Old Stump Bridge in Whallons Bay

Oil painting of Old Stump Bridge in Whallons Bay by Sid Couchey (Source: Heidi Labate)
Oil painting of Old Stump Bridge in Whallons Bay by Sid Couchey (Source: Heidi Labate)

Back in July I received a comment from Heidi LaBate about an Essex painting created by the late Sid Couchey.

I have an original oil painting done by Sid couchey in the mid to late 1950’s. It is off old stump bridge in whallons bay. Sid gifted the painting to my grandfather when my grandfather was the lay minister at the church innessex NY. I would love more information and / or to sell it to someone from the area who would appreciate it fully. I reside in Burlington , Vt. (Source: Heidi Labate, July 29, 2016)

I was thrilled to receive the following snapshots from Ms. LaBate who blogs about food and cooking (and offers a “freezer meal” service) at BeetsCookingVT.com.

Unfortunately I don’t have any light to shed on the painting, although my respect for Sid Couchey is no secret. It has been suggested that Sid Couchey not only created the Old Stump Bridge painting above, but he may also have helped his grandfather build it (Essex on Lake Champlain). I hope to learn more about this.

My knowledge of Old Stump Bridge is similarly skinny. The following image is from a vintage “souvenir mailer” in my growing personal collection of Essex artifacts.

Old Stump Bridge at Whallons Bay

David C. Hislop touched briefly on the topic in Essex on Lake Champlain, his Essex, NY contribution to the Images of America book series.

“The wonderful old stump bridge just south of Essex at Whallons Bay added rustic charm to the area around 1920. The elaborate cedar-root bridge would today be associated with the fashionable Adirondack style.” (Google Books)

Thanks, Heidi LaBate, for the photographs of Sid Couchey’s painting of Old Stump Bridge. I’ll update this page if/when I learn anything else.

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Vintage Sherwood Inn Advertisement

Sherwood Inn advertisement from 1949 Adirondack Guide. (Source: Adirondack Guide via David Brayden)
Sherwood Inn advertisement from 1949 Adirondack Guide. (Source: Adirondack Guide via David Brayden)

Many thanks to David Brayden for discovering and sharing a 1949 Adirondack Guide that showcased Essex, NY alongside a vintage Sherwood Inn advertisement (above), the only Essex ad included in the book.

It turns out that David Brayden is not only a talented doodler. He turns out to be as skilled an Essex artifact hunter as his son, Scott Brayden (Scott Brayden Digs Essex History), who recently made his second exploration of Rosslyn’s subterranean treasures. (More on what he disinterred soon!)

[Note: If you missed David Brayden’s August 3, 2013 Old Dock House doodle here’s a quick recap.]

Essex Dock House doodle by David Brayden (Source: essexonlakechamplain.com)
Essex Dock House doodle by David Brayden (Source: essexonlakechamplain.com)

[During Downtown Essex Day 2013 we presented passers-by with a doodle challenge.] “What’s the first thing that comes to your mind when you think of Essex, New York?” David Brayden… quickly sketched out this simple building and labeled it “Dock House.” The Old Dock Restaurant is a prominent Essex building that is one of the most recognizable to passengers coming in on the Essex-Charlotte ferry with it’s red exterior, so it’s no surprise to see that as a response! (Source: essexonlakechamplain.com)

Taproom, Beach, Lawn Sports & More

On July 28, 2016 I received an email from David explaining that he’d come across the vintage Sherwood Inn advertisement (above), and he believed that it was Rosslyn.

Indeed it was. He was 100% correct.

I’ve touched on Rosslyn’s lodging/dining past previously (see Sherwood Inn Remembered and Sherwood Inn Landing on Lake Champlain), but details continue to emerge. Like the initials and last name of the proprietor and manager, C. W. Sherwood and F. S. Sherwood. I’d love to learn more about the Sherwoods. So far, the trail is faint…

Before taking a look at the rest of the Adirondack Guide lent to me by David Brayden, I’ll recap the information from the advert.

Sherwood Inn
Essex on Lake Champlain
New York

Fronting Directly on Beautiful Lake Champlain the Inn — A Fine Example of Authentic Colonial — Commands Sweeping Views of Lake and Mountains.

  • Attractive Accommodations
  • Excellent Food
  • Colonial Taproom
  • Private Beach And Boat Dock
  • Lawn Sports
  • Golf Nearby

C. W. Sherwood, Prop.
F. S. Sherwood, Mgr.

1949 Adirondack Guide: Essex

While the vintage Sherwood Inn advertisement initially grabbed my attention, the entire book was interesting. The full title is Adirondack Guide: Vacationland In Picture, Story and History, and it is a comprehensive town-by-town tourist guide to the Adirondacks. A prior edition was published between 1945 and 1947, and then revised in 1949 resulting in the edition that David loaned to me.

Here’s the write-up for Essex, NY.

The charming little village of Essex is located directly on the shores of Lake Champlain. Essex is rich in historical lore and was the route of explorers and missionaries as far back as 1609. During the Revolutionary war 1776-1784 it was the scene of many an exciting battle in the region of naval engagements and the War of 1812.

On Route 22 (the scenic lakeshores route and one of the main highways from New York to Montreal) it is served by the Delaware and Hudson Railroad. Among the innumerable summer sports the principal ones are swimming, boating, canoeing, fishing, all in Lake Champlain. The chief sport in winter is fishing through the ice for delicious Lake Champlain ice-fish.

