ADIRONDACK IMAGES AND TALES; Wallface Mountain

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Wallface

Wallface Mountain is one of the most awesome sights that I have ever seen.

My first look at Wallface was purely by accident. Oh, I knew it was there, I just had not looked for it. Once again I was on a fishing trip up Calamity Brook. The trout were not behaving that day. That is the way those little devils are. Sometimes they agree to play, others, not. That day was a not.

So I broke my pole down into its component parts and put them in my backpack. The backpack I hid in the bushes. Then I headed for Wallface.

Someone told me that Wallface was the highest precipice east of the Mississippi.

Now don’t get me wrong – – – it isn’t the highest mountain east of the Mississsippi; it is supposedly the highest sheer drop.

I don’t know if that is the truth. If Seneca Ray Stoddard told me that I would believe him. Seneca Ray knew his facts and figures. Seneca Ray did tell me that he knew how it was created. He obtained his information from a geologist who had been working the nearby iron mines.

It seems as though, eons ago, a terrible earthquake had shaken the Adirondacks so bad that the original Wallface Mountain split in half. The half that did not make it was supposedly lying at the bottom of the valley below. That had to be one hell of a big valley!

But enough of what I have been told; you are here to listen to what I saw. The first thing I saw was the actual wall’s face. It was quite smooth and a perfect precipice from top to bottom. That is not quite the truth because I could not see the bottom due to all the rubble.

Someone had made a trail with blazed trees. I followed it for a while but it lead away from Wallface. I saw a course of ladders leaning up against a series of tall natural steps.

The ladders were made of hemlock with the notches cut for footholds. Each step that these log ladders leaned against was eight to ten feet tall.

I guessed that these steps were also the remnants of the great earthquake. I have no idea if my guess was correct or incorrect. Seneca Ray could tell me if he were there.

After about forty-five minutes of climbing I was only a quarter way up the mountain. That was far enough for me. I searched for a better view of the valley below.

It was amazing. They were correct. Resting at the bottom of the Wallface precipice – – –  between there and the mountain that I was standing on – – – were boulders of various sizes. Some were as big as a buckboard. Others were bigger than some of the new lodges that were being built on the lakes of the Adirondacks.

The sight was hard for my mind to grasp. Even with the knowledge of how this came to be – – – the sight was so amazing that I could not absorb it. Of course it was panoramic so I could not fit the whole thing into one gaze.

Turning my head to one side and then another allowed me to gain a better idea of what I was looking at. I hoped that I could memorize it but after a few years the memory faded to one degree or another. The rubble looked like a good place for bears to hibernate.

I made a mental note to go bear hunting there some day.

Tahawas and Tomosky c

ADIRONDACK IMAGES AND TALES; Prospect House Hotel

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Prospect House Hotel

Prospect house is a complete village within one complex. It can fulfill most any request that a guest makes, from pharmacy to alcohol. One of my friends told me that Prospect house has electric lights in every room. Prospect House is located on Blue Mountain Lake.

Blue Mountain Lake seems to attract a lot of money. John Holland is at times identified as the owner of another hotel. That is the Blue Mountain Lake House. At other times he is identified as the manager. Maybe he is both. I would never know because I can not afford even one night there.

The Durants have moved in. Thomas Durant is the man who made the eastern half of the cross country Continental Railway happen. He keeps his son William West Durant very busy building lodges all over the Adirondacks. William Durant’s cousin, Fred Durant, decided that Blue Mountain Lake would be a great place for the Prospect House. So he built it.

Another resident by the name of Merwin decided that his personal home, a log cabin, if expanded, would make a good lodge.

And so we have the Merwin House also.

The Civil War is now over. It is a shame that the thousands of men who died or were maimed by that war will never see Prospect House.

Tahawas and Tomosky c

ADIRONDACK IMAGES AND TALES; Mission of the Transfiguration at Blue Mountain Lake

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Mission of the Transfiguration

Blue Mountain Lake is becoming very popular to the city visitors. Two years ago, in 1883, it was decided that a church was needed. The theme was to be more of a mission than a church.

