Historical Recollections By Long Time Fish Creeker

Back in the 40's and early 50's, 'Terrible Terry' the park ranger was a handful. He would ride around the campground on his World War II old Harley motorcyble, which was painted a dull green. It was very common that after dark he would hide in the bushes near site 305 and wait for drivers returning from the drive-in theatre, just this side of Tupper Lake, as they re-entered the camp at the exit at site 305. (back then it was not closed to traffic at 8:00pm as it is now). But the drivers often would be going faster than the 5 mile an hour maximum. 'Terrible Terry' would take off after the speeding campers and really give them hell for speeding. You could hear him for several camp sites in both directions. This got to be a nightly event. (Glen Peters)

Back in the late 40's camp sites 250 and 251 had wooden platforms with tents erected upon them, and these sites were reserved for forest rangers or camp employees vacations. I believe these sites lasted well into the 50's before they were removed and became available to the general public. (Glen Peters)

When we first went to Fish Creek in the 40's there was no charge to camp. Boy, things sure have changed. (Glen Peters)

Until the mid 1980's there were other vendors that came around the campsites in the mornings hawking their wares. There was a Bakery woman in the 1950's and 1960's. She would holler "Pies, Cakes, Cookies, Donuts, Bread. We have fresh honeydips today!". (Kevin Kirsch)

There was the Crystal Springs dairy tuck that was a dump truck loaded with ice and various dairy products accompanied by boys that would run your requests to you. They would yell when travelling "Milk, Eggs, Butter, Cream, Cottage Cheese, Butter Milk, Orange Juice!". (Keven Kirsch)

There used to be newspaper boys that would go from site to site each morning. (Kevin Kirsch)

There used to be a converted school bus that was a miniature store on wheels. (Kevin Kirsch)

The ice you would purchase from Donaldson's (now know as Knapp's Trading Post), was ice cut from the ponds in the winter time and stored in saw dust in the building to the right of where the store is. (Kevin Kirsch)

Years ago the Donaldson's store had a restaurant attached to it (likely where the current cold storage is located). The restaurant had old fashioned stools and they served burgers and shakes. (Norma Young)

Before the days of reservations, campers would wait in line on Route 30 which formed after 9:00pm when the front gates would close to new campers. At times the line would be so long that it spanned all the way back to the Spider Creek conduit (Follensby Clear Pond). (Keven Kirsch)

The brown soft top 'Montgomery Wards' (yes, a camper from a department store) was my parents first 'Camper' (see photo below). We were really living !! No more sleeping on the ground. The picture below was from Aug 1968. We would plan to be at Fish Creek right as the check in booth closed the day before we wanted a site. This would put us close to the front of the line so we would have a good choice of empty sites the next day. My brother and I used to sleep on top of the soft top camper the night we were in line. Packing rules were the camp stove and coffee pot were the last things packed so they so we could easily get to them roadside. You Can't believe how many people you meet when the aroma of fresh perked coffee hits the air at 6:00 AM after sleeping in your car all night !!! The lines would go around the corner, up by the pizza place. (Randy Finley)

(photo above - Randy Finley)

There used to be a garbage dump located behind where the old trailer dumping station used to be. There are silll some remnants of old cars back in there, with old bottles and such. (Kevin Kirsch)

The old dumping station was located across from site 137 where remains of the road can still be seen. Campers could watch the bears at night right from their campsite (unknown source)

The road to Rollins Pond was once the way you could get to Fish Creek via the train stop at Floodwood station. There was a small bridge over where the creek dumps into Rollins from Floodwood. (Kevin Kirsch)

In the 1960's and 1970's when there were no reservations, camping was on a first come, first serve basis. Many times we had to sleep in our car on Route 30 waiting to get in. There could be as many as 50-75 cars and trailers on Route 30 overnight. We used to have fun meeting people out there. (Jan Guzior)

The long standing tradition of campers shouting out 'Yoo Hoo's' across the pond to other campers was originally started to signal that quiet hour was approaching. In recent times Yoo Hoo's have simply become a tradition, and Yoo Hooing is often started much earlier than the 10pm 'quiet hour'. (Dale)

In the late 60's early 70's there was a guy who would water ski around the lake wearing a dress and carrying a fishing net. He would come in close enough to shore so you could toss cans of beer into his net. (Brian Burns)

