Early in 1845 Mr. Cook received confirmation
as the agent at the states new penal colony. Many local men were employed
when the land clearing was started in February amidst twelve feet of
snow on the ground. They had to clear the virgin timber and erect a stockade.
Work on the temporary buildings for the officers, guards, workmen and prisoners
was started by the 21st of April. There was still some three feet of snow
on the ground when the kiln for drying lumber, the carpenter shop, the kitchen,
a guardroom, a blacksmith shop, the physicians office, the tailor, shoe shop
and the clerks office were started for the incoming inmates. The late spring
road conditions and other inconveniences in erecting these buildings put the
completion time back to June of that year.
June 3, 1845 saw the villagers stand in amazement as the ringed black and white uniforms of the incoming draft of convicts who had marched from Plattsburgh to the main gate. Each had his attached ball and chain which was also an
unusual sight to the people. The contingent of fifty men came from Mount Pleasant Prison and to them the sight of the area must have been bewildering, to say the least. Each one was probably wondering about his crime and if it was worth being sent to this forsaken spot in the Adirondacks.
. Progress was slow on the construction because the heavy
chains and balls hindered the mens movements. It was soon decided to lighten the chains
and with it, construction also increased.
Governor William Bouck made an inspection of the facility about this time. He had taken a buggy ride from Keeseville to Cadyville after his train ride from Albany. The part from Cadyville was all on foot so the Governor must have been in excellent shape to clImb'the hIll.
FIrst escape occurred dafter Mr. Cook had left to get
the second batch of inmates. from Auburn, IItwo convicts who were at work in the yard. in which as yet, there was much standing timber,.er~cted a pote agaInst the pickets, by whIch they clImbed to the top, and then dropped on the other
side. II They were discovered by a guard, who gave the alarm,
and the sIgnal gun (which was a 24#) was fired. In order to
give notice to the Inhabi.tants of the surrounding country.
The escape was made immediately after dinner (leave your
trip on a full stomach).
About this time (August 16.1845) a reporter from the Plattsburoh Republ lean came up to see what was happening and
in part he reported, "On Wednesday last, we paid a trip to
the Clinton Prison which is in the progress of erection in
the wilderness. about seventeen miles west of the village. As we plunged into the mireholes. or Justled over the bogs
BACK to page 1 FORWARD To page 1c.
Adirondack Museum photos, Blue Mountain Lake, NY;
Hurd, History of Clinton County, New York;
Anne Mackinnon, Welcome to Siberia, Adirondack Life, Nov/Dec 1997.
Gilroy, The Village People of Dannemora, and photos;