Almanack Contributor Editorial Staff

Editorial Staff

Stories written under the Almanack's Editorial Staff byline are drawn from press releases and other notices.

To have your news noticed here at the Almanack contact our Editor John Warren at adkalmanack@gmail.com.


Saturday, July 12, 2008

History of Electric Boats at The Adirondack Museum

Although they were popular in the Adirondacks in the 1890s and early 1900s, according to the G. W. Blunt White Library at Mystic Seaport, Connecticut, no one is really sure who founded the Electric Launch Company (“Elco”):

Electric motors that could be used for marine application had been invented by William Woodnut Griscom of Philadelphia in 1879, and in 1880 he started the Electric Dynamic Company. In 1892 Griscom’s electrical company went bankrupt, and Electric Dynamic Company was bought by Isaac Leopold Rice who founded Electric Storage Battery Company (“Exide”). Rice had become interested in Electric Launch Company; they had been buying his storage batteries. He also was interested in Holland Torpedo Boat Company. He purchased the latter and merged it, along with Elco, into the Electric Boat Company in 1899. In 1900, Elco, which had previously acted as middleman by farming out the hull contracts and installing Griscom’s motors and Rice’s batteries, built its own boat-building facility at Bayonne, NJ.

Join Charles Houghton, former president of the Electric Launch Company will present a program entitled “Batteries Included: The History, Present, and Future of Electric Boating” at the Adirondack Museum at Blue Mountain Lake that will be presented this Monday, July 14, 2008 in the Auditorium at 7:30 p.m.

The company provided 55 electric launches for the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago to ferry sightseers over the fair’s canals and lagoons. Elco shifted to gasoline engines by 1910 and had a long life building military and some of the first widely produced pleasure boats. During World War One, the company built 550 sub chasers for the British navy. In 1921 they introduced the popular and (reasonably) affordable 26-foot Cruisette, a gas engine cabin cruiser. During World War Two Elco developed the the PT Boat, an 80-foot torpedo boat with a Packard aircraft engine.

At the end of the war, the company merged with Electric Boat of Groton, CT to form the nucleus of General Dynamics. By 1949, General Dynamics’ CEO thought he could make more money by building military craft and Elco’s workers were fired, the shipyard in Bayonne, New Jersey and all its equipment was sold.

The company was re-incorporated in 1987 but didn’t shift into electric boats again until 1996 the year Monday’s speaker, Charles Houghton, became company president. Under his direction the company began building electric motor boats and electric drives for boats and sailboats.


Friday, July 11, 2008

2008 Annual Adirondack Loon Census

The Zen Birdfeeder points us to the Wildlife Conservation Society’s Annual Loon Census, set to take place Saturday, July 19th:

The Annual Loon Census provides valuable data for the Loon Program to follow trends in New York’s summer loon population over time. Hundreds of residents and visitors throughout New York assist them each year by looking for loons on their favorite lake or river. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Newcomb VIC to Host Climate Change Lecture

According to a media release we received last week, the SUNY College of Environmental Science & Forestry’s (ESF) Adirondack Ecological Center (AEC) and the Adirondack Park Agency Visitor Interpretive Center (VIC) in Newcomb will feature a presentation on climate change during the Huntington Lecture Series at 7 p.m. this Thursday, July 10th at the Newcomb VIC.

Colin Beier (that’s him at left) is a research associate at the AEC. He will present a program titled “Changing Climate, Changing Forests: from Alaska to the Adirondacks.”

Beier will demonstrate that the impacts of climate change in the far north are much more than disappearing sea ice; the boreal forests are changing dramatically, due to increased fire, insect outbreaks and tree diebacks. These are all are linked to climatic changes in the last century. » Continue Reading.


Monday, July 7, 2008

Andy Flynn’s New Blog ‘Adirondack Writer’

Adirondack Almanack gets a lot of requests to link to new blogs and nearly all of them we turn down because they don’t have anything to do with the Adirondacks. By the way, our criteria for inclusion as an Adirondack blog is simple – it should be written in or about the Adirondacks. A new blog from Andy Flynn promises both.

