The Dorand Forest

John J. Dorand State Forest. Photo by Ron Patch

South of Chester on Route 103, turn onto Upper Bartonsville Road. Near the end you’ll see Cambridgeport Road. This is a pleasant drive. Pay attention and you’ll see the sign with this article.


John Dorand

I didn’t know John Dorand, but Bob Turco and Ted Spaulding did. Ted told me early on, Dorand lived on Terrace Street in Chester. Today Terrace Street is Bargfrede Road, which is off Depot Street on the village end.

Ted told me John and his wife didn’t speak to each other, but to their dog. John would say to the dog, “Tell mother…” Mrs. Dorand would tell the dog what to tell father.

John Dorand was a successful and well-to-do man who drove a Studebaker. Where the old town garage is today was Chester Wood Products. CWP was run by John, his brother Urban, and their partner Walter Austin. Urban lived in the big white house on the knoll by the old high school.

John boasted he was “strictly honest,” but was known to let his thumb slip when scaling logs. Urban had a son, Stanley, who ran the talc mill behind Erskine’s. This mill burned to the ground in 1955.

John was a lumber and cattle dealer. He bought woodlots in the area for the timber. The logs were sent to Urban at CWP. Ted said John’s father was Pete. After John had cut the valuable timber, he sold the land for $1 per acre. Hard to believe today, but it’s true. In the 1940s my father bought from Craig Reid 100 to 200 acres on Stedman for $250. I forget the exact acreage now.

John’s main business was timber and cattle. He also bought furs and hides. Ted said John had a cattle yard near Salon 2000. He shipped cattle to Brighton, Mass., via the railroad most every week. Ted’s family ran the town farm at the time and sold John their veal.


Dutch cheese

Ted didn’t know what happened to Mrs. Dorand, whether she died or what, but John remarried. Where Dollar General is today was a house. Here lived John and Emma Smith. Many will remember this place.

Ted said the Smiths weren’t well off. They kept a couple cows. Emma made and sold cottage cheese. Ted called it Dutch cheese. My mother also called it Dutch cheese. It’s an old term. The Smiths struggled to grub out a living.

Mr. Smith died. That is when John Dorand and Emma Smith hit it off, eventually marrying.

Emma was now a wealthy woman, never having to worry about money again. The last family I remember living here was the Gosselin family. I don’t recall when the house was removed.


Bob Turco

Bob remembers when John Dorand lived at the Dollar General location. When Bob was in high school he worked for Waino Mackey after school. Summer months Bob worked for Mackey during the week. Mackey ran an auto body shop where the bear carver is today.

Bob remembers John coming to the body shop weekday mornings. John came to visit and read his paper. Bob said he drove a green, late 1950s Cadillac. Gordon Gates sold furs to John.


John J. Dorand State Forest

Dorand State Forest is comprised of two parcels on Cambridgeport Road, totaling over 500 acres. There are several access points. At the “bow of the river” on Route 103 is a pull off. There’s an old road there. This is one access, although not passable all the way. As you start up the old road there is a very steep downhill bank on your right. If your timing is right, you’ll see this bank covered with flowering trilliums. Probably early May is the time.

You’ll see old beaver ponds with a mix of hard and soft woods. You can hike old logging roads or fish the brook.

Bob Turco knows this property well. It gives you a feeling of being in a very remote forest. I don’t know what year John Dorand donated this acreage to the state.

As a sidebar, I worked for Waino Mackey my senior year. I was paid 50 cents an hour with taxes taken out. I worked 40 hours and took home $16, but not for long. I went into the antiques business.


This week’s old saying is from my mother. She was a little superstitious: “It is bad luck to kill a spider coming toward you.”


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