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Old 11-29-2016, 04:47 PM   #1
Festus
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Logging history up Johns Brook

Mining company turned logging company J & J Roger's hired contractors to log in the Indian Pass and Avalanche Pass areas in the early 1900s (on land the company owned). During this time they also employed local contractors to log the Johns Brook Valley, again on land they owned. After thirty years in which these lands were logged two different times, J & J Rogers sold these lands to the state in the early 1920s (when the company realized it was low on easily accessible trees and that it would now be cheaper to import pulp for their Ausable Forks paper mill). As many might realize, a small slice of this land was quickly bought by the Adirondack Mountain Club for their soon to be constructed Johns Brook Lodge as well as several private families that still own camps in that area...
The JBL region was logged in the late 1800s and again in the second decade of the 1900s (by Orlando Beede of Keene Valley). His logging camp was up on a hill at what is now a tenting area right where the north-side trail takes a sharp left and heads steeply down towards the Ranger's cabin. A few minutes before this tenting area the old logging road leaves the north-side trail and traverses down to the field of the Ranger's cabin which served as the header where logs were piled up and eventually loaded onto sleds for the long haul out (the river was never used). Older hikers will remember this logging road descent to the Ranger's cabin as the north-side hiking trail many years ago.
A locally famous character/hermit lived in this area for over 30 years - Mel Hathaway. His original dwelling site can still be seen hiking into JBL. Just before crossing a grassy, sloping area in the trail about 10 minutes before the tenting site/Beede logging camp (perhaps 2.75miles from the Garden), look to your left and you may notice an old cellar hole. Look to the right of the trail and stonework will become apparent. This was Mel's first dwelling and what I think may have been part of the first logging camp built back in the valley (I'm planning to check this area out this Spring). Mel later moved from this site to his more famous home - which was the abandoned J & J Rogers office building and is now the site upon which the Johns Brook Lodge currently sits. The apple tree and rhubarb plant that still grow there and passed today by many hikers, were planted by Mel...Mel was forced to leave his home in the mid 1920s and eventually lived with his daughter in an urban area. The story goes he was constantly getting lost in his new surroundings (never having been in a city before) but soon figured out that he could find his way back home by carrying his axe wherever he went and blazing the telephone poles...
The first logging operation built the road on the south side of Johns Brook and crossed at the first flume, which is currently on a small inholding of private land, perhaps 1.5 miles up the current South-Side Trail. When the second logging operation took place, the road was extended on the south side of the brook and crossed where the current bridge crosses at the Ranger's cabin. The logging operations carried on for perhaps 1 mile above JBL where an incline up an esker is reached on the trail towards Marcy. The logging ended here as this spot marked the boundary of land owned by the Ausable Club at that time...
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Old 11-29-2016, 05:01 PM   #2
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Again, a super interesting post. More stuff to pay attention and look out for on future trips. Thanks!

EDIT: Do you know why there are so many private inholdings in the Johns Brook area as compared to other areas of the High Peaks that were logged and later sold/forfeited to the state? If my memory is correct, there's something like 15-20 privately owned parcels all up and down the valley, many of which have private camps (some of these are visible to the sharp eye, either through the trees during the day, or when lights are spotted in the woods at night). Was there a concerted effort to try and have the valley developed that resulted the sale of individual parcels?

I know Bob Marshall also was an advocate of developing the Johns Brook valley for intensive, accessible recreation.

