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Old 12-16-2016, 11:48 AM   #1
Festus
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1789 Platt Rogers Road

Final Old Road Post!

For those history lovers that enjoy trying to locate the old state roads (in this case - the oldest) and could sit under an old tree and imagine a stage or horse driven cart rambling by, then these short, semi-bushwacks may offer a fun adventure.

Platt Rogers (1740 - 1798) was a private in the revolutionary War from Poughkeepsie, NY. After the war he became a surveyor and was hired by the state to lay out and construct the first road to run through the region (built from 1789 - 1793). It ran from Schroon Lake all the way north to Plattsburgh. He was paid in large land grants which he mostly sold off. He was also involved in the development of Plattsburgh, although the city was not named after him. He started a ferry service that ran from Basin Harbor Vt. to Split Rock (1 mile south of Essex). He also built the high bridge over Ausable Chasm. He eventually settled in Basin Harbor where he owned an iron ore bed. He was good friends with William Gilliland (first settler in this region - founder of Willsboro in 1765) and it was actually Platt Rogers that Gilliland was visiting when, upon his return trip across a frozen Lake Champlain, William got disoriented in a blizzard and eventually succumbed to the elements. His frozen body was found the following spring at the base of Coon Mountain, what today is an enjoyable 1 mile hike (between Essex and Westport).
The Platt Rogers Road heads north from Schroon Lake, basically following the course of today's Route 9. in 1805, approximately 15 years later, the Great Northern Turnpike was constructed, which from Schroon Lake to Keeseville, almost completely followed the same course as the Platt Rogers Road. The newer road simply avoided a few hills and widened and improved upon the older road in places.
As mentioned, the Platt Rogers Road basically follows the course of Route 9. It deviates in a few places and locating/tracing these short stretches can be entertaining. One such deviation occurs around Split Rock Falls, south of Elizabethtown. Heading north on Route 9 towards Split Rock Falls, approximately 500 feet before the waterfall at a sharp bend in the road, an obvious by-pass road - the Platt Rogers Road - cuts off to the right. Park nearby and follow this old road downhill and within 15 minutes or so it leads to an old stone bridge foundation that leads back to Route 9, a half mile of so below the falls. A huge blast furnace once existed on top of the hill just above the falls, on the eastern bank. Iron ore slag is still very evident lying amongst the rocks where swimmers leave their towels just below the bottom pool/falls...
Another, longer, more primordial feeling (and more highly recommended) stretch of the Platt Rogers Road that deviates from Route 9, starts at Sharp Bridge near North Hudson. To walk this 1 mile plus section of old road, park on the southern side of Sharp Bridge. Walk across the road to the east side of Route 9 and head south (uphill) about 50 feet from the bridge. Where the guard rail ends near a road sign, climb the left highway bank and dive into the woods. Nose around and the old road should become evident. The road soon crosses a ravine where an old bridge once existed and can be picked up on the other side. It traverses a slope high above the Schroon River, following it downstream. After 10 minutes or so, the road enters a section of old, large, pine trees, some down across the road. Here is where old telephone wires and even an insulator or two can be found (please leave in place) on the left side of the road. These lines must have followed the path of the old road and were probably put in around 1920 to bring telephone service to the newly opened Sharp Bridge Campground (one of the first 2 campgrounds opened by the state).
The road soon crosses lower, flatter land (the bane of all old road tracers) and staying on it really tests one's mettle. It stays very straight (as shown in all old maps) but can be followed by keeping track of the side drainage ditches. If in doubt - keep going straight and eventually the road intersects the old, historic, Cedar Point Road. A newer woods road has been built over the old Cedar Point Road in this section. Turn right at this junction and follow this newer road a few minutes back to Route 9 approximately 1 mile south of where you began. This stretch is much easier to pick up and follow starting at the Sharp Bridge end. The intersection of the Cedar Point Road and Platt Rogers Road was evident 20 years ago but not so today.
A third deviation of the Platt Rogers Road and Route 9 can be seen from your car. On Route 9 heading north from Sharp Bridge, approximately half a mile from Sharp Bridge, one can see the old Platt Rogers Road 30 feet or so back in the woods (on the right - eastern side) and up 10 feet or so above Route 9. It traverses the slope and parallels Route 9. As one drives across the small bridge a mile or so north of Sharp Bridge, the old Platt Rogers bridge abutment is briefly visible if one looks north and up the Schroon River. The old road crossed the river on this bridge and joined a current dirt road that went through the once bustling village of Deadwater, which in the 1850s - 1870s, enjoyed prosperity as an iron producing town (doing especially well during the Civil War).The cellar holes are still evident - it had a store, P.O., school etc. as well as a large blast furnace that dominated the town. The location of this old town is about a mile north of Sharp Bridge, down some dirt roads on the right of Route 9.
Once in the old village of Deadwater, find the end of the pond and the start of the river and you'll see the remains of the dam. A road crossed here, giving access to buildings on both sides of the river. A large blast furnace was located just across the dam, 10-30 feet downstream of it. A trestle bridge/loading ramp connected to the top of the furnace from high up on the ridge above the eastern bank of the river. From this trestle they crushed/dropped their ore into the furnace. Slag can still be seen in the river downstream. Roads radiated from this once thriving village (1 leads through the woods, past a large cellar hole and on to the old Sharp Farm - now under the Northway - while another 2 old roads pass on either side of Deadwater Pond, both leading to the current Tracey Road and eventually the Crowfoot Pond Road upon which they received their raw ore from Port Henry).
The operation became unprofitable quickly after the Civil War ended and the village of Deadwater became another Adirondack "deserted village", with French Canadian squatters living in the old, abandoned buildings in the 1890s - 1900s...

