The history of Nine Mile Island Camp, Inc. as we know it today started with three North Tonawanda Boy Scout Troops back in the 1950’s. The island itself was created in the early 1900’s during an upgrading of “Clinton’s Ditch”. At that time it was decided to widen, deepen and straighten the canal so that it could accommodate longer boats carrying greater tonnage. In this process, Nine Mile Bend needed straightening as did some other parts of the original canal that followed the meandering former Tonawanda Creek bed in this area. To facilitate the straightening of Nine Mile Bend, parts of several land parcels in the Town of Pendleton were acquired. These included lots owned by Alfred Carroll & Frank King. The county line remained where it was, the red (center) line of the old Tonawanda Creek. This line is near the middle of the dip in the camp entrance road.
After the straightening of the canal, the land was used as a dredge depository periodically for many years. On September 12, 1938, Boy Scout Troop 35 of the St. Peters Evangelical and Reformed Church, 360 Genesee St. Buffalo, N. Y. was issued a permit for and used the land for a camp ground for a number of years.
In the 1950’s, many Boy Scout troops used “Scout Island” (Six Mile Island) for camping. Access was by boat or by pedestrian bridge from Amherst. Although it was a good facility, it was small ( two troops was the maximum comfortable number – allowing for an activity area). It was also subject to vandalism when not in use. A group of North Tonawanda Assistant Scoutmasters started a search for a local, accessible larger facility, closer than any of their council camps. At that time Camp Stonehaven in the Niagara Frontier Council was not routinely available. It was out of council for Buffalo Area Council troops [ those units in the Tonawandas and Amherst and south through the rest of Erie County ] until a 1968 consolidation merged the Niagara Frontier and the Buffalo Area Councils.
Don Graf had heard about an island in Pendleton that was not being used and belonged to the state. Several including founding President William Fraser investigated and found that the island was ideal. It had 30 some acres and needed clearing. Old Nine Mile Bend at “Nine Mile Island” was by then somewhat silted in on the southeastern boundary. The old Tonawanda Creek bed is today in part a wetlands area (as defined by the US Army Corps of Engineers). During and following severe local rains, the camp is again a virtual Island. Only the old and new roads stay above the occasional very high flood waters.
The Scouters search led to a new revocable permit being issued to Boy Scout Troop Nos. 501, 573 and 574 of North Tonawanda “to temporarily maintain a small wooden building on State land in Parcels 1343 and 1457, Contract 19, Town of Amherst (sic); also, to maintain a timber pedestrian walk across bed of old Tonawanda Creek, to be used in connection with Boy Scout activities.” Edgar Grefrath, ASM Troop 501: Donald R. Graf, ASM, Troop 573 and William Fraser, ASM, Troop 574 signed this permit on June 4, 1959. At this time Troop 35 relinquished their permit in favor of the Tonawanda District units as noted in a March 23, 1959 letter to the DPW, State of NY Civil Engineer, L. S. Stalker from Robert A. Smith, Secretary of the Tonawanda District. Secretary was a duty of District Executives at that time. The letter went on to say that the three “Troops will follow the rules and regulations of the permit and will also allow Troop 35, holder of the first permit to use the island as often as they desire.”
The letter continues that the permit can be sent “to Donald R. Graf, who is the Tonawanda District Chairman and with the assistance of the other named individuals (Ed Grefrath and Bill Fraser) will see that proper care of the property is taken…”. all buildings were to be wood or on wheels in case the Division of Operation and Maintenance should need to reclaim the land for state purposes.
In 1959, the first troop to camp at the Island pushed through a tangle of brush and cleared out enough wild pea vines to set up camp under a spreading willow. This was in the area of our present cabin. The troop was one of the founding troops, # 573.
About this time, attorney Joseph Ambrusko agreed to set up the Island so that any donations could be tax deductible for the giver. He advised that a President would be necessary. The Island founding three met for coffee to discuss this requirement. Bill Fraser was elected President and Joe proceeded with the incorporation paperwork.
