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  • Please WAIT! Then SCROLL DOWN for Me & Noah Rondeau.  EZ-Load  [ Are you in this picture? ]
    Me (Your Adirondack Guide.) Rondeau  Me &
     Noah Rondeau.

    CLICK HERE for bigger photo of Your Adirondack Guide at Ice Mountain. A word from the hermit.   I get a letter from a lady I don't know saying I remind her of Noah Rondeau. That gave me the idea of what do you with these photos Dennis took by Ice Mountain when he was here with the boys last Summer and more later when he and Bill came wintertime with their ladyfriends and got me talking and reciting Burns' To A Haggis by the old acorn potbelly stove, which I can do blindfolded in perfect Ayrshire.
    (CLICK for all 14 photos and what I had to say about the Ice Mountain.)
    "You remind me of a modern day Noah Rondeau!" (An Email Exchange.)

    Subject: Re: A Winter Story.
    From: paula***
    Date: Sat, 13 Mar 2010 13:11:46 -0500
    thanks for the email martin.
    Sounds like you spend endless days up there alone?
    You remind me of a modern day Noah Rondeau!
    Happy Spring to you!!

    Subject: Re: A Winter Story.
    From: "Martin (Your Adirondack Guide)"
    Date: Sun, 14 Mar 2010 20:33:37 -0400
    To: paula****
    Thanks for email about me and Noah Rondeau.
    Yes. Hermits are an Adirondack tradition.
    Maybe I'm one of them.
    Rondeau brigs home the bacon. Right here in Jay there was a old guy who helped at Madden's store, lived in a cabin just up from the river on the base of Wainwright. He looked sort of like Popeye and that's what how I remember him behind the counter and helping out with chores when Dot and Joe were busy. When you see Dot at the Post Office ask about him. That was back in the 70's but she'll remember.

    There was another one, a fellow who painted for me at the Stone House, name of Reilly, lived in a house by the river toward Upper Jay. Not really a hermit I guess, but he sure looked the part, played Santa at the North Pole for years, with the perfect beard.

    Nice hearing from you.

    Noah John Rondeau
    Mayor: Cold River City (Population 1)

    Cold River City

    Noah John Rondeau is perhaps the most well-known of the Adirondack Hermits. And there were many: Don Williams, in his book Inside the Adirondack Blue Line, comments that "It was not uncommon in an Adirondack village to see a bewhiskered, shabby, sometimes smelly old man walking into town ... He was quickly identified as the "resident" hermit at that settlement." Alvah Dunning, French Louie, Daniel Wadsworth, Ebenezer Bowen, the list goes on and on. Some may have lived more solitary lives than Rondeau, but he was a true Adirondack Hermit.

    Rondeau cooking dinner at home. Born in 1883 and raised near Ausable Forks, Rondeau ran away from home to escape an abusive father during his teenage years. Much about his early life is unknown; despite the fact that he kept extensive journals, much of the writings contained therein are in indecipherable code. Rondeau did begin writing an account of his early childhood, however. Unfortunately, it ends abruptly in mid-sentence and only focuses on several events of his pre-teen years. NJR achieved nothing more than an eighth grade education, but he educated himself, was well-read, and kept a supply of books in his hermitage. He was especially interested in astronomy, which he no doubt was able to put into practice on many a crisp, cool Adirondack night. He also played the violin, performing for whomever may have wandered up through the Cold River valley, or in the absence of other humans, he serenaded the deer.

    Publicity photo, 1946. Before moving away from civilization, NJR lived in Corey's on the Raquette River, where he learned the ways of the woods from Daniel Emmett, a member of the Abenaki Indian tribe from Canada. Two other well-known Abenakis were Sabael Benedict, after whom Indian Lake and the hamlet of Sabael on its shore derive their name, and Lewis Elijah, who brought a plug of iron ore he found to the men who established the McIntyre Iron Mine. It was here in Corey's that Rondeau had his first run-ins with the fledgling Conservation Department (the predecessor of today's Department of Environmental Conservation), and a particular game warden who would cause him problems for years to come. NJR rarely had pleasant remarks for the Conservation Department in what journals he recorded in plain English. (CONTINUED next column.)

    Noah Rondeau Noah John Rondeau (1883—August 24, 1967) was a widely-known hermit in the High Peaks of the Adirondack Mountains. He was raised near Au Sable Forks, just a few miles down the road from my Fourpeaks Backcountry, but ran away from home as a teenager and only obtained an eighth-grade education. He was, however, quite well-read, with a strong interest in astronomy. Before distancing himself too far from civilization, he lived in Corey's, NY on the Raquette River in the western Adirondack, where for fifteen years he worked as a handyman, caretaker and guide. He gained some of his knowledge of the woods from Dan Emmett, an Abenaki Indian from Canada. He also made occasional brief visits to jail for game law violations.

    Cold River area. Rondeau frequently hunted and trapped in the Cold River area, about 17 miles from Corey’s, and in 1929, at age 46, he began living alone year-round in the remote area, saying he was "not well satisfied with the world and its trends", and calling himself the "Mayor of Cold River City (Population 1)."

    He kept extensive journals over a period of several decades, many of which were written in letter-substitution ciphers of his own invention. The ciphers progressed through at least three major revisions in the late thirties and early forties, and in its final form resisted all efforts to decipher it until 1992 (Life With Noah, p. 91).

    Visitor at Town Hall. Although he was considered an Adirondack hermit, he normally accepted visitors to his hermitage, and even performed for them on his violin.

