Fish Creek, undated Fish Creek Pond Campground, circa 1930. Adirondack Daily Enterprise, July 29, 2005 Fish Creek, undated Fish Creek, undated Fish Creek, undated Fish Creek, c. 1926 (New York State Archives) Fish Creek runs from Little Square Pond east to Upper Saranac Lake. It is the site of one of New York State's largest campgrounds, with 355 campsites. In the 1930s, it was also the site of a large Civilian Conservation Corps camp, that greatly enlarged the campground.  It was also known as the White Birches Camp Site or The Birches.

From the DEC Fish Creek Pond Public Campground Unit Management Plan (link), History

With the advent of the automobile, there was a need to establish roadside camping areas within the Forest Preserve. In 1920, the Conservation Commission began to establish camping sites throughout the Adirondacks. An open camp (lean-to) and two or three fireplaces were developed at Fish Creek Ponds. By 1924, it became apparent that proper sanitary facilities and drinking water were required for those using these roadside campsites. Therefore, an effort began to concentrate the campsites at certain locations. In 1926, 20 campsites, sanitary facilities and a well were constructed at Fish Creek Pond. The next year the Conservation Department doubled the size of the camping area and doubled it again in 1928. Although continually expanding the campground, it proved difficult to keep up with the demand for campsites. In 1927, there were 1,888 campers registered at the campground, and by 1931, more than 45,000 campers used the 264 sites. During the Great Depression, there were few funds available for recreational development. This was overcome by the creation of the federal Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC). On June 3, 1933, CCC Camp #8 was established at Fish Creek Pond. The main purpose of this camp was the extension of Fish Creek Pond Campsite. The CCC camp operated until October 26, 1935. The total work accomplished by the workers for the NYS Conservation Department was valued at $9,000,000 in 1935 dollars.

Additional campsites were added in 1958 and 1960. Rollins Pond Campground was opened in 1951 to meet the ever-increasing demand for campsites. Other notable improvements to the campground have included a central shower building in 1980, upgraded water system in 1995, underground utilities project in 2004, shoreline restoration project in 2011 and water supply improvements in 2015. Today, Fish Creek Ponds campground is the largest and most popular campground operated by DEC in terms of the number of campsites, annual visitation and annual revenue collected. This facility is a key component to achieving the program’s management goals: to manage recreation programs in a manner which ensures protection of the natural resources base, offer recreational opportunities for leisure-time enjoyment for the people of the State, ensure that revenues equal operating costs for that portion of the program covered by user fees and manage the program to enhance economic benefits to local communities and the State.

Tupper Lake Herald and Adirondack Mountain Press, July 21, 1927

Court Mary Loretta, Catholic Daughters of America, will be host to the disabled war veterans of Federal Hospital, this Thursday at the White Birches State Camp on Upper Saranac Lake. An all day outing with an auto ride and several novel features, will be given to 40 of the veterans, and 40 of the members of .the local court will attend. Miss Beatrice Coutu is chairman of the committee on arrangements, assisted by Misses Alice Bouchard, Mary Gauthier, Helen Clohosy and Louise Coutu.

Lake Placid News, August 21, 1931


27,549 Have Registered This Summer As Campers On Pond Near Saranac Inn—Hearthstone Point Only Site in State Used More, Registering 37,064

Registration at the free public camp sites in the Adirondacks and Catskills maintained by the State of New York indicates that these vacation resorts will be used by a far greater number of persons this year than any previous year, Conservation Commissioner Henry Morgenthau, Jr., announces. Up to and including August 1st, 241,134 persons had registered at 18 of the principal camp sites in the Forest Preserve out of more than 30 free camp sites operated by the state. This compares with a total registration for the entire season of 1930 of 267,886 persons, with five of the busiest weeks of the present season still ahead. Commissioner Morgenthau estimates that the close of the vacation season will bring the total registrations this year to at least 350,000.

