The first edition hardcover of this Adirondack classic was released in October, 1969, and has been reprinted many times since. The reason is simple. Rondeau's chosen occupation of "Adirondack Hermit" is fascinating to contemplate. Why would anyone choose to live such a solitary life, far from civilization? How does one even survive in such a place? Those are just two of the questions that come to mind quickly, but contrary to what might be expected of a "hermit," the answers to those questions about Rondeau made him a celebrity. The fascination with Rondeau's chosen lifestyle and humorous quirkiness amplified the more people learned about him until finally he was able to capitalize on his new found fame. By the the 1950's, Rondeau was making paid appearances in magazines, at sportsmen's shows, and working at the tourist attractions "Frontiertown" and "the North Pole." Not exactly activities of a hermit who had withdrawn from society.
In August of 1967, Rondeau passed away. His last few years were spent living in a converted chicken coop behind his friend Richard Smith's house not too far from the trailhead that led to his former wilderness abode. Upon hearing the news of the famous hermit's death, Maitland C. De Sormo began doing research about Rondeau with plans to turn what he could find out into a biography. The resulting book, Noah John Rondeau - Adirondack Hermit, is filled with the kind of fun and adventure that no one could have ever made up. Rondeau's oversized sense of humor and prolific journal and letter writing provided all De Sormo needed to tell a most entertaining tale. Rondeau had elected himself "Mayor of Cold River City - population one," and had created signs labeling the tiny cabins and firewood tee-pees that made up his hermitage with clever names. There was a "Gate to the City, a "Beauty Parlor," and a tee-pee called "Mrs. Rondeau's kitchenette" (even though there was no Mrs. Rondeau.) Of course a mayor had to have a "Town Hall" and a "Hall of Records." He even had a tee pee named "the Pyramid of Giza." Along with Rondeau's storybook city were the wilderness adventures and close encounters with wildlife that Noah captured as a prolific writer. The anecdotes he recorded in letters to family and friends were penned in a unique and beautiful handwriting style that must have made his recipients ecstatic to receive them, and quick to respond in hopes of receiving another. The trick was getting those return letters back to Cold River City. Many of which were literally dropped by Airmail, as local pilots sometimes delivered food, letters and care packages to Rondeau with parachute drops to him at his isolated retreat.
Much of Rondeau's quirkiness is captured in greater detail in De Sormo's biography, which is a fun read and an excellent introduction to "the Hermit of Cold River Flow."
-- Roy Reehil
Interested in a vintage copy of Noah John Rondeau - Adirondack Hermit? We have 11 collectible hard cover copies at The Forager Press Adirondack Bookstore. Several are signed 1st edition copies in nearly new condition and we also have several other editions. Click here to learn more.
If you'd like to learn more, here is a list of other books about Noah John Rondeau and sources to find them.