Soon after this, a group of Scouters went down to Your Host for coffee on Niagara Street after a Tonawandas District meeting. Among the group were Bill Fraser, Elfred (Fred) K. Catland Sr.(District Commissioner), Ed Grefrath, Al Beutner, Ren Gombert and “Bud” Lindhurst. They sat there talking and someone asked Bill what is your plan for vandalism if the camp is developed. Off the top of his head, Bill said “OK, we probably will put up a building or a trailer and let Fred Catland and his wife be the rangers.” This had never been discussed and was strictly a “fly by night ” idea that popped into Bill’s head. When the meeting was over, Fred followed Bill to his car and asked him if he had been kidding or was he serious and Bill asked “About what?” Fred said about moving onto the Island. Bill looked at Fred for a moment and said “Fred, I was kidding but if you are interested we will do it.” Two days later, Fred bought a trailer.
Soon after the trailer purchase, the first of several amendments was added to the permit to allow construction of the first (old, original) road to the island. Fred Catland found an unemployed Independent Contractor who had a bulldozer (Robinson/ Stoll?) from the Getzville area who agreed to put the first road in place.
Oscar Daigler through his attorney granted a right of way easement over and under to New York Telephone Co. and Niagara Mohawk Corp. to install those utilities. This easement was filed in Erie County Liber 6726, Page 309 on August 7, 1961. Mr. Daigler only gave a verbal OK for the road from Orbit Drive into camp. The verbal approval would prove to be an inconvenience when revoked in the mid 1970’s.
The bulldozer operator started the job, agreeing to a fee of $200 to $300 and some of his gasoline expense. About 100 tons of stone were used. At this early date, the camp had no money, so when the job was done Fred Catland and Bill Fraser Sr. paid the bill personally. Fred’s trailer was moved across the new road to a location just road side of where the camp office building stands today. This was (September/November 3, 1961).
Next, the bulldozer operator dug the necessary holes and trench for the septic tank and leech field. Bill Fraser installed the connecting red tiles. Fred and Ruth Catland moved into their trailer with no electricity and no running water. They were happy to be there. They hauled an estimated 40 gallons of water twice a week fifteen miles round trip for a decade, usually from their old homestead in North Tonawanda.
When approached about installing the electric lines, Niagara Mohawk (NMP) first required that poles and insulators be in place. Advised of the camp’s lack of funds, they told the Island staff to go to NMP’s yard in Amherst and get the necessary poles. Fred and the Dozer man got the poles and insulators too. On a Saturday, Scouters put up the poles and installed the insulators. Next NMP said their men could not climb poles they had not installed. Sometime after March 19,1962, Bill Fraser called NMP’s Buffalo office. A vice-president there told him that they were aware of the need and that they ” would help in everyway possible if we would be patient a little while, they would install the lines.” Two hours later Fred called Bill to say that the Island has power. Niagara Mohawk had sent in two bucket trucks called in from other areas to do the work. Stuart Ludwig, a Tonawanda electrician connected the power to the Catland trailer.
Also early in 1962 some officials of Amherst cast covetous eyes in the camp’s direction. They envisioned a park and marina in the camp. Erie County planning commissioners wished to ensure no shacks or undesirable buildings. The Niagara County Board of Supervisors and the state determined that no changes were to be made in the camps operation.
A week or two later, a Robinson Street (?)resident(*) offered his garage if the Island group would move it. Reynold Gombert looked at it and decided that it could be moved on the back of a lumber truck. Ren talked to Homer J. Mye and he agreed to lend his truck (the first of many times). On a Saturday morning Bill picked up Homer’s truck and met Ren Gombert, Alan Beutner, Chet Pawelczyk, Bud Lindhurst and others who had met, braced and raised the garage. The building was lowered onto the truck and driven to the Island. There the building was raised off the truck and lowered into place. Since then, it has been a PX (trading post), storage building, First Aid Station and is the office at this time.
Another building was also developing at about this time. Remington Rand was closing their Kardex plant on Main street in Tonawanda. Micky Grimaldi was working on the shut down and when the plant offices were demolished he saved all the plywood and gave it to the Island. Following Ren Gombert’s design, the “usual team” consisting of Ren Gombert, Al Beutner Bud Lindhurst, Chet Pawelczyk and Dick Gombert built the present barn and workshop one Saturday. National Manufacturing Co. offered to and furnished the roofing needed. Bob Hurley, NMC Vice-President also had some paint donated.
