Died: 1923


Children: Minnie Dobbins, Mrs. Joseph Morrissey, Michael and Andrew

Edward Dobbins was a blacksmith, an inventor and silver prospector.  He built the Dobbins House on Broadway in 1903

Franklin Gazette, September 18, 1896

Edward Dobbins, of Saranac Lake, has recently been granted a patent on a useful invention, a spring grab hook, that can he used for a great variety of purposes. It is a practical invention and seems likely to bring Mr. Dobbins substantial financial returns in time.

Malone Farmer, July 18, 1900

Saranac Lake has a Klondike boom now in prospect.

Timothy McCarthy, an old Cripple Creek prospector, some time ago found that the quartz and porphyry, of which Mount Pisgah, near Saranac Lake, is composed, contained gold and silver, and assays showed that the metals run from eight to sixteen dollars to the ton. Numerous veins run in various directions through the mountain. The claims of McCarthy have been verified, according to the Adirondack Enterprise, by M. E. McClary, of Malone, and A. K. Botsford, of Saranac Lake, who, with McCarthy, filed mining claims with the government. They afterwards interested Edward Dobbins and Joseph Merkel in the enterprise and organised the Saranac Lake Mining Co. in May last. The mining rights on the property, which is owned by Robert Smith, have since been purchased, and work was begun last week Monday upon a horizontal tunnel into the cliff following one of the principal veins or leads. If the precious metals are found in sufficient quantities to make mining profitable, smelting works will be erected. It is proposed to take a carload of the ore to smelting works in New Jersey, and ascertain the actual mill run of the ore before attempting to develop the project.

Chateaugay Record and Franklin County Democrat, August 3, 1900

The Saranac Lake Mining company has been granted permission by the state land board to commence condemnation proceedings to acquire the right to enter upon the lands of Robert S. Smith in St. Armand, Essex county, for the purpose of mining gold and silver. The company has acquired the rights of Edward Dobbins, who in May last filed with the secretary of state a certificate of the discovery of a mine on this property. Smith has refused to sell the land or to permit the mine to be worked.

Plattsburgh Sentinel, February 11, 1910


Went Into CobaJt Mining Country, Beyond Reach of Uncle Sam's Mails—Had Been Cut Off From the World.

Eldward Dobbins, a Saranac Lake man who was given up by family and friends as lost two years ago because they were unable to get into communication with him, returned last Thursday to that village. During the something more than two years of his absence he has lived alone in the North Woods beyond the outmost reaches of government mail, in a country of ice, rock and. Sliver Ore, several miles the other side of Gowganda, Ont. He is the possessor of two claims on which all assessment work has been done and each of has a good showing of silver in places.

Dobbins left Saranac Lake for the Cobalt country in the fall of 1908. From Cobalt he went to Gowganda, intending to stake a claim, but so great had been the. stampede into that country that every foot of land for twenty miles around had been staked. Undiscouraged by this, the Saranac man packed a camping outfit on a toboggan and hit the trail into the heart of the woods late in December; 1908. He staked two staked two claims pitched his 7x10 tent and lived in it, killing now and then a moose for food. He had no communication with the outside world until January 1, 1910. He wrote several letters but receiving no replies, gave up the attempt. Beyond the reach of the mails, his only, resource of comunication was to leave a letter in a split of a hardwood stick driven into the ground beside the trail, trusting to some traveler, as infrequent, in that country as the silver fox, to find it, take it to Gowganda and mail it, but the fortunate thing never happened to Dobbin's letters, and after many ineffectual attempts he stopped writing.

The Saranac Lake man first established communication with other human beings by means of a dog.  Two young Englishmen last fall staked a claim opposite his on the east branch of the Montreal river.  Ice in the stream was so poor that the men could not cross to talk to each other, but a dog belonging to the newcomers one day visited Dobbins tent. The camper fed the animal well on moose meat and later the dog again returned. This time Dobbins tied a letter to the animal's neck, and the dog swam the river to his owners, delivering the first message from the Saranac Lake man in two years. A steady correspondence was then; maintained between Dobbins and the Englishmen, by means of the dog.

Dobbins has, on his two patented claims, a good contact vein of silver between the diabase and conglomorate. This was heavily overcapped, but by blasting and taking out the capping the prospector came upon cobalt bloom and found smalltite, argentite, nickelite, cobalt and a good silver showing in place. This work required long months of toil and privation such as only the mountain miner and prospector knows, but the effort seems to have been rewarded. Geologist Bruce, of the Ontario Department of Mines, visited Dobbins' claims last month, looked over the property and pronounced it good. Bruce said the formations were much the same as those in the Cobalt district. Later Dobbins paid an experienced mining engineer to examine his claims, and the findings of this man coincided with those of Geologist Bruce.

Dobbins left his camp and the seven blankets under which he had slept for two years and went to Gowganda on January 12. There he learned that a party of Northern New Yorkers, including Paul Smith, Jr., Hon. George Stevens and E. M. Merrill had secured first class claims known as the McKay property. Dobbins says he knows the claims well, and that they are considered among the best in the new district. He says they are turning out about $500 a day. Dobbins tried to locate the Adirondack men who are the fortunate owners of the McKay property and also of good claims at Shining Tree, but they had left for home before he reached Gowganda.