The natural beauty of it setting is unexcelled, situated as it as it is on beautiful Lake Champlain in the foothills of the Adirondacks. Mts. Marcy (highest in New York) Whiteface and Hurricane form an impressive backdrop and across the Lake are the Green Mountains of Vermont with Mts. Mansfield, Camel’s Hump and Lincoln predominating the panorama. Essex is indeed deserving of the description which so many people have given it as “One of the Most Beautiful Spots on Lake Champlain.” (Source: Page 171, Adirondack Guide: Vacationland In Picture, Story and History, edited by Arthur S. Knight, 1945-1947, Revised 1949, published and printed by Adirondack Resorts Press, Inc. Lake George, New York)

1949 Adirondack Guide: Gallery

It’s challenging to narrow down the many local-ish vignettes, but present context leads me to include the write-up for Willsboro, NY in the gallery below. I’ve also included a full page advertisement for Camp-of-the-Pines that appears on the page preceding the Willsboro description. I’ve never before heard mention of Camp-of-the-Pines, but I instantly recognized the property from my frequent Willsboro Point bike rides.

If you’re lucky enough to find a copy of this long out-of-print treasure, take a moment to leaf through its nostalgic pages. It offers an enchanting time capsule of the Adirondacks half a century ago.

Posted in Adirondacks, Artifacts, Essex New York, Hyperlocal, Where's Rosslyn? | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Homeport in Wadhams, NY

I’ve come across another historic photograph of Homeport in Wadhams, NY.

Homeport in Wadhams, NY was the summer home of the late Albion V. Wadhams.
Homeport in Wadhams, NY: summer home of Albion V. Wadhams.

This wonderful old house a short drive from Rosslyn was my home during the late 1970s and early 1980s. It was a wreck when my parents purchased it and a handsome home when they sold it. Today it is the home of Matt Foley, owner/operator of River Rat Glass & Electric.

That room with the balconies was my bedroom for a few years…

Growing up at — and helping renovate — Homeport has become a familiar and well worn touchstone for my rehabilitation of Rosslyn. I can’t help experiencing a twinge of nostalgia when I come across artifacts that invite me to ponder back in time. The old postcard below appears to be the same image that was included in the booklet, In the Beginning… Wadhams 1820-1970, that I excerpted in a previous post (Hickory Hill and Homeport), but this is version is far more clear.

That two story porch on the left of the photograph no longer existed when we owned the home, and I alway wondered what may have been on that end of the house. I imagine that the view from that upper deck of the Boquet River flowing below must have been an inviting end-of-day ritual for a few of the homes residents over the year. That room with the balconies was my bedroom for a few years, and I can easily imagine the pleasure of strolling out onto that deck in the morning. In the evening. At night…

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Low Lake Levels + Crib Dock Reflections

Crib Dock more and more exposed in front of Rosslyn boathouse. (September 12, 2016)
Crib Dock more and more exposed in front of Rosslyn boathouse. (September 12, 2016)

Whether you call it climate change, “nature’s sense of humor”, or something else, Lake Champlain’s water level is raising eyebrows. Back in 2011 we experienced the highest lake levels in recorded history. Five years later lake levels are flirting with the lowest record.

The highest recorded level at the gage in Burlington was 103.27 feet above mean sea level on May 6, 2011.The minimum lake level observed in Burlington was 92.61 feet above mean sea level on December 4, 1908. (Source: USGS Lake Gage at ECHO)

As of today (September 14, 2016) Lake Champlain is 94.07 feet above see level. Lake Champlain has dropped just over four feet since this spring’s not-so-high high, and an annual drop of about five feet (from spring to late autumn) is normal.

In other words, we’re unlikely to break the all time record for Lake Champlain’s lowest recorded water level, but it’s not impossible. And yet, record-busting aside, this is by far the lowest lake levels we’ve witnessed since purchasing Rosslyn, and by far our best chance to study the old crib dock extending out into the lake from Rosslyn’s boathouse.

Crib Dock Brainstorms

When we first imagined ourselves living at Rosslyn, we mostly daydreamed about the waterfront. And while the boathouse was the most enticing component of the waterfront, the former docks/piers interested us as well. We’re avid boaters, and we hoped that one or the other of the old crib docks would be recoverable so that we could enjoy convenient access to our boats.

Although neither of us can quite believe it, a decade has already snuck past since we first took ownership of Rosslyn. Ten years of gradual renovation, revitalization, rehabilitation,… And yet, many of the projects on our original punch list continue to be deferred.

For a variety of reasons restoring one of Rosslyn’s historic docks has eluded us so far. But this summer’s incredibly low water level has resuscitated our hopes that one day we’ll be able to transition from the aluminum docks we’ve been using to a refurbished crib dock pier. In recent weeks my imagination has been running wild, scheming up simple, practical solutions to the challenge of repairing a failing/failed crib dock.

I’ll post again with more detailed photographs of the crib dock in front of boathouse since it’s the most recently extant of the historic piers, and I will also find older photographs of the dock to better show what it used to look like. Until then I’d like to share some intriguing excerpts from a story produced by Brian Mann for NCPR back in December 1, 2014, How a North Country family harnessed an Adirondack river. Mann took an insightful look at a dam on the St. Regis River that was rebuilt by Wadhams resident and hydropower guru, Matt Foley, along with his brother-in-law, and nephew.

