Lake Neahtawanta is a campground on northwest shore of Lake Neahtawanta on Fulton's west side. According to Sean Fagan, most of the campground site was not developed till the 1970s, and it is a swampy area.
Lake Neahtawanta was visited by Sean Fagan and Tom Howard of the Central New York Survey Team on the evening of Wednesday, October 9, 2002.
We first went close to the campground's far end where there are a few old-growth trees at the edge of what appears to be second growth forest. In this section, we examined a large recently fallen Red Oak with stump radius of 1.35 feet, and I counted 205 rings on the stump, but the center of the tree was hollow, so no further rings could be counted. Then I counted 240 rings on the freshly-cut cross-section of the log (cut because tree fell across road): log cross-section radius 1.3 feet, 30 feet above base; outer rings extremely tight. This tree lived an estimated 270-280 years.
Also, near this tree are several large White and Red Oaks. The forest nearby is quite diverse with Silver Maple, Shagbark Hickory, Bitternut Hickory, Tuliptree, and Black Tupelo. Black Tupelo is very rare in Oswego County, and the first time I've ever seen Tupelo in Fulton. I measured the largest Tupelo (with fire scar at base) at 19.3 inch dbh (5 foot cbh), which is large for this species.
Next we went to the center of the campground in a hollow between two hills that appear to be mostly covered with second growth forest. The hollow is an open area of about three acres dotted with a large number of impressively large Red Oaks. These Oaks grow out of ancient treefall mounds, and their trunks rise above enormous buttresses, and their rugged trunks are cloaked with a good deal of moss and lichen that oft go high up. The Oaks seem to be about 80 feet tall, and their crowns tend to be stag-headed. Among them are smaller Sugar Maples (with spiral grain trunks), and some smaller Beech trees. Due to these abundant old-growth characteristics and ring counts from two Red Oak stumps, this site has been confirmed as a stand of old-growth trees.
We examined the old stumps of two Red Oaks that grew next to each other: first stump radius 1.35 feet, 188 rings second stump hollow center radius 1.3 feet of countable portion, total radius 1.6 feet, 173 extremely tight rings, tree age est. well over 200 years. The rings on both stumps show a typical old-growth pattern of tight in wide middle, extremely tight outer.
We also examined a Sugar Maple stump which was still smoldering from a recent fire. I counted 144 rings on a l foot radius cross-section of this tree's log.
Further exploration of this site is needed, as it seems there are even more old-growth trees.
Lake Neahtawanta has yet another stand of old-growth trees, this time at its northeast end; this is a grove of massive Red Oaks at Recreation Park between the lake and Fulton's High School. Sean Fagan told me (and showed me 19th century photographic evidence) that this was the site of the Oswego County Fairgrounds from 1863 until after 1900. The old photos show the same large Oaks as are standing today, and the trees appear to be large in these photos. The site was not developed until 1863. There seems to be at least 30 massive Red Oaks, and all the old trees are Red Oaks with the exception of one large Pignut Hickory. These Oaks have rough bark, huge buttress toots, and are growing out of ancient treefall mounds. I counted 100 rings on a coppice stump at edge of High School parking lot - I couldn't see the center because the center was covered with sawdust but Sean counted 130 rings on that stump. The other Oaks are single-trunked and are according to the photographic evidence considerably older, easily over 200 years old.
Further surveys of this site are also needed.