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

Updated:   08 May 2013, 15:45:  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/adirondacks.html
[was at "home.att.net/~Berliner-Ultrasonics/adirondacks.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


I'd just started this page, with much more to follow, when I lost most of it somehow (and overwrote the backup copy)!  I'm reconstructing it as I go, and embellishing it at the same time.

In so doing, I overloaded it and had to create a continuation page.  See also the succeeding Page 3 with the 1929 Stevens House brochure and the Adirondack (Scenic) Railroad.

This page is basically unindexed (please scroll away) but other Adirondack links are noted below.   rev (08 May 2013)

There is a section on Adirondack Guide Boats on page 2.

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 a 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:

Dr. Durant and His Iron Horse

Adirondack Railroads, Real and Phantom

An Adirondack Resort in the Nineteenth Century -
Blue Mountain Lake 1870-1900 - Stagecoaches and Luxury Hotels

Life and Leisure in the Adirondack Backwoods

Lumberjacks and Rivermen in the Central Adirondacks 1850-1950

The MacIntyre Mine - from Failure to Fortune

Adirondack Steamboats on Raquette and Blue Mountain Lakes

You might also be able to locate a copy of an appropriately-diminutive pamphlet, "The Carry Railroad, by Richard Sanders Allen, reprinted from York State Tradition 1965"*, about the equally-diminutive Marion River Carry Railroad on Raquette Lake (see below).

* - no publishing data given in the pamphlet.

AHA!  Whil(e)(st) up at the Adirondack Museum on 26 Jun 02, I found a book, "Rails in the North Woods', by Richard S. Allen, William Gove, Keith F. Maloney, and Richard F. Palmer (North Country Books, Utica, NY, 1978/1999, ISBN 0-925168-69-6), which contains an article, ""The Marion River Carry Railroad', by Allen and Palmer (pp. 137-146) which closely approximates, amplifies, and updates the text of that pamphlet.

Also, if you love the "North Woods" and the Adirondacks, I heartily recommend this wonderful and evocative little book:

Christine Jerome, "An Adirondack Passage - The Cruise of the Canoe Sairy Gamp"
Harper Collins, New York, 1994 (softcover) - ISBN 0-06-092582 (pbk.)

Much of the background of the book is based on the voyages and writings of "Nessmuk", George W. Sears, a prolific journalist and "voyageur" of the late 19th century.  His miniature 9' canoe, the Sairy Gamp, resides today in glory at the Adirondack Museum.

The journal is "Nessmuk's Adirondack Letters", by George Washington Sears ("Nessmuk") (1821-1890)

Nessmuk's journal has been put on the Web and it is fascinating reading.  Of especial interest to me is Rough Notes from the Woods, 5 (1880-3), which covers the areas noted above.

You might also wish to look at the story of the Marion River Carry Railroad, which ferried Adirondack guests and their gear from the eastern end of Raquette Lake to the western end of Utowanna Lake, between the tiny lake steamer routes.  This amazing little railroad used ex-Brooklyn horse cars and one of the smallest standard gauge steam engines ever made on perhaps the shortest standard gauge railroad ever (it was only three-quarters of a mile long!); there are more photos there.


Photo courtesy of the Adirondack Museum

[Click on thumbnaled image for larger image]

Thanksgiving Day, 1997 - a lady e-mailed me asking about the Raquette Lake Railway, so -

Dr. Thomas Clark Durant built the Adirondack Railway in 1865-1871 for 60 miles from Saratoga (with connections to New York City) to the Rist family farm 2.8 miles at the Hudson just past North Creek (this last fillip was to make the full 60 miles to meet its charter).  The Delaware & Hudson bought it in 1889.  Dr. W. Seward Webb built the Adirondack & St. Lawrence Railway from Malone (with connections to Montréal) south to the Mohawk (and the New York Central) at Herkimer, thus allowing through service from NYC to Montréal.  The NYC bought the M&M between Herkimer and Malone in 1893, moving the southern terminus to Utica.  To meet the need to get tourists to the Fulton Chain of Lakes, locals built a spur from Fulton Chain (now Thendara) on the NYC to Old Forge.  Another branch was built from Clearwater (now Carter) on the NYC to Raquette Lake in 1900 by Dr. Webb; that latter is the Raquette Lake Railway.

