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rushtons boat ad

Yesterday we wandered around the tale of “Nessmuk and the Sairy Gamp.” Because I spent all that time talking about the Sairy Gamp it is probably the best time to discuss the work of Rushton. But first let us close out the facts about Nessmuk, aka George Washington Sears, and his canoes.

Of course there was his favorite, the Sairy Gamp. Although he loved her the most, it did not keep him from having a few others on the side. Nessmuk could be fickle.

Nessmuk’s first Adirondack trip was in 1880. His love at that time was his namesake; Nessmuk #1. It weighed almost eighteen pounds; quite a weight for a 110 pound asthmatic with consumption to be portaging between lakes. He gave it the nickname Wood Drake.

In 1881 Nessmuk used a canoe that was a little longer yet a little lighter; sixteen pounds. He named that one the “Susan Nipper.” That was another Dickens’ Character in “Dombey and Sons.”

Rushton outdid himself in building Nessmuk’s next canoe, the Sairy Gamp. Without fear of beating a dead horse let me simply state that it was only nine feet long and weighed a total of only ten and one-half pounds. Nessmuk used this for his 1883 trip in the Adirondacks.

Nessmuk moved his operations to Pennsylvania and Florida streams. In 1884 he used “Bucktail” which weighed a hefty twenty-two pounds. In 1885 he moved back to the lightweight Nessmuk #2, aka “Rushton-Fairbanks” which was only eight and one-half feet long and weighed nine pounds a fifteen ounces.

During a fall lull I took a two day hike to Canton. My goal was the corner of State and Water streets. That was where Rushton had his shop.

It was a large building three stories tall. The long side had eight evenly spaced windows and the short side had four evenly spaced windows. It was the largest building I had ever seen. Someone said it was eighty feet long and forty feet wide. The bottom floor was at least twelve feet from floor to ceiling. It was cornered on each side by four tall elm trees.

I went inside to search for Rushton. He was busy training a boy on how to plane cedar strips. He was a good man that Rushton. He was taking his time and patience to show the lad how to measure the thickness.

Wood shop

“Now young man” he was saying, “this is the gauge you will use today. It measures three-sixteenths of an inch. The whole strip has to pass through this three-sixteenths slot. No more and no less. If you see the strip is a bit less than that you should call me and I will look.”

He watched the boy work for a few minutes before he turned around and saw me standing there.

“Tahauwas, you old fool! What are you doing out of the woods?” he asked.

I responded “Well I came to see how you build those famous canoes that you sell.”

Rushton said “That is good. Maybe you can learn how to repair them in the field. The lodges send them back here but I don’t have the time for repairs. I am too busy building new ones.”

So he took me around the bottom floor. The place smelled wonderful. The cedar being worked had an aroma that was rich and pungent. There were shavings all over the floor and the walls were stacked with strips waiting to be planed. Seven or eight canoes were at different stages of assembly.

Stacked lumber

canoe assembly 2

The second floor was being used as a drying room. There were stacks of cedar lumber that were all crisscrossed so that the air could travel between and around each piece. Rushton did not take me to the third floor. “Same thing upstairs” he said.

We had a cup of tea in the office area and then went to the assembly area. Rushton showed me how the cedar strips went on in lap strake fashion, each new one overlapping the previous one. The work started at the keel and found its way up to the gunwale. Each strip was attached to the previous strip by tiny copper rivets.

Rushton had made a tool that allowed the sharp end of the rivet to be hammered flat without damaging the wood. It was a simple peace of steel with a dimple in it. The tool was put over the head of the rivet and the flat faced hammer was used to gently beat the soft copper flat. Once the work was complete you could not tell one side of the rivet from the other.

The whole canoe was assembled over a series of cross sections that made up the mold.

He assigned me to a master canoe builder and went back to see how the boy was doing on his cedar planning and measuring.

I stayed for a week and went back into the woods for a winter of canoe repair.

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ADIRONDACK IMAGES AND TALES; Nessmuk and the Sairy Gamp


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Nessmuk Collage

There was one visitor from the city that I really didn’t mind. The fact that he wrote and published things about the North Woods should have made me hate him. I am sure that he brought in more city folk than Wallace and Murray put together.

