Wednesday, August 27, 2008

"Didja Know?" by Cornelius A. Hubner

I wish I had met Cornelius [Cornie] A. Hubner.

He is responsible for a series of articles documenting the history and stories associated with Smoke Rise, the days of Francis S. Kinney and the early days of Kinnelon. The series was titled "Didja Know?" and appeared starting on June 15, 1985 in the Smoke Rise Club News.

The stories are magical.

Cornie lived at 218 Hemlock Lane. He started writing these stories at around age 85, producing close to 100. Nowadays, the newsletter comes out twice per month. I suspect it came out once a month back then. Assuming he wrote one story per issue, Cornie would have written this series for over 8 years... Wow.

Cornie writes: "Beginning with the one paragraph contribution "Eagles," June 15, 1985, and encouraged by the Editors' reception of "Prices," two months later, the column became a full page story. Historical dates are included with otherwise unrecorded facts?, hearsay and folklore embellished my sometimes vague recollections of almost 90 years."

My biggest regret is that these stories aren't digitally available so they can come alive again for a new generation of Kinnelon and Smoke Rise residents.... So, when appropriate, I intend to quote from Cornie's writings whenever possible to add context, perspective, and texture to the stories I share with you here.

I strongly recommend that you get yourself a copy of the articles from the Smoke Rise Club Office. By the way, you may already have a copy from the packet you received when you moved into Smoke Rise. A second copy costs $6 and is well worth the money. It is sponsored by the Women of Smoke Rise and dedicated to Cornie's wife of 67 years, Peg.

According to Lynn in the Smoke Rise Office, Cornie was a wonderful man who loved the community -- an old school gentleman who always drove around with a cap on his head. He was brought up in Butler, and was probably one of the early residents of Smoke Rise.

He died in 1992.

I think Cornie would have been a natural at blogging.

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Wednesday, August 20, 2008

St. Hubert's Chapel Visit

Imagine a perfect July day and the opportunity to take a boat trip through time to visit St. Hubert's Chapel on Lake Kinnelon... Would you hesitate? I sure didn't. In fact, I stood in line so I wouldn't miss out!

St. Hubert's Chapel sits on Chapel Island, the largest island in Kinnelon Lake in Smoke Rise. [See Lake Kinnelon Walk for a description of the islands].

The only way to access the chapel is by boat. Think of the implications...

Francis S. Kinney built St. Hubert's Chapel for his wife, Mary, so she wouldn't have to travel the 7 miles to the nearest church at the time, St. Anthony of Padua in Butler, NJ [which features a stained glass window with Kinney's name].

That time was the late 1880s.

Per the St. Hubert's Chapel booklet available if you take part in a tour of the chapel:

"In the Spring of 1886, Mr. Kinney, using his walking stick, drew a crude ground plan for the future chapel on the rough soil of the tiny island in the center of Lake Kinnelon [aka Stickle Pond]. No one knows why Mr. Kinney chose the remote island location for St. Hubert's Chapel. Some speculate that the location was symbolic of either the remote areas where St. Hubert established Christianity or Kinney's desire to place a watery separation between church and state.

Construction of St. Hubert's Chapel was conducted quietly and secretly, and its structure was erected in complete harmony with its rural environment. Rough stones were gathered from the slopes surrounding the lake, and during the winter, massive horse drawn sleds were used to transport them across the frozen lake to the remote island. The church proper and clock tower were completed first. Initially, the interior was a counterpart to the exterior, rough and unhewn. The ceiling was made of oaken rafters and the window frames were of massive oak as well.

The Chapel looked cold and cheerless in its early unfinished condition. Yet, on the morning of the feast of Ss. Chrysanthus and Daria, the Chapel was consecrated by William Wigger, Bishop of Newark, and placed under the patronage of Saint Hubert. It was then that Mr. Kinney determined to give his island shrine historical significance by reproducing, with meticulous historical and artistic accuracy, a medieval chapel from the period in which St. Hubert lived. To accomplish the task, Mr. Kinney commissioned Louis C. Tiffany to undertake the Chapel's interior decoration."

From a series of articles titled "Didja Know?" in the Smoke Rise Newsletter by Cornelius A. Hubner, starting in 1985, come these details:

"The cornerstone of St. Hubert's was laid nearly 100 years ago in 1886. The chapel completed in 1889 was consecrated by Bishop Wigger of the Newark Diocese* assisted by the Rt. Rev. James Dougherty and several priests from the Mission of St. Anthony in Butler."

Sitting in our boat, as we made our way to the chapel, and then back to the mainland afterwards, I couldn't help but feel awe over the scope of the project, and the logistics associated with getting workers, tools, materials and equipment across water.

Next: the interior of St. Hubert's Chapel

Note: I found no reference to Bishop William Wigger, only to Bishop Winand M. Wigger of Newark.

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Monday, August 11, 2008

Meet C.B. Whittemore

We moved to Smoke Rise in June of 2004 from Bergen, County New Jersey.

As have many of the people we've met here, we moved to escape density and congestion and find a more family-friendly place to bring up our daughter. Although it's been everything we expected, it has been even more that we ever thought possible.

Much of that has to do with belonging to a lake community - something I had never experienced before - combined with inherent contrasts: proximity to New York City's concrete jungle vs. bears, lakes and preserved farmland; being on the edge of modern suburbia yet being surrounded by vestiges of an industrial and historic hotbed.