This is where I entered the picture.

An old friend, Edward Bierstadt, had been involved in the popularization of the Adirondacks. He had close ties with the Durant family who had contracted for several lodges to be built. These were planted on various lakes in these North Woods. The Durants are always pleased with my contributions to these projects.

It was decided that the mission should be built of wood. My opinion was asked and my answer was “red spruce.” Spruce logs were plentiful and straight.

Red Spruce Picea Rubens

Red Spruce

 

Some damn fool from New York City came along and said it was Picea Rubens!

It was red spruce and will always be called ‘red spruce.’

Damn fool!

He said it was also called “Adirondack Wood” by the people that made musical instruments. I will have to ask ‘Old Boomhower’ if he ever made one of his dulcimers out of red spruce.

Oh – oh. My mind went a-ski-daddlin’ again. Back to the ‘mission.’

I was contracted for two jobs.

The first was to collect enough fieldstone for the foundation.

The second job was to cut timber and then de-bark enough spruce logs to build the mission. The builder who had the contract to assemble the mission was pleased with the materials I had furnished.

The fieldstone foundation had to be laid very wide and deep in order to support all the logs. The builder hired a mason to do the fieldstone work. The mason, in turn, hired me as his helper. He was a perfectionist; as well he had to be in order to lay those old fieldstones in a true fashion. Without a perfect foundation the mission would not be standing for long. The deep frosts in this North Country can raise hell with foundations.

The church was finished early this year, except for windows and the bells.

Some fellow by the name of Tiffany was contracted to design and assemble the windows. His business was located someplace called ”Queens section of New York.” That posed a big problem. How were they to get the delicate windows from New York to Blue Mountain Lake without breaking?

The bells also posed a transportation problem. Not due to being fragile but because of their weight.

A Mrs. Morton, also from New York, had paid for the bells. Her husband has something to do with our country’s capital in Washington. The whole area around Blue Mountain Lake is buzzing about the rich people taking over the small village.

However, the locals do not mind all the jobs that are created.

Tahawas and Tomosky c

ADIRONDACK IMAGES AND TALES; Blue Mountain Lake Steamboat

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Blue Mountain Lake Steamboat

The well-to-do people needed to see the Adirondacks without getting their feet muddied.

Blue Mountain Lake and Raquette Lake needed a method of transportation and a way to join the two lakes.

Other waterways sat between those two; Eagle and Utowana Lake plus the Marion River.

Durant Territory Map

Left to Right

Raquette Lake

Marion River

Utowana Lake

Eagle Lake

Blue Mountain Lake

The Durant family owned both Raquette and Blue Mountain Lakes (and everything in between). They had built extensive lodges on both lakes and found it necessary to form a transportation link between the two.

Blue Mountain Lake had water deep enough for a steam boat to run on. In fact some of the boats could actually make it to Utowana Lake via Eagle Lake and a few connecting waterways.

From Raquette Lake it was possible to go up the Marion River for a distance of three miles. However, the steam boats that ran on Marion River could not navigate to the Utowana. There remained a distance of one-half mile between the two terminal points.

Small boats and canoes could be carried between these two points, with a little mud and difficulty. But, the well-to-do wanted nothing to do with mud.

The Durants had a problem. But transportation was in their blood.

They built landings and a plank road to move people and their luggage between the two points. Buckboards and carriages moved the people who could not walk, or chose not to walk. The Durant properties were now directly connected. People from all over New York could reach the Durant resorts.

Eventually a small railroad line was built between the two landings.

Steamboat Railroad and Dock

The Adirondacks were getting smaller by the month.

Tahawas and Tomosky c

ADIRONDACK IMAGES AND TALES; A Cure in the Adirondacks

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Sticklers book cover

Stories were being passed around about “cures” for consumption and other lung diseases.

