Axton on the Raquette River, undated
Foresters Inn is at left, behind the flag.
Courtesy of the Adirondack Experience

Axton was the name of a community (originally Axetown) on the Raquette River at the end of Corey's road, established by Cornell University as part of a forestry program; a school was built there for the children of loggers who worked the plantation.

Axton was the site of the Indian Carry Chapel, which was largely financed by the Dodge, Meigs & Company logging company for the loggers working nearby to keep their mill at Axton Landing busy.  It was also the original site of the Foresters Inn.


  • Duquette, John J., "Library receives old school board minutes and early area magazines", Adirondack Daily Enterprise, January 28, 1974
  • Svenson, Sally, "Missions Accomplished; Richard McCarthy's Church-Building Spree", Adirondack Life, August, 2004

Plattsburgh Sentinel, May 13, 1892

Saranac Lake

-- “Axton" is the name of a postoffice just established at what is called the Calkin's place, seven miles below Racquette Falls.

Plattsburgh Sentinel, April 13, 1894

C. N. Corey has been appointed postmaster at Axton, Franklin county. Axton is on Saranac Lake, and is one of Dodge, Meigs & Co.'s lumbering camps.

Adirondack News, May 19, 1894

L. D. Badger came down from Axton, the first of the week, with thirty-three of Dodge, Meigs & Co.'s horses. He took them to pasture near Dundee.

Adirondack News, April 20, 1895

Quite a crew of men left Monday for Forestport to work for Gilbert Perry on the drive. Another crew left Monday for Axton to work for Dodge, Meigs & Co. Many of these men have been idle since coming out of the woods and have put in a big time here waiting for the Ice to go out of the river. That our village presents a more orderly place for the past few days is perceptible to all.

Malone Palladium, May 2, 1895

The Raquette River Railroad Company was incorporated last week Thursday to construct and operate; a steam road from Tupper Lake to Axton, Franklin county, a distance of ten miles. The capital is $100,000, divided into $100 Shares. The directors are CHARLES E. ARNOLD, A. J. VOYER, W. P. SHAW , M. J. CANADAY, JOHN WAGNER and CLIFFORD D. GREGORY, of Albany, and GEORGE I. HUMPHREY, of Saratoga, E. K. ROBINSON,, of Bath, and F. S. WORHAM, of NewYork city. Mr. ARNOLD subscribes for $70,000 worth of the stock.

Axton is on the Raquette River, at one of the termini of the Sweeny Carry, and has been the headquarters of the lumbering operations of DODGE, MEIGS & Co. The extension of a railway to it will make it the most convenient route to Waubeek Lodge [sic] and some other resorts on Saranac Lake and also to the Blue Mountain Lake region. Steamers run from Axton to within a dozen miles of Blue Mountain Lake, to which all supplies now have to be hauled over steep hills for nearly 40 miles.

The opening of the proposed road, which it is the plan to build at once, is expected  to build up a heavy freight traffic and also attract a great deal of summer travel. At Tupper Lake it isiunderstood that the Delaware and Hudson Canal Co. is back of the enterprise, and indirectly supplying the capital. It is reported also that the D. & H. C. Co. will extend the old Adirondack R. R., which runs from Saratoga to North Creek, to Long Lake during the coming season. The Axton road and the Long Lake road would then be, within 20 miles of each other— the former connecting with the N. A. R. R. at Tupper Lake and thus having a direct route to Montreal via Bombay and Fort Covington, and the latter having connections at Saratoga for New York. Naturally the two would soon be joined, and the N. A. R. R. people claim that the line thus created between New York and Montreal would be shorter by fifty miles or more than even the D. & H. C. Co. route. If the Tupper Lake idea proves to be well founded, it would be altogether natural that the D. & H. C. Co. people should buy the N. A. R. R. when sold next month.


Plattsburgh Daily Press, September 11, 1899




--Mrs. Mary W. Stickney is in charge of the Labounty school, and Mary G. Trumbull holds sway over the Axton school.

Malone Farmer, September 18, 1901

General Lew Wallace, the famous author of Ben Hur, has also been rusticating in the Adirondacks in the vicinity of Axon.

