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Old 11-21-2016, 10:00 PM   #1
Festus
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Scotts and Marcy Dam logging camps

Being a fan of logging history in the High Peaks I've spent a fair amount of time nosing around both Scott's Clearing/Dam (old logging camp) up towards Indian Pass as well as at Marcy Dam (another old logging camp). I believe they may have both been Roger's and Roger's operations but I haven't researched that (although I have read R and R logged at Scott's). Some of my findings might prove interesting to a few history lovers...
Both camps seem to have employed a similar strategy in locating just above and between where two rivers come together. In both cases a very large ditch was dug leading from a dammed section of the lesser river, leading to the pond formed by the larger (main) dam of the logging camp. The remains of this lesser dam and ditch is quite evident (at least it was 8 years ago...) at Scotts but is less so at Marcy dam (but is traceable). The hand dug ditch is huge at Scott's and can be found just 50 feet or so left of the clearing and last stones of the main dam. Step over the end of the dam wall and head towards the remains of the pond area (along the low water trail) and you'll see the ditch - huge and obvious. Follow it left, across the high water trail and towards the lesser brook and you'll soon come to the secondary dam site, still showing a pipe sticking out of the ground. This spot is perhaps 5 minutes upstream from the current Scott's Leanto and on that stream. Follow the pipes and they lead back to the logging camp at Scott's Clearing and to a large foundation hole where a pipe comes out of the dirt wall (evidently they had gravity fed drinking water from the pond of the smaller dam). Before opening the main dam, they first diverted/released water from the smaller dam, through the ditch to the pond of the main dam giving a much greater boost for the Springtime release. Logs were sent down from the Scott's Pond Dam (a separate, much higher mountain pond), collected at the Scott's Clearing Dam and eventually sent down to Ausable Forks to be used as pulp. A dry log chute existed coming down the initial hill of Wallface and also sent logs into the river above Scott's Clearing Dam...
At Marcy Dam the same system was used. The smaller stream dam was at the site now called the high water bridge which crosses Phelps Brook 5 minutes or so above Marcy Dam. The ditch was just a few feet upstream of the current bridge and can be traced all the way to the old Marcy Dam Pond (joining the pond near the recently removed "horse-barn" leanto). This hand dug ditch has filled in more and currently looks more like a low lying stream...Another dam existed a short distance below Kagel leanto (the first leanto up Marcy Brook from Marcy Dam), just below where 2 streams meet. My guess is that this dam served to pool water (and collect logs) and was released about the same time as the Phelps Brook Dam, and when the huge gush of water reached Marcy Dam Pond, that dam was released. Signs of the Kagel Dam were evident up until the 1970s.
A dry log chute also existed down the north side of Mount Colden (a little before Avalanche Lake). Logging Camps existed at the old Avalanche Leanto site (a two man saw was found 10 years ago when that leanto was dismantled) as well as at Indian Falls (in the 1970s a pipe still ran across the hiking trail just before reaching the stream at Indian Falls). The buildings at Marcy dam were reported to be where the leantos are (again around where the old horsebarn leanto was on the East side of the old Marcy Dam Pond). Numerous old bridge remains and logging roads can still be traced in both Indian Pass as well as Avalanche Pass telling of a very different wilderness than we enjoy today...
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Old 11-21-2016, 10:35 PM   #2
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Interesting information, thanks for sharing.

Have you spent much time in any of the lumber camps in the Western High Peaks? I would imagine that they would be ripe for artifact finding for several reasons (logging operations occurred more recently there, and less recreational use means fewer artifacts have been pilfered). I found the remains of a pair of leather boots at one of the camps a few years ago, but I couldn't tell if they'd belonged to a lumber jack or more recently to a hiker. I know that there was a group in the mid to late 90's that was exploring old logging roads in the Cold River area and I think also cataloguing old logging camp locations. I think they called themselves the Adirondack Logging Research Society, or something like that. I'm not sure if they're still around- I think one of them was actually an old boss of mine and I believe he passed away a few years ago (I was a teenager not too terribly interested in hiking at the time he was my boss, and I never made the connection until years later).

I know that after the dam at Duck Hole burst there was a lot of old logging/CCC equipment on the lake bottom that was exposed by the receding water. Much of it has been collected and carried away from the site by hikers since, though.