Flynn, from Saranac Lake, reports that he:

Writes the newspaper column, ‘Adirondack Attic,’ which runs weekly in five northern New York newspapers. It features stories about artifacts from the Adirondack Museum in Blue Mountain Lake, N.Y. Andy is the author of the book series, New York State’s Mountain Heritage: Adirondack Attic, with volumes 1-5 in stores now. He owns/operates Hungry Bear Publishing and lives in Saranac Lake, N.Y. During the day, he is the Senior Public Information Specialist at the NYS Adirondack Park Agency Visitor Interpretive Center in Paul Smiths.

A recent post covered his so far unsuccessful attempts to save a historic one-room schoolhouse in Ellenburg Center (Clinton County):

In this case, I contacted the Adirondack Museum to see if they were interested in saving this schoolhouse, No. 11, in Clinton County. Not really. You see, they already have a one-room schoolhouse, the Reising Schoolhouse, built in 1907 in the Herkimer County town of Ohio. The Reising Schoolhouse was located in the extreme southern part of the Adirondack Park. The Ellenburg Center schoolhouse is located in the extreme northern part of the Adirondack Park.

The Adirondack Museum’s chief curator suggested I call Adirondack Architectural Heritage (AARCH) in Keeseville, which I did. The director and I spoke about the situation and agreed it would be a good idea to see the structure first. If anyone can help with saving an historic building in the Adirondack Park, it is AARCH.

So, that’s where we are. If there is any way to help, we’ll try to make it happen. Maybe we’ll get lucky and find someone in the Adirondack region, hopefully in Clinton County, who can help preserve this one-room schoolhouse, an important part of our rich North Country heritage.

Give Andy’s new blog a read, and lend a hand in his latest effort if you can.


Saturday, July 5, 2008

Great Camps of the Adirondacks at the Adirondack Museum

From an Adirondack Museum media release:

Adirondack rustic lodges or “great camps” as their wealthy owners called them, were summer vacation homes. Built primarily of wood and stone and set deep in the great forests, the truly fabulous structures are today both relics of a bygone age and prototype for the contemporary architect, amateur builder, and historian.

On Monday, July 7, 2008, Dr. Harvey H. Kaiser will offer a program entitled “Great Camps of the Adirondacks, 25 Years Later” at the Adirondack Museum at Blue Mountain Lake, New York.

The first offering of the season in the museum’s Monday Evening Lecture series, the slide-illustrated presentation will be held in the museum’s auditorium at 7:30 p.m. There is no charge for museum members. Admission is $4.00 for non-members.

Dr. Kaiser’s talk will be based on his book Great Camps of the Adirondacks. This seminal study of rustic architecture is about great camps built from 1870 to 1930, establishing a style of domestic architecture imitated throughout the country in similar terrain of lakes, timber, and native stone.

Kaiser will preface his observations on the architecture with the history of the Adirondacks and the social forces that created structures that retain their charm and utility, in some cases a century and a quarter after construction. There are fascinating accounts of both the personalities who engineered and financed fabulous great camps, and of the buildings themselves.

When he wrote Great Camps, Kaiser made a strong case for preservation. The destruction of these remarkable structures would have been an irreparable loss, not only to our architectural heritage but also to every individual to whom they are a resource and inspiration.

In his presentation, Kaiser will offer observations on the book’s concerns, the changes that rescued the camps from demise, and the resurgent interest in rustic architecture.

Dr. Kaiser is president of Harvey H. Kaiser Associates, Inc., a consulting firm providing services domestically and internationally in architecture, urban planning, and facilities management.

In addition to Great Camps of the Adirondacks, Kaiser’s current research interest is historic architecture in the national parks. He is the author of Landmarks in the Landscape: Historic Architecture in the Western National Parks, guidebooks on parks in the far and southwest.

