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Archive for the ‘Cobblestone’ Category

You plan to ski to a remote hut, climb to a panoramic vista, or paddle to a pristine shoreline. Wouldn’t it be nice to take along some wine and toast the achievement or sip slowly as you savor the surroundings? Previously that meant carrying heavy glass bottles both ways. No

Glenora Wines AstraPouch

more – Glenora Wine Cellars has introduced wine in the AstraPouch to the US market.

The AstraPouch contains the equivalent of two bottles of wine in a lightweight, recyclable, collapsible container – perfect for those of us who enjoy adventure but still savor the taste of wine.

Both Trestle Creek Riesling and Trestle Creek Chardonnay now come in the AstraPouch. They can be ordered on-line or find them at area liquor stores.

Click here to watch a video of AstraPouches being filled at Glenora Wine Cellars.

Not convinced yet? Replacing heavy glass bottles and bulky bag in box packaging, the light weight AstraPouch is a durable, convenient and eco-friendly way to bring wine and spirits to the consumer market. Here are the facts:
-The filled AstraPouch is 98 percent wine and only 2 percent packaging by weight
-The 1.5L AstraPouch has an 80% lower carbon footprint than two bottles of wine
-1 truck load of empty AstraPouch equals 14 truck loads of empty glass bottles
– Chills fast, 14 minutes in the AstraPouch versus 40 minutes in a glass, using less energy
-Resealable and stays fresh for up to one month after opening
– No cork waste
– Avoids the “no glass at beach” rule

As a holiday gift idea, combine an AstraPouch of wine with a Footprint Press guidebook and a note suggesting a specific hike, bike, paddle, or waterfall adventure to a scenic locale to enjoy the wine. Here are some ideas:
-Creekwalk up Chautauqua Creek in western NY to swim below Skinny Dip Falls on a hot summer day (200 Waterfalls in Central &

200 Waterfalls in Central & Western NY

Western New York)
-Bike the old roadways in Mount Hope Cemetery in Rochester to absorb the historic surroundings, then rest under an ancient tree to savor some wine. (Take Your Bike – Family Rides in the Rochester Area)
-Go Inn to Inn backpacking along the Bruce Trail where you can sip wine on a cobblestone beach along Georgian Bay. (Bruce Trail – An Adventure Along the Niagara Escarpment)
-Bike trip with a view – head to Spafford Forrest in Onondaga County to enjoy wine from a hang glider’s launch point overlooking the Otisco Lake valley.(Take Your Bike – Family Rides in New York’s Finger Lakes Region)
-Take an aerobic, serene woods hike by following the Van Lone Hill Loop Trail in Schuyler County. (Take A Hike – Family Walks in New York’s Finger Lakes Region)
-Paddle Deer Creek in Pulaski to pass sand dunes and sip wine on the shore of Lake Ontario. (Take A Paddle – Finger Lakes New York Quiet Water for Canoes & Kayaks)
-Hike the trails along Six Mile Creek in Ithaca to savor the view of remote Potter’s Falls. (200 Waterfalls in Central & Western New York)

Peak Experiences

-Go on a quest to reach the highest point of each county of New York State and celebrate each summit. (Peak Experiences – Hiking the Highest Summits in New York, County by County)
-Hike the Rifle Range Trail in Rochester and sip your wine along the shore of Irondequoit Creek. (Take A Hike – Family Walks in the Rochester Area)
-Paddle the southern reaches of the Genesee River where its more creek-like and sip wine from a gravel bar at a bend in the river. (Take A Paddle – Western New York Quiet Water for Canoes & Kayaks)

by Sue Freeman

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Be a Time Traveler to New York’s Cobblestone Country

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Tour8-PumpHousemainstFishersClick here to read a blog post of how a visit to Boston inspired a Greece woman to discover the history in her own backyard. (Greece is a suburb of Rochester, NY.)

