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It's Tupper Lake trivia time!

I'm just going to be clear: I don't live in Tupper Lake, but I'm a big fan and all of my Tupper-dwelling coworkers keep telling me to move here and I think they have a valid argument. Growing up, I knew essentially nothing about this charming lake town, which is such a shame, but I'm making up for it now! A fan of history, especially the quirky kind, and a regular purveyor of facts (I say "fun fact" a lot, although I may be the only one who finds these facts fun), I'm excited to share with you some of the unique people, places, and moments that make Tupper Lake wildly interesting. Plus, you'll learn what the heck a riverpig is!

Tupper Lake invented the spork

When you're here, you'll notice a tall smokestack near the lakeshore, bearing the letters "OWD." The Oval Wood Dish Company was once Tupper's biggest employer, employing 500 men and women at its factory, where disposable, lightweight plates and bowls were made from pure Adirondack hardwood. In the 1930s, OWD introduced the "Ritespoon" (a simple wooden spoon) and the "Ritefork," a spoon with three tines for a variety of gustatory uses. Thus, the spork was born! To learn more about the company and maybe get a Ritefork of your own, visit the Tupper Lake History Museum at its new location on Park Street!

A vintage box of Riteforks, wooden spoons with tines.

Who was Mr. Tupper?

Meet Ansel Tupper! Okay, you can't meet him, but I recently learned that there really was a person named Tupper and I thought you should know, too! Ansel Tupper was a land surveyor born in Canton, NY in 1799. It's said that he was the first person of European origin to explore the lake that would eventually bear his name. Sadly, he drowned in Tupper Lake and it was after his untimely death at the age of 29 that the area was named after him. Next time you're enjoying the water you can say to your friends, "Fun fact!" and tell them the story, too. I know I will.

A vintage topographic map of the Tupper Lake, NY area.
For your enjoyment, a 1907 topographic map of Tupper Lake.

A world-record holder

With so much forest around, it's unsurprising that logging has been a big industry throughout the Adirondacks. Tupper Lake was such a major logging town that, once upon a time, you could have walked across the lake (or had fun trying!) on logs! In the 1800s, Tupper Lake set a world record: one million board feet of lumber were sawn in just a single day here. That's enough lumber to build 79 2,000-square-foot homes!

You can learn more, and embrace your inner lumberjack, on the Crossroads of the Adirondacks Trail, combining family-friendly recreation with signs and activities all about local history. It's even near the Little Loggers Playground!

Interior of a sawmill in Tupper Lake. Image courtesy Goff-Nelson Library.

Meet the riverpigs

Technically, there are two definitions of a riverpig and both refer not to Porky and his friends, but to humans. In the heyday of logging, a "riverpig" was the nickname given to loggers who took on the wild, dangerous, and exhausting job of driving logs down the river, from atop the floating logs themselves. It's said that the phrase came about because the loggers were "herding" the logs downstream.

These days, a Riverpig is a semi-pro baseball player on the local team, the Tupper Lake Riverpigs. The Riverpigs are part of the Empire League and compete at Waterfront Park. There's nothing quite like enjoying a thrilling game while the sun sets over the water.

A baseball player pitches from a mound on a sunny day.

The world's largest sugarbush

You love maple. You have to, it's a rule for coming to visit Tupper Lake (not really, but you get the sweet picture!). We adore it, too: we put it in and on donuts, in cinnamon rolls, even in cocktails! In the 1800s, Tupper Lake was where you would find the largest sugar bush in the entire world and it produced A LOT of syrup! Operated by entrepreneur A. A. Low, the Horseshoe Forestry Company ran a big business in maple in the early 1900s, boiling up to 20,000 gallons of syrup per season!

Nowadays, A.A. Low is still famous around town and you can even find old glass syrup bottles in area antique and thrift shops. Some locals really prize their Horseshoe bottles! Plus, we still have A LOT of syrup and maple-y goodness for you to indulge in. Stop by the McClelland Farm maple shop on Park Street to get your fix!

A store display of maple syrup on shelves next to a vintage sap boiler.

More to explore

Hopefully, this has to whet your appetite, not just for maple, but for some of the cool, quirky, amazing facts and adventures that Tupper Lake has to offer. If you want to learn more, don't miss a visit to the, the Tupper Lake History Museum, visit an antique shop, or even simply chat with the locals! You'll hear great stories about this charming town, its colorful history, and even why we're so fond of spruce and hemlock trees...