Saturday, July 12, 2014

A Great American Wilderness: Two Tragic Anniversaries

Snowy Mountain from the Jessup River Wild ForestI have noticed some opinions floating through the media lately calling into question the extent to which the Adirondacks really qualify as a wilderness.

As I write this, on July 10th, a sad and sobering anniversary has arrived. Then in September we will mark the seventieth anniversary of another tragedy, one of many plane crashes that have occurred in the park, this one remarkable for the longevity of its mystery. Both anniversaries remind me just how formidable a wilderness the Adirondack region really is. » Continue Reading.


Thursday, July 10, 2014

The Old Forge Company: Defeat and Decline

P1686 Forge House  1900 or so from postcard039At the stockholders and directors meetings of the Old Forge Company held in December, 1900 at Little Falls were Dr. Alexander Crosby, Judson J. Gilbert, Homer P. Snyder and Eugene Arthur, representing 90% of the Company’s shares.  Snyder was elected vice-president and Nelson R. Gilbert was continued as treasurer, a position held since 1896.

For the first time since its founding, the Company elected a new president, Dr. Alexander Crosby, replacing Samuel Garmon, and a new secretary, Eugene A. Arthur, replacing Hadley Jones.  Eugene Arthur was appointed to handle land contracts for a salary plus expenses.  According to Charles Snyder, “the members of these companies have gotten into a row among themselves and that only one or two of them are financially capable of seeing things through.” » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, July 9, 2014

State To Consider Removing Tracks East Of Tupper Lake

Adirondack Tourist Train (Susan Bibeau)After several years of public debate, the state has decided to consider tearing up the tracks and establishing a bike trail in at least part of a 90-mile rail corridor that cuts through the heart of the Adirondack wilderness.

The state Department of Environmental Conservation and Department of Transportation announced today that they would reopen the management plan for the corridor and look at establishing a recreational trail in the 34 miles between the villages of Tupper Lake and Lake Placid. In addition, the state will examine the possibility of expanding rail service on the rest of the line between Tupper Lake and Old Forge.

“Our goal is to protect our natural resources, while also exploring ways to increase opportunities for people to enjoy outdoor recreation activities in the Adirondacks,” DEC Commissioner Joe Martens said in a news release. “We recognize that the future of the Remsen-to-Lake Placid Travel Corridor is important to local residents, communities, and the regional economy.”

» Continue Reading.


Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Adirondack History Center Lecture Series Begins

Land of MakebelieveThe Adirondack History Center Museum kicks off its 2014 Summer Lecture Series at 7 p.m. tonight, July 8th, as Professor Richard Robbins presents “The Anthropology of Holidays and Amusement: An Introduction to the Birth of Vacations and the Growth of Pleasure Palaces.”

Robbins will place Adirondack theme parks, such as Land of Make-believe, Frontier Town and the North Pole in both a historical and cultural context and examine how theme parks originated, how they fit into the evolution of popular culture, and where they fit in the history of the idea of “vacations.” The heyday of these regional attractions in the mid-20th century is an important part of Adirondack history and an emphasis for the Museum’s summer exhibition on “Arto Monaco and the Land of Makebelieve.” » Continue Reading.


Monday, July 7, 2014

Search And Rescue Stories: Ranger Orville Betters

raquette fallsA striking old black and white photograph of a Forest Ranger posted on the NYSDEC Twitter feed recently caught my attention and captivated my imagination. The tweet read “Ranger w/pack basket putting up Canoe Carry Trail sign. Raquette Falls in the (Adirondacks) 1949.”

The ranger had a striking pose, wearing a Stetson, boots tightly laced half way to his knees. The ranger’s face was hidden from view, not surprising for a profession, that – especially then – toiled in the outdoors, their daily routine invisible to the public. I quickly tweeted back “Do you know who that is?”  Unfortunately no one did. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, July 2, 2014

The Old Forge Company Against Collis Huntington’s RR

fulton chain rr boat adirondack news ad 1900John Pierpont Morgan owned Camp Uncas.  To reach the railroad connection for his Manhattan headquarters, he faced two options, neither to his liking.  He could race his team up Durant’s new road from Uncas, passed the Seventh-Eighth Lake Carry, reached the Sucker Brook Bay Road (now Uncas Road) and turned left for Eagle Bay to hopefully meet the scheduled Crosby Transportation Company steamer.  Then he transferred in Old Forge to the Fulton Chain Railroad terminus for the two mile spur to Fulton Chain Station.  Instead of going to Eagle Bay, he could have continued north about a mile from Eagle Bay and followed the Durant trail past Cascade Mountain to connect with the road from Big Moose Lake and meet the railroad at Big Moose Station.