Malone Farmer, January 27, 1915

Edward Dobbins, a former Saranac Lake hotel-man, who has been following mining for a decade and prospecting in the Cobalt region, was a guest of friends in Lake Placid and Saranac Lake last week. He said the mining property in which Geo. Stevens and others were interested was O. K, and would soon yield a harvest. At present the war has completely demoralized the mining industry in Canada. Mr. Dobbins had the deal all consummated for the sale of his own mining interests to an English syndicate when the war broke out and it fell through.

Lake Placid News, July 6, 1923

Edward Dobbins, pioneer Saranac Lake hotel man and also a well known mining prospector, who for the past fifteen years has been operating a mine in the Cobalt regions of Canada, died in Toronto last Friday and was buried in that city Monday, The late Mr. Dobbins had a host of friends in this Adirondack region. He is survived by one daughter, Mrs. Joseph Morrissey of Rochester, and two sons, Michael and Andrew. M. D. Gregory, well known furniture dealer of Lake Placid is a nephew of the deceased.

Adirondack Daily Enterprise, November 20, 1984

Mountain of broken dreams?


Iron was his trade! Gold was his dream! Edward Dobbins, a sinewy, rawboned blacksmith knew he was on Calvin Brown's property when his eye caught the glint of a shiny substance issuing from a rock crevice on Mount Pisgah.

Dobbins lived in the village. He had arrived in Saranac Lake as an iron worker with the advent of the Chateaugay narrow-gauge railroad. His talents with anvil and forge prompted him to open a blacksmith shop on Broadway where he had no problem making a good living.

But the glitter of gold was his undoing. Dobbins, well versed in property law, promptly staked a claim on the Pisgah spot and filed the proper notification of his action with the authorities in Albany.

The claim, of course, was legal. Persons were permitted to lay claim to mineral rights on certain private properties without holding title.

Having gone through all the preliminaries he set about the laborious and physically tiring process of drilling through rock by hand.

He hoped to find a "pay streak" below the surface, and he put in long hours at the mine spending his strength in fruitless pursuit of the ageless dream . . . unlimited wealth for the taking.

Dobbins couldn't find time for his blacksmith business and sold it. He purchased a hotel just above the Broadway firehouse and called it The Dobbins House. He was absent from the hotel most of the time and that business went downhill rapidly as he redoubled efforts to strike a vein of gold that would end his financial problems.

Dobbins finally gave up the mining operation in disgust, sick in mind and heart over his failure after blasting a hole in the rock to a depth of 15 feet and several feet square. A ladder was the means of descent.

All he had gained in return for his herculean efforts was a miniscule amount of ore which assayed at a dollar and a half a ton.

To the calamitous end he maintained that gold in paying quantities could be extracted from the Pisgah mine if the shaft were only sunk deep enough.

Having exhausted both funds and credit, he sold the hotel to James Collins who conducted a dry-goods store in the building. It was later purchased by the plumbing firm of Miller and Davidson.

In the mid-1920's the only remaining evidence of Dobbins Folly as it was then called, was the sunken shaft. The carefully squared entrance was gradually eaten away by erosion and the bottom of the shaft was flooded with water to a depth of several feet.

A miniature slag heap marked the sloping borders of the extinct mine. Hikers and curiosity seekers extracted souvenir nuggets called "fool's gold" from the slag heap for many years after the mine operation folded.

But a final chapter was recorded before the mine had entirely lost its identity. In the 1900's when several motion picture companies were finding the Adirondack scenery equivalent to the Canadian wilderness, many film studios utilized the surrounding terrain in shooting outdoor melodramas so highly esteemed at the box office.

On October 1, 1915 an advance Vitagraph film company under the direction of S. Rankin Drew, a leading producer of the day arrived in Saranac Lake. The group checked in at the St. Regis Hotel with 14 players and technicians including his lead cameraman, Arthur T. Quinn.

They were to film key footage for "The Hunted Woman," an Oliver Curwood wilderness spectacular. The men in the crew spent several autumn days on nearby mountains and islands. The cliffs near the top of Mount Pisgah in back of Trudeau were selected for several scenes.

When they stumbled across Dobbins' old gold mine, the script was altered to include a scene with the star, Virginia Pierson, falling into the mine.

The shaft was cleared of gravel and a lateral opening made on a level with the base of the shaft to release the water and provide camera access to closeups of the trapped woman.

It was the last hurrah for Dobbins' Folly. Erosion eventually obliterated the original mine configuration. The cliff itself is of a peculiar rust color and the slag tailings are hardly more than rotten rock.

The top of Pisgah is heavily laden with quartz deposits which is an indicator of mineral wealth in many mountain ranges of the west.

Perhaps Ed Dobbins' dream of gold on Pisgah lies locked in the bowels of the mine ledges where he sweat, swore and went broke in the agony of failure.

And to many who occasionally walk to the mine from the ski tow only a few hundred yards away, Dobbins Folly should be restored and kept sacrosanct as a historical memento of Saranac Lake's early and vibrantly colorful days.

If Pisgah has a future let this be a part of it!