Plattsburgh Republican, June 16, 1906

Considerable interest is being shown in the evergreen forests planted in the Adirondacks in the country surrounding Saranac Lake by the Forest, Fish and Game Commission. Close to the sanitarium at Ray Brook are plantations of white pine, Scotch pine and Norway spruce. Near Lake Placid there is a stretch of a mile covered with white and Scotch pine. Although severely tried by the changeable winter weather nearly all have lived and are doing well. Near Lake Clear Junction is a plantation of 350,000 white pine, Scotch pine, Norway spruce, European larch, and Douglas fir, planted four years ago and growing rapidly. Between Paul Smith's and McCollom's 400,000 trees were planted, white and Scotch pine. A pine plantation may be seen from the car windows between Saranac Lake and Lake Clear Junction. The trees are all white pine planted in 1902. Three nurseries for forest trees are now in operation in the Adirondacks, one at Saranac Inn Station, another at Wawbeek and a third at Axton , the latter two of which were started by the Cornell College of Forestry, and afterwards taken up by the State Forestry Commission.


Tupper Lake Free Press and Herald, July 28, 1971

Tupper Lake In the Old Days
From the files, July 25, 1913

THE HERALD'S AXTON Correspondent reported the arrival of one of the first gas-powered vehicles in that area: "A party which fished Ampersand Brook this week came in a specially rigged automobile. It was provided with a rack for carrying a small boat, and is said to have toured Canada and this country, fishing" . . He also noted that "The Santa Clara Lumber Co. has a gang of 30 men working on the tote road, under the direction of Louis Gonyea. About half of the gang are Cornell forestry students, getting some practical pointers on road making".. It was not all work at Axton, incidentally: "An informal dance was held in the old forestry school building at Axton, attended by all the young society people of Coreys and Axton. Bill Corby furnished the music with his usual finesse, and a good time was enjoyed by all present" .

Tupper Lake Free Press and Herald, August 6, 1970

First Forestry Venture 70 Years Ago Scuttled Cornell College of Forestry, But Attracted New Industry to Tupper

(Nineteenth in a Series)

In our last issue we presented the late Ferris J. Meigs' account of the "dickering" which resulted in the sale of 30,000 acres of timberland east of this village in the Cross Clearing Upper Saranac Lake - Axton area by Santa Clara Lumber Co. to the state, on which the infant Cornell College of Forestry proposed to establish the first major scientific forestry, operation in this country . . .

The state paid Santa Clara Lumber Co. $165,000 for the tract, and Cornell University established its field headquarters in 1899 at Axton, the approximate center of the property, about 13 miles from Tupper by road . . . The story of what happened there was not exactly a bright one, but it appears that all, parties, including the Santa Clara Lumber Co., Brooklyn Cooperage Co. and Tupper Lake village, profited thereby, with the exception of forestry in general and Cornell University in particular.

Cornell College of Forestry entered into a contract in May, 1900 with the Brooklyn Cooperage Co., by which the college was bound to cut and deliver wood off the college tract "for at least fifteen years", according to Alfred Donaldson in his History of the Adirondacks. "The contract was made with the avowed purpose of clearing the land so that it could be replanted, and both profit and benefit were expected from the experiment. It yielded both— but for the Cooperage Company only. The price at which the university agreed to cut and deliver their wood proved less than the operation cost them. This robbed them of funds they expected to use for replanting, and allowed the denuditation process to assume a lamentable ascendancy".

Frederick A. Seaver, in his History of Franklin County, adds some interesting notes: "The forester in charge of the school planned to cut all hardwood on the tract down to 14 inches at the butt, and all softwood down to eight inches, on the theory that light and air would thus reach the trees left standing, the growth of which would be more rapid. It was part of the scheme to fill in vacant places with young pine. His procedure would today be accounted good forestry, provided the territory so treated could be assured immunity from fire ravages. When about 6,000 acres had been cut over as thus indicated, high winds overturned or snapped off nearly all the trees that had not been felled, whereupon the school cleared the lands so that they were practically bare, and then undertook to reforest with seedlings.

