You know I like to find and share unusual superlatives, and combining those discoveries to share in conjunction with a “road-trip” makes it even the more fun for me. This “road-trip,” as in the last couple of years, was to see my daughter and her family as she was traveling up from New Jersey to take her daughter to camp north of Burlington, Vermont.

Friday after getting my work done in the morning, I headed north, buying books on the way. I “did good” and “I am good at what I do.” With luck I easily pay for my “toys and trips” with my purchases once sold, but “you make your money when you buy.” I met my family at their AirBnB, and went down to the private beach on Lake Champlain that came with their lodging. About 7PM I headed to Jericho, Vermont to check into my B&B – the Sinclair Inn Bed and Breakfast.

In my twenty-five plus years of stays at inns and B&Bs I now place this B&B in my top three, and cannot wait to again find a reason to stay again with Tom and Dan, if nothing else for their breakfasts. Everything absolutely outstanding – the appointments, decorations, cleanliness – all without equal. It was getting dark when I got into my room.

Saturday, my daughter Julie was checking Devi into camp, so our plan was to meet early afternoon at the Shelburne Museum, which you should know I visit as often as possible. Before meeting, there was a small exhibit I wanted to see, but it was opening at 11AM, so I first headed to Essex Junction to an antique center. I had not before been in Essex Junction – a great little town, and Amtrak runs through its center. The book buying was great, and turning one corner there was a red Cosco cart – display only, not for sale. Oh well, saved me money, and I did just finish restoring my Massachusetts Cosco cart purchase from two weeks ago. About five more booths, and there was an original cart, with its original Cosco label underneath – FOR SALE — Shortly SOLD – and loaded into GIGI.

It was then a short hop back east to Jericho to The Old Red Mill.

Housed here are the town offices, a craft shop, and a small historical society museum exhibit – important history that you need to know. You have heard that no two snowflakes are alike, but do you know why? Jericho’s Wilson A. Bentley at age 19 in 1885 was the first to capture a single snowflake on glass plate film. Developing his own equipment, he went on to photograph over 5,000 snowflakes, never finding two alike. His published studies are still “the Bible” on snowflakes. Below is the exhibit room as you enter.

Bailey’s Projector for his Lantern Slides of his images.

Here are some of his amazing images on display

You probably know I enjoy visiting and studying mills. The majority of this mill is a really nice craft gift shop that also has snowflake collectibles. But fascinating and still in place is this original equipment.

We then met at Shelburne Museum around 2PM. I arrived first using my NARM membership pass (do get a membership at a member organization for an unequaled benefit), went to the cafeteria, and the kids met me shortly getting a two day pass so they could stop on the way home on Sunday. Then we headed to the TI.

This is an amazing nautical relic that was brought inland two and a half miles from Lake Champlain in 1954. When you visit on-board do view the video of that feat. I have watched it maybe five times now. I could relish life on board in the early 20th century.

I did not recall walking through the galley before on the lower deck astern of the boiler area.

In the wheelhouse topside, Patty explained these large back-up wheels for steering. If the powered smaller wheel had a system failure, these two large manual wheels would be engaged, and two men on each wheel would turn the cables running to the rudder for steering – not an easy feat. Note the brass piping on the rear bulkhead – radiators with steam heat for the bitter Vermont winters on the lake.

It was a hot day. On the way out we walked through the air-conditioned circus building (this was my Cathy’s favorite exhibit here) which in 518 feet has a carved circus parade extending almost that entire length. On the opposite wall are vintage posters and original carousel animals. Of course outside there is a real operating carousel.

Heading back to their AirBnB which was a few rooms in a private home – the key feature was being almost on the Burlington bike path along the lake, and a private beach which I enjoyed with them both evenings. After this it was dinner out, and goodbyes until next time.

I really regret not having had my camera at breakfast Saturday morning, but here is Sunday morning. Dan’s meals, the presentation, and Tom’s adeptness at serving make me want to return — if only for breakfast. I sat in the corner of the dining room taking it all in. Breakfast starts with a fruit presentation followed by a main course – this morning a unique hash, and a poached egg on top. Dan’s family was in the restaurant business Tom told me.

I could have easily headed south to I-89 or Route 2 to head towards Montpelier and Barre, but that is no fun when there are back roads I have not been on, and towns I have not seen. I traveled east on Vermont 15 which heads north for awhile up and around Smuggler’s Notch in the Stowe area. My plan was to then go south on Route 12 to Montpelier. Not much on Routes 15 and 12, but I have now been on these sections of road to report on. I saw a sign in Johnson for Ithiel Falls Camp Meeting, and went down a back road to see this camp founded in 1899. I have an affinity for church camp meeting grounds that provided much of the genesis for American vacations. In Morrsiville (per GPS in my phone camera) here is a wonderful round barn, built in 1916, complete with an interesting entrance and leaning round cupola, that I had to share.

Hopefully you remember the title of this post. I have educated you how “no two alike” came about, and here now is the largest in the US – the largest Zipper that is, and made of granite in Barre – the Granite Capital. Unless on the Main Street there you don’t have to go out of the way, because here it is —

Built in 2014, the 74 foot long zipper still needs a 450 foot pair of trousers to be effectively used. And, now you know.

Next I “shopped” at another antique center, picking up another mid-century appropriate decoration for LADYRAB III’s outside focal point. Full report coming once my vintage custom made awning is installed.

Continuing on more “new to me” roads, I headed west on US 302 (do get your Vermont map out) and then south on VT 110 through Washington, turning east in Chelsea on VT 113 through Mill Village, West Fairlee, Post Mills, Thetford Center to Thetford Hill. I once stumbled into Thetford Hill, probably from the east – but was thrilled to see it again. Make sure you make a short side trip from Exit 14 on I-91 to visit the Common. From the extremely picturesque village green I headed south on the back road taking in amazing views to the east. Going down and around you soon arrive at the Union Village Bridge, built in 1867.

Knowing roughly where I was in Norwich environs I back roaded to my favorite US 5, and along the Connecticut River (lovely in this stretch) and onto I-91 to sail home. A great two nights, three days away, time with family, and some good purchases to top things off.

Back to you again soon, I hope, with more adventures – stay well, luv, RAY

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My plan for this 4th was to have no plans – just stay comfy home, and not get out in the crowds (now there is an oxymoron for my perfect part of the world). But in my constant research and reading a couple things piqued my interest to, if nothing more, get me out and to then “fill in the map.” Yes, still roads I have not been on, and once I zero in on an adventure, I look for those roads and areas I have not yet explored. For Saturday a sale I knew would not be fruitful would get me near a road I wanted to see. Sunday a potential purchase got me out exploring, and on the 4th I just had to see the parade in a Vermont town – population just about 500 (that is not a crowd).

