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Heart Bay

Heart Bay

Heart Bay In History

By George Chapman Singer

Thursday, March 22, 2012

During the nineteenth century Heart Bay was known as Stone’s Bay. John Stone, who appears to have been the original settler, came to South Ticonderoga about 1797 from Shoreham, Vermont with his wife, a Miss Litchfield, from Scituate, Massachusetts. The John Hammond subdivision map of 1880 locates “Stone’s Bay Farm.” An E. Stone is named by Joseph Cook in his Ticonderoga Centennial Address, 25 July, 1864. Cook noted that the Stone farm was separated from the nearby steamboat landing at Baldwin by a fence.

Baldwin Dock and Baldwin Road memorialize William G. Baldwin who operated a stagecoach service connecting the foot of Lake George with Lake Champlain until 1875 when the rail link was completed.

But Heart Bay had an earlier, if somewhat shadowy, history. By the terms of the Peace of Paris in February, 1763 which ended the French and Indian War, the French forfeited all of their territorial claims in northern New York and Canada. Heart Bay had been a part of a French grant, the Seigniory of Alainville, by a Royal Proclamation of George III. The victorious British rewarded soldiers who had fought in the contested areas with grants of land carved from the French claims. Private soldiers received 50 acres, sergeants 200 acres, officers up to 2000 acres. Heart Bay may have been part of a grant made to George Robertson, a “private soldier in His Maj’s 22nd Regiment of Foot.” Robertson’s petition, dated from Crown Point, 21 September, 1766, specified “a Certain piece of Land Lying on the North side of Roger’s Rock upon the west Side of Lake George.”

Many of these military grants were bought up by developers in the period during and after the Revolution. Heart Bay was incorporated into the Alexander Ellice tract. Ellice was an Englishman who most likely never set foot in northern New York. His name survives in Alexandria Avenue, all that remains of the tiny settlement of Alexandria at the very foot of Lake George.

In 1802 the Ellice Tract was subdivided by William Cockburn, Jr., into large lots covering the area from Rogers’ Rock nearly to Trout Brook on the north. It was quitclaimed to Edward Ellice who owned it in 1840. An 1858 map shows that what is now Coates Point was part of the Simeon Coates farm which dated from around 1800. Further along the outlet of Lake George was The Homelands, the extensive property belonging to Andrew Jackson Cook.

The panoramic photo shows the western half of Heart Bay as it looked around 1910. The reason for its name is evident from the small aerial shot. The cleft of the heart forms the western edge, the right ventricle the extended shoreline, the left ventricle the water side. Although “Heart’s Bay,” was legitimized by its unfortunate inclusion in the 1950 U.S. Geological survey, it was “Heart Bay” as early as the 1880s when the Rogers’ Rock observatory was built. The name was used before 1900 on postcards, even appearing in the Lake George Mirror in 1904. “Heart Bay” has now been officially recognized by the U.S. Survey Board of Proper Names and will be included in the next topo revision.

The sheer rock face of Rogers’ Rock, or “The Slide,” rises to the west of Heart Bay, beyond the photo. From its highest point, a stunning view reveals the heart. Around 1880, Flavius Joseph Cook built the two story observatory and, more lastingly, the narrow wagon road from Cliff Seat (Joseph Cook’s summer home on the grounds of his father’s farm) to the top. The observatory was a favorite hiking destination for several generations of Heart Bay residents and their guests. Struck by lightning in 1925 and severely damaged, it was pulled down by the owners of the Rogers Rock Club. The stubs of eight large iron bolts, driven into the solid rock, are all that remains of this landmark.

The most prominent feature of the western half of Heart Bay was the Rogers Rock Hotel (far right in the photo) which opened to the public in 1874. It was a graceful three story building designed by O. H. Hinckley and built for the brothers William D. and John Q.A. Treadway. Hiking trails, a large steamboat dock, the “Casino”, a shoreside building with a bowling alley and pool table, and other amenities completed the facility. The facility was purchased by David Williams in 1903. Williams, publisher of Iron Age, built a windmill which pumped water from the lake to the hotel and added refinements to the décor including oriental lanterns which still light. In 1925 the property passed to three resident families who formed the Rogers Rock Club. The descendants of one of them, the A. F. Wilson family, still occupy “a summer place” on the property. The other two were Grace Pullman Perkins and Belle Lobenstine.

The onset of the Great Depression and the resulting decline in steamboat traffic on the lake brought hard times to the hotel. Pearl Harbor dealt the lethal blow. In the spring of 1942, the Club’s directors ordered the grand old lady pulled down and the site grassed over. (In 1941, the author spent his first summer at Lake George as a guest at the hotel.)