The Forest Preserve camp sites are equipped with tent space, fire places, automobile parking spaces, sanitary facilities and water supply. At all of the principal sites there is a trained camp site ranger in charge. Swimming- beaches are a feature of most of the sites and nearly all of them are in the midst of good fishing territory, besides offering the opportunity for hiking on mountain trails, and in many cases for boating on the lakes.

Figures on the registration at camps in this district follow: District 1—Fish Creek pond, 27,540; Meadowbrook, 4,938: Wilmington Notch, 3394; Pok-O-Moonshine, 4226.

Plattsburgh Daily Press, March 23, 1933

Lean-to camping, July 1926
New York State Archives

...The most elaborate of the six sites in this section is the Fish Creek camp where 46,250 persons spent carrying vacation periods last summer. While the average number of camp days for each person was two, some persons remained as long as two weeks while others [stayed] there only a single day...

Lake Placid News, May 26, 1933


Forest corps tent cities at Cross clearing and at Fish creek, in the Adirondack mountains, will be built Friday and Saturday, according to word received by Forest Ranger James H. Hopkins from army officials.

Col. W. E. Weeks of Governors Island will supervise the raising of the tent cities. A third forest army camp will be at Barnum pond, 15 miles north of Saranac Lake and about the same distance south of Malone.

Cross clearing is between Saranac Lake and Tupper Lake and Fish Creek is near Saranac Inn. Each of the three camps will hold 240 recruits. The camps will be opened June 1.

The Fish Creek camp site, which received 46,250 campers last year, is to be enlarged by the Roosevelt forest workers. Canoe portages and trails into the woods will be conditioned. A 5,000-acre pine plantation at Barnum pond will have fire lines cut, and forest fire prevention work will be the chief activity at the Cross clearing camp. The state conservation department will furnish the work directors.

Tupper Lake Free Press, July 20, 1933

Hold Season's First Camp-fire Program At Fish Creek Site

Hundreds of vacationist enjoyed the first community campfire

Under the supervision of the campsite rangers, a program of specialty acts and songs was staged about a huge bonfire. A weekly feature in past seasons at the the Birches, the community campfires have proven extremely popular with tourists enjoying the facilities at the Fish Creek “summer village,” and have drawn many from Tupper Lake, Saranac Lake and other neighboring villages. Skits and minstrel shows staged there in past seasons have uncovered unusual talent among the campers. They will be held every Wednesday evening during the remainder of the season.

About 700 people from all parts of the United States and Canada are in camp at Fish Creek now. During August when the tourist-travel is heaviest, this number will probably be trebled.

Plattsburgh Daily Press, July 11, 1934


Forty more youths from the towns in the county and 20 from the city of Plattsburgh will be enrolled Thursday in the Civilian Conservation Corps and sent to Fish Creek Camp near Lake Clear. Orders to enroll, the youths were received yesterday by Andrew W. Simoys, clerk of the Clinton county board of supervisors and Verian D. Otis, city commissioner of public welfare.

Plattsburgh Daily Press, July 13, 1934


Thirty-six youths from the towns in the county and 20 from the city enrolled in the Civilian Conservation Corps departed yesterday morning for Fish Creek Camp near Lake Clear Junction where they will serve a six months enlistment.

Lake Placid News, August 16, 1935


According to press announcement, dedication services for a large amphitheater at the state camp site at Fish Creek are being planned. Stages, motion picture projection booths, and other necessary equipment have been installed. While we believe that the free camp sites are a boon to those who wish to travel and see the state and are without funds for hotel or room accommodations elsewhere, we think the state is extending itself beyond reason in providing entertainment for its guests. We are not informed how all this comes about or is handled but on the surface it appears that by showing motion pictures and providing entertainment that would otherwise be sought in he surrounding towns it is taking income from the business houses and theatres who have a heavy all-year expense. The amphitheater is planned to hold 2000 people and is being constructed by CCC labor.

