I was working on “A Walpolean in Paris – 11-17 October 2016” Part I and Part II, but could sense that BLUE BELLE was “blue.” She was pining, “there is all that color out there, but no blue. I can change that.” It was not supposed to rain until early evening, and you know I cannot say no to my ladies, so off we went “leaf peeping.” But our 73 kilometers were shortened after 45 — the building clouds opened up with rain. So, we headed back home. In sprite of the rain, I arrived totally dry. You see, the windscreen (now operating as a rain screen) is aerodynamically designed to keep the cockpit dry above 35MPH (56KPH). A wonderfully dry environment is created. Only a few errant drops that accumulated at the top of the screen splatted back onto my forehead. So, here are some colors – sadly somewhat muted due to the overcast.

We started overlooking the village from North Road. A favorite spot of mine to see the village in various seasons. HINT – you may wish to click on my panoramas to open a larger view. Below is the first panorama.


Below you can see the Town Hall’s cupola (next to my house) in this image looking from a slightly different angle. I have almost the exact image from last year on The Walpole Clarion website – once there, just scroll down a tad.


We then headed up to Barnett Hill. One of the most expansive views in town looking west. Vermont mountains, dozens of miles distant, are in the background. Here is the second panorama.


A tad further up Barnett Hill Road heading east.


You know we love back dirt roads, and here were mostly yellows.


And a tad further, we had to back up to share this panoramic view with you.


I wandered around Marlow, which is always pretty to visit, and captured this bucolic image, albeit with few leaves.


Left turn onto Route 10 heading to Newport, and possibly Lake Sunapee, there walking along the side of the road was Andrea. I was going to stop and see her at the Marlow Post Office (she used to be my clerk in town here). We waved, I u-turned, pulled over, and we visited for awhile — she was on her lunch break, and walks for an hour plus. Lovely chat catching up, but some rain drops began hitting me. “Route 123A has recently been repaved,” she told me. Hating to cut my journey short, at least here was an option. Previously on 123A it was easy for light-weight BLUE BELLE to go airborne over the bumps, even at 30 MPH.

By the time I got to 123A, it was obvious I had to head home through Acworth and Alstead. A two plus hour tour, arriving home to start writing and then lose power — yes, I am on a battery laptop.  So, if we can get out again with nice sun, and get some more images, I will let you know and add them here. Power has been out over an hour or more, hopefully I will be able to get this to you today.  Bye — as always, yours, RAY

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Two weeks later, but I still need to share this Road Scholar program with you. This was a great learning experience for me — we just do not learn in school the extensive contribution (and lasting impact) of the Dutch in the 17th century to our country, particularly in the Hudson River Valley.

I have a difficult time remembering details, but as I tell my friends, “I am good with concepts.” May I recommend that you learn the details of this fascinating time period by reading about the places I visited, and pick up two books. First, read Russell Shorto’s THE ISLAND AT THE CENTRE OF THE WORLD. Start with the epilogue, and you will find out how this history was preserved and hidden away. This book may appear scholarly (and it is) but it well written and easily read. I have yet to read my copy of NEW NETHERLAND IN A NUTSHELL, by Firth Haring Fabend, but in glancing through this will be a detailed chronicle. I posted my trip to and from this program on September 30th.  With the passage of time, I have concepts for you, with just enough detail, hopefully, to encourage you to learn more on your own.

Monday, the 18th, was a day of lectures in preparation for our travels. Dr. Janny Venema from The New Netherland Researh Center in Albany was our speaker. Working with Dr. Charles Gehring, it is the center’s work that provided the resource for much of Shorto’s writing. Then, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday were packed travel days to three Dutch sites each day, and as much as 6 hours bus travel time. But, even though not a bus or “group” person, this is the best way to get so much done and seen in this time frame. And, I have found I can read and study on a bus.

Monument and grave of George Clinton

Monument and grave of George Clinton


Tuesday, September 20th, we started driving north from the conference center to Kingston, NY, to visit the Old Dutch Church. organized in 1659. A very rich history and interesting cemetery surrounding the church, which is located in Kingston’s historic stockade district. Buried here, George Clinton was a Brig. Gen. in the Revolution; first Governor of NY 1777-95 and 1801-4; and Vice-President of the US from 1804-1812.


Back on the bus – one of many such evolutions – and off to Coxsackie, and The Bronck Museum, built in 1663. The Hudson Valley’s Oldest Home (the original part) it has been owned by The Greene County Historical Society since 1938. We had a picnic lunch on the grounds before beginning the tour. I must also add another important point to the advantage of taking a tour such as this. The places that were opened to us usually have limited hours, resulting in my not being near them to visit when open; and, many of the things included on a trip such as this are not offered to the public.

The Bronck Museum - original part of house on left dating to 1663.

The Bronck Museum – original part of house on left dating to 1663.

Here are some views during the tour:


Dutch Barns were designed with usually about five H supports in the center. The side walls are further out, and do not support the roof, nor are they supported by the main frame. Designed for the processing of wheat (I learned more about this later), the cut wheat dried in the overhead and then the wheat and chaff were separated on the main floor. Opposing doorways were opened to allow a cross breeze to aid in the separation.

Dutch Barn (with exhibits) at The Bronck Museum. Note massive H patter supporting beam structure.

Dutch Barn (with exhibits) at The Bronck Museum. Note massive H patter supporting beam structure.

You know I am fascinated with 19th century hotels, inns, and tourist destinations. The Catskills and Adirondacks rivaled the White Mountains in what was available for city escapes. In one of the exhibitions here I was thrilled to see what remains of the Catskill Mountain House  which opened in 1824, closing in 1941 with the beginning of the war. The state of NY took over the property, and with the “forever wild” philosophy, instead of restoration the hotel’s remains were burned January, 1963.

One of my now all-time favorite images.  What is it?


And, we ended the day heading north above Albany, but on the east side of the Hudson above Troy, to The Knickerbocker Mansion in Schaghticoke – something I could not do unless there on a Sunday between 11 and 3. Again, one of the advantages of an educational tour such as this. I never would have been here at the right time, or learned so much.

The Knickerbocker Mansion - 1780s - Schaghticoke, NY

The Knickerbocker Mansion – 1780s – Schaghticoke, NY

Saved from destruction, in the valley of the Hoosic River, this home has been undergoing years of restoration, and is far from done. A meeting point for Native Americans, following a treaty signed on the grounds between the Indians and Colonists, The Witenagemot Oak was planted in 1676 in commemoration. Its concrete filled remains lie on the ground to the rear. Here are some views showing the interior restoration:

This plaque piqued my interest in Washington Irving, and led to my purchase of 7 books on the writer in the past 10 days.


Yesterday I began WASHINGTON IRVING: AN AMERICAN ORIGINAL by Brian Jay Jones. Well researched and written, Jones on page 108 questions whether Herman was the inspiration for the pseudonym. Does not matter — I am still “hooked on Irving.”

And then, something only done once a year for this tour — an authentic Dutch meal. And, immediately below is the ONLY WAY TO HAVE DINNER !!!


Served family style, we started with strawberry soup, and then I heaped my plate with chicken, special sweet potatoes, and more.

Back on the bus for three plus hours back to the conference center (actually I was closer to home) — but a very worthwhile day accomplishing and learning a great deal.

Wednesday, 21 September — back on the bus at 8:15 AM, and off for Hurley, NY (essentially the southern part of Kingston). You do have to visit the early Dutch Stone Homes here – we got to tour two – but otherwise, open only once a year during Stone House Day – next on July 8, 2017.

We first toured the Old Guard House (Spy House) built prior to 1685. After capture, a British spy was confined in the dungeon like cellar before being hanged across the street in an apple tree.

Old Guard House c1685 - Hurley, NY

Old Guard House c1685 – Hurley, NY

The 98 year old owner greeted us inside. The home is packed with wonderful treasures from around the world. His 77 year old son also toured us. Note the massive summer beam, so typical in these early homes we toured.


some additional things I saw inside, including the side wing which at one time served as the post office.

In October 1777 when the British attacked and burned Kingston, NY, then the capitol of New York, Hurley served as a refuge, and became the capitol for one month. George Washington was in Hurley and the surrounding area many times, and on his visit October 1783, at a reception in the stone tavern at the far end of the street, thanked the citizens for providing the wheat saving his troops during the winter at Valley Forge.

The other home we toured, packed with antique treasures of the 80+ year old antique dealer owners, was the 1723 Van Deusen House. This home housed the state government in October 1777.

Van Deusen House, 1723, Hurley, NY

Van Deusen House, 1723, Hurley, NY

You know I like texture and windows (and I think now subtle clotheslines). Seen behind one of the stone houses on the path to the town cemetery.


Back on the bus — next stop, Albany, and the Schuyler Mansion.

