Sunday, January 22, 2017

Trail to the Historic Lock and Dam




~Articles written and pictures taken by Linda M. Heistman,
Publicity Clerk, Old Forge Visitor Information Center.


Anyone who has driven or walked over the Green Bridge in Thendara, has not been disappointed with the beauty of the Moose River from that vantage point.  On the southwest side of the bridge, right at the curve, there is a small parking area for the trailhead for the Lock and Dam trail. This easy (mostly flat) two mile hike is a favorite trail of both locals and visitors alike. Many locals enjoy it as a place to meet friends to walk their dogs, or make it part of their running routine. It is conveniently close to town, but feels like you're away from it all. The trail is well-groomed and well-marked, making it a family friendly trail that most anyone is able to negotiate.  

Each season offers its own uniqueness to the trail, making it a special place to go and return to often.  There are only a few spots on the trail that can get muddy and wet at times, but on nice days, a stroller could even be pushed on most of this two mile round trip. Once the lock and dam is reached, there is a nice area for bird and wildlife watching, a picnic, fishing, swimming and/or skipping stones on this picturesque branch of the Moose River.

In the winter, the sun sends its magnificent rays through sparkling snow-covered tree branches, while the snow provides for a beautiful, easy ski, hike or snowshoe through the fairytale-like woods.


Spring brings its own awakening beauty as it buds with new life. By summer, the trail teems with abundant ferns and other lush greenery. My favorite season to take this trail is in fall when the few views of the Moose River are most vibrant with color.  In fact, the whole trail offers outstanding splashes of color not only in the trees but in the brush and land that borders the mystical curviness of the Moose River.

The trail starts off into the woods and is very flat until about 0.4 miles; where there is a short, fairly easy hill.  Loose, slippery stones seem to make this small hill seem steeper than it really is.  Hike assured that once you successfully reach the top, you will know that you have completed the most challenging part of the trail.  Still, this is an easy uphill, really, compared with many other inclines in our area. After the hill, the rest of the hike is an enjoyable, very level, well-trodden path until it almost reaches the dam. At about 0.9 miles there is another trail that turns off to the left and follows a snowmobile trail up a hill known as Humphrey Hill.  At this point you have almost reached the lock and dam. As you approach it, you may be able to hear the water rushing over the dam. The very last part of the trail becomes more like a gully as the trail slopes down to an open grassy area at the top of the picture perfect falls. The grassy section before the falls is where down-stream paddlers get out and carry their boats around the dam. A short side trail to the left (south) of the dam leads to the bottom of the lock and dam.

The lock and dam was originally built in 1888, in order to improve the very rough transportation conditions of the time. A train would carry passengers coming from the McKeever area (what was called the Moose River Settlement) to “Jones Camp” which used to be located near the lock and dam. The passengers would then board a steamboat named "The Fawn” and continue up the river to the Fulton Chain of lakes. 


How to get there:

From the south on Route 28 North to Thendara, pass the Thendara Railroad Station on the right, drive under the “New York Central” railroad bridge and turn right onto Beech Street (before you get to the Steak House restaurant). Beech Street curves to the left after 2 blocks and becomes Green Bridge Road and then curves to the right and passes over the Moose River. Immediately after crossing the bridge, there is a small parking area to the right. This is the parking area for the trail.

From Old Forge and points north, follow Route 28 South to Thendara.  Just before the Steak House Restaurant, veer slightly left onto Forge Street to the left of the restaurant. Turn left onto Beech Street. Beech Street curves to the left after 2 blocks and becomes Green Bridge Road and then curves to the right and passes over the Moose River. Immediately after crossing the bridge, there is a small parking area to the right. This is the parking area for the trail.

For more information of the history of the lock and dam, here are some references:

Charles Herr, The Fulton Chain Steamer ‘Fawn’, Adirondack Almanac. Retrieved from http://www.adirondackalmanack.com/2013/10/fulton-chain-steamer-fawn.html.

                Palmer, Richard F. (copyright 2008) Wooden Rails in the Adirondacks: The “Peg Leg” Railroad .