Sacandaga Valley Folk Art by Linda Finch
We’re honored to host this collection of Linda Finch’s work. Serving as both a visual diary and an homage to the people of Sacandaga Valley past and present, Linda’s work evokes a time gone by and perhaps questions the effects neoliberal policies have had on her small community. The richness of Linda’s region lies in stories — both those told regularly, and those glimpsed only as ghost tales. Regardless, for Linda, all stories of Sacandaga Valley are worthy of preservation.
A native of the area, Linda returned home in her retirement and set to work documenting the historic tales of her youth. Utilizing a simple folk art format, Linda is able to incorporate tiny visual vignettes into the larger pictures. She continues to document her region’s history in this way.
About the Paintings:
Group of Four
This group of four painting are from an overlook of the Sacandaga Valley within 90 years space of time separating them.
1750 Hunting Ground 18 X 36 Acrylic
A Mohawk family surveys the Sacandaga Valley below before joining their family groups for hunting and fishing.
1840 Down in the Valley 18 X 36 Acrylic
Painted from an old black and white photograph depicting a cow in the Sacandaga Valley. It shows all the farms that have been built within 90 years in the excellent valley soil.
1930 Devastation 18 X 36 Acrylic
This painting shows the burning of the valley and the use of machinery to level houses, forests and hills prior to the flooding of the valley.
2020 Great Sacandaga Lake 18 X 36 Acrylic
The same view looking over the Great Sacandaga Lake, utilized for recreation and as a reservoir.
18” X 24” Acrylic
Fish House, built in 1762 was the name of Sir William Johnson’s fishing camp on the Sacandaga River. As the second largest landholder in the Colonies, after William Penn, Sir William used this rough story and a half building to entertain guests while fishing and hunting in the vast wetlands of the valley. Wherever Sir William went, there was usually a large entourage of people including Mohawks, English and Irish gentry, slaves, military and well to do Colonists.
Game was plentiful and includes deer, moose, geese, ducks and a wide variety of fish. Hard cider, liquor and Madeira were plentiful as was the wild game. Stories, parties, drinking and evenings with the infamous Wormwood sisters abound.
Pictured are Sir William in a birchbark canoe with his bodyguard, Pontioch (half Black and half Mohawk), and fiddler, the dwarf named Billy in the bow. Fish and turtles complement the scene. In the back, on a rise is his camp made of rough planks; there were by then two local sawmills. Around the fire are several people including slaves stirring the pot for the evening dinner. His two hunting spaniels are nearby. Strings of horses are there as this was before Sir William had a road constructed for coaches. Tents were erected for additional sleeping space. To the far right are Molly and Joseph Brant, Sir William’s Mohawk wife and brother-in-law. Both of these people were of great social and political help to Sir William in his position as Indian agent for the colonies.
Adirondack Lumberjack Camp
12” x 24” Acrylic
Winter in the Adirondacks was no time to relax. This was the time to assemble at the large woodland camps, sleeping rough, eating dinners made by the camp cook and suffering long days often perched in the trees with your back braced against the high winds. My Grandpa Simonds spent many winters here, often accompanied by his brothers. The ice and snow made for easy sledding and hauling of the logs for the huge Belgium horses, generally imported from Canada. These horses, who would usually live to the ripe old age of twenty to twenty-five, would often die at six years of age. (see the book, “The Slaves of the Adirondacks”).
Most of these scenes were taken from old photographs and piecemealed together to complete the scene. There is a high pile of logs stacked on the sleds for the horses to haul. Water was sprayed on the trails making the roads smooth like glass. A man connected with the kitchen cook brings in more deer carcasses to add venison to the limited menu. A few people are taking a break by the fire having some coffee to warm up. Two more men sit nearby playing their banjo and fiddle to cheer up the camp crew. Several men unload a wagon full of flour, sugar, molasses, salt and other sundry goods. Oxen frag logs into camps as they too were utilized along with horse teams.
The buildings left to right: storage for tools and equipment, the second for oxen and horses and their food and bedding, and lastly on the far right, the bunk house with long tables and the camp kitchen. Fortunate were the men who had a good cook. Many camp cooks were men, but several as portrayed here were women with their children.
In the center, men attended to tools, both repairing them and sharpening axes and saws. I placed my grandfather there, who at one point nearly severed his entire thumb off with an axe. His solution was to sew it back on, himself. After all he said, “If I didn’t sew it back on, I’d have to cut the rest of my thumb off. We took great delight in seeing his huge scar. We were impressed that anyone could actually do that. Lumberjacks are tough.
