Tahawus: The Town Forgotten by Time
History of Tahawus
On the outskirts of the sleepy town of Newcomb in Upstate New York lies what is left of the once-promising mining town of Tahawus. Now all that remains is an eerie ghost town. You’d think that only the wild west would have such a sight, but this little-known ghost town is only a couple hours from New York’s capital.
You'd imagine that a town with a population of zero would either have something seriously wrong with it or it’d just be out in the middle of nowhere. Tahawus is both. The land was “discovered” in 1826 when Archibald McIntyre and David Henderson were led there by a native American from the St. Francis tribe.
Discovery of Iron Ore
It didn’t take long for people to discover that iron ore was found on the land. The town of McIntyre was formed soon after and operated successfully from 1827 all the way up until 1857. At that time, between 12 and 14 tons of iron were extracted from the earth every single day. About 400 men worked in the mines, and the iron from McIntyre (often called Adirondac) was considered the best iron in the country at the time. The national average for iron was about twenty dollars a ton, but iron from Adirondac was over double that amount (ranging from forty dollars to forty-five dollars).
In 1854, the Saratoga Railway Company constructed tracks leading to the mining town and these tracks, although not in use, are still there today. I visited the mining town on a road trip in order to research for this article and saw the tracks. Oddly enough, at the time I had no idea that the tracks I was looking at were the originals from 1854.
Tahawus Is Abandoned (Time and Again)
The mountains were not only long and treacherous to get around, but the weather of upstate New York proved detrimental to business. It was nearly impossible to ship and receive shipments to conduct business. They also found titanium dioxide amongst the iron ore and it became too difficult to extract the iron. In 1857 the town was abandoned.
Thirty years after the abandonment of Tahawus, it was turned into an area for fishing and hunting called the Tahawus Club. However, the Tahawus Club did not last long either.
Fast forwarding to nearly one-hundred years later, Tahawus was once again revisited. It was the midst of World War II and titanium was desperately needed. In an ironic twist of events, the titanium that seemed useless to miners in the 1800’s became worthwhile. They resumed mining for titanium in the 1940’s.
Nearly fifty years passed, and forty million tons of titanium was extracted. In 1989 all operations halted, and NL Industries left all mining equipment at the site.
What Remains of Tahawus
To this day numerous buildings and mining shafts remain. The original blast furnace that cost nearly forty-five thousand dollars still stands. The town is completely abandoned but offers a fascinating, yet eerie experience.
My Roadtrip to Tahawus
My sister, my best friend, and I decided to drive out to Tahawus on our college spring break. I went for the sake of research in order to write this article. I find it fascinating to visit abandoned history.
Driving to Tahawus
The road to Tahawus was not only very treacherous but it had numerous twists and turns that would definitely be problematic in the dead of winter. It is no surprise that shipments were nearly impossible to be received especially in the 1800’s when technology was pretty much nonexistent. Along the way, there were virtually no cars no people and it wasn’t surprising: we were in the middle of nowhere. It is also nearly impossible to locate the actual ghost town and abandoned mining shafts. Google maps took us on a wild goose chase of directions and after nearly three hours of driving, we reached our destination.
Eerie Feelings in Tahawus
The mining shafts and ruins of most of Tahawus lie between two lakes, at least I thought they were two lakes. In fact, they were really the mine pits, abandoned for so long they’d become filled with water. The water is estimated at about a thousand feet, it is no surprise they looked like two colossal lakes. There wasn’t too much exploration that occurred on our road trip because there was an eerie feel to the town. It was almost uncomfortable at times and we really wanted to see it, acknowledge that we’ve been to Tahawus and then drive out as fast as possible.
Tahawus is settled in the middle of nowhere. To the east is the tallest mountain in New York state and all around is nothing but trees and lots of wildlife. It's hard to imagine that the ghost town was once a thriving mining town pushing out tons of iron and titanium every day. But now all that’s left is an empty ghost town, abandoned and spooky.
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© 2018 Elijah DeVivo