Sitting in Northern Herkimer County, it's roughly 30 miles from the nearest city or village, and a part of that is 15 miles of dirt road. People say you'll either love it or hate it. With only a handful of full-time residents, the hamlet of Beaver River Station, in the heart of the Adirondacks, is a good old fashioned trip back in time. Videojournalist Brian Dwyer and photojournalist R.D. White spent the day there and have the story of this truly different community.
HERKIMER COUNTY, N.Y. -- Welcome to Beaver River Station. Well, sort of. You see, we still have about ten miles or so until we get there, but we have to leave our car here at Big Moose Station because to actually get to Beaver River, there's only two ways to do so and driving isn't one of them.
"In the early 20's, the Stillwater Reservoir was dammed and it shut off the road access to Beaver River. So from that time on, this has become an isolated community. The two ways to access this isolated community is either by water on the Stillwater Reservoir, which is about a ten mile trip. The other way to access is on the rail. The high rails, which are cars adapted for the rails as well as the highway, come in from Big Moose Station to Beaver River. It's about ten miles and about an hour,” said Carol Schoch, Beaver River Property Owners Association President.
"We do not like the idea of a bridge or any access roads because we really do like the idea of being very difficult to get here,” said Tom Brown, Beaver River Station.
"In our community we have 125 private camps or cottages and we have three businesses. I'd say the most part, people that have camps and cottages here; most of them are weekend warriors. They come in and it's a Friday to Sunday type operation. You have to bring all your provisions with you. You have to plan very carefully because if you forget something, you're talking probably the better part of your day doing to Old Forge or Lowville to get supplies,” said Schoch.
"We're a community that either you love it here or hate it here. If you're looking to shop or you're looking for amusement parks and things of that nature, this is not where you want to come. The people that come here value the pristine environment and their moments with nature. We have no electricity here. We have to generate our own electricity. We've all experienced that in a storm, but when it's permanent, you become very creative. People have solar panels and they have an inverter system, which is a power source when your generator is off because you don't want the noise of a generator,” said Schoch.
Not only is there no electricity, but there's no fire department, no police department and no ambulance service. So the folks here have to really help each other out. Part of that is this fire barn which takes care of some of the immediate needs as they wait for outside help to arrive.
"You have to be a close community and you have to be very considerate of your fellow person. Nobody knows when they'll be the person that needs the help. We can have a helicopter come in and take somebody out if it's that nature. We have some pumpers that we have on a snowmobile trailer that we can hook up to whatever is running and fight a fire,” said Schoch.
Now there is telephone service here, but cell phone service, not so much. There is though, a rumor that if you're standing here at this very spot, by this very tree, you may, just may get lucky enough to get a signal.
"If you stand there on a good day, maybe at 2 o'clock, you can get service. It's not an easy life here and the residents that are here will quickly tell you it's not an easy life, but it's unique and it's memorable,” said Schoch.
"There's a lot to do if you look behind the scenes at everything. You can go camping in a tent. You don't have to stay in an cabin. You can stay by the fire and tell stories and roast marshmallows. You can go by the dock and sun for hours,” said Cori Henry, Beaver River Station.
"So what is it about this place that you love? I think it's the fact that our family is here and together. They can't go home. They're here and they're here as long as we're here. We deal with each other whether we're happy or sad,” said Rita Seamon, Beaver River Station.
"It's just the fact that it's so remote and it's so peaceful. You go to bed at night and it's quiet,” said Schoch.
That's all anyone here asks for.
The high rails are only a private way to get to Beaver River Station. However, there are plans in the works to restore the rail system from Big Moose to Beaver River and have limited service.
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