Saturday I headed to Newfane (going through Athens and Townsend – check your VT map – or look below at the map marked up with these outings). Ten minutes (maybe eight) at the sale, and off I went on the dirt road towards Wardsboro. Been on it once, but not remembering all the turns, my plan was to eventually head south on East Dorset Road – not been on that. Great dirt roads, BLACK BEAUTY was pleased. Coming down a hill, and around a bend, I recognized where I was – downtown East Dover – the general store and post office.

This is where I parked, and below me was the road from Dover to Williamsburg (Vermont that is). Williamsburg you must also visit, sorry no images this trip. I asked the young lady in the general store (which was gift items and coffee) how often she is open. “Everyday but Sunday,” see replied, “everyone who goes to the post office comes in and gets coffee.” Here is her shop and walkway to post office.

I would have loved to have fifty years ago poked inside this barn almost next to where I parked. But still a hangover from that era, note the ubiquitous peace sign – there for decades.

Passing through Williamsburg the only logical scenic route was down Route 30, cross the Dummerston Covered Bridge, up into Dummerston, down the hill towards Kipling Road to pass my favorite escapes. Then, having to search for books (don’t have enough) I crossed the Connecticut River, cruised to Keene, shopped, ate at a food truck I frequent when cruising through (sweet sausage, onions and peppers), and then slid home.

Sunday, the third, again no plans. But Saturday night I saw something on Craig’s List that I did not need, but I usually have two of everything to be safe. I emailed, it was available, I realized it was on a Ludlow farm where I enjoyed a hit-n-miss show in 2018 (and now will go back this September). In looking at my maps I found a fun way home to include the Cavendish Gorge and Baltimore (Vermont that is). What did I go to see? An original 1966 Norris “canned ham.”

I arrived and was told it had been sold later after I was emailed, but the NYC buyers seemed to have no idea how to move it, to where, and how to get cash. Strange – but, so be it. I asked if I could look inside, and it was nice to see original. Smaller than my “new” LADYRAB III, kitchen in the front, small bed in rear, Stove on one wall, and toilet on the other – but no table or seating. Asking the fellow, who has had many trailers over the years, he replied, “seating? Probably a picnic bench outside.” Even with cash hidden in BLUE BELLE (Gary, I put the “green” back in its location) this became one of those inspections that is an after purchase look that confirms you recently made a good purchase.

It was then to the east on Barker Road from Barker Farm, down the hill, and enjoy the scenic views on the way to Route 131 where I turned left towards Cavendish. On July 6th, waking and wanting to learn more about Cavendish, I found THIS CAVENDISH WEBSITE – do click on the link to learn more, and then plan a visit.

Remember I recently told you that once you trained your nose, they are everywhere? On the right below is a “canned ham” in Cavendish, and another (a Shasta) I later spotted (sniffed) in Perkinsville.

from my old “paper maps” I had a vague idea where Cavendish Gorge was – you probably have not heard of it, so I needed to find it and share. To be safe, I stopped on 131 to ask a fellow painting a white fence for help (he was not Tom Sawyer). He said yes, turn just up in Cavendish at the old three story brick factory, cross the little bridge, go under the smaller railroad underpass and turn left and look for the trail. After my second turn I asked a couple walking on the road who said, “yes, turn in 300 yards, find the snowmobile trail and you will be fine. I did not like the first turn I saw, passed it, but found a likely spot, and started hiking. Watching out for bears in the Hawks Mountain Forest Preserve, I finally decided that I best turn around, just as I did a few weeks ago not finding an abandoned railroad tunnel. You can see that WAZE knew where I was, off in the woods. Walking then down the other sharp drive I found the blocked off trail with a sign which said – “go to Power Plant Road to the Cavendish Gorge Recreation Area.” I did so. Lovely area, not as wooded so easier to spot bear. Click the image below for easier reading.

a young couple pulled in to picnic up the portage trail. Having been there before they said with the woods you really cannot see the gorge. I hiked up a tad, and went back to BLUE BELLE who was patiently waiting for a picnic – next time. With more after trip, and after initial writing research I found lots of information and views of Cavendish Gorge on the New England Waterfalls website. Click the link, and here is one view I borrowed from there.

I continued east on Route 131 along the Black River, which I highly recommend, and then headed south on Route 106 to Perkinsville. A great little village, meeting house at the top of the green, and a state marker relating the 1947 bomber crash into Hawks Mountain.

how do you top this? Make a quick run to Baltimore – Baltimore, Vermont, that is – population about 229. Loop road (long) in and out, I recommend you watch carefully for Baltimore Road off 106, and get ready to enjoy the dirt roads. I was not worried because BLUE BELLE assured me she can still out run bear. Eventually I came to “downtown” Baltimore – with its former one room school house, built in 1894 and continued to be used as a school until it was closed in 1988. Now the building serves as the Baltimore Town Office and is the only public building in the Town.

Continuing on, the road opens up to amazing views looking down towards North Springfield, Eventually the road ends at Route 10 where I turned right back to Route 103, Chester and home — now more roads on the map “filled in.”

HAPPY 4TH OF JULY — Remember long ago on Wednesday I passed into Brownsville on the way home from the VINS NATURE CENTER? Seems ages ago, but remembering the signs for their 4th festivities I checked on-line. Food, exhibits, and the parade starts at 1:30 – my plan was set. I arrived well before noon – early enough to park at the school (this is a small town of 500) right on the parade route. I set up my vintage web chair (think LADYRAB III) and headed down to see the vendors in the Town Hall, and then pick up my cheeseburger and fries to enjoy under a tree in the shade. Did I ever have fun during the well over hour wait vicariously partaking in the fun all the families and friends around me were having. And, then the half hour parade began.

David and Alex – here is a unique GO[AT] CART.

there was a small SHRINERS group adding their antics and color.

With the 2022 theme of the parade being “Our Hills are Alive!,” in a news article it was stated there are many opportunities to use this theme on a float – camping, hiking, biking, hunting, and strolling. But in a town of 500, it was probably wonderful to get two entries:

then came some “antique cars.” BLUE BELLE was resting behind me, but in the parade, I have owned or driven most of what was there. First was a 1927 Model T Ford pickup – I learned to drive on my Dad’s 1919 Model T Touring car. Then came a 1930 Model A Ford Tudor Sedan (sold mine a few years ago). And finally was a 1930 Model A Ford roadster. Moved mine with me to NH 20 years ago, selling her only to pay for BLACK BEAUTY’S rehabilitation.

and completing the thirty minute parade was probably every fire truck in the State of Vermont. — well, at least everyone within ten miles.

I had fun – lots of fun – and unlike sadly what happened at a parade today in Highland Park, Illinois, there was no sniper fire killing people – just one more reason why we live here. But what do you do on the way home? Why revisit the four covered bridges within minutes to again share. Below please enjoy (and click to enlarge) —
BOWERS COVERED BRIDGE – Bible House Road off Route 44 to the north
BEST’S COVERED BRDIGE – Churchill Road off Route 44 to the south
DOWNER – UPPER FALLS COVERED BRIDGE – off Route 131 just west of Route 106
SALMOND COVERED BRIDGE – evasive off 131 heading east – look for Henry Gould Road

Then south on my favorite stretch of Route 5, cross the river to Charlestown and home – home to share my weekend with you. I hope you had a safe and fun 4th as well – LUV — RAY

And what makes my travels even more fun?


