Adirondack Journal — An Adirondack Guide: Hunting for a Name


A classic part of North Country lore, the historic Adirondack guide is a symbol of individualism, the wilderness, and a way of life now past. The guide is also a symbol of the Adirondack Museum. A guide carrying a guideboat has served as the museum logo for the past fifty years.

The names of well-known guides roll on like a who's-who of the Adirondacks: Alvah Dunning, Mitchel Sabbatis, Ruben Cary, John Plumbley, "Old Mountain" Phelps, John Cheney, and Paul Smith before he became better known as a hotelier and entrepreneur, are among the hundreds of guides who plied the trails and waters of this mountainous region.

The museum guide has never had a name. As you continue reading, however, you will discover that the situation has been remedied. First, a short history lesson.

In the late 1800s, the Adirondacks experienced its first tourism boom. Visitors — primarily from urban areas — flocked to the North Country to "recreate." People who actually lived in the Adirondacks soon learned that the tourists who came to the woods needed them.

Adirondackers knew where to hunt and fish; they knew how to build boats and bark shelters; they knew how to start a campfire and cook what they'd caught. Above all they knew their way through the forest and along the lakes and rivers that threaded through the vast isolated region where they lived.

Men, and eventually women, who had always fished, hunted and trapped to feed their own families now hired themselves out as guides to these "sportsmen" or "sports" as the visitors were called.

Traditionally, an Adirondack guide was responsible for the food, shelter, transportation and safety of his party. He made all the preparations and bought all the supplies necessary for a stay in the woods lasting anywhere from a week to a month or more. He also furnished the boat, which was used for traveling, fishing, and hunting.

The guide did everything he could to make sure the trip went smoothly and his customers were satisfied. He was woods-wise and independent, a skilled hunter, fisherman and cook, and a shrewd judge of character. He was also a teller-of-tales (some pretty tall) and not above pulling the leg of a green horn "sport" from the city.

In the fall of 2006, in anticipation of our 50th anniversary celebration, the museum announced an essay contest, "Hunting for a Name." Students in grades 4 through 6 attending schools within the Adirondack Park were invited to submit an essay to give "our" guide both a name and a historical identity.

The guidelines for the contest asked that students research the history of guiding, explore Adirondack history, and delve into their own family history. The students were encouraged to interview family members or residents of the local community. The student's choice of an appropriate name was to be grounded in historical reality. Eighteen young people submitted essays.

A group of impartial judges — community members and museum staff — read every essay with care and selected the winning and the second place entry. The judges considered how well the writers incorporated regional or family history, evaluated grade-appropriate research and writing skills, looked for creativity, and of course, thought carefully about the choice of a name.

The winning name is "Adirondack Ab" suggested by Sydney Hinckley, a sixth grade student at Indian Lake Central School, Indian Lake, New York. Morgan Payne, a fifth grader from the Town of Webb School in Old Forge, New York offered the second-place name, "Asa Payne." Each girl received a United States Savings Bond and gifts to share with classmates.

The Adirondack Museum is pleased to introduce Adirondack Ab to the world in the words of Sydney Hinckley:

Adirondack Ab

"When I think of the Adirondack Museum, I think about its beautiful logo. Albert "Ab" Hall, a local man in Indian Lake, posed for the guide boat statue at the Boat Building. The museum then based their logo on this statue. So, when I think of the Adirondack Museum I think of Adirondack Ab.

Albert Hall's personal life was adventurous. His parents were Olive Parker and Theodore Hall. Albert's mother was a seamstress, and his father was a logger. He was born on April 21, 1921 and died October 5, 1986. He lived in a white house on Pelon Road in Indian Lake his entire life. He had five brothers and one sister. He and three of his other brothers were in World War II at the same time.

Albert first met the future Mrs. Hall when he was helping build a house right next to her house. Her maiden name is Hazel King. She worked at the Adirondack Museum for many years. The Hall Family has been in the Adirondack Region for as long as anyone can remember!

Albert Hall went to school at Indian Lake Central School until about 13 or 14 years. He left school to work and serve in the army. Ab started guiding when he was 15 years old. He was a licensed hunting guide for over 35 years. He was a perfect craftsman and could build or fix anything. He was a local Indian Lake man who loved to hunt, fish, and trap. He was also a lumberjack for a time before he began working in the Maintenance Department of the Adirondack Museum in the 1960s, at which time posed for the Boat Building statue.

Albert Hall was a man, like many others living in the Adirondacks. To me, however, he is a hero. He accomplished a lot of positive endeavors during his lifetime and didn't waste his natural talents. He is set in our hearts forever and represents the history of the Adirondack Museum logo. The Adirondack logo should be named Adirondack Ab after Albert Hall because he represents the true Adirondack identity of Blue Mountain Lake, Indian Lake, and the history of the Adirondack Park, as a whole."
Sydney Hinckley, Grade 6
Indian Lake Central School
Indian Lake, N. Y.

The Adirondack Museum's guide will be known as "Ab" for at least the next fifty years! We are grateful to all of the teachers and students throughout the Adirondack Park who took part in the contest, and are proud of the museum's role in encouraging young people to investigate local history.