The Town of Tupper Lake comprises 76,168 acres of rolling upland, originally covered with a magnificent forest of mixed softwood, sprinkled liberally with palatial lakes, winding rivers and sparkling brooks. Before the settlement of the village, one of the more literate early visitors to Tupper Lake was S.H. Hammond, editor of the Albany State Register. He talked about the beauty of the lake and the plentiful wildlife and described the area known as Moody Marsh, as he saw it in the summer of 1849, “a beautiful prairie stretching away, skirted by tall trees. As you look upon it you can hardly believe that it is not a pleasant meadow and you wonder where the farmhouse and all the cattle are”.
The first scattering of white men was hunters, anglers and trappers. These hearty souls penetrated to the Tupper Lake area soon after the end of the American Revolution. In 1850 a Maine outfit, called the Pomeroy Lumber Company, was the first logging operation of record. They began logging off the virgin pine and left as a souvenir the clearing that over looked Raquette Pond. They also left behind it’s foreman William McLaughlin, who did very well selling off building lots during the boom years of 1890 from the very same clearing. (See Tupper History Timeline)
Around midnight on July 29, 1899 the most devastating fire to ever sweep through an Adirondack community burnt 169 buildings to the ground. Undaunted by the loss, the spirited pioneers rebuilt the village. Within a few years after the big fire, the village was restored and back in business as usual.
With the first logging ventures came the rush of settlers. Other sawmills were erected and dams were built along the Raquette River. Soon Tupper Lake logs were feeding hungry mills as far away as Potsdam. For the next century, logging would be the signature industry of Tupper Lake. The most famous mill was the big Hurd Mill (at left) and once sawed over a million board feet of lumber in one day, a world record for that time period..
As the logging industry grew the railroad arrived. As the junction point for Hurd’s and Webb’s railroad, downtown Tupper Lake became the Adirondacks leading rail center with a sprawling freight shed and offices, extensive yard facilities, water towers, coal chute and a roundhouse where upward of 40 men were kept busy on maintenance work on the locomotives operating over the Utica- Montreal and Tupper-Ottawa line. Today efforts are being made to bring the railroad back to Tupper Lake.
Probably no single factor ever contributed more significantly to the growth and economic stability of Tupper Lake than the Sunmount Veterans Hospital. With an amazing display of community spirit the growing village raised $20,000 dollars to purchase the 160 acre Hosley farm and then offered it to the Federal Government for a $1. The offer was accepted on June 26, 1922. Ground was broken that summer with Tupper Lakes first mayor Joe Gokey wielding the spade which turned the first sod.. On August 15, 1924 the new hospital was dedicated with a fitting ceremony. An estimated 2,500 people attended. Today Sunmount exist as a development center and is still a life blood for the community.
For more information on Tupper Lake’s rich history, visit Tupper Lake Historian Jon Kopp’s website at: http://tupperlake.net
Text Courtesy of Jon Kopp