When it comes to iconic symbols of the northeastern wilderness, Adirondack Guide Boats certainly come to mind. Once functional boats used by expert escorts on the rivers and lakes of northern New York and Vermont, these crafts have become extremely popular pieces of décor in Adirondack Great Camps and cabins. Similar to a canoe, guide boats allude a rugged durability that speaks to earlier generations and the history of the Adirondack area.
Used by the likes of President Teddy Roosevelt and poet Henry David Thoreau in their expeditions, the lightweight crafts required skilled artisans and countless hours to be constructed. Henry Van Dyke wrote of guide boats in his 1895 Little Rivers, A Book of Essays in Profitable Idleness, “A Saranac boat is one of the finest things that the skill of man has ever produced under the inspiration of the wilderness. It is a frail shell, so light that a guide can carry it on his shoulders with ease, but so dexterously fashioned that it rides the heaviest waves like a duck, and slips through the water as if by magic. You can travel in it along the shallowest rivers and across the broadest lakes, and make forty or fifty miles a day, if you have a good guide.”
Today, however, Adirondack Guide Boats and canoes are exhibited more frequently in homes than on the water. From books by rustic furniture expert and photographer Ralph Kyllo, and magazines like Adirondack Life, we find that guide boats and canoes possess an omnipotent presence when displayed from open beam structures and spacious cabins. From exquisite homes in Lake Placid, NY to rugged, mammoth structures in the Rockies, this creative design demonstrates an exemplary respect and admiration for the crafts that are so dear to our hearts.