The Blacksmith of Speculator
John Buyce was the resident Blacksmith in Speculator, NY, opening his first blacksmith shop in 1889. He had a few shops over the course of his career, but ended up with a shop near the Four Corners in Speculator. With a sign over the door stating, "Odds and unusual things that you can't get done at the other place," he did it all.
Jack of all trades
Buyce was well known as an expert blacksmith and for his horseshoeing techniques. He was also famed for creating elaborate fireplace sets and andirons for Adirondack Great Camps. As the times changed the focus of his work changed from horses to boats to automobiles. But probably what he became best known for was being a boat builder. After seeing the decline in the use of horses, he created the Buyce Boat. Modeled after the traditional Adirondack Guide Boat, there were many notable similarities and differences.
Both the Buyce Boat and the Adirondack Guide boat look similar to canoes, but are rowed with pinned oars instead of paddled, making them much more efficient. Both traditionally also have lower-placed caned seats to help make the boat sturdier and easier to balance.
Traditional guide boats have a yoke as they are meant to be carried with ease by hunting or fishing guides. The Buyce boat was never intended to be carried significant distances, so the yoke was not present. They are also notably heavier than a guide boat.
These boats went on to become popular in not only the Speculator/Lake Pleasant region, but they also gained popularity throughout the country.
Buyce passed in 1947, but his legacy lives on through his work. Stop in to the Adirondack Experience, The Museum on Blue Mountain Lake and check out their fantastic historical boat collection, which includes a Buyce Boat.
Book a stay at the Bearhurst to see the original andirons in the main fireplace, forged by John Buyce himself.
Or stop by the Speculator Department Store where his blacksmith shop used to be located and see if you can find some of his horseshoes now being used as decoration!
The Adirondacks are full of an amazing and rich history. Make sure to visit and check it out for yourself!
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