Collis P. Huntington owned Pine Knot on Raquette Lake.  I do not know if he ever sat on a keg of nails on a Company steamer to Eagle Bay as some suggest, but he wrote about his experiences on the tedious series of stages, carries and small steamers necessary to travel from Fourth Lake to Brown’s Tract Inlet, crossing the road from Camp Uncas used by Morgan.

But Morgan and Huntington knew that travelers deserved a faster and cheaper way to reach the North Woods. In Huntington’s words, “It is a health resort for the rich and poor, for in these forests may be found the castle, the cabin and the tent, and the inmates of these forests share alike in the life-giving air of the  woods”. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Annual Runabout Rendezvous in Saranac Lake Saturday

Boat ShowAn eclectic mix of antique, classic and newly designed wooden boats will be on display at the Seventh Annual Runabout Rendezvous event held along the shores of Lake Flower, in Saranac Lake, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., this Saturday, July 5th.

Visitors can spend the day and get lunch at the Knights of Columbus food tent, meet members of the Mohawk Hudson Chapter of the Antique and Outboard Motor Club, see original Adirondack Guideboats and meet their builders.  There will be boat tours and rides and a wooden boat parade at the end of the day. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Jessica Ferguson: Mirror Girl of Saranac Lake (Conclusion)

Russel Hibbs02AHis work with children’s hospitals convinced Colonel Walter Scott that there might be help for Jessica despite her negative prognosis and seemingly hopeless situation. New and exciting progress had been made, especially by Dr. Russell Hibbs of New York City, whose surgical innovations helped change the face of medicine. Hibbs was the first to perform a spinal fusion, and made great advances in treating tuberculosis of the spine and hip.

At the request of Ferguson’s physicians, Hibbs conducted an evaluation and surprised everyone with his conclusion. Jessica, he said, would benefit from a spinal operation, and might well walk normally following therapy. After all she had been through, the hopeful news was stunning.

Colonel Scott and others encouraged her with best wishes, and in early September 1926, Hibbs performed the operation in New York City. Doctors had worried that Jessica’s weakened physical state might place her in critical condition after surgery. Instead, improvement was seen immediately, and with her usual upbeat outlook, Ferguson went right to work on recovery. » Continue Reading.


Monday, June 30, 2014

New History Exhibit: Warrensburg Fire, EMS And Police

Firemen ParadeThe Warrensburgh Museum of Local History is preparing its major summer/fall 2014 exhibit, opening Sunday, June 29, at 1 PM with a reception, and will remain through Columbus Day.  The exhibit tells the stories of the Warrensburg Volunteer Fire Company, Warrensburg Emergency Medical Service, and local policing efforts, including the role Warrensburg citizens played as Warren County sheriffs.

Since Warrensburg’s early settlement in the late 18th century, as in any frontier community, the safety and protection of its settlers was a concern but little could be done about it.  Destructive fires, whether of home, barn or commercial building, were all too common.  With illnesses and accidents, availability and distances to doctors meant that home remedies were heavily relied upon.  And self-protection was the order of the day when it came to criminal activity. » Continue Reading.


Sunday, June 29, 2014

Johnsburg: Where Wilderness Begins

DSCN1728My father and mother, Howard and Alice Zahniser, named our cabin Mateskared not long after they bought the place in August 1946 from Harold and Pansy Allen. It sits at the end of a road off Route 8 in Bakers Mills, Warren County.

The late  New York State conservationist Paul Schaefer partly owned the land to the west of our place. Paul served as middleman on the deal because our family lived in the Washington, D.C., suburbs. We were a two-day drive from the Adirondack State Park in those days. I was not yet one year old. » Continue Reading.


Saturday, June 28, 2014

Raquette Lake: Why ‘Indian’ Point?

