Sunday, May 25, 2014

The Adirondack Museum: Highlights (WIP)

This is a continuation of an earlier post. For the original post, see the following link:

Very quotable sign.


Exactly one year ago this weekend, I was at the Adirondack Museum. And I just realized I never wrote a blog post about it, or showed you the very interesting pictures I took there!

I took a lot, as there are many cool things to see here, but I will try to show you readers the highlights. 

The Adirondack museum is located about 45 minutes North of our vacation house.  It's actually many smaller museums combined.  There is a large visitor center made to look like an old style inn built of logs, and once you pass through there is a big open courtyard area with about a dozen smaller buildings, each dedicated to a certain aspect of Adirondack mountain life.  There is a boat museum, one about horses and carriages, a logging museum, a building about trains and rail cars, and there are also examples of old types of tourist lodgings around a small lake.  

I will try to go in the rough order in which I visited each building, and promise not to exceed the site's image quota for a blog post. So here goes.

The Visitor Center.

An amusing sign in the first exhibit. The sign reads WARNING! Monday, July 16th--One hundred automobiles will pass along this road.  Residents should be WARNED that children should be kept off the road. Remember the day. BE CAREFUL!  (This was a sign from 1905) Seems absurd by today's standards. At this time however, only one person in the entire town owned an automobile.

Logger brands.  These were hammer-like tools that were swung into the ends of logs before floating them downstream.  At one time, there were almost 100 logging companies in New York. These marks indicated the company that harvested the log. There is a key on the wall next to this display with all the known symbols and the name of each company they represent.
This is a display showing how the Adirondack mountain men cooked their meals over a fire.  As Civil War reenactors, we are all too familiar with this already.

A sign on the wall next to this is taken from a memoir passage describing the living conditions enjoyed by the loggers, rugged men who slept together in tents, log cabins and lean-tos. I will reproduce it here for your reading pleasure.

"On a stormy day, everyone would come in all wet. The place would be full of old, dirty, wet clothes, and stinking old socks, and to top this off, the teamsters would bring in their old harness and drip them dry on the wood pile...when they got a good, big fire going, the air was not too sanitary..." (Lumber Camp News, 1850)

Handling the logs was a dirty business, and all that raw and unmilled wood was sure to cause the occasional splinter, as in an example shown below:

Yikes.  How does one "fully recover" from being impaled through the arm and chest by a 2 foot long wood spike, and go back to work the next day like nothing happened? shows you how tough these guys were.  I remember the above image from my visit to this museum as a 12 year old kid, and it still gives me the shivers.

This antique version of a modern tool is so primitive looking I almost did not recognize it.  This odd-looking piece of equipment is one of the earliest chainsaws to use a gasoline engine. It was nicknamed the "Sally Saw" and was in use from the late 1930's to the mid 1940's.  An interesting note is the ring-shaped one piece blade with teeth that spins when the motor is running, instead of a chain.  The engine is a four-stroke with a large gas tank, I cannot imagine how heavy this piece of equipment is. Needless to say, the later invention of the simpler two-stroke engine made chainsaws a lot lighter.  

This later version (from the 1950s) was used for commercial logging of very big trees, not for cutting them down but for cutting trees into smaller sections once they were on the ground.  The blade and chain is about three times longer than your average Home Depot one, and notice there is a handle on the other end for a second operator to hold and steady it. Chainsaws similar to these are still in use today in the commercial logging industry.
This is kind of interesting. Pretty much a gigantic bandsaw laid on its side.  The "blade" is a continuous loop of flexible metal with teeth on the side facing up. The museum put clear plastic tubing on the edge of the blade so kids don't cut their hands by running their fingers along the edge.
Another saw quite different from the ones we have today.
Outside the logging exhibit building. This is a tram car system for carrying logs up steep mountain slopes.  It used a braided steel cable that passed through multiple wheels, multiplying the strength of its grip on the cable. Also built-in is a safety lock to prevent the load from sliding all the way down the hill if the pulley fails or the cable breaks.


Recreation of the inside of a boat builder's shop.

This is a very popular traditional style of wooden boat used by tourists in the Adirondack lakes.  I wondered if the wood thing in the middle of the top one (labeled #16) is some kind of odd-shaped seat. But it is actually a shoulder rest for carrying the boat upside down on your shoulders! (The real seats are wicker work and on either side of the boat) This style of boat was copied elsewhere but it originated in upstate New York.

This natural decoration of uncut tree branches and sticks is a signature Adirondack style seen only in the North country. I kind of like it. Wouldn't it be cool to make a railing on a deck this way for your house?
This is a very, very early electric wiring system called post and tube wiring. Porcelain insulator posts are attached to the wood, and the wires are wrapped in an insulating tape and strung between the posts.  This dates from the early 1880's and was under a porch roof. 

The inside of a guest cabin. All the pieces of furniture are hand made from local pine. I want to call attention to the inlaid grandfather clock at center and the dresser at right paneled in sheets of birch bark.  Very nice and old timey. I would love to have a cabin like this in my backyard to go escape modern life and focus on my art.
Included in a display of vintage kitchen, picnic and food containers and utensils. Yes, that is an incredibly ornate glass bottle of Heinz tomato ketchup from the turn of the century.

This is exactly what it looks like. A snow plow meant to be dragged by a team of horses. Behind it is a large wood drum filled with water or sand, meant to flatten and compress the snow to make a better road surface.

Inside a wagonwright's shop.

No, that isn't a real horse. On the wall are many different types of horse shoes.
A very elegant stage coach, just like the ones that always got robbed by bandits.