Last edited by DSettahr; 11-29-2016 at 05:32 PM..
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Old 11-29-2016, 05:22 PM   #3
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Thanks. I remember Jim Goodwin telling me about the sleds used to haul out the logs from Johns Brook in the winter. I believe he had a ride on one or more. He also said they logged all the way up to the bottom of the slide on Big Slide
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Old 11-29-2016, 07:53 PM   #4
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You're really testing my memory! It went something like this - When J & J was ready to sell their many thousands of acres up there, they were asked to donate 15 acres to the newly formed Adirondack Mountain Club (the club didn't even own ADK Loj yet but was leasing it). This was in 1924. Some higher ups in the newly formed Adirondack Mountain Club (maybe John Myers of Plattsburgh?) knew the right people at J & J and he and friends/other club members were allowed to choose lots up there before it was offered to the state. Homer Brown owned 2 lots in the middle of J & J's acreage and he had a camp up there for many years before all this took place. He was a sled driver during the logging operations and his son was a bob sledder in the Olympics (1940ish?). He soon after sold to Adk (1930ish) as they wanted a winter camp and that became Grace camp. Somehow the Smiths got the land part way up the south-side road (their descendants own much of the entrance land to the south-side road). So no development goals, just a sweet deal that a bunch of families worked out with J & J...By the way they have deeded rights to drive/ATV/ride elephants/whatever that road to supply their camps...
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Old 11-30-2016, 01:55 PM   #5
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Thanks. Again, super interesting info.
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Old 11-30-2016, 04:40 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Festus View Post
Mining company turned logging company J & J Roger's hired contractors to log in the Indian Pass and Avalanche Pass areas in the early 1900s (on land the company owned). During this time they also employed local contractors to log the Johns Brook Valley, again on land they owned. After thirty years in which these lands were logged two different times, J & J Rogers sold these lands to the state in the early 1920s (when the company realized it was low on easily accessible trees and that it would now be cheaper to import pulp for their Ausable Forks paper mill). As many might realize, a small slice of this land was quickly bought by the Adirondack Mountain Club for their soon to be constructed Johns Brook Lodge as well as several private families that still own camps in that area...
The JBL region was logged in the late 1800s and again in the second decade of the 1900s (by Orlando Beede of Keene Valley). His logging camp was up on a hill at what is now a tenting area right where the north-side trail takes a sharp left and heads steeply down towards the Ranger's cabin. A few minutes before this tenting area the old logging road leaves the north-side trail and traverses down to the field of the Ranger's cabin which served as the header where logs were piled up and eventually loaded onto sleds for the long haul out (the river was never used). Older hikers will remember this logging road descent to the Ranger's cabin as the north-side hiking trail many years ago.
A locally famous character/hermit lived in this area for over 30 years - Mel Hathaway. His original dwelling site can still be seen hiking into JBL. Just before crossing a grassy, sloping area in the trail about 10 minutes before the tenting site/Beede logging camp (perhaps 2.75miles from the Garden), look to your left and you may notice an old cellar hole. Look to the right of the trail and stonework will become apparent. This was Mel's first dwelling and what I think may have been part of the first logging camp built back in the valley (I'm planning to check this area out this Spring). Mel later moved from this site to his more famous home - which was the abandoned J & J Rogers office building and is now the site upon which the Johns Brook Lodge currently sits. The apple tree and rhubarb plant that still grow there and passed today by many hikers, were planted by Mel...Mel was forced to leave his home in the mid 1920s and eventually lived with his daughter in an urban area. The story goes he was constantly getting lost in his new surroundings (never having been in a city before) but soon figured out that he could find his way back home by carrying his axe wherever he went and blazing the telephone poles...
The first logging operation built the road on the south side of Johns Brook and crossed at the first flume, which is currently on a small inholding of private land, perhaps 1.5 miles up the current South-Side Trail. When the second logging operation took place, the road was extended on the south side of the brook and crossed where the current bridge crosses at the Ranger's cabin. The logging operations carried on for perhaps 1 mile above JBL where an incline up an esker is reached on the trail towards Marcy. The logging ended here as this spot marked the boundary of land owned by the Ausable Club at that time...
Thanks for an interesting story!
Jim
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Old 12-04-2016, 01:47 PM   #7
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Yes, the land for JBL was donated by J&J Rodgers at the request of William G Howard -as in the lean-to and mountain. Howard wanted the public to be able to use all of the J&J Rodgers land and the AMR land that the State purchased at the same time. He realized that a lodge would facilitate such use, but of course knew that no lodge could be built on state land - hence the request for the donation to a private organization.

Ivan Brown, son of Homer Brown, teamed up with Alan Washbond to take a gold medal in the 1936 Olympics held at Garmisch, Germany.
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