AuSable in Clinton County, New York — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)
How Did They Get Boats Back For The Next Ride?
Each boat, and each boatman paining, made many trips down the Chasm a day (often 10-20). Getting 1-to 2-ton boats back upriver 1 mile (16 km) from the Boat Landing to Table Rock for another ride posed quite the challenge. So how was this done?
At first, human power and ingenuity. An 1875 newspaper article described how the boatmen did it then, and for the next 50+ years: Boats "are drawn back by rope, fastened at the upper end, the men in the boat pulling their way up, which is not so funny!” Boatmen pulled boats against the current using tie-off points, such as iron pins anchored in the rock and holes bored in the Chasm walls Getting through the 400-foot "Rapids” this way required several men on each side.
Influenced by the automobile's emergence, visitation surged from 27,000 in 1919 to 95,000 in 1927. Hand pulling the boats back became impractical. So, in 1928, the Chasm installed a motorized electric cable boat hauling system along the first 2/3 of the Boat Ride route, from Whirlpool Basin to Table Rock. Hundreds of feet of steel cable ran continuously through a network of steel sheaves (shiv-z) and
After unloading passengers at the Boat Landing. each pair of boatmen paddled to the opposite bank. Stepping ashore they towed their boat by rope along the riverbank about 1,000 feet to the cable system start point at Whirlpool Basin.
Re-boarding the boat, they paddled it into position under the moving cable. Then, utilizing a long "clutch pole” like the one displayed, the front boatman "hooked into” the cable with the grooved brass end. As the cable whisked the boat upstream to Table Rock, the rear boatman used his paddle as a rudder to keep the boat straight.
The cable system's end came from an act of nature, the flood of November 1996. Floodwaters 60 feet high damaged it beyond repair, ripping down cable and breaking poles that held the sheaves and wheels. Without the cable system, the wooden boats had to be retired, closing the “wooden boat era” after 124 years.
For the Chasm and the boatmen, the end of the wooden boats was like the passing of an old friend. The boat tour continued after 1996, under a new name with different watercraft (rafts) and different guides. It remains as popular as ever today. And so, the tradition of experiencing Ausable Chasm's majesty by boat lives on.
Topics. This historical marker is listed in Parks & Recreational Areas • Waterways & Vessels.
Location. 44° 31.5′ N, 73° 27.703′ W. Marker is in AuSable, New York, in Clinton County. Marker can be reached from the intersection of Mace Chasm Road and U.S. 9, on the left when traveling west. Located behind the entrance to Ausable Chasm. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Keeseville NY 12911, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 2 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. The Boats And The Boatmen (here, next to this marker); What Is This Boat? (a few steps from this marker); Ausable Chasm's "Famous Boat Ride" (a few steps from this marker); Our Freedom Bell (within shouting distance of this marker); Rainbow Falls Hydroelectric Plant (about 600 feet away, measured in a direct line); Train Depot (approx. 1.4 miles away); Mineral Spring (approx. 1.6 miles away); Keeseville, New York War Memorial (approx. 1.6 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in AuSable.
Also see . . .
1. Ausable Chasm. (Submitted on November 28, 2020, by Michael Herrick of Southbury, Connecticut.)
2. Ausable Chasm (Wikipedia). (Submitted on November 28, 2020, by Michael Herrick of Southbury, Connecticut.)
Credits. This page was last revised on November 28, 2020. It was originally submitted on November 23, 2020, by TeamOHE of Wauseon, Ohio. This page has been viewed 69 times since then. Photos: 1, 2, 3. submitted on November 23, 2020, by TeamOHE of Wauseon, Ohio. • Michael Herrick was the editor who published this page.