Millard Bellows, Boatbuilder

Millard Bellows

Millard Bellows was a young fellow who used to make iron stembands for his boats at the local forge on the family property. Millard operated all of the boats for “The Company”, when they first started, the tug boats and passenger boats with steam engines in them. His son, Ralph Bellows, is of the opinion that his father made the first of these, called “The Reindeer”, later “The Adirondack”. But as I remember it, it was built in Champlain, cut into four sections, moved to the Lake and re-assembled.…Old timers living today will also recall the passenger boat “Emma”, run by Paul Merrill and Sons, first powered by steam and then a Palmer engine and later a big Gray 3-cylinder. The boat sometimes made two round trips a day, carrying passengers and mail.

Roy Cootey, in Franklin County Review Collection 2

Letter to the Editor

Route 2, Chateaugay

Chateaugay Record,

Dear Sirs:

I have just read the article in the Record about the [Chateaugay Ore and Iron] Company tug boat “Maggie”, written by the late A. L. Bellows, of Brushton. Some parts of the story I find confusing. I wonder how many people there are today who know that there were two company tug boats. The boat A. L. Bellows describes was the first tug boat, but it wasn’t in use up to the time the company closed down.

Some time during the 1880s, the company officials decided they needed a new tug boat. They had the timbers for the framework pre-cut by a boat concern in Ogdensburg and had them shipped by train and wagons to the iron works at the Forge. My father, the late M. S. Bellows, was at that time building boats on Lower Chateaugay Lake. Lansing Donaldson, who was the Company superintendent, hired M. S. Bellows to build the boat. He did so with the help of two of the Company carpenters. When the Company closed down in 1891 or ’92, this “Maggie” was pulled out on the east bank of the river, where it remained for about 25 years, until 1917. I think some kids set fire to it, but I’m not positive. There are mahy poeple around here now who can undoubtedly remember the “maggie” laying on othe riverbank all those many years. Among them being, Mr and Mrs. Roy cootey, Dave Gardner, Floyd English, Howard Hoy, and others. I was speaking to Dame Merrill on the phone and of course he remembers it.

When the Company closed down, Mr. Donaldson moved to Malone and opened a shoe store, which he ran for many years. N. M. Marshall, who was telegraph operator and clerk for the Company, later was a State SEnator and New York State treasurer.

Sincerely yours,
Ralph Bellows

Fay, Malone, NY

Steamer “Adirondack”

Note on back: “3rd passenger boat on lake; owned by M. S. Bellows. Made first trip around lakes June 20, 1882.”

courtesy Jesse Kenyon

Steamboat “Adirondack” at Bellows Landing

Steamboat “Adirondack” at Shutts’ Indian Point House

The famous steamboat “Adirondack” at the Merrill House dock. Photo taken about 1880.

Steamboat “Emma” (built 1901)

Caption on back: “Emma, in front of Squaw Island [Chateaugay Lake].
House is the one brought up from Banner House by Millard bellows on ore barge.”

However, I’m unsure if this photo is the actual house built on Squaw Island, or if the view is actually taken from Squaw Island, looking west. I’ve seen another reference (?) indicating that this is the Jean Baptiste Gadway residence.


Millard and Ralph Bellows, repairing inboard engine at mouth of Thurber Brook

Partial view of a Bellows Skiff in foreground

Boating party at Bellows Landing, Lower Chateaugay Lake

Jack Hoy (in foreground) and Millard Bellows (in boat, nearest to the dog).

Historic local boat builders’ work on display

MERRILL — Two former Chateaugay Lake boat-makers will be the focus of a presentation on the area’s boating history during Chateaugay Lakes Arts Association Heritage Days.

Hallie C. Bond, curator of the Adirondack Museum, will give presentations today on Millard and Cassius (Cash) Bellows.

Millard’s grandfather was Johnathan Bellows, builder of the Lake House. The oldest hotel on the lakes, it is still in operation today but is now called the Banner House.

“John built a log cabin and then realized the farming wasn’t good,” said Peggy Hoy-Colton, granddaughter-in-law of Millard Bellows. “He became a guide and entertained the `sports’ who came up from the city.

“His son, ,Lewis, enlarged the cabin, and it became the Lake House.”

It was around 1880 that Millard began building the rowboats that bear his name, for the use of guests at the Lake House.

Hoy-Colton said Millard was not interested in running the Lake House and sold it in 1893.

“Millard would much rather be building a boat. He sold the Lake House to the Kirbys and opened a boat shop on Lower Chateaugay Lake.”

Hoy-Colton said it was the Kirbys who changed the hotel’s name to the Banner House.

Millard’s second cousin, Cash Bellows, soon joined with him to learn the business. It was during this period that Millard built many of the powered boats used on the lakes.

“He is known for his rowboats and steamers that were used on the lake,” Hoy-Colton said. “He not only built the boats but piloted them on the lake.”

Upon the passing of Millard in 1922, Cash carried on building boats in the Bellows design.

“(Millard) worked right up until he died,” Hoy-Colton said. “We have in our possession the last rowboat he built.”

She said that, although the cousins worked together, there were differences in the products they produced.

“People say they can tell the difference between a Millard-built boat and a Cash-built boat.”

Lyon Mountain resident Reggie Merrill grew up on the lakes and repaired many Bellows boats at his shop on the upper lake.

“There were still quite a few of the Bellows rowboats around when I was repairing boats. They were a handsome-looking craft, with a nice profile,” Merrill said.

“They were nearly flat in the bottom, which made them more stable and a little easier to handle. You had to treat them kindly to keep them in shape.”

Merrill said he has donated old pictures, boat molds and patterns to the Adirondack Museum.

“Both cousins tinkered with their patterns, partly due to their customers’ requests, but also to further their own craft and style,” he said.

He worked with Cash Bellows briefly but never knew Millard.

“By the time I knew Cash Bellows, he was dying of cancer,” Merrill said.

Richard McIntosh of Lakeside Boatworks in Merrill is restoring a 100-year-old Bellows rowboat that will be on display for today’s festival. His boat-building demonstrations will involve working on the last rowboat Millard built.

“These boats were made for the hotels on the lake. All of the hotels had fleets of these rowboats for their clientele,” McIntosh said.

“These boats were more stable, which was good for visitors from the city.”

He said there was no bridge across the lake at the time, so people had to use boats or the local ferry to get across the lake.

Several rare half-hull models of Bellows boats will also be on display.

“Half-hulls were usually done only for larger ships, such as ocean vessels,” McIntosh said.

“People would buy a plan from someone, with a table of offsets to enlarge the plan. Sometimes, there were mathematical kinks in the plan, so it was better to have them come out in the half-model.”

Richard McIntosh with his restored Bellows Rowboat

Lakeside Boatworks owner Richard McIntosh shows the 100-year-old Bellows rowboat that will be on display at his shop as part of the fourth-annual Chateaugay Lakes Arts Association Heritage Day, being held today.

Restoring a Bellows Rowboat (Modified St. Lawrence Skiff)

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