‘A Sugarbush Like None Other’

For history buffs and pancake lovers

Sugarbush book

Matthew Thomas is also fascinated with the history of the area south of Tupper Lake. In “A Sugarbush Like None Other” (Maple History Press, 2020), he tells the story of A.A. Low’s industrial scale 19th century maple sugaring operation at lands around Horseshoe Lake.

The huge sugarbush had its own network of railroads and employed over 150 people during the sugaring season to hand drill and tap at least 30,000 trees and boil down in 19 evaporators. The old photos show the sap-gathering trains, the lavish buildings (one with a marble floor), and the metal pipes that fed sap into the sugar houses.


Low—who Thomas describes as a “gentleman inventor” and a man who was a billionaire in today’s dollars—supplied electricity to his remote kingdom before it was available in many Adirondack villages. 

Thomas is a historian and an archaeologist and provides more detail than most readers will need about Low’s maple business. It’s his fascination with Low’s ahead-of-its-time sugaring operation and his quest to find its ruins that make the steady stream of facts easier to read. 

Perhaps most interesting is the complete disappearance of the village of Horseshoe and its industries. After a huge forest fire in 1908 killed most of Low’s maple trees it ended his empire. The elegant train station, built by Low, was a passenger train stop until 1956. Today only a few foundations remain as evidence of Low’s Horse Shoe Forestry Co.

— Betsy Kepes