Mark Twain’s Tiny House

The place where Samuel Clemens, a.k.a. Mark Twain, did much of his writing is an octagonal stand-alone study that his sister-in-law built for him in Elmira, New York. Many of his most famous works, including The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, were written here. The study was later moved to the campus of Elmira College, where it can be seen today.

Mark Twain's Study

Mark Twain's Study, Rear

Twain Study Plaque

The Landscape A.J. Downing Designed at Springside, New York

Springside is a nineteenth-century park and estate built by Matthew Vassar in Poughkeepsie, New York that is now maintained by a non-profit organization and is open to the public.

Vassar, who made his fortune in brewing beer before founding the women’s college that bears his name, bought 43 acres of land on the south side of Poughkeepsie in 1850 and hired famed landscape gardener Andrew Jackson Downing and his architect partner, Calvert Vaux, to design a summer estate for him.

Although Downing died in 1852 in a fire on a Hudson River steamship, Vaux and Vassar continued to work on Springside. Vassar moved into the cottage built on the site; a larger villa was planned, but never constructed, as Vassar preferred the smaller cottage. Vassar lived at Springside fulltime beginning in 1867.

After his death, the property passed on to a series of owners, and was subdivided and merged with other properties, but most of the buildings and the constructed landscape survived mostly intact. In the twentieth century, Springside faced a series of threats from development. In 1969, Springside was listed as a National Historic Landmark, but within weeks, the barn and carriage house were burned down by arsonists. In 1970, the property was sold to a developer. In 1976, the cottage was in danger of destruction. The façade of the cottage was removed to the New York State Museum, and the rest of the cottage was destroyed. In the 1980s, under threat of a lawsuit from preservationists, an agreement was reached to preserve about half of the estate and allow the construction of condominiums on the other half.

Springside is now maintained by a nonprofit organization, Springside Landscape Restoration. Now, most of the pathways have been cleared and they curve among the rocky knolls. The original Beautiful and Picturesque landscape now tends more towards the picturesque, with tangled, unkempt plants held partially in check along the pathways.



South Riverwalk Park in Trenton, New Jersey

The South Riverwalk Park, or Deck Park, was built on top of the Route 29 Tunnel along the Delaware River in Trenton, New Jersey. The design of the park was informed by the archaeological and historical research conducted prior to construction of the tunnel. A series of arches made of different materials (Steel, iron, brick, wood) represent each century of historic occupation of Trenton. The first arch evokes the construction techniques used by Native Americans for thousands of years before Europeans arrived. Plaques inset into the ground record the many milestones of local history. The south end borders Riverview Cemetery; at the North end, steps lead down to Waterfront Park, the home of the Trenton Thunder, the AA affiliate of the New York Yankees.

Arches at Trenton South RiverWalk Park


Detail of arch at Trenton South RiverWalk Park
Detail of arch at Trenton South RiverWalk Park
Delaware River
Delaware River at Trenton South RiverWalk Park
Plaque at Trenton South RiverWalk Park
Bungalow near South RiverWalk Park

Small Vehicles for Overlanding?

A thought-piece on small crossover SUVs for overland travel has some interesting tidbits of information, such as:

The diminutive Lada Niva was the first vehicle to drive to the North Pole, although that discussion raises hackles with Top Gear fans. First or second, it went there, which is an accolade only Toyota can match.

A parachute was involved, which may help explain the controversy. And the Fiat Panda helps show that ground clearance isn’t everything.

Which leads them to ask how good might the newly announced Jeep Renegade actually be for overlanding?