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Chestertown, NY

Chester was taken from portions of the Town of Thurman on March 25, 1799.  Chester was conveniently located between the east and west branches of the Hudson River which made travel by boat the easiest method of transportation.    The first settlers were from land grants before the American Revolution.  The main settlement was known as Chester Four Corners where the first post office was establishes in 1808 and the settlement was officially called “Chestertown.”

 Shortly after the revolutionary war, Seba Higley secured a parcel of land known as Landon Hill)  He traveled by foot from Hebron, Washington County, batch and forth to build his new cabin until his family came to live there in 1810.  He was later the first Town Supervisor.  Other prominent names in history are James Darrow, (Darrowsville), Isaac Starbuck (Starbuckville), M.B. Landon (Landon Hill).   

The early commerce was farming, lumbering and tannery.  The first tannery was built in 1849 (C.H. Faxon & Sons).  In the early days, the town greatest attraction was the stone bridge and its cave at the south end of town.  It was described in Morse’s Geography of 1790’s “In the County of Montgomery is a small, rapid stream emptying into Schroon Lake, west of Lake George it runs under a hill, that base of which is 60 to 70 yards in diameter, forming a most curious and beautiful arch in the rock as white as snow.  The fury of the water and the roughness of the bottom, added to terrific noise within, have hitherto prevented any person from passing through the chasm.”  (aka, Natural Stone Bridge and Caves, Pottersville).

In the mid 1800’s, the first church was organized and built in Darrowsville (Wesleyan Methodist Church).  The church as was the first stop on the Underground Railroad with a number of safe houses for escaped slaves.  Other denominations arrived thereafter.

Because of Chestertown’s natural beauty, tourist came early in its history.  Once described in the 1898 in the Warrensburgh News, “A thriving Adirondack Village where balsam laden air is attracting thousands.”  Travelers came by train at the Riverside Station at first.  Chestertown celebrated its bicentennial in 1999 and they continue to attract vacationers today.  Chestertown enjoys Friends Lake, Loon and Forest Lake.  Forest Lake is privately owned by the Forest Lake Camp (an overnight camp established in 1926). 

In 1960, Chestertown organized a movement to put the first Adirondack firm tree on the White House lawn for Christmas.  After two years of search, a 70’ white spruce was discovered on Landon Hill.   The Adirondack Lumbermen’s Association agreed to protect and nurture the three until 1964 where it was moved to Washington DC.    In 1964, the tree was adorned with 5,000 red and white bulbs and was the centerpiece at the annual Pageant of Peace.  At the base of the tree was the “Christmas Card to the Nation” prepared by artist Forrest Jones of Pottersville.