Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Adirondack Country. William Chapman White (4)

New York: Alfred A. Knopf. 1954.

Why read it? The history of the Adirondacks, the names, the lakes, the peaks, the guides and impressions of the tourists and the seasons. “As a man tramps the woods to the lake…he knows he will find pines and lilies, blue heron and golden shiners, shadows on the rocks and the glint of light on the wavelets, just as they were in the summer of 1954, as they will be in 2054 and beyond; he can stand on a rock by the shore and be in a past he could not have known, in a future he will never see; he can be a part of time that was and time yet to come.”

“It was important to keep the fire going; matches were not invented until 1827.” P. 68. ………. “One other industry and activity, whiskey making and drinking, vividly marked life on the American frontier…a bucket of whiskey stood on the counter of every general store on a ‘help yourself’ basis… the amount of whiskey consumed in frontier social life was tremendous, a fondness for it is not unknown in the Adirondack country now, where the tavern keepers are numerous and prosperous.” P. 82. ………. “Timber was so abundant, and timber in the early days usually meant the giant white pine, that it was inconceivable to the early settlers that it could ever be exhausted..” p. 89. ………. “Joel T. Headley was one of the first to report a fact that was to draw thousands to the region in later years: many people sick with a variety of diseases seemed to improve in the woods.” P. 103. ………. S.N. Hammond: “The old woods should stand here always as God made them, growing on until the earthworm ate away their roots and the strong winds hurled them to the ground, and new woods should be permitted to supply the place of the old so long as the earth remained.” P. 110. ………. “To explain it [the stampede to the woods] fully, one must have been alive in 1869, weary of the city, beset by a threatening business panic, and moved by Rev. William Murray’s words; you choose the locality which best suits your eye and build a lodge under unscarred trees, and upon a carpet of moss, untrampled by man or beast; there you live in silence unbroken by any sound save such as yourself may make, away from all the business and cares of civilized life.” P. 113. ………. “Thus attired, Murray’s lady of 1869 was ready for the woods; the sight of her, with net over her face, man’s hat on her head, long gloves in place, and her short walking dress with Turkish drawers fastened tightly at the ankle probably sent all wild life scurrying and may explain why panther, moose and catamount disappeared forever from the woods.” P. 114.

To be continued.

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