That man called himself “Nessmuk” after an Indian friend he met as a young boy. Nessmuk was, in the flesh, a writer named George Washington Sears.

Nessmuk wrote for “Forest and Stream”, a sporting magazine. His articles brought people to the Adirondacks by the hundreds if not thousands.

Like I said, I should have hated him for that. But the problem of my not being able to hate him, no matter how hard I tried, was that I had met him.

How can you hate a man who spends months in these North Woods and does not leave a trace of himself; other than in print. Nessmuk was like that. His footprints were in the water and hardly ever on land. If he did leave footprints anywhere they were only on islands or on the terra-firma between two lakes, or a lake and a river, or around a rapids.

Nessmuk carried nothing into the forest that he did not need and he left nothing in the forest when he departed. That is why I liked him. He traveled light, his transport was a leaf on the water and he disappeared as mysteriously as he had originally appeared.

Sairy Gamp

Which brings me to his leaf on the water. That was the “Sairy Gamp.” That was the name he gave his canoe. Nessmuk had another love besides the forest. It was Charles Dickens’ writing.

Nessmuk had spent some time in the Adirondacks before he obtained Sairy Gamp from a canoe builder by the name of Rushton. It was built by Rushton in Canton, New York and it was built to Nessmuk’s specifications. Rushton told Nessmuk “I won’t guarantee this canoe for more than an hour.” The canoe served him well for a whole season. It was cedar lap-strake and only weighed ten and one-half pounds.

The reason I mention that Nessmuk had previously spent time in these North Woods was that it must have reminded him of his reading of Dickens’ “Martin Chuzzlewit.” There are too many coincidences tied into the name Sairy Gamp.

These near coincidences all seem to stem from an analogy of the book “Martin Chuzzlewit” and the Adirondacks. I think Nessmuk’s previous visits to the Adirondacks colored his thinking. Sairy Gamp was a character in Dickens’ “Chuzzlewit.” She was a parasol carrying nurse who preferred alcohol to water.

Sarah Gamp

And Martin himself was a transplant of England to the United States. Dickens constructed Martin’s character to be a greedy scion from a greedy family. Martin went to the United States to buy property and make a fortune. It probably reminded Nessmuk of some of the father and son combinations that had turned the Adirondacks into what it has unfortunately become.

That was probably another reason that I had a fondness for Nessmuk. He saw the Adirondacks as I did – – – exploited.

There I go again, putting thoughts in people’s heads and words in their mouths. I have no idea what Nessmuk was really thinking. I just imagined that he had these overlapping thoughts about Dickens’ book and the Adirondack Mountains. I should just let Nessmuk speak for himself.

Nessmuks words on racquette lake

As you can see, George Washington Sears, known to us as Nessmuk, was very careful about how he treated nature.

And any friend of Alvah Dunning was a friend of mine.

Nessmuk second trip

I don’t think there is much more for me to add to this story other than Nessmuk was sixty-two years old, asthmatic and consumptive. Yet he struggled through the miles long canoe carries and, yes, accidentally through rapids and over water falls.

He had faith in the Sairy Gamp. As you read his writings in Forest and Stream you begin to realize that his relationship to this canoe was more than just mere transportation. Again, I let him speak for himself as he was about to embark on a summer in the Adirondacks with his new love.

Nessmuks starting words

The Sairy Gamp has been on display three times since that summer. The first time it was at a “Forest and Stream” display in New York. The next display was at an exhibition in New Orleans in 1884. The final display was at the Columbian exposition of 1893 in Chicago.

I hope Sairy Gamp is taken in during her old age. Somebody needs to give her the love that Nessmuk did.


Today, in honor of catching the second murderer that escaped from Dannemora Prison, I give you this bonus.

Click on the following title page, “Forty Days and Forty Nights” to read the first installment of two men whose lives depend on their ability to read the deep woods of the Adirondack Mountains.

Then to continue you must use the following instructions found at the bottom of each post.

Forty Days and Forty Nights – Post #n

40 days title

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Wallace Chateaugay railraod advertisement

The railroad was “the beginning of the end” of the world of God; the Chateaugay River and Chasm.

This world that God assembled outshines Ausable Chasm.

