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Years ago a large tree was struck by lightening, leaving The Water-Witch, a carred stump shaped exactly like a witch. The proverbial pointed cap, the hang-dog nose, the uplifted threatening finger, and even the snakes crawling about her feet - all are there. Standing guard at the entrance to this bay, she seems to threaten all who dare to venture within.

A mile’s paddle into Third Lake Channell brought us to a short-cut trail to the Bald Mountain House. It not being our intention to make a stop at this fashionable hostelry in our present bedraggled appearance, we hastily skirted the house and took the road back to the trail leading up the mountain. As we walked along, we heard a giant of the forest come crashing down, struck by lightening and we could see the flashes playing along the telegraph wires on the roadside.

Bald Mountain is usually a very popular climb but the rain had fortunately come and had prevented all others from venturing the ascent. This was more than satisfactory to us as a crowd of people always spoils a mountain climb.

Quantities of Aster macrophyllus with its broad, hairy leaves and the smaller Aster acuminatus lined the trail. Solidagos were everwhe where, at the summit and on the way up.

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Ellsworth Paine Killip (1890-1968), 1914

Killip’s encounter with the Water Witch in the midst of a lightning storm makes for a thrilling Transcribe Tuesday!

On Transcribe Tuesday, we highlight the efforts of our digital volunteers by sharing portions of transcribed text they’ve created in the Transcription Center. Killip’s tale of exploration in the Adirondacks is part of the Field Book Project, shared by Smithsonian Institution Archives. This transcription also demonstrates that our volunteers have transcribed the text verbatim, complete with some spelling errors. We continue to assess our standards of accuracy and quality for improved searching. 

Killip became the first Head Curator of the USNM’s Department of Botany in 1947. This “Account of a canoe trip through the Adirondacks : my first travelogue” offers a view into the life of a young graduate, undertaking summer expedition in 1914 - five years before joining the Division of Plant staff at the United States National Museum (USNM) in 1919. He would embark on a career in botany that would span over four decades. 

Guess what? You can see the research connections in our collections, just by taking a look (and transcribing!) some of the Passiflora specimens sheets labels projects - many of the pages read “cited in Killip monograph.” Killip’s extensive research spanned botanical expeditions and he wrote widely on plant life.  

As this project is completed, you can download a PDF or visit the Transcription Center to read more about Killip’s adventures as a young researcher. Watch the Transcription Center for soon-to-come field notes from Killip as a seasoned researcher! 

P.S. For bonus points, help expand Killip’s Wikipedia article to more than a mere stub!