The camp was in business and operating by this time. Fred had a couple of rotary mowers (one from Bill) and kept the weeds down. The main area was developing from light woods/ dense shrub area with a cowpath/riding trail to a pleasant and expanding campground.
A month or two later Homer Mye asked to see Bill Fraser. Bill stopped in and Homer greeted him warmly and said he was very much aware of what was happening and congratulated Bill on what had been accomplished. He then stated that he had a carload of spruce 2×6’s which he did not need and he was willing to donate them to the Island. Bill accepted saying, “I don’t know just how they will be used.” Homer laughed and said that if Gombert would donate his time and service, they would make excellent log cabin siding. Ren liked the idea but had to persuade his partners. the next day he called and said everything was a go. This material was used to build the walls of the new trading post and a little later the craft lodge addition which became ” the lodge”, our original cabin. The Craft Shop completion was aided by a $150 donation from LeRoy Urban of Tonawanda. It was located where our new cabin currently stands. This roof also contained 3/4″ plywood from the Remmington Rand offices and National Manufacturing again furnished the roofing materials. Started in 1962 with the Trading Post, the Craft shop section was completed in 1963.
On July 31, 1962 the incorporation papers were signed. There were to be not less than three nor more than fifteen Directors. The original group of nine included the three key scouters (Grefrath, Graf & Fraser) who signed the permit in 1959 along with the Attorney Ambrusko, Homer Mye (onetime District Commissioner, Committee Chairman/ member Tr 501),Capt. Robert E. Butler (NT Police Dept. Tr 574 Committee+), Chief Clarence W. Globe (NT Fire Dept), Hon Lloyd J. Long (Tonawanda Mayor) and Hon Henry P. Smith III (NT Mayor/ County Judge).Additional corporate officers were Don Graf, Vice President; Bob Butler, Treasurer and Ed Grefrath, Corporate Secretary.
About Easter time 1963, Fred Catland’s grandson, Jared Siezega recalls a bathtub being put in the ground behind the barn. It served as the camp pond for some ducklings. Although filled in about 1968, it is still behind the barn.
Among the early necessities was the construction of latrines. Chet Pawelczyk, longtime Industrial Arts Teacher, early TO OA Chapter Advisor & TR 574 MC, arranged to have some BOCES classes pre Fab some for the camp. We had to pay for materials, transport them (Homer’s truck?) and assemble them. Monty Rasch from Riverside Chemical Company started their tradition of donating the chemicals for our latrines. Some placed out of site of the original Ranger’s trailer were to be the subject of periodic vandalism, most likely from neighborhood youth.
An early safety concern was the sunken abandoned State work scows within the camp permit area. A May 17, 1963 letter granted permission to burn them with the understanding that the State of New York assumes no responsibility and the burning must be done under the auspices of the local fire departments. Fortunately there were no major mishaps even though the work scows (barges) were never burned.
In May “The Most successful Camporee in the history of the Tonawandas District was held … at Nine Mile Island Camp (silk screened leather neckerchief slide). Dispite (sic) the thorn apple bushes, everyone had a great time. 589 Scouts, Buddies, and Leaders, spent the weekend camping in the out of doors, learning and doing Scouting at its best…had an international flavor with the St. Catherines 214th scout Troop as guests of Troop 510 of Grand Island. Guests included Phil Miller, field director of the Buffalo Area Council: Art Certa, Council Commissioner; Lynn Ferris, District Scout Executive of Orange, New Jersey. Each and every Troop and Post was represented…tribute …to the Camporee…Staff…special mention of the Explorers who did such an excellent job of service.”
From October 2-4, some 400 Scouts and over 35 staff were kept moving with many activities at the Tonawands District fall Camporee (lns, staff white lns- Chet P) also held at the island. Also in 1963, Chet Pawelcyzk silk screened for resale some off white plastic bull shaped neckerchief slides with blue logo. All water still had to be carried into camp.
