Administrative History

Verplanck Colvin (1847-1920) was a prominent surveyor and promoter of the Adirondack Park. He began surveying the Adirondacks in 1865. In 1870, he spoke to the New York State Regents about surveying and preserving the Adirondacks. In 1872, the Regents appointed him the Supervisor of the State Survey and established the Commission of State Parks to investigate setting up the Adirondack Park. By 1880 Colvin had completed the most thorough survey of the Adirondacks ever accomplished. He continued to work as the State Surveyor for twenty-eight years. During the time he was carrying out his survey work, he gave speeches and campaigned for the establishment of the Adirondack Park. In 1900, after thirty-five years of advocating his cause, Colvin inexplicably abandoned the crusade. He died in 1920 in a hospital for the mentally ill.

These field books were created from 1872 to 1900 as the result of Chapter 733 of the Laws of 1872 which appropriated money "to aid in completing a survey of the Adirondack wilderness of New York." Chapter 848 of the Laws of 1872 appointed commissioners for two years to survey "the timber regions lying within counties [of the Adirondack region]", with an eye to converting them into a public park. The Superintendent of the State Land Survey was authorized to make any surveys which the State Comptroller and the State Forestry Commission deemed necessary to settle the boundaries of lands having disputed titles.

Subsequent appropriations were passed to continue the survey. As the Superintendent of the Adirondack Survey, and later as the Superintendent of the State Land Survey, Verplanck Colvin conducted the survey with his assistants during the 1870s and 1890s. Geographic localities surveyed include Essex, Franklin, Hamilton, Herkimer, Oneida counties; Totten and Crossfield Purchase and MaComb's Purchase; and Vrooman's Patent, along with the myriad of natural and built-environment features located on the land.