Model of the Albany Schuyler Mansion in its prime in the 1760s

Model of the Albany Schuyler Mansion in its prime in the 1760s

Good continued history, but starting to get “house brain-dead.” Wonderful history here, but you do not need to visit unless you are really into Colonial New York, its merchant development, and Alexander Hamilton. You see, Hamilton married Schuyler’s daughter Elizabeth here in 1780, twenty-four years before he lost his life in a duel with Aaron Burr (oh, I had fun reading about that as a result, and then the Burr Conspiracy — one thing leads to another – I get nothing done, learn lots, and keep the brain going to keep young – highly recommended by me – for me!!!).

In their mansion, the Schuylers hosted guests such as George and Martha Washington, Benjamin Franklin, the Marquis de Chastellux, James Madison, and the British General during the Battle of Saratoga, John Burgoyne, who stayed at the mansion as a “prisoner guest” in 1777.

It was then across the river to see Fort Crailo.

Fort Crailo - Rensselaer, New York - car, and our bus.

Fort Crailo – Rensselaer, New York – car, and our bus.

Built circa 1707,  but with a history going back to 1663, fortunately this property was saved. But, not properly restored, it serves solely as a museum with information panels. If you do not have the time – you can skip a visit. Sorry, State of New York for my honesty. Across the street you look across the Hudson River to Albany.

Albany looking across the Hudson River from Fort Crailo.

Albany looking across the Hudson River from Fort Crailo.

Yes, back on the bus – and about 3 hours back to Warwick Conference Center, but dinner first at the Hoffman House in Kingston – a Dutch stone tavern, circa 1711. I poked around, and chatted with the owners – of course.

Thursday, September 22, the last full day on this adventure. Actually had an extra 15 minutes sleep not having to board the bus until 8:30 for Tarrytown, NY. Only scary part (besides Sleepy Hollow) was crossing the Hudson on the Tappan Zee Bridge.  I remember it being built well over 50 years ago (don’t do the math), and it was proudly advertised it was built to last 50 years.  Yes, falling down, I hate to cross it. A new bridge is being constructed, hopefully with a longer life expectancy. Our first stop — Sunnyside, home of Washington Irving – my new “hero.”

Sunnyside, Tarrytown, NY - Home of Washington Irving.

Sunnyside, Tarrytown, NY – Home of Washington Irving.

Thank you, John D. Rockefeller, Jr. If I recall correctly, he purchased this property in 1943 from the family, establishing Sleepy Hollow Restorations (now known as Historic Hudson Valley), which has expanded to a number of significant properties within a few miles. Did I tell you I have become hooked on Washington Irving? He purchased the small stone cottage here in 1835, and expanded it (not too much) into the Dutch looking cottage it is today – but added the tower to the right later. When the railroad came up the Hudson River’s bank, Irving was forced to sell land for the roadway, and the inlet in front of his home became “landlocked.” The funds he received, however, allowed some additional improvements to his property. Here are a few images I took here:

You will hear more about my new interest in Washington Irving this coming year. Our next stop was Philipsburg Manor in Sleepy Hollow. It is a colonial milling and trading complex owner over the years by the Dutch and then British.

Philipsburg Manor from the parking lot. I have seen the large green area under water, as it should be. This is a dry year.

Philipsburg Manor from the parking lot. I have seen the large green area under water, as it should be. This is a dry year.

We toured the complex, and the most fascinating part was the young docent who explained how wheat was processed in the Dutch Barn. I now know that wheat and hay are two different things – stop by and visit me for a 3 hour dissertation – (not a tour on the Minnow).

And, last, we visited the Old Dutch Church circa 1685, and yes, of note from Washington Irving’s Legend of Sleepy Hollow. The bus parked on The Headless Horseman Bridge, and up the hill we went.

Old Dutch Church - Sleepy Hollow, NY

Old Dutch Church – Sleepy Hollow, NY

So much history, and between visiting here, the cemetery, Sunnyside, and Kinderhook on the way home — I experienced the paths that Ichabod Crane traversed.

And, you know I like windows, so here is looking out at Sleepy Hollow Cemetery (if you look closely, you can see a horse with a mysterious rider).


And, on the way back to the conference center, I again held my breath and prayed crossing the old Tappan Zee Bridge while looking at the new construction through the bus’ windows.

Construction on the new spans of the Tappen Zee Bridge.

Construction on the new spans of the Tappen Zee Bridge.

Friday was a lecture on Dutch music, lunch, and then departure. End of story???  No, just the beginning for you, because —


Explore the Hudson River Valley to its fullest extent from the Dutch in the 17th century to the summer resorts in the 19th, and the museums and amusements in the 21st.  ENJOY

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TWO LOCAL THINGS YOU NEED TO DO – NOW !!! — 3 and 4 October 2016

This is not the conclusion of “Everything Dutch in the Hudson Valley” – I know that. But this will be a brief encouragement for some nearby explorations you need to do very soon. Scott and Betty arrived with their Airstream on Monday afternoon on their way to Maine. We planned a full day of play and exploration on Tuesday before they left today, Wednesday. Shortly after arrival on Monday Betty said, “I need to accomplish some sight seeing today in NH.”  Well, you see, they had to sleep in the Airstream even at my house, because they had not slept in it in NH, and now have just about done so in all states. Part of her “check-off” is to actually play tourist. Her desire – visit the old Steamtown yards since they live just about one hour south of Steamtown’s new Scranton home. The yards here are now the home of the Green Mountain Railroad.

I believe I am going to become a professional tour guide. Having just completed my Horse Thieves lecture on “The Development of a Village;” and, my Saturday tour for Louisa May Alcott aficionados around Alcott associated spots in town, I was motivated, and animated to tour my dear friends, and impressed myself with the knowledge I was able to impart. But we have explored before together, and learning one thing leads to at least two more questions to answer (and those answers usually begat more questions). It does not end.

We explored the yard in North Walpole examining the round table and rolling stock. I explained were the tracks came from and went. We looked at the old stone bridge, and then I needed to also show them the old yard in Rockingham, north of Bellows Falls. But on the way, we toured the “island,” and its rail facilities, old factories, and the Indian Petroglyphs. Heading back to the Village Square I proclaimed, “I need to show you the railroad tunnel under the village.” So I turned left down the alleyway, which I had only walked down a few dozen feet before. There were the tracks, the tunnel to the left, and I continued down the road to:

Bellows Falls Historical Society - Adams Grist Mill Museum

Bellows Falls Historical Society – Adams Grist Mill Museum

The door was open – on a Monday evening – we have done this before elsewhere, we just went in. “Bound to be someone inside I know,” I said, and yes, Chris said, “hi Ray, and welcome.”  My first visit ever, and to be repeated. Built in 1831, converted to electricity in the 1920s, and operated until 1961, the equipment is amazing, complete, and we all bet you could just turn the power back on and grind away. Here is a sample of the inside you have to explore:

Remember you can click on any image to open larger size images.

Chris before one of the original Steamtown signs

Chris before one of the original Steamtown signs

We departed, leaving a nice donation for the museum. I also asked Chris if we could meet sometime to develop an article for my Walpole Clarion readers, and we are going to do that.

My 1929 Model A Ford Roadster

My 1929 Model A Ford Roadster

Tuesday, our plan was to head to Historic Deerfield in Massachusetts, less than an hour away. I first drove through Deerfield in the pouring rain in the summer of 1963 in Belzebuth, my 1929 Model A Ford Roadster. Since living here, I drive through many times a year stopping at the giftshop/book store, and to have lunch or dinner at Champney’s Restaurant & Tavern. BUT – for some reason I have never toured the homes and museum buildings. It was “meant to be” to share with Scott and Betty.

The view as you enter Old Main Street from the south. I always enter this way because I first did in 1963.

The view as you enter Old Main Street from the south. I always enter this way because I first did in 1963.

Historic Deerfield Visitor Center

Historic Deerfield Visitor Center


We bought our tickets at the Visitor Center — $14 – a tremendous bargain — and were given an introduction to the day’s events. Four homes were open for guided tours, and others for self-guided tours to see the homes or collections inside. Our timing was perfect to start with the Frary House at 11AM.

Frary House - Historic Deerfield

Frary House – Historic Deerfield

Built c1750, Miss C. Alice Baker began restoration in the 1890s in the Colonial Revival style. She was an early saver of the village, and was instrumental also in the Arts and Crafts movement with cottage industries that developed here making items for tourists, developing the tourist trade early on. The guided tours of this home and two of the three others were absolutely fantastic with exceptional well-informed docents. The tours are planned to last about 35 minutes, but we were fortunate. We spent 45-50 minutes here (with two other guests), but (more later on these) at the Ashley House and later at Wells Thorn House we spent over an hour – ending only because the next tour was to start. We were alone on those tours, and the paid docents could tell we were knowledge thirsty, and knowledgeable visitors.  It makes a difference, as Scott and Betty can attest having now served two stints as National Park Service volunteer guides. We headed north up Old Main Street to the Williams House for the noon tour. Docent not the best, we had 11 people total on the tour, but glad we at least saw the house. Finishing up, we crossed the street to the Ashley House for the 1PM tour.

