dirt roads. I plan to go back sometime in the next few years, when I have time for a longer stay.
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Old 07-27-2016, 10:04 AM   #7
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Hope you don;t mind me adding in my experience to add to yours.

I've been there several times by Canoe and boat. The first trip was the best, as it was all new to us- this was back in the 90's. 6 of us stayed in the Trout Pond Lean-to at the outlet of the Red Horse Chain /trail by Canoe. After exploring and floating on Salmon Lake and Witchhopple, We decided to go for a night on the town. We got spiffed up- (LOL) and headed into town, not a short paddle, but not long either- 3 miles one way-landing at Grassy Point, where the Ferry lands and the most direct way into town. Old Cars are parked in a row- none with plates. The roads are not kept by the state, thus they have no jurisdiction over them. The town is like a movie set, in fact i am surprised nobody's used it for that. With a mile of walk into town from the landing, we got to look around pretty good. It was obviously once a full fledged town, complete with what must have been a community Hall and park, don't recall a church. But straight/flat dirt streets and corners etc. But know that it is more akin to the set of the Walking Dead than Mayberry. Not like trashed exactly, but not exactly post card perfect either- a mix- as some people kept up their places and others ...didn't Made for a surreal atmosphere.. A town full of real camps, with rusted exterior fuel tanks, etc. etc., derelict cars, boats , boat trailers, grass waist high, overgrown bushes. etc. etc. I'd really love it there!

Anyways, we went to the Norridgewock, which is well kept and quite nice, a row of various cars and trucks, with retractable railroad wheels were lined up there, for running on the rails to Big Moose. We entered and sidled up to the bar along the south side of the main dining room, of about 20 round tables and a large window facing north overlooking Norridgewock lake, which is separated from the rest of the lake/river because of the viaduct of the Utica-Lake Placid Railroad ( there is a culvert- maybe a canoe can get through- i don't think so though). Anyways we ordered a Martini, as that seemed like a special rare treat while camping in the woods... Later we sat down to dinner, covered Meatball sandwich was the special. I asked the waiter/owner "Hows the Covered Meatball Sandwich".. he looked at me with a slight facel and replied "best in town!" We all roared and ordered a round of them! (They were the best in town by the way). As we were settling up, we had noticed a liquor store just outside the Norridgewock. We asked when that was open. The owner said " I think its open now"... "no... wasn't when we came in" we answered..." Are you sure/- go check!" he answered. So having paid up, we all left in a bunch and peaked around the corner- only to see the lights flicker on... we looked at each other, smiled and shrugged, walked in, and there was our waiter/owner smiling behind the counter... We roared again and bought a bottle of tequila! The town did have a Mayberry side to it after all!.

Anyways it was getting dark.. too dark. The owners brother gave us a ride back to the landing. Where to our horror we saw we were going to get weather, complete with far off flashes- but no thunder. The glow from from dinner quickly turned into serious determined action of getting into our boats and heading out at high speed for the three miles back. If you look on the map, you'll see that the route to Trout pond is not a straight line,up a confusing narrow creek bed ( that is now flooded from the dam), complete with many dead-end deep bays on either side, and islands, etc. During the day it wasn't bad. But it had become very dark- like hard to see your hand in front of your face dark. In fact, you could only make out shore by the hulk of the shape of the trees on shore silhouetted by a barely less black sky, I recognized the shape of the white pines sticking up past the rest of the trees from the way in and we steered by them. I grouse hunt, and always pay attention, without thinking about it, for the return home. A few minutes more, we lost even the grey sky. Then we steered by the flash silhouette thrown by the far off, but getting ever closer and more frequent lightning- and rumbles were starting- lots of them. But not a drop, and not a lot of wind- the calm before the storm sort of thing. We humped! Like a sprint- no martini glow left in my system!. We picked our way back without a single wrong turn, and it was very dark in the narrow areas. We landed back at Trout, pulled up our boats and turned them over, and in a dead run, and I am not lying for effect, just as we got inside the lean-to, it opened up bad, the water came off the roof in a solid sheet. We would have been in trouble if we were 2 minutes slower. We could have stopped along the way at various sites- some occupied, but we figured we could make it- made for quite the adventure.

There is some more to the story- but perhaps another time, was a very fun trip

No fire that night, .... But we did break out that tequila.
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Old 07-27-2016, 01:26 PM   #8
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Thanks for the comments.