The Adirondack Museum tells the story of the Adirondacks through exhibits, special events, classes for schools, and hands-on activities for visitors of all ages. Open for a new season from May 23 to October 19, 2008. Introducing Rustic Tomorrow — a new exhibit. For information about upcoming exhibits and programs, please call (518) 352-7311, or visit www.adirondackmuseum.org/


Thursday, July 3, 2008

Adirondack Park Invasive Species Awareness Week

Adirondack communities and organizations will celebrate the 3rd annual Adirondack Park Invasive Species Awareness Week July 6- July 12, 2008.

WHY: Invasive plants and animals threaten Adirondack lakes, ponds, rivers, and forests, which are precious resources that underwrite the economy of many communities through recreation, tourism, forestry, and numerous other uses.

WHAT: Learn about the issues surrounding invasive species (both plant and animal, aquatic and terrestrial) and about the importance of native biodiversity in the Adirondacks by attending workshops, field trips, lectures, and control parties. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Best Bets: A Fourth of July Adirondacks Guide

On the advice of a reader we offer a list of Fourth of July Events around the Adirondack Region.

Here are the best of the day’s events, a full list of fireworks and other celebrations follows:

Wild Center Film (July 4) Premiering of A Matter of Degrees a film shot for the Flammer Theater’s wide screen. It explores the epic story of the last 250,000 years in the Adirondacks, including ice ages, extinctions and depictions of the forces that shaped the world around the Museum. Shot on location in Greenland and the Adirondacks. Free with paid admission. Shows several times daily. Free with paid admission.

Zucchini Brothers at the Wild Center
(July 4) The Zucchini Brothers will give a free performance at 12 and 1pm today. The Zucchini Brothers offer entertainment for the young and young at heart, and have been called the Beatles of kids’ music. The concert will be held outside in the tent.

Independence Day Ski Jump (July 4,MacKenzie-Intervale Ski Jumping Complex, Lake Placid) a great opportunity to see a ski jump competition in the middle of the summer. Adults – $12 / Juniors/Seniors – $8 . The price includes entry to the competition as well as use of the chairlift and a ride up the 26-story elevator to the top of the 120 meter ski jump tower.

I Love New York Horse Show (July 1-6, Lake Placid) World class riders and horses compete in championship Hunter and Jumper competitions for over $470,000 in prize money. Admission to the horse show is $2.00 on weekdays and $5.00 on weekend days. Children under the age of 12 are admitted free. For a behind the scenes look at the shows, take a guided walking tour offered each weekday at 11:30 AM.

32nd Annual Adirondack Distance Run (July 4, 7:30 am) Lake George to Bolton Landing 10 Mile USATF Championship Race. (518) 792-7396.

Ticonderoga Village “Best Fourth In The North” Fair and Fireworks (July 4) Site of the first victory of the American Revolution. Declaration of Independence readings on Fort Ticonderoga grounds throughout the day.

Schroon Lake Beach Concert and Fireworks (July 4) Hosted by Word of Life, this celebration features a concert and one of the largest fireworks shows in the Adirondacks at dusk.

Lake Placid “Set the Night to Music” (July 4) A day of celebration activities with a parade down Main Street and fireworks set to music. 5:00-6:00, parade through Main Street, 6:30-7:30 Sinfonietta Concert – “American Salute” patriotic music, free, open air concert lakeside on Main Street, Mirror Lake Beach fireworks at 9:45 pm.

Jay Fire Department Independence Day Celebration (July 4) Parade at noon, entertainment throughout the day with food, beverages, games, pull tabs, and bingo. The band “Lucid” will be in the parade and will be playing all day. Fireworks will be at dusk. Each year they try to top themselves with a little bigger display.

