June 7, 1945 – Warwick Carpenter to Donald C. Glenn

  • June 7, 1945 – Warwick S. Carpenter to Mr. Donald C. Glenn(Deputy Attorney General, Deer’s Head Inn, Elizabethtown, New York)

Dear Mr. Glenn:

I was a thrill to get your phone call from Albany and thus suddenly to find myself in some touch once more with the conservation work that I was so deeply interested in for many years.

In the short time since I talked with you, I have given careful thought to any way in which I might be able to strengthen your case for the protection of Lake George. I know that situation very well, and I believe that I understand what you must have in the way of legal evidence. Unfortunately what I know and what I have done in connection with that water encroachment does not seem to me to be of the kind that you can use before the court.

During the conservation administration of George D. Pratt, I first held the position of confidential secretary to the Commissioner, and then for three years, as Secretary of the Commission. During all of this time I was in charge of the Commission’s educational work, and editor of most of its publications, and writer of a good many of them. To handle this work properly involved actual first hand knowledge of what was going on and particularly of conditions I the field, throughout the entire state. It also involved very frequent trips to every part of the state to collect information, and to make photographs that could be used in the Commission’s educational work. On this basis of this first hand knowledge and with photographs and information collected in the field, I carried the Commission’s educational work forward and did a great deal of public speaking on conservation problems. When published material was written by others in the Commission, practically all of it passed through my hands as editor.

I thus had a very intimate and detailed knowledge of the actual conditions. But this meant that I built up factual material for public information and education and not for legal purposes. The legal approach to the same matters, such for instance as the prevention of squatting or prosecution for cutting timber on state lands, was quite different. The legal approach to the protection of the lands about Lake George from damage by high water was different fro my approach though both dealt with the same basic facts.

Thus I don’t see just how I can send you anything on this short notice that can be really helpful and that is not already available to you. I might however make a few comments and suggest a few places where you can find published information regarding conditions as they were about a quarter of a century ago.

You will find in the State library and possibly also in the present Conservation Department, files of a little magazine entitled “the Conservationist” that I edited for the commission. In the issue f February, 1917, which was volume one, number two, is an article that I wrote about the destruction of state owned islands in Lake George by high water caused by the dam and flash boards at the outlet. This is a very popular article with four photographs showing damage at that time and efforts being made to correct it.

During those years I developed a series of publications entitled “Recreational Circulars” that were planned as guides to the use of the State’s recreational facilities in the forest preserve. These circulars were planned, designed and edited by me but written by various other people in the Commission. Recreational circular Number Six was on Lake George and was written by A. S. Hopkins, then state forester and I believe now assistant superintendent of state forests. It was published in 1920 as a supplement to the tenth annual report of the Commission. It contains many pictures of the state land on Lake George. Many of them show public utilization of that land and visualized the importance of it from the standpoint of recreation and healthful outdoor life. These pictures and many like them that you can obtain elsewhere clearly support the statement that those islands are of tremendous importance to the people of the state. In the same circular is a picture of destruction of the shore line of one of the islands and another showing Campfire Girls hauling rocks to prevent such destruction from high water. Unfortunately it is one thing to prove the destruction and another thing to prove that it is illegally caused.

In the seventh Annual Report of the Conservation Commission for the year 1917 on page 61 is a short section dealing with an appropriation of the Legislature for protecting shore lands of Lake George islands. At that time the question of legal action to prohibit flooding those islands was under consideration by the Commission and the Attorney General’s office, and therefore that phase of the matter was not outlined in the report. The eighth annual Report for the year 1918 had on page 118 another short reference to the same work but without attention to the legal aspects.

In the ninth Annual Report for the year 1919 on page 121 you will find a much more detailed discussion with two photographs showing substantial damage. In this report the point is brought out that the subject was a matter of legal rights and that the International Paper Company had offered to endeavor to control the level of the lake fore a trial period of two years. Nevertheless this report also does not deal with the matter in a legal way and it did not attempt to prejudge the case.

Even thought this material is very sketchy, there is still considerable factual data in it and you may be able to use it in some manner. I am sure however that you must already be in full possession of that information.

While I wrote all of these annual reports and collected the photographs that I used in them and had personal knowledge of the accuracy of what was presented in the reports, I do not recall that I took the particular photographs that are here referred to. I obtained them from various sources. Some were made by Mr. J. S. Apperson of Schenectady. Some were made I believe by Clinton G. Abbott, who handled educational work of the Commission under my general direction. Others were made by Howard H. Cleaves, who was assistant to Mr. Abbott. I can however vouch for their authenticity as an editor who had seen the places photographed and knew of the conditions at first hand.

With regret that I am not able to send you anything more concrete than this, and wishing you the full measure of success that this case deserves, I am

Sincerely yours,

Warwick Carpenter

Pacific Coast Manager