Wallace also said that it is more memorable than Watkins Glen. I leave that to Wallace. I have never been there. I believe the reason for the Chateaugay’s beauty is not only the height of its chasms, but also the power and majesty of its falls.

The water seems to shine silver and not the brown tannic water of other Adirondack rivers which have been steeped in hardwood leaves and pine needles.

I visited the Chateaugay before the “improvements” were made for the visitors. I was reborn, rejuvenated, reawakened and resolved to reevaluate my life. That is the kind of effect that the Chateaugay can have on a human.

I alluded, above, that there are multiple chasms on that river even though people and books speak of “The Chateaugay Chasm.” These chasms capture visitors within its walls before they know it. Sometimes for portions of a mile; and then, suddenly fall away. In other instances the chasm ends as the river tumbles over a waterfall.

The visitor must be either brave or foolhardy; both attributes are sometimes necessary to see the most beautiful parts of the chasm. The same is true for the precipices of the several falls and flumes. It is really difficult to find the words to describe the Chateaugay in its entirety. Wallace uses words to describe each section. He, like I, can’t seem to put it all together. Maybe a few renderings combined with words will be sufficient.

But descriptions of the Chateaugay deserve better than simply being “sufficient.”

Wallace Chateaugay chasm

At the end of one chasm a waterfall storms toward the observer.

There is another place where the waterfalls roar for hundreds of feet only to meet an immediate right hand turn. This forces a mist to rise up to meet the visitor. The Chateaugay then sweeps around a tall stone island to form a whirlpool. Afterward, seemingly without warning, it tumbles downward once more.

Sight, sound and mist blend together to overtake the observer’s senses. Conversation must be shouted in order to reach over the din. It belittles man to be in the presence of such a majestic creation.

And a few places in the chasm are full of solitude.

Wallace more chateaugay chasm 2

But yet man has overcome the Chateaugay. The “Adirondack Trail” that follows eastward – – – stuck between the foothills of the mountains and the flats of the St. Lawrence River – – – this trail must cross the Chateaugay. Man has created a steep road downward that levels off before the river. It then continues on a twenty foot high berm made of rubble for another hundred or so feet. A key-stoned bridge crosses the Chateaugay at a stillwater. The road then climbs precipitously up the eastern side until it reaches a plateau. A driver must know his horses AND his hand-brake in order to make either descent or ascent.

And that is the end of my attempt to speak of the Chateaugay River and its chasms. I have failed. That is understandable. Even Wallace failed to describe this creation.

Possibly it should not be described in physical terms.

Spiritual terms may be more appropriate.

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Wallace Cover 2

E.R. Wallace – – – he is a hoot! His book on the Adirondacks, no matter what edition, are full of facts, figures, wood cut prints, literary descriptions and everything that an Adirondack aficionado could dream of.

It seems to me that we should have met. With all the time he must have spent in the Adirondacks I can not imagine how we could not have. But then you have to consider “The Wallace Brigade.” Maybe that is why I never saw Wallace himself.

The Wallace Brigade is a group of folks who were assigned to pick up information on the Adirondacks as they ran across it.

One man was assigned to record the distances and times for various portages that he experienced on his canoe trips. He cheated. He not only recorded his but also asked other canoers for their information on carry distances and times. What a cribber.

Another brigade member was asked to gather all the information she could on hotels, lodges and camps. The information included number of rooms, amenities, prices and meal offerings.

One member was assigned to railroad stations, stagecoach lines, buckboard companies and any other transport that Wallace could think of. He recorded timetables, distances and comforts.

So Wallace was building an encyclopedia on the Adirondacks. That just didn’t seem right to me. Look right here – – – here is a sample of the tedia that Wallace wasted ink on.


hours blue mtn to racquette

Wallace aimed at the small targets as well as the large ones when it came to transportation.

Wallace carry Rushton

Wallace Champlaign steamer

Wallace did not allow the reader to make judgement on his books by himself. Wallace gave the reader a little hint as to how useful his books may be. This was especially true for “the cultivated and intelligent tourist.”

Wallaces hutspa intro

So there you have it. The Adirondacks, not the North Woods as we “sordid trappers and hunters” have called it for over one hundred years, is to be the discovered by the well-to-do coming over here from Europe.