Ashley House - Historic Deerfield

Ashley House – Historic Deerfield

The docent met us outside and began visiting – it was only the 3 of us entranced and learning. He started with the geology and Native American background of the area. Old Deerfield is on a small extremely fertile plateau surrounded to the south, west and east by plains prone to flooding. Flooding resulting from the Deerfield River (to the west) which flows north from the west to empty into the Connecticut River in Greenfield. During freshets, the water flowing south down the Connecticut battles up against the water attempting to empty into it from the Deerfield River. The resulting flooding over millennium depositing exceptional soil and Native American settlements long before English settlers came in 1669. And, then there was the 1704 massacre and subsequent abandonments, but those are stories for you to find out on your own. For the next hour, we knew we were getting an exceptional insight into history, and answers to the questions we posed. And, always wondering why Old Deerfield was what I thought was a loop road off the newer US Route 5, I now know it was the fertile plateau and surrounding lowlands that cause the original road to curve in and out as it does.  I love learning why something is the way it is. Before I head to the last house, here is a gallery of images for you, and you can click any to get to the larger images.

At 3PM we arrived at the Wells Thorn House for a “walk through time.”

Wells-Thorn House at Historic Deerfield. Painted blue by the original owner, a lawyer, so everyone knew where he lived.

Wells-Thorn House at Historic Deerfield. Painted blue by the original owner, a lawyer, so everyone knew where he lived.

The rooms are set up to show a progression of furnishings from 1725 to the 1850s. Nicely done. At the conclusion, when chatting with our docent, he asked where we were from. For some reason, for the first time today, I mentioned the town too, and that opened up a whole new line of conversation. Ends up he plays in a band in front of my house each summer, and then he added, “I worked for the Green Mountain Railroad.”  Well, we bombarded him with questions left over from the previous day’s explorations. And we now have the answers.

But, at 4PM we were “housed out.” We had only gotten into one of the house exhibitions – the furniture. So, I have at least two more trips back to see everything else. We headed out, stopping in front of one more private house.


Scott, Betty, and friend at Yankee Candle

Scott, Betty, and friend at Yankee Candle



I suggested we head a tad south to Yankee Candle’s flagship store, and Betty said, “you have always told us we had to see that, let’s go.” Scott chimed in, “oh, no!”  It is always fun there, full of eye-candy, and worth a stop when there are no cars or buses out front. So, off we went.




You never know what you are going to see, I told Betty to take her camera in. She did, and I did. You know I like diners, and here are two that were in the room of villages (click to enlarge).



It is always a magical place here.


Betty just posted on their site all about our adventures together. Great images (which I did not include) of our visit to the Green Mountain Railroad — so, please visit what Betty just posted (about 10:10 PM Wednesday) — click on the on the link that follows — https://scotttho.wordpress.com/2016/10/05/its-fall/


1 – Plan a number of visits to Historic Deerfield in Old Deerfield, Massachusetts

2 – Plan to visit and experience the Adams Grist Mill in Bellows Falls, VT


A new addition (as long as I remember) of some of the fascinating things I learn

1 – MIND YOUR P’s AND Q’s — shouted out in a colonial tavern by the barkeep to patrons meaning “Mind your pints and quarts.” Time to come fill up for a final round.

2 – ROOM AND BOARD — In colonial homes/taverns, with your room for the night you could also get fed. With limited furniture a board could would be brought out, placed upon trestle or “saw horses” to serve as a table for your meal.

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Welcome back to SHUNPIKING WITH RAY. I seem to find it harder and harder to find the time to document my explorations for you, and those documentations are coming later after a journey. I thought of a good way, however, to split up my recent Road Scholar program – Discover Everything Dutch in the Hudson Valley. First I am going to tell you what I did on the way to the conference center in Warwick, New York, followed by my journey home. In my next post (hopefully soon) I will give you some of what I learned about the neglected history of the 17th century Dutch in the Hudson River Valley, and encourage you to learn about it also.

First, I highly recommend you get a copy of Russell Shorto’s book, THE ISLAND AT THE CENTRE OF THE WORLD. Recommended reading for the program I attended, it is amazing, and highly readable giving you a wonderful flavor for the Dutch presence from 1609 in the Hudson River until the British took over in 1674. You will not be disappointed, and please first read the Epilogue to learn how all this history has been compiled in spite of what has been lost. Remember too that “the victor writes the history,” thus we all have learned little from prior to British rule. But more on that in my next post.

Sunday, September 18, I crossed Vermont on Route 9. In the mountains, the leaves were changing already – reds and oranges glistening in the rain. Picking up the NY State Thruway, I exited at Kingston. My plan was to start in Hurley, NY, which I told you about in July when I came back from Scott and Betty’s at the end of the post. I was not sure if during our visit to Hurley during the program whether a visit to the museum would be included (ends up it was).  I stopped in Hurley, and a festival was going on in town, and outside the museum.

Hurley, NY, Historical Museum at festival time.

Hurley, NY, Historical Museum at festival time.

On my way to my main exploration for the day, I stopped at The Bevier House – the museum of the Ulster County Historical Society. Built c1690, the house was given to the society in 1938.

Bevier House - circa 1690

Bevier House – circa 1690

The docent told the history of the house, and the changes over time. In housing their collections, the various rooms are furnished reflecting different centuries as they would have appeared. Below is the 17th century kitchen with some interesting implements with clock mechanisms for roasting. One is on the wall above the mantle on the right, and the other hanging from the mantle on the left.



dut-4My main destination for the transit to Warwick, however, was the D&H Canal Museum and Five Locks Walk in High Falls, NY. I wanted to learn more about this canal after discovering it when traveling back from Scott and Betty’s. You know I am fascinated by canals, and this was a fantastic stop. Not only did I get to see the museum, but I was there on a day when there was a guided tour of the locks – I waited and joined in with about 30 other people.

I thought it would be easiest to share these information panels from the museum (and save for my own further review and study). If you wish, you can click and open the gallery to read further.

The key historical fact you should take away from this post is that the War of 1812, cut off the US supply of soft bituminous coal from England. The coal was cheap fuel, even when brought across the Atlantic. The Wurt brothers soon proved that anthracite coal from Carbondale, Pennsylvania, was the answer, but how to get it to New York City? They built a  108 mile canal with 108 locks along rivers from Carbondale to Kingston, NY, where the coal was then transported to NYC and elsewhere. The easiest route – going east then north to go south. Even coal “shunpikes.”

The museum was nicely done, but small. The 1797 DuPuy Canal House at Lock 16 was recently purchased, and is to be restored to house the museum. I will revisit when that is done. Joining the walking tour, I learned from the director and his assistant. Here is a gallery of views from the museum and along the walking tour of the 5 lock area. High Falls was one of the many towns that emerged with the building of the canal in 1828.  The last coal was transported in 1898.

It was then time to head to Warwick. WAZE routed me over the Shawangunk Mountains on back roads (WAZE knows me), and past the entrance to the Mohonk Mountain House where Cathy and I “honeymooned” in 1995. I need to get back someday for a stay. From New Paltz south I had some lovely views of the Shawangunks, and ultimately arrived at the Warwick Conference Center about 5PM – just in time – but aren’t I good at timing?

A great learning, visual, and gastronomic experience followed for the next 4 1/2 days. But, that will come in the next post on the Dutch in the Hudson Valley. By 11:30 AM on Friday the 23rd, I was back on the road with one goal in mind – Martin Van Buren’s home in Kinderhook, NY. Less than 30 miles from the Red Lion Inn, I have never been in the area at the right season, or the right day to tour the home. The 23rd was my opportunity. But also, I have become “hooked on” Washington Irving (more on that in the next post about Sunnyside and Sleepy Hollow), and Irving visited this home when owned by the Van Ness family, and later he visited and stayed with Van Buren.

Martin Van Buren's Lindenwald in Kinderhook, NY

Martin Van Buren’s Lindenwald in Kinderhook, NY

Completed in 1797, Van Buren (1782-1862) purchased this home in 1839. As Scott and Betty will tell you, a game question coming up often is “which President was born, lived, and died in the same town?” Of course you guessed correctly, otherwise I would not have asked – Martin Van Buren (remember to share your winnings with us). The tower on the left is part of Van Buren’s later modifications. The home and tour was somewhat of a disappointment to me – but at least I have now been there. Restoration and furnishings are not the most impressive, and my volunteer guide was lacking. When I responded to her question, “which President was Van Buren?”  I replied, “our 8th President.” To which she replied, “yes, and he was followed by Lincoln, our 9th!”  NOT !!!

Located in Kinderhook, I had never been in Kinderhook before, and hope to return — it is lovely. And, also with my new interest in Washington Irving, there are connections between this village and The Legend of Sleepy Hollow. Here are some images of the home, and the village (remember to click to open slide show).

