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|[[image(Raquette Falls Lodge.jpg,400,thumbnail,right,"The ranger cabin at Raquette Falls")]]|
Raquette Falls, 2012 Raquette Falls, 1902, William Henry Jackson Raquette Falls, Seneca Ray Stoddard, (undated) The ranger cabin at Raquette Falls
The Raquette River Falls are on the Raquette River three miles north (downstream) of Long Lake, six miles south (upstream) of Axton. There are two falls, each about fifteen feet high, and a narrow gorge filled with fast water that require a difficult one-mile carry for canoers attempting to get from Long Lake to Upper Saranac Lake. The falls are on the route of the Adirondack Canoe Classic 90-mile race, and the carry is one of the most difficult in the race.
It is presently the site of a Department of Environmental Conservation Interior Outpost.
In the 1890s, an old woodsman used a wagon to carry as many as twenty canoes a day over the portage.
George E. Morgan lived at the falls from 1918 to 1944; a plaque set into a boulder commemorates his time there. A later owner was Charles Bryan, Jr., of Chicago, former president of the Pullman Standard Car Company.
Tupper Lake Free Press and Herald, January 26, 2005
Notes on a Proud Past with Attention to Future Annals
Bill Frenette, [Tupper Lake] town historian
One of only several remaining interior ranger stations in the Adirondack Park is located at Racquette Falls [sic]. The station located there is a handsome log and stone structure with polished wooden floors and hand crafted furniture. A striking stone fireplace helps lend a Great Camp Arts and Crafts look to the main room, which is kept faultlessly neat by its bachelor seasonal ranger. A small office and efficient kitchen share the rear of the building with a small bedroom and a larger bunkroom designed to house personnel in the event of a fire or other emergency efforts.
I would add to this description of the cabin a point of historical interest and recognition. This is done because certain occurrences need to be recorded and deserved recognition is often overlooked. [sic] For example, that fireplace was built by my former classmate and long time friend, Howard Reandeau, who at the time of construction was the D.E.C. caretaker at the "Falls."
Howard (Wigs) was a skilled stone mason and his masterful work graces many of the pretentious homes and residences in this area, not to mention his exceptional work along with other local artisans such as Washington Street resident Tony Rovito. that is so highly admired throughout the grounds and buildings of the Adirondack Museum at Blue Mt. Lake. It should be noted that the same that was used for the fireplace and chimney at the ranger station was not, as might be expected, of native origin. Rather it originated in Tennessee and arrived here on a freight train and was offloaded at a siding off Mill Street and trucked to Blue Mtn. Lake. It was originally acquired because of its outstanding color and form and was a specific requirement in the architectural plans for various exhibits and buildings at the monumental and world museum, which was then undergoing construction.
When there was no longer any need for the stone at the museum, the surplus was made available to the D.E.C. through the generosity of the museum and Chet Johnson of this village, whose firm W.C. Johnson and Sons began the original museum construction in 1955. The stone for the station was then transported to Coreys by truck and men, over the winter, sledged into the clearing on what is today's foot trail.
Chet Johnson had a special affection for the clearing and for the river. He was a friend to several of the previous owners when it was privately owned and for many years had a platform tent camp a short distance downstream where Palmer Brook enters the river. Chet will also be remembered for the countless hours that he toiled with others, over the years, removing hundreds of partially submerged river drive logs to improve navigation on the river's twisting course. Can you imagine his indignation today over the proposal to ban motors on his beloved river? (Even as he would severely condemn the yahoos whose reckless and inconsiderate behavior with their motor boats threaten that traditional privilege).
Some sort of dwelling has existed in the clearing since about 1860. [date not clear] It was once much larger than is today and at one early time, around 1860, was the headquarters and supply depot for goods brought up from this village and destined for use there and the many remote lumber camps in the Calkins Brook and Cold River area. After the lumber operations ended, successive owners maintained a lodge and cabins and offered boarding and transport services. More on those owners in a later column, but let me tell you about meeting the last private owner before it was acquired by New York State.
A number of years ago Dave LaVoy and I, not having any luck decided to try the upper falls of the river. Here we experienced incredible luck catching our limit of large speckled trout. There wasn't supposed to be trout in the river, but we didn't know that! The pool, below the falls was thick with white foam, not unlike the head on a fine glass of Guiness Stout. Almost each cast of our lure into that foam produced a fat trout, strong and wild and landing those fighting beauties, our reels screaming in protest as the trout made long runs and sought the fast current below the pool was an experience Dave and I will always remember as one of the best days in a lifetime of fishing Having finished fishing, we headed back to the clearing and on the trail we met an older gentleman and as wood travelers often do, we fell into conversation. I remember that he was skeptical about our fabulous catch. Only when we opened our creels did he acknowledge ours was no fish late. He told us, that day, that he had known the river for almost forty years and that to the best of his knowledge, an invasion of pike had long ago cleaned out any trout. He wondered out loud if the recent high water had flushed trout into the river from its Cold River tributary, a known trout fishery.
Earlier that day, while returning from Dawson on the old supply haulroad, I had found a large handsome leather portfolio, or wallet, laced with protected multiple sleeves of beautiful trout flies. I took the case from my pack and asked the older gent if it could belong to him. If I had returned a gold Rolex watch, he could not have been more overjoyed, nor I suspect, more surprised. We were, after all, a couple of smelly, rough-looking customers.
That gentleman turned out to be Charles Byran Jr. [sic] of Chicago, former president of the Pullman Standard Car Mfg. Co. and a distinguished engineer. At the time of our meeting he was the owner of the Racquette Falls, Racquette Falls clearing, the lodge and cabins there and along with Mrs. Byran had been a summer visitor to the area since the early 1920's. Mr. Byran died in 1966 in Chicago. In 1970, Mrs. Byran sold the 89.2 acre parcel to New York State. Two years later, the Racquette Falls Lodge, built in 1934 for George Morgan by Ross Freeman of Coreys, was destroyed in a spectacular night fire which broke out in the generator room of the two story log structure. The D.E.C. interior ranger residence is near the footprint of that former lodge.
Racquette Falls is a unique, charming, magnetic place. From the early Tupper Lake lumbermen 145 years ago, it has commanded a special niche in our local history….