While the St. Regis crib dam is an altogether different beast than the crib dock in front of our boathouse, both are simple but sound timber and stone structures that post similar reconstruction challenges. I’ll share my current idea anon, but first I offer you several relevant riffs from Mann’s story.

Historic, Hyperlocal Crib Dam Rebuild

With the temporary coffer dam (on the left) diverting the St. Regis River, a local crew laid in a crib of tamarack logs stuffed and weighted with rock and boulders. (Source: NCPR)
With the temporary coffer dam (on the left) diverting the St. Regis River, a local crew laid in a crib of tamarack logs stuffed and weighted with rock and boulders. (Source: NCPR)

This summer [2014], a family that owns hydro-dams in Essex and Franklin counties rebuilt the historic log dam [in St. Regis Falls] using local labor and materials. Using 19th century techniques, the Smiths and the Foleys preserved a dam that generates power and creates an important impoundment on the St. Regis River…

“We went to old books [Emmett Smith said]. We went to books from the turn of the century about how you build wooden timber crib dams.”

The last couple of years it was clear this structure needed to be replaced entirely after decades of floods and ice, partial repairs just weren’t cutting it any more. The family tried to find financing for a concrete dam, but that would have cost three or four times as much and the money just wasn’t there. So they went back to tradition, using native wood and stone…

Building the dam this way meant they could use local materials. But they could also use local guys. Crews from the North Country built the big stone coffer dam to divert the river while the log dam was rebuilt. They milled the big tamarack logs and hauled the rock…

Emmett says building this way was necessity. “Us doing it together and building this log structure in a traditional way is pastoral, but we didn’t do it this way for the poetry of it. It was a question of cost. This is the only way we could do it. This was the cheapest way we could do it. It had to happen now and the price of power is so low that this was the only way it was going to get done.”


There was a time when they did consider letting this dam go. There were so many hurdles, so many risks, and so little certainty of reward. But Matt Foley says rebuilding was important for the family and for the community of St. Regis Falls.

“This dam has a pond that’s six miles long with twelve dozen houses on it and big wetlands,” he says. “So in addition to our generating plant, the town people here have a vested interest in having a dam here.” (Source: How a North Country family harnessed an Adirondack river | NCPR News)


I’ve promised to share my current thinking (as well as some past/present photos) soon, but for now I’d like to close by highlighting a few points that resonated with me.

  • a traditional (i.e. “old school”) repair/rebuild would be preferable to a new dock;
  • even a quasi-traditional hybrid would preferable to replacing historic crib dock with a modern alternative;
  • local lumber, stone, and labor would be more historic, more aesthetically pleasing, more affordable, more positively impactful to the community, etc.;
  • pastoral and practical are not mutually exclusive; and
  • we’ve almost been convinced to give up hope of rehabilitating Rosslyn’s crib dock because there are “so many hurdles, so many risks, and so little certainty of reward”, but we’re not ready to abandon the dream.

I’m still brainstorming, and each time I settle on a possible solution, I’m beset with further challenges. If clever ideas are swimming in your heard, chime in! I’d love to learn from you.

Posted in Autumn, Boathouse, Rehab Ad Infinitum, Rehabilitation, Seasons | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Michael Phillips: Holistic Orcharding

The Holistic Orchard: Tree Fruits and Berries the Biological Way, by Michael Phillips
The Holistic Orchard: Tree Fruits and Berries the Biological Way, by Michael Phillips

For several years I’ve been absorbing holistic orcharding and gardening wisdom from Michael Phillips. I no longer recall how I came across the pied piper of organic, non-toxic fruit tree propagation, but it’s quite possible that my first introduction was an article in Mother Earth News titled, “Organic Apple Growing: Advice From Michael Phillips“.

If you’re uninitiated, Michael Phillips is the owner (along with his wife, Nancy, and their daughter, Gracie), steward, and chronicler of Lost Nation Orchard in New Hampshire. His book, The Holistic Orchard, is the bible for organic apple growers. Here’s a trailer for the companion DVD, Holistic Orcharding.

The book is outstanding. As is The Apple Grower: A Guide for the Organic Orchardist. And I’d also recommend this YouTube playlist of Michael Phillips’ organic orcharding videos.

Holistic Orcharding Tips

Whether or not “Organic Apple Growing: Advice From Michael Phillips“, the article in Mother Earth News, was my introduction to Michael Phillips’ ideas about holistic orcharding, there are some great takeaways that I’ll highlight here:

Q: How big of a hole do I need to dig for planting a tree?
A: The size of the tree hole needs to be large enough to accommodate the roots without bending them. A 3-foot diameter hole generally fits the bill. (Source: MOTHER EARTH NEWS)

Q: A friend told me I should buy a mycorrhizal product to boost the growth of my trees. Does such a product have any worth?
A: Plants have developed an incredible symbiotic relationship with certain fungi to help get nutrients from the soil, as well as to ward off pathogenic organisms. An apple tree has specific mycorrhizae that interact with its roots in the humus layer in these ways. You can inoculate your soil by finding a healthy wild tree and then bringing a few scoops of the soil beneath its branches back to your ground. Ecosystems adapt to the needs at hand without our necessarily having to buy a packaged product. (Source: MOTHER EARTH NEWS)