Doctor Koch, I think he was from Austria or Germany, found that people who lived in the Alps hardly ever had a lung disease. He found that if lung sufferers travelled to and stayed in the Alps they would get relief. The longer the stay the better the results.

A doctor by the name of Trudeau and another by the name of Stickler studied Koch’s reports and methods. They then put them into practice and agreed with Koch’s conclusions.

This not only applied to lung diseases but also to other ailments; physical as well as mental fatigue. There was no proof or reason other than the clean air and quiet atmosphere of the deep woods must somehow help.

I and my parents knew that; but we were not doctors. In fact we did not think of it as a “cure.” We simply thought that it was the way the world was supposed to be. We had not spent much time in a large city.

I was hired by several doctors to build tiny cabins for patients suffering from consumption. Doctor Trudeau was the first one. He had found relief from his own consumption while he was in the Adirondacks. He believed so strongly in the health-building atmosphere of these North Woods that he moved here.

Doctor Trudeau saw what was happening to patients with lung diseases. They would come, they would get relief and then their money was gone. So their future was to go back home to the city – – – and more misery.

Doctor Trudeau knew that the working people could never afford a long enough stay in the Adirondacks to get relief. And complete cure was out of the question.

So at the request of the good doctor I built a tiny cabin for his first patients. It was immediately filled by two factory girls from New York City. I was told that they worked in some type of dusty fabric mill.

As I said, other doctors asked if I could build small cottages for them also. I did and they soon became filled. I had enough work in the late 1880’s to keep me busy.

In July of 1890 the New York Times presented an article that seemed to back up the opinions and findings of the doctors Koch, Stickler and Trudeau.

There was no proof but rather a logic based on actual results.

Much credit was given to the general atmosphere of the Adirondacks. It had clean air that was replenished by the trees surrounding the rest homes and cabins. The trees gave up an aroma of Balsam that seemed to satisfy the lungs. There was a surprising lack of dampness due to the absorbing nature of the sandy soil. The reasons went on and on but the only proof was in the results.

Many people seemed to be cured. If not completely cured then their symptoms were greatly relieved. If neither cure nor relief was found then there, at the very least, were a few months of rest and relaxation to be thankful for.

Thanks to Doctor Trudeau’s empathy for the working people there was a means for them to enjoy what only the rich could normally afford.

Tahawas and Tomosky c

ADIRONDACK IMAGES AND TALES; Fir Cripes Sake

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Fir cripes sake

It took me two hours to figure out what I was look’n at.

I sure wish Aunt Lizbeth would have written on the back of these pictures she sent. Would have made things a lot easier.

Yep – – – you guessed it. This is the inside of that log truck that we wer look’n at yesterday.

I have no idea how they did this. The more puzzl’n thing is WHY they did it. Who in their right mind is going to live inside of an old log – – – well maybe except for French Louie; he had a log to live in and then there was French Louie’s Cave .

But then they put this thing on wheels. Who is going to ride around in the back of a truck with a log on it?

Somebody put a lot of work in this contraption; even electrified the darn thing. And look at that drop-leaf table. Some of the best lodges in these North Woods don’t have nice drop-leafs like that. By golly – – – even put a bed in it and some pictures on the walls.

I saw a big tree like this once when I was hunt’n. I was look’n for bear that day. Had my double barrel shotgun with me. It is always good to have a second barrel when hunting for bear. Tough old fellows sometimes. Get mean when they get a bullet in ‘em.

Well it was one of those fall days when it is not warm and not cold – – – just nice. I picked out a good spot to sit and wait for old mister bear. I waited quite some time and was thinking about heading for home. Not because I didn’t think a bear would come along but because the sky was gett’n dark and I knew rain was a com’n. Just as I was about to get up I heard a noise in the leaves.

I watched close because I didn’t want no bear sneak’n up on me. But it was only a squirrel just a rustl’n those leaves. He came right at me and didn’t seem to see me. Then I saw why. There was a big old fox chasin’ that squirrel and mister fox looked pretty lean and hungry.