But why would Wallace go to all that trouble to inform the uninformed of things that he was not intimate with?

I found the answer hidden in the back of the book amongst other advertisements.

aha on wallace land sales

So Wallace is a land speculator. And he needs a way in which to make people want to buy his land. If it was so valuable, to wit; “Quadruple their investment” why is he offering it to others?

That Wallace; he is a hoot!

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Eastern slope cover

I am not quite sure who wrote this book that I found at a stagecoach house.

Eastern binhamton

Why in the world would anyone mention Binghamton, Nineveh, Carbondale and Wilkes-barre in a book about the Adirondacks is beyond me. Even in the context of Railroads running in and out of these North Woods, Binghamton does not seem to fit.

So I looked on the previous page.

Eastern D&H

And there it was! Half way down the page, in the second paragraph.

A railroad line that brought people from northern Pennsylvania up to northern New York. It says you could go to the Adirondacks but then they mentioned “Saratoga.”

I wonder why they would drop that little hint?

In fact this whole book, that I found in a stagecoach office, appears to prove my point; the Adirondacks have been ruined by railroads. This is starting to look like an advertisement for the Delaware and Hudson Railroad.

Eastern dead brookie

No, I was too quick to judge. My North Woods are now about steamboats and dried out Brook Trout; is that what we have come to?

Dead deer and horrible canoe traffic

Or is it deer slaughtered by the hundreds and abominable canoe traffic on the lakes?

Eastern hunting camps 2

I guess it is about hunting camps and “sports” from the city.

Eastern landlocked deck chairs 2

No, it is none of these, It is about lighted pathways and bentwood hemlock chairs on the porches of big hotels.

United States Hotel Saratoga Springs NY 2

I guess that some of those folks really didn’t want to get to far into the Adirondacks so they roughed it in Saratoga Springs.

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brown photo

John Brown’s body rests in these Northern Woods of the Adirondacks.

In 1848, John Brown moved his family to North Elba

My father knew John Brown. Father said he was a firebrand. I had no idea what that meant but it surely did not sound too good.

Father said that John Brown had a wool business someplace in Massachusetts. Apparently it did not work out.

John moved to North Elba where he first rented a house and then had his own built. The second one was much larger.

John was friends with Gerrit Smith who was selling land grants to poor Negro families. They had similar feelings towards the Negros and their lack of freedom.

Gerrit Smith 2

John Brown, in 1859, attempted to start a liberation movement among Negros who lived in Virginia. John was hung for treason. People say that Gerrit Smith financed John’s raid on Harper’s Ferry.

After John was executed his body was sent back to North Elba where it remains. The state now owns his farm. The state seems to be buying up everything around here.

Some people say that John Brown started the Civil War.

I don’t know if that is true or not. All I know is that John Brown had two houses in North Elba. The first one he rented.

John brown's rented house 2

John built a bigger house with his wool business money.

John brown's new house 2

There has always been a nice garden there.

After the civil war a lot of people started showing up in North Elba. There were even magazine writings about John Brown.

Atlantic monthly cover vol xxviil 1871 2

John Brown page 1 - Copy2

There was a story teller that would show up in North Elba from time-to-time. This is story he would tell.

He would sell music sheets with John Brown’s Song on them. The visitors from New York and Boston gladly parted with their money for these sheets.

John Brown song image2

There were several versions of the songs. Someplace around here I have a copy or two. Oh yes, here are two different versions. Some people were offended by one or the other version. I can’t remember which one or why.


One version of “John Brown’s Body.”

John Brown’s body lies a-mouldering in the grave;

His soul’s marching on!

Glory, glory, hallelujah! Glory, glory, hallelujah!

Glory, glory, hallelujah! his soul’s marching on!

He’s gone to be a soldier in the army of the Lord!

His soul’s marching on!

John Brown’s knapsack is strapped upon his back!

His soul’s marching on!

His pet lambs will meet him on the way;

They go marching on!

They will hang Jeff Davis to a sour apple tree!

As they march along!

Now, three rousing cheers for the Union;

As we are marching on!


And here is the second version of the song.