Last edited by Festus; 12-16-2016 at 12:01 PM..
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Old 12-17-2016, 02:45 PM   #2
dundee
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Great stuff. I don't know where you get it, but keep it coming! Is there anything left of this furnace and town of Deadwater (other than cellar holes)?
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Old 12-17-2016, 08:58 PM   #3
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Not much left to see at Deadwater. Cellar holes, an old dam remains, old roads etc. Still fun to walk around and locate how it must have once looked. George Underwood (for whom the nearby Underwood Club was incorporated by and named for), who was the boss at International Paper at one time and owned a mill in Plattsburgh, owned the Deadwater area after the village was deserted. He fixed up a few of the buildings and had a farmhouse there but most everything was burned in the early 1920s. The parking area on Route 9 at the southern of the 2 dirt roads that lead into Deadwater is where the Serpitarium used to be (1960s). It had hundreds of rattle snakes in a fenced in area and a guy with tall boots would walk around with a stick and pick them up for everyone to see. I guess it went along with Frontier Town down the road a bit...check out French's Map to see the old 1789 Road and Deadwater village: https://www.loc.gov/resource/g3803e.la000495a/
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Old 12-18-2016, 04:53 PM   #4
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I think Serpantarium folded about the day that the northway opened for traffic. Frontiertown lasted a good deal longer because they were right at Exit 29 - the one exit in the Park where signs were allowed to be visible to drivers. This was considered an "oasis" in the middle of the Park section of the Northway and perhaps compensation for the plan for the state to buy up all the land around Exit 30 to keep that wild with no services. Can you imagine the business a gas station/convenience store could do at the location today?
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Old 12-19-2016, 01:31 PM   #5
Justin
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Another very interesting piece, thanks for sharing?

Speaking of the Sharp Bridge area and "Under the Northway"...
Do you have any info on the old "Goeway Place" that was supposedly located near today's Gui Pond?

I've spent some time exploring this area while assisting with field research for a forthcoming guidebook, and aside from some traces of an old road near the north & south ends of Gui Pond (along with some short sections of a stone fence line) I couldn't find any sort of evidence of an old building foundation anywhere, or any other artifacts or remains, which led me to presume maybe it could've been located directly under I87...?
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Old 12-19-2016, 04:45 PM   #6
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Hi Justin, Here's what I know....This info. may make wandering around this area more fun for you while undertaking your guidebook research...
The Sharp Farm (owned, and at times leased by Abraham Sharp and family - 1840s - 1850s) was the large farm located on Gui Pond. It was their pen/walls you found. 10 minutes from there, at the other end of Gui Pond, a faint road can be traced that connects to the old village of Deadwater. I imagine the Sharp family provided much of the food for the village and numerous iron workers during its heyday. Kind of like the old road that went from Averyville to the old village of Adirondac (that is now the Northvile Placid Trail and trail by Preston Ponds) which was built by the farmers to help them sell their goods to the ready market at the bustling McIntyre Iron Works...
I vaguely recall seeing in a census that Abraham and family moved to Wisconsin (late 1850s?) as so many farming families did around that time. I do recall more confidently that a Sharp child/daughter is buried in the North Hudson Cemetery (died around 1848).
The Sharp Farmhouse was described by a hunter in 1900 as having been abandoned for 10 years but at one time was "a fine old house, with great open fireplaces, full of old nooks and corners...". It is shown on French's Map (see link on a previous post on this thread) just north of Lindsey Brook, exactly where the Northway now is. This is the only map I know of that shows it's location. Barbara McMartin states in one of her guidebooks that remains of the Sharp Farm (the stone walls) were apparent but that the farmhouse cellar hole was "hard to find" - my guess is that that was guidebook speak for "I couldn't find it but it must be somewhere"...Anyway, I have looked everywhere and I'm pretty darn sure that the cellar hole no longer exists...
The large cellar hole just 8 - 10 minutes up the trail that starts at Sharp Bridge (south and western side of bridge) and heads up to Lindsey Brook (and the old Sharp Farm remains which is further up this trail) was the old Goewey Place. It is on the left side of the trail/old road (which is the end of the old Chapel Pond Road actually). The Goewey cellar hole is close to the road but not obvious unless looking for it. That farm was on both sides of the road and has roads, walls, a barn foundation etc. all around.
In the 1930s, campers at Sharp Bridge Campgound used to hike Makomis Mountain (just off exit 30 of the Northway) as a popular hike. The trail was rarely used in recent times and was finally destroyed by Hurricane Floyd...In the 1930s, from the fire tower and building on top, hikers reported seeing two large farms/open areas to the south towards the campground (down the valley that the Northway now goes through). These were the remains of Goewey's Farm (the further south of the two) and the Sharp Farm.
Anyway, I forgot your question but I hope an answer is in here somewhere...
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Old 12-19-2016, 05:29 PM   #7
Justin
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Festus,
Thank you very much for your reply!
Looks like I need to spend some more time exploring the area!
Your posts have been fascinating, thanks again!
- Justin
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