You took the train from NY City to Carter and from there your private car (should you have been so fortunate as to have one) was run right up to the dock just one block north of the village at Raquette Lake, where you embarked on a lake steamer to go east across the lake and up the Marion River (a stream) to the Marion River dock, got on the Marion River Carry Railroad (built in 1899 by Dr. Durant) for a whopping 3/4-mile, and took the steamer through Utowana and Eagle Lakes to Blue Mountain Lake.

The dock was still there in the '40s.  I took at train from NY City to Thendara in the early 40's.  This isn't dry history to me!

I also well remember that train ride from Grand Central Terminal up to Thendara for my first summer at Raquette Lake ca. 1943 or so; we were hooked onto a troop train at Albany and the recruits, trainees, or whatever (probably on their way to Camp Drum in Watertown, now that I come to think about it) were lolling around in their skivvies in the brutal July heat. We kids weren't much less disreputable looking. Just before leaving Albany, a large crowd of elegant ladies had to make their way through the camp and troop cars and their disdain and disgust was hardly faked!

12 Jan 02 - I was told of a comprehensive book about all railroads, operating, disused, and abandoned within the Adirondack park (and a few on the outskirts); it is Michael Kudish's Railroads of the Adirondacks.

Also, see the reference to another book, by Allen, et al., above.

I am supposed to know something about RAILROADS, especially those in the general NY area, but I either never ran across, or forgot that there was once, a St. Lawrence & Racquette River RR@!  There is even a book, "Rails into Racquetteville"@, by Susan Lymon (Historian of the village of Norwood), Massena Printing, Massena, N.Y., 1976 (revised book URL - 06 Sep 04)

@  -   Note the spelling - on current maps, the town on the St. Lawrence River some six miles east of Massena is Racket River, the river itself is the Raquette, as is the lake.

I no sooner wrote that than along came Chris Granger of Cornwall, Ontario, with news of his web site concerning an Adirondack railroad, the Ottawa Division of the New York Central!  Since it ran from Ottawa to Tupper Lake, it most certainly qualifies as an Adirondack railroad!

I was back up to Raquette and Blue Mountain Lakes and the Adirondack Museum on 26 Jun 2002 on my way down from Québec and Montréal; watch for more photos.


In addition to the Marion River Carry Railroad, noted above, you may wish to check out these other Adirondack links:

Lane De Muro has an interesting Lake George-based site covering the Adirondacks as well; take a look!  So do Mark Dozer, with his Keenelife site and Tom and Rosa Huff, with detail photos of Adirondack Great Camps (where you must click on internal links to see the photos).  Other sites that appealed to me include those of: the Adirondack Mountain Club (the primary reference source, of course!), the Adirondacker On-Line Guide, the Adirondack Regional Tourism Council, and what appears to be New York State, itself (which, weirdly enough, is brought to you by the University of Vermont!).

Adirondack Museum at Blue Mountain Lake.

Raquette Lake Property Owners Association.

For those familiar with (or interested in) Raquette Lake, try http://www.sthubertsisle.com for the story of tiny St. Hubert's Church (The Church of the Good Shepherd) on almost-as-tiny St. Hubert's Isle (Bluff Island).  The site has history, photos, poetry, a bibligraphy, and much, much more.  Here is an idyllic aerial photo of the isle and church:

St. Hubert's Isle
(Photo by Gary Alker from Bird's Seaplane in August 2002
courtesy of The Church of the Good Shepherd - all rights reserved)

Here are some unsorted stories about the Adirondacks and environs:

All through the '40s, my family spent half of each summer at Raquette Lake, briefly at the Antlers and Jim Bird's Hunters Rest, then mostly at Sunset Camp until Maurice Jones packed it in, and lastly at Tioga Point.  Here they are in what I had misremembered as a typical view from the Sunset dock, but my folks normally moved that 14' Old Town with two double paddles (and three when my sister was older), with such power that they left a wake!