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by Sue Freeman

He huffed and he puffed and he blew the house down – certainly not if the house was built with cobblestones. Building cobblestone houses was a folk art that flourished in upstate New York from 1825 until the Civil War in 1860. Many of the 700+ cobblestone homes that were built survive today, a testament to their fine craftsmanship.

To build your cobblestone house you’ll need 5 main components: cobblestones, soft lime mortar, wood for windows and doors, cut stone blocks for quoins, lintels and sills, and lots of cheap labor. Let’s take them one at a time – assuming the cheap labor is you, your family, friends, relatives and anyone else you can convince to do manual labor for $1.00 to $1.50 per day.

956-kent-rdorleans1The first step is to gather the cobblestones. This may take several years. Cobblestones are small fist-sized stones deposited by the glaciers that swept from the north millennia ago. Rough-shaped ones can be gathered from the farm fields or rounded, lake-washed ones can be gathered along the shore of Lake Ontario. You’ll need over 14,000 cobblestones, so get cracking. As the manly work of stone gathering progresses, the women and children can be kept busy sorting the stones by size and color. You’ll want to use the finest, smoothest, similar-sized stones on the front of your house, and save the rougher, odd-sized ones for the back, sides and interior of the walls.

While this is progressing, you better start preparing the soft lime mortar. Don’t skimp and use Portland cement. It dries too fast and will pop the cobbles out as it dries. Soft lime mortar is made of lime, sand and water. Find limestone (calcium carbonate) or dolomite (magnesium carbonate) and break it into pieces. Burn it within heaps of logs for 2 to 3 days to create quicklime. Add water to the quicklime to create a hydrated lime sludge. Mix in 5 to 9 bushels of sand to 1 bushel of lime sludge. Age the mortar in a ground pit covered by sand or cow manure for up to a year.

Fell a bunch of trees. They’ll need to be hand-hewn to build the doors and windows – each custom fitted to a specific opening. Also, find a quarry where you can get limestone or sandstone blocks for the corners of your building (quoins) and as structural support over the doors and windows (lintels) and under the windows (sils).

Now the fun begins. Start by laying the stones in walls 18 to 20-inches-thick. Build the wall with rubble stone, faced by cobbles. Use elongated or triangular shaped stones to tie the cobbles to the rubble wall. Use the soft lime mortar as your glue, getting fancy with straight ridges between the horizontal and vertical rows of cobbles. Build about 3 rows (or courses) per day so the mortar has time to slowly begin setting. It will take 35 years for the mortar to fully harden. Lay in the cut-stone blocks at the corners to create quoins. To finish the inside, apply horsehair plaster to the stone.

Once the walls are above reach, you’ll have to build scaffolding by burying poles in the ground 6 to 8 feet from the wall and tying cross members from the wall to the poles with hickory witches. Then lay planks on the cross members to provide a building platform. As the walls rise, you’ll have to repeatedly raise the height of the scaffolding. Attach a crane and tackles to the highest pole to winch up buckets of cobblestones and mortar.

Hand build your windows and doors to fit each opening and hand-hew trusses for your roof. Winter is a good time to do much of your carpentry work. Depending on how many workers you have and their skill level, you may finish in a year. More likely, the building process will take about 3 years.1695lakerdontario1
When you’re done, you’ll have a fine home that will stand for centuries.

Go see for yourself. A new guidebook called “Cobblestone Quest – Road Tours of New York’s Historic Buildings” (Footprint Press, www.footprintpress.com, 1-800-431-1579) offers 17 self-guided car or bicycle tours for viewing the diversity of cobblestone buildings clustered in upstate New York, and no where else in the world in such quantities.

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I can only imagine the work involved in moving a cobblestone blacksmith shop!! Built before the Civil War, of stones and mortar, just imagine the weight and the fragility. Irondequoit is moving their cobblestone building on Monday. Read about it & see a photo here: http://www.mpnnow.com/news/x544084711/Big-move-for-blacksmith-shop-is-Monday

Then, get this guide to learn the secrets of cobblestone building: “Cobblestone Quest – Road Tours of new York’s Historic Buildings.”