In the spring of 1964 there was another Tonawandas District Camporee (lns & wh lns) was held at the camp. In 1964, Fred a downeaster from Maine wanted to take a vacation and go back to Maine for a visit. Assistant Ranger Doug Eadie stayed in camp while Fred and Ruth were gone in late August.
From September 24-26, 1965 the Tonawandas District held another Fall Camporee at the Island. A map of the weekend indicates at least 19 troops were in camp for the event.
Later, as Bill Fraser was finishing his term as Tonawandas District Chairman and planning to move to Olean to operate his own business, some additional improvement opportunities for the camp presented themselves. NT police Lt. Charles Clark installed the lighting in the lodge. He told Fred about a small tractor that his sister wanted to sell for $300. Fred looked at the tractor and decided that it should be purchased. With profits from the PX, some money that Fred had accumulated from shared fees ($150 from these per 6/66 mtg. notes) and a donation from Bill Fraser, this tractor was bought. It was used with one of two sickle bars acquired over the years. While the sickle bars were effective on grass and weeds, they periodically got severely tangled in overgrowths of wild sweet pea.
Another local scouter inquired about donating a used 1953/54? Chevrolet. Bill whose later Vigil Honor, Order of the Arrow name translates as “the Trader” agreed to accept the car, intending to sell it. At this time Fred felt that a pickup truck would be helpful for hauling things around camp. Bill’s neighbor, Charlie Keyes had a 1948/49 Ford pickup at his service station that was too expensive for the camp. Bill was persistent in his talk of trading the sedan for the pickup and finally Charlie agreed to do it.
In a 1999 letter to Doug Eadie, Founding President Bill Fraser writes, “any history of Nine Mile Island must give credit to the late Fred Catland and his wife, Ruth. They loved children and were the happiest when there were a lot of them on the grounds. During our start up year they lived in their trailer without heat and without running water and yet every day they were about the grounds cutting weeds, burning brush, and trying in every way to make the camp more pleasing and often invited youngsters into their trailer for cookies. We could never have accomplished what we did if they had not been there.”
He acknowledges that there are many others besides those above who contributed to the camps early success. Other names he recalled included the late Dick Nickel and Stu Tuck. To this day, the list of those who are helping with maintenance and with developing programs continues to grow. Among the early campsites were Big Tree, Poplar and Explorer. Dick Nickel, Scoutmaster, led Troop 570 from Tonawanda on many outings at the Island. They did much to develop the early Big Tree campsite. Dan Emery recalls that every time he would bring Tr 283 (Wurlitzer School) to camp at the Island, Fred would have a new area for them to clear and develop.
With President Fraser’s move to Olean in (1965/6?), Fred and Ruth Catland assumed virtually complete responsibility for most camp decisions and camp operation. Vice-president Don Graf was available when called upon. The Catlands still had no running water in 1966. VP Don Graf called two meetings to spur the need for water to fruition. Money was a key, materials needed, and how to run the line and from where also needed resolution. At the first meeting it was decided to convert the trading post/ craft lodge building into a cabin to promote expanded wintertime use of the camp. Fred was to coordinate-ordinate reservations and propose a fee for approval by the committee at their next meeting. At that meeting on October 6th, some reorganization of the committee was accomplished. Added as (Members at Large/Directors?) at that time were long time Scouters John Zale, Tr 574; Vincent J. Harmon, Tr 303; Charles Fitzgerald, Tr 573; Harold O. Schwartz, EP 71 and Ray Beiter from Pendleton. Other long time supporters present at that meeting included Paul P. Solak; Norris W. Clark Sr.,Tr 573; John J. Kloch; John W. Brozek; Edwin Chambers, Tr 184 and Dan Emery Tr 283. Another concern was plowing the entrance road. There was no plow on the tractor.
By October 15, 1967 the Leroy Urban Trading Post was converted “to a sleeping lodge”. Troop 570 from Tonawanda was the first to use this “new facility”. Paul Westcott, the Scoutmaster then is a current Director of the Island. His assistant Bob Nickel had helped his Dad, Richard “Dick” with the development of Big Tree campsite. Other campers in that troop at the time included Jeff Westcott (Director, former vice-president), Charles Vandrei (DEC, Albany) and “Jayson Siezega”(grandson of Fred).