Mom/Dad/Sis Sunset 14'
(1948 photo by and © 2002 S. Berliner, III - all rights reserved)
[Click on thumbnaled image for larger image]

Until they saw the light, I was forced to attend Raquette Lake Boys Camp for two summers and my sister spent a miserable part of one summer at Camp Greylock until she eluded security and ran away to Canada to join my folks.  She and I used to play on the Marion River Carry Railroad engine No. 2 in the shed on the old right of way and there are photos of her at the throttle, taken through the shed window on the MRCRR page.  There is a front view of the engine taken through the east door, as well.  There are also several shots of us at the plank across the "river" at the ruins of the steamboat dock.  In fairness to the Raquette Lake Boys Camp, it was really great (as probably was Greylock), but regimented camps were just not our cup of tea.  While at RLBC, I, for some incomprehensible boy's reason, buried my Meccano Dinky cast metal model of a British high-winged 4-engine transport (which? - Avro York? - No; an Armstrong-Whitworth Ensign! - see my AVIATION page), with red props and camouflage paint, under a tree behind my bunk, which I then forgot to retrieve; on a visit ca. 1980, the director kindly allowed me to dig up the area but, alas, no plane!  An antique toys and military miniatures shop in Manhattan got $350 for a similar old Avro York model ca. 1995!

Dinky AW Ensign
(Photo cropped from Dutch images of Dinky set)
[Thumbnail image - click on photo for larger image.]

Mea maxima culpa! - my error - my sister went to Greylock, as noted above, not Echo Lake as previously reported.

Somewhere in my yet-unpacked reference books I have the little monograph on the MRCRR and I reviewed my boxed set of Hochschild's Township 34 reprints.  In Adirondack Steamboats, I found a map of Raquette Lake on a Mail Boat flyer from Marian Bird's Boat Livery with the annotation in my hand:
	"Joe Politare (Rock Collins' uncle), Tioga mechanic, fell between
	   dock & boat, drowned.
	 We-need-her-again 32' Speedboat like Skeeter
	   per Mrs. Bird (livery) 8-15-80"
I can't recall who Rock Collins was, but in the summer of 1948 (I'd have to do some serious checking to be sure), our last on the lake, I "helped" an elderly mechanic at Tioga put an enormous 300HP 6-cylinder Sterling ex-logging-mill engine into the We-need-her-again or Skeeter or similar Gar Wood 3-compartment mahogany "cigarette" speedboat.  Not only was the boat overpowered but the prop "we" put on was oversized.  The result was that the boat sat down at the stern even at idle and turned upward at a 30° to 45° angle at speed.  You couldn't see forward over the deck, you couldn't see sideways over the plumes, and you couldn't see abaft over the rooster tail!  On our departure from the lake, heavily laden with baggage and gear, we towed our 14' Old Town sailing canoe, also chock-a-block full of gear, over to the RL village dock and it rode some 10' above the stern on the rooster tail; when we slowed for the dock, the canoe came aboard over the stern.

Dad also managed to fall through the belly of the sadly-tattered sail of the 40' sailboat Tioga had during the war (perhaps the one on display at the museum), when replacement canvas was unobtainable; we made a special trip down to Ratsey & Lapthorne at City Island, New York City, to beg scraps to repair the sail.

On one of my many visits to the Marion River Carry, I used our 1¼HP Evinrude kicker all the way down and back (I normally rowed, as I still prefer to do).  As I recall, I was 14, which puts this in the summer of 1948.  Taking my own sweet time around No. 2, it was well after dark by the time I was on my way home.  There were all sorts of lights moving mysteriously all over and above the lake!  I was lying across the thwarts of the guideboat, whistling away and steering with my toes, when, suddenly, a state trooper shone his torch in my face.  My folks had panicked when I failed to show up for dinner (most atypical behavior) and called in the rescuers, which to me (then) was totally inexplicable!  Here's a shot of my family at the north end of the Marion River Carry RR dock in the Summer of 1948; the "river" was so narrow that the gap from the north bank across to the stubby dock could be spanned by a long plank across which one could teeter, balanced only with by a sapling precariously fastened above the plank at each end (IF you had your hands free) to reach the RR (as I did to turn and shoot my folks and my sister gingerly essaying a crossing (she remembers being carried across by Dad, but I'd guess it was when she was younger, perhaps in pre-sapling days):

