1950’s – Narrative history by John Apperson, III (Appy’s nephew)

1950’s – Narrative History by John S. Apperson , III (?) 

Mr. X According to the Record

Removing Squatters from Public Lands

Mr. X insisted and kept on Insisting that public lands should be available to the public. Also that the bad feeling between the squatters and the public would be eliminated if about 700 squatters were put off the state land. Mr. X finally and very seriously undertook the task of having the squatters ejected. He soon found the Conservation Commission was favorable to the squatters, depriving the general public of many favorite campsites and the Commission was recommending a leasing system which would compel the man with limited time and means to bid against the man with both time and means. After much effort Mr. X succeeded in getting the Constitutional Convention of 1915 to act on the problem. The results are referred to by a well-informed defender of wildlife and the Forest Preserve. Dr. William T. Hornaday wrote to Mr. X as follows:

“I congratulate you most heartily on having won your fight against the leasing of camp sites in the Adirondacks. That victory I regard as wholly yours. If you had not started the campaign, and kept it up in the masterful manner which you did, beyond all question there would have gone into the constitution something providing for the leasing of camp grounds. The people who hereafter will enjoy the freedom of the campsites in the Adirondacks, unhampered and unafraid of restrictions and limitations that might be imposed by those who are exploiting the Adirondacks for commercial purposes, will need to thank you for the freedom that they will enjoy!”

Unlawful Damage to Lake George Property by a Power Company

Mr. X observed while canoeing and camping that many trees were down along the shores of several islands where the banks were undermined by wave action when the lake was held high by a dam located in the outlet of Lake George. Mr. X first directed his attention to building protection walls along the shore of several islands and later selected one island for his attention. He built a fireplace, erected tents and loaned his entire equipment to anyone who would promise to place at least one stone a day on the shore to protect this island for the future use of the public. Much work was done by many people from several states and several nations. After all efforts to get the power company to maintain reasonable lake levels failed, Mr. X finally succeeded, after 20 years effort, in getting the Attorney General to make a formal complaint against the power company but only after several islands had been completely washed away and others severely damaged as shown vividly in photographs presented to the courts by the Attorney General’s office and accepted ii exhibits. The first court rendered a very illogical and indefensible opinion which was later reversed by a unanimous opinion of the next higher court which decided in effect that the power company had no right to regulate Lake George as their private millpond. A well-informed Lake George leader for several years wrote to Mr. X in 1951 as follows:

“I still admire you no end for the more of less single-handed battle that you are putting up for the people of New York State in connection with continued water level controversy.”

Preserving and Making Available to the Public More Lake George Land.

Prior to 1924 the State did not own any of the 100 miles of shoreline. The only large natural beauty area free of extensive developments was located in the central part known as the Narrows of Lake George. Fortunately in some respects nine miles on the east side of the Lake were owned by one man who kept it undeveloped and in very good condition. Unfortunately, however, private ownership is relatively short as proven in this instance by most of the property coming for sale by his heirs. The opposite, or west shore, was owned by several people and most of it was for sale at relatively low cost because it could not be reached by road. F.D.R. told Mr. X, while viewing the landscape from the top of Black Mountain, that even if his plan did not include the private estate on the opposite side, the owner would probably object to further encouragement of the public in coming to that neighborhood and if the large state owner did not approve of his plan, he might just as well abandon it because of the great influence of the owner. While Mr. X was discouraged, he kept on working and interesting other people, and finally had a bill introduced I the legislature March 1923. After much opposition and many discouragements the bill with a relatively small appropriation, was adopted and signed by the Governor. The passage of this bill opened a way for further efforts and more land was acquired afterwards to complete the plan which included 7 miles of the east shore, and a total of about 18 miles of shore and w8,000 acres of the Lake George watershed. The following comment at a public hearing on the bill was made by the President of a local organization in his opposition to the bill:

“Why as far as I can see and know wherever I go in my study and investigation as to who did this and who did that, and this, that and the other thing, the reply and the only reply is “Oh, why, Mr. _____ ; why these are Mr. ___’s bills.”

It is now easy to see that a few lots which had been developed on the Tongue Mountain Peninsula previous to this effort should have been acquired when they became for sale, especially those that were very conspicuous such as French Point, opposite Paradise Bay, but all efforts to get the State to acquire French point when it came for sale, failed. Finally Mr. X formed a committee which raised the necessary funds for its purchase and after it was thoroughly cleaned up and all houses removed and the open spaces reforested, this ½ miles of shore with 42 acres of land was presented to the people of the State as a gift in memorial to Mr. George Foster Peabody. Another important event which might have prevented this entire plan from succeeding was the promotion of a highway along the east side of the bold thinly forested Tongue Mountain Peninsula by a committee of prominent members representing a local organization. Such a highway would have been visible as an ugly scar for 8 miles along the mountain slope and the falling of boulders from erosion would have made such a road dangerous to travel. The increased price of land made accessible by such a highway would have prevented the State from purchasing the land required in following out Mr. X’s plan. The highway was built up the valley on the other side and over the mountain where it is now located. However, the highway department insisted on locating part of the highway close to the shore, along Northwest Bay and this was only defeated by another hard fight. This was referred to in a letter from a prominent citizen who refused to believe any change in the highway plan could possibly be made.

Dome Island , the Centerpiece of Lake George Scenery

Many years ago Mr. X observed with anxiety a big ugly hole was washing into the west side of Dome Island where people had taken the protection rock away from the shore. He appealed to the owner to repair the damage which threatened the symmetry of this beautiful landmark but the owner expressed the feeling that he was too far away, too feeble, and too busy to make any further contributions toward the maintenance of this island. Mr. X enlisted the interest of several people and after repairing the damage tried to get the State to purchase the island but failed. Efforts were also made to interest a group of private citizens to save the island from development but this effort also failed. Mr. X finally purchased the island himself and after doing much work in reducing the fire hazard and protecting the shore, he has offered to give the island to any group of individuals who will establish a fund sufficient to keep it forever beautiful and undeveloped.