Other Fireworks Shows

July 3rd

Glens Falls Summer Jam and Fireworks in East Field (6:30 pm, fireworks at 10 pm)
Hague Elvis Live Show & Fireworks (Town Park, 8 pm; fireworks at dusk)

July 4th

Bolton Landing Fireworks (7 pm)
Indian Lake Celebration (6:30 pm, fireworks at dusk)
Inlet Fireworks over Fourth Lake (1 pm Ping Pong Drop, fireworks at dusk)
Lake George Village Fireworks (9:30 pm)
Long Lake Independence Day Celebration (9:30 am – fireworks at dusk)
Old Forge 4th Of July Annual Fireworks & Band Concert (7 pm; fireworks at dusk)
Queensbury Great Escape Fireworks Show (dusk)
Raquette Lake (fireworks at dusk)

July 5th

AuSable Club, Keene Valley, (around 8:30-9pm)
Corinth NY Independence Day Celebration (fireworks at dusk)
Minerva Day (full days of events, fireworks, garage sales and more)
North Creek – Independence Day Celebration in Ski Bowl Park (12 pm, fireworks at dusk)
Northville Fireworks (10 pm)

July 7th

Athol Concert and Fireworks In Veteran’s Memorial Field (7 pm)

There you go – you ask – we deliver.


Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Lake George Theater Lab Announces 4th Season

The Lake George Theater Lab has announced its 2008 season, its most ambitious ever, including “Four by Four,” an evening of world premiere short plays by a quartet of rising young American playwrights; three free “sneak-peek” readings of full-length plays; a free, outdoor production of “Two Gentlemen of Verona,” part of our annual “Shakes by the Lake” series in Rogers Memorial Park; and a benefit performance of “Chopin and the Nightingale,” the American premiere of a drama with music at the Marcella Sembrich Opera Museum.

All told, the LGTL will present seven new plays – and one classic – from July 10-19:

“Four by Four,” a collection of four new short plays, including “Leo,” an exploration of a hamster’s homecoming by Daniel Heath; “Panopticon,” a comedy by Aaron Loeb about a husband and wife with a few little weapons around; “The Grave,” Gabriel McKinley’s gritty tale of one horseplayer’s blues; and “Three Divided into One,” a drama about letting go by Molly Rhodes. All seven are directed by Rosemary Andress. JULY 10-12; Bolton Central School, 26 Horicon Avenue, Bolton Landing; 8 PM; $15. Reservations: (518) 207-0143.

“Fresh Work At Frederick’s,” readings of three new American plays, presented at Frederick’s Restaurant, in downtown Bolton Landing. With drinks on tap and dinner at the ready, the readings are designed to be a casual way to hear brand-spanking new work – for free! Among the inaugural offerings are “The Swearing Jar,” a contemporary drama by Kate Hewlett; “The Boy From Newfoundland,” a quirky Canadian comedy by Graeme Gillis; and “Away in a Manger,” not your average Christmas play by Jesse McKinley. JULY 14-16; Frederick’s Restaurant, 4970 Lake Shore Drive, Bolton Landing; 7 PM; FREE and no reservations required.

Shakespeare’s “Two Gentlemen of Verona,” the comic fairy tale pitting friendship against love and featuring feisty young gentlemen, intelligent young ladies, servants, outlaws, a duke, a knight, and a dog fight. (Needed: one dog.) Directed by Daniel Spector. JULY 17-19, Rogers Memorial Park, Route 9A; 7:30 PM. FREE and outdoors.

“Chopin and the Nightingale,” a drama about the long-secret romance between the famed composer and Jenny Lind, a beautiful Swedish soprano. Performed with a pair of world class sopranos in the gorgeous environs of the Sembrich Museum, the performance will benefit the Icons of Europe TB Fund, which benefits tuberculosis research. JULY 25, Marcella Sembrich Opera Museum, 4800 Lake Shore Drive, Bolton Landing; 7:30 PM; $20; Reservations: 518-644-2431. (Extra performance: JULY 27, 2 PM).


Monday, June 2, 2008

New Kevin Bacon Ad Campaign for Adk Environment

This past month the Adirondack Council filmed a series of public service announcements on acid rain, climate change, the need for pure water, wilderness and wildlife habitat featuring Michael and Kevin Bacon, collectively known as the Bacon Brothers . [At right: L-R, Kevin Bacon, Adirondack Council Trustee Sarah Collum-Hatfield, Adirondack Council Communications Director John Sheehan, Michael Bacon].