Yes – to work in my vintage LADYRAB III decor I need a vintage three tier shelf Cosco Kitchen Cart similar to this image. I need red, but will accept any color cart regardless if not pitted and I can repaint shelves red, and legs white (I do not desire chrome uprights). Ready to travel 50 miles (maybe on unfamiliar roads) to obtain the right example) – thank you, RAY

and, here is the map for these adventures –

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Now 50 years old, founded in 1972, and I have been passing the entrance (near a bend in the road so not really looking) now for 20 years. But the other day a friend told me the fun they had there with grandchildren. Then looking at the map realizing there were some more Vermont roads I had not been on – I need to visit, and “fill in the map.”

You should know me and backroads, and I may never traverse I-91 and I-89 to Quechee and Woodstock again. Below is my route with BLUE BELLE yesterday. And I have circled three stretches of roads I highly recommend, even if you are not in a little convertible. Heading north, NH 12A is a great stretch from Claremont to the Windsor-Cornish covered bridge. In Windsor I headed north on US 5 to Hartland where it joins with VT 12, but I crossed onto Quechee Road – new to me, and a definite repeat. Heading home, I came south on VT 12, which I had not been on before, to Hartland Four Corners where I turned right to go over the hill (not been this way before) to Brownsville. Getting ahead — my favorite spots on US 5 are from Acsutney down to Charlestown, then you have to jog under I-91 to head south again on my second favorite stretch. Great views, great farm land – pack a picnic and go. Here is the map (large to encourage you) of my route, and then I will tell you about my time at VINS NATURE CENTER.

If you sadly do not “back-road” but are heading west on US 4, start watching on the right for the center after Quechee Gorge. This image below I took as I was exiting (looking east), so it is the other side of what you are looking for.

Setting the stage for this great place to visit, here is their Mission Statement:

Motivating individuals and communities
to care for the environment through education,
research, and avian wildlife rehabilitation.

there are outdoor lectures throughout the day, and I arrived with plenty of time before Predators of the Sky at 11AM, and later I sat in on Raptors Up Close at 1 PM. The lecturers are incredibly informative, impart much information, so much I can easily sit in again. Here are some of the birds they talked about. The center serves as a rehabilitation hospital, but the birds used as “ambassadors” have been injured to the point that they cannot return to the wild. The same with the display birds in enclosures. Remember that with my “galleries” you can click for larger views.

A fascinating exhibit in an enclosed pavilion next to the open air theater traces the evolutionary path of birds. Well worth the trip alone. Below are some of the information panels (click to enlarge) that provide some good background of bird’s development over millions and millions of years.

Wrapping around the theater area are well done enclosures where you will meet and learn about many of the now permanent residents of the center. Here is one such resident.

If for no other reason, you need to visit to enter and explore the Forest Canopy Walk.

you may click the image below also for a larger reading version

This unique walk is so much fun and so informative with the panels along the path explaining how forests work for the environment that I decided to give you full size, and not gallery views. You need to – repeat, you need to take the walk and learn. Below is an interesting tidbit along the way.

If it were not for the kids (and maybe my bone joints and mobility) I would have climbed right in this web, high above the forest.

and, then there is the tower. as I recall my counting, 80 wooden steps before the platform (81 feet high according to the sign) where the spiral staircase began with 30 more steps Yes, look UP.

and look DOWN

and maybe NOT LOOK DOWN

yes, me at the top

thought I would share this map you are given. The “shows” are at the Hawk Fly, dinosaur-bird exhibit it in the Neale Pavilion, and many hiking paths on the 46 acres.

During my visit it was pleasing to see many young families, and groups of campers enjoying the shows, exhibits, and grounds. BUT — ATTENTION WALPOLE LIBRARY PATRONS — admission to VINS is $18 for adults with a dollar off for seniors or veterans (don’t think I would get credit for both) – BUT, CHECK OUT THE LIBRARY’S MEMBERSHIP and that entitles you to admission of $5 each for up to four people. Once I post this, I hope the line forms.

remember the Vermont road map, way above, with my route of favorite roads and new roads filling in the map? Leaving I headed west on Route 4, then south on Route 12. At Hartland Four Corners I turned right on Brownsville Road to go up over the hill and down the hill into the little village of Brownsville with Mt. Ascutney looming in the background.

It was a great almost seven hours out, particularly when I was able to sail back down my favorite sections of US 5 as noted above. May I encourage you to also explore VINS NATURE CENTER, and Lauren, when you take Abby I would love to join you to experience everything through the eyes of a child (younger than me).

Happy 4th of July everyone – luv, RAY

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A month or so ago my son Gary and I were “Zooming” and I suggested meeting at the Middlesex Canal Museum in North Bellerica, and exploring the canal which traverses both Woburn and Winchester, Massachusetts, were he and my son, David, live. A plan was hatched, a day picked, and then we realized it was also Father’s Day weekend – what a special treat it became.

As the 18th approached, Gary’s schedule got busy with friends, and it made sense for me to visit the museum on my own, gather material for future exploration, and arrive at his home mid-afternoon Saturday. Ends up that was the right plan – right plan so we could effectively plan canal explorations after my purchasing all the material available from the museum. I headed to Fitzwilliam, and turned east on Route 119, which is still 119 in Massachusetts. I cannot wait for a more detailed study on Route 119. Recently I have started trying to learn about Colonial Meeting Houses, and they are to be found along this route, particularly in Ashby and Townsend. A day’s outing is now “in the works.” I arrived at the museum a few minutes after it opened at noon. As you may have noted, many of my outings are “theme related” – canals, and soon meeting houses.

currently in this amazing restored mill, by the end of the year the museum will be across the street in an historic building on the canal they are restoring. To set the stage, here are some facts from the museum. You can click this image for easier reading.

A great little museum, I was overwhelmed with all the presentations. As you enter, you see this model boat.

Middlesex Canal Museum

the shovel that turned the dirt at the beginning of the canal – oh, keep in mind that all 27.5 miles were dug by hand.

This working model shows youngsters how locks work.

in a number of instances, it was easier in building the canal to build aqueducts over existing waterways instead of trying to incorporate them. Here is a model of the Shawsheen Aqueduct.

Still overwhelmed with this canal marvel, I purchased the books below for study prior to a mile by mile exploration.

