With students on winter breaks and the holidays right around the corner, many people either have traveled or will be traveling to visit family and friends. I was one of those people, and I went to visit my hometown of Stony Creek, New York. I have lived here in Albany since August 2009 and have written about historical events and happenings all over the region. However, it is not in my jurisdiction to write about what goes on in upstate New York, but I thought it would be nice to write about my hometown and show you, readers, my roots. The saying is true—it takes a village to raise a child, and this article is about the town that built me.
I am definitely a small-town girl, and if any of you get the chance to go to Stony Creek, you will know why. Stony Creek has an approximate population of 750 permanent residents, many of them spread throughout the 82.4 square mile area which occupies the southwest corner of Warren County and is entirely within the Adirondack Park.
Upon entering the town, you are greeted by a sign that reads “Welcome to Stony Creek. The road to a friendly town is never long.” Stony Creek had once been part of a larger town called Athol, but on April 3, 1853, Athol was divided to form the towns of Thurman and Stony Creek. Although the town was established in the mid-19th century, the area had been occupied as early as the 1600s by the Dutch and French colonists who occupied the area and had utilized the vast deciduous forests of the Adirondacks for fur trapping and logging.
When Stony Creek was first incorporated, the land was mostly wild. Of the 48, 731 acres of land listed in the town in 1858, only 3, 618 acres of that land was improved. It was still largely wilderness and the big game abounded, much as it still does today.
As in all of the Adirondacks at the time, lumber was the first available natural resource. The Hudson River flows from north to south along the eastern border of the town, and Stony Creek flows into the Hudson, so there were plenty of opportunities to float logs down to the larger market at Glens Falls. Stony Creek had water power along its streams and had sawmills for its own needs. At the time, the village, which was called Creek Center and later called Stony Creek, contained a few scattered houses, although there were several sawmills, a grist mill, and one store. Potash production and broom making were among the earliest industries in the area, as both were made from the overabundance of trees.
Today, one can still see logging trucks hauling tree trunks all over the Adirondacks, including in Stony Creek. Lumber is still a very important industry in the Adirondack region, and plants (like Finch Pruyn Paper Mill in Glens Falls, NY for example) employ hundreds of people.
The most important industry at the time, though, was tanning. From the early days, small tanneries had operated in the area. Stony Creek was well suited for this industry—red hemlock bark was used in the process and it was in abundance in the area; hides were brought in on heavy brine vats from as far away as Albany and were made into fine leathers for garments and for the bindings of books. However, at the turn of the 20th century as the country’s technology developed, both the tanning business and the logging industry in the area began to take a dive. As the industries on which the town was built began to decline, people moved away from the area to find jobs in other places, and as that happened, the population declined.
During the second half of the 20th century, “Dude Ranches”, resorts which offered guests vacation living with easy access to the wild lands of the Adirondacks and a plethora of activities such as swimming, kayaking and canoeing, horseback riding, and other sports. The 1000 Acres Ranch is one such dude ranch, and today it gives employment to many of the town’s residents, and those who visit can enjoy a wide variety of activities.
Stony Creek is also home to the Stony Creek Inn and Tavern 16.
The Stony Creek Inn has been a mainstay in the town since the mid-1800s, and for the past 33 years it has been under the ownership of Dot Bartell and John Fickel. Over 150 years ago, one could sit on the porch of the Inn, taking in the sights of the beautiful Adirondack Mountains, breathe the fresh air, listen to live music, visit with friends and strangers alike, and just enjoy the bustle of the small town life around you, and today that can be done as well.
Tavern 16 is a small bar that was built, owned, and operated since the early 1990s by Henry “Hank” Soto and Toni Soto. Tavern 16 features handcrafted woodwork, a vast collection of local art, and a very popular pool table overseen by Henry Soto, Hank’s father and area pool shark. What is interesting to note is that Hank is the lead guitarist in the Stony Creek Band, a popular band in the Adirondack Region.
In addition to 1000 Acres Ranch, the Stony Creek Inn, and Tavern 16, Stony Creek also has its own volunteer fire company and EMS service, a free library, a couple of churches, a recreational field, a town hall, a post office, a historical society and museum, and is home to several craftspeople who make products out of wood or other materials by hand.
This has been the brief history of the town that built me, Stony Creek, New York. For more information about this town, you can visit the following websites: