About Cranberry Lake
The Wild and the Wilderness
There are many undisturbed representatives of the local habitat on station property or within short hikes or boat rides. These include various spruce-tamarack bogs, beaver meadows, marshes, streams, ponds, and lakes of various sizes and types. Of course, the primary habitat type in the area is northern mixed hardwood forest. Mammal species at CLBS include the fisher, otter, marten, porcupine, beaver, and black bear as well as numerous small rodents. Amphibians are diverse and abundant, with large breeding populations of American toad, pickerel, mink, leopard, wood, bull, and green frogs, as well as Hyla crucifer and H. versicolor. Smallmouth bass are regularly caught in Cranberry Lake, while brook trout are common in streams and ponds.
History of the Station
The history of early settlement and economic exploitation around Cranberry Lake is reflected in a mosaic of forest age classes and vegetation types. Around 1890, logging for white pine and red spruce was widespread in the area. Logs of these conifer species could easily be floated to market via streams and lakes. The railroad arrived at Wanakena on the west end of Cranberry Lake in 1903. Its primary function was to move hardwood and softwood logs to market. Woods of hardwood species such as yellow birch, sugar maple and white ash are very dense and do not float readily. Hence, these species escaped the saw and axe in the first logging operations of the 1800's.
Logging in the Adirondacks reached a peak in 1905 when over 700 million board feet of timber were cut for construction lumber and paper pulp. Around 1904, approximately 200,000 logs were tallied along the Hudson. Logging of such intensity devastated Adirondack forests and the woods were strewn with slash, including much conifer slash. This slash fueled the severe fires of 1908 and 1915 which burned thousands of acres in the Cranberry Lake region. The "Plains" area south of the Station is one of those burned areas which still shows an arrested forest development due to fire. To the southwest, the Five Ponds Wilderness Area escaped logging and serves today as an invaluable location to study undisturbed forest communities, complete with majestic white pines and red spruces.