24” x 36” Acrylic
The Station is the first in the triptych of three paintings and focuses on the FJ&G railroad station that promoted the Sacandaga Park. The Northville band awaits the arrival of President Harding to disembark from the train and welcome him on this Fourth of July. The fact that a President would visit Sacandaga Park was indicative of the large size audience that would be there greet him during that time period. Sacandaga Park was considered the Coney Island of the north.
Featured are the Adirondack Inn, the Sacandaga Golf Course, the Heeswijk Mansion, and the Old Orchard Inn. There was a Methodist community that began staying in tents and eventually built small gingerbread camps, many still in existence today. There were balloon ascensions during the day and fireworks in the evenings. Summers would bring 90,000 people to the park to cool off, fish, golf and dine in elegant surroundings.
The bear den, deer park, raised walks, and sunken garden were a few features near the Adirondack Inn. Golf, canoeing, bicycling and fishing were ladies’ sports, as was croquet on large spacious lawns.
24” x 36” Acrylic
The Midway was the center of attraction for the entire Sacandaga Park. That’s where everything happened; pictured here in 1895. The rollercoaster was called The Dip. There were also several photographer’s studios, an Electric Theater, burrow rides and a carousel. Here in the large outdoor theatre they are performing one of the black-faced minstrel and vaudeville shows. Famous entertainers appeared such as W.C. Fields, Al Jolson, the all-black Alabama Troubadours, Eddie Cantor, and John Phillip Sousa performed at the Adirondack Inn.
The burro rides were a big hit and an hours’ ride was fairly expensive. The burros spent the night grazing on Sport Island. A local man with two gelded pigs harnessed to a wagon, would cart your luggage from the train station to your hotel for a modest fee. The Midway was peppered with games of chance, run largely by Japanese men who arrived each year from NYC and stayed for the whole season. Made in Japan items were a great souvenir along with balsam pine needle pillows that made great gifts for the relatives who could not visit. Bananas, an exotic fruit made its’ appearance and everyone had to try one.
The experimental plane, The Red Devil, took off from Sport Island and did a daring flight over the park to the amazed tourists below. High Rock Hotel sits on the mountain top while ladies with parasols are perched on the high rock itself. Palm readers, smoke shops, restaurants abound and walking on the Midway was always entertainment for young and old alike. The carousel was always popular. The hand-carved creatures are now in a museum in Vermont. The dance hall ran afternoons and evenings to accommodate young and older married couples.
My grandfather drove stagecoach from the railroad station up to the hotel: Frank Simonds is driving.
24” x 36” Acrylic
Sport Island, along with smaller, Wolf Island, were the settings for special sporting events throughout the summer on the Sacandaga River. Horse racing, boxing matches, professional baseball games, fishing, picnics, and of course, a ride on the miniature railway were part of the wealthy Victorian’s vacation. Each year the bridge with rail track was re-laid as ice flows and logs would have taken them out. This tiny train hauled thousands of city children around the island, pulled by a smoking steam engine for .35 cents a ride.
This painting is set in 1895. Canoe rentals and bait or fishing shops supplied men and women with holiday fun. Children and young adults enjoyed chuting The Chute, a high wooden run taken on a special wooden sled that careened down the slope, skidding for several yards on top of the water. Swimming and diving in the river were excellent in the shallows.
Annual boating regattas and balloon ascensions rounded out the summer, with thousands attending these special events. Both of these islands were submerged in 1930.
16” x 20” Acrylic
The Northville Hotel was built in 1813 by Abraham Van Arnum for his daughter and son-in-law, James Lobdell as their residence. Shortly after it was built her uncle, Jacob Van Arnum, opened it as a guest house and restaurant. For decades it acted as a hotel hosting many lumberjacks, businessmen, tourists and hunting parties. It welcomed people like JD Rockefeller and many artisans, actors and actresses. By the turn of the century an estimated 90,000 people came for the summer events and the Northville Hotel put many of them up. At one time there were thirteen hotels in Northville and the Town of Northampton.
In 1898 the front of the hotel burned causing significant damage. The following year the façade was rebuilt with porches, railings in a more Victorian style. The hotel continued to function but eventually housed a large furniture company and by the 1960s, a doctor’s office and several small businesses.