Kevin is the famous movie actor (Animal House, A Few Good Men, JFK, Apollo 13, Sleepers, Wild Things, Friday the 13th, Mystic River, Footloose, etc.). Michael is an award-winning composer, with a long resume of stellar work with PBS films. Together, they formed a country/folk/rock band in 1997 whose first album “Forosoco” includes the song “Adirondack Blue.” Their sixth album is due out soon. » Continue Reading.


Thursday, January 3, 2008

RCPA Names Michael Washburn New Executive Director

Forwarded for your information, a press release from the Residents Committee to Protect the Adirondacks. They have just named a new Executive Director to replace Peter Bauer.

Michael Washburn to head leading regional advocacy group

North Creek –The board of directors of Residents Committee to Protect the Adirondacks announced today that it has named Dr. Michael P. Washburn of Clifton Park, NY to be executive director beginning January 2008. Washburn is known nationally as a leading figure in the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) sustainable forestry certification movement. He most recently has been engaged in private consulting to help progressive forest companies implement sustainability programs. He previously served as Vice president of Brand Management at the Forest Stewardship Council US in Washington, DC, and is a former research scientist at Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies. He brings 15 years of experience in conservation, including roles with the US Forest Service, and Penn State University.. » Continue Reading.


Friday, August 24, 2007

Sketches of Sam Bush by Speedy Arnold

George (Speedy) Arnold plays guitar and sings for the bluegrass band Three Doug Knight, which appears at local bluegrass festivals in the Adirondack region of New York State. The band is most enjoyable and we’ve heard them play several times this summer. Last week, at the Otis Mtn. Festival, I learned that Speedy Arnold also illustrates children’s books. Later I saw him sketching during the Sam Bush set. As with many able and talented people who live in the Adirondacks, Speedy does a variety of things to keep body and soul together. He serves as a school bus driver in the Ausable Valley Central School District, owns and operates Arnold’s Grocery and Likker Lokker in Keeseville, NY and serves as assessor for the Town of Ausable. Information about his illustrations can be found here.

Here are two sketches Speedy did during Sam’s set.


You can contact him about others.


Monday, August 6, 2007

Fox Family Bluegrass Festival – Preview

The 18th Annual Fox Family Bluegrass Festival will take place August 9 – 12, 2007 in Old Forge, NY. The Fox Family’s home is in the Adirondacks, even though they have relocated to Nashville. Fronted by the wonderful voice of Kim Fox, this band continues to host a traditional bluegrass festival. Accommodations are limited and the camping is rough. There are no hookups and the nearest shower requires a drive of several miles. Old Forge is located here, in the southwest corner of the massive Adirondack Park, close to the New York Thruway and I-81. The Adirondack Park, a six million acre state park, is the largest wilderness area east of the Mississippi River, a vast tract of woods, mountain, and lakes. Because many people harbor stereotypes about New York, few recognize that this magnificent wilderness lies with only a few hours’ drive of millions of people in the northeast and the Midwest.

IIIrd Tyme Out

Headline bands, in addition to the host band Fox Family, are IIIrd Tyme Out, Jr. Sisk & Rambler Choice, reunited and on tour, and The Gibson Brothers, one a local band but now a national band of growing popularity which retains its loyalty to the local festivals that booked them when they weren’t so big. It’s hard to tell just now who will turn up with IIIrd Tyme Out. Founded and fronted by Ray Deaton, Bassist and premier bass singer, has announced he is leaving the band and The Bluegrass Blog announces here that Edgar Loudermilk has replaced him. Deaton originally said he would stay the season, but has moved up his change. Mandolinist Alan Perdue has been replaced by mandolin master Wayne Benson, which will add considerable depth to the band. Russell Moore is a long-time standout on vocals and rhythm guitar. Steve Dilling has been with the band on banjo for sixteen years. He’s struggling with distonia, but an injured Dilling is still better than most banjo players. All-in-all, despite their recent changes, IIIrd Tyme Out should continue as a very strong band. It’s always interesting to see how a changing band develops. Watch them on stage as they discover new ways to present their music through the addition of new musicians.