Old John Brown’s body lies moldering in the grave,

While weep the sons of bondage whom he ventured all to save;

But tho he lost his life while struggling for the slave,

His soul is marching on.

John Brown was a hero, undaunted, true and brave,

And Kansas knows his valor when he fought her rights to save;

Now, tho the grass grows green above his grave,

His soul is marching on.

He captured Harper’s Ferry, with his nineteen men so few,

And frightened “Old Virginny” till she trembled thru and thru;

They hung him for a traitor, they themselves the traitor crew,

But his soul is marching on.

John Brown was John the Baptist of the Christ we are to see,

Christ who of the bondmen shall the Liberator be,

And soon thruout the Sunny South the slaves shall all be free,

For his soul is marching on.

The conflict that he heralded he looks from heaven to view,

On the army of the Union with its flag red, white and blue.

And heaven shall ring with anthems o’er the deed they mean to do,

For his soul is marching on.

Ye soldiers of Freedom, then strike, while strike ye may,

The death blow of oppression in a better time and way,

For the dawn of old John Brown has brightened into day,

And his soul is marching on


That is all I know about John Brown. Some city folk talk about the story.

Us North Woodsmen don’t like to talk about such things.

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ADIRONDACK IMAGES AND TALES; The Sacred Mountain of Tahawus


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The Adirondack

It took a man by the name of J.T. Headley to finally capture what all the others could not.

Murray, the ultimate huckster, tried to sell it.

Wallace, the lister of facts, tried to get the locus, loci, data, datum, focus and foci correct and missed the whole point in his writings.

Stoddard came the closest with his etchings and descriptions but even old Seneca Ray tripped around the edges.

I cannot tell you what Headley was describing without pulling out this old yellow manuscript and pointing out the pages of interest. In my attempt to keep from drawing this on interminably I will simply show you.

The Adirondack title page

Even old Headley had to depend on Professor Emmons to help him get the mood of the Adirondack Mountains.

It is not a scene, it is not a list of portages, it is not the schedule of railroads, it is not the words that we use; it is a feeling, a mood, a spirituality that make these mountains what they are.

The Adirondack descriptions fail must be felt and heard

Or what the Adirondacks “were” may be a more proper term.

My fellow Indians in the west were able to define it by using the phrase “Sacred Grounds.” That is what these mountains are; Sacred Hunting Grounds, Sacred Fishing Grounds, Sacred Burial Grounds.

However my people have failed in their work. Now there is nothing sacred about these North Woods where railroads, steamboats and hundreds of people have invaded us. Smokey iron engines and steel rails have erased whatever sacredness there was in these mountains.

Oh, I can still feel the past if I go deep enough into the mountains. But I must leave the old Indian paths and find a new place. I must evade the glimmering lakes and be satisfied with a small pond hidden within the tamaracks. I may never see a moose again but I shall be satisfied with his tracks along the shore of a bog.

I wander again. Let me get back to the pages that belong to Headley.

Tahawas opening

Tahawas desc indian in canoe

Tahawas desc end one

Of course Headley saw all this before “progress” interrupted the Adirondacks in its natural growth. He had seen the Adirondacks when it hardly had a scratch on it.

Except for the path that led to a future iron mine. I will let Headley continue.

Tahawas iron mine path

I am pleased that Headley had an Indian Guide to tell him that the name of this sacred place is not “Marcy” but rather my namesake, “Tahawus.” It remains spelled incorrectly to this day. It is not as sacred as it once was; not with all the footprints all over it.

When Headley finally reaches the foot of Tahawus he finds there is preparation to be done.

He leaves it in the hands of his Indian guide.

Tahawas desc preparation

And there we have it. Headley has discovered the Adirondacks just as it was receiving the “Gift of Progress.”

He was a lucky man.

Maybe we can see what kind of trouble or joy that Headley can find.

Let us see what tomorrow brings.

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ADIRONDACK IMAGES AND TALES; Artists of the North Woods


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JT Headley picture

Thanks for dropping in yesterday. I had a good time looking over the blast furnace pictures.

But then, after you departed my cabin, I found Headley’s book and what he wrote. I looked at a list of plates in the front of Headley’s book.

Headley list of plates

Possibly we should look at the author as well as the artists that Headley used in “Adirondack.”

