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Friday, June 17, 2005
Jake and the Buekeye Tree.


I spent three nights at Riverhurst before departing to go further upriver to the headwaters in Potter County, Pennsylvania. My travails there including losing the cell phone I had struggled to add to my budget. That’s covered elsewhere, but as I was leaving Potter County several days later to return to the New York area, the campground owner gave me the go-ahead to call back to Cincinnati to my anchor, Bob Nordloh. We decided Bob would notify Cincinnati Bell of the lost phone and secure a replacement.


Actually, my idea was to attempt to replace the phone in Buffalo when I got to Niagara, and hope that they could engineer a deal with the Cincinnati base of my account. I’m sure I’m not the first person to ever lose a cell phone while away from home. Bob’s idea was simpler. He would secure the phone in Cincinnati, check on unauthorized use of the lost phone and ship the replacement to Riverhurst in care of Jake Kush… At the time I didn’t even know Jake’s last name, Bob took care of it all, and the next day, after finding and talking to Jake, he confirmed that the arrangements had been made.


I took my time getting back to Portville where I was supposed to wrap up with the theater group’s dress rehearsal and photograph the motorcycle riders at the City Limits. I drove through town to the west side of Olean where I purchased a third camera battery - $40 at Radio Shack – and went to a movie. It started to rain while I was at the movie and rained all night; I parked in front of Jake’s office at Riverhurst and waited for daylight. For excitement I took a photograph of my speedometer.


There is an emptied and overgrown holding pond where logs used to be floated into from upriver and from the Genesee Valley Canal extension. The logs were retained in the holding pond until they were processed into lumber, then floated back into the river where many went down river to the Ohio, to the Mississippi, and even to the Gulf of Mexico. Some of them made their way back up the east coast where they were used for housing and other construction. Other products of the new frontier, such as furs and buffalo hides, took the same route.


Jake doesn’t think the canal was the Genesse Valley Canal at all. I had to do some research to confirm this. The Genesse Valley Canal was completed in 1837 and the right of way was sold to a railroad in 1878, when operation as a canal ceased. The length of the canal was 107 miles from Rochester to Olean with most of easily identifiable segments north of Olean through Hinsdale and on. What, then, was this canal to the east to Portville?


“In 1850 William Wallace WESTON came to the Allegany valley the junior member of the firm of WESTON Brothers (Abijah, Orren, and W. W.), who, in company with John G. MERSEREAU, purchased a small mill at the mouth of the Oswayo, remodeled it, and brought eastern methods and the gang-saw to the complete revolution of lumbering methods in this section.  This was the commencement of their operations here and the next year they began to build a mill at Weston's Mills, where a small village has been evolved by their operations. Mr. MERSEREAU was a progressive business man, and believed that the best machinery and the best facilities for manufacturing would make the best goods and insure the best returns, and was prompt in adopting them. He, with WESTON Brothers, built the mills in which they placed the first gang-saws operated on the waters of the Allegany. He was supervisor of Portville in 1863. To him more than to any other man is due the extension of the Genesee Valley Canal from Olean to Portville.” -- Historical Gazetteer and Biographical Memorial of Cattaraugus Co. NY, edited by William Adams, published 1893


Jake took me for a ride around the property on his golf cart. He drove me down the towpath that was the bank of the Genesee Valley Canal and later was the bed of a railroad. We stopped near Butch’s A-frame while he told me the whole story of lumbering. He told me about the big buckeye tree on his property, bigger than any buckeye tree in the state of Ohio. He took me to a clearing where there was a small outdoor chapel, more like a bench, where he conducted some weddings. “Jake”, Phillip E. Kush, had been elected as Town Justice of Portville several times. He took me to the tiny Portville courthouse where he served as judge until retirement, and he told me he was waiting for a test result on his cancer of the liver. He bought me coffee and a bagel at a Dunkin’ Donuts. He sent me to a tiny hideaway on the campground, a bit of a dump, where he told me to get some sleep while we waited for the UPS truck to deliver the cell phone. I asked him where the buckeye tree was, took a few photos, set up the battery charger, and took his advice on the sleep. It started to rain again.


And later he told me he had to chase the UPS truck down the road because he got to the door too late. As I headed out to Niagara Falls, it was tough parting with Jake.

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I'm Going to Cairo
A photographic project, 2005-ongoing
Index to Project Posts:

05/22/2005  I'm Going to Cairo

06/07/2005  Jake and the Rhododendron

06/08/2005  California Suite Rehearsal - NEW

06/09/2005  Portville Auto Drive-In - NEW

06/10/2005  Seneca Nation of Indians, pt i

06/13/2005  Black Monday Strikes!

06/14/2005  Whole Town is Buzzing

06/16/2005  Ken Pennypacker's Taxidermy - NEW

06/17/2005  Jake and the Buckeye Tree

06/19/2005  Ho, hum. It's Niagara Falls!

06/23/2005  Seneca Nation of Indians, pt ii

06/26/2005  Raccoon Rally

06/27/2005  Ganöhsesge:kha:’ Hë:nödeyë:stha

07/01/2005  Babe Ruth Remembered

07/04/2005  Homemade Sauerkraut Jam

07/06/2005  Rain, Mud and Hillbillies

07/08/2005  The Cowardly Photographer

07/15/2005  Seneca Nation of Indians, pt iii

07/24/2005  Last Days in Pennsylvania

07/26/2005  Ship'gp'rt, Beaver & the Law

07/28/2005  Doctor's Appointment

10/28/2005  Lone Tree Ranch

04/10/2006  Next Canvas at Longworth

04/14/2006  Praying the Immaculata Steps

04/19/2006  Sunny Day at Rabbit Hash - NEW

04/23/2006  Annie's Paint Ball War - NEW




There are more photos throughout this blog site and at:'sPhotographs1.html
"They are kind of quirky but when one sees more of the whole scope of work, they really are profound and quite beautiful." - Jane Hoffelt
Photography and text copyright 2005, 2006 by Larry Paxton. All rights reserved.

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Photography and text copyright 2005, 2006 by Larry Paxton, All rights reserved.