Artifacts On Display At Bemus Point Historical Society

Earlier this year when the Fenton History Center in Jamestown dismantled their Lake Room and offered to loan the contents of that room to local historical institutions, the Bemus Point Historical Society was quick to respond. Within days a “deal was made” and some of the great Lake Chautauqua artifacts are now on display at the Bemus Point Historical Society Museum on Alburtus Avenue in Bemus Point.

“We were excited to have some of the Lake Room items housed within our walls for a few months and, to be sure, they have proven to be valuable ‘visitors’ within our museum,” said Bob Terreberry, historical society co-president.

The items arrived and were displayed in time for the Society to introduce them at their semi-annual History Show and Tell meeting.

“Members were very interested in the items we had and many of the more senior members were actually familiar with the joys of using these devises on the Lake Chautauqua ice,” Terreberry said.

There were three winter recreational items that comprised the loan. The Skate Sail was the most popular. This sail was held in place behind the skater and he or she would then be whisked down the lake under wind power. This precursor of today’ skate sails, wind sails and wind surfing boards is a fine example of the winter fun and games that have long been offered by a lake’s frozen surface.

Another piece in the display is a red, wooden kick sled. This particular sled, from around 1925, was made at the American Manufacturing Company which is now known as The Fancher Chair Company. The sled offers the passenger a comfortable seat while a skater behind the sled holds on to handles that are part of the back of the seat, and then “skates in very long strides to whisk the passenger over the lake’s frozen surface”.

The third item displayed is a fine example of a pair of vintage ice skates that are made primarily of wood and leather. The blades are metal and the skates strap onto the skaters shoes or boots. There will be little fancy skating accomplished on these rigid skates.The BPHS also has another winter recreation item on display. That item is a unique ice fishing devise constructed by Larry Nelson who lived in Warner’s Bay starting in the 1930s. Nelson and his family enjoyed their Warner’s Bay “little bit of heaven” for 77 years. Nelson’s devise is a combination seat, fishing pole and cooler that took up little room in his collapsible ice fishing coop also of his own construction.

“Long before recycling/repurposing became popular, my dad used scraps of all sorts to build his coup and his fishing rig,” said Joanne Nelson, Larry’s daughter, during the BPHS History Show and Tell event when she presented her dad’s invention to be displayed at the Museum.

The Bemus Point Historical Society is pleased to have the opportunity to display the loaned Fenton and Nelson items.

The historical society chronicles the Town of Ellery and Bemus Point. They sponsor work with the 4th Grade at Bemus Point Elementary School and also present a serious guest speakers’ schedule. Please check the website at for information about upcoming events and open houses.