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Old 11-11-2016, 11:18 PM   #1
Join Date: Nov 2011
Posts: 89
The 1812 Chapel Pond (Old Military) Road

Several years ago I came across this article entitled: "The Old Military Road and the Laurel Bed" in a 1900 Elizabethtown newspaper:

It made me wonder - was this 200 year old road still visible? Could traces have survived the great fires, logging operations and general decay of more than 200 years? I spent the better part of 2 years rummaging around in the woods, using clues from the article, systematically searching for section after section, looking for tell-tale traces. Ultimately, I found the route in its entirety and had a great adventure doing so.
In a nutshell, the road was cut in 1812 offering a short-cut from Keene Valley to the original state road (Platt Roger's Road - 1789) that provided passage to the south. It was 9 miles long and began at the head of Keene Valley and ended at the current Sharp Bridge Campground on route 9 in North Hudson. Leaving from the old Otis Farm/village baseball field (this location now serves as the Ausable Club hikers parking lot), the road headed up the ridge just south of route 73 towards Chapel Pond on what later became the Sunset Ridge Trail maintained by the Ausable Club. At what is now the Chapel Pond camping area, the Sunset Ridge Trail joined another Ausable Club trail called the Artisit Brook Trail which followed the outlet stream of Chapel Pond in a downstream direction.
The road continued past this trail junction, headed uphill through the Chapel Pond camping area (on the current steep dirt road there), past Chapel Pond where route 73 currently passes the pond, past the sandy beach/southern end of the pond where Colonel Loring built his summer camp/cabin in 1887 (it burned in the great fire of 1903), past the Lee Garfield Logging Camp (built approximately 1910) which was located on the south side of route 73 about 100 yards before the Round Pond Parking Lot (upon the flat plateau which can still be seen), and on up what is now the Round Pond hiking trail. One can see today that heading straight into the boulder-choked pass as route 73 does just past the Round Pond trail-head, would have been out of the question in 1812.
The old road leaves the Round Pond Trail approximately half way to Round Pond, joins the East Dix herd path briefly near the well used Shoebox swimming hole (crossing 100 feet above this swimming hole on a "long, high, rudely constructed bridge"), and then heads along the hogback leading to and passing Rhododendron Pond. It continues past this picturesque pond (where 2 Rhododendron bushes can still be found at the site of the old sportsman's cabin), eventually passing a few large, beautiful, hidden beaver ponds. It then crosses the South Fork of the Bouquet River, passes a rather large hunter's campsite, and heads towards Lindsay Brook which it follows downstream past another one of Garfield's logging camps (and old dam). Finally, it crosses the Northway (under which is the old Sharp Farmhouse foundation) and down the current trail past the large, Old Goewey Place cellar hole, finally popping out onto route 9 at Sharp's Bridge and campground.
Needless to say the newspaper article by W. Scott Brown (first superintendent to the Ausable Club) is historically inaccurate but the route description was spot on. The road is hard to follow but in the right season and with tremendous persistence, it can be traced...

Last edited by Festus; 12-24-2016 at 09:58 AM..
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