Featured Map: Fulton Chain of Lakes

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Contour Interval
165 ft
Highest Elevation
2880 ft
Lowest Elevation
880 ft
Map Area
93.5 sqmi
Centerpoint Coordinates
43.757112, -74.822121

The Name

The chain of lakes’ namesake, Robert Fulton, is credited with the first commercially successful steamboat, the Clermont. In 1807 the boat traveled 300 miles roundtrip up the Hudson River from New York City to Albany and back in 60 hours, changing river traffic and trade in America. Just a few years earlier, Fulton was commissioned by Napoleon Bonaparte to design what would known as the first practical submarine, the Nautilus.

Formation and History

The middle branch of the dammed up Moose River forms the chain of lakes. In 1799 John Brown built a dam that increased the size of the first four lakes making them more navigable and providing power to surrounding sawmills. The state redirected water from the Black River for the Erie Canal in the mid 1800s, and in 1880 both enlarged Brown’s dam and built another dam at Sixth Lake to help affected mill owners downstream on the Black River.

Governor David B. Hill signed the Forest Preserve Act of 1885 creating both the Adirondack and Catskill Forest Preserves. The law ended extensive logging occurring throughout the region that was not only destroying the forests, but leaving the empty land abandoned to erode. The new law created the Forest Commission and required that the land “be forever kept as wild forest lands.” In 1891 the Forest Commission created a map showing the boundaries of the park in blue.

Map of the Great Forest Proposed Adirondack Park 1891

Tourism and Recreation

In 1892 the railroad to Old Forge was built and by the early 1900s the area had over 40 hotels on the lakes becoming a popular area for recreation and tourism. Paul Bunyun moved into the Adirondacks in 1956 when the Enchanted Forest of the Adirondacks opened in Old Forge, New York. In 1968 the white arch, one of eleven from the 1964 New York World’s Fair, was raised in the parking lot. Over the years the park grew and expanded from its original 35 acres to 60, eventually changing its name to Enchanted Forest Water Safari after adding water slides in the mid 1980s.

The Fulton Chain of Lakes is part of the 740 mile Northern Forest Canoe Trail which begins on First Lake and ends in Fort Kent, Maine. It’s also surrounded by hiking trails sporting impressive views of the lakes including the 2 mile out and back trip to Bald Mountain. The fire tower at the end of the trail is one of 120 built in New York in the early 20th century.





More to explore

Historic Pittsburgh Maps – Post 1

Let’s talk about maps of Pittsburgh for a moment. I’ve been wanting to write a blog about the intersection of cartography and Pittsburgh for ages and consistently end up stuck. Why? There are so many cool historic maps of Pittsburgh. I start to research and get sucked into a cartographic whirlpool of topography and city planning. In an effort to synthesize a post I’ve decided to pick the most interesting find I came across today. Consider this a notice, there are many more maps to see in future posts. This one, however, taps into my personal interest of translating flat maps into something tactile and 3D in order to change perspective.

Featured Map: Big Moose Lake

Big Moose Lake is at the head of the Moose River, about five miles north of Old Forge and Fourth Lake in the Adirondacks. While undoubtedly being a popular tourist destination, the lakeshore is known for being less developed than others in the area. – Learn about Palisade Architecture, Fishing and Lake Acidification, and The Murder and Haunting.