Jr. Sisk has long been one of the premier voices in bluegrass music. When Blueridge broke up as Alan Bibey left to help form Grasstowne and Alan Johnson moved on to Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver (side note: Isn’t it interesting how many bands have former Quicksilver players and how this particular festival features several of them?) Jr. Sisk reconstituted Rambler’s Choice and began to tour with them. This group made one recording with Rounder in 1998. Junior, a resident of Virginia, played with the Lonesome River Band in their early days as well as with Wyatt Rice & Santa Cruz. His distinctive high lonesome tenor and solid rhythm guitar have added depth and character to every band he has played with.

Sarah Jarosz is a fourteen year old mandolin player who lives in Austin, TX. She has received a lot of recognition in IBMA’s effort to promote younger artists. There are a lot of young, female mandolin players out there just now. Sierra Hull and Jessica Lovell are just two of a growing number. Sarah Jarosz has joined this group. If half of Sarah’s professional friends on her MySpace page have seen and heard her, she’s likely to be worth your time, too. Aiophe Donavan of Crooked Still offers quite a comment.

The Gibson Brothers

The Gibson Brothers of course need no introduction to readers of this blog. Simply put, we believe this group is among the premier bluegrass bands in the nation. As their national recognition increases, they have lit up audiences from Yakima Washington to Myrtle Beach. No longer a regional band, the Gibsons originated in Ellenburg Depot, NY, only a few miles south of the Canadian border, but their characteristic brother harmonies and very strong instrumental support are without peer. Watch Eric Gibson, who is one of the few lead singers who picks effectively while singing. He has yet to receive adequate recognition for his fine banjo work. Listen to brother Leigh, whose voice blends with Eric’s as only brothers can. Both brothers write wonderful songs and their background and taste has led them to create new bluegrass sounds from classic country and rock and roll. Bassist Mike Barber, mandolin player Rick Hayes, and fiddler Clayton Campbell add depth and taste to this superior band. The variety of their sounds, harmonies, and keys takes them beyond bluegrass while never straying very far from their roots.

A huge revelation that comes almost every time we attend a local festival is the reminder that there are so many fine bluegrass bands around. While people think of New York as urban and ethnic, the state is home to many bands rooted in country and bluegrass music. These bands are well-represented at the Fox Family Festival.

Local bands include The Atkinson Family, whose delightful music, much of it written by father Dick ]Atkinson, combines country and bluegrass with a northern New York tone that fits right in here. His song about losing the farm should be a classic. The review in Bluegrass Unlimited noted, “Tearin’ Up the Line is a stellar production that will surely generate many new friends for the group.”

The Dalaney Brothers describe themselves as a contemporary bluegrass band that has played around New York State for the past 25 years. Over the years, they have recorded five albums. Recently they replaced two longtime members for medical reasons. The New York Times named Full Spectrum as one of the top ten local releases in 2000.

Sweet Cider describes itself as “ rooted in vocal harmony, attention to arrangement and original material. They now perform their own style of acoustic music with that ever-present bluegrass flavor. The Northeast Country Music Association has named them CMA bluegrass band of the year several times, and they have been inducted into the NE CMA hall of fame as well as receiving other awards. They hail from Rotterdam, NY along the NY Thruway.

Miller’s Crossing is a Long Island bluegrass band whose sound, according to the cuts on their web site, is traditional southern. Their lead vocalist has a pleasant voice and instrumentals are strong. “Miller’s crossing prides itself on the original material eachmember brings to the band’s repertoire. They strive to play bluegrass music the way they feel it, and the result is a fesh outlook on the music while not getting to far away from its roots.” The McCarthy/Paisley Band from Elbridge, NY advertises itself as featuring traditional Americana and contemporary folk music.

Off the Wall’s entry at ibluegrass says, “Blending folk, bluegrass and traditional country into a unique, no frills sound that lends itself to the works of John Prine, Guy Clark, Tim O’Brien and the Seldom Scene, as well as the works of more obscure songwriters. Add to that, strong vocals and tight harmonies, you have the makings of enjoyable music that tells the story of lifes journey.” They come from central New York.

