The Mountain

by kfrego

The following is a quick look at the Adirondack Mountain area our family moved to in the summer of 1961.

Merrill, New York is a small hamlet located on Chateaugay Lake in the northeast Adirondack Mountains. Lyon Mountain, is a small village about four miles southeast of Merrill. It is surrounded by miles of forests in all directions. Lyon Mountain was an active mining town in the early 1960’s. The town had a long history of mining some of the highest grade iron ore in the country. The town had always been a company town. Owned lock, stock, and barrel by the various companies operating the mines. Many of the families in Lyon Mountain in the early 1960’s were second and third generations of miners. The mines were operated by Republic Steel Corp. The town was in a transition from wholly owned by the company, to individual private ownership. The increased costs of labor, goods, and services were too high to allow profitable operation of the town by the company.

The D&H railroad ran daily trains to haul the iron ore out of Lyon Mountain. The mine and mill produced the iron ore around the clock.

The company town had many facilities not normally found in towns with comparable populations. The company employed a doctor for the mine and the town. The school had grades kindergarten through twelve in one two story building. The school had a cafeteria. The combination gym/auditorium had auditorium style seating, projector room, stage, hardwood basketball court, and ticket booths. The school also had a large classroom shop,  library,  study hall,  band room, and shower facilities. The town had it’s own volunteer fire department and equipment, a baseball stadium with covered seating and a covered, elevated, band stand. For the few summer months, a fully staffed and maintained pool with change rooms was available for all the town residents. The company gas station was operating under private ownership and the company store was in the process of closing. The company hotel, beer garden, and cafe was no longer operating. The railroad no longer used the railroad depot, but the post office occupied part of it.

Lyon Mountain and the surrounding small hamlets were all one community. Everybody attended the same school and the majority of the people were employed by the mines. The mountains, lakes, forests, and friendly people made a great environment for a sixteen year old newcomer. It was a good place for more great adventures.

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