The American Cyclopædia (1879)/Adirondack Mountains

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The American Cyclopædia
Adirondack Mountains
Edition of 1879. See also Adirondack Mountains on Wikipedia, and the disclaimer.
Longitude East 3 from Washington
AmCyc Adirondack Mountains - map.jpg
Longitude West 74 from Greenwich 011195.Sc

ADIRONDACK MOUNTAINS, the principal group of mountains in New York, extending from the extreme N. E. corner of the state in a S. S. W. direction toward its centre, occupying portions of Clinton, Essex, Franklin, and Hamilton counties. The Catskills, S. of the Mohawk river, may be regarded as their extension in this direction. In the western part of Essex county these mountains have their greatest development, and present the highest peaks of any of the northern spurs of the Appalachian chain, Mount Washington in New Hampshire alone excepted. They rise from an elevated plateau, which extends over this portion of the country for 150 miles in latitude and 100 in longitude, and is itself nearly 2,000 feet above the level of the sea. The highest summits are those of Mounts Marcy, St. Anthony, McMartin, Seward, Emmons, and McIntyre. The first of these reaches the height of 5,337 feet above the level of the sea. St. Anthony, McMartin, and Seward are supposed to be about 5,000 feet high, and the other two summits about 4,000 feet each. These mountains are in ranges, which have a general N. N. E. and S. S. W. direction; but being formed not of stratified, but of granitic rocks, they lack that precision of outline which characterizes the mountains of the same Appalachian system in the middle and southern states. For the same reason the peaks assume more of the conical form, the slopes of the mountains are more abrupt, and the scenery wilder and grander than among the mountains of the sedimentary rocks. The Saranac and the Ausable, whose sources are among these mountains, run in nearly parallel lines toward the northeast, discharging their waters into Lake Champlain. They define upon the map the position of the valleys, which have the same general arrangement throughout the whole chain, and to some extent the position of the ranges of mountains also. In the other direction, the Boreas, the Hudson, and the Cedar rivers, which all unite below into the Hudson, define the extension of the valleys of the Ausable and its branches on the S. declivity of the great plateau; and further west the chain of lakes, including Long lake, Raquette lake, and the Fulton lakes, lie in the same line with the valley of the Saranac, and mark its extension from the central elevation of the plateau toward the southwest. The drainage of this table land is toward Lake Champlain on the east, the St. Lawrence on the northwest, and the Hudson on the south. The sources of many of the streams which flow in these different directions often interlock with each other; and the numerous lakes and ponds with which they connect lie almost upon the same horizontal plane. The elevations of many of these sheets of water are given by Prof. Benedict, and nearly all of them are included between 1,500 and 1,731 feet above the level of the sea, the latter being the elevation of Raquette lake. The great numbers of these lakes and rivers easily navigable to the light canoe of the Indian, with occasional portages past the rapids and falls, gave to this district in former times features of great interest. The deer, moose, caribou, bear, beaver, and otter were abundant throughout this region, and, with the numerous varieties of fish, among them the salmon trout and the pike, of those excellent qualities only met with in our northern inland waters, gave to that ancient race nearly all they required for sustenance. The game, excepting the caribou, still linger about the Adirondacks. The mountains are covered with forests, groves of birch, beech, maple, and ash succeeding to the evergreens, among which the most common are the hemlock, spruce, fir, and cedar, with the valuable white pine intermixed with, and overtopping the rest. In the lower lands along the streams a denser growth of the evergreens is more common, forming almost impenetrable swamps of cedar, tamarack or hackmatack, and hemlock. The white pine is the most valuable product of this region; and the numerous rivers, which served as roads for reaching every part of it, now answer the same purpose for coaveying this valuable timber to market. So important has the pine upon these mountains become, that large sums have been expended in removing the obstructions of the streams, and in opening new outlets to the lakes, by which in the spring freshets the logs could be run down. As may well be supposed, this mountain region offers little inducement to the permanent settler. Only along the wider bottoms of the Saranac and the Ausable, the fertile alluvial soil, the wash of the mountains, tempts to cultivation.

AmCyc Adirondack Mountains - view from Placid Lake.jpg

The Adirondacks from Placid Lake.

 — About 40 years ago the discovery of enormous masses of magnetic iron ore in the very heart of the mountains led to the establishment of the village of Adirondack, in the township of Macomb, on the western border of Essex county, about 50 m. W. of Lake Champlain. Iron works were erected on a scale of considerable magnitude; but the final result was that the distance from market, the scarcity of labor, and the difficulties of transportation made the enterprise unprofitable in spite of the excellence and abundance of the iron, and the works are now wholly abandoned. — Of late years the whole northern wilderness of New York has come to be popularly known as the Adirondacks, and is much resorted to, not only by sportsmen, but by tourists of both sexes, for whose accommodation taverns have been established at convenient distances. All travelling there is done by means of boats of small size and slight build, rowed by a single guide, and made so light that the craft can be lifted from the water and carried on the guide's shoulders from pond to pond or from stream to stream. Competent guides, steady, intelligent, and experienced men, can be hired at all the taverns, who will provide boats, tents, and everything requisite for a trip. Each traveller should have a guide and a boat to himself, and the cost of their maintenance in the woods is not more than a dollar a week for each man of the party. The fare is chiefly trout and venison, of which there is generally an abundance to be procured. A good-sized valise or carpet-bag will hold all the clothes that one person needs for a two months' trip. There are several routes by which the Adirondacks can be reached, but the best and easiest from New York is that by Lake Champlain. The steamer from Whitehall will land the traveller at Port Kent, nearly opposite Burlington, Vt., where coaches are always waiting to take passengers, six miles, to Keeseville. Here conveyances for the wilderness can always be had.