We shared the vintage photo above on the Essex on Lake Champlain Facebook page and invited our viewers to play some Vintage Essex Trivia. Could they tell us about the scene this photo captured? Where is this? Does anyone recognize the building? The boat? The men on the dock? When may the photo have been taken?
Take a look at the conversation generated about the photo below and find answers to some of the questions!
Rosario Castronovo: When was this photo taken?
Christine Herrmann: I know the location but know nothing of the boat. This photo was taken way before my time!
Rosario Castronovo: I was trying to figure out if this boat possibly ferried people of color across to Vermont circa 1850.
Christine Herrmann: Actually, I think the boat is a steamboat similar to the ones that came into the bay on Saturday, July 27, when I was on the ferry headed back to MA. I have several pictures from that day.
Greater Adirondack Ghost and Tour Company (Plattsburgh, NY): Wow, what a great photo. That’s the steam yacht Kestrel, owned by Samuel Keyser. The Keyser family used the Kestrel while summering in Essex and she was a regular sight on the Lake from the 1890s until the late 1930s. This beautiful 19th Century yacht still exists today and I’ve actually had the pleasure of seeing her first hand, she’s a magnificent vessel…
George Davis: You ghosty folks sure are good. Well done. And extra credit since you’ve seen the Kestrel in person, up in the 1,000 Islands, I imagine. Right?
Greater Adirondack Ghost and Tour Company (Plattsburgh, NY): Thanks! We were visiting Alex Bay this past summer and went out to see Boldt Castle. Admission also covers the Boldt’s boat house over on Wellesey Island which we had never visited before. Sitting in one of the slips inside the boathouse was the Kestrel in all her glory. It took a minute of head scratching and “hmmm…where have I seen this boat before” until it finally clicked. It was a bit of a jaw dropping moment. I had no idea the yacht even still existed, but she’s an amazing survivor.
Amy Guglielmo: Is that Rosslyn boathouse?
That’s right, this is a photo of Rosslyn boathouse on Lake Champlain in Essex, NY. The yacht docked there is the Kestrel, and given the dates that it roamed our lake we can assume that the photo was taken at some point between the 1890s and 1930s (probably on the earlier side of those decades). The information provided above by the Tour Company concerning the yacht’s history and its current location is accurate. Maybe you’ll visit it in the 1000 Islands someday?
One more piece of that story you may not have known is that the Kestrel was the purpose behind the creation of the Rosslyn boathouse:
Although Rosslyn boathouse is part of the original W.D. Ross family property, it was not constructed by or for the Ross family. The turn-of-the century building was most likely designed and built for the Keyser family to accommodate their 62 ft. long, steam-powered yacht, Kestrel. Constructed entirely of mahogany, the yacht plied Lake Champlain’s water the 1890’s through the 1930’s, becoming as much an iconic vessel in Essex history as the boathouse has become in the century since it first adorned Merchant Row. (Rosslyn boathouse)
- Vintage Postcard: Rosslyn/Essex Waterfront (www.essexonlakechamplain.com)
- Former Rosslyn Bathhouse (www.essexonlakechamplain.com)
- Essex Aerial View (rosslynredux.com)
- Vintage Postcard: Essex Bay (www.essexonlakechamplain.com)
- Rosslyn Boathouse Doodle on a Slate (rosslynredux.com)