Well – – – you know that big tree I mentioned – – -? – – – well the squirrel ran around that big tree to hide from the fox. You know – – – like squirrels always do – – – hiding on the other side of the tree from you. But he didn’t fool mister fox. He ran around the tree too. The race had started.

Round and round they went. Runn’n around that tree. I sat there totally baffled by the whole thing. The sky was getting darker but I did not want to move for fear I would miss the end of the race.

I didn’t miss the end of that race and I’ll tell you why.

Pretty soon it started raining – – – you know – – – one of those rains were it is com’n down in sheets. Com’n down hard in one spot and nary a drop 50 feet away. Yep – – – one of those rains.

Well just as the rain was the hardest and the squirrel was losing traction and mister fox was about to catch him a lightn’n bolt came down – – – hit that big tree – – – and split it in half at the bottom. Not all the way up mind you. The squirrel saw his opportunity and jumped through the split in the tree. The fox jumped right after him but – – – you know what – – – ? – – – that darn tree slammed shut on mister fox. He is still in that tree to this day.

Well the race was over and I was overdue at home. I stood up and went to get my double barrel that was lean’n against a tree next to me. Guess what? One barrel was full of rain water and the other one was dry as a bone. That darn rain was more split than I thought.

Sometime – – – if you remind me – – – I will show you that tree and then you will believe me. And if that doesn’t convince you I will show you my double barrel shotgun – – – you know – – – the one with one rusty barrel.

Now let’s see – – – where did I leave my pipe?

Tahawas and Tomosky c

ADIRONDACK IMAGES AND TALES; The ‘Other’ Logmobile

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The Other Logmobile

Well now I have to apologize.

I APOLOGIZE.

Glad I got that over with. I hate apologizing; especially since I am always right.

Yesterday, you know, when I showed you that picture with all the guys on top of the log and they were about to roll it away with those big cables?

Yes – – – that picture.

Well I called it the Logmobile. But it is now obvious to both of us that this is the real logmobile.

Douglas Fir? I thought only redwood trees got that big. But you can see that the bark is much different.

Much like a basset and a blue-tick coon dog. Their barks are different also.

That was a good one. I thought it up all by myself.

So here we have the logmobile sitting on a truck and the truck sitting on a brick paved road. This sure ain’t any forest picture. And that sure ain’t Cousin Delamarter there by the truck. I have no idea who they are. Just another picture that Aunt Lizbeth sent to us.

It says right there on the sign Seattle, Wash. if my eyes serve me correctly.

I bet that is the mayor of Seattle and the governor of the Washington Territory standing there in their nice clean britches and standing on a brick-paved road. Sure ain’t no forest picture.

Nice truck. Must be in good shape to hold up that big log.

Reminds me of another Old Ralph and Fred story. This time they weren’t fight’n. Well – – – they might have been fight’n at the beginning of the story but by time they were done with the story they were friends again – – – as usual – – – almost.

Seems like Fred bought a rusty old truck so the two of them could go fishing way back in the woods on short notice. They used the old lumber trails.

On one trip they hit a big rock and it put a hole in the oil pan. All the oil leaked out and before they knew it they burned out a bearing or two. They left the truck and went fish’n while they talked over what to do.

They sure didn’t want to leave that beautiful old truck there. It was Fred’s first truck – – – and besides – – – the porcupines would chew the tires right off the rims.

Now if these two boys were gonna be fight’n this would be the time to do it; while they were arguing how to fix the truck.

But Old Ralph, he’s sort of clever you know.

They pulled the oil pan and fixed the hole with half-dry sticky sap from a pine tree. Fred shot a bear and boiled the fat right off it. Old Ralph replaced the burned-out bearings with bear hide. Wrapped ‘em real tight-like and then bolted the piston rods right around that hide. By time all that was done the oil pan patch was hardened up. They had enough bear oil to almost fill the oil pan. They started up the engine and the fix lasted until they got back to Fred’s place.

