Thursday, February 2, 2017

Billy Richards, ‘the Armless Wonder’: Playing the Hand You’re Dealt

While researching a pair of books on North Country iron mining, I unexpectedly became privy to tragedies that many families faced. Mining accidents were frequent and involved excessive violence, often resulting in death. Victims were sometimes pancaked — literally — by rock falls, and their remains were recovered with scraping tools. Others were blown to pieces by dynamite explosions, usually as the result of, in mining parlance, “hitting a missed hole.”

The “missed hole” nomenclature refers to unexploded dynamite charges accidentally detonated later by another miner when his drill made contact with the material or caused a spark. The resulting blast was often fatal, but not always. Those who survived were usually blinded, burned badly, or maimed in some fashion.

In 1878, in Crown Point’s iron mines at Hammondville, near Lake Champlain, a young laborer, Billy Richards, was tasked with holding a star drill (basically a hand-held chisel with a star point) against the ore face while his partner — his step-father, Richard George — struck it with a sledge hammer. Through this commonly used teamwork method, a cadence developed whereby the star drill was struck and the holder then turned it slightly before it was struck again. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Lawyers Argue In Court Over Adirondack Rail-Trail Proposal

Railroad crossing over Bog River. Photo by Phil BrownAfter months of delay, lawyers for the state and the Adirondack Railway Preservation Society squared off in court Monday over the future of a 34-mile stretch of tracks between Lake Placid and Tupper Lake.

At the end of the 45-minute hearing in Malone, acting State Supreme Court Justice Robert G. Main Jr. reserved decision on whether to block the state from tearing up the tracks and converting the corridor into a multi-use recreational trail.

The judge also asked the state to provide more information on the ownership of the railroad corridor.

» Continue Reading.


Monday, January 30, 2017

Eagle Island Group Camping, Restoration Project Underway

The Town Board of Santa Clara has voted unanimously to amend the local Land Use Code to reestablish group camping on Eagle Island, located on Upper Saranac Lake.

Friends of Eagle Island (FEI) has been in discussions with the Town of Santa Clara to reestablish group camping on Eagle Island through a petition to amend the Land Use Code thereby enabling the camp to re-open. This multi-step process has involved; preparing and filing a petition for an Amendment with the Town Board, review of the Amendment by the Planning Board, a Public Hearing and the vote by the Town Board. » Continue Reading.


Saturday, January 28, 2017

In Climbing Mt Washington, Darby Field May Have Sought Lake Champlain

Samuel de Champlain 1632 mapIn the history of mountain climbing in New England, the first ascent of Mt. Washington happened in 1642 with Darby Field as the climber.

Over the years, however, there has been great speculation as to the route that Field took to the summit. Most early speculation assumed that his main goal was to climb the mountain, and that he then took the most direct route as he came in from the Maine coast.

That route would have taken him up the Cutler River and then up the southeast side of Mt. Washington, the Northeast’s tallest mountain. This is the side with Pinkham Notch and Tuckermans Ravine. For many years, this was the “conventional wisdom” regarding this ascent. Then, as referenced in the article below, an ancient letter surfaced that indicated Field had taken an entirely different route to the summit. This different route, as described in the Watermans’ Forest and Crag (1989), included going over several other summits and passing by what are now known as “Lakes of the Clouds.” With this new evidence, the Watermans could clear up much of the earlier speculation regarding Field’s route, but they still admitted that they did not know why Field climbed Mt. Washington. » Continue Reading.


Thursday, January 19, 2017

Battle On Snowshoes Re-enactment Saturday

battle on snowshoesFort Ticonderoga will recreate the 1757 Battle on Snowshoes on the anniversary of the event, January 21st, 2017.

This lesser known, but no less dramatic, battle brings to life the clash in the woods between French soldiers and Rogers Rangers in the struggle for North America. Participants can learn about the peoples, weapons, and stories through living history vignettes, exhibitions and hands-on programs. » Continue Reading.


Sunday, January 15, 2017

Canal System Designated National Historic Landmark

Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell and National Park Service Acting Director Michael T. Reynolds announced that

The NYS Canal System has been designated a National Historic Landmark.

The designation places New York’s operating canals among the premier historic sites in the United States. The Adirondack Park was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1963, and is the largest NHL. » Continue Reading.


Saturday, January 14, 2017

Frederick Douglass On The Stump In Jefferson County

frederick douglass“The Republican Party is the ship, all else is the sea.”

This famous statement by Frederick Douglass was more than a casual observation. Douglass was a Republican in a time before the realignment of American political parties. After the American Civil War, he became one of the Party’s busiest, and strongest, campaigners, especially in New York.

