Last time we talked about the vast changes that the age of steam brought to the Adirondacks. The railroads brought tourists from New Your City to the heart of the North Country via an overnight trip. Steamboats then carried passengers fresh off the sleeping cars to the large resort hotels in Raquette and Blue Mountain Lakes.
Guideboats served a role too. There were many boarding houses and other small hostelries that were not served by the larger steamboats. Guides provided a kind of taxi service for these smaller establishments. They also provided transportation on lakes that had no steamboats, like Long Lake. Long Lake was a major corridor for those heading north to Saranac Lake and beyond.
The advent of steam-based transportation was, at first, a boon to the guides. The railroads brought an abundance of tourists and sportsmen needing their services. The advent of stream was a double edged sword, however, as we will see from the story of the Buttercup.
Behind Long Lake’s municipal office building is a peculiar looking structure. It is basically a roof over a chain-linked fence that houses the Buttercup. Below is a photo of it.
The sign at the enclosure gives the story of the Buttercup as follows:
“On September 12, 1959, the long-lost steamboat Buttercup was found on the bottom of Long Lake by amateur scuba divers George Boudreau and Franklin McIntyre. The Buttercup was the first steamboat on Long Lake. It was scuttled by the guides in 1885 because it was taking away their business of rowing visitors and sportsmen through the lakes in guideboats.
The same night that the guides sank the Buttercup, others blew up the dam six miles below the foot of Long Lake. It was ten years before another steamboat appeared on the Lake.
Buttercup was part of a grand scheme put forward by Dr. Thomas C. Durant and his son, William West Durant of Raquette Lake, to provide a continuous, comfortable transportation route from Raquette Lake to Saranac Lake by railroad car and steamboat.
Interesting artifacts found in the boat are displayed with it. They include the brass steam whistle, the steering wheel, the steam gauge, some of the spindles that supported the roof, and the axe which was used to cut the hole (on the port side near the engine) which sank the boat.”
Here are some photos of the Buttercup:
Just about everybody in Long Lake knows the story of the Buttercup. In fact, it is so renown that a play was written about it and given by the town citizens a few years back.