S. Berliner, III's sbiii.com ADIRONDACKS Page 2 keywords = adirondack mountain north woods rail road way Marion River Carry Raquette Blue Fulton Chain Utowanna Eagle lake museum Nessmuk Sairy Gamp Meccano Dinky Avro Ensign York Crags Brightside FLZ Franz Langenhan Zella Mehlis Champlain College ACUNY

Updated:   19 Jul 2011, 08:40:  ET
    {missing images restored 22 Dec 2002}
[Page converted 19 Jul 2011

    original AT&T Worldnet Website begun 30 May 1996.]
URL:  http://sbiii.com/adirond2.html
[was at "home.att.net/~Berliner-Ultrasonics/adirond2.html"]

S. Berliner, III
Consultant in Ultrasonic Processing
"changing materials with high-intensity sound"

[consultation is on a fee basis]

Technical and Historical Writer, Oral Historian
Popularizer of Science and Technology
Rail, Auto, Air, Ordnance, and Model Enthusiast
Light-weight Linguist, Lay Minister, and Putative Philosopher

note - The vast bulk of my massive Web presence (over 485 pages) had been hosted by AT&T's WorldNet service since 30 May 1996; they dropped WorldNet effective 31 Mar 2010 and I have been scrambling to transfer everything.  Everything's saved but all the links have to be changed, mostly by hand.  See my sbiii.com Transfer Page for any updates on this tedious process.

S. Berliner, III's


Adirondacks Page 2

(Continuation Page)


This page is basically unindexed (please scroll away) but other other Adirondack links are noted on the main page.

See the preceding page and the succeeding Page 3 with the 1929 Stevens House brochure.

There is a section on Adirondack Guide Boats below.

See also the separate page for the Marion River Carry Railroad.

If you love the great outdoors and the Earth, itself, you must read (if you haven't long since)
Chief Seattle's Letter, one of the greatest environmental pleas ever written
(even if it is phoney).

If you love the North Country or the Adirondack Mountains, especially the area around the Fulton Chain of Lakes and the Eckford Lakes, Raquette Lake and Blue Mountain Lake, you'll love the Adirondack Museum smack dab in the heart of the Adirondacks at Blue Mountain Lake, New York.  It tells the story of the Adirondacks far better than any book could.  I heartily recommend a visit!  If you can't get there, at least look at one of my major sources, Harold K. Hochschild's Township 34 (1952), reprinted in several monographs by the Adirondack Museum ca. 1962, and available as a the boxed set or individually.  The set of seven monographs are noted on the preceding page.

Here, then, is the continuation of the original Adirondacks Page.

Adirondack Apocrypha - more yarns; each may be preposterous, but, oh, 'tis true, 'tis true!

At Raquette Lake Boys Club, we found that a skunk had taken up residence under the platform of our bunk (cabin), so we took the soundest sleeper and bundled him, bedclothes and all, out the door, and left him under the bunk; in the morning, we found him playing with the "kitty"!  That prank sure backfired; happily the skunk did not!

We also had a junior counselor we abhorred, who would go get roaring drunk and come back soused and collapse in his bed. So, we took a huge bullfrog and put it under his covers; in the A.M., we found this clod had lain down ON the frog and had tossed and turned all night and was "neatly" wrapped in bullfrog guts in the morning!  We were all queasy for the rest of the day; another backfire.