"About 2,400 acres were in fact so dealt with, and then fire swept in upon the tract, destroying many of the young trees.. . The practice as outlined was characterized at the time as vandalism, and action by the courts was invoked successfully to suppress the operations, and to recover the lands from Cornell for the State . . . Of course, the school had to have a purchaser for its cut timber, and found one in the Brooklyn Cooperage Co., which had theretofore operated at Santa Clara and St. Regis Falls". (As part of the contract, Brooklyn Cooperage erected a stave and heading mill off present-day McCarthy st. in downtown Tupper Lake to use the logs, and a wood alcohol plant off present-day McLaughlin ave. to use the cordwood).

In order to reach the Cross Clearing area Brooklyn Cooperage Co. built a logging railway from this village to the college tract, a distance of a little over four miles . . . The railroad right of way can still be traced today, all timber having been removed to a width of 25 yards along its route. Cornell College of Forestry, which doesn't appear to have had an overabundance of hardheaded business men, contracted to deliver its logs at the railroad for $5 per thousand feet, which barely covered the cost of cutting and hauling and left nothing in profit to finance reforestation.

Wealthy owners of woodland in the Upper Saranac Lake area didn't like the looks of what was happening to the timberland just west of their holdings, where thousands of acres had been stripped. In 1901 Eric P. Swenson, president of the Association of Residents on Upper Saranac Lake, made application to the attorney general to institute proceedings on behalf of the People of the State of New York to have the purchase of the 30,000 acre tract by Cornell University declared unconstitutional and void, and to have the title to said land vested in the People of the State of New York".

Owing to the contract, suit had to be brought against the Brooklyn Cooperage Co., which demurred on the ground of insufficient cause for action. The case dragged on through the Supreme Court and Court of Appeals and was finally decided against Brooklyn Cooperage in 1912, after ten years of litigation. Dr. B. E. Fernow, as director of the new Cornell College of Forestry, was violently attacked, and Adirondackers familiar with developments in the Cross Clearing - Axton area took a dim view of scientific forestry for years thereafter.

Operations on the tract had ceased in 1904, when the courts prohibited further cutting, whereupon the logging railroad was abandoned, and the rails sold for scrap iron. The Cornell Forestry College, provided for by Chapter 122 of the Laws of 1898, State of New York, lasted only five years. Appropriations of $30,000 in 1899 and again in 1900, and annual appropriations of $10,000 in 1899, 1900, 1901 and 1902 were approved by the Legislature, and used chiefly for the salaries of the director, Dr. Fernow, and his assistants. The Appropriation Bill of 1903 again provided $10,000 for the forestry college, but by that time the outcry over the apparent "rape" of part of the timberlands purchased from Santa Clara Lumber Co. and denuded by clear cutting and fire, was so loud that Governor Odell vetoed the bill. Deprived of State support, Cornell closed its College of Forestry in June, 1903 and dismissed Director Fernow.

Dr. Fernow, a professional forester who was trained in Germany and had extensive experience in his field in the U. S. since 1876, including the post of Chief of the U. S. Forestry Division, became Dean of the Faculty of Forestry at Toronto University, Canada, after leaving Cornell . . . So that's the short, sad story of the first scientific forestry experiment on the lands sold by Santa Clara Lumber Co. to the State a little over 70 years ago. Motorists driving through the Cross Clearing area might wonder whence the name, inasmuch as the once-timber-stripped region is again heavily forested. Part of the answer is the sign on the stand of Scotch pine on the north side of the highway, which states that it was planted in 1908. . . Part of the area was reforested by the CCC's, who operated Camp 15 at Cross Clearing in the 1930s . . . The passing years have pretty well erased the clearing . . . the roadbed of the Brooklyn Cooperage Company's almost forgotten logging railroad winds through second-growth, itself largely overgrown, and probably the most durable reminder of how ill-fated was the state's first forestry venture on former Santa Clara Lumber Co. lands is the fact that New York's College of Forestry is now at Syracuse University, —not Cornell.