Apr 15, 2021 - Sale 2564

Sale 2564 - Lot 267

Price Realized: $ 5,500
?Final Price Realized includes Buyer’s Premium added to Hammer Price
Estimate: $ 300 - $ 400
(NEW YORK.) John E. Alden. Letter documenting his exploration of hundreds of mountains and lakes in the Adirondack Mountains. Autograph Letter Signed to Seneca Ray Stoddard. 10 pages, 8 x 5 inches, on 3 sheets; straight pin holes in upper margin, first leaf neatly torn on inner margin. Lake George, NY, 8 December 1888

Additional Details

In 1874, the naturalist and photographer Seneca Ray Stoddard (1844-1917) published the first tourist map of the Adirondack Mountains; he also produced numerous guidebooks to the region. In this letter, a young woodsman and inventor named John Elford Alden (1862-after 1925) colorfully offers Stoddard the wealth of his personal knowledge of the region. He begins with his credentials: "I have been on to over 200 lakes and ponds now shown on your map, and on to over 500 mountain peaks, and have seen a good many more ponds and streams which I did not have time to explore. I have been through windslashes, swamps, burnt timber, beaver meadows, heavy timber thickets, over ledges, waded creeks . . . carried boats and packs, climb over range after range of mountains and crossed numberless brooks . . . also found a good many comfortable shanties not on your map." Over the course of 4 pages he proceeds to list the various lakes and high peaks on his "life list," describes some of his impressive feats of navigation, and describes the location of the "best brook trout fishing I have had the luck to see" (you will need to be the winning bidder to get that tidbit). He also describes numerous wilderness lakes not on the Stoddard map. In closing he notes: "Have also heard wolves howl from my log house at Indian Lake and lost a good deal of venison at my camp by bears and been through miles of raspberry brush where they were all trampled down with bears near south branch of Moose River." It is not clear from this letter what Mr. Alden wants, but he offers a remarkable wealth of observation on one of the last great frontiers of the East.