The e-book for Fifty Acres of Beach and Wood is now FREE!  27 chapters, 214 pages, 160 images, 236 endnotes from 180 sources!  Simply click here to download a PDF version:  50AcresBeachandWoods  or if you have an ebook reader device or ebook reader app/browser extension on your computer/laptop, click here to download the epub version:

The book can also be requested through interlibrary loan from the Southern Adirondack Library System.

The book was the culmination of five years of research which was originally published in the blog posts shown below.  

  • Preface
    “The author has been an assiduous but superficial student of the literature.  He has read extensively rather than intensively.  The resulting work is that of an enthusiastic amateur, who  handles in a jaunty manner the most difficult historical manuscripts, as if every word was to be accepted with utmost faith.  The very style in which the […]
  • Bird of Flight
    “Thunk-Ping” “Thunk-Ping” echoed through the woods as the head of the sledge came down upon the maul.  Rhythmically the forged steel struck the maul, driving the blade into the round section of the old oak deadfall’s trunk.  My hands tried valiantly to not retreat, but hold fast to the maul handle as my father sent the […]
  • Where in the world…
    Before I write more stories of the history of these fifty acres of Beach and Wood, I think it may help to show you where they are. Where shall I start.  Those who have had the privilege of gracing her waters will not accuse me of grandiosity when I claim that Raquette Lake is the most […]
  • Timeline
    Events on these Fifty Acres of Beach and Wood These points in time reveal some of the stories, of import and of good sport, that are yet to unfold in this blog. 1650-1794 Indian Point is used as a Winter hunting encampment by the Mohawk tribe. 1776   The tory Sir John Johnson camps at […]
  • The Changing Times to the Adirondacks
    I apply the brakes just a tad as the car hugs the downhill S-curve – getting closer.  The wheels straighten out and I sprint for the sign.  Up ahead on the right, there it is – the golden letters on brown wood canvas inviting us to enter Golden Beach State Campground.  We whiz by, thankful […]
  • Read It Here First
    Joy can come from research… Ok.  So one has to be a little odd in the head to say that, but while I struggle as an amateur writer periodically I am going to choose to simply re-publish a gem of an historical newspaper article when I find it.  I revel in what it feels like […]
  • The Search Begins…
    While this book hopes to expand  beyond simple stories of my family, it is through our history that I became aware of the heritage of Indian Point both before and during our tenancy. To be clear, “our” tenancy speaks not solely of those named Thacher.  My father’s sister Ellen married Michael FitzPatrick.  Both families enjoyed summers […]
  • Found and Lost
    Discovery brings with it a joy and a moment of satisfaction which spurs fresh pursuit of the truth.  My cousin Stephen FitzPatrick was afflicted with curiosity by these initial blog postings, a compulsion to learn truths that our ancestors lived but failed to share with us.  A piece of the puzzle had always been in […]
  • Nessmuk Comes to Visit
    Whenever and wherever the original Thacher cabin was built on Indian Point is my holy grail.  Delving into the details of the few literary mentions of the cabin might yield clues.  This visit by Nessmuk was published in 1884; however, it makes no mention of when the encounter actually occurred.  I needed to learn about […]
  • Go West, Old Man
    The mysterious original cabin of the Thachers on Indian Point received numerous mentions in the newspapers of the day.  However, the earliest evidence of its existence comes from the single sentence in the text above.  It refers to Rev. Henry Gabriels who at the time was President of the St. Joseph Seminary in Troy, NY […]
  • Why Indian Point?
    Echoing across time, this question can be asked three ways.  Who were the Indians of its namesake?  Why did Matthew Beach and William Wood choose it for their home? Why was John Boyd Thacher enticed to buy these acres? According to local lore, Indian Point was the site of an Indian settlement.  The earliest such […]
  • Farrand Benedict’s Canals
    If you ever drive south along Route 28 to Indian Lake from Blue Mountain Lake, look for a sign on the right about 0.4 mile south of Potter’s Corner announcing you are crossing the divide between the St. Lawrence River and Hudson River Watersheds. The waters of Blue Mountain Lake flow through the Eckford Chain […]
  • Matthew Beach and William Wood
    Yonder comes the boat of Woods and Beach, the two solitary dwellers of this region. It is rather a singular coincidence that the only two inhabitants of this wilderness should be named Woods and Beach. I should not wonder if the next comers should be called ‘Hemlock’ and ‘Pine’. Joel Tyler Headley, The Adirondack or […]
  • The Capture and Death of Charles Parker
