On Old Beer Cans And History

Mike Jarboe and his beer-can collection in 2000.  Photo by Richard Lovrich.
Mike Jarboe and his beer-can collection in 2000. Photo by Richard Lovrich.

Yesterday I skied to Burntbridge Pond deep in the Cranberry Lake Wild Forest. About four miles from the road I came across a historical artifact: an old Black Label can hanging from a branch.

It reminded me of a humorous essay by Mike Jarboe, “Happiness in a can,” that we published in the Adirondack Explorer in 2000. Mike wrote about scavenging for old beer cans at a dump below Death Falls near Raquette Lake.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA“Ah, nature: the crisp, invigorating Adirondack air, the sound of Death Falls roaring behind us, and mounds of 40-year-old Utica Club and Carling’s Black Label cans,” Mike wrote. “The Black Labels were so common that we were unable to walk without crushing dozens of the little keepsakes underfoot. It must have once been the beer of choice for visitors to this wonderful spot.”

After the story appeared, we received a letter from the state Department of Environmental Conservation notifying us that collecting beer cans in the Forest Preserve was illegal. The cans, we learned, were historical artifacts.

So I resisted the temptation to put the rusty can in my backpack. It remains hanging on a branch beside the trail for others to admire.

Click here to see a vintage “Mabel, Black Label” television commercial.


About Phil Brown

Phil Brown edited the Adirondack Explorer from 1999 until his retirement in 2018. He continues to explore the park and to write for the publication and website.

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