When Doug Eadie (Past TO OA Chapter Chief) graduated from Alfred University (BA-History) and attended UB Law School for a time, he pursued the water line challenge because the Catlands and all campers still had to bring their own water to camp. Running a line from Pendleton under the canal was cost prohibitive. The Town of Amherst Engineer told Doug to talk to the Erie County Water Authority since they provided water in that area. Water was available according to the Erie County Water Authority but, there were some steps to the process. The first thing was to request and receive permission from the Town of Amherst to construct a meter pit in Amherst (Erie County) and to run a line from there to the camp (Niagara County). Permission of the appropriate land owners was of course necessary. The original plan was to run the line in next to the road near the power and phone lines. This would again necessitate crossing a strip of Oscar Daigler’s property. By this time, Oscar, a long time successful farmer had built and moved into a new split level yellow brick house across from the camp road from his big white homestead closer to Hopkins Road. He also had built a small storage barn near this proposed route (within maybe 30′?). At times he was not happy with the activities (noise/ meanderings?) of some of our campers. Also at times, he and Fred were apparently less than cordial. When I approached the Daiglers about the easement request, Oscar referred me to their attorney, Peter G. Higgins. Atty. Higgins informed me that Oscar would grant permission at a point on Orbit Drive close to Tonawanda Creek Road, but not where we wanted it. There was no main on Orbit Drive and he did not want his whole frontage tore up to extend one. I think that I and then Don Graf both tried to change Oscar’s mind without success. This distant connection point would greatly increase our costs and labor to install the line.
On September 9, 1968 the present waterline easement was signed. Included in the easement was the right of Ingress/Egress which would allow for water line maintenance and hopefully at some future time an overflow exit only road. This access would prove critical a few years later. Application for a connection was submitted to the Erie County Water Authority on October 1st.
Also in October 1968, the Tonawandas Chapter Order of the Arrow held their annual fall ceremonial weekend at Nine Mile Island under the direction of Chapter Chief Harry Stuckey Jr. and Advisor Doug Eadie. In attendance were 54 Ordeal candidates, 12 Brotherhood candidates, 1 Vigil candidate and about 26 other members who conducted the weekend activities. In accordance with their pledge of service, the campers graded the entrance, cleared brush for the new water line trench, cut firewood, painted the storage house and began excavation on the new access road/ water line cut through the berm. They also cut a path to the Council ring and cleared the old ceremonial ring.
In November, Lt. Chas Clark installed a furnace in the Lodge. It was donated by Bob Tully, Vice Cmte Chrm to Doug Eadie, Tr. 607, Tonawanda.
On March 21-23, 1969, Troop 47, Pendleton, NY camped at the Big Tree campsite, clearing and enlarging the area with 23 scouts and 1 leader.
Council Commissioner Bill Fraser and the Council Exececutive from Seneca Council B.S.A. in Olean, NY stopped to visit Fred and to look at the latrines which were in place on April 4, 1969.
Early in 1969, Lt. Eadie received orders to report for active duty in May. Shortly before his departure, Vince Harmon stopped at Doug’s parents house in Tonawanda to tape record critical details of what had transpired and what still needed to happen to bring the water line to fruition. Fred Catland, Don Graf, Vince Harmon and Joseph Cassera (Tr. 98?-N. Buffalo) would see the rest of the project through to completion.
On May 17, Seneca Council with Trader Bill swapped some equipment with us. Among the items we received was a large radar cover that would prove hard to open (Bob Wein recently reminded me of it). We used pieces of it as a temporary barn roof patch at one time.
From June 27-29, newly formed Sea Scout Ship 196 from the Kenton District camped at the Island. In July Glenside Troop1 from PA did their annual stopover during their visit to Niagara Falls while camping for two weeks at Camp Scouthaven under the leadership of Scoutmaster Warren L. Louden.
On August 6,1969, the Erie County Water Authority started digging for their line from Tonawanda Creek Road to the camp side of Orbit Drive. At this juncture additional funds were needed to proceed. On September 21, Don Centner, Tr 573, presented a check for $175.84. Also substantial donations were received from the Lions Club of the Tonawandas and Gratwick Hose Company, among others.
