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Webb Town

Webb Town Hall, PO Box 157, Old Forge NY 13420; phone: 315-369-3121.

Beginnings [1]

In 1896, the northern-most township in Herkimer County, the Town of Wilmurt, was divided and renamed Town of Webb in honor of Dr. William Seward Webb. High priority was given to building schools and improving transportation, particularly roads, within the township. In 1903, the hamlet of Old Forge incorporated as a village and faced the daunting tasks of providing water, sewer, fire, police, street lighting and maintenance, electricity and even a health officer for its nearly 200 residents. A great deal was accomplished, but the incorporated village debt reached $100,000 by the early 1930's and village government was dissolved in 1934.

At the beginning of the 20th Century, large tracts of land were sub-divided into small parcels and purchased primarily by seasonal property owners. William Thistlethwaite's Adirondack Development Corporation sold off hundreds of lots along the north shore of the Fulton Chain, in the Big Moose region, at Rondaxe Lake, and in the hamlet of the Old Forge. The Gawanka Corporation, formed by Lyon deCamp, a descendent of Lyman Lyon, developed the Okara Lakes and Hollywood Hills regions. Howard G. Weller sub-divided his property in Eagle Bay, put in a water system and created Eagle Bay Park. Creative marketing plans brought thousands of new buyers into Webb, though many of these land transactions failed during the depression years.

Struggling to find new ways to boost the local economy in the 1930's, the residents made a concerted effort to expand the tourism industry beyond the traditional summer season. The Town government, in partnership with civic organizations such as the Central Adirondack Hotel Association and The Winter Sports Association, leased lands around the hamlet of Old Forge to develop winter recreational opportunities. To encourage tourism, voters supported proposals to acquire and develop the McCauley Mt. Ski Center in the 1950's and to fund the Town of Webb Health Center. Residents "still cling to a fine old heritage which descends from their woodsmen founders — that of a quick, unselfish cooperation in every wholesome local enterprise and a considerate interest in the well being of its individual members," wrote Joseph Grady in 1933, former publicity director for the Town of Webb. The same principles continue to guide Webb's citizens today as they face new challenges for the township in the 21st Century.

  1. Master Plan Advisory Committee, Town of Webb Comprehensive Plan, 2002,, accessed August 2009
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