Fifty Photographs: selections from SCUA collections

Playing Indian at Lake Pleasant

by George L. Scott, ca.1900

The Independent Order of Scalpers was formed as a fraternal society -- a drinking club, as much as anything -- by a group of young men employed by the hotels at the Spiritualist summer camp at Lake Pleasant, Mass. Not a part of the predominantly tea-totalling Spiritualist movement, they banded together to drink and carouse, moving across the road from the summer camp before 1900 to insulate themselves and their parties. Their clubhouse still stands.

The rare survival of a group of glass plate negatives taken by George Scott, a little-known professional photographer based in Turners Falls, was made possbile by the herculean efforts of the Spiritualist Louise Shattuck and her friend David James to preserve the history of their community. Though subject to peeling emulsion and delamination from the glass support, the negatives are a remarkable survival to Lake Pleasant at its peak of success as a summer resort.