The topic of the camp site robbing the livelihood of the hotels has been discussed to a point reaching exhaustion. It is the true reason for so many of the hotels going into the hands of the receivers and yet there seems to be nothing that can be done about it. The bill was killed providing for a small fee at the sites at least large enough to cover the expense of upkeep of the grounds. Over 46,000 people have stayed at the Fish Creek camp already this summer— enough persons at one dollar a night to guarantee a good season to two large hotels. All of this was serious enough without the Empire state becoming so free hearted that it provides entertainment for the campers, many of whom are well situated financially and able to pay for accommodations and entertainment furnished by those who depend upon patronage for their living.

Tupper Lake Free Press, October 17, 1935



CCC activities at Camp S-56— probably more familiarly known in Tupper Lake as Camp 8—located at The Birches, Fish Creek Ponds, will be discontinued in the near future, it has been officially announced, and the entire unit the will be moved to a new site at Camden. N. Y., about 40 miles northwest of Utica.

The fact that scheduled work at the Fish Creek camp has been practically cleaned up is cited as the reason for changing the camp's location. Officers and men, headed by Captain Briant, commanding officer, will leave for the Camden camp on or about Friday, October 25th. During the approximately two and a half years that Camp S-56 has been in operation at the Birches the CCCs have greatly extended the facilities of the state's most popular public campsite, constructing hundreds of  open fireplaces, clearing campsites, etc. [remainder illegible]

Lake Placid News, October 18, 1935

[…] The boys from Fish Creek are engaged in construction of ski trails near the Glenwood estates, and the Lake Kiwassa section; construction of a road into the fish hatchery pond, near Saranac Inn; working in the fields at the tree nursery at Lake Clear; and working at various sections of the Fish Creek public campsite. […]

Lake Placid News, October 25, 1935

To Abandon CCC Camp at Fish Creek

CCC activities at Camp S-56 at Fish Creek will be discontinued in the near future, it has been officially announced, and the entire unit will be moved to a new site at Camden, N. Y., about 40 miles northwest of Utica.

The fact that scheduled work at the Fish Creek camp has been practically cleaned up is cited as the reason for changing the camp's location.

During the approximately two and a half years that Camp S-56 has been in operation there the CCC's have greatly extended the facilities of the state's most popular public campsite, constructing hundreds of open fireplaces, clearing campsites, etc. Recently they completed construction of a huge rustic amphitheatre there.

CCC Camp S-63 at Cross Clearing, commanded by Captain Alan G. Spitz, will take over whatever unfinished work may remain in the Fish Creek Camp sector when it is vacated, besides taking charge of the camp buildings and whatever property is left behind until arrangements for permanent disposition have been made.

Plattsburgh Daily Press, February 24, 1937

[...] Mr. Long stated that figures given him show that Fish Creek campsite, one of the largest in the state, was opened eight years ago. The registration the first year was 3,000 and last year 100,000. [. . .]

Essex County Republican, April 23, 1937

Camp Site Fees Bill Passed Assembly

The Assembly on Monday night, approved the bill of Assemblyman Thomas A. Leahy of Lake Placid, authorizing the state conservation commissioner to charge fees for use and occupancy of state campsites in the Adirondack and Catskill parks. The bill now goes to the Senate for concurrent action.

 Tupper Lake Free Press and Herald, April 14, 1938

Veto Bill to Charge For Use of State's Public Campsites

Campers may continue to use New York public camp sites without charge. Governor Lehman has vetoed the Leahy bill which would permit the charge of fees at state camps in the Adirondacks and Catskills. The governor pointed out that the primary purpose of the camps is to concentrate camping within certain developed areas, thus reducing fire hazards.

Lake Placid News, August 9, 1940

A campers' strike against a conservation department ruling flared thru Fish Creek public campsite Saturday night and resulted in a mass meeting of more than 1,000 protestants. They wired their objections to Conservation Commissioner Lithgow Osborne and followed them up with telephone calls.

Fish Creek Camping Grounds Post Card, 1951
Mr. & Mrs. Henry Schwartz TCR 300
The strike resulted from an order issued by the campsite ranger and by District Forest Ranger James H. Hopkins to the effect that doubling on campsites is to be discontinued. The ruling came after an inspection was made by T.J. Shorey of the conservation department. Shorey reported that many campsites were overcrowded causing unsanitary conditions.

