Journey's End - Retrospective - Part 2 - The Sweet Stuff

 Jack Ziegler gathering sap with Charley and Bess

Jack Ziegler gathering sap with Charley and Bess

Ralph Curtis first began making maple syrup at what is now Journey’s End Farm in 1934, with a couple of flat metal pans on a stone arch that his father built in the woods part way up the hill, above where Kristin’s house is now.  He was thirteen yearsold at the time.  He would build a fire under the pans on his walk to the Sterling School, walk back to tend the fire at lunch time, and stop on his way home to give it closer attention.  Starting with 50 buckets, he had increased to 225 by the time he left home at age 21.  The family put together a makeshift sap house over the boiling place with poles cut from the woods, used lumber, and sheet metal from old cars. 

 Old Sap House, circa 1958

Old Sap House, circa 1958

Ralph built a more substantial sap house in the valley in 1955-56, soon after he and Marie moved back to the farm, and installed a real 5’ x 12’ evaporator for boiling the sap into syrup.  Buckets were gathered using horses and bobsled, upgrading to a tractor in the early ‘60s.  The number of taps increased to 1600 taps by 1974.  Ralph and Tim built the current sap house in 1974-75, using beams and lumber from two old barns which they first dismantled.  It houses two evaporators, which enabled expanding to 2500 taps as long as there was enough labor to do the work.

 New Sap House during construction, 1974

New Sap House during construction, 1974

 Tim Curtis, Marie Curtis and visitors inside old Sap House, circa 1962

Tim Curtis, Marie Curtis and visitors inside old Sap House, circa 1962

The second sap house was dismantled in 1975, and its lumber lives on in our hen house;  the remains of Ralph’s original boiling shelter still persist on the rock-ledged hillside, surrounded by old and young maples, whose sap runs downhill in plastic sap tubing lines.  Just a few paces east of its stone foundation and chimney, the first hepatica blossoms of spring announce each sap seasons coming end.  

 Ralph Curtis gathering sap for the camera (appeared in This Week in the Poconos, 1975)

Ralph Curtis gathering sap for the camera (appeared in This Week in the Poconos, 1975)