Spier Falls, Moreau, NY

Spier Falls was eradicated by a hydroelectric dam built between 1900 and 1903. That plus the fact that the reverse of the postcard lists the rates to Cuba and other U.S. possessions dates this to 1898 or 1899.

The dam was said to be the world’s fourth largest at the time of its completion. A recent article in the Adirondack Almanack describes how 29 died during its construction, including 19 in a single ferry accident during spring flooding. Nearly all of those who died were immigrant Italian laborers.

In Italiano:

Spier Falls fu distrutto di una diga idroelectrica che fu construito dal 1900 al 1903. Questo, e il fatto che il dritto della cartolina elenca i costi a Cuba e altri territori degli stati uniti significa che il dato è 1898 oppure 1899.

La diga fu la quarta più grande nel mondo al tempo. Un articolo recente nel giornale Adirondack Almanack descrive la maniera in cui 29 lavoratori morirono durante la sua costruzione, inclusi 19 in un incidente su un traghetto durante le alluvioni primaverili. Quasi tutti i decessi erano immigrati dall’Italia.

Bottomless Pools, Lake Lure, NC

The text on the flip side of this card makes this place sound like one of the Natural Wonders of the World. It was a little mom-and-pop roadside attraction, and on a dead-end road at that, so I’ll cut them some slack, but I do draw the line at the word “bottomless”.

In Italiano:

Il testo sulla parte anteriore fa sembrare questo posto una meraviglia del mondo. Era una piccola attrazione a conduzione familiare, inoltre era su un vicolo cieco, così chiuderò un occhio. Però, il mio limite è chiamarlo “senza fondo”.

Park Avenue Tunnel, Ironton, OH

When I was about 22 I spent a week here working at a former coal tar plant that had been classified as a Superfund site. As usual on these trips, there was not a lot for me to do (I was the “quality assurance officer”, little more than a glorified security guard) and I began seeing how many different Ohio and Kentucky town names I could find stamped on the many loose bricks scattered about. The site foreman thought this was neat and he kept it up after I left. A few months later, he sent one of my colleagues back to my office with a large box of bricks, which he delivered to my desk with great effort, swearing the whole time. A nice story, but that foreman was also the most racist person I’ve ever had to work with.

Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupré, QC

This is a basilica in Quebec where people affix their crutches to the pillars when they believe themselves to have been cured. A recent Tripadvisor review notes there were two pillars with crutches, while a century ago there were at least three. I take that as very indirect evidence that the polio vaccine turned out to be more effective than prayer.

Leavitts Falls, Sky Top, PA

A bit more detail on why I gave up on Instagram: the tallest aspect ratio it allows is 1.24, while a postcard is 1.57 (5.5 inches by 3.5 inches). It means you have to crop 7/8 of an inch from every one. You would think that given that 5.5 by 3.5 has been a standard dimension for cards and photographs for at least 150 years and that phone screens are typically even more extreme (mine has aspect ratio of 1.75), that I would be able to post my postcard of Leavitts Falls in its original dimensions.

Bushkill Falls, Bushkill, PA

On family excursions to the Poconos in the 1970s I saw many billboards for Bushkill Falls, “the Niagara of Pennsylvania”, but we never stopped, my parents calling it a tourist trap. I didn’t see the harm in that, but even as a child I knew the Niagara comparison was strained – aside from being waterfalls, they have little in common.

Ramsey Cascades, Gatlinburg, TN

This is the largest waterfall in Great Smoky Mountains National Park at over 100 feet. The postcard, for whatever reason, only shows about the uppermost quarter. A web search reveals many stories about a 37 year old man who fell to his death here while trying to hike across the top of the falls. None of the stories mentions his name, “pending notification of his family”. But it seems there were no follow-up stories after that. When it comes to untimely deaths, I’ve often wondered about how some are able to do so anonymously but for others it is a public spectacle.

Leonard Harrison State Park, PA

This location has followed a typical progression: clear-cut in the late 1800s, then a private tourist attraction in the early 1900s owned by said Leonard Harrison, donated to the state upon his death, reforested by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s and gradually developed into a modern state park.