Bill Knowlton and Lisa Husted will emcee. Tickets are $75.00 for the entire festival, including rough camping. Day passes are $20.00 for Thursday, $30.00 a day for Friday and Saturday, and $15.00 for Sunday. Gates open for camping on a first come, first served basis at 10:00 AM on Wednesday and there is no reserving of spaces for others. A dump station and showers are available nearby, but there are no amenities for campers on the site. This festival has one of the most interesting and varied programs for young people of any bluegrass event, showing their interest in and concern for children’s enjoyment and providing alternatives for parents wishing to give their children a good time. For additional information, check out the Fox Family Bluegrass Festival’s web site.

Some pictures for this post were taken from band web sites. I will remove them immediately upon request.


Thursday, May 24, 2007

Ralph Nader in Glens Falls This Friday, May 25

Former presidential candidate and progressive activist Ralph Nader will return to Glens Falls on Friday, May 25, 2007 for a variety of events including an appearance at a Glens Falls High School, a local premiere of the documentary “An Unreasonable Man,” and a book signing at Red Fox Books. Ralph Nader’s visit is sponsored by Adirondack Progressives, a group of local people interested in fostering a local dialogue on today’s most important issues.

The day’s events will begin at Glens Falls High School where Nader will speak to students and participate in a student forum from 1 to 2:15 pm. Issues to be discussed could include the Iraq War, the growing imperialist threat of multinational corporations, the dangerous convergence of corporate and government power, and the role of third parties and citizen activism in the political process. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, January 25, 2006

In The Adirondacks Mining Accidents Once Occurred Regularly

According to the Associated Press the deadliest mining accident in American History was an explosion in a Monongah, West Virginia coal mine in 1907 in that killed 362 people.

Other recent mining accidents include:

2001: Explosions at a Jim Walter Resources Inc. mine in Brookwood, Ala., kill 13 people.

1992: A blast at a Southmountain Coal Co. mine in Norton, Va., kills eight.

1989: An explosion at a Pyro Mining Co. mine in Wheatcroft, Ky., kills 10.

1986: A coal pile collapses at Consolidation Coal Co.’s mine in Fairview, W.Va., killing five.

1984: A fire at Emery Mining Corp.’s mine in Orangeville, Utah, kills 27.

Here in the Adirondacks, mining accidents occurred with regular frequency in the 19th and 20th centuries.

The Chateaugay Ore & Iron Company mines have claimed several men. William Otten was killed on March 13, 1928; later that year, 21-year-old Lyon Mountain miner Floyd Rounds was seriously injured when dust from an explosion was thrown into both his eyes.

Fred Brinks, an Englishman, was killed on July 9, 1927. Polish miner Aleksandra Dachkon was killed at the Lyon Mountain mines in 1920. Another Polish immigrant, Edward Suzbalia, a foreman and 18-year veteran of the Lyon Mountain mines fell into Number 11 Mine in 1909. He fell 200 feet landing on his head and died instantly leaving a wife and two children. “He was held in the highest esteem both by his superior officers,” the Plattsburgh Sentinel reported, “and the men with whom he worked and was considered one of the most careful and reliable men in the employ of the company.”

Three men were killed and one seriously injured in one terrible week in 1927. One was 50-year-old George Bouyea who fell 300 feet into a shaft at Lyon Mountain. The 18-year company veteran and foreman in charge of repairing motors was adjusting a cable at the top of a shaft when he lost his footing. He was instantly killed leaving a wife and seven children.

In 1907, five unnamed miners – “Polanders, and it was impossible to learn their names” – where injured when the roof of a mine at Lyon Mountain caved in. Two men broke their legs and the other three were less seriously wounded.

Foreign workers frequently went unnamed. “An Italian who was blown up at Tongue Mountain died Thursday,” one report noted. “He accidentally struck a stick of dynamite with a crowbar. The man’s left arm was blown off at the shoulder, there is a compound fracture of his right arm just above the hand, both eyes were blown out of his head, a stone was jammed against his heart and his head was bruised.” It was a remarkable that he wasn’t killed instantly.