Berliners at Carry
(1948 photo by and © 2002 S. Berliner, III - all rights reserved)
[Click on thumbnaled image for larger image]

I could blather on endlessly (and may yet) about those summers, rationing, the Antlers, Hunters Rest, Sunset, Tioga, the Crags, Eldon (Sand) Lake, the lake steamers, the train trip to Thendara, and so on.

One of my younger engineer colleagues at one point some 20 years ago or so said he was from a miniscule village up in the north country and described the 14 inhabitants and small schoolhouse, to which I, a flatlander, instantly responded "Raquette Lake", shocking him out of his skin.

Does anyone out there remember a couple named Hap and Jackie who did chores first at Sunset and later at Tioga before the latter became a state facility.  Helen Bird couldn't remember them.  Would any of you know who they were?  Also, does anyone have the first name of Mrs. Jim Bird of Hunters Rest?

Well, Ken Hawks of the Raquette Lake Property Owners Association tells me (14 Feb 99) that Hap and Jackie were Mr. & Mrs. Stevens, that Dick Bird (the son of Helen and Joe Bird) is still running the boat livery (now called a "Marina").  Jim and Marion Bird owned Hunter's Rest (Ken and his sister both worked there during high school and college summers).  Hap Stevens worked at Tioga Point, was the "boat man" at Hunters Rest for years, and then was the Ranger at the 8th Lake camp site.

[Thinking about it, I vaguely remember that Jackie may have spelled her name "Jacquie" or some such.
  Ditto "Bird"; my sister and I both recall one as being "Byrd".]

Maurice Jones had an old Model A Ford roadster rotting away in the bush at Sunset Camp; I still have a photo of it.  It seemed so spooky and mysterious to me; why was there a car on the wrong side of Raquette Lake?  Ha, ha!  On 01 Feb 2002, I found the photo:

Sunset Mod A
(1948 photo by and © 2002 S. Berliner, III - all rights reserved)
[Click on thumbnaled image for larger image]

There are some discrepancies between the account of No. 2 on the Museum's web site and the monographs and my memory.  Hochschild documents that No. 2 ran from August 1901 until 15 September 1929 and was put in the shed on 02 October 1929 but the Museum's web caption says "1903 til 1920".  Was the right of way 1,300 yards or 3/4 of a mile (a whopping difference of a whole 60'!)?  Further, Hochschild is wrong in stating that only one of the MRCRR horsecars was retained in the shed (pg. 95 in Life and Leisure); I recall specifically that at least the two passenger cars, and probably all three, were there.  I remember carving (VANDAL!) my sister's name (Peggy) or initials (PB) on the left side (facing to the rear) of a front seatback on one of the cars in the shed ca. 1948 (see photos on the Carry RR page).

I love a photo on page 47 of Life and Leisure, "The Steamboat Office at Blue Mountain Lake about 1901"; I stayed in the room to the right on my visit back in 1980 and sat on the porch during a violent thunderstorm, reliving a similar experience on Raquette as a pre-teen at Sunset or as an early teen at Tioga when I took an open-shutter shot of the lake (looking to the south) by lightning!

When I was briefly at the Boys Camp, they had an Army Dodge 3/4-ton truck {how'd they ever get one of those during the war?}.  To get it across, or for some other reason, it was cut in half just behind the cab and flanges welded to the halves of the chassis frame, which were then bolted back together.  One day, they ferried a small bulldozer across and it fell off the barge and into the lake just short of the dock.  No problem!  They chained the hitch on the back of the 3/4-ton to a large tree, ran the winch cable out to the dozer, and started pulling.  This was fine until the dozer stuck and no one had the sense to kill the winch.  The result was spectacular!  The strain on the cable was so great it popped the bolts or the flanges and the front half of the truck proceeded to winch itself into the lake!