This painting incorporates several actual old historic photos including the stagecoach with hunters, gutted deer and hunting dog, Charles Brown of Northville delivering milk to the hotel, the old hermit with bow and arrow-shot black bear, the fancy cutter sleigh carrying the local doctor and family and lastly, the lady upstairs showing off her first trophy deer. I was drawn to this hotel photo as my grandfather did drive coach, taking tourists up to High Rock each summer. As usual I always seem to add a cat and a dog to set the scene. The cat waits for Charles Brown to leave him some cream on this wintery day. It’s a moment in time in Northville.
Today the hotel sits empty and people walk by and hardly notice it. It is my hope that someone will pay attention and bring this charming historic building back to life as the gem of Main Street as it once was.
20” X 30” acrylic
Clearing of the Sacandaga Valley to make way for the flooding to create a reservoir was going full force in 1930. Farms had been sold for pennies on the dollar. Farms, forests, dwellings, churches, and barns were all being cleared so there were few hazards on the planned large body of water expected to fill the void.
Prior to the dam construction several cemeteries also needed to be relocated. A New York State law passed in 1840 stipulated that prior to a project of this nature, all bodies should be respected and relocated to an appropriate site. In total 3,872 bodies were exhumed from approximately seventeen cemeteries. The men who labored to remove corpses and caskets were called “the Boneyard Gang”. For each body, the men were paid $5.00. Some bodies were in intact caskets, such as my great-grandmother, Mary Elizabeth Newton, pictured in the lower left. Family members were invited to observe the disinterment and our family was given her lead casket marker from her coffin. Older graves and those without coffins were dug up, skulls and long bones placed in a burlap sack and stored in a marked 2’ x 2’ box, which corresponded with the number on their headstone. My research found that the Providence Mills provided many of those wooden storage boxes. Crannell Trucking was one of the companies used to transport bodies and headstones. In addition to the early vehicles pictured, horse and wagons that are pictured were still being utilized.
In the background, a local church from the Osborne Bridge area was prepared to be moved and trees were being cut and burned. Farmers moved household goods, families, herds of cattle and farm animals while the valley was smothered in smoke. This entire canvas is done in grays, blacks and yellows to create a somber moment in time. The research for this painting was difficult in part as no historic photographs were available to record the process. It was apparently deemed inappropriate and not respectful of the deceased. Noteworthy is that Native American graves were rarely moved as identification of a grave site was usually marked only by piles of stones or large rocks.
The Bitter End
8” X 10” Acrylic
In 1930 the Conklinville Dam was completed and ten towns, villages and hamlets disappeared from the map after they were flooded. They are now gone and forgotten under the Great Sacandaga Lake Reservoir.
Hundreds of homes, as well as, barns, schools, and churches were burned and deconstructed to make way for the flood control for downstate. Pennies on the dollar were paid out to the unfortunate farmers who never thought the project would actually happen. If you had options, you could buy back your home for $1.00 and have it moved. For most people the cost of moving your house and barn would be out of the question. As these farmers had no legal representation, this renumerations were low. The FJ&G Railroad who had legal representation, however, was awarded $2.1 million for the loss of their property and the Sacandaga Park.
This painting depicts the heartbreak of thousands of people in the Sacandaga Valley who lost their homesteads and livelihoods due to this project. There are still people today in the local area who continue to give negative comments about the reservoir and any benefits it may bring due to the unfortunate impact it had on their families.
18” x 36” Acrylic
Celebrating Halloween in the country in the olden days was a lot different than what we experience today. It was an opportunity for farming kids to have some fun after working hard with their families in the kitchens, barns and fields bringing in the harvest and getting ready for winter. Celebrating went on all week, not just one night.
Every farm community had its mischief specialties, but tipping over or moving the outhouse was a classic prank. Putting wagons or buckboards on top of the barn roof was always difficult but
talked about for weeks afterwards.
One of the most complicated pranks talked about in our family was the time in 1936 when my mother, siblings and neighborhood kids switched two entire dairy herds moving them from one barn to another in the dark of night. It took several days for those farmers to rearrange the right cows to the right barn. If that wasn’t enough, a few cows were whitewashed with paint to change their distinctive markings, making identification even more difficult. One of the most dangerous tricks my family laughed about, involved filling a paper bag with cow manure, placing it on a person’s front porch and then lighting it on fire, knocking on the door and hiding. Naturally, the homeowner would stomp out the fire.
This painting has these and more hi-jinks illustrated. See the teacher’s underwear that was run up the flagpole while children celebrate in costumes. Look for the table and chair in the tree and find the two owls and the spider web. I hope you enjoy my visual Halloween storytelling and can pick out all the pranks.
