Our Hike on the Threatened Road to Whitehouse

"Susan Allen and I decided to travel the route to Whitehouse after witnessing the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation’s presentation to the Adirondack Park Agency of a management plan for the so-called “Silver Bay Wilderness” in 2005. The environmental agency proposed to eliminate the well-maintained town highway leading to Whitehouse, a ghost town in Wells that is situated at the end of West River Road on the beautiful West Branch of the Sacandaga River in Hamilton County. A popular camping and picnicking spot for visiting campers and hunters, as well as local people, Whitehouse is today distinguished by two old stone chimneys and two suspension footbridges. One of the bridges is a substantial two-span suspension crossing over the West Branch. Under the plan, a historic town cemetery with several gravestones dating from the nineteenth century would be made inaccessible."

"In addition to closing 0.7 miles of the town road, DEC has proposed to eliminate many of the pleasant, spacious camping spots dating from its precursor agency, known as the New York State Conservation Department, at least forty years ago, before the Adirondack Park Agency was created in 1973. The most spacious camping area is even older. The Town of Wells relies heavily on the summer and fall visits by tourists, campers, and hunters to the area. The camping opportunities on the State-owned land along the West River Road to historic Whitehouse and at that historical site are an important factor in the town’s economy."

"By cutting off vehicle access to the campsites, the historic site of Whitehouse, and the cemetery, the DEC would effectively foreclose the use of the camping areas as they have been enjoyed by generations of campers and hunters. In addition, DEC would be promoting the destruction of local cultural heritage and violating the New York State cemetery law by preventing the maintenance of an access road required by law. Finally, DEC would be destroying local historic vernacular architecture and civil engineering works by carrying out its plan to allow the bridges and chimneys to fall to ruin or deliberately demolishing them. These effects of DEC’s gradual, but radical, reworking of its policies within the Adirondack Forest Preserve are typical of the extremist viewpoint that holds sway in the agency."