Header Image

The Piercefield Museum

I took a drive to the Piercefield Museum the other day and had the privilege to chat with Nancy, the town historian. I had never been in the museum before, and I was eager to learn about the history of the Piercefield area. In my short time there I left with a wealth of new knowledge about the area. 

1. The population doubled in ten years 

In 1910 the population was 770 people, by 1920 it had doubled to 1,454 people. The increase is due to the anticipated opening of the paper mill in 1923. The paper mill would go on to employ numerous people and help propel Piercefield’s growth.

The ranger cabin on top of Mount Arab. Inside is a museum with history of the mountain.
The ranger cabin on top of Mount Arab. Inside is a museum with history of the mountain.

2. Centennial of Mount Arab fire tower

This summer is the 100th year anniversary of the fire tower on Mount Arab. Don’t let the age of the fire tower scare you from going up when you hike the mountain, it was fully restored in 1999. The fire tower provides some of the best scenic views for the short, one-mile hike. Also, check out the cabin on top and learn more Mount Arab history from the steward.

It is a common misconception that the cabin at the summit is a Ranger's cabin. It is not. It is in fact an Observer's Cabin. The Fire Tower Observer was the person who was hired by the Conservation Department to look for fires and it was required that the Department provide the Observer with livable quarters. The Forest Ranger would often oversee several fire towers in one area. The Forest Ranger did not have the luxury of a cabin. Their office was their truck or in their home.

Maple syrup bottles from A.A. Low's operation.
Maple syrup bottles from A.A. Low's operation.

3. The first evaporator for maple production was made in 1898

Abbot Augustus Low invented the first evaporator made on Horseshoe Lake in 1898. That year they collected sap from 10,000 trees and produced 4,000 gallons of maple syrup. A.A. Low had one of the most sophisticated sugar bush operations in the nation because of his use of steam heat. 

A T-shirt with the Piercefield mascot.
A T-shirt with the Piercefield mascot.

4. The Piercefield Porcupines

The mascot of the Piercefield school was the porcupines. The first graduating class was in 1920, and it had four people in it. The school centralized in the mid 1950s.

5. Where did the Piercefield name come from?

Mrs. Cline, once a seventh grade teacher at Piercefield Central School, attributed the name to two gentlemen named “Pierce” and “Field,” who were early settlers. Another story told in the school was that there was a Mr. Pierce who cleared land south of Route 3 and used it as a pasture for his cattle. That land became known as “Pierce’s Field.”

The Fire Lassies!
The Fire Lassies!

6. Fire Lassies

There were a group of women in Piercefield called the Fire Lassies. They would be called to fight fires until men could arrive to help. Because most men were working in the woods logging, women volunteered to show up to the scene first until the men could get out of the woods. 

A shot from a bike ride from Horshoe to Massawepie.
A shot from a bike ride from Horshoe to Massawepie.

7. Rochester Boy Scouts bought Massawepie

In 1951 the Rochester Boy Scouts agreed to buy the Massawepie land after much bartering. The Boy Scouts still own the land, and parts are open to the public for recreational purposes. 

8. Electricity comes to Childwold

Even though electricity was invented in 1879, it did not make its way to Childwold until 1922, right before the paper mill opened in 1923. 

9. First person called to war from Piercefield

In 1941, the first man was called to active duty for World War II. 

10. $3 stay

It only cost $3 per day to stay at The Childwold Park Motel. This motel was located where the Massawepie Boy Scout Camp is now, and it could hold 300 guests. It had a sun parlor, bowling alleys, billiard room, tennis courts, and a field. There was space for music and dancing in the Adirondack Room, which had large stone fireplaces.

The next time you are in the area, I strongly suggest setting up a time to visit the Piercefield Museum! Afterward, check out The Thirsty Moose for some delicious food. 

This week in Adk related news:

World class golf

Animals, derbies, and rides — oh my!

By land and by lake

Plunge into Placid

So much camping

Why dine inside?

The birds of Cheney Pond