Then they got in a fight when Fred told everyone that he fixed the old truck by himself while Old Ralph kept on fish’n.

Those two old boys sure loved each other.

Tahawas and Tomosky c

ADIRONDACK IMAGES AND TALES; The Logmobile

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The logmobile

Holy Logmobile Axeman!

Just look at that thing.

So many questions yet so few answers.

How do I list them? Let me count the ways.

Ten men on the log and only one has an axe; why?

Three men on the ground and only one has an axe; why?

Two men on the log are sitting; why?

Only four men on the log are wearing hats; why?

Only one man on the ground has a hat and he has discarded it; why?

The ends of the log have been trimmed and tapered; why?

The cables leave the log and go to the left; why?

These are all very important questions. I hope you don’t mind if I answer my own questions again. They can’t be answered in the order I asked them either.

Do you remember that time I showed you the picture of the home we built from logs?

Sure you do. I showed you “A Family Portrait”.

I even told you how we rolled the logs up on the platform to saw them into slabs. As the walls of the cabin became higher we used the same trick to get the logs one-a-top-another.

Well I bet that’s what these guys are doing. I bet they laid a bunch of cables on the ground – – – rolled the big log on top – – – then doubled the loose end back and hooked it to a bunch of oxen. Then the oxen pull the cables and the log rolls along until they run out of cable and start the process over again.

Those two guys sitting down, up there on the log. I bet they think they have a’hold of the reins for the oxen team.

Aunt Lizbeth, in her letters you know, she says it rains all the time out there. I bet that’s why they wear those big brimmed hats in the middle of the woods.

The rest of the hats and the rest of the axes and the great long two man saws must be sitting in a pile somewhere near whoever took this picture.

I bet that when they brought the oxen team out they had them hauling a cart full of food. These hard working fellows don’t cut lumber without a big meal. Its tough work.

I bet Sweet Shannon from Killarney brought out a big kettle of Mulligan Stew for these boys. She sure could cook a good Mulligan. Chock full of meat, potatoes, vegetables, and whatever else she could scavenge up.

Sort of reminds me of our stew we made in camp when we were trapping. You remember our trapping camp don’t you? Sure you do. I told you about it when I told you about when ”Old Ralph and Fred Pull Their Last Trick on Abel.”

Ralph and Fred were always pulling tricks on each other and anybody else that happened to be around when their brains went skee-daddling off to the side.

I remember one time when each of them bought a new pistol from that traveling salesman. They just had to try them out. Fred and Old Ralph bought a bunch of ammunition and practiced shooting at a tree stump.

After the stump was properly dispatched Old Ralph says to Fred “Throw your hat in the air and I bet I can shoot a hole in it.”

Now Fred is nobody’s fool. He says to Old Ralph “Yeh! Then you won’t throw your hat in the air so I end up with a hat with a hole in it and you end up with a good hat. Well, if you don’t throw it up in the air I’ll shoot a hole in it while it still sits on your ugly head.”

So Old Ralph makes on that he is afraid that Fred will shoot the hat while it is on his head. So Old Ralph he takes off his hat and, when Fred is ready, throws it in the air.

Now Fred was a good shot and put a hole right there in that hat. Old Ralph picks up the hat and pokes a finger through the hole, tells Fred what a great shot he is and then tells Fred it is time for him to throw his hat in the air.

Fred waits until Old Ralph is ready; they are good friends, you know. So Old Ralph finally has his pistol ready and Fred throws his hat in the air.

Up goes the hat, it hangs there for a second, and then down it comes. Old Ralph just watches the hat and waits for it to land. Then he empties all six shots from his pistol at the poor hat which is just sitting there helpless on the ground.

You should have seen Fred. He was as mad as a bear in a leg trap. Another fight erupted between the two. I had to step in or they may have shot each other instead of just having fat lips and bloody noses.

They are good friends, you know.

