Saturday, June 21, 2008

Log Cabins

Back when Clarence was first founded everybody was building log cabins. The land had to be cleared and thus a ready supply of logs was available for the necessary shelter. Lumber mills would come later.

The top picture is of my great-great-grandparents' log cabin that existed down on Goodrich. Behind it is a house that used to be located on Wolcott. It took them 3 days to roll it on logs to it's current location (thanks to William Greene, current owner, for that info). In the picture you can see that it's still lacking a solid foundation. You could say that logs came in handy.

Much has been made of the Landow-Goodrich log cabin, now located in front of the Clarence Historical Museum. It's the best preserved example in it's original form. The Brace home on Main also has a log cabin embedded within, but it's not the only one in town.

At the corner of Wolcott and Goodrich there are 2 buildings across the street from one another that contain log cabins. The double structure on the right used to house a corner store. I think the cabin is under the larger building, as the History of the Town of Clarence says that August Meisner enlarged it by building around it first, then added a meeting place to the right later on. Clara Kanehl, who lived at the above mentioned house, later operated a store there.

Across the street there's a little white house behind the stop sign (currently owned by the Fitzners). That has a log cabin within it also. Another great great grandmother, Christina Faskel (she of the missing headstone - more on that later) used to live there.

Actually, if one were to browse through that intersection there's a treasure trove of history to be glimpsed. On the far right is a corner of the old German school. To the left of Fitzner's house is Frenchy's tavern (whatever it's called now), a very old mainstay. In it's parking lot is the first Clarence Center post office.

Also on that corner (of Delaware Road) is where the early immigrants used to have a picnic grove. The first carousal (made by Carl Landow and Carl Newman) operated there, earning at first scorn for it's frivolity, and later acceptance by the hard-working Germans.

I'm sure that there's many more log cabins out there, nestled within other buildings. They're a testament to solid workmanship and materials. People made do with what they had, and didn't let anything go to waste. We could learn from that.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

The Foot of Main - A Tour Along the Waterfront

It used to be that the foot of Main Street was where some of our parents threatened we'd end up, living in a cardboard box, if we didn't get our act together. Now it's becoming quite the place to be, with the biggest aspects yet to come. Well, that's if "new" can beat out nature and history.

It's hard to tell that many places you see on the news are all linked together, if you're not familiar with the area anymore. Here's an easy primer:

Start out by Memorial Auditorium (while it's still there), which is a parking lot away from HSBC Arena, home of the Buffalo Sabres. Everyone knows where that is, right?

If you go over to the area immediately adjacent to the Arena, you'll be roaming through the historic Cobblestone District. Heading to the west instead you can walk straight through to the lookout tower at Erie Basin Marina, while passing through many an attraction.

Immediately you'll come upon the Commercial Slip, the Erie Canal terminus that opened to the public last weekend. There are walkways,bridges, and signs that direct your attention to the historical moments and people connected with the area. While some chronically dissatisfied people have decried it as garish, I like it, as do the many other people I observed. Also featured are the excavated ruins of the Steamship Hotel.

A few steps over is the Buffalo and Erie County Naval and Military Park. There you will be able to board ships and a submarine (for a small fee), and gaze upon fighter planes. This is where many of the monuments commemorating both the war dead and everyone who served in the military are located. Don't forget to check out the museum. I want to mention also that this park seems to have undergone many name changes. The term "Servicemen's" was also in there at one time. It's the same place.

A short walk along the water will bring you to the Erie Basin Marina. This is the home of the ships Miss Buffalo I & II, but there is more! Shanghai Red's (formerly Crawdaddy's) is across the way, but we prefer to grab some food at The Hatch. You can sit on the outdoor patio and watch the boats and view the Buffalo Lighthouse across the way, before ambling onwards.

A note of caution here - there are signs warning patrons to guard the food from aggressive sea gulls. These are not put up to be cute. I had a hot dog swiped from a tray as I was carrying it out a few years ago. Then the bird sat a few feet away and tried to eat it. I grabbed it back and threw it out. If I can't eat it, neither can the gull (aka the common tern).

Incidentally, the tree sculptures are once again on display along the roadway, across from The Hatch. The identity of the "Mystery Man' turned out to be Tim Rusert of South Buffalo, the political talk show host. Also new is Dewitt Clinton, seen pouring water into the Erie Canal.

After walking by the seawall for a short spell you will come upon the newly opened Buffalo Beach. It's not for swimming (riptides and all), but for relaxing. Last September I took a picture of a family enjoying a patch of sand that they reached by climbing down the rocks. Now there's a sandy walkway going down to the enlarged area (pictured). It's kind of neat :)

Across from the beach is the lookout tower where you can gaze out across where Lake Erie and the Niagara River meet, and across the way to Canada. Also back to where you left your car. Of course, after visiting the Military Park you can always move the vehicle into the Marina, since there's plenty of parking. But walk - it's not that far!

Last weekend I went down there and took my camera. Everything has been loaded into the re-titled web album "Erie Basin Marina, the Commercial Slip, and the Naval and Military Park". However, it should be noted that I merely take pictures. The guy at Buffalo T-Shirts takes photographs. If you check out his blog, you'll more photos of the foot of Main, along with other places.

Visit the foot of Main Street where the Niagara River and Lake Erie meet - you'll be glad you did!