Adirondack Record-Elizabethtown Post, January 30, 1941


Also Wants Fee Charged to Users of State's Public Camp Sites …The board also urged passage of legislation requiring charges to be made for the use of public camp sites." These free facilities are in direct and unfair competition with private owners of resort properties who have to pay taxes to support them. If the state is to maintain campsites, they should be made as nearly self-supporting as possible,” said Mr. Weller

Plattsburgh Daily Press, August 12, 1942


ALBANY, Aug. 11 (AP)—New York has borrowed $395,000 to maintain its 70 parks until next July due to reduced revenue from tire and gasoline-rationed vacationists, it was announced today.

James F. Evans, state parks director, estimated park patrons would pay only about $500,000 in fees this year for camping and parking privileges, one-half of the normal amount. The parks require $2,400,000 annually to operate, with the state paying the remainder.

Chairman Abbott Low Moffat of the Assembly Ways and Means committee explained it was impossible at the time the 1942-43 state budget was adopted to "forecast the effect of rationing on attendance at state parks." Widespread economies have been effected, he added, and a number of parks have been closed.

But even these curtailments, he said, were insufficient to meet the drop in revenue

Plattsburgh Press-Republican, March 29, 1955

One of the other needs cited was the completion of the Fish Creek camp site (about 20 miles this side of Tupper Lake). This was begun in 1951, he said, and the development of additional camping accommodations has never been completed.

Adirondack Daily Enterprise, May 25, 1956

The state camps, with hundreds of camp sites, are packed tight. A thirty-thousand-dollar trailer is parked next to two boys who cycled up from Syracuse with a pup tent, fishing tackle, and ten dollars to last two weeks. A place like Fish Creek Camp, with four hundred fireplaces alight at night around seven miles of lake shore, is one of the exciting sights of the Adirondack summer. 

From the DEC Fish Creek Pond Public Campground Unit Management Plan History (link),


Fish Creek Pond Campground Improvements


Campground opened with 20 campsites and sanitary facilities.


Campground expanded to approximately 40 campsites.


Campground expanded again to approximately 80 campsites.


Campground had been expanded to 264 campsites.


Amphitheater and bandshell constructed.


CCC Camp #8 established at Fish Creek Ponds, Existing warehouse constructed.


Existing assistant facility supervisor’s cabin constructed.


Rollins Pond campsites opened. Existing back entrance booth constructed.


Additional campsites opened.


Existing pump house #1 and #2 constructed.


Additional campsites opened. Existing comfort stations#2, #16, #18, #24,#25 and #29 constructed.


Existing comfort stations#10,#13 and #26 constructed.


Existing comfort stations#3and #8constructed.


Existing garage, pump house #3and comfort stations#14, #23 and #27 constructed.


Existing bathhouse constructed.


Existing comfort stations #22 and #31 constructed.


Existing comfort station #17 constructed.


Existing comfort stations#7, #9 and #12 constructed.


Picnic pavilion #2 constructed.


Existing comfort station #28 constructed.


Existing comfort station #32 constructed.


Existing caretaker’s cabin constructed.


Existing shower building constructed.Picnic pavilion #1 constructed.


Existing comfort station #15 constructed. Activities program office constructed.


Existing entrance ticket booth constructed.


Activities program office expanded.


Tent platforms for seasonal staff constructed.


Recycle center constructed.


Central shower building rehabilitated.


Three new wells drilled.


Utilities rehabilitation project completed.


Multiple projects completed to increase accessibility


Emergency electrical work completed.


Shoreline restoration project completed.


Day use playground replaced.


Water supply improvements completed.


Assistant caretaker cabin rehabilitated.


Dump station leach field replaced


For more photographs from the New York State Archives, click here

See also: See Historic Saranac Lake's article written by Rich Loeber, "Memories of camping at Fish Creek" in the Adirondack Daily Enterprise, October 10, 2020.