Town Tinker Tubing celebrates 35 years of fun on the Esopus
by Jay Braman Jr.
Thirty-five years ago, Chichester resident Harry Jameson had an idea. He was ready to launch his appliance repair business, which he called “The Town Tinker,” but with start-up funds scarce, Jameson thought there might be a more profitable use of his time and the old barn on Phoenicia’s Bridge Street that housed his repair service.
What would happen, he thought, if he collected a bunch of large inner tubes and rented them out to people to ride the waves of the Esopus Creek, just a hop, skip, and a jump down the road? That, he thought at the time, might get him enough cash to get that repair business going.
35 years later...
Well, he gave it a try, and the rest, as they say, is history.
Town Tinker appliance repair never happened, but three-and-a-half decades later, Jameson’s Town Tinker Tube Rental is still providing whitewater equipment for adrenaline seekers to come and experience the intensity of the rapids on that creek.
“Tubing the Esopus has become one of the best thrill sports in the Hudson Valley,” says Jameson, who is known locally as “The Master of Tubology.” It is a nickname well deserved. A local pastime for years, Jameson single handedly transformed tubing into a major sport in the Catskills.
Over time, the equipment has become safer and more sophisticated. In 1979 all you needed was the tube. Now there are giant tubes, with seats if you want, helmets, life vests, and Jameson’s trademark fleet of “Tube Taxis” that shuttle thrill seekers to different locations on the river.
Town Tinker has two courses, novice and expert.
As the name implies, the novice course is for first-time tubers and those who prefer a gentler ride down the creek. The expert course is for more experienced tubers. Each course is about two-and-a-half miles long and each takes about two hours. The novice course begins near the Town Tinker headquarters on Bridge Street. This course has a variety of exciting rapids, fun flumes, and calmer stretches just made for drifting. At the end of this course, Town Tinker Tube Taxis will be transportation back to Bridge Street.
The expert course, which is definitely more challenging and contains the best of the whitewater, begins two and-a-half miles upstream from headquarters. Transportation to the entry point is by Town Tinker Tube Taxis.
“Along the expert course, you’ll encounter larger, faster sets of rapids with names like Railroad Rapids and The Chute, said Jameson. “Any way you like it, you can find it on the Esopus Creek.”
If you’ve never tubed before, there the expertly trained Town Tinker staff who will rent you all the equipment you need, as well as give you the required tubing instructions and safety tips.
Jameson warns that the Esopus Creek winds its way from the Catskill’s highest peak, Slide Mountain, through beautiful mountain scenery, and like any good mountain stream, it picks up speed as it goes. The course begins upstream from the Town Tinker and contains the best and most extreme class II whitewater the Esopus has to offer.
“The Esopus Creek is not a lazy river and has rapids with one to three foot waves,” he said.
Town Tinker Tube Rental is within walking distance of shops, eateries, lodging, and camping facilities.
The Town Tinker is open daily from Memorial Day weekend until Labor Day Weekend and by reservation only on weekends through September.
If you like getting your thrills in the great outdoors, check out www.towntinker.com, or call 688-5553 for details.