Sunday, August 29, 2010
The Sphinx was built by Captain Will Graham in the early 1900's to attract people to his Anchorage Inn, also built by him in 1897. We will go into the Inn in the second half of this blog and Will Graham's life.
When the Inn burned to the ground in the 20's, the Sphinx was moved to the inside of the gas station that was built on the site. It was operated by the Ferri family from the early 30's to 1973, when the family sold their land and the gas station to a Long Island company called Power Test. While bulldozing the gas station in 1974, Power Test accidentally severed the head of the Sphinx from its body. If Lou and John Fontana, owners of Fontana Concrete in Bayport, hadn't passed by, the Sphinx wouldn't exist today. And so, in the fall of 1981, the Fontana brothers began their restoration of the Great Long Island Sphinx. Finished in 1983, it sits in front of Fontana Concrete to this day as a memorial to the Inn and its builder, Will Graham, Lou Fontana and the Ferri family who kept the Sphinx intact.
A few of the famous who stayed at the Anchorage: Theodore Roosevelt, Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks among them.
While continuing to operate the Inn, Graham never stopped sculpting and building. His most famous work was the Great Sphinx. He did build an early aeroplane and once promoted a bullfight at the Inn to which two thousand people attended.
As usual, I have included the following sites which helped me out tremendously in bringing you this history.
This link talks about the Anchorage and it includes pictures of the old inn, the Sphinx and Will Graham.
This site describes the Sphinx and how it was saved and restored.
Sunday, August 22, 2010
As was explained to us on the tour, Meadowcroft, (the name means small farm) is located in Suffolk County's Sans Souci Lake Nature Preserve. This "summer cottage" was saved from destruction in the late 1980's when a local fire department wanted to burn it down to see how fast they could put the fire out. A local wine merchant named Barney Loughlin (who we will mention later in this blog) was instrumental in saving the house.
This summer cottage was used by the Roosevelt family to get away from the hustle and bustle of New York City where the family had a brownstone on 20th Street. Country air was good for you, city doctors prescribed at the time, and Long Island was the perfect area to build a house.
Divided into two sections, the front of this mid nineteenth century house was the more formal of the two and designed by local architect Isaac H. Green.
The back of the house, also known as the original farmhouse, was used as servant's quarters. The rooms in the older farmhouse include the kitchen. (complete with running water and a sink) laundry, servant's dining area and the servant's quarters which were upstairs and closed off to the public. These rooms were later used as guest rooms. There was also Mr. Roosevelt's woodworking room next to the servant's dining area. The main house, which the Roosevelt family used, has a formal dining room, ladies parlor room, a library, and a beautiful living room which you will see in the virtual tour site link that I will include. Upstairs on the second floor there is a nursery, men's sitting room, four bedrooms, and four beautiful bathrooms.
The outside buildings include a stable and a barn, a garage, coach house, a caretaker's house and a concrete swimming pool which we didn't see. A water tank was located on the barn roof and was used to supply water to the house. The garage held one of the first cars on the Island. The Roosevelt family loved all the new modern gadgets which were strewn over the entire house such as two old typewriters, one an old Underwood and another a Smith and Corona. There were phones, a gramophone with cylinders, even an old electric iron in the laundry. There is also a hand pulled elevator hidden behind the walls of the house.
There are actually three Roosevelt's associated with Meadowcroft, Robert Barnwell Roosevelt who originally purchased part of the land on which the house is located, his nephew Theodore Roosevelt, who visited the house and was very close to his uncle Robert, and John Ellis Roosevelt, Robert's son who was T.R.'s cousin.
There are the usual links that I am providing:
This link will give you a virtual tour of the first floor of Meadowcroft estate. Enjoy!
Saturday, August 21, 2010
The tower was named for James S. Warden who bought the property and offered 200 acres to Tesla which would house the laboratory and the wireless communication tower.
Tesla planned out Wardenclyffe in 1898 and construction began on the main building in 1901 by famed architect Stanford White. The tower was designed by an associate of White's, W.D Crow. Originally backed by millionaires J.P. Morgan and John Jacob Astor, Tesla moved all his equipment from his Houston Street lab in NY to Long Island in 1902. By 1904, as the project neared completion, last minute changes to the tower were required as it was still not functional. This caused construction costs to skyrocket and went far beyond the budget that was set by Morgan. When he realized that there was no money to be gained, Morgan pulled out of the project, blackballed Tesla and discouraged other financiers from contributing to this project and any other project of Tesla's in the future.