Interesting addition to make the exhibit more lifelike, a tired coach driver. No, he's not real.
There was also a historic house on the site with some stunning examples of more Adirondack style handmade furnishings.


"This brass cannon was fired on summer Sunday mornings to call parishioners to services in the Church of the Good Shepherd, Racquette Lake. The church, built in 1880 on St. Huberts Isle, still stands." A cannon to call people to mass. Imagine that!  Racquette Lake is one of the biggest lakes in the mountains. The sound probably carried much farther than bells would.

This obviously isn't everything. But I do hope you enjoyed your virtual tour of the Adirondack Museum.  I had to leave some things for you to see yourself if you decide to make a trip to visit. I would recommend it if you are fascinated by old stuff. 

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Secret Life of Bloggers: Memorial Day Weekend 2014


So....where to begin.  Picking up where I left off a year ago....

I am once again in the mighty Adirondacks, staying over for Memorial Day weekend in my Grandma's house, which now is 100% ours.  We own it!!  My parents have chosen to retire up here in another five years or so; and until then this will be our brief vacation home. I'm quietly excited.  I've had dreams ever since I was a kid about bringing my own family up here to see "Grandma & Grandpa"...time to start making that happen I guess.

So much has changed in the last year, and yet I come back here and everything is the same. Exactly how we left it. It feels like closing a favorite book and putting it back on the shelf, then taking it down a year later and opening it up again.  All the memories come rushing back, and it's like we never left at all.


For the first time, my brother and I decided to drive up to New York on our own. We rode up in his car and followed our parents, on our own time and finding our own way.  I must admit, it feels like being an adult for once in my life.

In spite of the weather, we made good time; traffic moved very fast all the way.  It rained almost the whole way here though, and it got foggy and visibility was poor.  The drive was long and tedious, but we made it bearable discovering new music through Pandora radio on our iPods.  We took a wrong turn and somehow didn't get on the right road, and ended up going about 30 miles farther than we had to. But, thanks to the wonders of the 4G network, I was able to get on Google Maps and guide us to a town called Norwich, that the road we needed to be on went straight up through.

This is the only interesting thing we passed by in or around the town of Norwich, NY.

A Civil War monument to some local infantry regiment.

We passed it quickly and the rain made it hard to see, but I could make out that whoever they were saw action at Fredericksburg and Gettysburg.  I'm guessing the soldier on top isn't a specific person and just a generic Union soldier, but I could be wrong.  My Dad said, "Ah, that must be the town war hero, Jubilation T. Cornpone!"  (We suspect such a man never existed)  Every old town has a local hero, right?

As we pulled into the last rest stop before the house, I had to fight the urge to call ahead and tell Grandma we were coming like I always used to, as nobody was at the house.  That was a sad realization.  Some nights when I'm in at home in Delaware, I still get the late night "what the heck" urge to pick up the phone and try calling the empty house, just to see if Grandma will answer from beyond. It just rings. :(

Anyway, we arrived at the house about an hour later, and it really started to pour just as we had to unload both the cars.  Sorry I didn't get more pictures, but the weather wasn't cooperating.

We certainly hope the rain stops, because we have a lot we want to do this weekend.

5-24-14 (Saturday)

I didn't sleep hardly at all. The emptiness of the house gives me the creeps at night. I don't know why. Also, I think I need to stop looking up creepypasta on my laptop past midnight. It makes me paranoid.

There was no sunrise today; it was very cloudy. Normally I get a superb view out the front kitchen window. Not today.  We had to wait until almost noon for the sun to come out and dry everything so we could work in the yard.

We started out with putting together a box spring for the downstairs bedroom. Yes, I mean we built it. I never saw one like this.  I guess it is much easier to deliver and move in and out of rooms though.  The wood sections fit together and then a big fabric cover goes over it. The fabric is made tight with a drawstring.  It reminded me of the time I bought a folding futon bed from Ikea.  I guess it can't be called a box spring anymore; now these are called "foundations". They hold the bed off the floor and that's it.

Finally, the sun came out and I ventured out for my first DSLR pic of the weekend.  This is morning dew on the grass in the yard. I kind of like this photo a lot.

New phone background. Definitely.
Everything is very much as we left it last spring. The maple we freed from the clutches of the evil honeysuckle is doing well. You'd never know it, but this view was completely obscured by pine trees in the 1990's which surrounded the house and the wood pile. There's so much open space now to run around in.  The house still looks way better with a fresh coat of paint.
Though weeds have taken over the garden I think it looks nice. Wild and untamed but still attractive. The Forget-me-nots are everywhere. This is the well on the other side of the garage, it's covered by the stone cap.

A dandelion reaches for the sun.
Epic tree fungus.

Listen to the sound of silence.

In 2001, I built a teepee-style hut around this tree. I kept it up for seven or eight years, and now it's since vanished and now the tree is dead and falling down.  It's odd that when I pass by this on the trail, it reminds me of that summer thirteen years ago. When I was a teenager...before 9/11 happened.

The clouds were scary looking around dinner time. It grew darker, and a very cold wind started to blow. You can't tell from this picture below how scary that cloud looked. It was like a big, heavy curtain suspended over us and it gave me the uneasy feeling of a big foot coming down to squash us. This is how funnel clouds form.  

...But luckily it passed us by. There were some spectacular flashes of lightning and deafening claps of thunder though. It sounded like explosions.

But it passed us by, and then we were treated to an astounding rainbow.  My mother grew up here, and even she said she could never see one from the house like this.

To be continued...