Historic Coney Mountain
from Tupper Lake, crossroads and eco-center of the Adirondacks
History of Coney Mountain
A traveler on NY 30 between Long Lake and Tupper Lake crosses a historic boundary line. In 1772, surveyor Archibald Campbell laid out the north line of the Totten and Crossfield Purchase. He was accompanied by a delegation from the Indian tribe from which the vast tract was being purchased. About 3 tenths of a mile east of today's Route 30, they intersected the north end of the "Line of Mile Trees" which had recently been run 55 miles from the "Landing House Tree" on the Hudson River.
Beyond this junction Campbell did not continue his line, but he did take his Indian companions up to the shoulder of Coney Mountain where they could look east to the High Peaks and be satisfied that the line was correct.
In 1776, after the American Revolutionary War, Campbell's line was used as the south line of the Macomb Purchase; for this, Medad Mitchell continued the original T&C line east of the Coney Mountain terminus. It was not until 1799 that Benjamin Wright, later chief engineer for the old Erie Canal, carried the T&C/Macomb line all the way to the Old Military Tract at today's Preston Ponds.
Over the succeeding century, there were numerous property line problems with the original line. It was finally verified by a resurvey which is covered in detail in the Reports of the State Engineer and Surveyor for 1903 and 1904. Along this 50 mile line there are now almost 300 I-beam monuments and innumerable paint blazes. The south line of St. Lawrence and Franklin counties, and the corresponding north boundaries of Herkimer and Hamilton counties, are coincident with the T&C/Macomb line.
The present trip to Coney Mountain begins where the county line crosses Route 30, a highway that did not exist until approved by the voters in 1918. This is not a difficult trip and easy enough for beginner bushwhackers. There is a parking turnout on the west side of Route 30 at the county line. Across the road spot a utility pole, with its transformer at the top of a high bank on the east side. You are now looking along the Totten and Crossfield line.
Before setting out, make a right-about-face and walk about 100 feet west into the woods. There you should find one of the steal I-beams (#158) of the 1903 survey, daubed with red and yellow surveyor's paint and surrounded by paint-blazed witness trees. Yellow blazes will be helpful companions during the day's trip.
Now climb the bank on the east side of the road and enter the woods behind the utility pole. Follow the occasional yellow blazes and the path that parallels it on the north. Head up the slope, detouring around blowdown and tangles as necessary. Each time, the yellow blazes will put you on the right track. On the south side of the blazed line is the private Sperry Ponds property.
Just as you see the grade steepen ahead, you will come to the I-beam #158 at the junction of the above mentioned Line of Mile Trees. This is where Campbell's measurements ended. Climb, steeply to the top of Coney Mountain's shoulder and hunt for the I-beam #159. This is also the point at which the rum was to have run out, so the survey party wanted to go no farther. Attempts to verify this apocryphal part of the story have yielded no results,,,, yet.
Hikers have worn a path that heads left from the boundary line toward Coney's summit, bypassing a bushwhack into the saddle that lies south of the summit. Follow this path to the summit and the scenic part of your day. As you emerge on the open rock summit, notice carefully the end of the path so you can find it on the return.
From vantages along the bare rock there is a full 360 degree view. Clockwise from Tupper Lake on the north, the principal landmarks are nearby Litchfield (Goodman) Mountain, Coney's twin; Mount Morris (Big Tupper); the Sewards, the MacIntyres to the east, and Marcy; and Santanoni, Blue Mountain, and several lakes and ponds to the west. At you feet you will find three USGS benchmarks and some eyebolts. The view of the MacIntyres may be the one that Campbell detoured from the line to show his Indian companions.
To round out your historical day you may want to return to I-beam 159 and follow the yellow blazes to east along the Mitchell/Wright portion of the line. It is easier to start your descent to the south of the I-beam. Almost to the foot of the gradual east slope you will come to Monument #160, a double I-beam at a tri-county corner with its associated witness items. This is the southwest corner of the Macomb Great Lot 1 (and the southeast corner of Great Lot #2) and the southwest corner of the Litchfield Tract. It was also the original Franklin/St. Lawrence/Hamilton corner, but has since been moved about 7 tenths of a mile west, beyond Route 30, probably to place all of the east shore of Tupper Lake in Franklin County.
About a 100 feet before reaching I-beam #160, you mat notice, as you cross an abandoned tote road, a 15-foot birch stub at the east edge of the road. This may well be Medad Mitchell's corner birch of 1776 for the south end of the boundary between MaCombs Great lots #1 and # 2.
The mountain was not always called Coney. During the century between Campbell and Colvin, it acquired the name "Peaked Mountain". Then in 1882, because of its proximity to the Franklin/St. Lawrence/Hamilton county corner, Colvin incorporated it in the triangulation network as Monument Mountain. On Stoddard's 1891 map it appears as "Cone" of which Coney is a corruption.
This short (1 mile) bushwhack lacks Coney's history, but not its views. The small mountain is quite obvious from Route 30 and the views to the east from it's summit are really stunning. Below lies the Stone Castle of Litchfield Park, whose construction seems more fitting of the Rhine River than the Adirondacks. The lands of Litchfield Park remain privately owned. In the 1920's they were devoted to the preservation of the region's wild game as well as imported animals. The Adirondack's first (and only?) wild boar hunt was held in the confines of this game preserve, but....... that's another story.