Who are these men that Headley depended on for his wood and steel engravings? He listed no one as responsible for the title page; “Distant View of the Adirondacks.”

However before we look to see who Ingham, Gignoux, Hill and Durande are, let us look at J.T. Headley himself.

J.T. Headley was, in the long form, Joel Tyler Headley. No wonder his book “Adirondack” was written so well. Joel was a historian, a newspaper editor, and a clergyman. At one time he even served as Secretary of State of New York. Headley was no accidental author who found himself in the middle of the North Woods.

The list of his books and letters seems to never end, as follows;

  • The Great Riots of New York: 1712-1873
  • The great rebellion; a history of the civil war in the United States
  • Washington and his generals
  • Napoleon and His Marshalls
  • The Forgotten Heroes of Liberty
  • The illustrated life of Washington … With vivid pen-paintings of battles
  • The achievements of Stanley and other African explorers: Comprising all
  • H.M. Stanley’s wonderful adventures in Africa: From his first entrance
  • Napoleon and His Marshals Vol. I
  • Grant and Sherman; Their Campaigns and Generals
  • The Sacred Mountains
  • The great rebellion : a history of the civil war in the United States
  • Washington and His Generals: Vol. II
  • The Great Rebellion; A History of the Civil War in the United States
  • Stanley’s wonderful adventures in Africa.
  • Stanley and Livingstone in Africa (Classic Romances of Literature Vol X)
  • The life of Ulysses S. Grant
  • Sacred heroes and martyrs; Biographical sketches of illustrious men of
  • Washington and his generals – volume 1
  • Letters from the backwoods and the Adirondack
  • The Adirondack
  • The Adirondack, or, Life in the Woods
  • The life of Winfield Scott
  • Napoleon and his Marshals Vol. II
  • The life and travels of General Grant
  • The Travels of General Grant

I would like to tell you that I met Joel Tyler Headley; but I can’t.

I would like to tell you that I met and advised his artists; but I can’t.

These are great men. Men who do great things. Men who belong to great organizations.

These are not the bumpkins that live or visit the Adirondacks.

However, Headley did not start out in the midst of great men who seem to congregate in New York or Boston.

Headley in Walton

“Descriptive Power” – – – that sums up Headley’s ability in two simple words. From my point of view it is an understatement. He captured the Adirondacks – – – EXACTLY.

So leaving his list of accomplishments and the inspirations of his childhood, let us look at his artists.

Asher Brown Durand



Asher Brown Durand embarked on a sketching expedition to Schroon Lake in the Adirondacks. His success was lauded. After that he concentrated on landscape painting in the Catskills, Adirondacks, and the White Mountains of New Hampshire. His multitude of drawings and oil sketches helped to define the Hudson River School of art.

schroon lake

Shrooon Lake

Asher’s sketches of trees, rocks, and foliage appear as dressing on hundreds of Adirondack sketches, postcards and photographs.

Durand wrote, “Let the artist scrupulously accept whatever nature presents him until he shall, in a degree, have become intimate with her infinity…never let him profane her sacredness by a willful departure from truth.”


Charles Cromwell Ingham


Ingham was a portrait painter. He founded the New York National Academy of Design during the 19th century.

Ingham was middle-named after a descendant who was an officer in Cromwell’s army. He was born in Ireland and studied art at The Dublin Institution before immigrating to the United States. In New York City he not only distinguished himself with his oil painting but also in watercolor on ivory.

adidrondack pass

Adirondack Pass


lake colden

Lake Colden


lake sanford



Ingham was famous along with his brother. They were portrait painters known for paintings of young women of New York’s upper class.

Regis Gignoux

Régis François Gignoux


Gignoux was a French painter who was active in the United States from 1840 to 1870. He was born in Lyon, France. Hippolyte Delaroche, a historic painter, inspired Gignoux to turn his talents toward landscape painting. Gignoux arrived in the United States from France and opened a studio in Brooklyn, New York. He was a member of the National Academy of Design, and was the first president of the Brooklyn Art Academy. Gignoux became one the first artists to join the Tenth Street Studio where other members included Albert Bierstadt.

lake henderson

Lake Henderson


Gignoux is best known for his meticulous renderings of Northeast American landscapes and was the only member of the Hudson River School to specialize in snow scenes.