In addition to the news paper boys and old school bus there was a guy that would sell ice out of a freezer in the back of his truck. To get your attention he would sing "Nice Ice blocks and cubes..." (Brian Burns)

One fond memory with our 4 children were, in there early teen's, the baseball game's with Stan Giza as the umpire, there may have been 20 on each team, and there always was a tie. We had to make sure we ate early enough so the kids could be there. The game's were played around site 198-199, the taps that were played almost every night, Helmet from Mass. That was a super water skier and helped many-many kids learn how to ski, the old rattle trap truck that would ride around at night, to make sure we were quiet at night, but we could hear him, and then we'd whisper, the good old day's thank you for making this it is just perfect. I did forget to mention the old man that would come in his truck, selling "Worm's" and Wood',it would sound like "WOODEN/WORM". That was Mr.Weaver. (Linda & Tom Callaghan)

Your chronology mentions 'platform camps' on Follensby Clear Pond. Well, I'm proud to let you know that my family, including my grandparents and cousins occupied a couple of those camps on the big island at the north end of FCP. We built ours the year I was born, 1959, but my cousins' and grandparents' predated ours. These were a 'squatters' rights' situation so they were effectively ours for the price of a postage stamp to renew the permit each year (of course we had to supply the camp, which was to built to strict NYS criteria). I grew up outside Albany so it was only a three and a half hour drive there. Typically we'd head up in the spring and stay there while Dads (my cousins too) would come up on the weekends. We'd spend our time exploring FCP, Polliwog, Horseshoe and Green (I was a fanatical skin diver), or running errands for Mom by paddling over to then Donaldson's where we kept a PO box, pick up essentials and our week's supply of soda and comic books. BTW, your picture of the lineup outside the campgrounds brought back some great memories (including the well-worn comment from Mom as we'd pass them, "Those poor people! Why do they do it?"). (Chuck Meeusen)

I have been going to fish creek for 40 + years and still enjoy it as much as when I was a little kid. My two boys love it there and once we get there they do not want to leave, go figure. I have pictures from when my grand parents used to go to Fish creek back in the 50's and will dig them up and get them scanned and sent to you. Fish Creek is definitely the best camp site in the state by far. I can remember when my grandfather would say that he could remember paying .30 cent per night to stay at Fish creek. How times have changed. (Timothy Scheer)

Every summer, my family vacation was a two week stay at Fish Creek during July. I am one of ten children and we were fortunate enough to have a motorboat. For several years, my siblings and I would put on clown suits (along with Pete Clark) and water-ski around the campsites just before dusk. The boat horn would sound and our 'spotter' would ring a cowbell, which was quite loud. Campers would be amused and children would run onto the docks to wave back at us. We must have been in great shape then to last the duration to make it around all of the campsites. It was a wonderful tradition that I was happy to be able to participate in. That was in the very late 70's and early eighties (1978-1982). I lost touch with Pete once my parents passed, but he was from West Falls, NY. I can not recall any costumes other than the clowns-which Pete's mom Joan had sewn. (Not to say that Pete wasn't ever a Santa.) We usually went 'clowning' in sets of three. Believe it or not, we once had ten skiers off of our family boat. We had my cousin's boat tow our boat until we were all out of the water and then he broke us free. (We all went on two skis so that we wouldn't waste power.) It was incredible! However, we were later contacted by a park ranger and asked not to attempt that again because of the amount of room the skiers took up through some of the narrows. I wish I had a picture of that! The Good Times... (Ellie Leszczynski)

I see there is a Glenn Peters who wrote into you about Fish creek Ponds. Would Glenn be related to a Andy Peters who used to ride around Fish Creek on a unicycle? My sister Vicki had a crush on him and I believe I have a picture of him somewhere. Fish Creek for almost 41 years just like Tim Scheer in a previous message infact his and my Grand parents used to come to fish creek 60 years ago, My mom has been coming to Fish creek every year since she was 10, 58 years ago. Outhouse toilets is what I remember when I was a young lad. I remember Karen Quick a good friend when I was 12. I remember going fishing with my cousin Tom Revoir and I had what seemed to be a 3 foot pike on the line in the channel to flood wood and Tom somehow let it go on me. We haven't spoke since. Milk, eggs, butter, cream, chocolate milk oj, Milk, eggs, butter, cream, chocolate milk, oj, Milk. Here I sit all broken hearted. My brother Kurt used to ski around fish creek dressed up like a girl and throw candy at kids . My cousin Rusty used to take us water skiing and tubing( tractor trailer tube tied to the tow rope). Rusty had a few Gennys buy that time. My dad would always drag us up some mountain for fun. Now Houston, Mason and My dad so the same things. (Jamie Edwards)

