The Thomas Boat Landing was a boat rental and cruise boat business that operated from the north shore of Lake Flower. It was operated at 35 River Street by two generations of the Thomas family, E. E. Thomas and his sons Harold Thomas and Roland Thomas, from 1901 to 1962.
Lake Placid News, August 12, 1921
Thomas' Boat Lines, Saranac Lake, launches Adirondack and Pollyanna leave Thomas' Boat Landing near park, 1:30 for forty mile trip, return 7:45, fare $2.20; leave 2:40 for twenty-six mile trip, return 6:15, fare $1.10 Phone 137-J. Saranac Lake. –adv.
Lake Placid News, July 4, 1924
THOMAS BOAT LINE STARTS SEASON TRIPS
The Thomas Boat Line next week begins its twenty-third season carrying passengers on the Saranacs.
Owing to the death last year of his father, Captain E. E. Thomas, the pioneer navigator of Saranac waters, Captain Harold Thomas this season will be forced to discontinue the longer trip to Middle Saranac Lake. The passenger boat Adirondack, however, will make the usual trip up the Saranac River, around Lower Saranac Lake and returning to Lake Flower and Saranac Lake village.
The Thomas Line this year is the only boat line operating on regular schedule on Lower Saranac waters.
July 6, 1957, Adirondack Daily Enterprise
Scenic Tour On Lake Flower
By JEAN FREEMAN
Our guidepost points the way to scenic boat rides through the Adirondacks' most beautiful lake and mountain country. One of the oldest liveries in the North Country, Thomas Boat Livery at 35 River st. on Lake Flower, offers to the tourist one of the most famous and unique boat rides in the Eastern United States.
First serving the public in 1900, Thomas Boat Livery schedules daily cruises at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. and speed boat rides at any time. Featured tours include the trip to the so-called "Honeymoon Isle" and to the State Locks.
The most beautiful, and perhaps the best known trip offered by Rolin Thomas, your host and owner operator of the Livery, that to the Lower Saranac Lake. The trip is thirty-two miles Iong. Starting at the dock on Lake Flower, the launch "Miss Saranac," takes you through the Saranac into Oseetah Lake, through the State Locks and into the second and first ponds.
"Lake of the Clustered Stars" was the name the Indians gave to Lower Saranac. There are few lakes in the Adirondacks comparable to this lake of many islands. The "Miss Saranac" makes a complete tour of the lake and returns by the same route to the docks.
Words cannot, of course, adequately describe the scenic grandeur that may be viewed along the way. Here may be seen the home of the Algonquin and Iroquois tribes, who named the lakes and rivers. The entire trip into the wilds steeped in Indian legend and lore takes three hours.
In the old days, there were two boats that ran the Lower Saranac route. They were the "Adirondack" and the "Pollyanna," both double-decker boats that could carry 150-175 passengers. Among the famous passengers who have ridden on the Thomas boats was entertainer Al Jolson.
Mr. Thomas, who came to Saranac Lake from Maine at the turn of the century, makes his home at 102 River Street [sic, actually 151 River Street] with his family. Speaking with him a short time ago, we learned that he has very interesting plans for the future.
The keel has been set and construction begun on a replica of a Mississippi River steamboat from copies supplied by the State Library in Albany.
This model, complete with paddle wheel, is being-fashioned from Marine plywood and oak ribbing. It will be propeller driven by inboard motor until the paddle wheel is perfected.
Strictly for kids, the name of the new steam boat will be the "Nancy Carol," after Mr. Thomas' two daughters.
All captains and boats of the Thomas Boat Livery are licensed for the public's safety and comfort. Operating throughout the summer months, the trip on the Lower Saranac is a thrill that tourists and natives alike long remember.
Adirondack Daily Enterprise, January 23, 1979
SARANAC. LAKE - A majority of village board members showed willingness last night to compromise with Stephen Thomas against whom eminent domain proceedings have been started.
Thomas owns an 860-square-foot parcel at the Lake Flower and of Riverside Park, the only parcel within the park area that the village does not own.
Thomas had proposed four alternatives to taking his land through eminent domain.
“I'm very pleased with the reaction of most of the hoard members, and it seems a solution is close at hand,” Thomas said after the third public hearing concerning the village's taking his land.
Thomas' attorney, Robert White of Saranac Lake, gave the board the following alternatives to taking the Thomas land through eminent domain and paying Thomas $1,000:
— The village acquire the deed for $750 and Thomas retain the right to moor his boat on a portion of the land above or beneath, water;
— The village pay Thomas $2,950 for the parcel so he can buy the only other available parcel on the lake from Frank Casier;
— Thomas sell the land at the village's price and retain rights to the portion under water;
— The village leave Thomas' land alone.
Village Attorney Daniel Carbone said the village is bound to acquire the property because it has been accepting state money to buy up the lakeshore properties for the park. Only Mayor Charles R. Keough took a hard stand against compromising with Thomas.
“When the state realigned River Street, I had to take the money that the state and federal appraisers came up with and move my business,” the mayor said. Keough Marina was relocated because of the.Route 86 roadway improvements of the past.
Thomas, whose family once owned all of the Lake Flower area before it was made a lake, emphasized all he wants from the village in return for his land is a place to moor his boat.
Attorney White said eminent domain procedures do not require the village to pay only what appraisers determine as the value of property. “The village has done two appraisals and came up with $1,000. According to eminent domain procedures, it says you give a just compensation, not just a fair market value,” White stressed.
Trustee Ralph “Pat” Howard said he believes it fair to pay Thomas $2,950 so that he may buy the larger Casier property. He mentioned that the village is willing to pay $375 per foot of shorefront for property it intends to buy on Lake Colby from Dorothy Fobare but Thomas is asking less than $100 per foot for his Lake Flower property.
“In the Fobare matter we thought the property was a bargain at $375 a foot,” Howard said.
Trustee Richard Hough said the village should allow Thomas to keep his property.
Trustee John Piekreign asked for a third appraisal.
Carbone and White are to negotiate an agreement soon.
Responding to the compromise, Keough said, “Then anyone who had property taken from them should come back to the village and ask for more money?”
“Not necessarily,” Carbone said, indicating each case is decided on its individual merits.
James M. Odato [reporter]
Adirondack Daily Enterprise, August 1, 2002
Man sets record straight on 'River Queen'
To the Editor:
First of all I would like to thank the Enterprise for its wonderful tribute (Saturday, July 27 edition) to my father, Roland Thomas, and the boat he made famous that was most commonly known as the "Nancy Carol," named after my two sisters. It was my father's dream to build a replica of a famous Mississippi sternwheeler, and after two years of hard labor and help from his friends, his dream became a reality. At this point, however, I would like to point out some inconsistencies in the narrative for historical reasons. The picture being displayed was not taken in the mid 1950s. The Nancy Carol's maiden voyage was on Aug. 13, 1958. The gentleman driving the boat is not my father, but an elderly man named Phil, who worked for my dad and drove the boat part time.
When my father passed away in the mid '60s, the business was sold to Joyce Tyson and Earl Stott, who later named the boat the "River Queen." Phil continued to work for the couple up until the demise of the tour business. Unfortunately, the River Queen was allowed to sink at its dock a couple of times, and the once famous "Nancy Carol" met its fate at the local landfill where it was burned along with a pile of scrap lumber.
For a photo of the Thomas Boat Landing property from the lake, see the bottom of the page for History of Skiing in Saranac Lake.