But, it was time to head home.  Did I say I was less than 30 miles to The Red Lion Inn? You know I stopped.


And, then home, and now a week later reliving the fun.  Next coming is what happened in-between going and coming. Later, as always, yours, RAY

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This weekend was the 45th Annual Dublin Gas Engine Meet in Dublin, NH, on Route 101. Fascinated for decades by the old “hit ‘n miss” engines, you may recall I went last year, and that Alex and I had a fantastic time at a similar show in Orange, Massachusetts in June of 2015. You may enjoy clicking on the links above to see some of what we saw.

BLUE BELLE and I tooled off through Keene and down Route 101 in spite of foreboding skies, arriving at 11AM. We had our $5 admission ready while in the queue to enter, but then the lady flagged us instead onto the field.  “We want you to exhibit your car, just pull in here instead, and park down on the left – no charge.” And, no argument – I was now parked right on the massive field, and off I went to see the vendor’s exhibits, and the machines on display and operating.

One vendor had a model of a machine I would have wanted, and when I went back hours later to make the purchase, it had been sold. I know, “meant to be” but also, “when you see it, get it.” Here is a gallery of some of the different machines I saw this time, and remember you can click on any one to start a show of larger images.

During one shower I moved BLUE BELLE under some trees at the side of the field. The rain was heavier, and people were leaving. I pulled her original top out for the second time ever to keep some water out of the cockpit. Eventually, the skies cleared, and at about 1:15 I decided to just head back home.

Back on Route 101, and heading west through Dublin. Up the hill, around the round-about at Yankee Publishing, up the hill, and coming into the curve at Dublin Pond. BUT WAIT !!! How many times have you gone east to west, or west to east across New Hampshire on Route 101? How many times have you looked across Dublin Pond from 101 to  Monadnock Mountain? Have you ever wondered what was on the other side of the lake? This time I did – and turned onto East Lake Road. REMEMBER – IF YOU HAVE NOT BEEN ON A ROAD BEFORE — TAKE IT !  Checking my extensive archives this morning, I found a used map of the area to share with you what I did.

Route 101 is in pink — what I did is in yellow — and your assignment is to pack a picnic lunch and bottle of wine and head to the pink circle on the back route I discovered. (you can click on the map for a larger size)  (PS – explore Harrisville when you can – absolutely amazing – someday I will have to give you a full photographic study)


Lake Road is great, and different mountain views. And, YEAH, eventually became dirt. I was not concerned about getting lost. I knew I was in NH, and my sense of direction keeping me heading west. Eventually I would come to a familiar intersection.  The road became Stone Pond, and soon I had a choice – I kept to the right onto Colonial Road assuming it would get me back to Route 101 eventually. GLAD I DID – because at the stop sign at Frost Hill Road, looking to my left was a sign “Historic Cemetery – Historic Site – 1 Mile.” Left turn, and up the hill I roared. I passed three wonderful period homes, and then arrived at the cemetery, and historic site – the original Marlborough Village – the pink circle above.

One of the most beautiful spots I have visited. BB2 parked in front of the cemetery and village site.

One of the most beautiful spots I have visited. BB2 parked in front of the cemetery and village site.


The above can be “clicked” for a larger readable version.

This is the site of the Old Meeting House with Mount Monadnock in the distance. Construction began in 1770 with completion in 1779. It was last used in the 1840s, and in 1865 fell down due to the lack of repairs.


At the edge of the village site (walk from spot above towards the mountain) is the Town Pound. Found in most colonial villages, the pound was for impounding stray farm animals. A farmer could reclaim his animal paying a fee to the Pound Keeper for the animal’s care and feeding.


I could not resist sharing these granite fence/gate posts. At the fantastic three homes and fields north of the original village there are many more such cut stones in current use.


and, most unbelievable, and the first time I had ever seen vaults like these, these family vaults have stone doors which have been sealed. Further south there was another similar number of vaults.


Back to my map above.  I had to know if and where Frost Hill Road joined with Route 101, so back past the fantastic estates, fields, and views, and yes past the Frost Free Library the road intersects with Route 101 at the eastern edge of the commercial area. My guess is that the Marlborough we know today, is where it is today because of the river and water power usage to run the mills. The population and village just moved down the hill abandoning the original site.

But before I went down the hill, I continued south on Frost Hill Road and came to Route 124. Reversing direction, Frost Hill Road ultimately connects with Route 124 at Route 101 (hope this makes sense). So, I headed back out this time on Route 124 toward Jaffrey (filling in the map) until I arrived back at Frost Hill Road where instead of continuing to Jaffrey I turned on Old Troy Road, to head to Troy and Route 12. Arriving on 12, it was time to head home.

WHAT A GREAT DISCOVERY. Between Old Marborough Road and Frost Hill Road there are views of Mtn. Monadnock that most people do not see.


And, plan a picnic at the Original Town Center of Marlborough. You will not be disappointed.  Enjoy, yours, RAY

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Happy Labor Day. You may be caught in traffic – I was not, as I am in “heaven.” I expected today to be bad weather wise with the storm that hit the south earlier in the week, but I was proven wrong. Saturday I had a “date” with one friend in BLACK BEAUTY. She suggested a sojourn to Peterborough, and lunch there. Well, hurry and go to Nature’s Green Grocer Market and Cafe. The most amazing selections in their market, and the cafe – AMAZING. We sat on the patio eating, listening to the river. I felt like I was back on my waterfall in New Preston, CT. We backroaded home via Harrisville, and some more roads I had not been on. She is good at saying — “Did you see that sign? TURN THERE!” But she “chickened out” in the wilderness on the way to Cobb Hill Estate. Sunday, I had another “date” with a dear friend, and we traveled to (no surprise here) Plymouth Notch, Vermont, to hear a Folk and Blues Festival at the Calvin Coolidge site. It was BLUE BELLE’s turn to Plymouth Notch.

Today I planned to “work” at home — but, “work” can wait – the weather was going to be nice. So, out came the map, and soon a route was formulated on unexplored areas to “fill in the map.”  And, this map will “set the stage” for today’s 164 kilometers.


By the way, Vermont and New Hampshire are very generous with their maps – they want tourism. When, and if, you ever see Massachusetts or Connecticut state issued maps, grab them — no grab 6 or more, and send me a few.

I crossed the Connecticut River, drove through Saxtons River arriving in Grafton. You may know the significance the Inn at Grafton holds for me. It changed my life, and that story is on rayboasbookseller.com.

The Inn at Grafton, Vermont and the Phelps Barn Tavern

The Inn at Grafton, Vermont and the Phelps Barn Tavern

I headed out of town on VT 121 – usually I only head into town on this route from Route 11 outside Londonderry. I love this road ! And, so do my ladies — DIRT ! Who cares about paint jobs and dust – just have fun!

For those of you who do not know what schooling is like in our area, here is a small school on this road.


And, then downtown Houghtonville — well, this is downtown Houghtonville.


And, here is just a typical bucolic setting along Route 121, and it is for sale.


There is a four corners I had never turned on, and today was the day. I assumed Windham Hill Road would take me to West Townsend on Route 30 – and I was correct. Excitingly, it was all down hill. Eventually I saw (and pulled in) to the Windham Hill Inn. I had been here once before coming up from Route 30 – it is a setting in one of Archer Mayor’s mysteries.  And, then I arrived at the intersection on Route 30, and for the first time went inside the store.


You know I love old country stores.  Nothing special inside as to originality and decoration, but if hungry a place to stop and eat. BUT, inside was a flyer (you know I have a massive travel library) for exploring Vermont Byways via GyPSyGuide. I have yet to download the app — Gypsy Guide Vermont — but it appears that once you load it you can get commentary while traveling the state — and when not in range of cell service (duh – majority of Vermont) as it works off GPS which is free.  Check out Vermontvacation.com/byways and get the app — I will play with it once I get this post off to you.

In the parking area was this sign. Taft and Coolidge – WOW.


Approaching Wardsboro I saw I sign for Our Lady Of Ephesus House of Prayer. Cathy and I traveled there several times, including a wonderful Christmas celebration. But, since it’s address is Jamaica, Vermont, I was not able to find it a couple years ago when touring a friend in Vermont. Well, postal address may be Jamaica, but the turn is off Route 100 in Wardsboro.


Some more dirt, yeah, and BLUE BELLE and I arrived.


I had packed a lunch (cucumber and tomato sandwiches – good for my figure), and figured I would find the perfect spot to lunch. This was it, and there was a gazebo with table and chairs. Here is the view from the gazebo while BLUE BELLE was resting while I ate.


And, a few views of this shrine replicating Mary’s last residence in Ephesus, Turkey. I have been to Ephesus, but with a tour, and only got to the old ruins not to her home site.

