The Last Hike of Edward Parlin

It was September 3rd, Labor Day, 1945. The war in Europe had ended in May; Japan had surrendered on August 15th. Mrs. George Parlin, whose husband and older son were both in uniform, must have thought she was in the clear. She was living at Silver Bay with her younger son, Edward Parlin; he was working as an assistant hike leader for the Silver Bay Association. He was 16 years old, but looked older. He was on his way to becoming an Eagle Scout, and his hiking merit badge was next. For that, he needed to take a 25-mile hike. On Labor Day, he set off on his own, wearing bluejeans and a white “Silver Bay” sweater.

When he did not return the next day, he was declared missing. Rumors flew. A local sheriff said he’d seen rattlesnakes on Tongue Mountain; the boy must have been bitten. Someone else suggested he had hitch-hiked home to Glen Ridge, New Jersey. Major George Parlin was stationed in Italy; one can imagine Edward’s mother’s feeling of helplessness as the hours turned into days. The boy’s uncle, Charles Parlin, a New York City attorney, offered a $1,000 reward for information leading to Edward’s return, and searchers began ranging farther and farther from Silver Bay. Finally, on September 16th, a party of six — three from Hague and three from Silver Bay — found the boy’s body on Catamount Mountain, at the base of a 75-foot cliff. He had lost the trail and plunged to his death.

The site was about seven miles east of Silver Bay, and seven miles from the nearest road. One man stayed behind to guard the body while the others hiked out with the news. The next day, 14 men spent six hours cutting a trail to carry the body back out, taking it to a funeral home in Bolton Landing. The coroner ruled that the boy had died of shock and multiple fractures. Edward Parlin’s body was buried at the Valley View Cemetery in Ticonderoga.

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