This demijohn carrier was used to haul spring water to the cottages at Deerland Lodge on Long Lake.
Tap water. Village dwellers take it for granted, and we only notice the inconvenience of not having it when a water main breaks and the state Health Department issues a boil water order for days at a time.
Such was the case on Jan. 17, 2007 in Saranac Lake after the temperature plummeted to 20 degrees below zero. We had to boil consumable water for three days. In this age of technology, it’s sobering to look at past generations and search for the answer to this question, “What did Adirondackers do before they had running water in every house?”
Some homeowners had wells (and many still do). Others gathered drinking water from natural mountain springs and hauled it home. You can still find some of these springs along roadsides. I know of one in the Essex County town of North Elba and one in the St. Lawrence County town of Piercefield that are used today. Locals know where their favorite mountain springs are located. Municipalities pipe their water into communities from bodies of water, such as lakes and reservoirs, and some send the water to treatment plants before distributing it to the public. Water lines more than 100 years old are starting to show their age, and I’m afraid boil water orders may occur more often in the coming years as more pipes fail.
Old-fashioned water gathering, though, required a lot more muscle power than simply twisting a knob with a few fingers. It sometimes relied on the whole body and could lead to sore muscles in the shoulders, arms, legs and back. Foot power worked against gravity to deliver this refreshing mountain water to consumers.
Such was the case at a resort in the Hamilton County town of Long Lake. The Deerland Lodge on the shores of this lake used a double demijohn (carboy) carrier to bring water from the source to its lodge and cottages. There was no running water at the time.
In September 2006, Everett Hollands, of Long Lake, donated this demijohn carrier to the Adirondack Museum. It is artifact No. 2006.41.1 in the museum’s collection (currently in storage).
The wooden boxes that housed the demijohns are 21.5 inches tall and 19 inches wide. The two wooden boards with handles are long enough, at 82.5 inches, so one person could carry the load in the front and one could carry it from the back. Each box features a removable lid and two wire handles, as they were originally separate objects. Inside, there are springs in the corners to hold the glass bottles in place. The long boards were nailed to the boxes by the owners, not the manufacturer. No demijohns were donated with the carrier.
The maker’s mark reads: “TRADEMARK REGISTERED / TWOPLEX / 1905 / REMOVABLE BOXED / DEMIJOHN / MADE UNDER THE PATENTS OF GEO. W. BANKER / FRED G. WHITE / [illegible] NEW YORK.” Curators estimate that the boxes date to between 1905 and 1920. “EAST BRANCH” is written on the top of one of the boxes.
Prior to the donation, the demijohn carrier was found underneath one of the buildings at the former Deerland Lodge, which was located at the southeastern shore of Long Lake. The donor owned the cottage.
The Deerland Lodge was located about 3 miles southwest of Hoss’s Country Corner on state routes 28N/30. The resort boasted a nine-hole golf course, two tennis courts and its own post office. After the business shut down in the 1950s, the land was subdivided and the buildings were sold off individually.
In an old brochure (date unknown), it states that the Deerland Lodge was owned by A.D. Brown and could accommodate about 100 guests. It sat on about 80 acres of land at the southern tip of Long Lake about 150 yards from the state highway. There was a main house and 11 cottages, “having from three to ten rooms, private and semi-private baths, hard woods floors and open fire places.”
It is not surprising to read in this brochure that “It is an established policy of the management to carefully SELECT its guests who are graciously received and warmly welcomed into the informal life of the congenial groups.” The text does not explain what criteria were established to “select” some guests and deny others from vacationing at Deerland. Exclusivity was not rare at this time. Such policies were found at other resorts throughout the Adirondacks in the 19th and 20th centuries. The Lake Placid Club comes to mind, as management would not let people of Jewish faith, for example, stay at the resort.
Activities at Deerland Lodge included swimming, canoeing, boating and fishing. Guests were told about the resort’s fireproof garage “with expert mechanics in attendance” and were encouraged to drive to Tupper Lake, Saranac Lake and Lake Placid “over excellent roads.” A library was located in the casino on the property, with “the best novels of the year” added each summer. Those arriving by railroad could take the New York Central’s Adirondack Division to the Sabattis station, where a car from Deerland met each train.
Food was “correctly prepared and attractively served” to guests in the dining room. And the Deerland Lodge owner made sure people knew that “Pure Adirondack Spring Water is used for drinking purposes at the dining table and in the cottages.”
(This story was originally published in “New York State’s Mountain Heritage: Adirondack Attic, Volume 5,” by Andy Flynn.)