I arrived at Gary’s just as I said I would at 3PM. We had a project, and started it. In 1957 I was a contestant on GIANT STEP, a quiz show with Bert Parks. We had found very little on line about the show – only one video. Eventually I will relate the entire tale to you, but I have a recording of the six times I was on TV, and lots of ephemera. Gary and I planned to digitize my recording, and develop an illustrated video to share with the world. So, our first project was to play my record, not touched in over 60 years – now that sounds scary. Here I am with Bert Parks on set in February 1957.

Sons Gary and David live three miles apart although in two different towns north of Boston. I am blessed that I have wonderful children (their sister is in NJ), they all get along, are supportive of each other, and are contributing members of society. Saturday was David and Mari’s seventeenth anniversary, and we picked them up and headed to Cambridge for dinner at Shabu Shabu. They had dinner at the same restaurant in Tokyo – this is unique, like fondue, but you cook what you wish in various broths.

my family ready to eat away.

The Middlesex Canal is an amazing early engineering marvel in the infant United States, and as I dig, more and more information comes to surface. Gary’s town, Woburn, was incorporated in 1642, but amazingly the historical society not established until 2006. They have an amazing number of history videos, and I will be watching The Middlesex Canal: Woburn’s First Interstate shortly after I complete this post.

After brunch with David and Mari on Sunday, Gary and I set out to explore the canal as it passed through Woburn. I am so glad I purchased at the museum the book MIDDLESEX CANAL GUIDE AND MAPS by Burt VerPlanck. We started at the monument at historic Horn Pond – one of the first resort spots in the US.

along the pond there were three sets of double locks, basically along what is now this path. We wondered how many people enjoy this area are aware of its history over two centuries ago.

at the locks for amusement and respite there were taverns, inns, and bowling alleys. The “most pretentious of the Horn Pond taverns” is on Lakeview Terrace. The guide said number 7 is a brown dwelling house, but now it is gray, and still impressive in a “modern neighborhood.”

the step by step guide book is fantastic – “go directly across onto North Warren St., then immediately turn right between the first two buildings onto Wade Place, which is a narrow alleyway built on the old canal bed.”

“… go right onto Middlesex Street. On the left, almost hidden by shrubs, is the canal. The first house on the right, number 5 Middlesex St., was the house of the keeper of the stop gate located nearby.”

if you did not have the guide book you would never know that this hidden depression was a canal two hundred years ago.

“… Continue north on Route 38, passing under Route 95/128 at the traffic circle and immediately turn sharp right at the traffic light, into Alfred Street. A water filled and dredged section of the canal stretches to the North.”

“… Here stands the Baldwin mansion, moved in 1971 from its original location in the nearby shopping center. Now a restaurant, Baldwins was formally the home of Loammi Baldwin, superintendent and chief engineer on the construction of the Middlesex Canal.”

off School Street “… This section of the canal has been dredged and the railroad embankment removed so that the canal and towpath are restored to the original configurations.”

Did I say that I have “too much fun?” There is so much to see, so much to learn, so many places to explore. And, with a focus to the learning and exploration, I find that one thing leads to another and more adventures. And what could be a better way than to share it with family.

This week is Old Home Days in Walpole, with the introduction of my new book – DID YOU KNOW THAT: EXPLORATIONS INTO WALPOLE, NEW HAMPSHIRE HISTORY. Then comes the week before the 4th – not a good time to get out and travel. BUT — then watch out, LADYRAB III and I will get out as will BB1 and BB2 and I.

Thanks for following, luv, RAY

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Or, as some called it, HOLD TIGHT & WORRY – officially the Hoosac Tunnel & Wilmington Railroad. Remember my last stay with Amos Brown in November? During that trip I got to the Hoosac Tunnel for the first time, and toured a different road down the Deerfield River. That was a great experience, and reviewing it now – I need to get back, but I did state then that this rail route needed more exploration, and that began today.

BLUE BELLE got inspected yesterday (I forgot this was her year, discovering that when ready to back out a week ago), and she wanted to get out. Eighteen miles an hour she averaged today for about 128 miles in over seven hours. Last night we had no real plans, but yesterday I also decided I needed a vintage RED Coleman Cooler for LADYRAB III. So, always seeming to end up in Vermont I thought the Wilmington Flea Market a potential, then looking at the maps for a circle and to “fill in the map” I realized I had not taken Route 8 south from Searsburg, and then playing with the maps I saw in fine print the “Glory Hole.” Remote – that had to be seen and shared. So, off BB2 and I went.

Route 9 was torn up from West Brat to almost Wilmington when I passed in May – it is still construction dirt. Even though we like dirt roads – construction dirt for mile after mile is bad – avoid it until repaired. The Wilmington Flea Market was nice, but only about half the vendors from what I have seen in the past – and there it was – BUT…

I waved my magic wand – I repeated all the magic words and spells I know – but alas, the almost perfect find did not turn red, but remained green. The vendor suggested a can of spray paint, “but I am an originalist,” I replied. The QUEST continues, so, HELP. Let me know when and where you see one for me (vintage please like above – they still make “new” ugh, ones) – all must be color coordinated RED in my “new” LADYRAB III.

So, now onto Hoot, Toot and Whistle discoveries. Below is the route I took today. I needed to find the Wilmington Station, and traverse the route from Readsboro to Whitingham – AND – discover the “Glory Hole.”

I brought along my $200 Volume One of THE COMING OF THE TRAIN,  by Brian Donelson, to help in my search with its maps and photographs of this little rail line. Remember – “books are tools,” but also in the past decades have paid for my toys and trips.

At the light in the center of Wilmington (now a vacation ski town) I turned south and then right on Shaffer Street which the 1906 map in the book shows where the train depot and other buildings were located. I feel BLUE BELLE is parked in the spot where the station probably was. The buildings in the background are newer and a propane facility now.

I chatted with a fellow cutting grass, and he said he thought the building below (which I had to share) was part of the railroad, but the 1906 map shows it as a farmhouse at a distance from the rail lines. BUT, he told me of a tunnel I did not know about – “head out of town and turn at the green bridge he said. End of the road and a hike. There was a railroad bridge crossing the river at one time” he added – gone and “covered” with the creation of the reservoir which I learned happened in 1923.

Next I explored the old mill area to the west and behind this “farmhouse” Hard to imagine the industry here in what is now just a resort town, but supported by the HOOT & TOOT and the lumber supply in the area. You can click to enlarge the below to learn.

Back heading west on Route 9, just past the Harriman Reservoir I saw the “green bridge” – actually an abandoned green bridge, with a new bridge to the east with green railings. Here is the bridge once across the river looking back at Route 9.

I then headed down the dirt road (did you know that BB1 and BB2 and I like dirt? yes you should). This was Woods Road leading to Mt Mills West Picnic Area – on the hydro project land. This was the site of the now gone, and water covered Mountain Mills, Vermont. BB2 and I parked where the road was blocked off.

And, believe it or not with my decrepit bones, I hiked for over ten minutes up what appeared to be the old rail line. Tempted with each bend that I would find the tunnel the fellow told me about, it was not to be. Going back downhill should have been faster, but not – so a nice 20-25 minute walk, no bears, but on return I did find what appeared to be part of the old railroad bridge across the original river.