Q: Some bug is tunneling into a lot of my fruit when it’s just the size of a nickel. What’s up?
A: We deal with two “petal-fall pests” in the eastern half of the United States that easily could be your culprits. Plum curculio larvae get their start in a crescent-like scar the female weevil makes to prevent the growing fruitlet from crushing her egg; European apple sawfly larvae first scratch the surface of a pea-sized fruitlet, and then go on to eat the seeds in another three or four fruitlets. (Source: MOTHER EARTH NEWS)

Q: What’s up with the new kaolin clay spray?
A: Those petal-fall pests identified above can be held effectively in check with a nontoxic white clay covering applied over the entire surface of the tree. The kaolin clay panicles confuse the insect adults and prove incredibly irritating… Application begins as the blossoms start to fall and needs to be thorough. It takes two or three initial sprays to build up a thick enough base to repel these insects. Renew the clay weekly for the next month. (Source: MOTHER EARTH NEWS)

Q: Why did my grandparents hang open jugs of vinegar and molasses out in the orchard?
A: Such homegrown traps usually target adult fruit moths such as the codling moth. Unfortunately, all sons of bugs end up drowning in this brew, some of which might have been beneficial allies. I prefer to control codlings moths with well-timed sprays of Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt), a biological pesticide stomach-specific to caterpillars. Others have had some success wrapping corrugated cardboard around the trunk of the tree, where the larvae crawl to continue their development. Then at the end of the summer, the cardboard is removed and burned. (Source: MOTHER EARTH NEWS)

Q: When do I hang those red sticky ball traps?
A: Apple maggot flies (AMF) are the culprits drawn to these effective traps. The new generation emerges from the soil beginning in late June, with females seeking fruit in which to lay eggs throughout July and August. The sticky balls mimic the best apple to be found in the orchard. The female alights on the trap and stays put because of a layer of sticky goo called “Tangletrap” covering the red sphere… Two to four traps per tree generally suffice to keep AMF larvae from ruining a good harvest. I set out traps on early maturing varieties by the first of July, then scrape off the dead flies and renew the sticky material when moving the traps to later-maturing varieties in early August. (Source: MOTHER EARTH NEWS)

Books by Michael Phillips

The Holistic Orchard: Tree Fruits and Berries the Biological Way, by Michael Phillips
The Holistic Orchard, by Michael Phillips
The Apple Grower by Michael Phillips
The Herbalist's Way: The Art and Practice of Healing with Plant Medicines, by Nancy and Michael Phillips
The Herbalist’s Way, by Nancy and Michael Phillips
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Essex Horse Nail Company in Essex, New York

Welcome to my gallery of Essex Horse Nail Company artifacts. I’m intrigued by artifacts that offer a window into bygone Essex heritage and buildings such at the Essex Horse Nail Company which once stood proud and productive on the site of present day Beggs Park.

During the endless process of rehabilitating Rosslyn, I have assembled a vast treasure trove (“treasure” in my odd opinion, at least!) of Rosslyn artifacts and miscellaneous relics related to EssexLake Champlain, and the Adirondacks.

While resuscitating Rosslyn, we have discovered lots of local artifacts, relics, memorabilia and esoterica. And — a bit like archeologists poking through ancient midden heaps — we have deciphered and guessed the relevance and context of rotting lineament bottles, wallpaper shards, yellowing postcards, etc. Our burgeoning collection of Rosslyn artifacts, Essex artifacts, Lake Champlain artifacts, and Adirondack artifacts comprises a veritable “digital museum” of curated collectibles all directly or indirectly related to the historic William Daniel Ross home in Essex, New York. (Rosslyn Redux)

Many of the Essex Horse Nail Company artifacts in this gallery have been showcased at Essex on Lake Champlain, the community blog for Essex, New York. I’m perennially on the lookout for local artifacts that help fill a visual and informational void, so if you are aware of additional Essex Horse Nail Company artifacts that I’m missing, please let me know. Thanks.

Essex Horse Nail Company Gallery

Essex Horse Nail Company in Essex, New York
Essex Horse Nail Company in Essex, New York

The Essex Horse Nail Company was located on Beggs Point… It manufactured nails for horse shoes… for almost two decades until the factory was destroyed in a fire in 1918.

“Later 19th century industry on Beggs Point included Essex’s only factory building, first occupied by the Essex Manufacturing Company to 1877, then by Lyon and Palmer blind and sash manufactory until 1879, followed by the Essex Horse Nail Company Limited from 1880 to 1918, which in 1885 employed 60 or 70 hands.” (Essex on Lake Champlain by David C. Hislop, pg. 55)

As the factory was only in operation from 1880 to 1918 that dates that photo to some point in or between those years. After the fire the area was barren, and in the 1920s the area was landscaped into Beggs Park which remains public green space today. (Source: Vintage Photo: Essex Horse Nail Factory | Essex on Lake Champlain)

Essex Horse Nail Factory in Essex, New York
Essex Horse Nail Factory in Essex, New York

Essex Horse Nail Factory… burned in a fire that destroyed the factory in 1918 (which date the photo to that year or prior). After it was gone the area was turned into Beggs Park which remains today. Learn more about its history here. (Source: Vintage Photo: Horse Nail Factory | Essex on Lake Champlain)

Essex Horse Nail Company Factory in Essex, New York
Essex Horse Nail Company Factory in Essex, New York

Robert Hammerslag: ECHO and/or the ECHS did an oral history project back in the 70s. It was headed up by Betsy Tisdale. One of the tapes was a recollection of the fire. I am sure the tapes must be available. I can see the Fire Dept, Ross Store, Community Church and maybe the Noble Clemons House at the upper left.