Then, back to Route 100, and crossing it on the back road (is there any way else?) to South Wardsboro. Ends up that South Wardsboro is three, maybe four homes (hard to tell when they are falling down) but I wanted the left turn to Newfane. That exciting dirt road is all down hill — again, down hill – I do not remember going up hill all day. And, I arrived in Newfane eventually, the Windham County Seat.


Typical and wonderful New England. Have any idea why I love it here?


I then headed down Route 30, and past the Dummerston Covered Bridge.  I have not been south of the Dummerston Covered Bridge on Route 30 in maybe 16-18 years – no need to have done so.  And, I reconfirmed, nothing there, unless you are going up or down Route 30 from Brattleboro to points north.

But, I scooted off Route 30 before getting downtown. Would you believe I found dirt roads in Brattleboro?  Yes, up around the country club. My ladies know the kind of roads they prefer, and can find them. We eventually worked our way down to Route 9 and then into downtown Brattleboro and up US 5 to cross the bridge into New Hampshire.

Not done yet, I turned left to head home on River Road – yes along the Connecticut River. First you approach the old community house which now houses a theater on the second floor. I have attended a show here. Great, yes?


And, the old store in West Chesterfield, NH. I probably ran such a store in my previous life.


Tooling down River Road (maybe over the speed limit) I saw a monument. Brakes, U-turn, and here is the site of the first house in West Chesterfield on the Connecticut River in 1761.


Going through the county complex area (prison abandoned, nursing home status in the air) I needed to turn down Ferry Road.  On my list is to write about the Connecticut River Ferry Landings in my area. But, alas, no definitive spot for that, however, I did find a built up elevation over the river which is the site of the Cheshire County Alms House Cemetery – 1867. Now another research and writing project.


It was home about 3:30, and I sat down to document today for my memory and to share with you. But more importantly to encourage you to journey and explore the same route. If not this route — JUST GET OUT THERE, EXPLORE AND ENJOY.

It is getting harder to explore alone. Today was alone, but tomorrow will make up for it because I have “two dates” for tomorrow’s adventure.  That will be written about — and I still have a week in Maine (22-26 August) to share with you.

Take care, be safe, and just enjoy every moment to the fullest. I am trying to do so. As always, yours, RAY




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I returned home from my home state of Connecticut a week ago, and am finally starting on this post. But I know it may not be finished for days. In fact, I may not complete it until I am on the next series of explorations.  Am I too busy, or what? Actually, I talked with Betty yesterday following her visit with Scott to Grant’s Cottage (which I strongly encouraged).  I complimented her on her wonderful writing and woven past two travel posts. “But, Ray,” she said, “they took me 5 to 6 hours each.”  “I know,” I replied, “to do it right…” Make sure you visit Airstream Touring with Scott and Betty.

I grew up in Connecticut and left for college, so that is 18 years. Cathy and I married, and returned in 1995 until the fortunate move to Walpole in 2002 – thus 7 more years for a total of 25 — more than 1/3 of my life.  But, hard to believe, I have not done it all in Connecticut.  So, I formulated a plan, booked a fantastic B&B, and off I went Wednesday, August 10th.  This will be a picture show to encourage your travels – the history comes with the visit.

It poured on my way down I-91 to my first stop – the Connecticut Trolley Museum in East

Connecticut Trolley Museum

Connecticut Trolley Museum

Windsor. Fascinated with trolleys in about 7th grade, I got my parents to take me to the Branford Trolley Museum, and in September 2012, I experienced the Seashore Trolley Museum in Kennebunkport, Maine.  My afternoon in Kennebunkport was amazing, the Connecticut Trolley Museum was a disappointment, as I reported on TripAdvisor – but at least I can say I was there.

I sat in the car in the rain before I finally decided to go inside – I thought most everything would be outside. I was wrong.  In fact, there was very little to see inside, and little outside.

About half the trolleys on exhibit.

About half the trolleys on exhibit.

The absolute best thing was the documentary film on the history of trolley transportation in the US. Probably done in the early 70s I was captivated.  I also enjoyed seeing this car from the Springfield Vermont Railway I need to learn more because the placard stated it crossed the Connecticut River on what is the current old toll bridge to meet the train on the NH side of the river.

Combination passenger and freight car of the Springfield Electric Railway

Combination passenger and freight car of the Springfield Electric Railway

Passenger area of the Springfield Electric Railway car.

Passenger area of the Springfield Electric Railway car.

Note that the cars are original – I like original. The rain had stopped, so I headed outside for a ride.

On site also is the Connecticut Fire Museum — essentially a Butler Building full of retired equipment.


I then crossed the Connecticut River to backroad to my next destination. I always assumed Windsor Locks was so named for canal locks.  You know my affinity for canals, and low and behold there was the canal along the west side of the river. I later learned that this is the Enfield Canal (1829) that enabled river traffic above the Enfield Falls.

Did you even wonder why Bradley International Airport is named Bradley?  You should have. Here is the reason why.


Lt. Bradley in the early days of the field died in the first crash there.  The above plaque is just inside the New England Air Museum — which RAY HIGHLY RECOMMENDS. I wore myself out in a couple hours, and would like to return – easy to do since the museum is on the north side of the airport.

There are three hangers with displays, and then some aircraft outside on display. In its early days of construction, most aircraft were outside awaiting restoration. A freak hurricane came up in 1979 destroying much of the aircraft awaiting housing in the museum to be built, and opened in 1981. But, what is there is amazing.  You first enter the military hanger.

Military Hanger - NE Air Museum.

Military Hanger – NE Air Museum.

The 57th Fighter Group has an impressive number of firsts:


I knew a former short-time Walpole resident, Stu Bailey, was instrumental with the museum, but here on display is the oldest Wright Aircraft engine that he and his brother restored and donated.


In this second hanger is all history, and I absolute flipped out when I saw:


In my Did You Know That… article on page 18 of the April 2016 issue of THE WALPOLE CLARION, I discussed this balloonist.  There prominently displayed was Silas M. Brooks’ Balloon Basket, circa 1870. A pioneer balloonist from Plymouth, Connecticut, he lived from 1824-1906, and flew all over the area. The card on the display reads in part “…It is the oldest surviving balloon basket, and the oldest surviving aircraft in the United States.”   I encourage you to read my April article, could this be the same basket that hovered over the Walpole Town House on October 8, 1871, snatching and escaping with Walpole’s Revere Bell? We will probably never know for sure. I am including this discovery in the September issue of the CLARION.

In the “history” hanger is this gondola from a Blimp that patrolled the coast during WWII. I was waiting for the man to get out of the way, and then I realized — what a great way to give you an idea of the size.  I will remember that.


And, this was a great model.


The last hanger has the restored B-29 Bomber that was flipped over in the hurricane, complete with nose art – appropriate for a general rated audience


The B-29 Superfortress Bomber was the most sophisticated, complicated and expensive weapon produced by the US during WWII, and successfully rushed into production.

And, then I headed to my B&B the Nehemiah Brainer House in Haddam, Connecticut, probably one of the best I have stayed at, if not the best. Exquisite appointments, antiques, comfort, and wonderful hosts.  Here is a view when I got back from dinner my first night.

Nehemiah Brainerd House B&B, Haddam, CT

Nehemiah Brainerd House B&B, Haddam, CT

And, you know I like to share my room and meals. You can click on any image to open to large ones.

Any further questions why “I do” B&Bs?

Before dinner that first night, I headed to Camp Hazen in Chester where I attended the YMCA camp in 1958 and 1959 (don’t do the math). The fantastic camp will celebrate 100 years in 2020. As I pulled in the director’s husband followed me in and we had a wonderful nostalgic chat. I stopped years ago with Cathy when we spent a night in Essex, and I will visit again.

And, dinner was wonderful at the Brushmill in Chester. I would love to go again with company.

Brushmill at Chester, Connecticut

Brushmill at Chester, Connecticut

My meal, albeit alone —


I awoke on Thursday wondering if my day was going to be a “wash-out.”  My plan was to start the day on the Essex Steam Train and Riverboat excursion. For over a week ahead I debated which trip I should book ahead (planning on the last), but never did.  In true Ray fashion, I arrived and took the first train out at 10AM instead of the last train of the day (sounds like a song title). The rain stopped, and it was a great day with rain returning when I returned to my B&B.

Essex Connecticut Steam Train

Essex Connecticut Steam Train

When purchasing your ticket, you can choose an open car, coach, or …

you know I selected FIRST CLASS


A view along the way heading up the Connecticut River on the west bank.


you pass the boat landing, but will stop to board on the way back.


the cruise on the river is very bucolic with lots of birds, including eagles. Here is Gillette Castle from the river (more on this later) and a very early ferry crossing.


they really have the schedules down to a system as one train debarks passengers for the riverboat, others depart the riverboat to return to the station by train.  I overheard a conductor say my train had about 200 passengers (probably low due to rain at the day’s outset) and the normal number of passengers is 500-600.