There's a few logging camps in the Catskills that I would love to explore. North-central PA is another location rife with logging history that affords numerous opportunities to poke around and wonder what it was like to live and work in that era. It's kind of neat to see areas that were once logging and railroad yards that are now remote wild lands where nature is reclaiming all traces of human habitation. When hiking in the PA Wilds, one frequently encounters apple trees, and according to the guidebooks, many of these were either planted around the logging camps, or grew from the discarded apple cores of the lumberjacks. Chestnut is also such a weather-resistant wood that it's possible to still see the stumps of immense chestnut trees that were felled by lumberjacks over 100 years ago.
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Old 11-22-2016, 09:24 AM   #3
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Hi Dsettar. Always love reading your posts as they are respectful, accurate and full of interesting information...
That logging research group you referenced in your post was started by a childhood friend of mine who still lives around here. He is still heading back into the Cold River area (Ouluska Pass etc.) for week long stays and has mapped out almost every logging camp and road in the Cold River region. These were logging operations run by the Santa Clara logging company and photos as well as records still exist helping him out...His details of the road networks are mind boggling and the artifacts he has stumbled upon are fascinating. He tells of his multi-year search for the Baringer Brake (a set of several horizontal cable holding wheels that slow down a heavily loaded, horse drawn sled as it descends a steep hill) the company used in that region and had left behind when they finally completed operations in the Cold River area. One day as he was tracing a road up a remote stream he looked up and there it sat, rusted but in good shape!
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Old 11-22-2016, 09:58 AM   #4
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Thanks, Festus
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Old 11-22-2016, 03:01 PM   #5
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A shame that the artifacts were looted.
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Old 11-22-2016, 03:45 PM   #6
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I've seen evidence of old logging camps on Indian Pass Brook near Rocky Falls.
Jim
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Old 11-24-2016, 10:00 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by All Downhill From Here View Post
A shame that the artifacts were looted.
What the hammer? what the chain,

In what furnace was thy brain?
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Old 11-24-2016, 02:52 PM   #8
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I plan to finally start locating the logging camp sites in the high peaks region this Spring. I want to GPS them and write a description of what still exists as of 2017 - 2018...I won't be doing any major work (road tracing etc.) as that would be too much - just locate and describe the camps for future reference. I'll ask for help this Spring as this site has numerous hikers that might know of ones that I don't know about.
I'll focus on popular hiking areas such as the Dixes, Giant (Up near Hopkins), Indian Pass, Avalanche/Colden and JBL regions. The Cold River area has been thoroughly researched (as noted in posts above).
Off the top of my head here's what I recall seeing:
Dixes - Pepper Camp #1 (2 miles up West Mill Brook), Pepper Camp #2 (I've read of that one but haven't located it - further up past #1 somewhere towards Macomb I presume - burned in the 1890s by local hunters), Slide Brook (at leanto site), Lillian Brook (up a ways and off of herd trail between South Dix and Macomb - know of this one but haven't been there yet), Dix Pond. There was also a site I was told about in the lowlands at the opposite end of Elk Lake on West Inlet and another camp just before Marcy Swamp where the Panther Gorge and Pinnacle Ridge Trails meet. Also rumors of a camp beyond the trail junction of the Noonmark/Dix trail (?). I've enjoyed the remains of the camp far down the Twin Pond Outlet stream which is easiest to reach coming in on the North Fork of the Boquet (East Dix herd path) and then heading 20 minutes up the Outlet stream (on the left side of the stream). The one that I really want to find is the one up the South Fork of the Boquet. I presume it is near the East Dix herd trail, somewhere near the huge campsite beyond the spot where the 2 streams meet (There is a large iron rod hammered into a boulder a few feet off the trail exactly at the large swimming hole just above the campsite - why?)...
Indian Pass - Street and Nye herd trail, Rocky Falls (I think the actual site is across Indian Pass Brook but I haven't found this one yet...), Scott's Clearing, Scott's Pond, Duck Hole, Preston Ponds...
Avalanche Pass etc - Marcy Dam, Avalanche Camps, Phelps Brook beyond 50 meter bridge (15 minutes past Phelps Trail), Indian Falls, Back side of Phelps, Klondike Pass, South Meadows, Flowed Lands, Uphill Leanto (Buckley's Camp), Gorge Leanto Camp (before Hanging Spear falls), and rumors of 1 near where the Algonquin trail leaves the Van Ho Trail (?).
JBL area - 2 camps (at differing times) near JBL, a camp 1 mile up Slide Brook off of the Brother's Trail (near a huge erratic), a rumored camp at the old Wolf-Jaw Leanto site(?)...possibly a camp up Armstrong?
A lot to chew on other than turkey today...Any help?
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Old 11-24-2016, 07:19 PM   #9
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The camp you mention near Street & Nye is on the Nye herd path and yes, across Indian Pass Brook. Some stove parts as I remember.
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Old 11-24-2016, 10:19 PM   #10
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You can see remnants of a cable skidding system on the trail from Upper Works to Duck Hole, south of Hunter Pond. There's old cables and if I remember correctly, some evidence of the drum brakes that were used to slow the cables as the logs were descending.

The books on Noah John Rondeau (there's a few good ones) are good references for camp locations in the Western High Peaks.

