Boonville, New York, in postcards
by Larry Myers
I'm not at all sure just how a picture postcard record of the history of Boonville NY should be presented.  But from the perspective of this collector, the great train wreck of July 4, 1908, was perhaps the best (postcard) documented event in Boonville's history.  Actually, the wreck occurred a few miles north of Boonville near a small hamlet called Denley.  The most noted photographer to record the event was H.M. Beach of Remsen NY.  His very first photograph of the wreck was this one showing a bystander leaning against the wreckage.  And a lot of bystanders there were, some bringing the horse and buggy and sitting on the ground while others got up close to inspect the damage.  Still others just sat and visited in the vicinity of the wreck that nearly toppled the train into the canal.  Here's a closer view of that canal shot.
Apparently some of the spectators were after souvenirs. See the fellow in the foreground with a heavy sack full of something.  Can you imagine spectators milling around a wreckage like this today?  Finally the crane arrived and began cleaning things up, but not before some of the spectators posed on top of the wreckage for a picture.  Here's a closer view of that crane....and a closer one yet.  I said other photographers were involved in recording the event.  This picture was taken by L.F.Clark, Photographer, of BoonvilleThis postcard had an "AZO" back, but no
photographer was listed.  This one was stamped in the lower left corner "Moore, Boonville, N.Y." as was this one.
Anyway, let's go back down the track to Boonville and stop briefly at the American Express Co. building.  Here we can see the building on the left and a poster-covered building across the street that advertises a "Wild West Show" to be held on August 29th.  Next to that building is the Boonville Hotel, the Windsor Hotel, and then an unidentified building.  Behind the American Express building is the Boonville Depot, with the Boonville Hotel right behind it.  Also behind the depot is the Comstock Opera House Hotel which Carolyn, who penned the postcard, assures us is a "fancy" hotel.
Nice to have a couple of hotels so close to the depot.  Just step off the train and walk across the street to the hotel.  Of course if you were staying uptown, you might want to take this taxi, which would transport you directly to the Central Hotel on Main St.  For you historians that wonder where Central Hotel was, here's a "modern" postcard showing it as the yellow building on the left.  Had the Hulbert House been your choice, you might have opted for this taxi.
If you had come by car instead of the train, you might have stayed at this tourist home, "The White House Farm", for a dollar a day or $1.50, if you wanted deluxe accommodations. Viewers might recognize it as the Bela Jackson farm on Route 12D.  Anyway, let's go sight-seeing.
We'll come back down Main Street by the Central Hotel where a couple of locals are
conversing.  We'll continue down Main St. and cross the bridge over the canal.  Whoops!  It looks like Jack Lynn beat us to it!  A roundabout route takes us to the Erwin Park where we walk across a rustic footbridge.  But we have to retrace our steps to find the stairs to the top of Park Hill.  Wow!  That's a long way up.  Let's hike up a little, then take a picture of the village.  Now that we've rested, we can go up a little farther and take another picture.  Huff!  Puff!  Perspire! Made it to the top where we can enjoy the view.
Let's go back through the village and check out some of the points of interest.  Here's the Odd Fellows Temple. It looks nice without a parking lot surrounding it.  Shall we catch a parade?  Or a greased-pole climb at the Park Hotel? Here's the local school.  And here's one of the classes.  Hey!  You on the lower right, stand still! Your picture's being taken!  Let's go to the newer High School where we can see the graduating
class or the Boonville Band.  The new High School was built on Ford Street.
Let's check out the downtown section where boardwalks cross the road so you won't get your shoes muddy. A magnifying glass on that card shows Traffarn's Bakery, a tailor shop, Pitcher's Parlor Shoe Store, Ryder's Hardware and then a compression of stores and offices which include R.A. Capron, Atty, and Nellis Dry Goods Store.  If you were to stand in the same place the photographer did and point your camera in the opposite direction (in the winter) you'd see this business block that long ago was replaced by the current Foodland Store & parking lot.  At the time of the photo, the block contained a barber shop, Lenway's Ice Cream & Soda Shop, the Boonville Post Office, Oldfield's Music Store, and a couple of unidentified shops. Very cold at that time.  Here's a 1963 postcard that shows the very last view of the Block that was known as the Union Block... and it was very HOT!
Other points of interest include the Masonic Temple where we'll leave the horse and buggy for a moment, the interior of the National Exchange Bank where I'd like to get some 1914D pennies, and a local photographer's where Mrs. Olney and her children are posing for a formal picture. Now let's follow Oldfield's Military Band into the fairgrounds.  Lots of activity at the grandstand. And no shortage of crowds on the midway.
A few years ago I went down to Lee Pontiac to identify this next scene.  As I stood out front and looked across the road I could still see the lone house pictured in the view.  Since then, the house has burned down.  But this double picture shows what the scene looked like "way back when" next to the canal.
Here's the Boonville Creamery and a Don Ryder postcard of Sargent's Chair Factory.  Another time & view of the Chair Factory.  I wonder how many area people still have furniture that was manufactured here.  Still another Ryder postcard shows Fiske's Riverside Park.
If you ever needed crushed stone to fill in that mudhole in the driveway (or in the road), you could hitch up the team to the heavy wagon and bring them here. How pleasant the Polaris Spring House must have been. Our thanks to Marion Shean of Watertown, NY, for sending us a few pictures he took back in 1938 when he was in the Boonville Civilian Conservation Corps, which was near Hawkinsville.  Here’s a view of Camp S-122.  This one shows a group of men getting immunization shots.  Marion is shown here cranking the truck with two of his friends.  These are some of the trucks at the Boonville Camp.  This is an interior shot of the Barracks #4 at Boonville.  Here is a group of the Boonville CCC men taking a coffee break at work.  While the CCC pictures were not postcards, any images of the Boonville CCC Camp and personnel are very rare, and we appreciate Marion's contribution to our Boonville history.  We'll close our yesteryears visit to Boonville with this view of Boonville Mills, which goes to prove that some things never change.  I hope you'll drop me a line if you've enjoyed this visit.


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