Tahawas and Tomosky c

ADIRONDACK IMAGES AND TALES; How Did They Do That?

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How did they do that

Don’t you just wonder how all those wagons and horseless carriages all got up there on that log?

I am beginning to think that maybe Cousin De La Marte has been fooling around with these pictures.

How else could you explain how they got way up there on top?

Maybe they did and maybe they didn’t. I’ll just postpone my decision until I find more of Aunt Lizbeth’s letters. Maybe there will be more photos for us to inspect.

The faces are too small to tell which one is Cousin Delamarter. I’ll bet that Sweet Shannon from the Emerald Isle is in there someplace.

I have to admit that she can be a pistol of a woman but if it wasn’t for her, Cousin Delamarter might still be pann’in for gold, eating bear ribs and hard scrabble biskets.

Sure wish he’d come back to the Adirondacks for a visit. I would like to know more about those trees that he is lumbering; and if these pictures are real.

One time, years ago, I had an order for hemlock that would make 24 inch wide planks. Well – – – if you cut down a hemlock 24 inches in diameter you would only get one 24 inch plank out of its thickest part. So I found one forty eight inches in diameter.

It took me three days to get it down. Thought I was going to die before I finished. My helper told me he wished I was already dead. Worked from morning to night every day. And I had to walk two miles into the woods to get there and another four miles to get out. Finally it fell. It took twenty-three other trees with it and it seemed like the crashing would never stop. The ground shook when it hit.

Now all I had to do was cut it up into pieces, hook up the team of oxen and drag the pieces out. I left them 16 feet long. Two reasons. One, I had less cutt’n to do and two, I wasn’t sure what the buyer wanted to build with it.

Cupboard hemlock could be eight feet long. Outbuilding hemlock could be as long as sixteen feet.

I am not going to be like my cousin and just show you a picture of that hemlock; I am going to prove it to you. Come on out in the barn and I will show you the two-man saw and wedges I used. If you still don’t believe me I can show you the yoke from the team of oxen and my hob-nailed boots.

That was a big hemlock but nothing like Cousin Delamarter cuts down.

If he really does cut them big like the picture shows.

Tahawas and Tomosky c

ADIRONDACK IMAGES AND TALES; Log Train

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Log train

I did find that other letter from Aunt Lizbeth. This is the picture that was in the same envelope. I don’t know if the letter and the picture came together in the same envelope or whether they just happened to end up together.

It sure is nice to be able to see what size they had to cut the log into. And nice to see how they got the logs to the mill. That is one heck of a load.

I sure wish Aunt Lizbeth would have wrote on the back of the picture and told us more about it.

Her letter said that Cousin Delamarter is under direct control of Sweet Shannon. I just knew it. She was a strong willed woman. Cousin Delamarter is a good man and a hard worker but he is subject to the wiles of a woman – – – if you know what I mean.

Her brother – – – you know – – – the one in the other pictures; well he isn’t too bright but he can be a wiley fellow. I heard somebody say he was devious but I wasn’t quite sure what that meant. But I know he can be wiley.

He used to steal my nightwalkers when he had a few sports to guide. Too lazy to find his own worms. He was always asking about my fishing holes also. Never told him.

They were an odd pair – – – that Shannon and her brother.

He worked on the Erie canal when they arrived here from The Isle of the Green. I wonder if they named the canal after Ireland; Erin, Erie.

He said he worked on another canal south of Utica – – – She-nan-go – – – Chit-nang-o – – – or Chen-an-go. Sounded different when different people said it.

The people from Ireland built the canals. I wonder who built those railroad tracks that the logging train is sitting on?

Pretty nice job. All the ties are nice and neat. I guess they had to be in order to hold up all that weight.

I wonder if any of the iron in the rails came from the McIntyre Iron mine up by Tahawus?

Hmmmm – – – this darn picture is raising more questions than answering them.

I’m gonna put it back in the envelope where it won’t cause me to fret.

Tahawas and Tomosky c

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