When Dad was fishing, he wore whatever old junk he had laying around, mocs, and a battered old fedora; he looked Godawful!  One day, returning early from a jaunt out on the lake, he was on the Tioga dock when a boat brought in a couple fresh from the (NY) city  They thought they were hot stuff and, seeing this disreputable bum (Dad) lounging around the dock, told him, "Bring our bags up to the cabin, Boy!"  Nothing ever fazed Dad, so he did and got a whole big quarter for a tip!  This was an absolutely priceless opportunity and Dad asked the owner of Tioga to have everyone dress formally for dinner that night and to put the new folks at Mom and Dad's table.  Now, my folks were quite the fancy city people in their own right and, when they dressed up, they were magnificent.  The new people were less than thrilled to see the "boy" as their social superiors; they managed to get my folks' and everyone else at the camp's backs up and, when the wife found a dead mouse curled up inside her closed cold cream jar, she naturally blamed Dad, who was not only innocent but furious that he hadn't thought of it, himself.  Things went from bad to worse and the husband turned out to be not only an awful fisherman but an awful liar as well.  So, dear old Dad canoed over to the General Store and bought a cleaned fish from the butcher counter, brought said fish back to Tioga, swam underwater to the dock, tied the fish by its tail to said blowhard's line (not even hooking it!), yanked on the line, and swam underwater back to the beach.  The rube not only pulled up this cleaned and gutted fish but actually ran around showing everybody his "catch", knotted by the tail and all!  Dad near to split a gut laughing about this one for many years after.

Fishing off the Tioga dock one day, I hooked a catfish through the palate, the hook burying itself deep into the underside of the skull.  This was during WWII and fishhooks were hard to come by, so I took out my trusty Boy Scout knife and proceeded to near kill myself trying to extract that hook.  There was more catfish all over the dock and me than on the hook by the time I finished and I was an incredible mess, but I got it out!  As I recall, that kind of lake catfish was called a "bullhead" and it was almost-certainly the common "brown bullhead".

Supposedly, Raquette was nearly bottomless (it WAS deep) and had monster land-locked salmon in it.  I sure never saw one but I was determined to catch one.  I dropped a line with a juicy worm down with a huge salt-water trolling rig on hundreds of yards of heavy line.  Needless to say, nothing came of this but, with a pre-teen's determination, I doggedy kept at it until a few days went fruitlessly by, at which point I hooked one!  It took quite a bit to bring it up, sawing back and forth through the water, until it came up far enough for me to see that what I was landing was an old tire!  I also brought up an ancient Penn fishing reel (which I restored and still have) before giving up in disgust.

My sister's first catch was off that dock, a microscopic Sunny; we made a huge production of it and conned the chef into broiling it for her dinner that evening; I really must find and post my picture of this BIG dinner plate with the tiny little Sunny on it, with my sister staring down at it all, rather unsure of what to do next.

Here's that very dock (to the left) and the Tioga boathouse:

(photo courtesy of S. Gauthier - all rights reserved)

Hmmm; I seem to remember the boathouse in which we plopped the Sterling into the skeeter as being further to the right, off the photographer's right shoulder and facing out into the lake to the left; perhaps there were more than one boathouse.

Anent the Adirondacks, I don't know if you'd count Plattsburgh and the surrounding great plateau to the west but I'll lump it in for socio-historic (yarn-spinning) purposes.  I went to college one year, 1952-53, (of my many) at Champlain College* in Plattsburg.  It was one of the five ACUNY (Associated Colleges of Upper New York) schools.  Hamilton was another {who remembers the other three?}.  It was housed in the former Plattsburgh Barracks, once one of the most luxurious bases in the Army.  The Air Force took it over that next year as the big Plattsburgh AFB.

While there, I palled around with another Long Islander who drove a Model A Ford Roadster.  Fancy me; I drove a 1939 Chrysler Royal 6 sedan (hey, it cost me all of $85!).  The A went everywhere and I used to "track" it all over campus and through the woods as a game.  One day, "tracking" through the woods far southwest of town, I saw the wheel tracks disappear into a puddle.  Now, no Model A was going to go anywhere my Chrysler couldn't, so in I went, not realizing that I was following a set of tire tracks that had been made several days previous to a fierce rain storm that created the puddle.  Well, I had almost made it through to the far side when the front wheels hit the bank at the far side and reared up, putting all the weight on the rear axle.  The rear wheels spun, cut through the turf, and sank in a sort of quicksand.  It was now dusk, the temperature plummeted to some 40º or so, and I was in slacks and a t-shirt!  The exhaust pipe was under water and sounded better than any Gar Wood or Chris-Craft!  Being a green kid, I believed the old wives tale that if you switched off, water would be sucked up the tailpipe and ruin the engine, so I was desperate to keep the engine running.  Here I was in the middle of the woods, in a darkening clearing with my rear bumper sliding slowly into the tarn.  The jack baseplate sank right through the turf.  I got lots of green branches, built a mat that barely held the baseplate, jacked frantically to get the body more or less level, packed brush under the rear wheels, and just got back on dry terra firma as the sun disappeared beyond the treetops.  Wow, did I ever get a ribbing from the A driver when I 'fessed up and he told me how old his tracks were.