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Why is it that people from “away” appreciate what we have more than we locals do? It doesn’t matter where the “away” is – it always seems things outside our normal sphere are more exotic or interesting. Those of us who live (or have lived) among cobblestone buildings take them for granted. They’re all around us – part of the landscape. But to visitors, they’re viewed as the unique entities that they are.

We do the same thing when we travel. Things that are mundane to the locals are exciting to us. I remember seeing my first pelican on a vacation to Florida – what an exotic looking bird! To Floridians they’re commonplace. I guess that’s human nature.

Anyway, here’s a great post (with photos) by a Canadian who visited the Cobblestone Museum in Childs. Anyone interested in cobblestone buildings should pick up a copy of “Cobblestone Quest – Road Tours of New York’s Historic Buildings” at http://www.footprintpress.com. It describes the history and methodology of building cobblestone buildings and offers 14 driving tours throughout western NY State so you can see the variety in person. You can tour inside museums, stay in B&Bs and eat in cobblestone restaurants. It makes a wonderful vacation. This pre-Civil War technique was used to build houses, churches, factories, smokehouses, grave markers, schools, stagecoach taverns, barns,etc. Touring cobblestone buildings makes a great “staycation.”

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As summer wanes and fall colors begin to appear, road bikers should be in prime biking condition. You’ve probably biked manFishers Cobblestone Pumphousey of the same familiar routes this year. Maybe you need a new goal – a new reason to head out for a spin. I recommend going on a cobblestone quest.

In your travels you’ve probably passed cobblestone houses, but not given them much thought. Most peopel don’t realize that they’re unique to Central and Western New York State. In fact, over 90% of the cobblestone buildings ever built in the world are within a 65-mile radius of Rochester, NY. The 700+ buildings were constructed between 1825 and 1860, before the Civil War. Each is a creative work of folk art.

Imagine moving slowly by wagon, over roads that were mere ruts of mud, to build a log cabin in a remote wilderness. This is precisely how the early pioneers to upstate New York arrived. They purchased plots of land from the Phelps & Gorham Land Tract or Holland Land Company and had to clear the trees from the dense forest to create fields for farming.

In the process, they discovered the fields were full of fist-sized stones (or cobblestones), evidence that glaciers scoured this land before the forests grew. Those pesky stones had to be moved out of the way, and as they plowed, the cobblestones seemed to multiply. It was hard work, but the land was productive and the pioneers were able to grow enough produce to feed their large families.

When the Erie Canal opened in 1825, it created a way to get their produce to larger markets. The farming business flourished, enough so that the farmers began to think about building better homes for their hardworking wives and 10+ children. Why not put those pesky cobblestones to use and build a dandy home – they were, by golly, lying about free in the fields, just waiting to be gathered. And, the pioneers were not strangers to hard labor.

The original cobblestone homes were simple farmhouses. Over the 35-year span during which all the cobblestone buildings were built, they became progressively more elaborate and refined. Construction methods evolved and masons began to select stones, sorting them by size and color. They build homes with stripes, herringbone patterns and artistic patterns created with the cobblestones.

Today, many of the cobblestone buildings are still standing and in use, a testament to fine craftsmanship. A few of the masons who built houses in upstate New York migrated farther west and built a spattering of cobblestone buildings in the mid-west. But, by far, the bulk that were ever built, are in upstate New York, south of Lake Ontario.Cobblestone Quest

The cobblestone buildings clustered in this region make great biking tours. 17 different tours are detailed in the guidebook Cobblestone Quest – Road Tours of New York’s Historic Buildings. The shortest tour is 22 miles, the longest 83 miles, with most in the 45 to 55-mile range. They wind through backcountry roads, passing cobblestone houses, barns, smokehouses, stores, factories, and even cemetery markers. The guidebook describes the technique of cobblestone building and the history of the buildings, so you will understand what you’re passing. As you ride along, marvel at the skill of the masons and admire the dedication of the homeowners who have lovingly maintained these buildings over the centuries. Hop on your bike and take a fall tour through the unique history of our region.

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