Stoddard from CragsWriting  in The Adirondack; or Life in the Woods (1849) Joel Tyler Headley remarked that Indian Point on Raquette Lake was so-named “because there was once an Indian settlement upon it”.  But until recently, the idea of large, permanent Native American settlements within the Adirondacks has been discounted by scholars. Ongoing research however, suggests that may not be the case.

On thing we do know for sure is that Adirondack interior was a seasonal hunting ground for the Iroquoian and Algonquin-speaking communities and there is considerable evidence that the Raquette Lake area was used extensively by the Mohawk.  » Continue Reading.


Thursday, June 26, 2014

The Old Forge Company:
Rise Of A Transportation Monopoly

Old Forge Co Stock Cert002A quick look at an Old Forge town map reveals streets named Garmon, Crosby, Adams, Gilbert and Sheard.  These are the oldest streets in town except for Main Street (Route 28), originally an extension of the Brown’s Tract Road.

The “main drag” was briefly named Harrison Avenue for former President Benjamin Harrison, the region’s most famous camper.  But this name was dropped from the maps of the Adirondack Development Corporation in the first part of the 20th century.

Recently, the Goodsell Musuem has been permitted by the Town of Webb to reinstate “Harrison Avenue” with a sign at the corner of Gilbert and Route 28.

Except for Main Street, these streets were created by the Old Forge Company, often called the Old Forge Improvement Company.  When its Directors established building lots through the woods of the Forge Tract, they assigned these names to the streets on the first village map filed in July 1896 with the Herkimer County Clerk.  What follows is part of a history of the Old Forge Company from its inception to 1899. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Adirondack Architectural Heritage Hosting Santanoni Tours

image001(9)Adirondack Architectural Heritage (AARCH) will host four tours of Great Camp Santanoni in Newcomb. Built for Robert and Anna Pruyn of Albany beginning in 1892, Santanoni eventually included 12,900 acres and nearly four-dozen buildings.

The first tour will be held this Saturday, June 28, 2014. There will be three additional tours on July 25, August 16, and September 5th.

The tours will be led by AARCH director Steven Engelhart. The day will include stops at the Gate Lodge, the 200-acre farm, and the Main Camp on Newcomb Lake where we will see ongoing restoration and learn about the conservation planning and restoration work. The Santanoni Preserve is owned by New York State, is on the National Register of Historic Places, and is a National Historic Landmark. AARCH has long been associated with the protection, interpretation and restoration of this regional treasure. » Continue Reading.


Monday, June 23, 2014

Jessica Ferguson: Mirror Girl of Saranac Lake

tb-patientMirror Girl. What an intriguing term. In the past, it has been applied to the prettiest coeds in sororities, cute girls in general, and particularly vain women. But in this case, it addresses one of my favorite historical stories linked to the North Country’s years as a tuberculosis treatment center. The patient was a young woman, Jessica “Jessie” Ferguson, born in 1895 in Mount Pleasant, New York, north of Tarrytown on the Hudson River. Her parents, James and Anna, were both natives of Scotland, a fact that becomes key to the story.

The young girl’s difficulties began in her early twenties when her father died, and Jessica was diagnosed with tuberculosis of the bone, affecting her spine. In 1918, she lost the ability to walk. Doctors placed her in a cast that forced Jessica into a permanent reclining position.

In the early 1920s, Anna Ferguson moved her daughter to Saranac Lake, where they settled into a cottage on Riverside Drive on the shores of Lake Flower. Jessica’s situation was different from most patients, for the majority suffered from pulmonary tuberculosis, which affected the lungs. The vision most of us conjure is of patients on porches to benefit from the fresh air, something Jessica was unable to do. » Continue Reading.


Thursday, June 19, 2014

Wooden Canoe Heritage Association Meeting

2014-Assembly-artwork-for-web-262x300The Wooden Canoe Heritage Association will celebrate their 35th Anniversary at their Annual Assembly, July 15-20, 2014, at Paul Smith’s College. The theme of is year’s meeting will be “Modern Classics” and will feature contemporary builders.

The Wooden Canoe Heritage Association is a non-profit organization devoted to preserving, studying, building, restoring, and using wooden and bark canoes.

Photos from the 2013 Assembly can be found here and here. A draft program and schedule can also be found online.

 

 


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