#137 Adirondack’s, June ’14
There’s been a lot of water over the falls since I last put up a substantive post here. Life has been a succession of putting out metaphorical fires…collapsing vehicles, financial hassels, health concerns, seasonal agri-busy-ness and trying to prepare for the unknown in a future of inevitable change. There’s also been existential angst regarding the place of a photographer in a world where the supply of images rapidly approaches infinity and the price approaches zero. Is my art of photography still in me ???
Thanks to grants from a private Boston collector and arts patron, and from family, a few expeditions this season are now in the realm of possibility. My dying old expedition partner, Ove the Volvo, was collapsing of terminal rust when one day I returned from a trip to town and found Silver Dragon, a younger, far less rusty, Volvo wagon waiting in the drive…challenging me to get off my butt and out in the fields with full camera gear.
I’ve wanted to work further on my series about working waterfronts and have a powerful hankering to see Halifax harbor…so rich in shipping history in the passing century. But, I needed to field prove the new vehicle before taking off for a foreign country, so I decided on a shakedown cruise to the Adirondacks of upstate New York where there is rich material on the theme of industrial archaeology. I got some clues from online research, set a timetable and budget and took off…to see if my Art of Photography was still in me. I’ve come back with more than 330 digital files, half an hour of audio notes and seven rolls of B&W film.
Now I have to see if I can make sense of them. WAY !! too many to post in a coherent narrative.
The art of photography to me has mostly meant going out exploring in the world, rather than making something to hang, framed, on a wall. Going out exploring in the world means something rather different to a 73 year old fossil like me, with crappy ball joints and almost no discretionary funds than it would to, say, a kid on a trust fund just out of J-school or say, Don McCullen setting off to a war zone leaving a wife and three kids depending on him coming back alive with the mortgage payments. Peeps at the Maine Photo Workshops used to say of photos “the negative is the score…the print is the performance.” To me hearing the music in the inner mind means going out in the world and seeing what you see. You write it down with expensive techie tools. So, where’s the music ?
Road Log Transcribed — Adirondack’s, June ’14
Friday the Thirteenth, June 2014. 10:00:00 am start log Trip to Daks. Miles 257,799.1 trip miles 546.1. WX cloudy w/intermittent light rain. 10:23 am 7818.0 spring @ Lisle fill water bottles. !0:51 7822. 4 food and fuel at Whitney Point. Sawmill twixt Whitney Pt. and Green. Green antique mall out of business. 12:21 7850.1 Clear Bainbridge.
Walton… Delaware County Fair will be 11-16 Aug this year. Old armory is now a night club. Back streets Walton very like Bay Head. 1:50pm clear Walton. Agriculture seems prosperous in Delaware County in the lush late spring.
3:36 Roxbury. visit cousins. 5:45pm clear ROX 7826.0 northbound on Rt-30. 7:10 pm stopped Amsterday for fuel. 7:35 7997.5 stopped roadside. no camping 8:03pm 8010.7 Stopped on shore Lake Sacandaga…poor, exposed campsite. abandoned. Sat 14 June 05:10 am 8017 Awake at visitors information center parking lot on Rt-30. My question was “Where can I find a good, free campsite ?” High wind and torrents of rain…no one was there to tell me to move on. Very cozy with rain on roof. Morning WX cloudy but not raining — minor road washouts on Rt-30 — rivers very high. Stopped @ Wells for equipment discipline. Sunrise 6:02am. —
Small scale hydro raises hackles of energy vs conservation advocates. Compared to high sulfur coal it’s a saint. From a salmon’s nose view it stinks. Seems like a soluble problem in civil engineering.
MacIntyre Furnace was the prime first target of this expedition. It combines my interest in industrial archaeology with funky places and history. Just finding the location would not be trivial to anyone denied the convenience of internet search. It’s on a dead end road, both economically and geographically. The history of the mineral riches of the area open a huge ball of wax involving three generations of exploitation and social power in society all the way to the later president of the USA, rough rider Teddy Roosevelt. I haven’t yet run down all the good links…but I’ll include a few later in the post for those of you curious.
There was a substantial early 19th century village to support smelting iron at MacIntyre Furnace. Only buried traces remain evident to skilled archaeologists. The region later became the property of an exclusive private club…The Tahawus Club…Vice President Theodore Roosevelt was a guest. The club still exists…still very private, but parts of it’s real estate holding passed to the Adirondack Park and are administered by a conservation organization, Open Spaces.
The ruins in the village now on maps as Tahawus are now a heavily deteriorated ghost town … fascinating…but must be explored with some common sense regarding its dangers.
Ghost towns are fun…stimulate the imagination about times long lost.
9:40 am clear furnace for trailhead ‘R’ to Henderson Lake. Remains of club era village heavily deteriorated. Due to previous heavy rain Hudson river in thunderous flow.
Pure luck found me the remains of village housing on uphill side of Rt-25, and pump house / generator site behind village.
No safe or legal way to get to mine remains. Too long (~7 miles) to hike in along D&H r.r. tracks. More internet research in advanced would have helped.
1:35 pm 8100.9 clear trailhead area.
The mining operations started with iron in the early 19th cent. and were later revived to smelt lead, which proved uneconomic due to contamination from what later proved to be titanium…worth far more as metal and as TiO2, white paint pigment. Long story… Abandoned mine machinery was evident until a few years ago when the potential liabilities moved the current owners to fence the mine sites and forbid access.