Thomas Hill

Thomas Hill


Thomas Hill was born in England on September 11, 1829. At the age of 15 he immigrated to the United States with his family. They settled in Taunton, Massachusetts. He married Charlotte Elizabeth Hawkins and had nine children.

Raquette Lake

Raquette Lake


At the age of 24, Hill attended evening classes at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. While a student Hill traveled to the White Mountains in New Hampshire and sketched alongside members of the Hudson River School.

That is all I can glean from this book and my other books, advertisements and such. I keep them under my bed in an old tin tea cabinet; one of the lodges threw it away. I had kept them in a wooden box but the mice would get in them and make nests from all my treasures.

Oh yes. I almost forgot the last few etchings from the book that Headley contributed to no one in his list of plates.

Forked Lake

Forked Lake


The Adirondack

The Adirondack Mountains


That was a lot of fun. We will have to look at more old artists and their work some day.

In the meantime I will try to think up something derogatory to say about the fellows that brought all these tourists in here. You know who I am talking about; those Durants – – – Thomas and his son William West Durant.

You be careful going home. Old Joe told me he saw a cougar at his place yesterday. The Smiths said they saw it at their place the day before. So it must be hanging around these parts.

Unless it went towards  Owl’s Head.

Probably has an eye on Joe’s lambs.

Tahawas and Tomosky c


ADIRONDACK IMAGES AND TALES; The McIntyre Iron Works at Tahawus


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This is the picture that an itinerate photographer took of the furnace.

I wish you could have been there. Do you see that archway at the bottom? You could stand three men, one on top of the other’s shoulders, and the third one’s head still would not touch the top of the arch.

Look at the size of those stones that make up the blast furnace. Some of them have to be five feet square. And the steel tie rods that hold the whole thing together. Where did they come from?

There is one thing missing from this rendering. That is the trestle. The workmen used it to throw the mixture of clay, iron ore and charcoal into the top of the furnace. This perspective is from standing on the dirt road. If you looked to the left of the rendering you could see Adirondac, Adirondack, or Tahawus – – – or whatever the little mining village was called or however it was spelled over the years of its existence; 1831 to 18?? depending on who was squatting there.

This is how I remember it just after the furnace was shut down.

Blast furnace shut down

Look at the size of that moat that surrounds the blast furnace. If you look closely you can see the steel tie-rods that kept the whole thing together. There are six of them exposed on each side.

The trestle for loading the furnace is long gone. I think I have a drawn plan of it somewhere here in my tin tea cabinet. The cabinet keeps the mice away from my papers.

Oh yes, here it is!

Blast furnace design

Now you can get an idea of how big the furnace is. The loading trestle ran from the furnace to the left. It crossed the road and tied into the opposite hill-side. Look how deep that moat was.

They labeled this the “New Furnace.” It was the last of several different size furnaces that they built. None of them seemed to do the smelting in the manner that they wished. Finally they had high production with this one. However, there was something in the iron ore that did not bother the other furnaces or “bloomers” as they sometimes called them. That something was titanium oxide. It raised holy hell with this new furnace.

They could keep this furnace going week after week and just keep on loading it with the fodder of iron ore and other things that it ate. In the top went the food and out the bottom came the little piglets of iron.

But the furnace needed a set of lungs to keep it breathing smoke, soot and trepidation. So they re-routed one stream into the headwaters of the Hudson River; which was also a stream at that point. Then they built a big dam and a water wheel that drove a set of gears that drove a set of tie rods that forced a set of four monster pistons into their respective cylinders. This gave them a continuous blast of compressed air that kept the blast furnace quite pleased.

Now give me a minute, I think I have a drawing of that “works” here somewhere. Yes here it is. Let me spread it out on the table next to the drawing of the furnace. Maybe you can get an idea of how the “works” and the furnace were connected by a large pipe. This pipe also acted as storage for the compressed air. It kept the “blast” at a nice even keel.

Compression Engine

You see how the Hudson was dammed up on the right, flowed over the top of the large water-wheel which had large gears mounted on it? The large gears drove the smaller gears which had tie-rods attached to them. On the left end of the tie rods were the four pistons, each about four feet in diameter, that compressed the air into four cylinders.