On May 9, 1970, Kimmons Construction dug a three foot deep and six hundred fifty foot long trench from behind the Catland’s trailer, across the Meadow and down to Orbit Drive. Joe Cassera and Vince Harmon laid one and a half inch plastic line right behind the trencher. On Saturday afternoon, November 7,1970 Joe Cassera and his brother in law, Patrick George connected the water line shut off valves and copper water line to the meter spot. The trailer now had water for “testing purposes”. On November 23rd, the present concrete block meter pit was constructed by Vailancourt who had also recently covered the supply line trench.
On New Years Day 1971, Joe Cassera and his brother in law constructed and installed the 1/2″ steel cover for the meter pit. On January 20th the original water meter was installed in the pit. The camp now had official water both to the trailer and the first frost free valve where the current “pump house” stands.
On February 10, Oscar Daigler cleared approximately two feet of snow on the camp road to the trailer and lodge at a cost of $20 for three hours of plowing. On February 12, Ranger Fred notes in his log a visit from son in law, Frank and grandsons, Jared and Jayson.
On March 27th, a special ceremony was held at camp to recognize the efforts of those who had made the water line possible. It also marked the 10th year of a ranger in residence at camp. Among the remarks that day were these from Fred Catland, “Both Mrs. Catland and I are grateful that we have water in our trailer. Now we can take a shower without relying on our children’s facilities in the city. Our personal thanks to all concerned.”
That evening, Troop 585 held the first in an ongoing tradition of Eagle Scout Courts of Honor to be held at the Island. Gary Wein was the recipient.
On June 16, the Tonawandas Chapter Order of the Arrow held its annual meeting at camp. Among the officers elected that evening from the 40 members present were Vice Chief Brian McGovern and Secretary Jeff Westcott.
On June 17,1971 the camp permit was amended to reflect the addition of the water line.
Among the early “regular campers” at the Island were the Girl Scouts who routinely came in the summer by canoe from their Camp Shady Hollow in North Tonawanda. Sometimes 9 Mile was a mid point layover enroute to Camp _____ near Gasport. Among the leaders on July 28-29 was Barbara Wein,_________.
On August 30 Tr 580 was in camp for the afternoon and evening holding a corn roast and troop meeting. Stu Tuck was a member of this troop committee and a long time district volunteer who supported the early efforts to develop this camp.
On January 27, 1972 the meter froze. The Erie County Water district emergency repair team burned paper to thaw it out. Fred then used two bales of straw to cover the meter in the pit, while speculating that the metal top was transferring extra cold to the pit. Neighbor Oscar Daigler provided water for Fred and Ruth during this “trouble”.
On March 17, 1972 Mr. Clarence “Rocky” Kaufman from the NYS Division of Canals stopped to discuss granting permission for an old voting booth to be placed on the Island. A letter requesting permission had been sent to his office. The purpose of the building was to be primarily storage. Fred notes in his log that this permission was granted that day. The building came from either the Village of Kenmore or the Town of Tonawanda(?).
On May 19, Fred Allgeier came to camp with Dan Wells to weld the water chamber on the old camp tractor.
On July 7, the Tonawandas OA chapter held their annual meeting. In addition to a hot-dog roast and their annual election of officers, the 11th Annual Elfred K. Catland Camping and Leadership Award was presented to Gary Wein. (per Fred’s log/ in lieu of Annual Dinner?)
In September 1972 the Tonawandas fall OA weekend again helped with camp maintenance. Among those assisting was future member at large Roger Lemke.
In May of 1973, the Tonawandas District held a Jambo Camporee (patch) from the 4th to the 6th. Two hundred sixty scouts, forty four leaders and twenty staff were in camp. Late in the month a used Ahrens rider mower was purchased for the camp.
Through out the early 70’s Fred continued as the primary administrator and Treasurer of day to day camp operations. He designed and made a leather hangon camp patch.
