Elephants and Oil?

Our trivia question about the elephants inspired Tammy Whitty-Brown to do some digging. That's what lead her to a chapter of Schroon history where some intrepid entrepreneurs saw $$$ in their eyes when they thought they'd made a magnificent discovery.

Tammy picks up the story:

"I should have known the answer to this question! Sigh... Thanks Roger for sharing. As I was trying to find the answer I came across this interesting tid bit of news in the Ticonderoga Sentinel on Thursday, April 30th, 1891. "The company formed for boring for gas at Schroon Lake has changed the original plans and now proposes to bore in the valley near Schroon river, between Schroon and Paradox lakes, between which points experts say the main gas vein extends. The oil vein has been traced from Taylor's across the lake to Adirondack. Boring will be begun about the middle of May, when Smith M. Weed and other directors will be present." Smith Mead Weed was born in 1833 in Clinton County, and died in Plattsburgh, NY in 1920. He served as a New York State Assemblyman, and went on to become a US Senator in 1905. I thought it was interesting that Schroon Lake had a gas line. I believe I will need to do some more research to see if it was ever actually drilled".

And thanks to author and historian Ann Breen Metcalfe, we have the rest of the story:

"Tammy, I did some research on the oil drilling when I wrote my book "The Schroon River: A History of an Adirondack Valley and its People" in 2000. People thought there was oil/gas in the region because in the winter you could drill a hole in the ice and light a match, and a flame would shoot up in the air. Some flames were 10 to 15 feet high. You didn't have to spend the evening in the Ondawa Hotel bar to have this happen; people came from out of town to replicate what the locals were talking about. C.F. Taylor, proprietor of Taylors-on-Schroon (predecessor of Scaroon Manor) formed the Schroon Lake Gas & Mining Company in the early 1890's, and sold shares in it. (There's a reference to Taylor in the newspaper article you found.) Brown's "History of Warren County" says the optimism was so great that the town bought street lights, thinking they would be cheaply fueled. They did do some drilling and found nothing. Later people thought that all the loose logs that escaped their booms during the lumbering period in the 19th Century rotted on the bottom of the lake and formed the gas that was trapped under the winter ice. Who knows? If I had been around then and had some money, I definitely would have invested".