Part 3: Big Moose Landing, once familiar spot on 4th Lake
ames Midlar’s widow, Iva, continued to operate Camp Onondaga as Mrs. James A. G. Midlar until marrying Levi R. Deis in 1927.
Afterward, the hotel’s owner was listed as Mrs. James A. G. Midlar Deis and its name changed to Onondaga Hotel.
Mrs. Deis sold the hotel in 1936 to James, William, John and Mildred Foley who changed its name to Foley’s Northwoods (North Woods) Inn.
According to Mildred’s obituary, the hotel was sold in 1977 and became known as North Woods Inn.
Presently (2009) it is the North Woods Inn and Resort.
As mentioned, Fred Becker operated Camp Onondaga in 1903 and 1904, leaving to run the new Beckers’ Camp.
It was near the end of their management at Camp Onondaga that the Beckers in September 1904 suffered the loss of their 3 year old son Milton to drowning while playing with his 6 year old brother.
1905 was the first year of operation for “Becker’s Camp”, alternately called Becker’s Camp and Cottages, Becker’s Hotel and later Beckers’ Resort.
According to Clara O’Brien, the Beckers sold the hotel property in 1934 to son-in-law Leo Westfall and daughter Freda.
Freda had been born at the hotel. The Westfalls sold Beckers’ Resort in 1971.
In 1976 it was acquired by Richard and Joanne Sims who renamed it Holiday Shores Estates, a name reportedly suggested to Sims by Mr. Westfall.
The property was subsequently subdivided for vacation homes, contemplating an 11 acre “common area” including most of Surprise Pond.
O’Brien’s history describes how Melvin Brush had raised the banks of the outlet from Surprise Pond and built a dock so he could launch his “U-Go-I-Go” boat on Fourth Lake.
During the 20th century, roads through the Fulton Chain and from Eagle Bay to Big Moose Lake were improved due to the increase in short stay tourists and the growth of automobile travel.
After the Raquette Lake Railway rails were removed in 1935, its roadbed became a bridle and hike path.
The Carry Trail regained new popularity when the Town of Webb opened the route as a bridle path.
In July 1939, Town employees widened the foot trail and cleared fallen timber for safe riding.
Stables for tourists had been established at Eagle Bay and at the Mohawk Hotel.
Travel on the Carry Trail past Bubb, Sis and Moss Lakes was unexpectedly halted on May 13, 1974, when a group of 50 Native Americans occupied the 612 acre tract surrounding Moss Lake, naming it Ganienkeh (“Land of the Flint”).
The group of Mohawks, believed to be no more than 50 to 100 at any one time, claimed the land around the Carry Trail theirs as part of 9 million acres in New York and Vermont under a 1794 treaty.
The group blocked the trails and tensions grew alarmingly when shots were fired between tribal members and whites.
In October 1974, an Inlet resident and, in a separate incident, a child were wounded by gunfire.
Negotiations coordinated by Mario Cuomo resulted in the ultimate departure of the Native Americans by July 1978.
The state provided them land in Schuyler Falls, Clinton County. Officials entering the Moss Lake property were disturbed by the ruined buildings and debris remaining.
But the agreement called for the Native Americans to take down not only the buildings they constructed, but also those existing at the time of takeover “as part of the state’s original plan to turn the Adirondack area back into a wilderness” (The Auburn Citizen).
Moss Lake had been reportedly purchased by C. S. Longstaff, proprietress of the Mohawk Hotel in 1919 from New York clubmen (Paul Sheldon and Wallace Lyons) who hoped to use it for their “Moss Lake Fishing and Hunting Club”.
Mrs. Longstaff’s son, Dr. George H. Longstaff, determined to open a girls’ camp and did so in 1922.
The Moss Lake Camp had many years of success. In 1969, Dr. Longstaff leased it to Robert and Jane Rider.
During Assembly hearings in April 1974, it was learned that the Riders had negotiated a sale with the Nature Conservancy two months before completing their purchase of the property from Longstaff.
The Nature Conservancy sold the Moss Lake property to the State in August 1973.
The hearings concerned the state’s cost compared to what the Riders received from the Nature Conservancy.
Dr. Longstaff was upset because his intention in selling the camp to the Riders was that the property would continue to be run as a camp.
The tribe takeover occurred a month after the hearings.
After July 1978, the Carry Trail was again open to the public according to Dr. Webb’s wishes of a century earlier.
Today, the Carry Trail is a popular hiking route whether entered from the Moss Lake circuit trail or from Route 28 off the road bed of the former Raquette Lake Railway.
Traveling from Route 28 provides the hiker the best example of how travelers to Big Moose Lake and Dart’s Lake reached those locations more than a century ago.
The route from the Fourth Lake shore to Route 28 is presently on private property, but you might be able to view Surprise Pond from the highway when the leaves are not in bloom.