On May 2,1974 an initial reorganization meeting for the Island was held at Doug Eadies home. Vice-president Graf opened the meeting. Also in attendance were Al Frappier, Fred Catland and Doug. Elected as Directors were Don Graf, Henry P Smith III, Homer Mye, Lloyd Long, Al Frappier, Bob Hurley, Doug Eadie and Fred Catland. Elected officers were Don Graf, President; Doug Eadie, Vice-president/Secretary; Fred Catland, Treasurer. Items of concern included the tractor/ mowers/ grass cutting crews, road easement, trash disposal, voting booth location, latrines, maps and forestation. Per Fred’s log Don Graf, Al Frappier and Doug Eadie did a camp inspection and gave Fred an AOK on May 8th.
Walking through camp with Doug Eadie to search out a drainage tile near the old Explorer campsite (current wilderness between the sites of Troops 47 and 185), Fred mused out loud, “Who will take care of this when I am gone?” All to soon, that question would have to be addressed in earnest.
On October 11-13, the Tonawandas Chapter OA held their fall weekend at the Island. On October 16th the officers met to review banking and the canal permit. On November 13, 1974 a meeting was held at Doug Eadie’s home to continue reorganization of the Board of Directors. A meeting was set for December 5th to continue the process.
Attending the December meeting were Don Graf, Al Frappier, Mike Frappier, Bob Butler, Al Bulgreen and Doug. Added as members at large were Mike Frappier and Dan Wells. Among those who stepped down then were Henry P Smith III, Member of Congress (later World Bank President) and Lloyd Long. Don Graf was to seek Jim Rooney’s acceptance as successor to Joe Ambrusko. Unable to attend due to business, Bill Fraser soon after concurred with our changes.
Business items at that meeting included Al Frappier’s willingness to assist with camp maintenance and repair, Mike Frappier’s interest in Long Range planning and land use. Mike agreed to assist with some “No Vehicles Beyond This Point!” signage. Bob Butler suggested that we seek membership from each troop, the Girl Scouts and the Campfire Girls. The next meeting was to be around the dining room table to do some mapping and planning.
In the autumn of 1974, the Tonawandas’ District had decided to emulate the Niagara District, BSA’s winter Klondyke Derby. In January 1975, the 1st Annual Tonawanda District Jack Frost was held at Nine Mile Island (p).
On January 30, 1975 at Doug’s dining room table some preliminary camp mapping was started. Added as members at large were Bud Lindhurst and Don Lane. Doug Snail, Lloyd Johnson and Al Beutner were to be approached.
During this time period the Town of Amherst was developing their application for federal funds for a canalway hiking trail that included 9 Mile Island. Don Graf and his brother La Verne appraised the Erie-Niagara Regional Planning Board about the natural area for youth camping that was in place. “The regional board approved Amherst’s application, with the Scout Island portion of the project removed.”(LUS&J-2/8/75). On the same day, the Tonawanda News reported that Donald P. Lane was elected chairman of the Erie- Niagara Regional planning Board. I don’t know if this was before or after the decision about the island. Don was also Institutional Representative for Pack and Troop 47 of Pendlton and he supported the camp whenever he could for many years.
On March 10, 1975 the Catland’s faithful companion for ten? years ( a boxer – Duke?II?-’62 mention) was put to rest suffering from a brain cancer.
About this time under the leadership of Dan Wells, Tonawandas District Activities Chairman, an event unique to Nine Mile Island was developed. This was a Bike, Hike and Canoe event which traversed by any of the three options from the western terminus of the canal to camp. The first one which was held in May 1975 also helped to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the Erie Barge Canal (p).
In June it was becoming obvious that the Catlands were in failing health. The Meadow was not cut and reservations were being confused.
That summer of 1975, Doug Eadie received an urgent phone call while at Camp Ti-Wa-Ya-Ee as Scoutmaster of Troop 607. He drove into North Tonawanda for an evening meeting held at Al Frappiers house on July 16th to address the pressing concern that the Catlands were in declining health and their family was moving their trailer to Sanborn to the property of one of their children so that Fred and Ruth could be better taken care of. Fred’s last log entry notes, “Friday- July -18-19, MR&MRS CATLAND WILL-USE-THE- LODGE, While-THEIR-HOME IS -Being MOVED”. Their tradition of being the “Caretakers” was at a close.