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Seneca Ray Stoddard

Seneca Ray Stoddard is an interesting man. He is very well-read and observant. Most city people are not as observant as those of us who grew up in the North Woods. But Ray is different. Maybe it is because he has a keen eye for the natural things that God had left for us to play with; or to tend to.

Ray once worked for a railroad company. His work was tedious until someone realized he had artistic talent. I don’t know why it would take so long for that talent to be recognized. Ray was always sketching one thing or another. You didn’t have to know him for too long before you saw him with a pencil and paper. Lacking that, it would be charcoal and a slab of wood. No one was as prolific as Ray with a sketching tool.

Ray and I ran across each other several times over the years. We seemed to like the same places; the places that God had left for us to enjoy. Rapids, chasms, great heights overlooking lakes, great birches overlooking streams, water pouring over falls. They were everyone’s to enjoy but Ray and I may have been a little selfish at times. We did more than our share of looking and dreaming.

As I look back on those times I now realize that I was more of a dreamer than Ray Stoddard was. Ray had a bent for the factual, the countable, the traceable, the measureable. If he had a scene in his mind he could paint it. If he had an unquenchable thought in his mind he would paint that also. He could paint with words and with facts. His maps and his depictions of places and people speak well of Ray’s ability to see all things clearly.

Seneca Ray Stoddard eventually compiled all his North Woods drawings into something he named “The Adirondacks: Illustrated.” It was the perfect time for such a book. People from New York and Massachusetts were just starting to become aware of what a perfect place the Adirondack Mountains were. Ray made a lot of money on that book. It seeded several other projects of a like nature.

I lost track of Ray when he started traveling extensively; the Caribbean, the Holy Lands, Europe, Iceland, and Eastern Europe. Ray was just as proficient at packing his life full of knowledge as he was with packing his books full of pictures and maps.

Sometimes I wish that he had been born in these mountains. Then maybe he would have stayed.

Tahawas and Tomosky c