Although I moved around quite a bit growing up, some of my favorite memories had to do with magical beaches and outdoor places where, as a kid, I could spend hours watching, catching small fish, building underwater sea castles, drying seaweed, collecting rocks, watching the ebb and flow of the tide, or just curling up with a book. I sense that magic around Lake Kinnelon, Smoke Rise, Kinnelon and the other towns in this part of Northern New Jersey. It's a place where imagination can run wild.

I'd like to capture all of that, and share it as I've learned to do blogging at Flooring The Consumer and The Carpetology Blog, and also via photos on Flickr.

I intend to describe marvelous local finds, like What's In Your Neighborhood? The High Point Brewery in Butler, NJ, and learn more about Boonton, Skylands, Silas Condict, Pyramid Park and the Morris Canal.

I hope others living in or around Smoke Rise and Kinnelon will contribute here, and - in the not too distant future - that my daughter will be sufficiently in awe of snapping turtles and black bears to document here what she learns.

I invite you to take part in this adventure.

P.S.: My daughter learned how to ride her bike today!

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Saturday, August 2, 2008

The Land Where The Smoke Rises

I had the best of intentions at the recent Smoke Rise Beach Campout. I truly wanted to capture my very own image of smoke rising.

After all, Lisa and Ted had seen it when they stood in line to reserve picnic tables on July 5th, the day of the fireworks. That was 5:30am.

I missed it. This photo - taken at around 7am captures the complete stillness of the water. Unfortunately, no smoke...

I love the name "Smoke Rise." It conjures up images of steam rising over lake waters, of rich, dense vegetation, full trees, rocky terrain from which mountains rise and over which waters trickle [or rush after a major rain] back down to the lake.

It also matches up with the history surrounding the area.

Several sources [including the Smoke Rise website] state that Lenni-Lenape Indians [also known as the Ramapough Mountain Indians] named the area surrounding Smoke Rise 'The Land Where the Smoke Rises.' They hunted and farmed in the area and must have spent many an early morning close to the lake admiring the rising smoke of the water.

Of course, given how many lakes exist in this area, this entire section of northern New Jersey must have fit that description.

Interestingly, in the early 1700s, given the relative proximity to New York ports, those areas with access to rushing waters [i.e., power], trees [for charcoal] and iron ore became centers of intense industry. In 1766, the London Company established the Charlotteburg Furnace on the Pequannock River.

According to Barbara and Ernie Suto's site describing the history of Kinnelon, "Ruins of the furnace still lie under the water of the Pequannock Reservoir, south of Smoke Rise's North Gate. Other forges were built on the Pequannock River at Smith's Mills and Butler, and on the outlet of Stickle's Pond (Lake Kinnelon) on Stony Brook."

[Many of these names appear on local maps. On this MapQuest image, I added some of the names. Note that Route 23 in this section follows the course of the Pequannock River.]

"The typical furnace was a stone pyramid on the side of a hill. A platform was built along which layers of ore, fuel, and flux were wheeled to the opening atop the furnace. The mixture was dropped into the furnace and ignited. Air blasts from bellows powered by water wheels kept the fires intense. Gradually, the iron ore melted and the heavy metal flowed out at the base of the furnace into troughs of sand on the casting floor. The arrangement of these cooling beds resembled a sow and her piglets: thus the term "pig iron." Slag floating above the iron was drawn off and discarded. The pig iron was further purified and shaped in the forge."

[Photos of the Carlisle Furnace by Pat Henson and of an Iron Furnace in Kentucky by kyterryls shots give you an idea of the construction. This one of the Cyfarthfa Furnaces by locus imagination includes copious notes about the Cyfarthfa Ironworks in SW.]

"Charcoal was painstakingly prepared in the surrounding hills. Trees had to be cut down during the wintertime, trimmed to the proper size, stacked in cone-shaped piles, and topped with earth and damp leaves. Once ignited, it took three to ten days to char the wood properly. When furnaces were in full blast, it took an acre of trees a day to feed the fires. Some of Kinnelon's roads were once wagon trails where teams of oxen hauled charcoal to the furnaces.

England demanded that the colonies ship all their iron to the mother country and buy from her all their finished hardgoods. By 1770, one seventh of the world's iron was being produced in this region, and England's unjust law soon made rebels of the people of New Jersey. The Highlands' natural barrier to transportation kept the mines and forges safe from British attacks, and left the colonists with a plentiful supply of iron for guns, shot and tools. A huge iron chain forged in this area stretched across the Hudson River near West Point to bar British ships. The hills rang with the banging of trip hammer, the rumble of wagons, and the roar of many fires."

Imagine how polluted the air must have been, how denuded the mountain side - an acre of trees per day to keep the fires going. It boggles the mind.

For more information about the Charlotteburg Ironworks, I encourage you to read Chapter 10 of Kinnelon: A History by Lucy A. Meyer, the town historian. Although the book is available only for reference at the Kinnelon Library, has posted a copy of Chapter 10 The Great Charlotteburg Furnace Tract online. You'll find maps and sketches that bring it all to life.

Back to the name 'Smoke Rise.'

In 1922 the borough of Kinnelon was incorporated. Up to that point, 'Kinnelon' had been the name of Francis S. Kinney's estate [i.e., Kinney's lawn]. It seems that he generously gave that name to the new borough while taking on the name 'Smoke Rise' for his property. In 1946, when the property started its transformation into a residential development, it became The Smoke Rise Club, "one of the earliest community club plans in the United States."

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