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Beaver House - Bakers Mills

Paul Schaefer writes in Cabin Country that he built Beaver House in the first part of the 1960s. Hunting friend Don Hall helped pick out the site between the old log cabin once owned by Johnny Morehouse, and Howard and Alice Zahniser's camp - "Mateskared"-- up the road. Don told me he thought the year was 1964. The site had great views of Crane and Eleventh Mountains, and the meadows down the valley which were quickly reverting to forest. Paul decided to build it to resemble the Adirondack Room at 897 St. David's Lane in Niskayuna, with large, hand hewn beams, open gable ceiling and plank floors of pine. The beams came from an old house "older than the hills" on Sanders Avenue in Albany. That house was known as the "beaver house." There were empty vats in the building. This evidence plus the sweet musty odor emanating from these beams during sanding convinced Paul that the beams might have been impregnated with the musk of beavers processed for their furs.

Paul writes in Cabin Country that he worked weekends with brother Carl to construct Beaver House. He wanted the cabin to be somewhere between a home and the "simple life we knew in wilderness tents," "for occasional overnight stays", a "gathering place for hunters on their way into the wilderness, and a place for conservationists to plan strategies for the continuing battles to retain the wild-forest character of the Adirondacks," a "refuge from the hustle and bustle of the life that I was living, a place to sit in front of the fireplace, alone or with friends, anticipating the trip on the morrow or reliving the adventures of the day."

The parcel on which Beaver House was built was part of Lot 59, divided from one of the Great Lots of the Totten and Crossfield Purchase. This included 40 acres from the Louis Morehouse Tract. A 10-acre tract to the west was added when Paul started paying taxes on it. Paul acquired these lots sometime between 1926 and 1940. Paul stopped paying taxes on these and other lots later on when he became so busy with his homebuilding and with his Adirondack conservation work, and the lands were given to someone else for unpaid taxes. He then began a long effort to regain title on two of the tracts, and finally did so. The State of New York acquired much of the other land Paul originally owned to the north and west of the cabin, and which is now part of the Siamese Ponds Wilderness Area. All of these tracts were accurately surveyed by the Conservation Department's Chief Surveyor Albert Davis between 1929-1932, who installed copper and nickel bolts in boulders or piles of boulders at all significant corners. The survey was actually begun because of an alleged timber trespass by Paul's mountaineer friend and teacher Johnny Morehouse who was accused of cutting six spruce trees on the NYS Forest Preserve. Morehouse challenged this, and the survey began. Ultimately, Morehouse was only charged with cutting two trees, and fined $10. Paul paid the charge, and then purchased the 50 acres from Mr. Morehouse. Paul writes that Mr. Davis told him that the survey was "probably the most accurate map of an Adirondack area of its size in the entire Park."

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