ARCADIA PUBLISHING puts out so many Adirondack books in its Images of America series that it’s hard to keep track of them, but one that crossed my desk in recent weeks caught my eye: Old Forge and the Fulton Chain of Lakes.
One of the largest hamlets in the Adirondack Park, Old Forge has a rich history full of colorful characters. Like others in the series, this book conveys the past through old photographs and captions.
The authors, Linda Cohen and Peg Masters, are both descendants of early settlers of Old Forge. Cohen’s grandfather founded Old Forge Hardware, the bustling emporium in the hamlet’s downtown, and Linda helped develop the store’s book department. Masters has been the town historian for a decade.
Most of the photos in Old Forge and the Fulton Chain of Lakes are from the Town of Webb Historical Association. You’ll find images of many people who figured prominently in the region’s history, including Dr. William Seward Webb, shown on a sleigh with his wife, Lila Vanderbilt; Edwin Arnold, a legendary woodsman; and Lottie Tuttle, the first woman in the state to obtain a guide’s license. But there are photos of ordinary folk as well. One of my favorites shows a woman in pumps on top of Bald (or Rondaxe) Mountain.
There also are numerous shots of townscapes and landscapes that illustrate how much things have changed—or stayed the same. I was struck by the photo of McKeever when it was a busy mill town. All that’s left today are a few houses, an old train depot, and some ruins on the Moose River. One of the best landscape photos (taken from the air) shows the North Branch of the Moose snaking through a broad wetland. Having canoed the river a few times, I can attest that all the oxbows are still there.
The captions are terse, informative, and sometimes amusing. Did you know that Alvah Dunning, the famous guide, insisted right up to his death in 1902 that the earth was flat? Or that Fred Hess, “the Father of Inlet,” was said to have once skinned a wolf with a safety pin?
This is the second book in the Images of America series written by Cohen and Masters. In 2003, they published Old Forge: Gateway to the Adirondacks.