Onteora Scout Reservation:
Additional history

Thanks to the generosity of Ed Van Put, Greg Furness has sent in some more information on the early days of what we know today as Onteora. Anyone who has ever complained about a long drive to Onteora should especially enjoy the first article.

May 3, 1913    page 567

The Orchard Lake Club

Within a six hours' journey of New York City, by railroad, wagon route, and up-grade all the way, there is a sixty-acre lake which is just coming into its own as a reserve for enviable trout fishing. It is Orchard Lake, Sullivan County, in the foothills of the Catskills, owned and controlled by the Orchard Lake Club, of New York. Large, gamy brook trout, from all reports, rise there throughout the season with encouraging rapidity, if only the angler is fortunate enough to select the proper fly.

Orchard Lake was known to many New Yorkers as an exclusive fishing preserve as long ago as fifteen years. Two years ago the property, including 500 acres of timber land, was taken over by the Orchard Lake Club, composed of about fifty well-known business and professional men and have a board of governors selected from New York City.

Click on the picture for a larger view of the fish hatchery

Aside from its resourcefulness for fly-fishing, Orchard Lake is one of the successful trout propagating preserves. The lake is filled with native brook trout and the stock is replenished annually from a hatchery situated a short distance above the lake on a little mountain stream.

Orchard Lake is reached by New York, Ontario & Western from the West Shore Terminal to Livingston Manor, a four-hours' trip, thence eight miles over hill and dale in a wagon. The elevation is 2,100 feet above sea level. From the departure outside of the city environs, at the juncture with the scenic Hudson to the approach of the wagon trail's end at the club house on a hillock overlooking the beautiful lake, the atmosphere is that which the tired-out business man hails as one of rural sublimity. A winding macadam road follows the Willowemoc River and leads to the old wagon road at the mouth of Sprague Brook. From that point on, more ox-teams than automobiles are met. The road climbs through the woods beside the brawling brook to the club property. In the spring and summer rabbits bob from the roadside, and in winter both deer and bear frequent the trails to the ponds and streams in the forest.

There are few preserves in the Catskills where the natural characteristics have not been marred by commercializing in one form or another. This is not true of Orchard Lake. The forests verge the lake directly on three sides and the old woodmen trails serve as the only short cuts through the dense undergrowth. On the fourth side a grassy approach leads to the club house and other buildings over the brook, [wagon road on West side of the lake] which feeds the lake. A boat house stands on this end of the lake and looms up on the approach to the club's reservation, as the first sign of the encroachment on nature. The wagon trail leads directly alongside this boat house.

Of unusual interest is the club's provision for the entertainment of the members' wives and families as well as their guests. In addition to the main club house, a cottage arranged on the apartment plan, has recently been fitted up for extended house parties. An important adjunct to the club is its clay pigeon traps, and among the members are many upper register aerosaucer exterminators, who while away many pleasant hours cracking the elusive clay discs. Bathing in the summertime is delightful.

Beyond the club house and surrounding buildings, the forest again stretches for miles. From the lake, therefore, the angler can see the forest in all directions, rising gradually to the peaks of a range which conforms in almost every detail to the outline of the irregularly shaped trout lake. On one of the highest points, a quarter of a mile from the club house, is a spring of clear, sparkling water, which supplies all the club buildings by gravity.

The preserve and club house is open to members of the club and their guests from May 1 to Oct. 1.

Officers of the club are: William W. Harrison, President; Milton H. Yale, Vice-President; Chas. S. Kneeland, Secretary and Treasurer. Board of trustees: Term ending 1914 - Louis Stearns, Adolpf Vietor, Frank S. Smith; term ending 1915 - Robeson I. Low, George Hodgman, Milton H. Yale; term ending 1916 - William W. Harrison, C. Eustace Kneeland.

14 July 1894

Sullivan County

The fish hatchery of S.[toddard] Hammond at Orchard Lake, will be three times as large, and have three times the capacity, of the one [State Hatchery] at Rockland. The State Hatchery is to cost complete about $5,000. Mr. Hammond's buildings alone cost $18,000. Orchard Lake is five miles from Livingston Manor and an elegant
road will be constructed.

10 March 1896

Sullivan County Trout

The raising of trout will soon be an important industry of Sullivan County. Several large ponds and lakes have been purchased during the past year or two by persons for that business. The largest single industry in the fish line is without doubt that of Stoddard Hammond at Emmonsville, in the town of Rockland. He has a large lake and last year erected a private fish hatchery there. It is estimated that in his lake he has six or eight tons of the speckled beauties at the present time.

Mr. [June] Smith of Liberty will soon have a large trout pond of forty acres in operation, the buildings and dam will soon be commenced.

9 Feb 1916

Orchard Lake Anglers Meet

The Orchard Lake Club, which controls a remarkably fine trout preserve near Livingston Manor in Sullivan County, held its fifth annual dinner last night at the Union League Club. About fifty members were present.

E. S. Casselman of Dorset, Vt., a Federal fish culturist, was the principal speaker. A silver loving cup, offered by Forest and Stream for the largest trout caught on a fly during the season was presented to the President of the club, Louis Stearns.

Mr. Stearns was re-elected president at last night's dinner. The following trustees were chosen: W. M. Harrison, Richmond Weed and William H. Parsons.

2 May 1935    page 3

Trout Fishing

Over a hundred native trout were taken over the weekend from the waters of Orchard lake, near Livingston Manor, the largest of which was an 18 inch beauty weighing over two pounds. This fish was caught by a Mr. Gillette of New York.

Records from the Sullivan County Clerk's Office on the transfer of deeds for Orchard Lake

  • Sept. 17, 1907 - Carrie K. Hammond  to Orchard Lake Trout Preserve, Stoddard Hammond, Pres.

  • March 24, 1911 - Carrie K. Hammond to The Orchard Lake Club

  • Feb. 21, 1933 - Orchard Lake Club to Orchard Lake Development (1,957 Acres)

  • Nov. 3, 1943 - Orchard L. Development to Trout and Skeet Club, Inc., commonly known as the Trout & Skeet Club of New York &/or the Orchard Lake Club

  • June 6, 1955 - Trout & Skeet Club  to Tropical

  • Oct 11, 1955 - Tropical to Nassau County Council, BSA, Inc.

That's the end of this history lesson, so, when you're ready, please head back to the main Onteora page.