Getting back to the station after 1:30, I got a sandwich there and headed to my other planned adventure for the day, the Connecticut River Museum, arriving about 2:15. On the list for a long time, I highly recommend a visit to Village of Essex itself, and the museum. On the first floor is the history of discovery of the area, and Bushnell’s Turtle.

Model of Bushnell's TURTLE in the Connecticut River Museum.

Model of Bushnell’s TURTLE in the Connecticut River Museum.

After US Navy Supply Corps School, my first assignment was as Disbursing Officer aboard the USS Bushnell AS-15, named for David Bushnell. Bushnell’s invention was to place bombs to the hulls of British warships in New York’s harbor while submerged, to be exploded with a time delay fuse once the operator had safely retreated in the Turtle. Unfortunately, on September 7, 1776, the augur used to penetrate the ship’s hull, to then attach the underwater bomb, hit metal failing to make a connection. Two additional attempts were unsuccessful, but the submarine had been invented as a war machine.

When I purchased my admission ticket, the clerk encouraged me to take the stairwell to the third floor to see the mural of the 400 plus mile long Connecticut River with accompanying aerial photographs.  Having travelled from the Canadian border to Long Island Sound observing most of the River, I was thrilled seeing the mural and photographs taken in 2009. I recognized most locations, and learned a few things I did not know. Here is just one small part of the mural —


And, some aerial photos that you can “click on” to see larger:

Years ago, Cathy and I spent a night and nice dinner at the Griswold Inn in Essex, open since 1776. At that time, in their dinner room was a popcorn wagon that is probably my CORNELIA’s sister.

Griswold Inn, Essex, Connecticut, established 1776.

Griswold Inn, Essex, Connecticut, established 1776.

Then I headed back to the little village of Chester which is now really an arts center in the quaint buildings. The recommended restaurant was booked, so I had dinner in the nearby pub for about half the price – and it was good.

Just like with Rogers’s Island Museum at Fort Edwards, NY again this June, I have never been in the area of Gillette Castle in Hadlyme at the right time or day — but now was the day and time, and the plan to be on the grounds before the castle opened. But, first I crossed the Connecticut River to walk the grounds of the Goodspeed Opera House in East Haddam.



And, more views to tempt your road trip – hey, I know the perfect B&B across the river.


And, then I arrived on the grounds of Gillette Castle just before it opened to view.


Chances are, since you are young (and things and people are generational), you have no idea who William Gillette is, well was. An eminent actor and playwright (1853-1937). Think iconic Sherlock Holmes. Gillette in bringing Holmes to the stage in over 1300 performances introduced the Deerstalker cap, curved briar pipe, Inverness cape, and the phrase “Elementary my dear Watson.” His wife died on a train with a ruptured appendix, and never re-marrying, he lived on his yacht, but then saw this spot on the Connecticut River. In 1919 he completed this impressive home at a cost of well over $1,000,000. In 1938, the State of Connecticut acquired the castle and land creating a wonderful park. The interior and furnishings of the castle are as they were when Gillette died – a virtual time-capsule (seems like I have seen many such time-capsules recently).

Here is the view of the river from the front patio.


And the grand main room.


He had many innovations throughout, and even glued his mementos down so his roaming cats would not knock things over. Gillette had an intricate system of mirrors so he could decide whether to come down to greet a guest or not, and to watch guests try to get into his bar which he secretly secured before retiring to watch them try to get that second drink he said they may have. Each of his 47 doors was hand carved, and each one is different.



After this enjoyable two hour visit (including a video and nice little museum on Gillette’s life) it was off north to Hartford (not a song title) to visit the Mark Twain House, acclaimed by National Georgraphic as “one of the the ten best historic homes in the world.” Well, I checked this list, have a ways to go, but I have documented some wonderful places on my “pages” here. But, I was not as impressed as I guess I should have been.

Mark Twain House - Hartford, CT

Mark Twain House – Hartford, CT

No pictures allowed inside. Nice tour, but I really enjoyed the museum giving a time line of Samuel Clemens’ life and work. I will now have to read my copy of Dayton Duncan and Ken Burns’ MARK TWAIN.

It was time to venture home, and true to form the rains began once I was done. I have been busy since, and am completing this post 17 days after returning – but as you know I am writing for myself to refresh my memories. While I am waiting for Alex to awake for a day’s adventure, I will start on last week’s Maine excursion, but first here is a discovery I promised to my Facebook readers.


Following my 3 month back surgery check-up (all is healing well) I was going to take an overnight with “glacial explorations,” but decided not to, focusing instead on re-tracing Connecticut steps. But, I couldn’t go straight home, so looked at the map — there was somewhat isolated square landmass nearby I had not explored. Dilemma solved!



Look at your NH state map. Just above Lebanon there is a relatively open area. I headed east on US 4 from Dartmouth Hospital to the intersection with Goose Pond Road, where I turned north. Goose Pond and its early cottages is a bucolic drive at 20 MPH. Once past the pond, the road turned dirt, telephone poles ceased, and soon I noticed on my Iphone “NO SERVICE.” But, Scott, I learned the answer to the question we pondered. WAZE still continued to display moving maps, and GPS was spotting where I was. So, the program loads when it can, and GPS triangulation is not cell signal dependent. You see on the map Hanover Center and Etna – I had never seen them. I turned left on Hanover Center Road, and climbed the hill. And soon I arrived to find the center of the center – the five acre Military Parade Ground established in 1795. Hanover Center is a village of Hanover (yes, home of Dartmouth College), but I bet few ever see it, or the village of Etna just to the south.


From Etna, I figured that Trescott Road would work me back towards the Hanover we are all familiar with. At a T, I turned left on Wheelock Street, and soon was on the south perimeter of the Dartmouth College Campus and the main town. I simply continued to cross the Connecticut River into Vermont.

Antiquing in Queechie was fruitless — when will I finally give up, there is nothing anymore. But I decided to finish up at Vermont Salvage in White River Junction. Sadly no fountains. Home next, to study for the Connecticut fun.

RAY RECOMMENDS: IF YOU HAVE NOT BEEN ON A ROAD, OR EXPLORED AN AREA — DO IT NOW, You will never know what you will find, and you are “filling in the map.”

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I was way overdue for a visit with Scott and Betty at their home on a lake in the Poconos. I have shared with you many of our adventures together – Scott and my Cathy worked together for years, and it has been wonderful to have them still as close friends. We picked the dates for my visit, and they started searching for new adventures in their area (of course, we could have just sat on the deck and talked).  Scott found an Inter-Tribal Native American POW-WOW that weekend, right in an unfamiliar area of their town. The plan was hatched for Sunday, July 17 – none of us had been to a POW-WOW before.

DPA-1With festivities beginning at Noon, we arrived with our chairs at the scout camp early to get a good seat. After reading and heeding this warning, we crossed this bridge into the open area for the ceremonies and ubiquitous vendors.


We looked, but none of us needed any tchotchkes. But I could not resist a $1 donation to throw a tomahawk. I have no idea why Scott didn’t take this action shot while facing me!


Prior to the beginning of the ceremony, the first dance is symbolic of stamping down the grasses to facilitate the following dances.


Then the opening ceremonial parade and many dances with LittleWolf & SummerBird, and Matt White Eagle & Chris Mourning Dove, and others. (you can click to enlarge)

Everything was pretty much the same, with the public invited to join in. We heard a “hoop dance” was coming, so waited for that – fascinating. Matt White Eagle, from Canada, travels all over the country to perform. He dances and uses increasing numbers of hoops (originally made of a white ash, but painted red) to intricately present recognizable designs.


A peaceful evening on the deck with dinner followed, the plan for Monday was my desire to see Jim Thorpe, PA, which I have read about, and admired the history and Victorian architecture. We arrived in the valley along the Lehigh River at about 11:41 am the 18th.


Mauch Chunk, PA and East Mauch Chunk became Jim Thorpe, PA in 1955. Mauch Chunk had been considered “Switzerland of America” by the Swiss Tourist Board, but even without this designation I implore you to learn of its history and visit. Anthracite coal was first discovered in 1791 in nearby Summit Hill. To bring it down into town, in 1828, the second railway in the US – the Mauch Chunk Gravity Railway – brought the coal to town to then be transported by canal to Philadelphia and New York.

When early 20th century renowned athlete and Olympian, Native American Jim Thorpe died in 1953, his wife became angry with his home state of Oklahoma for its unwillingness to erect a memorial to him (read about the early controversy following him from the 1912 Olympics). Hearing that Mauch Chunk and East Mauch Chunk wanted to establish a tourist trade to their towns, Thorpe’s widow made a deal with them. She provided his remains in exchange for a memorial and renaming of the towns – and that probably made the difference. But, we were surprised that the memorial is on the outskirts of East Mauch Chunk about as far away from the Victorian town attractions as possible.

Remember to click to enlarge images.

Actually, we found the memorial on our way out of town five hours later. We first toured the untouched Victorian town.

