Town of Newcomb and the Hamlet of Newcomb in Essex County, NY
The Town of Newcomb encompasses 225.2 square miles, making it geographically the largest town in Essex County. Located in the "Heart of the Adirondacks" Newcomb has some of the finest mountain vistas of all! Forty-two of the 46 mountain peaks over 4,000 feet in the Adirondacks are located in Essex County. Some of the most notable peaks in Newcomb include Mounts Marcy, Santanoni, Wallface and Henderson.
With its remote location and a population density of only 2.5 persons per square mile, Newcomb is a town that typifies what one would generally characterize as the romantic North Country outpost. The hamlet of Newcomb is located in the south-central portion of the Town. Roger Trancik, in his booklet, Hamlets of the Adirondacks, identified Newcomb as an "Adirondack Wilderness Outpost" located in an isolated mountain setting, "surrounded by dense forest with the clear waters of mountain lakes and streams nearby."
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Some History - Joseph Chandler, in 1816, established a homestead and became the first permanent white settler in what would later become the town of Newcomb. Ten years later, two men from New York City, Archibald McIntyre and Duncan Martin, completed a transaction for the purchase of 105,000 acres in Essex County after the discovery of major ore deposits in the area. After a major mine and forge operation began, the small village of Adirondac soon grew up and around the Adirondacks Iron Works industrial center. (top of page)
The Town of Newcomb was established in 1828, with lands taken from the surrounding Towns of Minerva and Moriah. The Town was named after the first Town Supervisor, Daniel T. Newcomb. A blast furnace, one of the first of its kind, was built at the mines in 1854 and a second settlement, Tahawus, was established at the "lower works." The McIntyre mine shut down three years later due to transportation problems and the lack of water.
In September of 1901, while Theodore Roosevelt was hiking and camping in the Newcomb area, he received word that President McKinley had been shot and that his condition had worsened. During the leg of Roosevelt's stage coach ride through Newcomb-Minerva, President McKinley died and Theodore Roosevelt became the 26th president of the U.S. on September 14, 1901.
The National Lead Company (later renamed NL Industries) reopened the McIntyre mine in the early 1940's to produce titanium dioxide, a railroad was built from the mine to North Creek to aid transportation. In 1963, the mining operations had begun to encroach upon the village of Tahawus and NL moved the entire village 12 miles into the hamlet of Newcomb.
By the 1970's, the NL titanium works was one of the few active mines that remained in the Adirondacks. Although the NL mine, at one time, dominated the titanium pigment market, new technologies and a decreased demand for the pigment led to the closure of the mines in December of 1989. The 1854 blast furnace and the abandoned village of Adirondac still remain.
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Getting There - Newcomb is located in the southwest corner of Essex County, the second largest county in New York State. The principal access is by state highway 28N. Route 28N starts in the Town of Long Lake, heads easterly through the hamlet of Newcomb, then turns south to go to the Town of Minerva. Another route is the Boreas Road from exit 29 off Route 87, the "Northway". The Boreas Road heads westerly from North Hudson and enters Newcomb near the "lower works."
Figure 1 Map of Newcomb
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What's it Like - The town of Newcomb encompasses over 143,000 acres. Slightly over 42 percent of the town is state-owned lands that are part of the Adirondack Forest Preserve. More than 41,000 acres, 68% of the state lands, are designated wilderness areas. Most of the remaining state property is classified as wild forest or intensive use areas.
The remaining land acreage in private ownership is classified into six categories with the majority, nearly 50,000 acres, classified as resource management areas.
The hamlet of Newcomb is a well maintained strip community of unusual length and it enjoys a remote high peaks location. Outside of the hamlet, Newcomb has two designated industrial areas within the Town. The Town of Newcomb has also developed a local land use plan that has been approved by the Adirondack Park Agency. With this approved plan, the Town shares jurisdictional responsibility with the APA for certain development projects. Additional details regarding land area, density and classifications are listed in the appendix section.
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According to the 1990 census, there are a total of 544 people living within the Town and hamlet of Newcomb occupying 222 housing units. The population trend in Newcomb has been heavily influenced by the status of operations at the McIntyre and NL mines. After estalibshment of the town in 1828, the 1830 census identified a town population of only 62 residents, increasing to over 270 residents in 1850. The largest population was in 1950, while National Lead was at the peak of its operations, with a population base of 1212. The population of Essex County on the other hand has increased in three of the last four decades since 1950.