One day, climbing the Crags above Brightside Camp, on the west shore of Raquette, I edged out so far on a vertical face that I couldn't go back and couldn't find a foothold to proceed forward; I had to hang there frozen against the cliff face until some other climbers could rig a rope and haul my butt out of there.  Who remembers the death-defying stretch across the gap in the ledge along that vertical face?  Ah, but the view south across the lake from the top of the Crags was awesome and well worth the climb (I found a Summer 1948 photo on 02 Feb 2002):

View from Crags
(1948 photo by and © 2002 S. Berliner, III - all rights reserved)
[Click on thumbnaled image for larger image]

Per Ken Hawks (19 Feb 99 - slightly edited), "the Crags can be reached via trail from Brightside, (with permission from the owners) or going around Indian Point and cutting in behind Hens and Chickens Islands.  Go ashore at the Crags and head up.  When you reach the part too steep to climb, (unless you have climbing gear) go right or left to the top.  I do remember going up there from a camp that was located between Beaver Brook and Brightside.  We basically walked to the top along the spine of Indian Point from the west." - Thanks, Ken!

[20 Feb 99 - I'd found where I had my old RL photos; I'm scanning them in.]

Then there was the day that I took my young wife walking from Raquette Lake village to the Antlers and Hunters Rest; her shoes weren't up to the trek.  All the way back to the car at the village, she squirted blood out of the shoes at every step.  On that same trip, we rented a canoe with two pair of double paddles and went out on Raquette in a stiff breeze.  Heck, my folks did it all the time!  Our coordination apparently wasn't quite as good as theirs and we spun helplessly, watching the Girls Camp war canoes zip effortlessly by, until I took over with a single paddle at the stern and got us across to Eldon (Sand) Pond for our picnic on my (exhausted) own.  I'm a rower, not a paddler.  Give me a guide boat and a pair of Hudson River rowlocka (oarlocks) and I'll go anywhere, any time!  That visit to Raquette and Blue Mountain Lakes circa 1980 saw me rowing from the Blue Mountain steamboat dock all the way to the east end of the Marion River Carry and back (with a friend in the stern and against a brisk headwind) without a whimper (I didn't say without a blister!).

Now, speaking 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's 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.)

Much more on guide boats on the next page.

Ken Hawks sent me (16 Feb 99) some background on Brightside.  [References - "Tales from an Adirondack County", by Ted Abner and Stella King, and "Raquette Lake - A Time to Remember" , by Ruth Timm.]  Joseph O. A. Bryere came to Raquette Lake from Three Rivers {Trois Rivières, probably}, Canada in 1882 at the age of 22.  He became the caretaker of Charles Durant's Camp Fairview on Osprey Island and married Mary Agnes Gooley on July 8, 1884 (they were the first couple to be married at Raquette Lake).  Joe and Mary started to build Brightside in 1884 and opened it in May 1891; it was all built by hand and accomodated 30 guests.  Meals cost $.75 and rooms were $12 to $18 weekly.  "Brightside-on-Raquette" was featured in "Wallace's Adirondack Guide" in 1894.

The original hotel burned in 1905 and was rebuilt; the "second" building was built in 1900.  Joe died in 1941; his daughter Clara ran Brightside as a hotel until 1963 or 1964.  During the last few years Clara ran the hotel; "there were more 'family' than guests".  It has since been sold off and divided up into private camps.

"The Brightside" was bought in February 2001 by the The Light Connection and its president, Frank Giotto, and has been extensively restored and renovated for corporate and private use and now (16 Nov 05) has an illustrated website at The BrightSide on Raquette Lake.

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 - see the continuation page.  See also the succeeding Page 3 with the 1929 Stevens House brochure.

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

Stay tuned!

In Memoriam - Jean Carmichael

2 May 1913 - 23 March 2006

Jean, doyenne of the Carmichael family of St. Hubert's/Good Shepherd,
passed away peacefully at 1:32 am Thursday 23 March.

[Go in peace, dear Jean.]


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


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