After seeing the photos, some of my friends have already started thinking about trying to do a group ski trip into the town this upcoming winter...
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Old 07-28-2016, 07:15 AM   #9
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The bridge over Twitchell Creek was gone before the Resrvoir was raised in 1924. The bridge over had been rebuilt circa 1908, washed out and a bill appropriating funds to rebuild was vetoed in 1915. Breaver River had been founded as a rail stop for Webb's Mohawk and Malone Railroad, so it wasn't cut off by loss of the bridge. Loss of rail service was what isolated it. It's in the reports of the state engineer and legislative history for the era.
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Old 07-28-2016, 10:15 AM   #10
RichieC
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rcyoung View Post
The bridge over Twitchell Creek was gone before the Resrvoir was raised in 1924. The bridge over had been rebuilt circa 1908, washed out and a bill appropriating funds to rebuild was vetoed in 1915. Breaver River had been founded as a rail stop for Webb's Mohawk and Malone Railroad, so it wasn't cut off by loss of the bridge. Loss of rail service was what isolated it. It's in the reports of the state engineer and legislative history for the era.
Below is a link for a top map of 1903. I don't see a roadbed (for autos) anywhere that might cross Twitchell on it that would be from Big Moose. I do see the road over the still water flow end for the road from Lowville direction that hooked into "flow road" into Beaver River... is that the "bridge" or causeway you are talking about that washed out? Must have been ice damage. Interesting!

http://docs.unh.edu/NY/bgms03nw.jpg

(All the maps)
http://docs.unh.edu/nhtopos/BigMoose.htm
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Old 07-28-2016, 09:35 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RichieC View Post
Below is a link for a top map of 1903. I don't see a roadbed (for autos) anywhere that might cross Twitchell on it that would be from Big Moose. I do see the road over the still water flow end for the road from Lowville direction that hooked into "flow road" into Beaver River... is that the "bridge" or causeway you are talking about that washed out? Must have been ice damage. Interesting!

http://docs.unh.edu/NY/bgms03nw.jpg

(All the maps)
http://docs.unh.edu/nhtopos/BigMoose.htm
Flow road, the road running east-west on the south side of the reservoir is a segment of the old Carthage to Champlain road, which the state created by statute and partially laid out in the mid-1800s before autos. It crossed Twitchell Creek just below the confluence with the Beaver River at Stillwater. Ice does seem a likely culprit.
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Old 07-28-2016, 11:28 PM   #12
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The first time I went there in 2003 there were two bars. We had a crew of about 15 of us camping on Stillwater Res and decided to check it out. We had a good time. I went back another time alone by kayak when there were fewer of us camping. Very interesting bit of history with the old vehicles, hunting stories, railroad days and all. My friend who owns the Adirondack Bar & Grill in Queensbury is good friends with the Thompson family that own the Norwidgewock and every once in a while we get on the subject. He's got some great tales of that place, mostly from snowmobiling there.

Pat Thompson's book is a good read:
https://www.amazon.com/Beaver-River-.../dp/B002H7U7HA
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Old 08-01-2016, 08:44 AM   #13
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This sounds like a pretty unique spot to visit! When I first read you were going to Beaver River I said in my head "Really? Who the Hell would go there? I go there twice a week and I am not impressed." But after reading this I see now that we are talking about two different places. There is a small place just outside Crogan, NY named Beaver Falls but everyone I have ever heard of calls it Beaver River. Even the school I support there two days a week is called Beaver River Central School and it is right on Beaver River. So I am glad to hear that there is some other spot named Beaver River and you didn't make the trek all the way up here to see, well, pretty much nothing. Sounds like a great trip you had though!
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Old 08-01-2016, 10:32 AM   #14
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Originally Posted by l33tHoneyBadger View Post
There is a small place just outside Crogan, NY named Beaver Falls but everyone I have ever heard of calls it Beaver River. Even the school I support there two days a week is called Beaver River Central School and it is right on Beaver River.
So I am glad to hear that there is some other spot named Beaver River and you didn't make the trek all the way up here to see, well, pretty much nothing.
Sounds like you must have had some bad experiences in the now sleepy town of Beaver Falls.
Back in the day, Beaver Falls was a hopping place. The sandy swimming beach in town at the dam on the river was the place to go as a young kid and teen, drawing families from as far as Lowville. My two brothers met their future wives there. There was a nice large floating raft a long ways out to swim to. You could actually jump off the highway bridge without anyone telling you couldn't. Fishing was good upstream from the swimming area.

The Beaverite paper plant made the base stock paper that was shipped to Lowville for coating and embossing, some calling the heavier stuff "artificial leather" (Pajco Lexide). It was shipped worldwide as the only source for fancy book covers such as on encyclopedias, menu covers, and other heavy cover material. It was the only source for all passport book covers. The research facility just up the hill from the swimming area was a high tech lab. All from Beaver Falls.
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Old 08-01-2016, 11:08 AM   #15
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No bad experiences really, it is just that there isn't much here in the way of hiking and the like. The mill is pretty much closed down except for a small operation that employs a few people. The beach is still there and the raft but it is only visited by the neighbor kids as far as I have seen. It is a quite little town with a close knit community. I am from Carthage which is only about 20 minutes away from Beaver Falls and there isn't much there either despite its once important hub of industry standing. I was just stating that making a trip here from some distance away to hike seemed odd but I hadn't really explored the area for trails so I thought I missed something. Lowville has the Otter Creek Trails which are nice but other than that no many around here.
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