I too have been going to Fish Creek for quite some time now. My parents used to go back in the 50's with my grandparents (Tom and Mary Ryan). Ironically they used to camp with (Tim Scheer's) grandparents and my cousin Jamie (Hawk) Edwards parents. Some of my fondest memories came from fish creek. When my cousin Jamie Edwards and I got in trouble lighting off fireworks illegally. I believe the Forest Rangers lets us go. About the 3 ft. Pike that I supposedly let go on my cousin Jamie, it was a 3 inch Perch. My Uncle Jim Edwards invented tube war, and I still have the scar from when Kurt hit me in the head with the rubber raft. I almost drowned when my father lost control of the ropes from his new sail kit for the canoe and I was trapped underwater in the canoe. Oh and let me not forget I was scarred for life when my cousin Rusty took his clothes off and swam naked off of Buck Island. This is the same Rusty that enjoyed many Genny's even on his Cheerios' for breakfast. All in all I love this place and will always come back to visit. (Tom Revoir)

I grew up in Fish Creek 2 weeks every summer and what a wonderful childhood it was. I remember all the people selling their wares throughout the campsite. I remember going to the dump behind the trading post to watch the bears come out and the close calls when they came right past the cars or stupid people would try to get close to get a picture. I loved the long lines down the highway, meeting people which I am sure my parents did not care for. We could walk around the whole place and never once was anyone worried someone might grab us or harm us, we hung out at the beach as teenagers, flirted with the rangers and always went to the trading post to check our post boxes for mail. Rainy days were spent driving to the hatchery down the road, or into Saranac Lake or Lake Placid and when we were small we always went to Santa's Village when we were camping up there. When I moved back to NYS I immediately took my daughter camping in a tent there for a week, what a wonderful time we had. She loved fishing from the site, boating, sitting by the campfire, going to the activities at the outdoor chapel. I can still remember doing the Bunny Hop when I was younger down by the old beach. Church services always seem more special at the outdoor chapel than going to the same old church at home. We have been on cruises, to Disney, all over the US and Canada yet we can not wait to get back to Fish Creek. Next year I am renting a camper (too old for tents now) and we are going with friends for a week. I am so glad I will have the memories of this wonderful place for the rest of my life. (Elizabeth Schalk)

Reading over the memories section made me think of the times (early 60's) my Uncle and I (then a young boy of 13) decided to build a dock. We, my Aunt, Uncle and myself) would come to FC the last week in June to avoid the 2 week limit since we could then stay till July 14. At that time there was a clearing around site 170 where truck loads of pine slabwood from a sawmill in the area was dumped. I suspect the purpose was to give the campers firewood, but my uncle, being a very resourceful person, was able to build quite a dock from the slabs. I recall getting pine logs from the woods and pointing them with a axe, and driving them into the sand with a large rock. Needless to say it was a bit different from CampADK's present dock, but it served us well for the time we were there, and I suspect it also served the campers on that site the rest of the season.

Years later (1982), I was there again, this time with my own young family. I located a sawmill in Onchiota, and purchased a $5 carload of slabwood. I then built my own replica of the same slabwood dock, using the big rock technique of post installation. Sadly, we learned of my Uncle's passing a week after we returned home, before I could relate my memory lane project. (Pete Stagg) who still hears the call of "Pies, Cakes, Cookies , Doughnuts, Bread, and Honeydips today" in his head.

Do you or your relatives have recollections of the early days at Fish Creek? If so please email me dave@campadk.com. Any info as well as photos would be greatly appreciated!

Related Topics:

  • history
  • Fish Creek Historical Postcards (slide show)
  • Then and Now
  • NY State Photo Archives