Todd Goff: Bob, a quick search shows c. 1973 tapes of, “Rev. Stephen F. Bayne of Essex, N.Y. talks about the horseshoe nail factory fire in Essex in 1918.” are in Potsdam Library and Blue Mtn Lake. I will look up at HSX. for them too. Thanks for the heads up. It would be good to digitize them.

Robert Hammerslag: Yes, unless it has already been done, it would be good to digitize those old cassette tapes while it’s still possible. They could be forty years old!

David Hislop: The Essex Heritage Center featuring the Essex Town Historian Office which…has had this audio tape of the Reverend and visuals playing on a feature loop. Stop by to see it and learn more! (Source: Vintage Postcard: View from Steamer of Essex, NY | Essex on Lake Champlain)

Essex Horse Nail Company Factory in Essex, New York
Essex Horse Nail Company Factory in Essex, New York

Another postcard was submitting to us by Todd Goff after he saw us share the above postcard. Thank you very much for adding to our digital collection!His postcard reads, “Steamboat landing of the Lake Champlain Transportation Co., at Essex on Lake Champlain, N.Y.” This postcard shows us an alternate view of the same scene. The photo is looking north up the lake and we can see the side of the Horse Nail Factory in the center of the image along with other facets of this section of the Essex waterfront at this time. (Source: Vintage Postcard: View from Steamer of Essex, NY | Essex on Lake Champlain)

Essex Horse Nail Company Factory in Essex, New York, circa 1909.
Essex Horse Nail Company Factory in Essex, New York, circa 1909.

According to the back of the postcard the photo was originally published by “J.S. Wooley, Ballston Spa, NY.” In the center of the photo we can see the old horse nail factory that burned down in 1918. Take a look at other postcards featuring this factory for a better look and to learn more. This building being present here tells us the photo was taken before 1918. As “25.8.09” is written on the face of this postcard we can assume that this may have been the date (August 25, 1909) the postcard was created or possibly the date it was sent… (Source: Vintage Postcard: Essex from Lake Champlain (1909) | Essex on Lake Champlain)

Essex Horse Nail Company/Factory located where Beggs Park is today.
Essex Horse Nail Company/Factory located where Beggs Park is today.

Dianne Lansing: That’s the Horseshoe nail factory on the right…one of several in the photo that are no longer there…

Katie Shepard: This Essex lakefront view does have the old Horse Nail Factory to the right, which burned in 1918 and the location is Beggs Park today… The postage mark is a little hard to make out but I believe it matches the date written out, which reads: “9/22/09.” […] The back of the postcard also tells us that the publisher is “W.H. Cruikshank” in Essex, NY. The name has appeared as the publisher on several of the old postcards that we’ve shared on the blog. (Source: Vintage Postcard: Essex Lakefront Scene | Essex on Lake Champlain)

Essex Horse Nail Company Factory (Source: Susie Drinkwine via Essex on Lake Champlain)
Essex Horse Nail Company Factory (Source: Susie Drinkwine via Essex on Lake Champlain)

The church steeple in the center is the Essex Baptist Church and to the far right the tall object (tower? pipe?) is part of the Essex Horse Nail Company‘s factory. Both are now absent from the town due to fire which destroyed the church in 1943 and the factory in 1918, which dates the photo pre-1918. (Source: Vintage Photo: Essex Waterfront with Nail Factory | Essex on Lake Champlain)

Essex Horse Nail Co. Factory in Essex, NY
Essex Horse Nail Co. Factory in Essex, NY

This week we’re happy to share this black and white photo dated to about c. 1900-1910… I believe I see the part of the old Horse Nail Factory on the far right of the photo. Do you agree?  (Source: Vintage Photo: Essex Waterfront | Essex on Lake Champlain)

Rosslyn bathhouse, boathouse, and the steam yacht, Kestrel, are center foreground, the Old Dock is center background with Essex Horse Nail Co. Factory at far left. (Source: Shirley LaForest via Essex on Lake Champlain)
Rosslyn bathhouse, boathouse, and the steam yacht, Kestrel, are center foreground, the Old Dock is center background with Essex Horse Nail Co. Factory at far left. (Source: Shirley LaForest via Essex on Lake Champlain)

Although Rosslyn’s bathhouse, boathouse (and the Kaiser family’s steam yacht, Kestrel) occupy the center foreground, the Essex Horse Nail Co. Factory’s smoke stack is just visible at the far left of the Old Dock (center background).

Horse Nails and Crate from Essex Horse Nail Company / Factory (Source: Dianne Lansing via Essex on Lake Champlain)
Horse Nails and Crate from Essex Horse Nail Company / Factory (Source: Dianne Lansing via Essex on Lake Champlain)

This photograph popped up in my Facebook feed about a week ago, posted by my neighbor Dianne Lansing with the following description.