Northville Winter Sports
18” x 24” Acrylic
In 1940 the Northville Little Lake and the Village of Northville hosted pre-qualifying Winter Olympic sporting events. These covered speed skating, figure skating, and barrel jumping. Crowds came for days watching the trials and rooting for their local hometown men and women. Sally Young and Warren Johnson were our local figure skaters. Here she is pictured in her yellow skating attire. Sally’s skating outfits were always a big hit.
The large wooden Adirondack inspired sign announced your arrival to Water Street access. Here stands Clarence, the local cop, sipping on his hot coffee, undoubtedly provided free from the nearby Kitchenette Restaurant. The warming hut below was to warm up skaters with nearly frost bitten toes and noses. Impromptu hockey games began when the official contestants left the ice. A bloody lip on the return home was a display of your courage on the ice. Beginner, intermediate and expert skaters all worked together to keep out of each other’s way. Here was where moms and dads took their youngsters out for their very first (usually disastrous) skate. More experienced skaters came to join conga lines or if even more advanced, jumped into the “crack the whip” line. Dogs ran free, jumping on children who used that time to sled or toboggan down the hill. Dogs either ran along side or if lucky piled on top of the children for a ride down the hill too.
Across the lake you can see the undeveloped Ridge Road farmland. Small cut evergreen trees edge the lake and were warnings not to go any further. Beware of thin ice. Five crows survey the happenings, flying against the cold sky with a sliver of a mid-winter moon shinning. A child’s hand-knit blue mitten lies lost in the snow. I confess ……it was mine. It was always mine.
12” X 52.5” Acrylic on pine board
On a foggy morning September 15, 1940 on the Sacandaga Reservoir by Benedict Bay, Peter Dubuc of Albany, New York landed a 46 pound, 52.5” Northern Pike. This fish was a significant point of pride to the area because at this size this catch held a world record for nearly forty years. A historic marker denotes the event. The area held this record until it was eclipsed by one caught in Germany that was 55 pounds. It took Mr. Dubuc over an hour to land this world record.
8” x 10” Acrylic
Grandpa had many jobs over the years, but primarily he was a lumberjack, farmer and a trapper. Each winter he would clean out his traps and set up in places he knew were frequented by otter, beaver, fox, raccoon and mink. When he got older, he quit trapping, but the hides and traps still hung on the old barn wall like trophies. It never failed to amaze me how the chickadees would swarm over him in the morning for bread crumbs or a bit of chicken feed. How could he be a trapper and be so gentle with the birds? In the winter, he always wore his heavy wool pants and coats. Nearby sits his pet fox. After the fox matured, he began to bite at his boots and acted more and more like a wild fox. Too tame to be released, Grandpa shot him; a quick and a very rural solution.
Northhampton Ice Boats
12” X 36” Acrylic
On an icy, cold day in mid-winter in 1955, skaters fill in the spaces between the ice shacks dotting the Sacandaga Reservoir, renamed Great Sacandaga Lake in the 1960s. This late afternoon scene is directly in front of what eventually become the Northampton Marina on Houseman Street, Northampton, NY.
A burning tire warm up was always welcome to ward off frostbite, but managing to stay upwind was a challenge. Children and teens showed off their Christmas outfits and new racing and figure skates. Impromptu games of hockey or long strings of skaters played “crack the whip” with the unfortunate end participant flung, screaming out across the lake. Dads and grandfathers also huddled together and swapped fishing stories. There was always someone walking about showing off their huge Northern Pike flash frozen in the bone chilling air. I recalled the day that my father came home with a huge gash on this thumb; the result of trying to get a sharp-toothed pickerel off his line. Ice fishing could be a bit dangerous but there the ice is feet thick, enough to hold the occasional car or truck.
This was the year that a local club of ice boats came by and gave us kids some rides. Never to be forgotten, the wind on this wide-open space blew the lightweight crafts across the lake at breath-taking speeds. This was also the year that an older cousin brought her Husky and Samoyed dogs down, hitched them up and gave younger kids their first genuine dog sled ride. Sparkles dust the ice catching the rosy glow of a day soon to end, but hot chocolate waiting at home made everything better.
11” X 14” Acrylic
The Shivaree is a unique celebration designed to welcome a newly married couple into the family and the neighborhood. Occasionally called a “horning” as cow horns were used to make a lot of noise, the practice is now limited to a few old-time families in the Sacandaga Valley of the Southern Adirondacks. It is still practiced with regularity in Montreal and Quebec, as well as in parts of the Midwest.
