It was a drizzly, cold fourth of July weekend. We were camped at Forked Lake campground in the Adirondacks. Our boys had gone off fishing. Fran and I decided to paddle down the lake to our car. There we could at least warm up. One thing led to another, and we decided to drive into Long Lake, the nearest town. There we happened upon a sign saying “Waterfront lots for Sale.” Fran said, “Let’s check that out.” I was hesitant, but decided to go along with it. We followed Endion Road to a rather large house on the lake.
There we met Tom Bissell, and learned that he had just finished developing some lots on a cove off the main lake. One lot was especially appealing. It had a view of a marsh, and yet it had boat access to the main lake.
It seemed very inexpensive for such a lot. We told Tom we would get back to him before the weekend was over. After checking out other properties, we decided that his lot was just right for us. We returned to meet with Tom a day or two later. He and his wife Jane welcomed us into their home, and we chatted for well over an hour about our families and this place Endion. There was no mention of a sale. Finally I told Tom we would like to purchase the lot he had shown us. I told him we could do a down payment, but couldn’t pay for the whole sum at this time. “Would you take a mortgage on the property?” “Certainly,” he said, to our amazement, since that is never done on just a lot. I then asked if he would like us to sign some sort of agreement on this purchase. He said “No, that’s not necessary. I’ll just have my attorney send you papers in the mail,” Apparently that is the way transactions are done, in the North Country, by a handshake. Sure enough, papers arrived promptly, and we signed a five-year mortgage.
We learned that the name “Endion” came from an encounter that the American artist, Frederic Remington, had with Native Americans in the late 1800’s. Remington was paddling along on the shore of the St. Lawrence River when He came upon a group of Native Americans. He asked them “What is the name of this place?” They said, “Endion,” which he later learned was “home” in their native tongue.
Tom’s grandmother, Alice, started a hotel in 1887, and upon hearing this story, named her hotel “Endion.” The hotel had seven rooms, and she built a number of cottages to rent. It also had a recreation building, and some other outbuildings. Endion Road, at that time, was a nightmare, and practically impassable. It was a corduroy road in places, and a rock strewn, muddy path in others. The best way to get to Endion was a hand-drawn ferry. It would crisscross the lake from the opposite side. One would ring a bell on the far side of the lake to summon someone who would pull on a rope, hand over hand, to bring the ferry across from the Endion side.
The Endion hotel was quite a going concern in its day. A large garden was necessary to supply produce for the chef to prepare his meals. College women were hired for the summer as waitresses. It was one of these women, Jane, that would eventually become Tom’s wife.
The hotel is long since gone and the cottages were all sold to private owners. One remaining structure is the recreation hall. It is now filled with all sorts of memorabilia from the hotel that is a fascinating step back in time.
Tom built a log cabin which he rents during the summer months.
The view up the lake on a clear day from Endion is a beautiful site any time of year. Here is a view taken this summer.
The Endion boat house is a permanent reminder of this special place.
Next time we talk with Tom.