“A special gift from a very dear friend. It’s an original box of horseshoe nails made at the Essex Horseshoe Nail Factory which was located at what is now Beggs Park.” ~ Source: Diane Lansing, Facebook, March 14 at 9:16pm

Situated on a commanding promontory overlooking Lake Champlain, the Essex Horse Nail Company occupied the site of several earlier industries. The Essex Horseshoe Nail Factory burned long ago, so it’s veiled in a bit of mystery. (Source: Essex Horse Nails | Essex on Lake Champlain)

Envelope from Essex Horse Nail Co., Limited in Essex, New York, circa 1898.
Envelope from Essex Horse Nail Co., Limited in Essex, New York, circa 1898.

I spied this intriguing artifact in an eBay auction. It’s a canceled envelope for a letter, invoice, something… sent from the Essex Horse Nail Co., Limited in Essex, New York on August 16, 1898 (year cited in eBay auction, though I’m unable to verify) to Mr. D. J. Payne in Wadhams Mills, New York. (Source: Essex Horse Nail Company and Wadhams Mills » Rosslyn Redux)

My "doodlebomb" of the Essex Horse Nail Company including the enterprise's logo (top center).
My “doodlebomb” of the Essex Horse Nail Company including the enterprise’s logo (top center).

While researching and illustrating the Essex, New York Architecture: A Doodler’s Field Guide I “doodlebombed”several vintage images of Essex landmarks including the Essex Horse Nail Co. Not much of an artifact? Sorry!

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Storm + Screen Doors

Kevin Boyle Installs New Screen Door
Kevin Boyle Installs New Screen Door

Good friend and skilled carpenter Kevin Boyle built screen doors for Rosslyn’s exterior mudroom entrance and pantry entrances, and he installed them this past Sunday and Monday.

My bride had leaned on him to squeeze the installation in between two rounds of houseguests, and Kevin was gracious enough to accommodate her by working on a weekend day that I’m certain he would have preferred to spend motorcycling with his wife.

Thanks, Kevin!

Storm + Screen Doors

Kevin joined Rosslyn’s finish team back in about 2007 or 2008, and his legendary preservation and carpentry skills are evident throughout. He’s continued on-and-off ever since, tackling sensitive projects as they arrise, and he has always, always met or exceeded our exacting expectations. We consider ourselves extremely fortunate that Kevin has invested so much in rehabilitating Rosslyn.

Kevin built and installed a similar screen+storm door for our front entrance years ago, and it has performed admirably.

We actually schemed up these hybrid screen+storm doors years ago, but some other project has always gotten in the way. At last they rose to the top of the punch list.

My bride and I dallied altogether too long disagreeing about the design, but we finally agreed that they should echo the design of exterior doors they would accompany. We had agreed from the get-go that the ideal design for screen doors would allow us to swap out the screen section for glass when autumn becomes chilly, and Kevin handily accommodated our wish. (It’s worth noting that he had built and installed a similar screen+storm door for our front entrance years ago, and it has performed admirably.)

Newly Installed Storm + Screen Door
Newly Installed Storm + Screen Door

Accoya: A Better Wood

I believe that Kevin fabricated our front screen door out of red cedar, but this time around he encouraged us to consider another material with which he’s been very satisfied for exterior doors called Accoya.

I have been using Accoya wood for several years for applications just like your storm / screen doors. Its stability is superior to any other species I’ve used so far. It finishes well with paints (doesn’t stain well with transparent finishes)… [and offers] good durability. ~ Kevin Boyle

The explanation above was received via email, and Kevin included a link to Accoya’s lengthy product description that includes the following highlights.

By significantly enhancing the durability and dimensional stability of abundantly available certified wood species, Accoya® wood provides compelling environmental advantages over scarce slow growing hardwoods, woods treated with toxic chemicals, and non-renewable carbon- intensive materials such as plastics, steel and concrete. In comparing Accoya® with other materials, it is necessary to take the full life cycle into account, from ‘cradle to grave’. (Source: www.accoya.com)

Accoya® wood waste can be handled in the same way as untreated wood. Accoya® wood is non-toxic and does not require any special disposal considerations. Given its long life, multiple applications and non-toxicity, Accoya® wood is suited to re-use and recycling. (Source: www.accoya.com)

It seems to check all of the most important boxes!

Compared to Kevin’s elegant, functional storm + screen doors, the factory manufactured design falls short.

Kevin actually installed a third screen door, a second story access from the master bedroom to a small balcony that overlooks the barns, meadows, and Adirondack sunsets. But this was a door that we had manufactured offsite, long ago (almost a decade?!?!) when we were first renovating Rosslyn. It’s a full width, floor-to-ceiling screen door with only a slim frame around the exterior. After deciding to postpone installing it once upon a time, we opted to try it on for size. And the conclusion? Compared to Kevin’s elegant, functional storm + screen doors, the factory manufactured design falls short. But… the view and airflow are addictive! So we’ll use the current screen door for the duration of the summer, and then Kevin will build us another custom storm + screen door that he’ll [hopefully] install in the autumn. He might even squeeze in a pair of customer storm windows to flank the door.

I’ll close with an inside-out look at the mudroom’s new storm + screen door. Thank, Kevin!

One of Kevin Boyle's new storm + screen doors.
One of Kevin Boyle’s new storm + screen doors.
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Beautiful Broccoli

Catherine Seidenberg, our now-year-two vegetable garden guru, has once again aced the Broccoli Bonanza. That’s right, my bride and I have been devouring 100% organic, pest-free broccoli fresh out of the garden for a couple of weeks now. Quickly steamed, it’s packed with flavor, and oh-too-sexy to resist!