Once your nose is trained, you can find treasures. Here in the woods on Woods Road in Wilmington I found this old gem, just waiting, and waiting…

Writing to remember, and to again enjoy, I started this post on Saturday night, but with intentions of finishing Sunday – so off it was to “Camp 44” for the night.

I sent this image to a few folks saying “good night” but in the house this morning, and adding it here, I noticed the light blue spot above the trailer. Too low for a real UFO, but has to be my “Guardian Angel,” and we know who. PS – nothing in that direction but thick pines. Upon study, it could have been caused by my lantern — BUT HOW? Must be a reflection off my “angel,” but it is reversed and upside down. Always with me.

Harriman Reservoir covered the rail route to Wilmington – and that led to research, and the small map reference to the “Glory Hole.” Looking at the map I saw Searsburg, Heartwellville, and Readsboro Falls – towns I did not recall transiting. So, a route was planned, and I can report that those towns exist only on maps and extremely easy to miss signs. No general stores for a bite to eat. The store fronts in Readsboro are now vacant, but I did get a wrap in the “new” general store, and enjoyed it overlooking a river – yes, at a picnic table

Heading east on Route 100, next comes Whitingham where the train also stopped at Davis Bridge. But from my maps I knew that just before the finger of the reservoir at Route 100 there would be a turn to my destination, and there it was, a small dirt (yeah) road with a very small sign – DAM RD. I drove to the end where there is a picnic spot beneath the dam, The trail map sign below gives an idea of the “lay of the land.” You may click to enlarge – the RED label (not a Coleman Cooler) indicates the location of the Dam and Glory Hole.

The road is at the lower finger of the water as the road takes a slight right up a hill. I thought it best to just provide you with this information from a website on the reservoir — “…the 217-foot-tall Harriman dam. Extending 1,250 feet across the Deerfield River Valley, the earthen dam impounds 38 billion gallons of water to create the 2,184-acre Lake Whitingham, named for the town and settlements it inundated. The dam is protected from high water by this unusual spillway (one of the first of its kind), which functions like an escape drain in a bathtub that allows water to exit before it overflows. The Glory Hole—a term that may have come from the miners who excavated the rock for the downstream outlet—is a 180-foot-deep concrete funnel whose 160-foot-diameter rim is set at the desired level for the lake. In the event of a flood, the overflow drains into the spillway at a rate of 30 million gallons per second and is safely discharged below the dam rather than over it; this became known as a “morning glory” design because it resembles a blossom when water spills over its face. This is critical here because earthen dams quickly erode and crumble if crested.” My images tell the rest of the story, and I hope you plan a visit.

The Harriman Dam – 11 June 2022

and, below the “Glory Hole” – hopefully from a safe distance – but I doubt the chain link fence would stop a determined, or impaired driver.

Lake Harriman “GLORY HOLE” – 11 June 2022

I need to call the local historical society to find where the Whitingham “Hoot & Toot” station was, but I am betting it may be underwater. But while searching (on a back dirt road) I sniffed out another old treasure.

Continuing east to Jacksonville I need to ask where that station was as well. Continuing on the few back roads in Halifax (not Canada, but Vermont) I usually take a wrong turn, but eventually recognize a corner and correct myself to end up at one of my favorite places – Green River – where I sat with a bottle of water, learning you are invited to enjoy on the private property, but not picnic.


Continuing east on Stage Road towards US Route 5 at Guilford, at last I was here at the right time to enjoy some ice cream at the BLUEBERRY HAUS while BLUE BELLE looked on with a tear in her Grille. I will head back, even if a “dead head” trip.

North on US Route 5, and home. Home with memories, new explorations, and enjoyment writing to remember, and to share. Stay well and safe, as always, luv, RAY

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AND — WE MET ON-LINE – It was Friday night, 27 May, just a week ago, and I started doing some searching that I had not done in a long, long time. AND, THERE SHE WAS – Dressed in white with red trim, the classic curves I have desired for four years, and “the important stuff” in all the right places. INTRIGUED? I BET YOU ARE.

The CURVES…remember my CANNED HAM ADVENTURE 3 JUNE 2018? Hey that was exactly four years ago. I have always been in love with the curves and shape – yes the canned ham appearance of a vintage camping trailer. And “the important stuff” the layout – table with facing benches at one end, and bed at the opposite end (usually front and back) with kitchen and cabinets in between. And, that wood panelling!

My search was re-sparked in late 2019, and then COVID hit (not to mention the second back surgery). Travels and adventures ceased, as did an active search for a “canned ham.” But then in late 2020 a friend said his neighbor wished to sell his original 1965 Airstream Caravel. I love original, I looked, I bought, I had a great deal of fun over the winter of 2020-21 thinking about and researching some minor restorations – vintage decorations – and adventures. Then you may recall that on 25 May 2021, while driving home from some welding rebuild to bring the rear bumper back to original – I lost a wheel bearing. A piggy-back ride home, and what to do. Do I keep her or let someone else adopt her? The layout of my Airstream was not exactly what I wanted – and her classic look yells out “Airstream” but not “canned ham.”

With times of emails, and taking images, I can rebuild timelines fairly well. It was about 7:46 PM Friday, 27 May, that I saw “my new girlfriend” on-line, and she lived just up the road in Enfield Center. The owner and I corresponded, and at about 11 AM, Sunday 29 May, our eyes met – “it was love.” Meet my “new” 1959 FAN made in Wakarusa, Indiana.

see that “canned ham” shape? Oh, the curves, and here is the important stuff, all in the right places as I originally wanted.

It did not take long to inspect, and learn of its close to original refurbishment. Some cash changed hands (smart people on the hunt for whatever comes along know to always have some green at home in case). And a promise was made to repack the wheel bearings before she came south with me. Yes, did not want another mishap, and obvious Dan knew what he was doing. We coordinated the timing for pickup, and at about 1:20 today, 3 June, I arrived in Enfield Center, ready with the rest of the green (there is a limit to what you keep in that secret hiding place Gary knows about, just in case), and after a great visit and learning of the fine points, my new girlfriend – the new LADYRAB III, and I were ready to go.

back to “44” and “Camp 44.”

But Ray, what about the “former LADYRAB III?’ Well, the quandary is over, and I am working on finding only the right adoption and new home. On June 1st, I published a page on my website – 1965 AIRSTREAM FOR SALE – ORIGINAL. I then created a local Craig’s List post, and then posted on the Facebook AIRSTREAM ADDICTS page, and four other Facebook groups that are devoted to vintage campers. With these posts I included a link to the above page so people could read further and see many illustrations. As I am writing this, in about two full days I have had 10,968 page views of my for sale story and the images, and queries from all over the country. By the time you read this the number of reads will be over 11,000. A couple will be looking tomorrow, and another couple coming down from Burlington on Sunday, and they acknowledged the current hiccups. Classic Airstreams are popular, and now I have my eye turning “CLASSIC CANNED HAM” – my new GIRLFRIEND, MY NEW TOY, and MY NEW PLACE TO SLEEP.