It was 1955. In Northampton, we waited in the dark shadows of the pine trees until my Uncle Gordon and his new bride, Louella turned off the lights. After a while (it seemed forever to a twelve-year old), all our family closed in on this couple’s house, beating pots and pans, playing drums, beeping car horns, and making as much noise as possible. My dad, Frankie, serenaded on his guitar and even the occasional firecracker was set off.
Uncle Gordie leaped out of bed, looked out the window and proceeded to laugh his head off. He knew exactly what was happening. His bride, Louella was shocked and her eyes were wide open while she tightly wrapped herself in her bathrobe. Louella, a city girl, had had no experience with this custom. After the kitchen lights were turned on, we all pushed our way into their kitchen, some bringing cakes and cookies, while others made a big tureen of coffee. After lots of laughing and cake, the party dispersed and we went home with great memories of a wonderful prank. Today I have heard there are still a few families who carry on this tradition. I am certain that any married couple who has had one fondly recalls their Shivaree night as a special way to be officially welcomed into the state of matrimony; as true members of the community.
24” X 36” Acrylic
For years after the Hubbell machine factory closed, the tall brick chimney remained of interest to the people of the Village of Northville, New York. It was noticed that each spring a huge flock of birds arrived at sunset and swirled into the chimney to nest. After some research it was determined that these were Chimney Swifts returning from their migration from South America. Walker La Row, a local businessman, found that the swifts arrived on Hubbell’s birthday, May 6th every year, making the 7,000 mile journey from Peru. The phenomena was called the commons man’s Capistrano.
The bird’s arrival soon became the symbol of the beginning of spring in our small village. Soon their appearance developed into a festival with food booths, bands, free ice cream for the kids and people bringing chairs to wait for the bird’s arrival at dusk. First one bird arrived, then two, then more and more until the sky became a funnel shaped cloud of birds. After swirling several times about in a huge circle, they would follow the leader swooping down into the chimney for the night.
Pictured are several members of the Northville High School band, my father’s country western band, The Pals of the Saddle, Stewart’s handing out free ice cream cones, the Rotary and Boy Scout Troop #55 and local characters including my cousins and their dog, Sheppie. It is 1957 and pictured are my dad’s Indian motorcycle, my International truck, a cousin’s ’57 Chevy and Larry Cramer’s Hudson. The Cramer’s also brought their two kid goats for children to pet.
In 2012 the chimney was deemed to be a hazard and was torn down by the current owner. No one knows where the birds went.
10.5” X 14” Acrylic
April calls for spring cleaning, especially when your house is heated by wood. Here my Grandmother, Louise Simonds, hangs out her family quilts including my favorite “crazy” quilt. This one was made from old dresses and coats and included silks, velvets, gabardines with fancy embroidered edging. Grandma could tell you where the fabric was from and exactly who wore it and for what occasion. On the line is grandma’s Shaker basket, holding clothespins. I still have that. Also drying are her embroidered pillowslips….. long underware flaps in the warm breeze. Underneath her line her daffodils, hyacinths and wild violets pop up, scenting the air.
Whenever she was out, all her chickens, ducks and geese would come out to visit. Sometimes she would have stale bread in her apron pockets. Their rabbit-dog, a small beagle, also enjoyed having company; he lived alone in the small dog kennel in the yard. Nearby sits the rabbit pen advertising Rabbits: Pets or Meat. I was told that very few of the animals had names, as they eventually ended up as dinner on the big farm table. Grandpa is busy plowing up the field for the vegetable garden that produced more than enough for fall canning and pickling.
Old Blue Bridge
20” x 40” Acrylic
The old bridge crossing into Northville from Route 30 was a favorite of the Village. With its’ lofty girders and faded blue arches, it was the perfect entrance into town. It’s the summer of 1960; Wilma Mead, a precocious twelve-year-old, climbed to the top and jumped from the pinnacle into the cold, clear waters below. Here, her feet are poised in the air. Although there were some boys who’d dare the climb, most didn’t. One boy named Joey, climbed the girders then slipped to the pavement breaking several ribs. He got on his bike and rode home. Watching from below, those who gave Wilma a dollar could watch her perform. Always a thrill.