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How to Use Tanglefoot (And Why Fruit Trees Need It)

It’s time for a follow-up to my Organic Orcharding post, specifically a look at using Tanglefoot as a non-toxic pest inhibitor in a holistic fruit tree orchard.

Tanglefoot, Pre-Goo & Post-Goo

Here’s a glimpse at the first two phase of Tanglefoot installation. This first photo was taken just before the sticky goo was lathered onto the corrugated paper.

Tanglefoot Installation: wrap trunk with corrugated paper
Tanglefoot Installation: wrap trunk with corrugated paper

So tidy, right? Not for long! Here’s what it looks like after the sticky Tanglefoot is installed.

Tanglefoot Installation: lather ultra gooey Tanglefoot on the corrugated paper wrapped around tree trunk.
Tanglefoot Installation: lather ultra gooey Tanglefoot on the corrugated paper wrapped around tree trunk.

Yuck! Hopefully the noisome critters that like to climb up the fruit tree trunks agree.

It’s a messy installation process, but it seems to work pretty well.

How to Apply Tanglefoot

I’ll prologue the most important part of this post by saying two things:

  1. Applying Tanglefoot to fruit trees a messy but relatively straightforward task.
  2. Better instructors have already explained application, so I’ll defer to their able guidance rather than overlook something important.

One of the best step-by-step Tanglefoot installation videos was made by San Diego master gardeners Carol Graham (you can watch the video here and learn more about Carol Graham here.) Similarly thorough written instructions are provided by the products’s manufacturer, Contech-Inc:

We recommend using 4” wide wrap of waterproof paper or tape on the trunk of the tree and applying Tree Tanglefoot over the wrap. Tree Tanglefoot is oil-based and the oils will soak into the bark. Banding material eliminates staining of the tree and offers quick, complete removal of the sticky material. In addition, Tree Tanglefoot will remain sticky longer when applied on top of a surface resistant to oil. For rough bark trees it may be necessary to plug the gaps between the tree trunk and the banding, this can be done by using insulation or other materials.

Apply Tree Tanglefoot Insect barrier in a uniform fashion. It can be applied in a heavy or light coat. Heavy coats are approximately 3” wide and 3/32” thick. A heavy coat is used when the insects to kept from the tree foliage are large or numerous, or when there is little time available to maintain the band. Light coats are 3” wide and 1/16” thick. A light coat is good as a general barrier against smaller or less numerous insects, or when the band can be maintained regularly.

Generally, Tree Tanglefoot will remain sticky and effective until it is covered with insects, dust or other debris. A build-up of debris or insects will create a bridge for other insect to cross. This debris requires removal and possible re-application in spots. If an area is unusually dusty or the surface of the barrier is stiffened, Tree Tanglefoot can be rubbed around to expose a new sticky layer beneath. Remove bands at end of season. (Source: Tree Tanglefoot Insect Barrier Products – Contech Inc)

Still a little uncertain? (Or just procrastinating to avoid making a gooey-sticky mess?) Here’s another resource I’ve also relied upon for amazing step-by-step Tanglefoot guide with photographs. Here are the simple, straightforward instructions.

Using a putty knife or a cake decorating spatula. If you choose a putty knife be very careful with the edges and corners as they are very sharp and can easily damage the bark of the tree. I recommend using a cake decorating spatula because they have rounded edges at the tip.

1. Wrap your tree in plastic film

2. Soften up a glob of Tanglefoot with the spatula

3. Work it into a smooth lump without strings back to the bucket

4. Apply the product in a thin 1″ wide band a few inches from the top of the plastic all the way around the tree creating a complete circle

5. Drag your spatula in the same direction that you wrapped the tree  with the plastic. If you go the other way you’ll just pull the plastic right off

6.Make another band of Tanglefoot a few inches down from the first band. This creates 2 barriers that work together to stop the pests from walking up your tree (Source:  How to Use Tanglefoot – Backyard Food Growing)

I use the paper “tape” version and have not yet tried the plastic film, but I’m intrigued. However this post made me wary.

I got some Tanglefoot this year for my apple trees, had a lot of problems with ants last year. I tried attaching bands of saran wrap around the tree trunks and applying the Tanglefoot that way. That was a complete disaster/mess, so I called the Tanglefoot manufacturer and asked if it would harm my trees to apply their product directly to the bark. They said that other than a dark ring/stain around the tree, no, it should not harm the tree at all to be directly applied. So, that is what I did. Did it about a month ago. No signs of any tree trouble yet. (Source: Putting tanglefoot on trees directly – GardenWeb)

I decided to ask the author, Stacy, the about plastic wrap vs. paper banding.

Great post, and the photo play-by-play is the best resource I’ve found online! Thank you. This is my first foray into fruit tree pest tangling (wrangling?), and I’m curious about your preference for plastic wrap instead of the paper/cardboard option proposed by the manufacturer. I’m guessing you’ve tried both and decided that the plastic wrap works better? Would you be willing to explain the pros and cons of plastic instead of paper? Hoping to get this right the first time! Thanks.

