Tuesday, July 21, 2015

On The Hunt For Adirondack Aircraft Wreckage

Van_Laer_Navy-600x604As I made my way up Seward Mountain with Scott Van Laer last October, trying to find the wreckage of a Piper Cherokee that slammed into the peak in 1970, I kept thinking that the search would go pretty quickly. After all, a plane, even a single-engine model like the Cherokee, is big. It does not belong in the forest. How could we not find it?

Van Laer was pretty confident in our chances, too. He’s done this before, having tracked down about twenty of these wrecks throughout the Adirondacks, and is writing a guidebook for others who want to make their own way to the sites. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Adirondack Architectural Heritage Celebrating 25 Years

Stone Mill VisionsAdirondack Architectural Heritage (AARCH) will transform its historic 1849 National Register-listed Stone Mill with lights, linens, food, and music to host its 25th Anniversary “rustic-elegant” Gala event on Saturday August 1, 2015.

Located behind AARCH’s office building, this 11,000-square-foot mill overlooking the Ausable River once produced horseshoe nails for the Ausable Horse Nail Company and was at the center of the village’s economy for more than eighty years. » Continue Reading.


Thursday, July 9, 2015

Rail Supporters, Trail Advocates Remain Divided

Hope Frenette of ARTAAfter years of public debate and numerous public meetings, the state is nearing a final decision on the future of the rail corridor between Old Forge and Lake Placid, but railroad supporters and rail-trail advocates continue to disagree.

On Wednesday night, the Department of Environmental Conservation and Department of Transportation held a public hearing on its plan to remove 34 miles of track between Lake Placid and Tupper Lake and refurbish 45 miles of track between Tupper Lake and Big Moose (a depot northeast of Old Forge).

About 120 people attended the hearing at Tupper Lake’s high school, and 38 spoke. Some favored the state’s plan, seeing it as a reasonable compromise. Rail supporters, however, opposed the removal of tracks between Tupper Lake and Lake Placid, while trail advocates opposed the state’s spending millions of dollars to fix up the rail line south of Tupper Lake.

» Continue Reading.


Monday, July 6, 2015

Baseball King George Kissell’s Big Season

GK2A GeorgeKissellLast week’s recounting of North Country native George Kissell’s remarkable 69-year career in professional baseball touched only on some highlights.

Including all the details would surely require a hefty tome, but a look at one particular season provides insight on who he was and where his baseball wisdom was rooted. For that, there’s no better year than 1950.

Prior to that time, George, who hailed from the family farm in Evans Mills, northeast of Watertown, was an excellent athlete. At the age of sixteen, he was playing shortstop for a men’s team in the local Adirondack League, rapping out a double and triple in the team’s first playoff game. At seventeen, he led the Evans Mills High School basketball team as a guard. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, June 30, 2015

New Evidence About A Cannon Found In Johnsburg

Johnsburg Revolutionary War CannonThe story goes that, in the summer of 1970, a Town of Johnsburg highway crew was straightening a Garnet Lake Road near Crane Mountain. While removing some of the ancient corduroy logs that once carried the road across a swampy section, they discovered what appeared to be an old cannon.

Vincent Schaefer had the cannon dated at the Watervliet Arsenal and it was determined that it was a swivel gun of the type probably used by Benedict Arnold’s troops during the battle of Valcour Island. » Continue Reading.


Monday, June 29, 2015

George Kissell: The King of Baseball

GK1A GeorgeKissellGeorge Kissell, a native of Evans Mills, about eight miles northeast of Watertown, is one of the most famous sports figures you’ve never heard of – unless maybe if you’re a St. Louis Cardinals fan. Conversely, here are some baseball names you might be familiar with: Earl Weaver, Tony LaRussa, Steve Carlton, Joe Torre, Whitey Herzog, Sparky Anderson, Don Zimmer – and to go way back, let’s include Branch Rickey.

For a bit of perspective, listen to what they had to say about George Kissell (who is in no way related to the recent troubles in the Cardinals organization). Hall of Famer Earl Weaver called him one of the biggest influences on Weaver’s career. In Tony LaRussa’s first press conference after being voted into the Hall of Fame, Kissell was mentioned as a primary influence in his baseball life. Another Hall of Famer, Joe Torre, did the same, having noted earlier that, “Kissell taught me more baseball than anybody I’ve ever met in my life.” » Continue Reading.


Sunday, June 21, 2015

Jim Barry: King of Death Penalty Reprieves

JJBarry2A1918It was Keeseville native Jim Barry’s reputation as a top-rated lawyer, fighting relentlessly and effectively against great odds, that led to his role in an infamous New York City murder case. In November 1918, four young men robbed a 68-year-old subway-ticket agent, Otto Fiala, and when the man resisted, he was shot dead.

The four included James “Bull” Cassidy, 25, an amateur boxer; Charles McLaughlin, 21; Joseph “Lefty” Milano, 19; and Joseph “Onions” Usefof, 20. Three sailors saw them flee the scene (netting only $61 from the robbery). Ten days later, detectives found them in Syracuse, where they were arrested after Cassidy fought a four-round bout. Willie Kirk, driver of the getaway car, was also taken into custody.

While they were locked up together, a deal was proposed by McLaughlin whereby one of them would assume blame for the murder, allowing the rest to avoid a death sentence or life in prison. » Continue Reading.


