Born: April 10, 1865 (one source gives 1844)

Died: c. January 17, 1947

Married: Margaret Cane (lived at 153 Park Avenue in 1948)

Children: Paul Merrill

Elmer Marcellus Merrill — called "Lem" — was a well-known civil engineer and surveyor from Merrillsville, which his family founded, near Loon Lake.

C. 1885-90: Lem Merrill purchased his Uncle Wesley’s house, and operated it, first as a tourist boarding facility and — by 1900 — as a tuberculosis curing facility.

Plattsburgh Sentinel, November 14, 1902

New Hotel at Bloomingdale.

Bloomingdale, Nov, 13,—The corner stone for the new hotel Mr. Adarjan is to build near Bloomingdale was laid Tuesday. Several people from here were down to witness it. Hon. J. H. Pierce made a few remarks and little Elsie DeTorrey broke a bottle of wine over the stone to ensure the enterprise a success.

This hotel will be located about one mile east of this village, on a high bluff overlooking a large flat or intervale, through which a cold brook runs. This brook will be dammed about eighty rods below the hotel, making a lake one and one half miles long and from one-half to three-fourths of a mile wide. Mr. Ardajan will own 800 acres of land, mostly all wooded, which he will convert into a park, stocking it with game. The lake will not need much stocking with fish is one of the best trout streams in this vicinity.

The hotel itself will have a frontage of 190 feet and will be six stories. There will also be an L part 127 feet long.

The work on the foundations and dam is well under way. Mr. B. B. Lantry, of Gabriels, N. Y., has the contract for putting in the foundations and E. M. Merrill, of Loon Lake has charge of the work on the dam. Mr. Adarjan expects to have the hotel ready for guests June 1st, 1903.

Tupper Lake Free Press and Herald, October 17, 1963

Tupper Lake in the Old Days

(From the Files, Oct. 13, 1912)

"E. M. Merrill of Saranac Lake and Robert R. Weir of McColloms believe they have discovered the long, sought after Adirondack gold mine, on land in the Town of Brighton, and have filed with the secretary of state eight claims of 40 acres each. Assays of rock taken from the property have so greatly encouraged the prospectors that they plan to sink a shaft, and if anything of value is uncovered a company will be formed to exploit the find"...

Malone Farmer, October 31, 1917

Elmer M. Merrill, of Saranac Lake, has purchased the E. J. Pickett property at Plumadore Pond, situated near the Plumadore station on the Delaware & Hudson R. R. The pond has been famous for many years because of its large speckled trout. Mr. Merrill's purchase is situated on the western side of the pond and consists of 42 acres of land, a two-story cottage and boat house.

Plattsburgh Press Republican, May 3, 1944


A biography of considerable local interest, that of Lem Merrill, 79- year-old surveyor, conservationist, whose home is a 1,600 acre preserve, four and one-half miles west of Loon Lake station in Franklin county, has just been published, written by Marjorie Lansing Porter, author of "Old Plattsburgh."

Mr. Merrill's birthplace was Merrillsville where his people were early settlers and he has much to tell of pioneering days, of lumbering on the Saranac, of surveying with H. K. Averill in Clinton county, then "on his own" throughout the Adirondacks, and of famous Adirondack hotelmen such as Paul Smith and Ferd Chase. His reminiscences also include bear stories (his record to date is 26 bears killed!) guiding episodes, recollections of surveying in Canada and Michigan, and yarns by the dozen.

Many hunters in Plattsburgh and vicinity are acquainted with Lem Merrill's place which adjoins the 9,000-acre Debar Mountain Game Refuge, and have observed the gate at the entrance to his property, carrying this message: E. M. Merrill-Keep Out-This Means You. Many other residents of the North Country have heard of Lem Merrill and his half-century surveying career, and will read the account of his life with pleasure.

