Sunday, July 24, 2005

Summer, 2005, memories....

We are back in Clayton for the summer, and our summer is half over. It's back to Tucson in September, so I must make the most of our time and do my research while we're here.
In the last chapter posted, I wrote about the coal docks and passenger terminal. If you want to see what they looked like in "the old days", pick up a copy of "Images of America, Clayton" by Verda S. Corbin & Shane A Hutchinson. Since all of my old photos are gone, the collection in this book is now all I have. There is lots of history in this slim volume, and some dramatic photos of what happened in and around Clayton from the 1800's to the 1950's.

For a look at what the area around the old coal docks and a view of the rail bed, see the photos below. I slipped in a view of today's parade and the old parade vehicle owned by the Clayton Calumets that I recall from my childhood days. There were brand new ones in the parade too, and a couple of genuine antiques, as well as the volunteers in their spiffy dress uniforms.

If you look closely at the photo of the granite outcrop with the picnic table in Frink Park, you can see where the railbed was. In Clayton's heyday, some 16 trains a day came in bearing passengers who detrained not thirty feet from the water's edge. By the 40's and 50's. the rails had mostly been removed, except for the ones leading to the coal shed, and these were set in the grooves visible in the photo. Again, for a good look at the passenger cars pulled in to the terminal, see "Images of America, Clayton". The cover shot and several photos inside will convince you that Clayton was indeed, the destination of choice for thousands of late 19th and early 20th century tourists. From here they took steamers or steam yachts to the many elegant hotels in the islands and at Alexandria Bay down the river.

The second photo of the waterfront park shows the ice and age damaged cribbing which supported the heavy wood structure forming the shore side of the terminal. It is this that I look at each year and try to reconstruct in my mind. The wood portion of the dock extended much farther north than it seems now, and the tall (to the youthful eyes of my memory) coal piles would have been to the right, or south of the river edge, with coal dust blackened roadways in between each pile. The Riverview Hotel was still there then, not yet replaced by the Frink Offices built after the Frink Plant fire. The chain link fence still keeps me out. In the old days, pre this highly litigious era, a fence was unnecessary. Now, someone might fall and sue, ending the dream of razing the plant and replacing it with shopping, culture and residences.

Remains of wood piled coal dock Posted by Picasa

Rail Bed as it is today Posted by Picasa

Clayton Summer Parade Posted by Picasa