    Our family has two large metal boxes filled with George Hornell Thacher’s handwritten letters.   We are fortunate to have three letters written from the Thacher “Camp” on Indian Point. GHT’s correspondence to his son George Jr. dated August 7, 1881 is a unique piece of history. He references a tragic affair which became the talk […]
  • The Roots of a Classic Adirondack Guide Joke
    Did you hear the one about the guide who took his wealthy client out trolling for lake trout? His customer paid more attention to his bottle of whiskey than his fishing line, finishing off the quart while sharing not a drop with the guide. Looking at his empty bottle, the gentleman remarked to his guide, […]
  • Searching for the 1878 Thacher Cabin on Indian Point
    In my last piece regarding when the mysterious Thacher Cabin was built, I cited numerous newspaper articles and books that referenced the cabin’s existence.   However, none of them clarified where the cabin was built. Previously reviewed maps of Raquette Lake gave no indication and no photos or drawings of the cabin have been found. I […]
  • The Case of the Indian Arrow Etched in Stone
    My cousin Stephen Fitzpatrick showed me a mark that is chiseled into a rock just outside the front door of our family’s little red one-room cabin on Indian Point. The mark vaguely appears like an arrow but with a crosshair at the top instead of a point. Stephen applied an ink dye to the mark […]
  • Thacher Island Revisited
    You see me here standing where my great-great grandfather George Hornell Thacher Sr. once stood on the porch of the family lodge built in 1867 on Thacher Island on Blue Mountain Lake.   The photo is not dated but given his aged appearance (no, the guy on the left), I believe it to be from the […]
  • Joel Tyler Headley – Among the First to Popularize the Adirondacks
    And how solemn it is to move all day through a majestic colonnade of trees and feel that you are in a boundless cathedral whose organ notes swell and die away with the passing wind like some grand requiem. Still more exciting is it to lie at midnight by your camp fire and watch the […]
  • Mitchell Sabattis – Boatbuilder
    When I walk the land around Matthew Beach’s original hut and William Wood’s shanty, I imagine the Abenaki Indian guide Mitchell Sabattis pulling into their landings in a canoe or guideboat made by his own hand. Indian Point was a waypoint for many a traveler boating through the Central Adirondacks. While it is impossible to […]
  • Suffering Fools
    I am entering a phase where I have to once again spend significant time researching new stories about these fifty acres.   For that reason, I am going back to publishing completely new stories only once a month.  Interspersed between those original works I am going to republish excerpts from the stories of Adirondack writers […]
  • —- Sir John Johnson’s Escape —- A Tale Retold
    The legend of Sir John Johnson’s role in naming Raquette Lake has been written and re-written for more than a century.   Below is the earliest source I have found, from the 1891 New York State Forest Commission Annual Report. 1 Its name is founded on a bit of history, hitherto traditional. During the War of […]
  • A Month at the Racket
    The earliest “summer folk” of Raquette Lake were the members of the Constable family who came to camp upon the shores of Sandy Point in the 1830s.  Overtime they purchased the land from Farrand Benedict and renamed it Constable Point.   Today it is what we all know as Antler’s Point.  Edith Pilcher wrote a […]
  • Adirondack Murray’s Guide Honest John
    Honest John Plumbley [sic], the prince of guides, patient as a hound, and as faithful, – a man who knows the wilderness as a farmer knows his fields, whose instinct is never at fault, whose temper is never ruffled, whose paddle is silent as falling snow, whose eye is true along the sights, whose pancakes […]
  • Adirondacks of 1858 and 1859
    Here are stories of camping at Raquette Lake during the summers of 1858 and 1859 which were published in Forest and Stream magazine in 1912.  You will need to click on each section of the article to view the section full screen, which should make it readable.                 […]
  • The August Forest Camp on Indian Point
    This article in the June 21, 1915, Syracuse Post-Standard was the first anyone in our family had heard of the role our property on Indian Point played in the evolution of early forestry education in the United States. 1 The August Forest Camp was a miniature village of 9×9 tents where approximately twelve boys and […]
  • Adirondack Bear Tales
    We have had our share of bear stories at the little red cabin on the tip of Birch Point.  As a young boy I remember the night my brother, my father and I were sleeping in the lean-to, solely enclosed behind window screens and a screen door.  In the middle of the night, I was […]
  • The Triangulation of Verplanck Colvin
    Few fully understand what the Adirondack wilderness really is. It is a mystery even to those who have crossed and recrossed it by boats along it avenues, the lakes; and on foot through its vast and silent recesses…In this remote section, filed with the most rugged mountains, where unnamed waterfalls pour in snowy tresses from […]
