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The Black River in Winter

The Black River originates in the foothills of the Adirondacks and flows west to Lake Ontario in Upstate New York. It gets its name from its dark-colored water, stained by natural tannic acid from slowly moving through vegetation in the Adirondacks. I took most of these photos from a bridge in Watertown, but got a couple of shots in Dexter, Brownville, and Great Bend as well.

Self Service General Store

This former gas station and general store was located at the intersection of State Routes 180 and 12E in the tiny community of Limerick, north of Dexter, New York.

Abandoned Paper Mill in Deferiet, New York

In 1899, the St. Regis Paper Company built 52 homes, a general store, and a hotel on a manmade island in the Black River and called it Deferiet. The St. Regis Paper Company at one time employed hundreds of Italian, Hungarian, and Polish immigrants, and up to 1,500 people lived in Deferiet. Today, Deferiet is home to less than 300 residents. The EPA and the village consider the old mill an environmental hazard.

All-American Diner Tour: Friede’s Diner in Watertown, New York

Located on Court Street near the Black River in Watertown, New York, Friede’s Diner is a greasy spoon serving up affordable breakfast and lunch to a local clientele.

I had an interesting experience at Friede’s. As I walked in and sat down, I got the feeling I was out of place. The waiter (or owner?) asked me what I wanted without even handing me a menu. It’s on a sketchy street with a rundown bar and a few abandoned buildings, so maybe they’re used to regulars who always order the same thing.

I ended up ordering an omelet with toast. The toast consisted of huge slices of homemade bread, which was delicious, but my soda came in a can (a pet peeve of mine). Friede’s also only takes cash and their ATM was busted, but thankfully the owner let me run to a nearby gas station. I guess I look like a trustworthy guy.

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