Newcomb is slightly below county averages for the percentage of population below 21 and over 65 years of age. Nearly 60 percent of the Town's population is in the age group of 21 to 64 years, which is slightly higher than the county average.
A trend of various socioeconomic data for the county is attached in the appendix; a more static comparison of the Town of Newcomb with adjacent locations and county data is also listed in the appendix section.
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As previously noted, over 42 percent of the land base in Newcomb - 60,378 acres - is state-owned lands. Another 5,354 acres is surface water. Newcomb is typified by a mixture of wild forest lands and working forest properties. Several maps located in the appendix section present various aspects of the town of Newcomb and surrounding regions.
Natural Resources - The ecozone separating the Central Adirondacks region and the High Peaks region runs through the Town of Newcomb. Several of the High Peaks area also located within Town jurisdictional boundaries. The primary classifications of state-owned lands* within the Town of Newcomb are:
Wilderness: An area of state land or water having a primeval character, without significant improvement or permanent human habitation. 41,028 acres of designated wilderness are located within the Town of Newcomb.
Wild Forest: An area where the resources permit a somewhat higher degree of human use than in wilderness areas. A wild forest often lacks the sense of remoteness of wilderness and permits a wide variety of outdoor recreation. 18,963 acres of designated wild forest is located within town limits.
Intensive Use: An area where the state provides facilities for intensive forms of outdoor recreation by the public. The two types of intensive use areas include campgrounds and day use areas. The Harris Lake campground has approximately 90 camping units and encompasses about 380 acres.
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Water Resources - The headwaters of the Hudson River originate in Newcomb. Nine lakes and numerous ponds are also located within the town; Lake Sanford is the largest lake, 4 miles long, but is not easily accessible. The most accessible lake is Lake Harris. Other lakes which can easily be reached are Lakes Newcomb, Colden, Rich and Duck Hole.
The majority of the Town of Newcomb drains into the Hudson River watershed; a portion of the northwestern corner of the town flows into the Raquette River watershed.
In 1992, the Essex County Water Quality Coordinating Committee completed their report, The Essex County Non-Point Source Pollution Management Strategy, which identified 34 Priority Water Problem areas within the county. On-Site systems and road sand were identified as the primary source of pollutants in Essex County. None of the water bodies in the Town of Newcomb were identified by the Committee as "precluded and impaired" or "stressed and threatened."
Several waterfront recreational facilities and opportunities are available in the Town of Newcomb.
* State-owned property classifications were paraphrased
from the Adirondack Park State Land Master Plan,
available from the Adirondack Park Agency in Ray Brook, NY.
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The major employer in the Town of Newcomb is the Newcomb School system. According to 1990 census data, nearly 26 percent of all employed persons in the Town of Newcomb are employed in the education industry.
Although the unemployment rate in Newcomb is significantly higher than the county average, the number if families with "no workers" is less than county averages. This could be interpreted as indicating that the number of secondary wager earners in Newcomb is lower than average, but that primary wager earners are employed at or above county averages. This assumption is based upon the fact that Newcomb residents have a notably higher per capita income than for the rest of Essex County.
Over 50 percent of employed residents in Newcomb travel less than 20 minutes to their place of work. There area 19 existing businesses located within the Town. These businesses are listed in the appendix section.
More detailed information regarding employment status, income and travel time is shown in the "1990 Central Adirondacks Study Area Socioeconomic Profile" contained in the appendix.
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Developed Resources - There are approximately 720 housing units in Newcomb. Nearly 50 percent of all housing units have been built since 1960.
Based upon discussion with the Town Supervisor, George Canon, there are some vacant buildings for sale within the town, including residential and commercial properties. However, less than two dozen properties are currently on the market.
Other developed resources in the Town of Newcomb include parks, public beaches, visitor centers, campgrounds, day-use areas and a town-owned ski slope.
The town was recently granted a five acre site from Finch Pruyn paper company for use as a commercial park. There are also two designated industrial use areas within the town; one at the junction of Route 28N and Boreas Road, the other at the site of the NL Industries mine, with a 115,000 kilovolt power line run into the site from Ticonderoga. These areas are most easily identified on the color map of private property classifications in the appendix section.
