One hundred and forty six years ago, in the summer of 1869, the Adirondack Mountains were overrun. Thousands of urbanites from Boston, New York City, and other civilized regions along the east coast, left the comfort of their homes and rushed into the unknown wilderness. They went seeking a storied wilderness of great beauty, restorative and even curative powers. These adventures were informed by one man, a preacher from Boston. They heeded his words and followed.
The preacher from Boston was William Henry Harrison Murray (“Adirondack Murray”). Murray’s book Adventures in the Wilderness gave rise to the “Murray Rush” and “Murray’s Fools,” the movement and moniker applied to those citizens who ventured into the wilderness and found themselves, at first, unprepared for its obstacles. Despite severe challenges, the brave souls who sought out the restorative Adirondacks that Murray wrote about that first summer of 1869, and who often did not make it into the woods due to logistical log jams, did not give up. From 1870 to 1874, Murray’s Fools poured into the Adirondack region with much success. Murray’s advocacy of restoration and recreation found a willing ear among the growing middle class of late 19th century America. Not only did the vacation begin to be recognized as a necessary part of urban life, wilderness appreciation increasingly became a marker of social class.
It was in the spirit of Adirondack Murray and the determination of Murray’s Fools that my wife, Sarah, and I began to dream about starting our craft distillery. Soon after, we found that dreaming was not enough for us. We needed to act. That meant taking classes, reading books, and studying the industry we inspired to join. Those preliminary acts culminated in obtaining our Basic Permit from the Alcohol & Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau – the permit that allows us to distill spirits.
With our federal permit in hand, we are embarking on the next phase of putting our dreams into action – setting the distillery up and obtaining our New York State permit. Like the travelers to the wilderness of the early 1870s, we face many unknowns and challenges; but also the promise of something wonderful.
"We live within-doors too much to be happy. We should seek more variety. Life becomes too much of a routine, an exhibition of one and the same experience. We should open ourselves up to the exhilaration of incident. We should go forth and stand in the midst of many objects, and rejoice our eyes with varied sights and court contact with the accidental and the romantic." - W.H.H. Murray | From Lake Champlain and Its Shores (speaking about Outdoor Life)
Co-founder of Murray's Fools Distilling Co. | Altona. NY