Down below, there is the ragged rope swing that would carry you far out. My cousin, Keith’s runabout speed boat, was parked so we could walk downtown. On the concrete supports the 1960 couple’s names were written in paint as to who loved who that summer. Dogs and moms with babies frolicked on the beach while butterflies, en mass, flitted above swimmer’s heads. On the bridge pavement, a girl in a convertible, drives by with sunglasses and scarve waving. The rusty old sign on the bridge said, “No Climbing, Swimming or Diving.”
That summer of 1960 was splendid.
18” X 36” Acrylic
The Northville Fourth of July celebration and parade is the event everyone looks forward to as the highlight of their summer, known fondly as “The Doins”. It has always been special and a time for patriotism, family reunions and meeting friends and neighbors who finally had a bit of time on their hands. Years ago, farmers and lumberjacks came into town with their families from the remote hills, who rarely saw the “big city” of Northville. Clowns entertained the crowd, cotton candy and balloons were sold, loud bands and sweets thrown from wagons and flatbed trucks to eager children added excitement. Proud moms, dads, and grandparents waved to their own boy and girl scouts, 4-Hers and gospel church groups went by on decorated floats. Pretty girls sat in the back of this year’s boat models waving, while the Shriners in red fezzes drove circles in and around the crowd creating more joyful chaos.
The year of this painting is 1961 and the Northville Fire Department got the opportunity to show off their new Mack fire engine. The well-loved little old lady can be seen, who once again came out to wheel her doll carriage down the street. Many sets of twins could be seen about town, a phenomenon Northville was curiously famous for. Sam, the Popcorn man, sold popcorn and hot nuts from his blue Chevy and always had a joke or two to call out. Little girls waited for the finely decked out prancing horses; and if it was a good year, the huge team of oxen made an appearance and never failed to impress. The VFW marched proudly, keeping in step with the music of the blue and white Northville High School band. Unique to this parade was the black “Voiture Locale”, a group riding in a converted school bus that looked like a locomotive. Every few yards there would be a terrible earth-shattering BOOM from the bus that made everyone jump and all of the babies’ cry.
After the parade, there would be more fun with carnival rides, the famous (once a year) clam chowder, dogs lost then found, frenzied children dashing about, and many holiday well-wishes with friends. This would go on until dark when people dispersed, looking for their favorite spot to watch the fireworks display. This years’ fireworks were sure to be the best ever!
20” X 30” Acrylic
The Star Theater entertained young and old for decades in Northville, from as long ago as 1917 when they played silent black and white films. It had previously been the Hardpan (hardware) store. It showed films on Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays but was closed on Sundays. Generally, the cost was $.25 a ticket in the 30s-40s. People loved to sit in the balcony where smoking was allowed. It was also a great place to toss popcorn or candy onto friends sitting in seats below.
Pictured here is a wild Friday night with kids pouring in from Mayfield, Wells, Gloversville and, of course, Northville. The year is 1957 and the cars parked in front reflect this. Pictured are a Studebaker Golden Hawk, a Chevy truck and a Nash Metropolitan. The marquee lists some of the most famous films of that year. The Kitchenette was a restaurant next door and was open later for a late stop for sodas, shakes or hamburgers.
“Dogbite” Bailey sits patiently in his truck while friends pile out of the back to take in a show. Dogbite was famous for chasing down and biting a dog that had just bitten him. Mr. Nellis, the projectionist, sits in an open window, as there was no air conditioning in the old building.
Sadly, The Star closed in 1969. Today the star, wooden architectural feature, can be viewed in the local historical society in Northville, NY.
Adirondack Tree Topper
12” x 48” Acrylic
This is a scene that played out in 2020 a few months after a tornado ripped through Northville downing several trees on our brand, new steel roof. It was determined that as one 135′ tree section remained, it should be removed. It was too tall for our tree cutter to take down so our local tree topper or high climber was called in to remove the top section safely. Neal Lamphear, from Wells, NY, arrived at dusk after he had finished with his “real” job. Garbed in a yellow and orange heavy-duty pants, he scampered quickly up the tree and with a running chain saw hooked to a rope linked to his waist began taking branch after branch off, leaving a small step available so he could step and work his way around the trunk. We all watched transfixed as he swung from branch to branch with huge limbs dropping with a thud to the ground below. The light was fading and he continued to cut. He came down in total darkness and in one piece. The entire neighborhood watched his progress. I took several photos and videos.
I like this painting because it’s very “real” and is current. I wonder how many high climbers there are in the Adirondacks. Not a job for most and certainly only a few people could brave this challenge. It’s imperative to be in top physical condition. A giclee copy of this painting hangs in the Northville Library on a narrow column. A perfect, very vertical fit.