Stay safe and well, as always, luv, RAY

UPDATE – 6:45 AM 4 June posted from “Camp 44”

Enjoying Friday night tradition watching ABC 2020 – and awaking now after one of the best sleeps in a long time. TOO MUCH FUN – I could almost live here

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My son Gary recently found circulating on the internet this video of my mishap a year ago today. As it is said, “all is well that ends well,” and I am keyboarding and LADYRAB III is reposing at “camp 44.” We thought we would share what he found – make sure your sound is on.

and, hoping you wish to re-read that tale, here is the link to —


I am playing with plans for some little shunpikes, hopefully soon. Stay well, and have a nice Memorial Day weekend. As Always, RAY

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I have finally met a road I did not like. Yes, Old Vernon Road, over the causeway passing through Hell’s Kitchen, narrow pavement turns to dirt (supposedly made for four-wheel drive – never stopped me before). I enter Satan’s Kingdom (just south of the Vermont / Massachusetts border). But wait, let me get you there first.

“How do you come up with these trips, Ray?” I have been waiting for you to ask. It is a combination of needed historical exploration, and a runaway curiosity. I cannot see a street sign saying: Depot Road; Potash Path; Mill Street; Quarry Lane; Town Farm Road, Canal Street; or the like without knowing what was once there, and may still be, so off I go. Todays’ trip came about from a newspaper article I clipped about a bicycle ride through Satan’s Kingdom and eventually past Gill Tavern – of course, in Gill, Massachusetts. I was intrigued and playing with my paper map figured: River Road down the east side of the Connecticut River; then over to Brattleboro and down Route 142 eventually to Turner’s Falls, but exploring Satan’s Kingdom. Then home on Route 63 through Massachusetts and New Hampshire. In planning, on my paper map a section of Route 142 in Vernon, Vermont, was marked Fort Bridgman (no e) Road. Had to have been another fort I knew nothing about – but only for moments.

I learned the fort was established as a colonial settler’s fort in 1737 in what is now Vernon. The website about forts said a monument marked where the fort was was on an unmarked dirt road, the other side of a cornMAY-21-22-a field. I learned the fort was established as a colonial settler’s fort in 1737 in what is now Vernon. The site also said at the cemetery to the south on 142  would be a marker to Jemima Tute (Howe). Should be easy, right? Well, I past Jemima’s marker, but having seen nothing pulled into the library. The librarian sent me the other way. But back in Black Beauty I thought she was wrong, so reread the website, and went back north – back and forth. And, finally on a dirt drive next to The Vermont Mulch Co., I saw way to the rear the monument. No way to see from 142 once the corn is up. What history, read the plaque below

You should know that it was just two months later that there was an Indian attack and raid here in Walpole – but that story is in my new book, “Did You Know That? Explorations in Walpole, NH History.”

I had to stop and get this marker to share with you as well.

I then went down Governor Hunt Road since the librarian told me the 1779 Governor Hunt home had recently been purchased by a group to preserve and restore. Until recently it was owned by the now defunct Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Plant. I cannot wait to visit it when open, and signed up for their newsletter.

Continuing south on 142 I was watching for Old Vernon Road – HINT: when ever you see “old” with a road name, that is the old way for travelers, and usually with discoveries along the way. Turning right on the road, I crossed the causeway before reaching Hell’s Kitchen as indicated on the map, and once pavement ended knew that I had reached Satan’s Kingdom, so named after a resident of Northfield walked out of church where a sermon about the fires of hell had just been given. He saw a forest fire across the Connecticut River, and observed that Satan’s Kingdom was burning. One source I read says this undeveloped area is a State Forest, but. could not find a website about it. The road did not look bad…

but then going down a slight grade there was water, mud, and stone filling ruts. Looking now at the image below, it does not look as bad as it was. For some reason I was smart and stopped. Quick thinking, no cell service, bottom out and sink in mud – long walk to call for wrecker for recovery for which there is a hefty charge. Breaking down tows (up to 200 miles) are free. Looking again, it was the rocks that scared me – well the mud hole too – and then what is around the next bend. Actually the worst part is in the shadows of the image. Still cannot believe I turned around – well backed a long time before I could fit between trees to turn around.

Part of this trip was to see the Gill Tavern – I was impressed with their website, but they do not open to 4. I debated about taking a longer drive to Deerfield, and circle back when they opened, but was concerned about possible storms moving in (not yet it ends up). I had been in Gill only once before heading north on the road, and did not see the tavern. About 35 miles from home, I will get back.

I parked in Turners Falls walked around, went into a few shops, and had a late lunch. Always enjoy this village. Then back roads to Millers Falls to get Route 63 back north through Massachusetts and NH ended on Route 12 just miles from home. I always enjoy high elevation Chesterfield with its stone houses, and long views to the west to Vermont. Never shared images with you from here, so thought you would enjoy maybe the only stone post office I have ever seen.

and the Town Hall and the Library, also stone.

at the intersection of 63 and Route 9 is this fantastic stone tavern, now owned by the historical society. I helped the previous owner clean out his book shop, and he let me explore the building. Downstairs is the original tap room features; the second floor is the original ballroom with raised enclosed band stand, and perimeter seating, and in the third floor attic are the original sleeping quarters for the drovers who stayed overnight – JUST AMAZING – wish I had taken images there years ago. Maybe someday it will be open again.

and home – out about five hours, BLACK BEAUTY was happy clocking 88 miles, and we both were glad to get home when it was still only 88 degrees. I will be returning to experience the GILL TAVERN – like to join me? Stay well, yours, RAY

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OSWEGO CANAL – 7-10 MAY 2022 – Part II

Monday, May 9, was a bus tour starting at 8:40 at the Port of Oswego (still love how that sounds) and traveling south along the river for almost 22 miles to Phoenix. The river continues another two miles to where it joins the Oneida and Seneca Rivers. The Oswego drains an area of 5,122 square miles, including the Finger Lakes and Oneida Lake. Oneida Lake is the largest lake entirely within New York state, almost 21 miles long and a mile across at its widest point. If you have any interest in the Erie Canal you should join the Canal Society of New York State. On their field trips extremely well done historical trip guides are prepared, and well worth study – I have read this one three times now.

OCanal-May 2022-ya

At the Port of Oswego we learned of the importance of the port with lake commerce and saw close up the new $15 million grain elevator. Older elevators were torn down years ago. I find the operation of grain elevators fascinating, and need to learn more. I also subsequently have read that this project was controversial, and stopped and delayed by a lawsuit since it is blocking many historic views.

