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Open Camp

Remember all those nice big monstrous looking Adirondack Lodges that we looked at last week? And all the fancy people with their bowler hats and parasols?

Let’s look at the other side of the same coin today.

A coin is a coin – – – and an Adirondack visitor is an Adirondack visitor. It seems as though whether a man has money – – – or not – – – he wants his resting place to reflect the Adirondacks.

Or maybe he wants his place to look like he is a rich fellow.

Or maybe his wife took over his camp.

Look at that photo. Spruce boughs hanging from the eaves. Boughs covering a chair. Decorative ferns on either side. Is that a vase on the wall? By God it is!

For some reason they felt a need to post a sign on the back wall; “PRIVATE CAMP.”

No self-respecting North Woodsman would ever get caught in a fancy lean-to like this.

And this is not just a simple lean-to. The size of those logs would support a real lodge.

I hope that you don’t mind if we look at a couple of photos that we have looked at before.

Summer Camping

Now this is a lean-to. Just a couple of poles hastily cut from the forest. Then a sufficient number of boughs thrown over the top and woven into the sides. An old log or stump will make do for a chair. And a more substantial stump for a table. One oil lamp, a fire, four friends and a deck of cards make up a camp – – – and a real one at that.

Sandy Beach

And then there is this. What can I say about this? Why don’t you tell me. You’re the one who asked to visit and look at my old camp pictures.

Golden Beach? You think this is Golden Beach on Raquette Lake? HHmmm. Could be. But I don’t see any of those big boulders that lay around on Golden Beach. And I don’t remember a boardwalk on Golden Beach. Maybe I missed something. Haven’t been there in over fifteen years. Yes. It could be Golden Beach but I would feel bad if that is what they have done to it.

Fancy clothes? Yes they are pretty fancy for the Adirondacks. Long dresses, suits, everyone has a hat on – – – except for that fellow way in the back. But then he is the only guy by himself. Maybe he is wondering how he got pulled into all this hub-ub when he could have been fishing.

But you’re missing the main point. What did you ask me to talk about today?

That is right – – – camps. Now look way back in the woods were it is dark.

RIGHT! Those are lean-tos way back there.

What was that? No. I have no idea why anyone would come here from the city to get all dressed up and then spend the night in a lean-to. Some people love the social life. I guess it is more of a city thing than what we are used to. Maybe they like to tell their friends back home that they stayed at an Adirondack camp and got all dressed up and walked by the lake.

What? Black flies. Yes – – – I guess they would have a hard time explaining all those black fly bites all over them.

Privacy? No. There was no privacy other than a blanket hung from the front eave.

I think the fishermen from the city had the best idea.

Tent by lake

They would buy a piece of land on a lake and the build a platform tent. See how enclosed it is. They could keep the black flies and mosquitoes out by closing the flaps. And if they lit their pipes the smoke would finish off any militant insects.

One of my last jobs as a carpenter was to build several of these canvas camps. We would purchase sawn wood for the platform. Old Man Loomis from Inlet had a big roll of canvas. We would purchase it from him by the yard. That was a big roll of canvas. About five feet around. It took a six team sled to haul that roll of canvas from the train station at Old Forge to Loomis’ barn at Inlet. Loomis had to pay the logging company several dollars to use their big sled and horses.

Now I don’t know who built the canvas camps in this picture. But I bet he doesn’t get many more jobs. See how he used logs as the foundation? See how they are tipping already? The owner of that camp is going to come here some spring and find his canvas camp right in the lake.

I always use flat field stone to build the foundation. It’s not as if there isn’t enough field stone around these parts to build a good foundation. Most builders are too quick to finish the job and take no pride in their work.

Now take a look at this camp.

Louis Cave Camp

What is that? You don’t remember seeing that before? Why sure you do. I showed it to you when we were talking about John Leaf and French Louie.

Yes! It is Louie’s cave house. Not much of a lean-to other than that big slab of rock leaned against a mountain.

But then Louie was not an Adirondack visitor.

You will have to speak up. I didn’t get a word you said.

Well – – – you got me on that one. He was a visitor from Quebec – – – but he stayed. He wasn’t one of those city visitors from Boston or New York or Utica or Albany.

And you sure wouldn’t catch him in a suit or with a lady.

And he could howl just like a wolf. Used to scare the hell out of the city “sports” that came here to hunt.

He would sometimes howl on the streets of Speculator on those rare occasions that he visited there.

Well – – – I figure we did another comparison – – – a comparison of fancy lodges and lean-tos.

Didn’t mean to brag about my skill in laying up a foundation but if you don’t have a good foundation you don’t have much.

I guess that is true in life also.

Tahawas and Tomosky c

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