See that round circle on top of the cylinders? That is the pipe that connected the “works” to the blast furnace. It stored and carried the air to the furnace.

Wait just a second. I think I have an even better drawing of the compression “works.”

The works and the dam

There, that gives a better view of how the large dam held the Hudson back and forced the water over the wheel. This view is almost the opposite of the previous one. The blast furnace is now behind us as we look at the “works.” You can get a better idea of how the crankshafts drove the pistons.

Can you imagine the men who built all of this while the black flies and mosquitoes were eating them alive? Perseverance is an amazing attribute.

But in the end they gave up because of the titanium oxide.

See right here in this old manuscript that I saved? Damn mice have eaten some of it.

Furnace_Titanium and Henderson

I am glad that they mentioned Henderson. Poor fellow died when his gun accidentally went off. The men at the mine were lost without him.

The forest is starting to overcome the furnace now.

Furnace now

It has been shut down for twenty years; since around 1860. I think Henderson was the glue that tied the whole thing together. Without him things just didn’t seem to go right.

It is sad to see all that work end in nothing.

The men must have been beside themselves leaving this all behind; knowing that their efforts were for naught.

But then again, I guess we all have to leave things behind.

Tahawas and Tomosky c




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McNaughton House AKA Tahawus Club

McNaughton House at the Tahawus Club

Yesterday, if you remember, I told you the story of when I met Theodore Roosevelt at “AIDEN LAIR.”

Vice President Theodore Roosevelt was visiting Tahawus in 1901 during the final days of President William McKinley’s presidency.

Adirondack Village AKA Tahawus

Aside from the horrible story that I am about to tell, I would like to take a minute to make something clear. This is the way I remember Adirondack, Adirondac or Tahawus; no matter who is speaking or what they are calling our little town.

Also, I don’t care much for exclusive clubs taking over our North Woods.

But on with the story.

Roosevelt quickly left for Buffalo, New York after learning that President William McKinley had been shot. That is when I had met Roosevelt at Aiden Lair.

Roosevelt had been told that McKinley was expecting a quick recovery. Therefore, the day before I met him, Roosevelt decided to make a hiking trip up Mount Marcy from Adirondack. Three hours after Roosevelt had departed on his hike a horseman was sent to find him. McKinley was in critical condition. Roosevelt returned to Adirondack and headed for Buffalo. It was there where he learned of President McKinley’s death. Roosevelt took the oath of office.

McKinley assassination

McKinley had been shot by anarchist Leon Czolgosz.

Leon Czolgosz

Leon Czolgosz

Witnessing a series of violent strikes must have had an effect on Czolgosz. He returned to his father’s home to live. He was constantly at odds with his stepmother. He became a recluse and spent much of his time alone reading Socialist and anarchist newspapers. He was impressed after hearing a speech by the political radical Emma Goldman.

Czolgosz made an effort to meet with Goldman. The meeting took place at one of her lectures in Cleveland in 1901. After the lecture Czolgosz approached the speakers’ platform. He made a pretense of seeking reading recommendations.

A few days later, without invitation, visited her home in Chicago. Goldman was on her way to the train station. He only had enough time to voice his disappointment in the socialists he had met in Cleveland. Goldman introduced him to her anarchist friends who were at the train station.

Emma Goldman

Emma Goldman

About the same time, Emma Goldman and anarchist writer Alexander Berkman planned to assassinate industrialist and financier Henry Clay Frick as a method to foment propaganda. Frick survived. Berkman was sentenced to twenty-two years.

In the years that followed Goldman was imprisoned several times. Typically the charges were “inciting to riot” and other minor offenses. In 1906, Goldman founded the anarchist journal “Mother Earth.”

Mother Earth

I do not understand the half of this and why such ungodly measures had to be taken. I think if Czolgosz and Goldman had been born in these North Woods they would have been much happier people.

I spent the next month on my favorite little stream. The brook trout made me look like a buffoon.

My Favorite little brook

How did those Brookies get so smart?

And my little friend, the fox, was watching me from the brush.

Hidden Fox

It is good to have friends that you can trust.

Tahawas and Tomosky c



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