Monday, September 13, 2010

Lockport Cave

Lockport Cave, interior
This morning proved to be yet another rainy start to a day. So, what better to do other than go explore a local cave.There are quite a few legendary caves in the region but this time we weren't traipsing through a steep embankment. This was an easy drive into Lockport to the Lockport Cave & Underground Boat Ride. It may be a touristy type of cave exploring, but it was still a sweet cave, even if it didn't really smell like one. The fancy light show combined with the upbeat and pertinent tour guide proved to us that it was a tourist destination. The stalactites, dripping water, Lockport Dolomite proved that it was in fact a marvelous specimen of geological and historical fabulousness.

The cave was blasted out in the early days of manufacturing along the Erie Canal Locks and acted as a water raceway that was used to power the Holly Manufacturing Company (and a couple of others after that). The man behind the HMC was Birdsill Holly, an inventor responsible for the fire hydrant as well as riling up some of the locals. The tour finishes off with a ride through the natural seep water in a wooden boat that takes you past the stalactites. Yet another terrific way to learn a thing or two about the glorious Erie Canal and Lockport, New York.

Growing up in Lockport, there were always stories about a cave that went beneath houses and streets and eventually ended up at the canal. Every generation stemming back over 100 years has these stories. Several people have attempted to locate and document any bit of proof to this urban legend. Some for the shear curiosity or thrill, others primarily with an intent to exploit the caves for financial gain. I won't go into explicit detail,  but this is for all of you that have been curious about this one particular cave in Lockport and never went exploring for yourself.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Adirondack Ghost Town

Tahawus (Adirondac, or McIntyre) is an abandoned mining town situated to the southern edges of the High Peaks in the Adirondack Mountains of New York State. Several trail heads into the High Peaks lead from the Tahawus Tract and offer some interesting opportunities for exploring the remnants of bygone era in Adirondack history. It was from here that our beloved Theodore Roosevelt was summoned from a hiking trip into a series of events that would lead him to taking the presidential oath.
A recent Labor Day weekend camping trip into the Adirondacks was fraught with the typical rain and misty weather. There was no end in sight to the on again, off again rain that muddled our plans for a hike at the Santanoni Preserve. After our hike up Goodnow Mountain the previous day with tornado speed winds we were not up for a 10 mile hike in the event that it was to pour on us. It was these tornado speed winds the day before that prevented us from successfully climbing the entire height of the Goodnow Mountain fire tower, so it would only be natural that some other natural weather occurrence should halt our plans for this day.

Feeling a little soft in regard to physical adventure, we opted for a little ghost town exploration in Tahawus. The packed parking lots for the high peaks trail heads that surround the old mining town indicated that the rain was not going to stop everyone from a long hike that day. We were not feeling that stealthy on that morning and it did not take long for both of us to agree that a 50 mile coffee run up the the Starbucks in Lake Placid was in order. Can you make that a triple grande red eye? I guess that says a lot about our lack of thirst for aching knees and lungs vs our tremendous thirst for bitter coffee. The first visible encounter with Tahawus is one of the largest pieces of "What the heck is THAT doing out here?" otherwise known as the blast furnace.

The following photographs are a limited view into the types of things that are to be found "around town."

Blast Furnace, exterior
Blast Furnace, interior looking up

Water Pumps