From a large ad in a flier from Rob Grant & Associates Real Estate, undated:

Magnificent 1500 Acre Private Hunting & Fishing Preserve in Loon Lake

Mullin's "Camp Shangri-La"

One of the oldest and most famous hunting and fishing camps in the Adirondacks. Originally owned by the legendary Adirondack guide, Len [sic: Lem] Merrill. This vast preserve boasts numerous beaver ponds and the famous Hatch Brook, offering some of the finest native brook trout fishing in the area. Camp compound includes the "Pondview Cottage," "Deerview Cottage," Crestview Cottage," "Shanty," and the "Hatch Brook Camp."

Price and details upon request.

[The ad includes photos of "Hatch Brook Camp," "Pondview Cottage," and "Deerview Cottage."]

Plattsburgh Press-Republican, January 21, 1947


Some time early this Spring there will be a committal service at Merrill Park, near Loon Lake and E. M. (Lem) Merrill, who died last week, will be laid to rest in a burial plot, of his own choice, a plot that he selected in his beloved mountain retreat some years ago with the expressed desire to be interred there.

The death of Elmer Marcellus Merrill ended the life, not only of an Adirondack native, but one who attained his mark in things that he loved. His passing also left an ever-smaller group of persons who were associated with him in events and characters of a “golden era” in the Adirondacks.

“Lem” Merrill was native of Merrillsville and was born on April 10, 1865, a son of Jeremiah and Louise (Washburn) Merrill. He attended the Merrillsville school, but left at the age of 14, going to work on the Merrill farm. When he was 16 he ran the sawmill at Thatcherville the Saranac's north branch, earning 50 cents a day. His surveying career began at the age of 17, when he worked for Hartwell on the Saranac.

As a youth Merrill became an enthusiast of hunting and fishing. He shot his first partridge at the age of seven and brought in his first deer at the age of 15.

An axman in Hartwell's surveying crew, he became adept. In 1883 he drove logs on the North branch and also acted as camp cook. By 1889 he was a chainman for Henry K. Averill of Plattsburgh, who had started with Sam Shaw, an older surveyor.

In 1886 when the D. and H. railroad line was built to Loon Lake, Merrill operated a lumber camp about a half-mile from Hatch brook. In 1880 Merrill purchased 50 acres of land there from a negro named Ritter, who had been deeded the property. The sale was completed through Ritter's “power of attorney,” Lyman Epps of Lake Placid. The 50-acre tract formed the nucleus of the 1600-acre preserve that Merrill eventually developed.

In 1889 Merrill attended the Mechanical Institute in Rochester to further the elementary education acquired in the Merrillsville school. The same year he took the levels for Hurd's sawmill at Tupper Lake, where a half-million feet of lumber were processed daily. He also mapped the right of way for the New York Central Railroad from Tupper to Utica, walking the distance and back.

In 1901 Merrill began the development of hydro-electric power at Franklin Falls and took the contours on the Saranac for that project. His knowledge of survey figures in all parts of the Adirondacks often served in litigations, especially after he became head surveyor for the State Conservation Department in 1918.

For some years Mr. Merrill, in retirement, spent his Summers at his home at Merrill Park, located near the “end of rail” of the old Brooklyn Cooperage Company's narrow-gauge line and not far from the headquarters of Hatch Brook. Part of each Winter he spent in Plattsburgh and Malone.

He operated Merrill park as a game preserve since early in the 1920s and also was instrumental in the setting aside of the DeBar mountain sector, adjoining Merrill Park, as a game refuge. Mr. Merrill is survived by his widow, nee Margaret Cane; and one son, Paul, of California; also two sisters.

Plattsburgh Press-Republican, January 17, 1947


The funeral of Elmer M. Merrill, eighty-one, retired Adirondack woodsman whose death took place late Tuesday night at Alice Hyde Hospital, Malone, was held yesterday afternoon with services at the Cargil funeral home at Malone. The body was placed in the vault at Morningside cemetery to await burial in the Spring.

Mr. Merrill, a patient at the Malone hospital since December 2, was well known in Plattsburgh and had resided here on several occasions. Born at Merrillsville, he was a retired employee of the State Conservation Department. He was considered an authority on forestry.

Surviving Mr. Merrill are his wife; a son, Paul; and three grandchildren, all of California; and two sisters, Mrs. J. J. Fitzgerald and Miss Ina Merrill of Saranac Lake.


See Merrill Family.