3:50 pm8155 Tupper Lake downtown looks tired and down at heels. Didn’t stop this time.
4:30pm Walkabout Saranac Lake. Fuel.
While looking for sitdown dinner and a brewski I stumbled into wonderful party at WateringHole. The scholarship fund of Golf Club was having a private fundraizing BBQ. I got into the line and made a donation…got chicken BBQ, beef BBQ, pork BBQ, poached salmon, new potatoes, corn on cob, cole slaw and a brewski for $7.50 less than the Jackson I’d budgeted for dinner on the town. Great Fun and moldy oldies from the DJ. Got accepted because of my Reese Jones Inc. gimme cap. When party broke up walked the town until knees gave out. Too many pictures to post and stay on topic.
9:00 pm Campsite behind apartment block on Main St. Bothered by leg cramps and (quiet) rock & roll from bar until 3am.
Sunday 15 June ’14 Fathers Day. 6am up after decent nights sleep except for leg cramps. 7:15 Keene NY 8215.7 stopped for equipment discipline. WX cloudy with beautiful mist in patches on mountain slopes. Passed right through Lake Placid; the whole town is just Sports Nutts…but had to admire the bicyclist training on the mountain slopes.
Sun breaks through. 8:00am 8226.7 on Rt-9n northbound somewhere east of Keene spotted a strange facility roadside surrounded by partial fence but not showing any signage — many wells drilled and capped. AC power and telecommunications on site–low buildings collapsed. ? What WAS this ?? ~ one mile north of Elizabethtown.
Moving right along, folks…
Westport has a distinctly shoreside feeling–might be Wellfleet or Point Pleasant. —
The Essex county Fairgrounds has lovely architecture. It seems mostly devoted to race horses, but other endeavors are represented. This lovely building if for floriculture.
Village of Essex south of town might be Rt-89 along west shore of Cayuga. Town feels New England. Ferry service to Vermont is privately owned..friendly people. This is the first time I’ve ever encountered a ferry service in the private business sector. I guess this counts toward working waterfront.
My second major objective was to get a look at some of the historic battlegrounds along the Champlain lake shore.
Battlefields from French and Indian and Revolutionary wars – The French had artillery command of the water side but the British threatened with a battalion of infantry. The French demolished their fort and withdrew. The British built one uphill, much stronger that commanded all approaches. American revolutionaries could probably never have taken it if not for an accidental kitchen fire which spread to detonate the British powder magazine which breached the walls, rendering the guns silent and the fort untenable. A mere company of rebels displaced them and captured over a hundred cannon for our new nation.
3:08 pm @ Ticonderoga S.P. boat launch…may do later…need rest now. Fathers Day bass fishing tourney in progress. Snazzy boats ! … cost pro’lly a modest home for a working class family.
Fort Ticonderoga overpriced even with senior discount… had to pass it up. Faulty navigation out of Ticonderoga landed me in Whitehall, NY during a fire dept training exercise. Lucky mistake…good photo opps.
The town of Whitehall’s claim to be the birthplace is the U.S. Navy is not undisputed. Note beer can frame right declaring someones attitude to the navy
After WHitehall I had to backtrack to Lake George. Fuel. Lake George very Disneyland…worse than Wisconsin Dells…no sense of humor at all.
First attempt at campsite was posted…second attempt had every mosquito, black fly and tick for miles around competing for a bite of my ears. MytThird try, way down Rt 10 but still in Adirondack Park, was ideal. Very sheltered and quiet Monday 16 June ’14 6:20 am Good nights sleep !!!
Saw good photo opps in Little Falls industrial neighborhoods, but passed by because not on plan…no prior research.
I took a look at Herkimer…not for the diamond mine, but for the nostalgia of McCoy model airplane engine factory. Not thinking straight. I had no idea where to look. Looking for photo opps in Frankford, NY was totally unproductive.
I was so mentally exhausted…good night sleep not withstanding…that I couldn’t think straight. Got highway hypnosis and decided it safer to abort the last day of the mission and head for home. 9:15am fuel @ Norwich 10:48 am.
258620.5 absolute miles in driveway at Slaterville Springs. Close log. 821.4 miles. fuel cost $138.38. ca. $46 cash out spent for food, BBQ donation, map, and many cups crappy coffee. Silver Dragon performed flawlessly, but too many miles driven for too few hours productive photography.
De-Briefing Rollieflex damaged in accident with dog leash toppling tripod. Too little advanced internet research. More than 330 digital picture files. Should have taken Canon G-12 for backup and a backup exposure meter for the film cameras. Three rolls 6 cm film before Rollieflex shelved. Results mixed…mostly underexposure. One and a half rolls 35mm black and white backups look good. One and a half rolls infrared… spotty quality mostly due to underexposure. It would be wonderful to have a navigator/logger for company. Knee and hip joints limit hiking ability. Mental fatigue a worse problem then in previous years. If I’m going to Halifax I need to budget more rest time and pick more direct routes to limit car time.
What’s the point of all this anyway ?? real photojournalists get paid ( peanuts )…over the hill wannabes like me get grants. This doesn’t mean I’m going to stop doing it, but I’m going to have to find real income streams.
I’ll be at the Ithaca Artists Market again this year. Friday 25 July ’14 from 2 pm to dark at Steamboat Landing. Some prints including some not shown in this post will be available then and there.
For the curious who’d like to dig further into the ball of wax: use these starting points.
Way enough for now…I’ve been working on this post for a week.
Next Post: is going to have to somethin more modest.