Historical Towns

Thurman, NY

THURMAN once was a much larger territory and was for the heartiest of souls!   There were no bridges, and settlers had to pull their wagons across the river or ferry them across.   Landowner, John Thurman had purchased thousands of acres (800 square miles) by the time when he petitioned the state to designate this land.   The Scottish immigrants were among the early settlers.   Such settlers like the Cameron clan settled in the rich bottom lands using the streams to power mills for sawing and grinding grain.   James Cameron was often referred as the "Squire Jimmy".   James, a pioneer woodsman farmer, just of the peace settled the valley in 1773, and the family records dated him as 103 years of age before his death.  The family still remains in the region.   

This region was difficult to manage, and was later broken to form other separate towns of Bolton, Chestertown, Johnsburg and Caldwell.  They adopted the name "Athol" as nostalgic tribute to the Athol region of Scotland.  Later when Stony Creek broke off from this territory, it reverted back to the name of Thurman.  The town was officially established in 1790 (under the name of Athol).  In 1813, much of the town territory was used to form  the town of Warrensburg.   In 1852, Athol was divided again to form the current town boundaries as we know today, and the balance was utilized to form Stony Creek.  Thurman enjoys the bodies of Echo Lake and Garnet Lake, with many ponds and streams.   Hamlets include Athol and The Glen.

From the 1800's to the early 1900's, the rivers saw many log drives of sawed logs and pulp timber to the mills.  It was hard and dangerous work.  The last drive was in 1950, and thus ended the time of the river drivers.   Settlers would farm in the growing season and then work in the lumber woods in the winter season.  They would cut and limb huge trees; bring them by large sleds to the frozen river; pilled them so they can be floated downriver in the spring.    The early settler brought their faith with them, and earliest church was a Presbyterian meeting house in 1806.  Small family farms dotted the countryside.   A few of the farms remain, such as Nettle Meadow Farm, and Certified Tree Farms. 

In the Civil War times, the rolls of the men and boys of Thurman were:  Bowe, Baker, Cameron, Dow, Combs, Everts, Frost, Ingraham, Kenyon, King, Loveland, Lillibridge, Moon, Mosher, Pendell, Parker, Reynolds, Twiss, and Wood.   After the war, the railroad trains came and influenced the town for tourism and created new jobs.   In 1870, Dr. Thomas Durant's Adirondack Company pushed the railway through Thurman Station (known as "Griffin Station" prior).  Between 1889 and 1902, the Delaware & Hudson Company controlled the railways.   In addition to tourist travel, the trains brought cattle hides to the tanneries.  Some hides were from as far away as South America to be processed in the Adirondacks tanneries.    By the 1930's, the train brought in ski tourist to the slopes of Gore Mountain, and southbound trains carried garnet from Barton Mines in North River.   In WWII, the rail was extended to the mines in Tahawus for its valuable titanium.

One note of a sad day in history was August 26, 1946 when two trains collided, resulting in the death of one engineers.  Passenger service was discontinued in 1956, and the freight traffic later phased out.  By 1989, the rails were shut down and the railway era seemed over.   Or so Thurman thought.   Warren County obtained large grants for rehabilitation and building stations with the goal of connecting Warren County with Saratoga Springs to transport, once again, the tourists.   In 2006, Thurman saw the arrival of the first passenger train, in over 50 years, on the way to weekly excursions from North Creek to 1000 Acre Ranch Resort in Stony Creek.  In 2009, the county completed the new "Thurman Station".  Today the traffic is brisk.   Also, the railway are reopening its lines to the Tahawus to freight.

With the tourism business, more accommodations were needed.   The older boarding houses, were reinvented into "ranches"  Sun Canyon Ranch was founded in 1937, known as the "Boulder Greens Dude Ranch".  Northwoods was built in 1944 by German immigrants, Jake & Hilda Drexel.    The Northwoods was known for its square dancers, and showcased many musicians.  Today, the Northwood is under new management (having gone idea for a number of years with several changes of hands) as the Taste of Poland ( with immigrants from Poland, the Jan & Joanna Kosz).  History notes other town important names like Hollis Combs who tapped 1,000 maples each year; Stephen Griffing as solider, father and farmer; and James Cameron, pioneer, woodsman and farmer.   Thurman celebrated its bicentennial with a big bash in 1992 in honor of its past and the success of the celebration has recharged the community pride.  Today's activities include a two-festival of Adirondack music and dance (The Fiddlers Jamboree), Thurman Maple Days, free summer concerts, Adirondack Mountain Writers' Retreat, Thurman Fall Farm Tour, Thurman town-side Sale, Thurman Artist,  historical tour of Thurman.