  • Ralph Waldo Emerson’s ———“The Adirondacs”
    A JOURNAL DEDICATED TO MY FELLOW TRAVELERS IN AUGUST, 1858 Wise and polite,–and if I drew Their several portraits, you would own Chaucer had no such worthy crew, Nor Boccace in Decameron. We crossed Champlain to Keeseville with our friends, Thence, in strong country carts, rode up the forks Of the Ausable stream, intent to reach […]
  • He Who Would Give the Name ————– “Adirondacks” —————– Prof. Ebenezer Emmons
    After much toil and labor in rowing, in consequence of a strong head wind, we reached the lake at its eastern extremity. This accomplished, our next business was to find the establishment of Beach and Wood situated on some point on the opposite shore. By fortunate conjecture, our guide struck upon the right course and […]
  • 1850 – The Raquette River is Declared a Public Highway
        Prior to his visit to Matthew Beach and William Wood’s cabins on Indian Point in 1855, Henry Jarvis Raymond was instrumental in securing the funding from the New York State Assembly to make the necessary infrastructure improvements to turn the Raquette River and the Moose River into public highways for the transportation of […]
  • Chasing a Barrel of China
    One night forty years ago, local Raquette Laker Jim Regan told this story to my father and my Uncle Mike as they sat around the stone fireplace between the red cabin and the lean-to where I was falling asleep. Mr. Reynolds lived in that cabin over there with his wife and kids for a whole […]
  • First News Report of The “Forever Wild” Amendment to the NY State Constitution in 1894
    It is ironic that the same act which has protected the Adirondack Forest Preserve for over one hundred years actually took away the similar protection from a different region of the state.  Beginning in 1821, Article 7 Section 7 had read “the Legislature shall never sell or dispose of the salt springs belonging to this […]
  • Alvah Dunning: The Hermit Who Could Not Escape Civilization
    Alvah Dunning was perhaps the most famous of Raquette Lake guides, alleged to have helped lead the first excursion of sportsmen to Raquette Lake at age eleven. Born in Lake Piseco in 1816, he lived there until 1860 when his neighbors’ rightful condemnation of his abuse of his wife forced him to flee.  1  From […]
  • “A Week in the Wilderness” by Henry Jarvis Raymond 1855
    Among the many who visited Matthew Beach and William Wood on Indian Point, Henry Jarvis Raymond is notable as the founder of The New York Times.  Raymond was also the elected Lt. Governor of New York State in the summer of 1855 when he travelled through the region.  He published four letters detailing his Week […]
  • The Search for Raquette Lake’s First Cabin
    I know where Matthew Beach and William Wood built their original cabin (depicted in this 1840 sketch by John Hill) on Indian Point. Or at least I think I know, or perhaps I should say I have deduced a pretty darn good educated guess. I welcome other’s critiques of my assumptions. After discovering the location […]
  • The Search for William Wood’s Cabin
    My last article identified the most likely location of the original cabin built by Matthew Beach and William Wood in the mid-1830s. Wood remained on Indian Point until 1859, but sometime between 1844 and 1846 he had a falling out with Beach and built a separate cabin (shown in this 1851 sketch from Jervis McEntee’s […]
  • An Adirondack Love of Mystery and Intrigue in the 1880’s
    One mystery remains which my research has never fully solved. Why did the last two generations of our family have no knowledge of the original Thacher cabin? And why are there no photos or drawings of the cabin? Most importantly, why did the cabin disappear? Here is one surprising theory that could shed light on […]

5 thoughts on “

  1. Hey Cuz, do the readers understand that this peace of heaven is’nt road accessable and three and half miles up Raquette Lake and has always been that way to this day, the old cabin I mean at the needles ?

    • Actually, I am not sure that I have properly conveyed that we are water access only, let alone the fact that our camps do not have electricity. The only difference from 1880, is that we now use propane to light our wall lamps instead of oil.

      • I had a computer crash and lost your email address. Please send it to me :

        I just came across a paper written by WW Durant ” “History of Alvah Dunning” that contains a few sentences – nothing very exciting- about Indian Point.

  2. Tom, I’ve done a bit on Farrand Benendict in an article about the owners of the lands before Inlet was a town and would like to send it to you. I plan to add a comment on the almanac. Can you send an email and I will send it to you. It adds to the info you provided in your Benedict article

  3. great stuff, there is no link on your main page to your archives, might be helpful. I actually found your page by a search on Eckford chain…have been coming to the area all my life and have a home there…for 55 years

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