The main attraction is the Asa Packer Mansion that overlooks the National Historic District. Asa Packer arrived in Mauch Chunk in 1833 becoming owner of a canal boat, and later expanding his canal business transporting coal in his Lehigh Valley Railroad. In 1861, he built this mansion.


Which over looks the town. Next door he built a home for his son (now a B&B, and murder mystery weekend venue – been dying to do one – pun intended)

We did the tour first. No photos allowed inside, but I bought a booklet of images, but you can google “Asa Packer Mansion Images.” Maybe sometime I will have time to add from the postcards I bought. But here are some very important fast facts about this family.

When Asa died in 1879, there were 26 millionaires in the US, and 13 of them were living in Mauch Chunk! His widow inherited 54 million dollars, but an 1856 Pennsylvania state law stated she could not keep the money unless she was married. She asked the local train station attendant to marry her, her fortune was secure, and she divorced him 6 months later, but with an nice settlement and annuity (I can be seen hanging around train stations now). There is a table in the parlor that Queen Victoria gave Sarah Packer when Sarah was visiting in London. At that time Queen Victoria was the wealthiest woman in the world, and Sarah Packer was the second wealthiest. In 1865, Asa gave the funds to start Lehigh University. Tuition was free from 1871-1891, and graduates were offered jobs on Asa’s Lehigh Valley Railroad.

When Sarah died in 1882 the home passed to her daughter Mary Packer Cummings. Mary died in 1912, leaving the mansion and its furnishings to “the Borough of Mauch Chunk and its successors.” Essentially unchanged from its construction in 1861 to 1912, the borough did not know what to do with the mansion and covered all the furnishings, boarded up the windows, and unknowingly created a Victorian time capsule for 40 years.

In the mid-1950s, the local Lions Club approached the borough about opening the mansion as a museum, and that happened in 1956. I cannot help but think that was in conjunction with the name change of the community to stimulate tourism. On the tour we were told that the chandelier in the mansion was copied for the movie, GONE WITH THE WIND, but in fact checking I cannot substantiate that claim – remember, at that time the mansion was boarded up. But, substantiated is the claim that Disney used Packer’s son’s home as a model for its Haunted Mansion.

Asking about a structure on top of a mountain, I was given directions, and from that vantage point we had a view back to Jim Thorpe.


You can see the red roof to Asa Packer’s mansion, East Mauch Chunk to the right, and there was a whole new area on the “hill” above the mansion we did not know about. Of course, we headed there to explore too.

If I could have found a biography of Asa Packer I would be reading it now instead of writing this post. I need to go back to Jim Thorpe, PA – and I cannot overstate, RAY RECOMMENDS – VISIT THERE SOON.

Dinner that evening we experienced Powerhouse Eatery in White Haven, PA. Originally  the power plant for the White Haven Sanatorium which closed by 1976, it was renovated as a restaurant in 1989. My evening special, the Halibut, was amazing.


Jim Thorpe, PA, is on US Route 209. I was conflicted on how to meander home on Tuesday (stopping at the Red Lion Inn, of course), and one option was to travel US 209 through the Delaware River Water Gap – had not been there in awhile. Well, Scott and I looked at an atlas. He and Betty are shunpikers, and even more exotic than I. For example, in Alaska with their Airstream they traveled 28 miles down a dirt road (subject to washout) to an abandoned WWII airfield where camping was allowed. And, on departure, yes, the road was washed out. Now that is shunpiking!!! Looking at an atlas, Scott pointed out that US 209 north of Port Jervis, NY, was a designated scenic road. I had not been through that section of geography before — decision made.



No rush leaving on Tuesday, and I arrived in Port Jervis, NY, shortly after noon, and saw a sign for the Erie RR turntable. With my interest in railroads, I had to see it.



With possibly less than 500 left in the country – I now have another quest along with canals and locks to document and show you. Of course, we have one of the best (still in use) right here in Walpole at the Green Mountain Railroad roundhouse.

Neversink Valley Museum - Cuddebackville, NY (yes I spelled it correctly)

Neversink Valley Museum – Cuddebackville, NY (yes I spelled it correctly)

Once I got north of Port Jervis life became more rural and scenic as the map proclaimed. There was one historical marker after another. Ends up that US 209 is one of the original federal roads established in 1926, and follows the Old Mine Road from Colonial times which followed Native American trails. The Dutch when arriving in the area developed the road from Lenapi trails in their search for furs and minerals. And, guess what? Much of the Delaware and Hudson Canal traverses this route from Port Jervis to Kingston, NY. Great suggestion, Scott, and a repeat trip is in order. I first stumbled into the Neverskink Valley Museum (sadly open only weekends) which has much on the D&H Canal and is in a small complex of original canal buildings at a point where a wood aqueduct designed by Roebling crossed.

Country Store in Wurtsboro, NY

Country Store in Wurtsboro, NY


The Wurts brothers were instrumental in the development of the canal, and a common practice was to name canal towns after those involved. This country store in Wurtsboro dates to canal days, and there was lots of “eye candy” inside.



Five miles up the road was the Delaware & Hudson Canal Linear Park, and I stopped. Here is the canal and towpath looking north with part of the remaining buildings in the distance.

D&H Linear Canal Park. Near Summitville, NY

D&H Linear Canal Park. Near Summitville, NY

Mules (sometimes horses) would pull the barges about 20 miles a day (3,000 miles per season) often eating and sleeping along the way. Local residents were fascinated with the canal with boats being pulled by animals. They enjoyed leisurely family walks, or courting strolls along the path. It was discouraged by the D&H, but Sundays the canal was closed. One information panel discussed all the historical sites in Sullivan County – and I have to get back – but on a weekend when things are open.

Getting closer to Kingston became more built up and historic. I pulled into Hurley (after passing all the stone houses in Stone Ridge) and enjoyed the stone buildings, including one where George Washington was entertained. Here is a typical street view in Hurley.


Stone Houses - Hurley, NY

Stone Houses – Hurley, NY

It was late afternoon. US 209 has been rebuilt around and bypassing Kingston ending at NY 199 to cross the Hudson on the Kingston-Rhinecliff Bridge built in 1957. Working my way across the state to Massachusetts, I stopped (as planned, of course) at the Red Lion Inn to take in the atmosphere for awhile.


Scott and Betty earlier this year finished their second stint as National Park Volunteer Rangers at the LBJ ranch. During our visit, Scott showed me their copy of a NPS “bible” – INTERPRETING OUR HERITAGE by Freeman Tilden. I immediately ordered my copy, and it arrived the other day. Museums must not just be a statement of facts, the idea now is to stimulate further investigation. Tilden defines interpretation:

An educational activity which aims to reveal meanings and relationships through the use of original objects, by firsthand experience, and by illustrative media, rather than simply to communicate factual information.

he continues: Interpretation should capitalize mere curiosity for the enrichment of the human mind and spirit.

I hope in some small way, my ramblings will encourage your curiosity to explore, and learn and enjoy more.

And, I promised you an answer.  I saw Chris at the library yesterday. Her guess was way off, and she needed to know.  Remember the “hook” I gave you last post to read further?

THE "HOOK" - What is it? Keep reading.

THE “HOOK” – What is it? Keep reading.

You ready? Remember I was at the NH Farm Museum — this is a HAY CAP – a pressed paper unit placed on top of a hay stack to keep water from entering the center of the stack.


So, now you know. So keep exploring, and I will keep sharing my explorations with you. Thank you, and enjoy, yours, RAY

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THE "HOOK" - What is it? Keep reading.

THE “HOOK” – What is it? Keep reading.

I know, I know – July is almost over, and I am reporting two and a half weeks late. And, I even have a three nighter from last week to document before month end.  You see, I go away, learn of books I need to read, buy those books, read them, research more on where I have been, and finally get to tell you about what I did. And, then too, I had to finish the August issue of THE WALPOLE CLARION. Recently I have been worried about giving you too many pictures (and too many words), but I have to show you things I have not seen, and if I haven’t seen them, my bet is you have not also. So, as time passes from an adventure, hopefully I trim down the number of images, and pare down the words, becoming more concise. So, here goes…

Having had almost a year of difficult walking, back surgery, and a longer hospital stay than planned, I have been hesitant to get “back on the road,” but the “best way to get something done is to begin.” I saw a news report about 19th CENTURY WILLOWBROOK VILLAGE in Newfield, Maine, and knowing nothing of it said, “Ray, off you go.”

Willowbrook Village

Willowbrook Village

Newfield is in southwestern Maine. Looking at my New Hampshire map for a backroad to the area I noticed Route 28 crossing US 4 and US 202 outside Concord. Not having been on that route, that was the plan to work north above Lake Winnipesaukee ( (get your map out) I stopped in Alton Bay for lunch – always love visiting there) to Route 16, to head east on Route 25 into Maine.

Remember that many roads today bypass the towns they originally bisected (thus Walpole was saved by the Route 12 bypass in 1962). I saw the sign pointing to Pittsfield to the right, and turned.

