Photo by Peter LaGrasse
The historic cabin known as The Cody Place in West Stony Creek, the last building that remains of a settlement in Thurman, is slated for destruction by the state after a life-lease expires Dec. 31, 2014.
A log cabin known as The Cody Place sits on a grassy hill overlooking the valley known as West Stony Creek, with forested mountains in every direction. This maintained, historic structure is scheduled to be destroyed in early 2015 after a 40-year life-lease on life expires December 31, 2014.
In West Stony Creek, many of the old roads and a few small settlements have faded into nature as the state acquired land there for the Adirondack Forest Preserve beginning in the early 1900s.
A similar fate awaits the Cody Place.
The land where the Cody Place was passed along through several owners, most recently the Blue Spruce Valley Land Co., the last private owner of the property. On November 27, 1974, the land company sold two large parcels totaling 337 acres to the state for a total of $135,000, reserving for a limited time “right to use and occupy” a four-acre parcel within the 240-acre larger parcel of the two deeded parcels.
The little parcel is known as the Cody Place after John Cody of Lake George, who for many years leased the cabin and its surrounding plot of land. Cody has lived there much of the time since 1975, relishing the beauty and peace as well as hosting many gatherings of his wide circle of friends, he said in a recent interview.
The beloved two-story cabin with its comfortable porch is the last remaining building in the area of the historic Barber Place in West Stony Creek. Strung along a few miles of isolated road through West Stony Creek was once a loose cluster of small farms where families worked the valley and gentle hillsides during the 1800s and early 1900s. The well-crafted log building is located in the town of Thurman three miles north of the town’s border with Stony Creek.
Crafted of squared-off logs, the cabin sits in a clump of pines on top of the grassy hill. From its porch, there’s a sweeping view of the forested mountains.
Down the road in a valley nearby are two more hunting-club camps that were once homesteads of West Stony Creek at the location called Fullers: the S. L. Hunting Club and the Dog and Pup Club. These are located on the only remaining privately owned land in West Stony Creek.
In addition to the farmhouses, barns, and other buildings, the isolated community of West Stony Creek once boasted a general store at the Barber Place, which the late William Liebl of Stony Creek once said was known as the trading post. Bill loved the Barber Place, where he and his wife Patty hosted snowmobilers at their camp during the sixties, renting from Marge and Jack Baker who ran a hunting camp there into the 1970s.
Years ago, Liebl told me that the land on which the general store and the rest of the buildings in the Barber Place were located was acquired by the state to add to the Adirondack Forest Preserve. About a week after the acquisition, the state piled up all the buildings, including the house and trading post, and burned them. Their act was typical of state policy in West Stony Creek.
Only the Cody Place was spared. The forest would grow up and cover the traces of the once tight-knit settlement.
Somewhere on the original homestead property that includes the Cody Place lie the foundations of the structures in the community known as the Barber Place in earlier times.
The locations of the gravestones and remains of the houses and other buildings are known to few.
The state purged the traces of all that the men and women did to make a homestead, raise their children, and spend their entire lives producing the sustenance for their needs from food to fuel to shelter. Even their gravesites are not memorialized, although state law requires that cemeteries be kept open and with good access roads.
The state has not even erected a historic plaque to commemorate the West Stony Creek that was.
The Cody Place now sits atop the sweeping pasture as a lone sentinel on behalf of the people who made their homes there or later came to camp and hunt at the Barber Place.