Friday, September 18, 2015

Scenic Driving Tour, Lake Country

FRIENDSHIP: We didn’t know what we would find on the Lake Country Tour but in a few miles we started calling it the fall foliage/ winding motorcycle road/ pumpkins and tractors tour. When the leaves fully turn, it will truly be a gorgeous drive with even more pumpkins for sale along the road.
                The Allegany County Scenic Drives brochure proposes that drivers start the Lake Tour in Friendship and head toward Cuba on Route 20 and there are some blue road signs to show the way but we had morning errands to do northward and so started in Friendship but headed toward Belfast on County Road 17. At that intersection is a sign advertising Nightmare Hay Rides in Ellicottville, celebrating 25 years of spookiness. That sign may have put us in the mood for fall.
                As for Route 7, I’m calling it Metal Roof Road. The 14 mile stretch we covered had 31 metal roofs. We acquired a metal roof a few years ago and understand how significant such an investment is. These were dark green, bright blue and functional black roofs. Some old building roofs were past their gleaming prime and closer to rusty charm but those weren’t included in my count.
Round hay bales were in fields and piled in
farmyards. These are for sale and ready to deliver.
                The hills along Route 7 were getting glints of gold and some sparks of red. Rick declared that Route 7 and several other roads were, “good motorcycle roads with turns to lean into.” Many were newly paved and smooth roads with clean yellow lines are always inviting.
                We saw signs for “White Creek Honey” and “Ducks For Sale” near a truckload of round hay bales and Amish children swarming over the swing set in front of their school. Many Amish Buggy signs are posted there.
                Outside of Belfast, we stopped at On The River Farms where we met Steve DeMarte. This farm stand offers cut flowers, corn, pumpkins, squash, beets, potatoes and other produce in addition to processed beef and pork and eggs- chicken or duck. Call 716-560-5594 or check for updated lists.  
               We learned that years ago there were 30+ dairy farms along Route 19 in Allegany County with plenty more elsewhere. Back then, DeMarte said, a person could get along on 70% of the monthly milk check, no worries. Now small farmers are losing money, spending more to produce milk than they can sell it for, and letting their cow herds gradually disappear.
                He also talked about testing soil, spoke about good and bad points on both sides of the GMO (genetically modified organisms) debate and about how he’d like to turn his milk into value added products rather than selling it outright. Cuba, after all, once set cheese prices for the entire US.
                Taking off with what only one of us thinks of kindly (Hubbard squash) we headed toward Belfast. A person might go to the Bare Knuckle Boxing Hall of Fame in Belfast but it is necessary to make prior arrangements with Scott Burt at 585-610-3326 or by going to
                There are some nice antique shops on Main Street in Belfast as well as many places to eat. For plants, there is garden stand north of town. Bob’s Barn is at the intersection of Route 49 where we turned left to continue our tour while on the right was an access point to the Genesee River, part of the Genesee River Wilds project.
                We drove past The Lodge, Joe and Nancy Fusco’s Bed and Breakfast where guests can take hot air balloon rides from the front door. The Lodge is also a great place to stay if one is going to Letchworth State Park, newly named as USA Today’s Reader’s Choice, Best State Park in America.
Rushford Lake
                Route 49 winds past Rushford Lake where hundreds of lucky people have cottages and boats. The picnic area near the lake looked like it was open to the public but we couldn’t be sure. On the roads we passed mowers, tractors, harvesters and things we call manure-cannons. We were at leisure but we passed many working people.
                When we returned from our errands off the trail we had a hard time finding the place to jump back on, perhaps in part because we were going backwards. We turned south on Centerville Road which turned into 7B and passed the Cuba Rushford School and the Allegany Hills Golf Course.
Tractor line up that caught our eye.
                The driving map indicates a County Road 47 but we actually went south on Cattaraugus’ County Road 46.  Just after passing a huge iron pot and a little church and cemetery, we saw a line of bright red Massy Harris tractors on a front lawn.

                Intrigued, we knocked on the door when there was a pause in the vacuum cleaner rumble and we were happily directed to Roger who was mowing out back.
                Roger J Clark stopped his mowing and said that he always had 2 ½ hours to give anyone interested in his tractors. “You’d be surprised,” he said, “how fast time goes when talking tractors.”
                At the age of 9, the young Mr. Clark, drove his first Massy Harris tractor on his uncle’s farm. By the time he was in high school, he was working on the Priday Farm where 2 Massey Harris tractors rumbled over the fields. One was a 4 cylinder that could run all day on a tank of gas but the other was a thirsty 6 cylinder that demanded a refill at lunch time.
What some of the tractors looked like when acquired.
                He told us about his life as an independent wool purveyor working with Mr Priday who changed from farming to wool trading later in his life. In about 1972, Priday sold his farm to Clark lock-stock- and barrel with part of the deal being those tractors.
                Decades later, Roger Clark retired from farming and just 5 years ago started collecting Massey Tractors. Newspaper ads helped him find his first tractors but now people know he is interested and they call him. He’s in local and national tractor clubs, even Massy Harris tractor clubs.
                All the tractors are a little different – equipment, year, design. Clark often knows a tractor’s history and gives a tour of the line of finished tractors in front of his house. Off to the side are some works-in-progress where he clearly sees the gems under the rust.
                Roger Clark lives at 7578 Rawson Road in Cuba and he invites all to stop and visit. He’d rather you stop after 10 am but he is not opposed to coming out earlier than that to talk tractor in his nightshirt.
Fingerprint kit at Antique Mart
Water Street, Cuba
                After leaving those red tractors we came to Cuba Lake. Generally we travel there with our bikes and take a turn around the lake. Today we stopped at Mak’s Meats and then the Antique Mart on Water Street. If there is an amateur detective inside you, you may be interested in the professional fingerprint kit on the second floor.
At the Cheese Museum,
Palmer Opera House
                 Our other stop was the Palmer Opera House. Wow. It’s fantastic. Eat there or shop but be amazed at the detail in the building and check out the cheese museum too (with a copper pot twice the size of the formerly impressive iron pot). This building is a testament to the volunteers who worked so hard to bring it back to life.
Mike, at Mike and Jen's Garden Stand
                On our way back to the starting point in Friendship, we stopped at Mike and Jen’s Garden Stand. Open daily with food that they grew as well as food they get at the Centerville auction. The stand operates on the honor system and Mike and Jen appreciate the honesty of their customers. We bought pumpkins and peppers and wished them luck with the new greenhouse that may keep the stand going into November.
                Because of our detour, we didn’t accurately measure the length of the drive. Near 50 miles is a guess. We spent about 6 hours driving and visiting but a person could stretch it out to days by shopping more, roaming museums, reading stones in cemeteries, visiting the wonderful Libraries in Cuba and Friendship and seeing the Cuba Block Barn.

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