That same Model A driver ran up and over the school coal pile for a lark.  Guess whose Chrysler just nosed straight into the coal; well, at least my car was black to start with!

One day that summer, I ran across a picture of a Model A roadster impaled upside-down on a picket fence in Far Rockaway, Queens.  One guess who had taken a corner a wee bit too hard?

Driving the '39 across the great plateau just north of the eastern Adirondacks in early June of 1953, I was running slowly under a cloudless sky on a dead-flat, uncrowned road.  The '39 idled so smoothly that I had the weird notion to get out, stroll leisurely completely around the car, and get back in as if nothing had changed; it was a good thing nothing did.  A short while later, I noticed a tiny button of a cloud drifting across the plateau all by its lonesome, with a thin trail of what I assumed was rain hanging diagonally down toward the ground.  I drove like a maniac on the plain to get under the tail end of the moisture trail and found myself in a mini-blizzard of microscopic snowflakes which evaporated as I watched!  Moments later, the trail vanished, as did the cloud.  That was something else!

Driving through the northeastern foothills of the Adirondacks one dark night, I saw a blaze of two bright yellow lights flash in my headlights and I slammed to a stop in time to see a magnificent cougar (puma, mountain lion, catamount) pace majestically across the road in front of the car.  The cougar is my idea of one cool cat, one of the most majestic animals of all time (second only to the Orca or Killer Whale to me) and I really know one when I see one, especially with that long tail with the dark fur tuft at the end.  Well, first thing in the morning, I collared the local State Trooper and told him what I had seen; "Right, kid, suuuuure you did!", was his response.  So off I went to the Game Warden; ditto, "There ain't no Mountain Lion hereabouts, kid!"  Needless to say, within six months there were sightings of the great cats all over the northern Adirondacks.

In the early winter of 1952-53, I took part of the Plattsburgh Pee-Wee hockey team down to Lake Placid for a meet, in my '39.  It had snowed so fiercely that there were places where the snow was far too deep to plow and they used giant truck-mounted rotary blowers, leaving a 12' high channel down which to drive, with no way of knowing where we were except by the occasional glimpse of the sun overhead or signs when we passed throught the infrequent towns.  One of the kids got carsick and threw up on the rug in the back seat; in my haste and ignorance, I went into a general store and bought a bottle of household ammonia, instead of Chlorox bleach, to clean up the rug.  The floor rug vanished in the undiluted ammonia and how we survived the trip with the windows shut tight against the -20° cold and the fumes is beyond me (or description)!

At Placid another bitterly cold day, they scraped almost the entire lake clear and you could get out on the ice and skate for miles!  Once, ca. 1955, on a thickly frozen lake west of the lower end of Lake Champlain, I went out on the ice in my '50 Chrysler New Yorker Club Coupé and gunned it up to speed, cramped the wheel hard over, and popped the brakes, going into wild horizontal spins over and over and over again!  It was great fun but it was also a mercy that I didn't hit any rough spots on the ice or it would have meant rolling over and over and over again!

Back in the Spring of 1953, we had the run of the former Plattsburgh Barracks rifle range.  I got into the odd habit of setting up bottles and cans on the fence posts delimiting the butt (target) area and then driving laterally across the deserted range, along the fence, shooting at the bottles and cans with a Colt .22 caliber Match Target Woodsman pistol from behind the wheel of the bouncing car; I got rather good at it, if I do say so myself.