Republican candidates counted on his oration skills to inspire voters – both black and white – through Reconstruction and after. In fact, in the late 1870s, the Republican State Committee relied on his campaign talents. This was the case in Jefferson County when Douglass rallied large gatherings in Adams in 1879, and Theresa in 1880, near the city of Watertown. » Continue Reading.


Monday, January 9, 2017

Some History of the Famous Red Barn in Keene

In late December, the rustic red barn that stood at the intersection of Routes 73 and 9N in Keene was taken down by the Department of Environmental Conservation after it became hazardous.

Although not an officially-recognized historic landmark, many who have traveled through Keene saw the barn, with its majestic High Peaks in the background, as a quaint countryside icon.

Since it came down, folks have waxed nostalgic while mourning the abrupt loss of this unassuming structure. I decided to dig into the barn’s history and see if there was more to it than met the eye. » Continue Reading.


Sunday, January 8, 2017

Report: Impact of Friends Groups On NYS Parks, Historic Sites

Parks & Trails New York (PTNY), the state’s leading advocate for parks and trails, recently released You Gotta Have Friends, a report summarizing the results of a census of the non-profit Friends organizations that support New York’s state parks and historic sites.

A Friends group is a group of individuals who work to support, steward, and promote a park or historic site, or multiple sites. The smallest are all-volunteer organizations, some of which are only loosely organized; others are registered non-profit organizations with regular meetings and bylaws. The largest Friends groups are conservancies and foundations capable of raising large sums of money for the care of their parks and historic sites. Currently there are 90 state park and historic site Friends groups in New York State. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Adirondack Museum Presents Cabin Fever Sundays Series

The Adirondack Museum’s Cabin Fever Sundays winter lecture series is back, and brings to the North Country a wide-ranging look at life in the Adirondacks – yesterday, today, and tomorrow. These events explore a variety of topics, from archaeology in the Adirondacks, to the history of resort hotels in the region.

“Hidden Beneath Our Feet: The Deep History of the Adirondacks:” In the first installment of the series, Timothy Messner of SUNY Potsdam will share findings from recent archaeological investigations carried out over the last several years which have provided data for a more accurate, complex and deep history of the Adirondacks. “Hidden Beneath Our Feet” will begin at 1:30 pm on Sunday, January 8, in the Museum’s auditorium in Blue Mountain Lake. » Continue Reading.


Thursday, December 22, 2016

Beloved, Photogenic Keene Barn Comes Down

For amateur photographer Nick Palmieri, the structure known as the “Keene barn” was always a welcome sight as he arrived in the High Peaks region.

“I’ve always called it the gateway to the High Peaks,” said Palmieri, who lives in New Jersey and runs the Save the Keene New York Barn Facebook page. “From an artists’ point of view that barn just sits in the perfect spot, just to make the scene perfectly beautiful.” » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, December 21, 2016

NYS History Course Offered at SUNY Adirondack

great-seal-of-ny-stateSUNY Adirondack is offering an online course “History of New York State” for the Spring 2017 semester.

This is a survey course providing an overview of the peoples and land of New York State from the earliest human occupation to the 21st century. The course will focus on physical geography, literature and the arts, demographics, government and politics relating to various time periods in New York State’s history including but not limited to Native American occupation, New Netherland, the Colonial and Revolutionary eras, and the Industrial Revolution. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, December 21, 2016

AARCH Publishing Adirondack Architecture Guide

aarch-bookAdirondack Architectural Heritage (AARCH), the nonprofit historic preservation organization for the region, is expected to publish A Guide to Architecture in the Adirondacks this spring.

Architectural historian Richard Longstreth’s project to research, visit, document and photograph hundreds of historic structures in over 100 towns and hamlets in the Adirondacks took five years and nearly 10,000 miles of driving throughout the region.

This is the first book to document the architecture of the twelve counties in the Adirondack region, including a significant portion of the Lake Champlain watershed. » Continue Reading.


Sunday, December 18, 2016

The Electoral College: How We Got Here

scene_at_the_signing_of_the_constitution_of_the_united_statesDonald Trump carried nine of the ten North Country counties that lie entirely or partly in the Adirondack Park and won 55.4 percent of the region’s votes. All told, 110,730 people in those ten counties voted for Trump. Their votes were counted, of course, but they did not count.

That’s because Hillary Clinton easily won the statewide vote, and in our antiquated system of electing presidents, that means she will be awarded all of the state’s votes in the Electoral College when the state’s electors meet this Monday. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Fort Ticonderoga’s Fort Fever Series Schedule Announced

fort fever seriesFort Ticonderoga’s “Fort Fever Series” will begin in January and run through April 2017. The lecture series will be held on Sunday afternoons at 2 pm in the Mars Education Center. Tickets are $10 per person and can be purchased at the door; Fort Ticonderoga Members are admitted free of cost. » Continue Reading.


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