Colleen Smith, a Long Lake resident recently re-launched a guideboat on Long Lake, NY in July of 2019 after acquiring the boat originally built by her grandfather George W. Smith in Long Lake, NY in the early 1900’s.
Gordon Fisher of Long Lake, spotted a listing for the boat in a magazine and recognized it as being a Long Lake Guideboat, but was unsure of the builder. Fisher contacted Long Lake boat builder Bunny Austin about possibly brokering the vessel on behalf of the owner who was living on Lake Champlain where the boat had been in their family since the 1950’s. Bunny turned the brokering of the boat over to his nephew, boat builder, Keith Austin. While Keith took on the boat with plans to sell it, his wife, Debbie Austin was re-caning the original seats when she spotted the cursive signature Geo W. Smith inscribed on the frames of all three of the seats.
The boat was likely built around 1907 around the time that George W. Smith was operating a boat building shop on North Point Road in Long Lake, NY. A mutual friend knew of Colleen’s connection as the granddaughter of Long Lake guideboat builder George W. Smith and mentioned the boat had recently been listed for sale. Colleen jumped at the opportunity to purchase the boat and return it to the waters of Long Lake.
Colleen was able to purchase the boat in 2018 and launch it at Endion on July 19th, 2019. Three generations of Smith’s were on hand to witness the soaking and launching of the watercraft. Long Lake native Gail Emerson was also on deck offering assistance. Gail’s grandfather Wallace Emerson was a contemporary of George W. Smith and the two granddaughters stood proudly side by side on the shores of Long Lake for the historic re-launch.
From “The Raquette, River of the Forest,” by Charles W. Bryan, Jr. 1964. “Long Lake should be famous in Adirondack history of its association with that remarkable light craft known as the “Adirondack guide boat.” It is not to be doubted that Long Lake played a major role in the development of the craft”
written & photo by Alexandra Roalsvig, Director of Parks, Recreation & Tourism for the Town of Long Lake (unless otherwise noted)