The Plattsburgh Barracks dump became the City of Plattsburgh dump and was heavily infested with rats; I used to go out of an early Sunday morning and stand motionless for hours, in my heavy Monkey-Ward boots, amidst the smoldering garbage, picking off rats.  They would see me and lurk just behind a tin can, so I picked them off by shooting THROUGH the can; this went along swimmingly until the rats outpaced my smoking barrel's capacity.  Then, I organized a rat slaughter; by gut-shooting a few rats with hollow-points, hundreds of others would swarm to the surface in a feeding frenzy and I'd bail out, leaving a semi-circle of shooters around the rim of the dump to blaze away.  I know it sounds horrible, but it kept the rat population from over-running the city.

One day, I shot a rat cleanly through a can and it didn't move or do anything, so I shot it a few more times.  Still nothing; that seemed rather odd, so I went over and discovered to my horror that I'd killed a minuscule shrew with the first shot and the others merely perforated the can over and over where the body should have been.  What I'd thought was a rat's head was, in fact, the entire shrew!

On another rare spring day, wandering the northeastern Adirondack foothills, I stumbled into a clearing with an hermit's shack.  There was an incredibly enormous dog barking at me (nay, roaring or bellowing - I could see the inside of his tail through his open mouth!).  The hermit, all unshaven, unkempt, and filthy, came out with a gun and ordered me "off'n"; neeedless to say, I "off'ned"!

Another day, in the woods near Plattsburgb, I was strolling along in a white dress shirt, open at the neck and with the sleeves rolled up, popping twigs and pebbles with my high-powered .177 FLZ spring pellet pistol, when a guy bouncing along a trail in a late-model passenger car jumped out and let loose a few rounds at me with a big hunting rifle; I fell flat as I heard the zip of bullets tearing foliage all around me.  He probably mistook me for a Polar Bear!  Like an idiot, I shot back with the pellet gun; perhaps he heard me yelling or heard the pellets in the leaves because he jumped back in the car and sped off with me foolishly chasing him, pumping pellets against his trunk.  Retrospectively, I'm awful glad he didn't stop and try again!

Climbing the flank of Lyon Mountain ca. 1955 we felt a cold draft on our faces coming from a cleft in the mountain up near the summit; circling around we found another cleft on the opposite face - spelunkers take notice!

Just below the old Champlain College/Plattsburgh AFB/Plattsburgh Barracks, in the Lake, is Valcour Island, the site of a "great" naval battle (can a gunboat duel be "great"?).  The top of the island (or a smaller one nearby) is the bed of an ancient sea and is wholly covered with fossilized snail shells (can pure calcium shells be considered fossilized?).  How about that gunboat they found upright on the lake bottom in mint condition, eh?

The first time I drove the '39 Chrysler up to Plattsburgh (probably the first Monday morning after the 1952/53 Christmas/New Years break), I came off the steep hill immediately south of Elizabethtown and roared directly into town at a very excessive rate of speed around 08:00 just as an aged school crossing guard popped out in the middle of Route 9 (there was no Northway then).  He never even looked up to see me barreling down the hill into town.  I went by him so fast his STOP paddle probably spun him around like in a cartoon strip.  I got away with it that once but never made that mistake again!

Guide Boats

(Some of this material was moved from the main Adirondacks page on 19 Sep 02)

On the main page, I spoke of guide boats, which are canoe-built, but with rowlocks, have an oval, flat bottom plate, instead of a keel, and are planked without canvas.  Here, once again, is a picture of paradise:

(undated postcard from Raquette Lake General Store, 26 Jun 02,
pub. by D. Taafe, Inlet, NY - photo by James T. Taafe, Jr.)

Guide boats are put together from cedar, pine, spruce, cherry, and ash, with some 4,000 tiny bronze, brass, or copper screws holding the planks to the ribs and some 7,000 exceedingly tiny tacks of those same metals, bucked over to clinch the feathered edges of the planking.  They have extra long inner oar sections for leverage so that the oarsman must overlap (alternate) the oars and can row in either direction (and VERY fast).  The one pictured is a Grant design, ca. 1896, built by D. R. van Tassel (how much better a Dutch NY name can you get?).