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In the 1930's, Archer and Anna Huntington donated nearly 15,000 acres of Adirondack lakes, streams and forest to the State University of NY College of Environmental Science and Forestry (SUNY ESF). ESF established biological surveys on the property, Huntington Wildlife Forest, and a tradition of research continues today. The long-term research encompasses more than 100 biological, chemical and physical attributes, and forms the foundation for contemporary research and education programs. The Adirondack Ecological Center was established in 1972 on the Huntington Wildlife Forest as a way of formalizing the research and instructional programs. The AEC is dedicated to providing the Adirondack community and the people of New York with a greater understanding of the Adirondack ecosystem through research
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Electric service is available from New York State Electric and Gas (NYSEG). Telephone service is provided by Frontier Communications. Television cable services are available from Chain Lakes Cablevision. Heating oils may be purchased from Montanye Fuels locally and other nearby suppliers as well as propane
The Town of Newcomb participates in the Essex County recycling program. There is an operational landfill within the town for the residents of Newcomb to dispose of their non-recyclable solid waste.(top of page)
Community Facilities and Services Police
The New York State Police provide protection and respond to patrol calls in Newcomb; the County Sheriff's Office provides correctional facilities.
Fire/Emergency - The Town of Newcomb is served by the Newcomb Volunteer Fire Department which maintains equipment and a building in the hamlet. The VFD also maintains and operates the Newcomb Rescue Squad and associated emergency vehicles. (top of page)
Health Care - Located within the hamlet of Newcomb, the Newcomb Health Center is a town sponsored health service. The building, owned by the Town, has an examining room and four beds for inpatient needs. The town pays for the Physician Assistant's salary and board. The PA is supported by two part-time nurses and two part-time clerical staff.
The full range of health care services, including dental care and pharmacy, are available in nearby towns. The closest hospital and emergency rooms are located in Glens Falls and Saranac Lake.(top of page)
Recreational Facilities - There are a great deal of recreational facilities and opportunities in the Town of Newcomb, including hunting, fishing, hiking, mountain climbing and swimming.
As previously mentioned, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation operates a 90 unit campground on the northeast shore of Lake Harris and also managers the Santanoni Preserve, an old "great camp" of the Adirondacks that encompasses 12,000 acres containing 30 buildings and a DEC administrative office.
The Town of Newcomb also operates a Town Beach & Boat Launch on the opposite shore of Harris Lake. The town beach is complete with change houses, an open pavilion, an exercise trail and a basketball court. Live guards are on duty at the beach and picnic tables are also available.
Other town owned recreational facilities include: the Hudson River Information Center, High Peaks Overlook park and picnic area, baseball field and skating rink, Woodruff Pond Ecology Trail, and a town operated ski-tow.
Huntington Wildlife Forest encompasses approximately 15,000 acres and is owned and operated by the State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry. While most of the property is restricted access for research, two areas are publically accessible. Rich Lake is designated as a day-use area for non-motorized boats and the Goodnow Mountain trail is a wonderful hike suitable for all ages, with a firetower at the summit and a restored ranger's cabin (c.1920).
The Adirondack Park Agency operates a Visitor Interpretive Center in Newcomb that contains a network of interpretive trails through a variety of natural habitats and displays of the history of the Adirondacks.
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Historic Sites - There are a variety of historical sites within the Town of Newcomb. The Roosevelt Monument is located on Route 28N near the eastern border of the town. A marker has been placed at the approximate location where Theodore Roosevelt became president upon the death of President McKinley.
Near the headwaters of the Hudson River are the remains of the "Old McIntyre Furnace" first used for smelting iron ore prior to the civil war. This furnace made the first commercially manufactured iron in America. Just beyond the furnace is the village of Adirondac and the trailhead to the high peaks region.
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The Town of Newcomb, in the "Heart of the Adirondacks," offers a variety of recreational, historical, tourist, and residential opportunities. Annual events include a Lions Club Barbecue (early July), Fire Department Steak Roast and Parade (late July), and Newcomb Day (early August).
Newcomb is the largest town in Essex County with approximately 60,378 acres of state-owned lands and 77,350 acres of private properties. The variety of land classifications offer a wide range of opportunities, from a wilderness experience to commercial development opportunities, from motor boating and fishing to a variety of seminars and lectures offered at the Visitors Interpretive Center.
For more information about the Town of Newcomb, call the Newcomb Town Hall at (518) 582-3211. Some additional source materials regarding land use and business development available from the Adirondack Park Agency are listed in the appendix section.
This profile of the Town of Newcomb was prepared by Bob Koch from the Department of Natural Resources at Cornell University and the Cornell Local Government Program in conjunction with the Town of Newcomb. September 1995. Modified 2006 (top of page)
Appendix V: Land Area, Density & Land Classification
Appendix VI: Essex County Socioeconomic Profile
Appendix VII: 1990 Central Adirondacks Study Area Socioeconomic Profile