Stacy answered my question the very same day (Wow! Thanks, Stacy.) as follows:

Thank you! I’m happy the pictures are helpful for you. You’ll do just fine, the hardest part is keeping it off of yourself and your clothes! I have a few reasons for the plastic.

The method that I show here (with the two stripes/plastic/cotton balls) was the way I was taught during my first experience with Tanglefoot, I didn’t even know about the cardboard at that point. It wasn’t until I started working in a retail nursery a few years later that I found out about the cardboard wrap.

I think the cardboard wrap could be good if your tree is perfectly smooth, as it leaves gaps that the bugs can walk under unobstructed. It might work ok if you put cotton balls under it and secure it tightly to close those gaps though.

Also, I don’t choose the cardboard because I live in a very rainy climate and the cardboard would disintegrate in no time at all. If your area is less rainy then it would probably be ok. I prefer the plastic too because it holds tight to the bark and stays put for the month or two that it’s on there.

I’ve just continued to use the plastic/cotton balls method because it was simple and used items I already had at home, there wasn’t an additional product that I needed to buy.

It’s just important to get the plastic off when the season is done or when the Tanglefoot becomes ineffective, the plastic allows no airflow for the bark. This would be a benefit to using the cardboard. (Source: backyardfoodgrowing.com)

Thanks again, Stacy.

Needless to say, I still haven’t tried the plastic film. Three years of installation with paper “tape”, and it seems to be working. So, if it ain’t broke don’t fix it!

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Radishes and Radish Greens

On this technicolor Tuesday I present to you one of our flashiest May garden treats, French Breakfast Radishes.

French Breakfasts Radishes: The peppery-but-sweet taste of spring.
French Breakfasts Radishes: The peppery-but-sweet taste of spring.

Field and forrest foraged veggies — like stinging nettles, wild ramps, and fiddleheads — are nature’s charitable reminder that winter has once again yielded to spring. Then our vegetable gardens begin to awaken with asparagus and spinach that spoil our palates with succulent, vitamin packed hints of warmer days.

Radishes celebrate precocious summer’s spicy return with vibrant, bye-bye-mud-season colors, a super satisfying crunch, and tastebud reviving explosions of peppery sweetness.

French Breakfasts Radishes: The peppery-but-sweet taste of spring.
French Breakfasts Radishes: The peppery-but-sweet taste of spring.

And radishes aren’t just crunchy eye candy for the crudités. Radishes are nutritious. Especially the radish greens!

My ever-curious, ever-creative, ever experimenting mother introduced me to cooked radish greens a year or two ago, and I’ve been a fan ever since.

French Breakfast Radish Greens: Don't compost this nutritious spring green!
French Breakfast Radish Greens: Don’t compost this nutritious spring green!

Radish Greens Recipe

This evening’s sautéed radish greens were prepared by my bride, a far more gifted cook than she willingly admits. I pulled about nine large French Breakfast radishes from the garden, scrubbed them up and separated the bulbs from the best greens. The second and third photographs above show you what my wife inherited.

Preparing sautéed radish greens is quick, easy, and delicious. I’ll offer you the steps I offered my bride, but duplicating the perfectly peppery and garlicky side dish she served is up to you.

  • Clean radish greens and soak in cold water
  • Lightly chop greens and remove any “woody” stems
  • Heat olive oil in a sauté pan
  • Crush 1-2 garlic cloves; add to olive oil
  • Brown the garlic and add radish greens
  • Stir gently with a splash of white wine
  • Add balsamic vinegar and/or soy sauce
  • Salt and pepper to taste

My bride chopped and sautéed a yellow bell pepper with the radish greens which added a subtly caramelized nuance (and intriguing texture variety) to the radish greens. It was delicious!

Radishes (and Radish Greens) are Nutritious

[Note: I won’t pretend to be an expert in matters nutritional, especially when it comes to Raphanus sativus. But I’ve stumbled upon an inspiring article from Full Circle that helps fills in some gaps. I’ve excerpted some of the best below.]

As a cruciferous vegetable like broccoli, radishes have a host of health benefits but are typically under-appreciated… However, for both their health benefits and amazing array of flavors radishes top our list of foods to start paying more attention to and eating on a daily basis… here are nine reasons to “eat your radishes!”

  1. Naturally cooling Radishes are… highly regarded in eastern medicine for the ability to decrease excess heat in the body…
  2. Sooth sore throats [Radishes] can help eliminate excess mucus in the body and… help clear the sinuses and soothe soar throats too.
  3. Aids digestion Radishes are a natural cleansing agent for the digestive system…
  4. Prevents viral infections … regular consumption of radishes can help prevent viral infections.
  5. Eliminates toxins [Radishes] break down and eliminate toxins and cancer-causing free radicals in the body.
  6. Protects against cancer … radishes contain phytonutrients, fiber, vitamins and minerals that are cancer protecting.
  7. Relieves indigestion Radishes… can help relieve bloating and indigestion.
  8. Low in calories, high in nutrients [At] less than 20 calories in an entire cup, radishes are a great way to add nutrients, fiber and tons of flavor to your meals…
  9. Keeps you hydrated With a high water content and lots of vitamin C as well as phosphorus and zinc, radishes… can help keep your body hydrated… (Source: Full Circle)

Cooked Radishes

I’ve been hearing more and more about cooked radishes. Not radish greens. Radishes. So far I haven’t tried grilling or roasting radishes. Have you? I’m looking for advice…

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