ROUSES POINT – The inspector noticed small holes in the coffin at the border leading from Canada into the United States.
Following his gut he investigated and found a Chinese national inside.
“The smuggling of Chinese was once as big as bootlegging,” said Mark Barie. “Our county jails were filled with Chinese nationals.”
The Rouses Point business man and his wife, Christine Racine, who works for the federal government, document this story and many more in a book they authored on the history of the International border at Rouses Point and Champlain.
“Crossing the Line” is a well documented narrative of the events which occurred at or near the international boundary line between New York and Quebec. The book includes chapters on the War of 1812, bootlegging, railroads, Fort Montgomery and violence at the border.
It also includes chapters on the Champlain Frog Farm and Chinese smuggling, which the authors document as widespread in the North Country.
Barie and Racine are natives of the Northern Tier.
“Everything stems from the border,” Barie said. “That got us started.
“A lot of people don’t know the origins of the border.”
He explained how the original survey botched the line and suddenly construction had to halt on an American fort in British- controlled Canada.
“To this day, you can go to Rouses Point and find border marks made of cement one mile into Rouses Point,” Barie said.
He pointed out that a frog pond in Champlain started with a shipment from Canada.
And, Barie noted, the Norther Tier played a critical role in the Cold War with its strategic value to the nation’s defenses.
Racine conducted the research for the book. That included a trip to the archives in Washington, D.C.
“Local history has been a passion of mine for decades,” Racine said. “This is our modest contribution to preserving the rich history of our area.”