Saturday, June 20, 2015

The Search for Raquette Lake’s First Cabin

1840 Mathew Beach Cabin sketch2I know where Matthew Beach and William Wood built their original cabin (depicted in this 1840 sketch by John Hill) on Raquette Lake’s Indian Point. Or at least I think I know, or perhaps I should say I have deduced a pretty darn good educated guess. I welcome others to critique my assumptions.

The sketch at left offers little in the way of accurate perception of distances given that the opposite side of North Bay appears as close to Needle Island as the tip of Indian Point. And don’t get me started on the apparent thickness of Needle Island. Yet the drawing holds some surprisingly valuable clues. » Continue Reading.


Thursday, June 18, 2015

Historic Warrensburgh Walking Tours This Weekend

Warrensburg Historical Society BuildingOn Saturday and Sunday, June 20 and 21 the Warrensburgh Historical Society will be conducting a walking tour of the early residential and civic district of the village, led by architectural historian Delbert Chambers.  The tour will pass more than 30 historic properties and is one of four walking and two driving tours being developed by the Society’s Preservation Committee.

The one-mile tour will be held each day at 10 am starting at the Warrensburgh Museum of Local history, 3754 Main Street and will take approximately two hours, including a rest stop at the Miles Thomas House (currently Senior Citizen Building). Admission is free, but each tour will be limited to twenty people. Reservations must be made by calling Town Historian Sandi Parisi at 623-2207. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, June 17, 2015

The Forgotten Battle of Diamond Island on Lake George

General Lincoln by Charles Wilson PealeToday it’s a State-owned island – a day use area for picnics – but Diamond Island witnessed a horrific bombardment by gun boats manned by Patriots during the American Revolution.  The fight occurred during British Lieutenant General John Burgoyne’s 1777 campaign to capture Albany. Initially, Burgoyne’s 9,000 man army had successfully captured Fort Ticonderoga and Mount Independence in July.

When Burgoyne’s progress stalled near Skenesborough (present-day Whitehall, NY), his supplies were quickly eaten up by his extended campaign. Since his large army could not easily live off the land, except for shooting an occasional deer or bear, or boiling up a captured rattlesnake or turtle, the 54-year old general established a long supply line back to Canada. It was anchored by Fort George at the southern end of Lake George and by Fort Ticonderoga at the northern end. Between the two forts, a supply depot, guarded by two companies of the 47th Regiment of Foot under Captain Thomas Aubrey was fixed on Diamond Island. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, June 17, 2015

James Barry: Friend of the Working Man

James J Barry of Schenectady and KeesevilleNearly a century ago, a North Country man played a role in one the most remarkable murder cases in New York State history. Attorney James J. Barry was a Keeseville native, born there in late 1876 and a  graduated of Keeseville’s McAuley Academy in 1898. In 1901 he moved to Schenectady where he worked for General Electric. He later attended Albany Law School, graduating in 1908 and setting up shop in Schenectady, his adopted home.

The Adirondacks were his real home however, and he maintained strong ties here. To share with others the joys of spending time in the mountains, he helped form the Northmen’s Club, of which he was president in 1907. Many times in the ensuing decades, he took club members, friends, and public officials on visits up north. Jim Barry was never away for very long. » Continue Reading.


Monday, June 15, 2015

Suffrage Leader Inez Milholland Lecture Tuesday

Inez Milholland leading the Suffrage Parade on March 3, 1913The Whallonsburg Grange Hall, together with Adirondack Architectural Heritage, will present “The Life and Times of Inez Milholland” with speaker Linda Lumsden on Tuesday, June 16 at 7:30 pm.

Inez Milholland was a leader in the fight for women’s suffrage, a labor lawyer, and passionate campaigner for the rights of women and children. » Continue Reading.


Sunday, June 14, 2015

The Battle of Waterloo’s Adirondack Legacy

Napoleon on Board the Bellerophon Two hundred years ago this week, Napoléon Bonaparte was defeated at the Battle of Waterloo. With the collapse of his army, Bonaparte abdicated and made his way to the French port of Rochefort where he was met by his oldest brother, Joseph Bonaparte.

At Rochefort Joseph had dinner with Jacques-Donatien Le Ray de Chaumont (known in America as James LeRay de Chaumont, founder of the Town of LeRay, NY), who had been in Paris promoting his land development scheme in the Adirondacks. » Continue Reading.


Monday, June 8, 2015

Dannemora Prison: Some Historical Background

Escaped Clinton Rison Convict 1 Escaped Clinton Rison Convict 2The search continues today for two men who escaped from the maximum security prison at Dannemora, Clinton County.  State Police say David P. Sweat (age 35) and Richard Matt (age 49) were both incarcerated for murder and are “very dangerous individuals”. They are asking that any suspicious activity be reported to (518) 563-3761 or by email to crimetip@troopers.ny.gov.

Governor Andrew Cuomo says the men had help. North Country Public Radio has been covering the story thoroughly, so I thought I’d add some background about Dannemora Prison. » Continue Reading.


Monday, May 25, 2015

Early Baseball: Golden Age of the Silver Ball

SilverBallTrophyIf you’ve ever been to a professional baseball game, you’ll recall certain things: the food, the camaraderie among like-minded fans, exciting plays on the field, and the overall feeling of enjoyment. And remember that professional doesn’t necessarily mean major league. It also applies to the minor leagues, where, at least in my opinion, all those things are even more enjoyable, especially in Single-A ball. Watching the Geneva Cubs and other teams back in the 1980s in the Finger Lakes region is one of my all-time favorite baseball experiences. » Continue Reading.


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