Dynamite was the culprit in a fatal explosion at the Harmony Shaft in Mineville in Essex County in 1901. During the day shift a charge of dynamite had failed to explode. When the night crew came on, George Baker was informed about the unexploded charge and Baker, James Tate, and Thomas McClellan went to the spot to correct the situation. The blow of the tapping bar exploded the charge of dynamite and Tate’s head was blown off. Baker was blinded, his arm broken and his face badly injured. McClellan was seriously hurt. Baker lost an eye but he and McClellan recovered. Baker was troubled by what had happened. His wife went insane and was committed to a mental hospital in Ogdensburg. Baker started drinking heavily. In 1915, fourteen years after he the mine accident George Baker tried to kill himself with a shotgun. He overloaded the shells and the gun exploded – not to be deterred, he took up a razor and slit his own throat. He was just 45.

UPDATE 1/6/06: Brian Mann of North Country Public Radio (NCPR) interviewed Lawrence Gooley, Adirondack author of “Lyon Mountain: The Tragedy of a Mining Town” after reading about Adirondack mining accidents here at the Almanack. NCPR has set up a webpage where you can hear the interview here.

UPDATE 5/1/06: The Almanack is now an NCPR Featured Blog.


Suggested Reading

Lawrence Gooley’s History of the Lyon Mountain Mines


Sunday, January 15, 2006

Six Flags a Great Escape to Time and the Adirondack Tourism Industry

Today the ComPost Star offers us a typically un-insightful look – this time, they turn their ever alert fluff finder toward a recent gathering of former Storytown employees at the Chapman Historical Society in Glens Falls. The big news? The unflinching analysis? Here it is from the lead:

The secret was kept for more than 50 years by a select group who may have whispered among themselves, but never let out word of their small enclave.

Sunday, the secret was revealed as former Storytown USA employees got together for a “remember when” afternoon at the Chapman Historical Museum.

Diamond ‘Lil, the Marshall, several tough cowboys and the first Cinderella to ride in the pumpkin coach ‘fessed up to a little-known fact: Little Bo Peep was also a can-can girl at Dan McGrew’s Saloon.

So was Mary, who had the little lamb, said Joe Hanlon, of Lake Luzerne, who dated both damsels during the summers he spent working at the amusement park.

Wow… teenagers who worked at Storytown in the 1950s and 1960s dated… and the fake Little Bo Peep and Mary (we assume sans lamb) were also can-can girls… the scandal!

In case you hadn’t heard, Six Flags, the parent company of The Great Escape, recently put itself up for sale. Last month, finding no buyers, they took themselves off the market. Wouldn’t it have been great if Charley Wood [bio, obit] had sold the company locally or turned it over to its long standing employees to run? Apparently they were both low paid and hard-worked:

“Charley (Wood) kept us busy,” said Hanlon. “Between the shows we’d do at Ghost Town, we’d have to clean the stable then go around picking up cigarette butts. The girls did the can-can shows, changed clothes and played the other parts. He got eight hours of work out of us, all right.”

…Dick Spector of Glens Falls, recalled working at Storytown in the summer of either 1961 or 1962.

“I was an outlaw four days a week, I drove Cinderella’s coach one day and was the garbage man one day a week,” Spector said. “My pay was $1.10 an hour, except the day I did garbage I made $1.25 an hour.”

Woods made millions (and did give heartily to local causes), but today Six Flags / Great Escape Splashwater Kingdom / Storytown is still making big bucks, still paying a minimum wage, and only recently were discovered to have been pulling some tax scheme to apparently avoid paying sales tax (good luck finding that news anywhere on the web). Anyway, it would be nice if the Adirondack region’s largest and most profitable tourist hot-spot took a leadership role in anything but making money – say in paying affordable wages to local residents forced to work in the tourism industry?

Anyway, on a less annoying note, links to sites about two great old-time amusement parks of days gone by:

Time Town
Frontier Town


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