There's some old roads in the vicinity of the lower reaches of the Algonquin trail that I assume are associated with logging operations in the area. The Old Marcy Dam trail and Algonquin cutoff trails both very visibly follow old road beds.
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Old 11-25-2016, 04:02 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Festus View Post
I plan to finally start locating the logging camp sites in the high peaks region this Spring. I want to GPS them and write a description of what still exists as of 2017 - 2018...I won't be doing any major work (road tracing etc.) as that would be too much - just locate and describe the camps for future reference. I'll ask for help this Spring as this site has numerous hikers that might know of ones that I don't know about.
I'll focus on popular hiking areas such as the Dixes, Giant (Up near Hopkins), Indian Pass, Avalanche/Colden and JBL regions. The Cold River area has been thoroughly researched (as noted in posts above).
Off the top of my head here's what I recall seeing:
Dixes - Pepper Camp #1 (2 miles up West Mill Brook), Pepper Camp #2 (I've read of that one but haven't located it - further up past #1 somewhere towards Macomb I presume - burned in the 1890s by local hunters), Slide Brook (at leanto site), Lillian Brook (up a ways and off of herd trail between South Dix and Macomb - know of this one but haven't been there yet), Dix Pond. There was also a site I was told about in the lowlands at the opposite end of Elk Lake on West Inlet and another camp just before Marcy Swamp where the Panther Gorge and Pinnacle Ridge Trails meet. Also rumors of a camp beyond the trail junction of the Noonmark/Dix trail (?). I've enjoyed the remains of the camp far down the Twin Pond Outlet stream which is easiest to reach coming in on the North Fork of the Boquet (East Dix herd path) and then heading 20 minutes up the Outlet stream (on the left side of the stream). The one that I really want to find is the one up the South Fork of the Boquet. I presume it is near the East Dix herd trail, somewhere near the huge campsite beyond the spot where the 2 streams meet (There is a large iron rod hammered into a boulder a few feet off the trail exactly at the large swimming hole just above the campsite - why?)...
Indian Pass - Street and Nye herd trail, Rocky Falls (I think the actual site is across Indian Pass Brook but I haven't found this one yet...), Scott's Clearing, Scott's Pond, Duck Hole, Preston Ponds...
Avalanche Pass etc - Marcy Dam, Avalanche Camps, Phelps Brook beyond 50 meter bridge (15 minutes past Phelps Trail), Indian Falls, Back side of Phelps, Klondike Pass, South Meadows, Flowed Lands, Uphill Leanto (Buckley's Camp), Gorge Leanto Camp (before Hanging Spear falls), and rumors of 1 near where the Algonquin trail leaves the Van Ho Trail (?).
JBL area - 2 camps (at differing times) near JBL, a camp 1 mile up Slide Brook off of the Brother's Trail (near a huge erratic), a rumored camp at the old Wolf-Jaw Leanto site(?)...possibly a camp up Armstrong?
A lot to chew on other than turkey today...Any help?
Indian Pass Brook.
There's evidence of a log structure on the flat below Rocky Falls. Follow the first brook that comes in below Rocky Falls on the left.
jim
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Old 11-28-2016, 05:41 PM   #12
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The cable skidding system between Upper Works and Duck hole that is mentioned in the post above is the old Piche lumber camp. It was located where the herd path to McNaughton leaves the state trail near Hunter Pond. There are also many other artifacts in this area.
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Old 11-29-2016, 03:43 PM   #13
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The cable skidding system between Upper Works and Duck hole that is mentioned in the post above is the old Piche lumber camp. It was located where the herd path to McNaughton leaves the state trail near Hunter Pond. There are also many other artifacts in this area.
Somewhere, on the Indian Pass Brook side of Wright is a cable skidding relic.
I saw it years ago while deer hunting.
Don't ask me where, this was long before GPS.
Jim
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Old 11-30-2016, 04:49 PM   #14
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High Peaks Logging Camps

I have numerous old photos of logging camps in the Seward Mt. Range and near Indian Pass. I think the most interesting camp was the one high on Donaldson.
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Old 11-30-2016, 07:27 PM   #15
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Hi Dinner - I presume these photos are from when you were at these camps? Where in Indian Pass? I still haven't nailed down exactly the Rocky Falls camp is/was...
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Old 12-02-2016, 08:39 PM   #16
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Those of you who might be interested in a true, first hand account of growing up in and around logging camps around the turn of the century may enjoy reading Life in a North Woods Lumber Camp written by Thomas C. O'Donnell and edited by William O'Hern. I'm currently about half of the way through and am enjoying it immensely thus far. It's written with a wry sense of humor from the perspective of a boy (Tom O'Donnell) who was raised in the lumber camps his father was running at the time.

Though some of you seem to have such a wealth of knowledge about the old lumbering operations that it wouldn't surprise me in the least that this information/book is old news to you.

Last edited by IndLk_Brett; 12-03-2016 at 11:04 AM..
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Old 12-07-2016, 04:28 PM   #17
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Hi Dinner - I presume these photos are from when you were at these camps? Where in Indian Pass? I still haven't nailed down exactly the Rocky Falls camp is/was...
Festus,
If you follow the brook downstream below the leanto, you'll be confined between a small ridge and the brook.
Climb the ridge and you'll find a little saddle. (I took a nice buck there).
Go through the saddle and you come into a nice hard wood flat.
The remains of a log structure are there, not far from the brook that separates Street and Nye.
Jim
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