1pm: Roll Along the Hills of Cayuga Lake Scenic Byway

treated photo of a Mail Pouch Tobacco barn

Photograph by Robb North


Chew Mail Pouch Tobacco.

Growing up on a farm in rural Central Pennsylvania, I’ve always been fascinated with these old advertisements, precursors to the modern day blight that is the billboard. Now mostly long worn from the sides of barns, what relics you can find still in existence are faded vintage like an authentic version of a hipster’s t-shirt.

In our modern day war on tobacco, the message may not be the most wholesome, but the application of the advertisement itself is perfect. There is no attempt to establish an emotional bond between the user and the product. No cleavage, no college humor, no 3D animation. Just the name of the product and what the business’ owners would like you to do. Chew Mail Pouch Tobacco.

The single barn I saw with this ad still painted on the side embodied the entire 85 mile drive known officially as the Cayuga Lake Scenic Byway, which weaves in and out of the larger Cayuga Wine Trail, the entire stretch is two lanes, mostly hugging the lake itself on the eastern shore and deviating through more farmland to the west.

The wheels on our particular bus began in downtown Ithaca, with it’s busy streets full of skateboarding kids and all women couples out for an afternoon stroll. The scenic route itself is made up of several actual roads. New York 34 stares out at sailboats praying for wind on the lake. Route 34B cuts east as its parent route leaves the water, mostly rolling you up and down over Play Doh marble hills of green and yellow fields, brown and red barns. Silos tower over farmyards, trees canopy the curves of the road. The lake disappears for awhile. A left turn onto New York 90 takes you back to the shoreline, through a small town or two, before hooking up with a patch of the nation-spanning US 20 through the Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge and connects with NY 89, the route that follows the eastern edge of the lake back to Ithaca by way of Trumansburg, NY.

As that old Mail Pouch Tobacco sign is now so much more than an advertisement, so hopefully will the following photos provide a vastly better idea of what you can expect from this as-leisurely-as-it-gets drive around Cayuga, the longest of the Finger Lakes.

Photograph by Adam Baker.
Storm over Lake Cayuga
Storm over Cayuga. Photograph by Adam Baker.
a bench in front of lake Cayuga, autumn and tree covered
Stewart Park. Photograph by Adam Baker.
a leaf colored path through a tree canopied forest
Sapsucker Woods, Ithaca NY. Photograph by Adam Baker.
trees on a peninsula jutting into a lake that matches the sky
Long Point State Park. Photograph by Adam Baker.
waterfall in autumn forest
Ithaca Falls, NY. Photograph by Adam Baker.
a guy doing a trick nearly completely off of his BMX bicycle, high in the sky
I think he lands it. - Adam Baker. Photograph by Adam Baker.
bright red autumn leaves
Photograph by Adam Baker.
a decaying bridge over a pond, storm clouds hover
Photograph by Adam Baker.
a beautiful multi-colored tree in the forest
Photograph by Adam Baker.
waterfall in autumn forest
Ithaca Falls, NY. Photograph by Adam Baker.
The Muller Chapel is my favorite one since it seems very peaceful even in the middle of a busy day on a busy Ithaca College campus.
The Muller Chapel, Ithaca College. Photograph by Vadim Isakov.
a bee on some purple flowers
Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge. Photograph by David Austin.
an old water tower in a seemingly abandoned warehouse or farm
Northwest Ithaca. Photograph by Joseph X. Burke.
a waterfall flowing over rocks
Buttermilk Falls park, taken on the Autumnal Equinox. Photograph by Michael King, Ithaca, NY.
the magenta and copper rooftop of a barn
Americana Vineyards on Cayuga Lake. Photograph by Barb Dickie.
a neon Open sign against a faded painted sign on a brick building
Fay's, Auburn, NY. Photograph by Kate Loigeret.
a gray barn with a slightly rusted roof which is tilted as though ready to fall in a green field against a partly cloudy sky
A barn sliding off its foundation. Photo graph by Karen Mellott (nybird)