Next stop Lock 8 (right “downtown”), the northernmost lock, where construction is rapidly finishing up for the opening of the canal. All repair and new work must be done off season in the colder months. Again, I remind you that you can follow this same route with me along the water on the trip I took in September 2019 – just click this hyperlink.

Next? — Lock 7

One of the special and great things traveling and exploring with a society or club with a focused interest is the possibility to get places and see things not open to the public. And, Craig is well connected in NY State history and canal circles, and obtained permission for us to see the remains of an 1850s canal in a private backyard.

As a matter of introduction – some canal construction background. Originally many canals, including the Oswego Canal, were cut ditches (think the nickname for the Erie Canal – Clinton’s Ditch). Waterways were dug, and locks constructed for changes in elevation. The enlarged Lock 14 below (circa 1850s) that we next visited shows what happened over time. The Oswego River originally was small and to the west of the cut canal along the high bank you can see. In future expansions damns were built backing up the river, raising the levels, and creating “slack water” to sail on. There are six dams along this river to create the slack water for easier cruising and fewer locks. And, some of the damns are curved. And why you ask? It is not to increase the strength (although it helps) but to create a greater top surface length to allow more water flow downstream. All carefully calculated out I am sure to make sure upstream levels are kept at a safe and proper width. This first image shows walking down the private yard to the old lock which is almost covered by the river width increase due to the building of dams. Then the gallery (which you click and enlarge) shows close ups of the old stone constructions.

Next we headed to Lock 3 and lunch. We skipped Lock 5, and Lock 4 was never built as originally planned. The early engineers discovered it would not be needed, and instead of renumbering all the plans and lock sites, 4 was simply skipped in the numbering scheme.

First stop after lunch was at Lock 2, where the Oswego Falls East hydro plant is located. We were given a quick look at the inside of the plant, and then given a demonstration of the unique swivel bridge that leads over the canal to the plant.

Again, why do you tour with a unique focused group? – you get to go “behind the scenes” and the next stop was at the Lysander Canal Maintenance Facility to see the historic tug boats URGER and SENECA. Meeting us there was an enthusiastic Steve Wunder, a former captain of both tugs. Just the other day the leader, Craig, provided a link to Will Van Dorp’s Tugster blog for more on our visit there – – make sure you take a look as well (I am hidden in the group photo in the back)

how can you not resist this color from markers ready for installation for the season?

It was then a quick stop at Lock 1 in Phoenix, and then a return to the Town of Oswego with a quick look at Lock 6 and its impressive adjoining damn.

Back a tad after 4PM, the CSNYS May 9th Tour of the Oswego Canal was over, and folks headed off to their real lives. Yes, I could have deadheaded home and gotten to “44” by 10PM, but you know me (hopefully) and the plan was to spend all of Tuesday exploring a different route back home. And, that came next after watching another sunset over the lake, and actually enjoying a “Best Western” that was as comfortable as most historic inns or B&Bs I frequent.

Of on Tuesday, to refresh you, I have included below the map with my marked routes that I shared in Part I (you can click for full screen). Heading west I was on the more southernly route until Rome when I headed north to Port Ontario. Having traversed on the waters of Lake Oneida twice I wanted to skirt its northern shore (remember I mentioned above the lake is almost 21 miles long) and then take another NY State Byway -the Southern Adirondack Trail – that you can see my pink hi light on through the green preserve.

Leaving shortly after 8AM, I headed down the remote western side of the Oswego River to Fulton where I picked up Route 3 to Route 49 that runs along the shore of the lake to Rome. But having pursued the travel literature I had to stop in Central Square to see the CENTRAL SQUARE (Railroad) STATION MUSEUM which is only open on summer Sundays. A small museum, but on my route and they have some fascinating rolling stock on display. I arrived, and was impressed at what I saw on their grounds.

an overview of the grounds

In this gallery are the explanations of the Circus Car and the Gas-Electric Car. The green trolley is the last Syracuse, NY, trolley that was taken out of service in 1941. The undercarriage and trucks went to the scrap drives for the war effort, and the body became a “camp.” Rescued from that deteriorating fate in the woods, the next hope was to become part of a restaurant. That did not happen, and now the museum has it to preserve. Remember you can click for larger views.

I really enjoyed the views along the lake, but it was just too hard to find the perfect image to share – so, you will just have to make the trek yourself. At the eastern end of the lake is Sylvan Beach. It was here, on the Blount ship I was on, I remained overnight, but I could not find the spot on the canal, but tried. That night in 2019 we arrived too late for me to hike to the town, but I got to see it this time. Here is the entrance to the lake (looking west) from the Erie Canal Barge Canal.

a beautiful old-fashioned lake side resort, the village had a number of Victorian cottages along the shore, and a mix of interesting architecture. I bet this is a packed place in the summer months. Workers were preparing the Amusement Park, which dates from the 1870s, for its opening. I just found their video – what a classic piece of Americana – I will have to try to get back – when not a crowd. Just a sample of what I saw.

and then east on Route 49 towards Rome (New York that is, however the other Rome is east of here as well). But, wait, what is that sign – LOCK 22 – U-Turn and back down a dirt road.

and what can be better than another little dirt road off a dirt road but a little road with a sign that reads – Lock 21 where work was going on with a bridge that was out. Remember I have sailed through these locks twice – and in each direction.

From Rome it was backroads to pick up Route 8 and the Southern Adirondack Trail Byway. At times I really questioned where I was since there were signs for: POLAND – RUSSIA – NORWAY – scary sounding GRAVESVILLE – HOLLAND PATENT – SOUTH TRENTON – OHIO – wasn’t sure if I was still in NEW YORK STATE or the TWILIGHT ZONE. But to simplify your life and travels – I have been Route 8 up to Speculator (yes New York) and back down through Cranberry Creek to get to Route 29 to Saratoga Springs — and there is nothing to see or do along the way. Some rustic areas to escape to, that is about it.

But – RAY REMEMBER – Saratoga Springs is but 98 wonderful back road miles from home, and you still have lots to do there and enjoy. So close – just avoid race month. Those back roads home include heading ultimately to my favorite Arlington, Vermont, through Cambridge, New York, where I stop at a lovely antique center. It had been awhile since I had been through, and I forgot the train station (now craft beer, etc.) and all the original railroad side buildings – yes, driving back soon.

1 – Join a focused group that catches your interest (such as the Canal Society of New York State) and join in on their events.
2 – Explore Central New York State north of the thruway for some unique areas – well you can go a tad south into the Cherry Valley area and along the Erie Canal
3 – Learn about Saratoga Springs and plan a stay.
4 – And, stay safe and well.

5 – FLASH – as I was finishing this post someone emailed me with a wealth of sources for a tin chandelier like the one I showed you in Part I (not sure I know the woman, but I have replied to her asking) — and, I have emailed one source for the perfect lamp. Will share the sources on Part I – once I have mine purchased.

