Speaking for myself I would say this trip was the highlight of my year! I am pretty sure it was for the others in our group as well that made the trip out there but I will let them speak for themselves.
We originally were going to visit on Saturday but it was later decided to arrive on Friday so we could tour the Canal St. Cutlery factory during normal operation, on Saturday it would be closed. This way we could see the different steps in the manufacture of the knives. Upon arrival we we greeted by Eric Albers at the entrance and were led into the building, we took a stairs up one flight and we entered the manufacturing area, what a sight it was to see! I was told by Eric originally this part of the building was the original Ulster Knife Co. factory which later was taken over by Schrade, the building was sold and a new facility was built right up the road, but that is another story I will get to that later.
Eric led us through the factory showing us the different steps in the manufacturing process, for guys like me and Glenn this was very educational and of great interest since we both like to tinker with old knives.Many of the old Imperial-Schrade machines are still being used that were bought from the auction as well as newer machines. The first hand knowledge that can be gained from such as visit is priceless. To see the equipment in operation and have it explained to us was very exciting!
A little later Wally arrived and took over the tour as he wanted Eric to get back to work! Here is a man who has many years of experience in the cutlery industry. He has lots of knowledge and we stood there soaking up all he had to offer as we were led through the different work areas, my favorite was the room where they kept the handle material, all that jigged bone, stag, and various other handle material in there was unreal. We also seen bucket of knife blades, bolster forming machines, pin head spinners, etc. It would take pages to list all the stuff we seen. Let me say this, I have never owned a Canal St. Cutlery knife before, these knives are all hand made no expensive machines punching them out by the thousands there are so many hand operation involved in making these knives it has to be seen to be fully understood. I was very impressed with the knives I seen that day and at the end of our tour we each bought a beautiful knife, Wally let us pick and choose what we wanted. This is the last knife factory in north east folks, if you don`t want to see it disappear then we need to keep buying American made knives to support them, please do your part.
We departed the Canal St. factory saying goodby to our new found friends and proceeded to find a place to have lunch, meanwhile I tried to contact LT but could not reach him, we all would have been disappointed if we did not get to meet LT. On our way to the knife museum we stopped at the now deteriorating Imperial-Schrade plant. It was so sad to see the state of disrepair the building was in and let me tell you the size of this place is enormous! After a few picture taking opportunities we departed for the museum. We waited for Eric to get off work and we met him at the Warwarsing museum, to our surprise LT was waiting there as well and a few minutes later Dr. Richard Craft arrived! We all shook hands and eventually made it into the museum. Lt gave us a step by step guided tour which lasted several hours. There is only a fraction of what could be displayed there but what Doc Crafts Napanoch ax and knife collection is incredible. Lt`s Schrade knife collection is a marvel and through a generous donation from The National Knife museum they have a lot of primo pocket knives displayed. It is one thing to visit a web site and look a pictures of knives and a totally different thing to have someone like LT and Dr. Craft who are so passionate about the history of the knives give you a tour and first hand knowledge of their experiences with the knives and the people who made them.
Many subjects were covered in our conversations but in reality we could have talked for days on end and still not covered everything. I want to thank Richard, Eric, Doc Craft, Wally and all the others we met and talked to on this trip, we have not even scratched the surface and as LT has mentioned we need to visit his home and view the the numerous other knives and cutlery related items he has so graciously offered to all who want to see them. I must say without this group of men this history would be lost and I can`t say enough how impressed I was with each and every one of them, the knowledge, passion and accommodation they provided for our group went above and beyond what we expected. Honestly the highlight of the day was meeting all these fine people.
To all who read this, if you have the ability to visit this museum please do so they need your support to maintain what has been created here and you will be impressed with the the people you meet and talk to I am sure. I unfortunately did not bring a camera but Glenn and the others did, so they will post some pictures of some of the things we seen on our visit. This is probably the longest post I ever made on this web site and it barely covers what I could say about this trip, sorry I went on and on.
LT as long as I am sucking air next year please expect me to take you up on your offer, the crown royal and venison sound very good to me!