They are generally in the 15' range, weigh about 70# (30.5Kg) and can be rowed, paddled, sailed, and even outboarded (I've done 'em all).  Hudson River oar(row)locks are (horizontally) pinned to the oar, allowing one to simply drop the oars when a fish bites or when beaching, without fear of losing the oars (some models even have a small loop at the bottom of the vertical pin to secure the lock against popping out of its socket).

Freshly varnished inside and out (NOT painted), a guide boat is a joy and a thing of beauty forever!

Now, cropped from photos on a circular for Adirondack Guideboat, Inc., and one photo from their site are four shots of classic guide boats:

Guideboat-1 Guideboat-4

Guideboat-2 Guideboat-3
(photos from Adirondack Guideboats, Inc.)

HORRORS!  Those red and bue boats are made of KEVLARTM!

You can see how the Hudson River rowlocks work, holding the oars ready for instant use.

Quoting from the Adirondack Guideboats, Inc., site:

"'A Stradivarius of a boat,' is how one writer described our boats."

"....like dancing again with a long-lost love."

"Elegant and timeless, our boats soothe the soul and delight the spirit."

I'd say, "What malarkey!", if I didn't feel that way myself.

You can see how Adirondack Guideboats builds a wood boat at How We Build A Wooden Boat".  PaintEPOXYFIBERGLASSAaaaaagh!  [But it does hold up longer and takes far less maintenance and these gems are for USE, not mere viewing.]

That same D. Taafe put out a postcard of the W. W. Durant; my sister and her family were up on Raquette Lake at Golden Beach in August 2003 and she sent me this one; she's (the boat, stupid!) a far cry from the smaller, old, canopied and open-sided steam, naptha, and gas launches on which we used to cross the lake:

(undated postcard from Raquette Lake General Store, 26 Jun 02,
pub. by D. Taafe, Inlet, NY - photo by D. Taafe)
[Thumbnail image - click on picture for larger image]

While we're on the subject of my sister's trip; she also gave me some prints of photos she took; here's the RL general store from the edge of the bulkhead at the village dock, the view to the east from the same spot, looking at the village church and the W. W. Durant at its dock, and the Durant ghosting away easterly across the lake through a typical early-morning RL fog (different day, obviously):


Church & WWDurant at dock

(cropped from Aug 2003 photos by SB,III's sister - all rights reserved)

[This last is NOT a blurred image!]

Speaking of my sister and a blurred image, here are my father, sister, and mother (you'll have to take my word for it) at the north-cum-west door to the enginehouse of the Marion River Carry Railroad c. 1947:

(ca. 1947 photo by and © 2005 S. Berliner, III - all rights reserved)
[Cropped thumbnail image - click on picture for larger, full image]

This is from memory - as I recall, the path went along the north-cum-east side of the enginehouse; the track went right through it!  To bad I didn't focus the old Voightlander better; wonder what the junk at right might be.  Actually "trainshed" might be a better term, since the entire train - the engine and the three horsecars - was stored right in the shed, always facing south-cum-east, with an inspection pit underneath between the rails.

[Please don't ask what happened at the top; bad processing, I'd guess.  It's a rather weird photo by any standards.]

Please note - the N-scale (1:160) model railroad kit, Raquet Lake Navigation Co. (also spelled Raquette by some dealers), #RLN999, has NOTHING whatsoever to do with "our" Raquette Lake (other than the misleading name)!  The kit is produced by The N Scale Architect, the owner of which used to camp there and liked the name; the actual prototype was a rail-marine floatbridge facility located on the Canadian National RR in Point Ellis, Victoria, B.C., Canada, where railcars were loaded on floats (railroad barges) for water shipment and vv.

For some more Adirondacks links, see the links on the preceding page.

* - I created (29 Jul 99) a page to commemorate the late (1946-53) lamented Champlain College of Plattsburgh, New York.

This is a continuation page for the original Adirondacks Page.  See also Page 3 with the 1929 Stevens House brochure.

Stay tuned!

prevpage.gif  =  frstpage.gif
of this series of Adirondack pages.


  What happens to all this when I DIE or (heaven forfend!) lose interest?  See LEGACY.


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