Thank you for traveling with me, luv, RAY

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OSWEGO CANAL – 7-10 MAY 2022 – Part I

I am trying to get back into exploring and traveling, 2019 (just look at those posts) being probably my best year. And, that year I discovered the Canal Society of New York State, and also the sadly now defunct (thank you COVID) Blount Small Ship Adventures. Yes, I have been interested in canals for ever, live close to the first canal in the US, and have a desire to learn more and more. Taking a focused trip with the Canal Society has now for the second time brought me into a geographical area I could learn more about. And, when I sailed with Blount in 2019, I came down the Oswego Canal, and wrote in that post “…I still need to get back to explore Oswego,..” Glad I made it this past week. And, how can you not enjoy saying — “Oswego?”

How do you get to Oswego on Lake Ontario, four and 1/2 hours away per google? Back roads, of course, with no tolls and explorations encompassing over nine hours instead. Below is a map (that you can click for full screen) to give you the routes I took west, and then back east, which I will relate in Part II of this trip report.

So, Route 67 from North Bennington, VT, west until it ends at Route 5 in St. Johnsville, NY. I hope you realize that the Battle of Bennington (Vermont) happened just off Route 67 in Walloomsac in the Town of Hoosick, New York. I have visited before, but had to drive up the hill to share with you the monument, and spot of the New Hampshire regiment that stopped in Walpole on the way there.

Close to where 67 dead ends on 5 is Fort Klock built in 1750. Just up from the Mohawk River (seen through the trees on the left) and the Amtrak line, the grounds were open so I could enjoy the spot.

Made of stone, you know I enjoy sharing images with texture. In the walls are slits for muskets to fire through.

Arriving in St. Johnsville I saw a small sign “Lock 33.” Quick left, cross the Mohawk River, and left onto Dump Road. Yes, one of the original locks built in the 1840, the lock became a dumping spot until reclamation began in 1999. Checking the map later, this lock was basically just across the Mohawk from Fort Klock.

Remember you may “click” images in my galleries for larger views.

Just outside Rome is where the Erie Canal was begun – basically the mid-point. The Erie Canal Village is there, but sadly has been closed and is deteriorating. Their website says soon to reopen, but as I crossed into the parking lot, the decay is continuing from what I observed over ten years ago.

I then back roaded on Routes 69 and 13 (along the NY Revolutionary Byway) to Port Ontario on the lake. Remote Oswego County that I have now been in. Then I followed the NY Seaway Trail west. Even though so labeled on the NY State maps there is nothing special about the NY State byways – little information on what to see as to why you should be there. Arriving in Oswego (say it twice or three times fast), a block of rooms for the society was in the Best Western Plus Hotel right on the river (not my usual “home away from home”). But, actually a very nice and spacious room with a sitting area and couch (better than what I had last month at the Mount Washington Hotel for almost three times the price) — but, the view from my balcony – right side image looking to Lake Ontario.

I then drove around a tad, looking out to the lake, and then south on the west side of the river.

and, then it was “good night Oswego” complete with storage silos for concrete from Canada.

SUNDAY – 8 MAY – I had until 1PM when the program began. I was not able to see Fort Ontario when I was quickly through in 2019, and was thrilled to learn the fort would open at 10AM for a War of 1812 Drill and Training Reenactment Event – and I was there before the guard doors opened. The current star-shaped fort dates to the early 1840’s with 1863 to 1872 improvements portrayed in the restoration. Its history, due to its strategic location, dates to the French and Indian Wars, and before. “The fourth and current Fort Ontario is built on the ruins of three earlier fortifications which were the site of three French and Indian War and two War of 1812 battles.  It was occupied by the U.S. Army through World War II.  From 1944 to 1946 the fort served as the only refugee camp in the United States for mostly Jewish victims of the Nazi Holocaust.” With a history of almost 300 years, I would not mind going back. I did purchase the fort’s history book, and for some quick learning here is a website to check out.

Below the fort at the entrance to the Oswego River and town with a population of about 18,000.

Outside the fort, this stone details the history of the fort – click for easier reading

and, entering the fort, the re-enactors were set up.

This group has not been able to assemble in two years due to COVID. So it was practice and training of new recruits.

some images around the fort. Inside one of the staff rooms it was gratifying to see a copy press properly described (in the rear of the lower right image). Used in the 19th century to make copies of letters on moist tissue paper, copy presses were also used for small book binding, and normally (by the uninformed) called book presses. The barrack’s tiers for sleeping were three high, and moveable for thorough cleaning for good health.

REWARD – I WANT ONE – I saw this tin chandelier in the mess room of the barracks – never seenOCanal - Fort Chandelier anything like it with reflectors. In another building a heard hammering, and discovered a tinsmith at work. Conversation of course, as you may recall I did tinsmithing with my overnight at OSV, and attended a demonstration at Historic Deerfield. And, this tinsmith learned from the fellow who was at Deerfield. Ends up the fellow here made this chandelier based upon an image he saw of one that had been in a sailing ship. He too never saw anything like it. With all my pleading he said, “sorry I just cannot make another for you.” So, FIND ME ONE.

In the intro video (always the place to start) I saw passageways in the fort walls. Of course I asked, and learned there were two openings atop the walls that are open. I found them, and down below found this musical group enjoying and entertaining.

Also “on the list” and I had time, was a visit to the Safe Haven Holocaust Refugee Shelter Museum. on the grounds of the fort.  Here 982 refugees from World War II were allowed into the United States as “guests” of President Franklin D. Roosevelt. These refugees were housed at Fort Ontario from August 1944 until February 1946. The museum is in one of the remaining brick buildings from the US Army days on the grounds

It was disturbing when the refugees arrived by train from NYC to find their new safe abode behind fences. They had left incarceration from behind fences, and were scared, and as well when all their clothing was taken for cleaning. No difference from their experiences under the Nazis, but remember this was a military installation. The image below shows where the wooden military buildings they were housed in were located – upper right. That area (remember aerial view above) is now athletic fields.

Remember you can click the above for larger full views. Originally all the refugees were to return to Europe after the war, but that changed, and those who wished were allowed to stay in the US and attain citizenship. Many of those individuals made significant contributions to our country and you may wish to learn more about this little known aspect of US history.

It was then time for the Canal Society of New York State to gather. Sunday started at the Coast Guard station followed by a too short a visit at the H Lee White Maritime Museum (hey, a reason to return).


Lots to learn inside here, but I thought fun to share these facts about Teddy, and the workings of a Fresnel lens in a lighthouse

The museum has a tug tied up and also an old canal barge, now on land following its sinking shortly after it was acquired. The steam driven crane is fascinating – remember you can click and enlarge.

and two fact filled panels on the barge.

so, back to my balcony, then dinner with the group with a fascinating talk on the salt industry in Syracuse dating way back, and with that product transported on the canal. Back in my room more study on my balcony in preparation for Monday’s tour of the locks (shore side) which I will share in PART II.

Thank you for traveling with me, yours, RAY

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