Thursday, December 12, 2013
The Dack Duck
This is the story of The Dack Duck.
That's what I named her anyway. Perhaps I should have named her Grace.
A couple of years ago, I was on a kayaking trip with a small group in the Adirondacks, in upstate New York (U.S.A.). We were paddling a series of lakes from one day to the next.
One drizzly, foggy day, that I thought was far better for visiting the awesome Adirondack Museum, we paddled Big Moose Lake. I lost the vote. And luckily so. Along the remote, wild, east end of the lake, a cute little female duck broke away from the flock and swam over to my kayak and led the way out of the creek. She stayed very close to my kayak. We weren't offering any food. Just paddling along. Her wilder counterparts kept their distance.
Big Moose Lake is about three miles long and one mile wide, with an average depth of about 23 feet. I consider Big Moose Lake a "cottage country" lake, but it does have some wild bays and marshes, and is at the head of Big Moose River.
Big Moose Lake is somewhat famous and notorious as the location of the murder of Grace Brown in 1906. Some claim ghost sightings, and media attention adds to the mystique.
From Wikipedia: Grace Mae Brown (March 20, 1886 – July 11, 1906) was an American skirt factory worker whose murder caused a nationwide sensation, and whose life inspired the fictional character Roberta Alden in the Theodore Dreiser novel, An American Tragedy, as well as the Jennifer Donnelly novel, A Northern Light. The facts of the real murder are laid out in the two non-fiction books: Adirondack Tragedy: The Gillette Murder Case of 1906, written by Joseph W. Brownell and Patricia A. Wawrzaszek, and Murder in the Adirondacks: An American Tragedy Revisited, by Craig Brandon.
The famous novel is based on the true story which peaks when Chester Gillette rows his pregnant lover, Grace Brown, out to a remote part of Big Moose Lake in 1906 and sends her overboard to drown. He wishes to marry a high-society lady instead, and pregnant Grace is in the way. Chester's excuse to authorities is that she just jumped overboard.
Did we paddle past the scene of the crime?
Most likely. We paddled and explored the entire lake, not knowing its infamous history.
It is an intriguing and truly tragic story. Grace was only 20 years old. Now that I've paddled the lake, time to read the famed novel, An American Tragedy.
Is that you Grace stopping by to say hello? Or, are you just a cute little duck who fell in love with my kayak.
Big Moose Lake is also the location where, just before the paddle, we came across a roadside snapping turtle nest budding with 50 baby snappers emerging from the nest one-by-one.
You may also enjoy another one of my "Dack" stories:
Portaging adventures in the Adirondacks, NY with the awesome Maelstrom Vital 166
Happy paddle memories.