Camping on Lyon Mountain

Blue Gray Line

     About the 8th of August 1876, the people of Saranac were considerably excited by the rumor that a trail had been cut up Lyon Mt. and that camps would soon be erected on the summit. A party was organized to make thc ascent and camp out, in the meantime, a young lady, Miss Hattic Lyons, endowed with the fortitude,energy and perseverance of her renowned grandfather after whom the mountain was named, was the first lady to climb the summit. (Press, Sept. 2, 1876)

A member of the Tahawus Club investigated the camping possibilites of Lyon Mountain and submitted the following report:

August 26, 1876

     The route selected was by the way of the Saranac River Plank Road to Elsinore (Gougeville), thence to Dannemora; over the State Plank road to Meader's Hotel at Chazy Lake; thence, to the head of that beautiful sheet of water by boat. Leaving the boats at Davis Landing in Lily Pad Bay, we went on foot for two miles over a very gentle ascent and good road - good enough for a horse and buckboard; then up a pretty steep, though good and easy trail for a mile and a quarter to the summit. So much for the route, now let me describe the trip.

     I embarked in the afternoon of the day fixed in one of Brooks' splendid Four Horse Coaches, and being accommodated with a front seat, rode backward to Dannemora enjoying the glorious view of Lake Champlain and the Green Mountains. We stopped a few minutes to chat with Uncle Phil Baker (W. Plattsburgh), and drank some of his ice cold water. Uncle Phil is a brick. He maintains; it is possible to run a hotel without selling whiskey. We halted at numerous hotels and post offices long enough to let the horses puff, and then found ourselves at the Post Office in Cadyville. Now who does not know our friend Ellis and who has not had his blues cured by one of his smiles. Here our load was divided and part went by another stage to Saranac while we resumed up the back road to Dannemora. At Elsinore we called a halt and drank our fill of that splendid spring water that makes glad the hearts of men as well as horses.

     We finally reached Brooks Hotel in Dannemora in time for supper, which was fine except for the flies; then over the mountain by moonlight. It had been hot and dusty by day, but the dew had laid the dust and we met no teams, so it was delightful. We had that fast nag that Charlie Meader drives, and the way we did spin over that mountain and down the other side was a caution. Charlie keeps the plank road in order, and knew it was all right. We arrived at Hotel de Meader at about half past 11, got a good lunch and went to bed.

     The next morning we were up betimes and found our old friend Wales Parsons and family there with a sick child, who I am glad to say was restored to health by the air of Chazy Lake. The day was spent rambling in the woods and shore, shooting, fishing etc. Charlie Meader was the best shot, indeed, I believe he could stand on the veranda of the hotel and put a ball through a bottle of smuggled whiskey in Sawyer's window across the lake, a distance of over a mile.

     The next day we started for Lyon Mt. The lake was smooth and the boat ride delightful. Speckled beauties whose home is beneath those crystal waters, were dancing and jumping in the sunlight; and as we rounded half-way point, old Lyon Mt. loomed up in all its grandeur. We landed at Davis's Landing, shouldered our packs consisting of axes, scientific instruments, guns, provisions, blankets and refreshments. Our party consisted of Wales Parsons, Farmer Meader, Burt, the guide, and the representative of Tahawus Club.

     Two miles of easy ascent then, up, up, up. Finally at the top we found a camp built under the shelter of a large rock. The view from this mountain embraces Chazy Lake, Bradley Pond, and Lower Chateaugay Lakes, the St. Lawrence, Lake Champlain and the Green Mountains to the east. The course of the Saranac River is clearly defined.

     Credit is to be given the Meader Bros. for cutting the trail, and to them and Wales Parsons for clearing the brow of the mountain and building the camp. The vicinity offers much in the line of recreation, pure air, fine scenery, good fishing anl mountain climbing. The Meaders set a good table abounding in speckled trout, venison, partriges, etc. and one thing they excell in is the absence of flies.

     A description of the happy time the group of young people had on their overnight stay on Lyon Moutain:

     Our party consisted of ten ladies and seven gentlemen. We met at Davis' near the head of Chazy Lake, and about 8 o'clock the line was formed with six guides loaded with provisions, blankets, etc. We started up the trail enjoying the freshness and beauty on every side. It seemed more refreshing when we thought of the intense heat and suffocating dust and smoke we had left behind in the valley below.

     Our first halt was where we crossed the brook near the summit. Near the cold spring we found the guides with our lunch baskets, and after appeasing our appetites, we began climbing, the little hill. We were soon winding in and out among the trees, skirting around the rim of the mountain, past the highest point to our camp near the flume. Our guides had a cheerful fire burning, the more welcome as we had enjoyed a thunderstorm which cooled the air. We visited the western and southern sides and enjoyed the panoramic view, and then toward night when the sky began to brighten we called Butt, our guide to make a trail. He proceeded down the flume through the gorge and past the spring. We slid down the rocks that rise almost perpendicular to an immense height. With much fear and trembling, we bid adieu to daylight and entered the opening, which is about 2 feet wide, and extends about 20 feet. We made the angle of a square, thence, down the rocks on every side being piled one above the other and in many instances seemed ready to topple over and bury us beneath. We began the work of regaining the summit and returned to camp tired and hungry. Burt soon had the coffee ready and all did ample justice to supper.

     After supper the ladies vacated the camp while the guides made up the beds. Between supper and bedtime we had entertainment of songs, stories and a visit from an Indian chief and his squaw, who informed us they had seen hard times and their appearance indicated as much. We did what we could to cheer them on their way.

     As morning began to streak the horizon, most cf the party went out on the rocks to see the sunrise, then returned for breakfast. We then took our last outlook and made our descent in good order.

     A word cf advise for persons wishing to make the ascent: Start from Meader's in the morning, after having secured the services of Burt Hungerford as guide. Other guides are Ed Davis and Pilky, two of the best. It is 3½ miles from the head of Chazy Lake to the summit which is estimated to be 3,000 ft. above Chazy Lake.

From: The Saranac Valley; by Sarah Baker; Volume Three;

Follow the following links:
Chazy Lake Page , for pictures of the Lake today.
History of Chazy Lake and River, history of the dam, etc.
More Chazy Lake History , stories of the lake.
More Chazy Lake Stories , more stories of the lake.
Lyon Mountain History, nearby community.
Dannemora History, nearby community.

Rod Bigelow

Box 13  Chazy Lake
Dannemora, N.Y. 12929
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