In 19978, descendants of the original members of the Rogers Rock Club, headed by Geoffrey Wilson and his wife Elizabeth DeCamp Wilson, whose family came to Heart Bay before World War I, sold the property. The buyers were Thomas and Virginia Adams, who had rented Bayside Camp (not visible in the 1910 photo but located in the left atrium of the heart), and Marcelino and Judy Lavin. The property has been both sensitively and sensibly developed including four new camps and upgrades to the existing twelve camps scattered over approximately 150 acres of wooded and hilly land.

Although not well known, the Rogers Rock property includes the Slide itself. In 1999, the Slide and about 50 acres of land adjoining the Rogers’ Rock Campsite in Cook Bay were gifted to the Lake George Land Conservancy by the Adams and Lavin families.

The dock, boat house, barn and main house in the cleft of the heart was known, collectively, as Tippetts’ Property. The site was part of the Andrew Jackson Cook holdings that stretched into Cook Bay south of Rogers’ Rock. It was added to the Treadway brother’s holdings, one half was conveyed to William in August, 1876, and the other half to John in December, 1878. William and Clara Tippetts acquired it in October, 1882 from the then owners Sarah and George Weed, at which time the structures now standing were presumably constructed. It was locally known as the “Miss Eliza Tippetts Cottage” and was so named on a September, 1887 survey map.

Hard times, death or some other untoward event intervened and the property was foreclosed by the purchase money mortgage holders Mr. and Mrs. Weed. It was conveyed to H. G. Burleigh in April, 1890. Talk about land speculation! This parcel changed hands five times in about 14 years. Burleigh sold it to William Hooper and that name stuck through subsequent sales, coming to David Williams in November, 1907 and to the Rogers Rock Club in February, 1925 with the rest of the hotel property. It was still the Hooper Cottage when acquired by William D. Wallace in September, 1943 and is now owned by his three children and their families, Ken and Sally (Wallace) Murray, Dean Wallace and Dr. Robert Wallace.

At The tip of the heart’s left atrium, beyond the Hooper/Wallace cleft, is Windmill Point. Just offshore, in shallow water, is the graveyard of the steamboat Ticonderoga I. Little but fragments of pottery, rusted fasteners and pieces of spar remain, marking the spot where on 29 August, 1901 the steamer came to rest after burning to the waterline. Fire, probably from an improperly banked furnace, was discovered shortly after its early morning departure from Baldwin Dock on its daily trip up the lake. The Captain was able to reach the Rogers Rock dock where the crew was taken off. When the mooring lines finally burned away, the ship drifted beck to what was then called “Hawkeye Point,” and foundered.

In the foreground of the photo, occupying most of the right atrium of the heart, was the George Cook farm, settled in the 1880s. Cook’s father, Dalthus Cook, was the son of Andrew Jackson Cook, proprietor of the Homelands. George’s sons, Dr. G. Peter and Warner, helped farm as young boys. According to Pete they “lived off the land,” had a truck garden, sold milk year round and ice in the summer. George Cook was the winter caretaker of the Rogers Rock Hotel during David Williams’ tenure. The family lived in Rose Cottage in the winter and Hooper Cottage in the summer. Warner Cook’s widow, Jerry, lives in the Cook farmhouse (left foreground in the photo) that was originally the summer home of Col. William E. Calkins.

Born in Burlington, Vermont in 1816, Calkins moved to Ticonderoga in 1830. After graduation from Dartmouth College and a stint as a teacher in an area school, (he was one of the founders of the Ticonderoga Academy), he became a prominent member of the business community. He was manager of the American Graphite Company facility (Dixon Ticonderoga Pencils), Essex County Clerk and Town Supervisor in 1874.

The remaining shoreline of Heart Bay, the right ventricle, so to speak, beyond the left margin of the photo, was largely developed by about 1910 and, with a few exceptions, had achieved its present appearance at that time. Seneca Ray Stoddard’s map of 1881, based on an 1880 survey shows the summer homes of Clayton DeLano and his partner, Clark Putnam on the westerly side of Baldwin Road. Their sash and door factory was a mainstay of the local economy in post Civil War Ticonderoga. But DeLano’s most lasting contribution was founding the Ticonderoga Chemical Pulp and Paper Company in 1882, a business which eventually became International Paper Company’s Ticonderoga Mill. DeLano was a member of the Ticonderoga Centennial Committee and delivered an historical poem on the occasion of the centennial.

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AK says:

Does the hiking trail still exist that went to the gazebo? Is there any way to access it?

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