Main Street - Pittsfield, NH

Main Street – Pittsfield, NH

I parked on Main Street, and started going from one historical plaque to another, reading and photographing. The architecture was (is) amazing. Rounding the corner to Carroll Street, I found the Frank Lyman Park with maps and tour booklets (watch out WHS – I have an idea). On the front cover of PITTSFIELD’S HISTORIC TRAIL (just found it on-line – check it out) is printed: “Step back in time to the Nineteenth Century.  This 1.5 mile walking trail encompasses nearly all of the features found in any New England community over 100 years ago:  homes, churches, schools, industrial and commercial buildings as well as dams and bridges. Unlike elsewhere, however, most of the original buildings remain the same as when they were constructed.” I enjoyed touring around, and reading many of the 35 cast aluminum plaques. A return more thorough visit is in order, and RAY RECOMMENDS – spend some time exploring Pittsfield, NH.

Remember to click on any of the above to see larger images.

I was going to cut over to head north on Route 153, but taking a wrong turn ended up in Wolfeboro where I then continued north to pick up Route 25 east. When I got to Route 153 I thought, “well, at least I can see Effingham even though I did not come up 153 all the way.”  Well, I got to Effingham, and guess what? I realized I had been there on a great trip on 153 in September 2014 You need to get to the bottom of that great post (yes, some are better than others) to read of Route 153, and I did not share Effingham, NH at that time. (NOTE – RAY RECOMMENDS TRAVEL NH ROUTE 153)

This time I explored more in Effingham, learned more, and am sharing.

Effingham, NH, Bandstand - A Bandstand as it should be.

Effingham, NH, Bandstand – A Bandstand as it should be.

Virtually untouched, there are 21 colonial era properties in the historic district. Just off Route 153 the First Normal School in New Hampshire, and next door the Lord Mansion, one of the largest period homes I have seen with massive attached barns and carriage sheds.

Downtown Effingham, New Hampshire

Downtown Effingham, New Hampshire

RAY RECOMMENDS — Visit Effingham, New Hampshire

Back to Route 25 east, crossing into Maine – only to find much of nothing (I had been hoping to score big at antique shops). With few lodging choices in the area, I had made a reservation at The Cornish Inn – yes, in Cornish, Maine. Arriving at 3pm, my key and a note had been left on the newell post, so I left my things, and then walked around town looking at some shops – decent ones for a change.

The Cornish Inn and Lincoln Pub - Cornish, Maine

The Cornish Inn and Lincoln Pub – Cornish, Maine

The antiques were great, pricey, and anything I would have wanted, I already own. Across the street was this great shop, and the interior had been a country store.

Closing the last shop at 5pm, and since my Inn’s dining room had been closed for the evening (was planning to eat there), I headed further east to see Sebago Lake. I recently saw a Home and Garden TV show searching for homes on the lake and wanted to see it, and there had to be a restaurant on the water. There was not, and I can now say I saw Sebago Lake. I found a so-so old inn for dinner on the way back to Cornish, and when I returned, I planted myself on the porch to read and write in the rain.


After a nice breakfast at the inn on Friday morning the 8th, I headed for my destination in Newfield – 19th CENTURY WILLOWBROOK VILLAGE.


There a few minutes before opening time, I struck up a conversation with a gentleman outside the old country store – now the entrance and gift shop on the left above. Ends up he is the museum director, and between my questions and our similar interests, it was an hour before I got to purchasing my ticket. I had to know the history of why the museum was there (I always have to know why something or a town is where it is). Don King bought the main farm in 1965 for use as a hunting lodge, but then began collecting farm implements and the like to save the items from the dump. He began restoring things, and in May, 1970 decided to open his museum. Most fascinating, I learned that most of Newfield was lost in 1947 – the year that Maine burned. It was suggested that I read WILDFIRE LOOSE by Joyce Butler.  I ordered it that night, and when it arrived could not put it down. You have no idea what you will learn about fires, and wonderful neighbors helping neighbors. Having visited the past few years in all the locales mentioned, I could place the action. Extremely well written, RAY RECOMMENDS – get WILDFIRE LOOSE, and devour it. Including time for lunch at their nice sandwich shop, I spent 2 1/2 hours on the grounds once I got started after visiting with the director.

Great exhibits, but the absolute best is the unique 1894 Armitage-Herschell Carousel. Fourteen years of restoration, it was installed in 1991. Packed away in a barn for decades by the original owner, this carousel travelled extensively to fairs in the area. In has 26 horses that with mechanisms rock back and forth rather than going up and down. At the time, carousels were only for adults – NO CHILDREN. For modesty, women had to ride  sidesaddle on the inside horses. In the building is also the original steam engine (now propelled by compressed air) and the original ticket booth, complete with original tickets – the red building you see in my video)



Few of these may exist, and this is the most complete outfit in existence, and worth the visit.

You enter the village in the country store – and you know me and country stores (goodness, I may have never shown you the country store I have recreated in my bookshop – something to share with you someday – a 45 year plus fascination).


Upstairs is the original meeting and dance hall, with walls decorated in 1924 in the Rufus Porter style.


In the front corner was a collection of cameras and projectors. I have examples of half of the ones shown below – yes, another fascination.


Some wonderful farm related exhibits in the barns connected to the country store. Then you walk down the road (no traffic) to the adjoining area for more exhibits, and the print shop – yes you know another passion.


And, I had never seen these large folding one-man saws before, so have to share.


And, with all the hit-‘n’miss equipment I have seen in the past couple years, I never saw a saw (no pun intended) attached in this way.


And, another “appropriate” band stand.


When I was planning my route to Maine, I saw on the map — New Hamspshire Farm Museum, which I knew nothing about. It was on the way home in Milton, so backroading away I went arriving about 2:30.

NH Farm Museum, Milton, NH

NH Farm Museum, Milton, NH

The docent shared with me the win-win situation of the museum’s establishment. The last heir of the farm died, and her will called for destruction of the 18th century complex since she wanted no one else to live there. The existing farm museum non-profit had no home, and a NH Court battle broke the will, and the museum bought the property preserving it to tell the story of agriculture and rural life in New Hampshire over three hundred years.

At one time, the home served as a tavern, here refurnished as it would have been used. Note the floor cloth – I am partial to them.


And there are fascinating exhibits in the 104 long, three story barn. So much I had never seen before.

Someone has ATTITUDE !!!


And, this ten-foot building led to more research, another book purchase, and I can tell you that these buildings were all over New England serving as “shoe factories.”  You go research.


And, finally, hopefully I “hooked” you with this image.  Well, I am going to get to work on my trip to Scott and Betty’s in Pennsylvania. What is it below?  I will tell you in the next post. Thanks for reading, yours, RAY


THE "HOOK" - What is it? Keep reading.

THE “HOOK” – What is it? Keep reading.

RAY RECOMMENDS – Don’t rush, but if in the area do visit WILLOWBROOK VILLAGE and the NEW HAMPSHIRE FARM MUSEUM

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Yes, tradition is wonderful, and I was back in Plymouth Notch, VT, for the third time on the 4th of July to help celebrate President Calvin Coolidge’s 144th birthday, and our Declaration of Independence. If you want historical details, search for any of my many other posts on this bucolic spot where our 30th President was born, and is unchanged since he was inaugurated President here in the early morning hours of August 3, 1923. Rural 1923 Vermont typifies the 1880s elsewhere in the US – I love it, but you know that. So, this is a visual post, and here is what you missed today along with the largest crowd I had ever seen here.

July 4, 2016 Parade about to begin in Plymouth Notch Heading to the Coolidge gravesite

July 4, 2016 Parade about to begin in Plymouth Notch Heading to the Coolidge gravesite


"Parade" heading out of the village for the cemetery.

“Parade” heading out of the village for the cemetery.





Wreath from the White House.

Wreath from the White House.

The Placing of the Wreath which was followed by short speeches and quotes from Coolidge’s speeches – impressive to say the least of this unsung hero.


And, back in town I caught Regional Site Administrator, Bill Jenney, bringing Calvin’s cake out. It is always so wonderful to be warmly greeted by Bill — thank you, Bill.


 Around the village were crafter’s demonstrations, the buildings were open, and there is always a wagon ride. The garden was wonderful, and I need to get the folks who do this garden to teach me – please! (remember, you can click on an image for larger size)

Backroads home to avoid the backroad – over the hill to Reading and down Route 106 – for the first time this stone jumped out (well, I noticed a car pulled over to the side of  road, and my eyes followed).

In 1918 these stones were placed in this position by descendants of Capt. James Johnson

In 1918 these stones were placed in this position by descendants of Capt. James Johnson

And the plaque on the road reads as below. This Indian raid in Charlestown (just north of me at Fort No. 4) is a classic tale of the French and Indian War, and worthy of further study by me.



All for now — but more coming — Happy 4th of July – yours, RAY

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