Historic Follensby Pond Preserved in Central Adirondacks

Historic Follensby Pond Preserved in Central Adirondacks

By Cary Estes


In the 19th century, Follensby Pond was home to Ralph Waldo Emerson's Philosophers' Camp.

Published On: February 19, 20242 min read
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The Nature Conservancy and the State of New York will permanently preserve a 14,645-acre tract in the Adirondack Mountains that includes Follensby Pond and 10 miles of Raquette River frontage

Follensby Pond

In 2008, The Nature Conservancy (TNC) acquired the timberland for $16 million from John and Bertha McCormick of Manchester, Vermont. Sixteen years later, New York’s Department of Environmental Conservation agreed to pay more than $9 million for two conservation easements, one for the 958-acre Follensby Pond area and one for 10 miles along the Raquette River.

The agreement was announced on February 13. Per the terms, TNC will retain title to the 14,645 acres. It plans to establish a freshwater research preserve on the site. Use plans include limited public access.

Portions of the acreage are less than 20 miles from historic Whitney Park.  The 36,000-acre Adirondack landmark, which is owned by John Hendrickson, is currently on the market for $180 million. All told, Whitney Park encompasses more than 30 lakes, ponds, streams, and bogs.

Follensby Farm

Philosophers’ Camp

In the summer of 1858, Ralph Waldo Emerson was among a group of 10 people who ventured to Follensby Pond. They established a small camp to be used for artistic endeavors and philosophical conversations. While there, Emerson penned the poem “The Adirondacks,” which includes the line, “The prodigal sunshine rests on this land.”

“Securing more than 14,600 acres of critically important ecosystems is a win-win for conservation and for all New Yorkers,” New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Basil Seggos said in a press release. “In the spirit of Emerson and the great thinkers of two centuries ago, (we) are bringing together a consortium of leading scientific minds to study a waterbody that has remained relatively untouched for more than a century. Follensby Pond and its associated watershed will serve as a living laboratory for scientific study by leading public and private institutions. Together, the easements provide a combination of enhanced recreational and globally significant research opportunities, thereby providing a sound balance between conservation and recreation.”

“I’m amazed we have this kind of intact ecosystem here in the Adirondacks,” said Dirk Bryant, TNC’s Director of Lands in New York. “Follensby Pond will serve as a living laboratory and as a lifeboat for cold-water species in the face of climate change.”

Follensby Pond

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