Finding a “Boom Log” in Schroon Lake

Finding a “Boom Log” in Schroon Lake

“Boom Log” Found in Schroon Lake

On Friday, July 1st, 2016, my daughter and her husband were helping me scout for logs along the northeast shore of the lake. We usually spread out with our masks & snorkels and can usually cover a good stretch of shoreline in an hour or so.

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On this particular day we were not seeing as many logs as I had hoped. Then, as I was swimming over a slightly deeper swath, I saw something I had never seen before in person – though I immediately knew what it was. There on the bottom was this long, straight log with old, rusted hardware on both ends. The bulbous, rusted hardware consisted of an iron loop (“U”) around each end, and one end also had a large, round “link”, which connected it to another “U” which at one time would have connected it to another log. This was a “boom-log”! And it was 35 feet long.

Boom Log History

Boom-logs, hooked together and pulled by steam-powered boats, were used in the logging days when they had hundreds, if not thousands, of logs that they had to move down the lake and get them to the rushing white-water at the outlet of the lake, where the river currents could carry them along from there.

Numerous boom-logs were linked together to loop around a big mass of floating logs so that a steam-powered boat (or two) could usher them down the lake to get them started downriver. They also had “booms” in the Hudson River above Glens Falls (and the sawmills) where they needed to hold back the masses of logs floating down the Hudson from the north, which they needed to hold back while they sorted the logs according to log-marks on their ends and to get them to their respective mills and owners.

According to old accounts, sometimes the logs were backed up for miles above the “Big Boom”. (hence “Big Boom Road” above Glens Falls in Queensbury, which overlooks that stretch of Hudson River)
I had seen pictures of booms before, but had never in-person seen a boom log. But when I saw that log I immediately knew what it was. And I knew it was a piece of history. Because of its length and depth (15′ down), I knew that we wouldn’t be able to haul it up by hand, as we usually do with the standard 13′ 4″ logs we salvage.

Our Boom Log Recovery

So with help from my SCUBA diver son-in-law, we attached “lift bags” to each end of the log, which he could fill up with air from his tank, and the log easily rose to the surface. It was a long ride back towing that big log, but it sure was exciting seeing it out of water for the first time in perhaps 150 years. The log itself was spruce (not pine or hemlock like many logs we find are), so I cut the ends off at about 3 feet, in order to save the hardware. The middle section was prime spruce, so of course it HAD to go to guitars.

These relics now reside with the Adirondack Museum in Blue Mountain Lake, perhaps going in their new exhibit building.