    During World War II, in his sixties, Rondeau was apparently suspected of being a draft dodger, as he submitted a letter dated 4/8/43 to the Ausable Forks Record-Post:
    I never went to Cold River to dodge anything, unless it was from 1930 to 1940 when it might be said I dodged the American labor failure at which time I could not get enough in civilization to get along even as well as I could at Cold River under hard circumstances in the back woods. Since I'm not evading I did not make my first appearance at Cold River on the day that Pearl Harbor was bombed. What I'm doing toward the war effort looks like nothing, but that's all I can do and I'm doing it and it is this -- I'm self sustained.

    In 1947, Rondeau was flown to the National Sportsmen's Show in New York City by helicopter, starting a series of appearances at similar shows throughout the country.

    In 1950, the Conservation Department closed the Cold River area to the public after a “big blow” leveled the forest, forcing Rondeau from his home at age 67. He then lived around Lake Placid, Saranac Lake and Wilmington, New York. Besides the sportsmen's shows, he worked for a time at Frontiertown and at the North Pole in Wilmington as a substitute Santa Claus, but he didn’t return to a hermit life, and eventually went on welfare. He was buried in North Elba Cemetery, near Lake Placid, with a stone from his Cold River home marking his grave.

    The Adirondack Museum has materials concerning Rondeau, including his life size sculpture carved by Robert Longhurst, in its collections.

    From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
    (CONTINUED from Column 1.)
    At any rate, Rondeau was a regular visitor to the beautiful Cold River area of the western High Peaks in the early 20th century, but did not begin spending his winters at his hermitage until 1929. He set up several buildings in "Cold River City," including the "Town Hall" in which he resided, a "Hall of Records," and a number of "wigwams:" teepee-shaped structures which were made out of timbers he had cut to be used for firewood during the long Adirondack winters. NJR, despite being a hermit, often received visitors and for the most part openly accepted them, even if he was a bit slow to trust others. Some of his visitors are well-known Adirondackers, including Dr. Orra Phelps and Grace Hudowalski (Rondeau actually corresponded with Hudowalski, among others, on a fairly regular basis). NJR's longest stay at the Cold River was 381 days, during World War II. Some outsiders unfamiliar with NJR assumed him to be a draft-dodger trying to escape the war by holing up deep inside the Adirondack wilderness. Truth be told, by the time the United States became involved in WWII, Rondeau was nearly 60 years old, and had been living at the Cold River for over 10 years. In fact, NJR remarked in a letter dated 4/8/43, printed in the Ausable Forks Record-Post that I never went to Cold River to dodge anything, unless it was from 1930 to 1940 when it might be said I dodged the American labor failure at which time I could not get enough in civilization to get along even as well as I could at Cold River under hard circumstances in the back woods. Since I'm not evading I did not make my first appearance at Cold River on the day that Pearl Harbor was bombed. What I'm doing toward the war effort looks like nothing, but that's all I can do and I'm doing it and it is this -- I'm self sustained.

    In what probably contributed most to his fame, NJR appeared in numerous sportsmen's shows across the Northeast during the late 40's and early 50's. His first appearance was at the National Sportsmen's Show in New York City in 1947. The Conservation Department was so determined for Rondeau to appear that they flew NJR out from his hermitage by helicopter. He was a huge hit at the show, and immediately began scheduling appearances at other shows. Intermingled with these appearances were brief trips into the Cold River valley. His fame was relatively short-lived, and after several years the spotlight began to fade. Unfortunately, the "Big Blow" of 1950 leveled much of the forest around his hermitage. The Conservation Department closed the area to the public for the next 3 years due to the widespread and near-complete destruction. Sixty-seven years old at the time, Rondeau never would return to the Cold River. For the remaining seventeen years of his life, he lived in the Lake Placid - Saranac Lake - Wilmington area, outside the wilderness he loved so much. His health gradually deteriorated until his death on August 24, 1967. Noah John Rondeau was never granted his final wish: to be buried at his hermitage; his remains lie in the North Elba Cemetery.

    [Click on thumbnail for full view.]
    "Remember that was
    9,000 years ago
    and these folks were tired
    from a long hunt
    after mastodons and probably"
    "prehistoric camels and such.
    But they took time out for a little
    religious meeting of sorts and built this
    gigantic ceremonial rock pile."
    Dennis, Bill, Martin,Don & Gary
    Ice Mountain 8/09.
    Martin holds forth on a
    favorite subject Aug '09 at Ice Mtn.
    Dennis, Bill, Gary, & Don (L-R) August '09 Rattlesnake Knob.
    Martin at The Hideout Feb. '10

    The Cabin, Dennis Barnicle, August '10.Photos by Dennis Barnicle.
    This photo of The Cabin interior shows the sense of beauty and skill in execution Dennis brings to the craft. There's more of them to see here on the Fourpeaks webpage. Find them at 4 Outdoor Guys from CT, about the guys visit to The Cabin, more at The Cabin home page, Me and Noah Rondeau and a really fine presentation at his photo gallery Beautiful!.

    A Personal Potpourri. A Personal Potpourri.
    Old photos, letters, clippings, greeting cards and other stuff too precious to discard. A Personal Potpourri is your Adirondack Guide's eclectic photo and writing place for stuff that just doesn't fit elsewhere in Fourpeaks Adirondack Backcountry Camps webpages. CLICK HERE for more Personal Potpourri.  CLICK HERE to meet Your Adirondack Guide.

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