Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Seneca Ray Stoddard

Seneca Ray Stoddard was something of an Adirondack renaissance man. He wrote, painted, studied the natural world, charted maps of the region, and most notably, photographed the Adirondacks. Many of Stoddard's photographs are held by the Chapman Historical Museum in Glens Falls. Many others are available digitally at the Library of Congress website.
Stoddard around age 35. Photo courtesy of The Chapman Historical Museum.
In 1874 Stoddard published an illustrated travel guide to the Adirondacks. The book, available online, features maps, railroad routes, warnings about black flies, topographical information, and suggests professional guides. For fifty cents the book was a great deal!
The cover of Stoddard's first edition of The Adirondacks Illustrated. The book was revised and updated several times following the initial publishing.

A map of the Adirondacks from Stoddard's guide book. The Fulton Chain is on the left side of the map just above the description. Note that Stillwater Reservoir is missing to the north of the Fulton Chain because the Beaver River hadn't been dammed yet.
Stoddard's photography and other travels brought him all over the Adirondacks, including to Old Forge. His explorations of the mountains follow many of the same trails and waterways Woodcrafters traverse today. Browse through digitized version of the book for an 18th century description of the same wilderness areas current campers see through a 21st century lense.

A fish hatchery in Old Forge in 1891. Photo by Seneca Ray Stoddard via the Library of Congress.
For further information on Stoddard and his works, try finding Jeffery Horrell's book in a local library or bookstore.

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