Your Hometown: Thousand Islands "River Views"
3-D movies have lately become the trend for Hollywood, but in the late 1800’s, Stereoviews became the first 3-D images widely available to consumers. One North Country author and collector has released a re-creation of these images, focusing on the planned community of Thousand Island Park and the surrounding towns and cottages. A viewer is even included to give readers the full experience.
In this week's edition of Your Hometown, Photojournalist R.D. White talks with Potsdam author Tom French as he visits T.I. Park and shows us the existing subjects of the 19th century photos.
To view our videos, you need to
install Adobe Flash 9 or above. Install now.
Then come back here and refresh the page.
JEFFERSON COUNTY, N.Y. -- "When you look through the viewer it does get magnified. The photo is magnified, and you feel like you’re suddenly inside the picture. You can see almost around the trees, but there might be like a poster on the tree and I was like, 'What's that?' As I zoomed in I discovered it was the time table for the ferries and the trains,” said “River Views” author, Tom French, “It sort of became almost an archeological kind of discovery, what was inside these pictures."
"I was writing the book and realized it was going to be a history through these photographs. We thought it was important to start with Ulysses Grant's card because his visit was really the beginning of the tourism industry here on the river,” said French.
"The idea of 3D photography actually began in 1838 or 1839, the same year that the first commercial photography began. As soon as it happened they knew they could make 3D photographs. The cameras themselves had two lenses and they would take sort of two shots that were about the width of your eyes to mimic the 3D perspective that you get as a person,” said French.
“In 1860 the spine viewer was invented by Oliver Wendell Holmes' dad, the Supreme Court Justice's Father invented the handheld viewer and there were millions of them made. That was the television of the day. That was the entertainment that people had in their houses before radio and television,” explains French.
French continues, “The photographs around here were taken in the book between 1870 and 1890. The fellow that took the photographs, A.C. McIntyre, he opened up a shop in Alexandria Bay as well as here at Thousand Island Park."
"I love it because I was born here. I grew up here and I think it's precious and wonderful and I'm so thrilled that I came from here,” said Thousand Island Park Museum curator and resident, Nellie Taylor, “Some people don't like it at all. There are many people that say, well I wouldn't have a place at Thousand Island Park because they have too many rules, you lease the land. I think it's perfect. Thousand Island Park was organized in 1875 and it was really a religious Methodist campground. The town essentially has remained the same in all of these hundreds of years.
“Tom French is my son and he would be dragged along at times while I would be collecting or working in here or whatever it is and he sort of started an interest,” said Taylor.
French said, “I happened to find a card on eBay of Thousand Islands and I purchased it as a birthday gift for my mom and from there we became interested in them and started buying them on a regular basis on the Internet. Now we have a significant collection.” The original stereo viewers have a little glass lens, two glass lenses that you look through which magnify the stereo card as well as create that 3D effect. The accordion viewer that comes with the book also has two little lenses inside of it so it's really the same principle."
"I just think that it's a wonderful place and I think also that Tom's book is wonderful because it brings out that past history. Not only of Thousand Island Park, but of these other islands that had a different situation going but it was still very good. It was fun and most of those places are gone now,” said Taylor.