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Roughing It: 1905

Upstate New York circa 1905. "An open camp in the Adirondacks." 8x10 inch dry plate glass negative, Detroit Publishing Company. View full size.

Upstate New York circa 1905. "An open camp in the Adirondacks." 8x10 inch dry plate glass negative, Detroit Publishing Company. View full size.


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The Ghosts of Camping past

The 'Lean-to' we opted for on Horse Stable Mountain, NY, was twice this size and with a stone fireplace and chimney in the center, facing inwards of course. The breeze atop a 500 foot tall boulder kept most bugs away, and nightly warmth was assured by dropping a ten foot pole down the flue, and watching it self-feed into the coals all night long.

See der branches?

Looking at the branches that festoon the cabin I see that they appear to be cedar branches. (There are lots of them out here in Oregon) Cedar branches will keep away most insects. they tend to be a natural insect repellent. (think cedar closets) When I go camping out here in Oregon, I look for cedar trees. I cut and bruise (crush the leaves) a few branches, then spread them around and under my sleeping bag if I am sleeping on bare ground. They seem to do the job of keeping mosquitoes away.

Back in Boy Scouts

We had these three-sided cabins (bigger than the one shown here) at Camp Harris on Lake Echo in Nova Scotia, and we all referred to them as "Adirondacks". Now I know why!

Adirondack Chair

The crate-chair on the far right says Cushman's Menthol Inhalers on it. These supposedly "cured diseases of the head, including hay-fever, colds and bronchitis."

It's all about the details

So, the lean-to appears to be hung with cedar boughs - is this to ward off bugs? The man on the right it seated on a wonderful chair made of wooden crate. He wears a handsome plaid shirt with corduroy trousers tucked into socks with fancy tops. He appears to be wearing a badge or fob of some kind - perhaps his park permit? And look at that beautiful basket behind him!

Note also what looks to be a bunkhouse in the upper right, up the hill.

Ahh the memories!

I spent a lot of my youth in the Adirondacks camping in lean-tos just like this. The canoe paddle is identical to one my dad and I picked up nearly 50 years ago in the Adirondacks. Every time we went to this one canoe rental place we would look for that paddle. The owner finally sold it to us.

Second From Left

I hear a song when I see this picture:

"Come and listen to a story 'bout a man named Jed
Poor mountaineer, barely kept his family fed"

Lean on me

That lean-to makes me so nostalgic for the time I spent hiking and canoeing in the Adirondacks.

I have enjoyed several dozens of nights sleeping in those amazing shelters, hiking the high peaks area near Lake Placid and portions of the Lakeville-Placid trail and canoeing from the lakes and rivers around Saranac all the way down to Old Forge. The lean-tos are all over the trails, rivers and lakes in the park.

Were it not for the early 1900s clothing, the photo could have been taken yesterday. The shelters still look exactly the same.

Fine Thing


Lean-to shelters

Those who have hiked in the Adirondack High Peaks will immediately recognize the lean-to, which is characteristic to the region. These can be widely found and in the state park they are maintained by the state for use by hikers on a first-come, first-serve basis.

Some locations and photos, etc., here. You can see that they haven't changed at all.

Pit Bull

Because I own one myself, I cannot help but notice that the dog looks like it is at least part pit bull.

The open cabin

You'd get eaten alive by black flies and mosquitoes, sleeping in that place.

On a country road close to town?

Very interesting picture with the contrast between the rugged outdoors and civilization. Two of the men are wearing ties. One looks like he is the banker there to discuss the mortgage on the property. Only the two on the right look dressed for the outdoors. The structure looks to be just a sleeping platform. Something more sturdy than a tent but without all the comfort of a cabin. This contrasts with the more developed structure in the background and the cleared land indicating this might not be too far from civilization.

Two of the men are holding now classic Winchesters. The man on the right an 1886 takedown and the fellow second from the left an 1895.

Didn't read the rules

Someone in this picture accidentally brought an oar to a gunfight. Who feels like a silly goose now?

Hey Ma

Whatcha want us to do with this here city slicker we caught snoopin around?

He shore got a funny lookin hat!

That's how I remember it

Three men with guns, check. One man with an oar, check. Two disgusted women, check. One disgusted dog, check. One cabin open to all the bugs in the Adirondacks, check. One man in a three-piece suit carrying a clipboard, check. Okay, then, I guess we're ready to camp!

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