In the Adirondacks portages are called carries. The Marion River Carry is particularly well known. You will find out why from the next post.
If you have been following along you know that William West Durant was the author of the Great Camp Style of Adirondack architecture. William was sent by his father Dr. Thomas C. to Raquette Lake in the early 1870’s to develop 500,000 acres of Adirondack land he acquired while serving as VP of the Union Pacific railroad. To facilitate travel to Raquette Lake by those interested in buying land or timber from the Durants, track was laid from Saratoga Springs to North Creek, NY in 1871. But it was still a day’s travel by stagecoach from North Creek to Blue Mountain Lake. There a guide and boat could be hired to take you on to Raquette Lake.
William improved upon this mode of transportation by having two steamboats built, one for Raquette Lake, the Killoquah, and the other for Blue Mountain Lake, the Toowahloondah.
Blue Mountain Lake is connected to Raquette Lake by the Ectford Chain of lakes (Eagle and Utowandah Lakes) and the Marion River. William dammed up the Marion River to allow the Toowahloondah to navigate passage through the Ectford Chain to the head of the Marion River. The passengers would disembark at the dock at the head of the Marion River and walk the 2-3 miles to catch another steamboat that would take them on to their final destination on Raquette. Presumably baggage handlers would transport their duffel across the carry.
Here is a steamboat at dock. This may be the dock at the Marion River side of the carry although I am not sure.
A fortunate circumstance significantly aided the Durant’s scheme to develop their vast land holdings in the Adirondacks. William Henry Harrison Murray published his book Adventures in the Wildernessin 1879. Murray’s book was a sportsman’s guide to the Adirondacks. It told of a vast wilderness with fish and game just ready to be had with rod and gun. Just a short visit to this paradise would restore one’s health. He gave instructions on what gear to buy, where to stay, the best guide to hire, and even a railroad timetable.
Murray’s tale was centered on Raquette Lake so tourism exploded there. Durant had just finished the first of his Great Camps, Camp Pine Knot, so he was ready to entertain those interested in buying land and timber.
Part I of this post serves to give a background on the Marion River Carry. The next post will describe the almost unbelievable changes that came to the Marion River Carry as the eighteen hundreds came to a close.