As we neared the ruins this time, we found that AGFA had put the land up for sale yet again. We did not know the date until we read the Wikipedia article that I have included in the my usual links at the bottom of the page. In 1976, Wardenclyffe Tower was nominated to be made a National Historic Site, but is being held up for a number of reasons. As of 2010, the site is crumbling and overgrown as you can see by the pic below
update January 1, 2014
Revisited Wardenclyffe and saw some dramatic changes. Now called the Tesla Science Center, supporters from all over Long Island and Serbia have made this clean up possible. The Christmas tree circle mark the area where the tower once stood. A statue of Nikola Tesla stands inside the gated iron fence. The woman in the picture, Annie Lipton, took a long drive to visit this particular building, a Long Island oddity. Rob, Sue and I give credit to all those who took part in saving this beautiful building and the property it sits on. We now eagerly await the opening of what looks to be a interesting and wonderful museum.
Here are the links:
This is a great video on Nikola Tesla. Enjoy! It's not the best quality, but stick with it
Sunday, August 15, 2010
Located on the eastern slopes of Mt. Washington, it is believed that the falls was created by a series of avalanches from overhanging cliffs on the east side of the valley thirty thousand years ago.
The falls are 64 feet high and joins with the Saco River near Glen, New Hampshire where Mt. Washington is located, the highest peak in the northeast at 6,288 ft. The river flows through Maine down to the Atlantic Ocean.
The trail is well marked and easy to get to as you can see by the photo on the bottom. .
Just walk from the parking lot down the steps and through the tunnel to reach the trail. Follow the granite steps for which the state is famous for and grip the log handrails to the top of the observation area before descending to the base of the falls for a perfect picture. It may look deserted from where I am sitting, but be forewarned that it is crowded, even on the weekday morning when we went.
You can feel the power of the falls as you watch from a safe distance, the spray will fog up your camera and get your glasses wet as well. The ground vibrates and you feel the thunder of the falls as you stand and watch mesmerized.
Signs explaining the history of the falls are posted on the trail as you walk by, so it is educational as well as beautiful.
I am including one of the signs here:
"Here the forces of nature provide their own spectacular show. The fall of water attests to the tremendous powers of moving water. From the snow-covered or rain-drenched peaks this river is born to feed others.
In the few seconds this message held your interest, a minimum of 600 gallons of water have passed this point. At this rate, the daily needs to a city of 25,000 people would be satisfied.
Water, indispensible to the needs of man, is one of the resources of the White Mountain National Forest."
As usual I am including more websites where you can get more information about Glen Ellis Falls:
The bottom one contains many more pictures including the signs along the trail. It also contains a video of the falls which will give you some idea of how powerful it is. Enjoy.
Sunday, August 8, 2010
The Boulder Field has been designated a National Landmark and is located in the northeast corner of the park. Here I am sitting on one of the boulders with a plaque at the entrance to the field. As you can see from the picture on the bottom, people just love to walk on these. We watched an entire family of four hopping from boulder to boulder. Some were even picnicking in the middle of the field. Rob, Susan and I went a little ways in, then sat down near the entrance and just watched.
As you can see by the photograph alongside, the Boulder Field literally appears out of nowhere and is surrounded by the rest of the wooded area of the park. The Boulder Field can easily be accessed by car (which we did do) or by hiking (which we didn't do) the 3.5 miles to it. We did do some hiking however and stumbled on a trail called Stage Road. This was part of an old stagecoach trail which ran from Allentown to Wilkes-Barre. The stage stopped at a hotel which was located in Saylorsville that was north of Hickory Run State Park. There is nothing left of the town today except foundations.
This is a trip worth making especially if you live in the northeast. Hickory Run State Park is in Carbon County, PA, not too far from the western foothills of the Pocono Mountains. It makes for a nice weekend trip or vacation and is about two hours north of the Amish Country.
There are plenty of websites dedicated to this park, although Rob happened to spot it in a Wikipedia article.
Sunday, August 1, 2010
Founded in 1945, this airport is unique in the fact that it has a grass runway. It is owned by the Town of Islip and has been managed by the Society since 1972.
A little history about the society is appropriate here. It is a living museum dedicated to preserving aviation history. Many members have either retired from once prominent aviation corporations and are interested in keeping alive Long Island's rich history of what it was once known for: building and designing airplanes during WWII. They share their passion with members of the surrounding community and anyone who cares to visit. Here are some pictures of the planes that they keep alive and running. We even won a ride on one of the planes.
Here is a RC-3 Seabee. It was developed by Republic Aviation Corp in the late 1940's. It was hoped that military pilots returning from the war would want to fly civilian aircraft after they arrived home. This never happened and this plane was discontinued in 1947.
Here is an REO Speedwagon. You will recognize this name from the rock band who named themselves after this flatbed truck made by REO Motor Car Company. The initials stand for Ransom Eli Olds who later founded the Oldsmobile Auto Company.
Both Susan and I got to ride on this plane across the ocean above Fire Island and back again. This photo, courtesy of the Bayport Aerodrome Society site, is a 1940 Aeronca. It was a beautiful ride, but a little bumpy at the end.
Approaching Fire Island from the plane.
Here is a link to the Bayport Aerodrome Society. Enjoy.