Brant Lake - One of 3,000 Lakes in the Adirondack State Park

Sunday, October 6, 2019

They say beauty can be found in unexpected places and I'm pretty sure the Adirondacks are not among the unexpected places anyone refers to. Although not on our regular list of 'go-to' destinations, when we do head to the Adirondacks, we are always rewarded with spectacular sights. That is especially the case when visiting the Adirondacks in autumn.
We headed north a week ago to explore Brant Lake, a place I've only seen in photographs, and let me say our live view did not disappoint. Brant Lake is 5 miles in length, with 15.3 miles of shoreline.  Unlike some lakes, Brant Lake can be viewed from it's complete circumference.  It is located half way between Albany and Plattsburgh in the hamlet of Horicon, in Warren County, off Exit 25 of the Northway.  It has a maximum depth of 65 feet and a mean depth of 30 feet.  The lake is surrounded by glacial mountains and historic houses line its shores.
It is one of the Adirondack Park's 3,000 lakes. In 1899, NYS passed a law declaring various waterways, including Brant Lake, to be public highways for floating timber and lumber.  Specially constructed steamers herded logs along their way and Brant Lake resembled a shallow, dirty canal with rocks and lumber and debris along its shores.   But... one regular summer visitor decided to change all that.

Attorney Abel Crook found the condition of the lake deplorable, especially in dry weather.  In 1907 he called a meeting in the town to solicit donations from local businesses to improve the quality of the lake.  The group in attendance resolved to repair and fortify dams on either side of the lake to control the level of the water.  Fish stocking began and continues, and Brant Lake continues to be a popular fishing destination with plentiful large and smallmouth bass, trout, pickerel, panfish and bullheads.  Trout fishing remains open all year at the lake but state regulations control the seasons for other species.  Today Brant Lake is a popular destination for boating, fishing, ice fishing and snowmobiling.

In 1892 Brant Lake got it's own post office and zip code and has been a popular destination among the wealthy, including Theodore Roosevelt.  Beginning in the early 1900's hotels began catering to wealthy visitors.  The Brant Lake Camp for Boys and the Point O'Pines Camp for Girls were both opened around 1916 and remain open today. Both camps are summer-long camps, with sessions lasting 7 weeks and costing around $13,500 per camper.  A christian camp, Pilgrim Camp, was founded in 1946 by Reverend Gordon Gardner and is also still in operation today.  We drove the entire perimeter and the view from every vantage point was breathtaking.

I can only imagine how much more spectacular the view will be in the weeks ahead as the colors become more vibrant.
I love when I research for the blog and find unusual and interesting facts.  This one may take the prize for most unusual story.  Victor Schwentker was born in Schenectady in 1899.  After attending Missippi A & M to study agriculture, he studied genetics at the University of Iowa.  He enlisted in the Army during World War I and served as an aviator in France.  Upon his return, Victor snuck liquor back to the US from Canada.  To evade arrest, he took a boat to South America where he flew a crop duster and broke polo ponies.  Multiple random jobs later, Victor settled in Philadelpha finally working for the G.E. as an electrical engineer.  He met and married Mildred West in 1929.  The stock market crashed and Victor lost his job at the G.E.. The couple came north and eventually settled in Brant Lake, Mildred's former home.  Victor had learned that labs were looking for reliable companies to supply animals for experiments. With WWII happening in the Pacific, soldiers were battling something more fierce than the Japanese.  They were battling malaria and yellow fever.  There was an urgency to find vaccines to prevent soldiers from contracting these and other diseases.  Victor bought himself a few rabbits and spent the next 35 years expanding and growing his business to include rats, mice, voles, hamsters, gerbils and more.   He was so skilled as a breeder, he was able to produce new hybrid animals to fit any requirement.   Soon the military recognized the farm's value and Rat Farm (officially called Tumblebrook Farm) was considered a Navy installation.    Victor died December 19, 1990 at the age of 91.  His wife died just a few months earlier.  The full story is fascinating with much more about how he expanded his collection, and how he was instrumental in making the gerbil popular as a household pet.  To read the entire story from an article in Adirondack Life Magazine: Victor Schwentker - The Gerbil Genius and Rat Wrangler of Brant Lake
Brant Lake is one of the many jewels of New York State.  If you haven't explored it, I suggest you take a drive north and check it out soon.  We had a delicious lunch in Chestertown at the Main Street Ice Cream Parlor, a recommendation by the nice gentleman at the public boat launch. It was full of lunch customers and so delicious, we didn't save room for ice cream.

Thanks for reading.  Hope you'll make a date to do some of your own back road travels sometime soon! Come back soon for more Life As I See It.  You never know where you'll find us next!

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