Wednesday, February 8, 2012

High Peaks Happy Hour: The Lemon Peel, Lake George

We were pressed for time, forced to conduct our business locally, so we took a short drive to Lake George on a Monday night. Not expecting much excitement, we opted for a bar out of the tourist loop, figuring that it would be a fair representation of a typical weeknight in a deserted resort town.

For local flavor in Lake George, one need step back just one street from Canada Street to the Lemon Peel Lounge, located on Dieskau Street. Though there was no crowd to escape on a Monday night in February, we could sense the appeal of both the bar interior and the outdoor deck area for locals and tourists.

Jen, the bartender, was ready to prepare whatever drink we desired, and Pam found something new with a caramel vodka and Coke. Though beer is currently unavailable on tap due to basement flooding courtesy of Hurricane Irene, Kim found the selection of bottled beers sufficient. A modest variety of wine is offered, and drink prices are very reasonable at any time of year; even better during Happy Hour, daily from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m.

Owned and operated by John and Terri Case since the late ‘80s, the Lemon Peel was originally located on Canada Street where Smokey Joe’s Barbecue is now. John and Terri moved to the present location six years ago. Once part of the historic Woodbine Hotel, the lounge occupies an old Victorian with a square tower, shingled Mansard roof, and round-top windows. Various sheds and additions have been added through the years, pieced together like an architectural crazy quilt.

The interior is just as interesting. Our seats at the bar gave us an opportunity to observe the intricate craftsmanship of the ornately carved wooden liquor shelf, obviously original to the first bar established at that location, and the centerpiece of the room. One stained glass panel depicts an urn with vines and flowers. The ceiling above the bar is inset with colorful glass bottle bottoms, backlit from above. The bar seats about 12 patrons and features new black leather-cushioned barstools.

A pool table, protected from bystanders by half-walls, is used by the Lemon Peel pool league during winter months. Two tables are available behind the pool table for players, observers, or perhaps anti-socialites. Jukebox music and electronic darts and two TVs offer additional entertainment. Our proximity to a television also engaged our attention to Jeopardy, unable to resist participation with staff and patrons. A cigarette machine is on site, a relic from the past and a very rare sight, but still functional.

The deck in front and on the side, though put away for winter, has table seating, some with shade umbrellas and some for sun worship and retreat from the summer hordes and noise of Canada Street. A tent canopy is erected each summer for protection on rainy days. The Lemon Peel does not have musical entertainment, but performances emanating from another nearby bar frequently filter over, providing relaxing ambient music while allowing conversation.

This is a cash only bar, but ATMs are available nearby. The only food you will find here are a variety of chips and a frozen pizza that comes highly recommended by Jason, one of the patrons that night.

The Lemon Peel is open daily from 3 p.m. until 11 p.m. or midnight off-season and until 3 a.m. during the summer. Barring any unforeseen catastrophe, it’s open 365 days a year with no blackout dates. Free WiFi is fully accessible. On-street metered parking is free and plentiful off-season, but expect to pay and to walk during busy summer months.

This is a year-round bar that caters to locals and seasonal workers, but welcomes all. Jen was attentive and forthcoming with information about the Lemon Peel and what she knew of its history, the Lake George area and other taverns in the area. For a good, old-fashioned bar experience, the Lemon Peel is a must.

Kim and Pam Ladd’s book, Happy Hour in the High Peaks, is currently in the research stage. Together they visit pubs, bars and taverns with the goal of selecting the top 46 bars in the Adirondack Park. They regularly report their findings here at the Almanack and at their own blog, or follow them on Facebook, and ADK46barfly on Twitter.


Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Wilmington Bike Fest: Family Fun, Sanctioned Races

With a mix of uphill, downhill, serious competition and family fun, the Annual Wilmington Whiteface Bike Fest is set for June 14-17, 2012. The weekend’s free family-friendly events begin with “Fun not Fear” mountain bike instruction for beginners at 4:00 p.m. on Thursday, June 14. In addition to the many free family-oriented events, the weekend also includes a freestyle bike-jumping event, and three sanctioned competitions including the a qualifier for the Leadville Trail 100. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, February 8, 2012

From Howling Wilderness to Vacation Destination

The Adirondack Museum third 2012 Cabin Fever Sunday series, “Nature: From Howling Wilderness to Vacation Destination” will be held on Sunday, February 12, 2012. The event will be offered free of charge.

Drawing on landscape painting, photography, traveler’s accounts, and other sources, this presentation by Dr. Charles Mitchell will explore the evolution of American attitudes towards nature. Beginning with perceptions of the American landscape as a howling wilderness, a wasteland to be tamed and transformed, the lecture will trace the social, cultural and economic forces that led to the perception of wild nature as something of value to be experienced and preserved. Key topics and figures along the way include the sublime, romanticism, Henry David Thoreau, Thomas Cole and the Hudson River School, John Muir, Ansel Adams, and the Lorax.

Dr. Charles Mitchell is Associate Professor of American Studies at Elmira College. Mitchell has been on the faculty of Elmira College since 1993. Born in Brooklyn and raised in Lynbrook (on Long Island) he still occasionally refers to everything north of Yonkers as “upstate.” He teaches a side variety of courses in American cultural history, with specific
interests in environmental history, the history of ideas about nature, and the representation of the landscape in literature and art.

This program will be held at the Adirondack Lakes Center for the Arts at Blue Mountain Lake, and will begin at 1:30 p.m. For additional information, please call (518) 352-7311, ext. 128 or visit www.adirondackmuseum.org.


Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Adirondack Family Activities: Ticonderoga Winter Fest

Festivals abound in the winter months while towns around the Adirondack Park try to break up the winter with fun activities and a snapshot into an Adirondack life. With a lack of consistent snow, festival organizers have to be flexible with planned activities.

Saranac Lake’s Winter Carnival will finish its 10 days of winter fun this weekend while Lake George continues to host weekend activities throughout the month of February. For the third year Ticonderoga will tackle the cold with fun runs, wagon rides and even a Sunday Pan Fish Tournament.

On Saturday, February 11 from 11:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. the Ti Recreational Fields will host this event snow or no snow with a focus on area happenings. Don’t forget to walk to the nearby covered bridge and view the nearby waterfalls on the La Chute River.

Ticonderoga Area Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Mathew Courtright says, “There will be plenty of great activities that don’t depend on snow like the Fun Run and broomball. This is the third year for this event and each year the Ticonderoga Winter Fest growing. Of course, we always hope for more snow but we are prepared for anything.”

According to Courtright local businesses continue to work together to present a glimpse of the winter recreational opportunities around Ticonderoga from snowshoeing and sledding to hiking and fishing. Saturday’s one- mile Fun Run’s entry is either $2 or a canned good, both benefiting the local food pantry.

Perhaps ice fishing is more to your liking. On Sunday, February 12 from 9:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. the Ticonderoga “Best Fourth in the North” Committee is holding a Pan Fish Tournament. The winners in two categories will receive a 40% pay back split with a portion of the profits benefiting outdoor youth activities. Children under 14 will be entered to win a lifetime fishing license. The single or family (one adult and up to two siblings) each requires a $20 entrance fee.

If you are unfamiliar with the Ticonderoga area or know it solely as the location of Fort Ticonderoga, a festival such as this is the perfect opportunity to meet locals and find new favorite places to enjoy.

Diane Chase is the author of Adirondack Family Time: Your Four-Season Guide to Over 300 Activities for the Tri-Lakes (Lake Placid, Saranac Lake and Tupper Lake) and High Peaks. Her next book of family activities will come out this summer 2012 for the Adirondack Champlain Coast (Plattsburgh to Ticonderoga).


Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Adirondack Foods: Venison Chili for a Chilly Day

Like many others in the Adirondacks, I grew up with venison incorporated into many meals. In sausage form, we had it prepared with peppers, the ground version made meat sauce for spaghetti, steaks were cooked on the grill no matter the time of year, and various cubed cuts made kebobs, sauerbraten and various stews. As a child, I can remember trading half of my daily peanut butter and jelly sandwich for half of a friend’s venison sandwich.

As I slipped into adulthood and urban living, I found that many of my friends weren’t sold on the idea of eating game of any sort – even found the idea foreign. While at that point, I realized that I didn’t know anyone in these circles who had grown up with family members that hunted, I also realized that part of the reason my family enjoyed so much venison throughout the year was because of the positive impact it had on the weekly grocery bill. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Lake George’s Beach Road Getting Porous Pavement

Beach Road at the south end of the Lake is about to become the first heavily traveled roadway in New York State (and one of the only roads in all of the Northeast) to be paved with porous asphalt. This technology allows stormwater to drain through and be filtered naturally by the earth below. The silt, salt and pollutants the stormwater carries are expected to be filtered naturally and not go into the Lake.

The $6 million-plus reconstruction project is expected to begin in mid-April, and be completed in about 18 months. The pavement will be installed between Canada Street and Fort George Road. Warren County Director of Public Works, Jeff Tennyson, and the state Department of Transportation, have helped move the project forward, one expected to get national recognition, and set a precedent for other lakeside communities.

Beach Road has been in need of reconstruction for several years. In 2010, Warren County was planning to use traditional asphalt on the road. After attending the North County Stormwater Conference & Trade Show, and seeing several presentations on porous asphalt applications, Randy Rath, project manager at the LGA, and Dave Wick, director of Warren County Soil and Water Conservation District, encouraged the county to consider porous asphalt as an alternative to traditional asphalt.

Together, Randy and Dave quickly conducted research on the possibilities and made a presentation. In 2011, the LGA provided just over $8,000 in funding for a feasibility study with project engineer Tom Baird (Barton & Loguidice), to provide the information the county and state needed to move forward. At the same time, Dave Wick helped draft an application for additional monies to offset any higher cost from using porous asphalt.

Because this technology is still relatively new in the U.S., the county plans to install the infrastructure and storm drain system that would be needed with traditional asphalt, while the road is under construction. This traditional drainage system will be capped off and is expected to be brought online only in the event that the permeable pavement fails and has to be replaced by traditional asphalt at some point in the future.

Stormwater runoff is considered the number one source of pollutants entering Lake George. The dense development at the south end of the Lake, and the many impervious surfaces created by it, increases the volume and rate of flow of stormwater. Along with the stormwater, many contaminants, such as silt, salt and harmful nutrients, are carried directly into the Lake.

According to the Lake George Association (LGA), research studies and previous projects have shown that porous pavement is highly effective in draining stormwater, and as a result, it increases traction, reduces the build up of ice, and requires much less de-icing material in the winter. The amount of salt detected in the south end of the lake has doubled in just over 20 years according to the LGA.

Photos: Above, the Beach Road in Lake George Village; Middle, a cross-section of porous pavement technology; Below, porous pavement in use at an Albany parking lot. Courtesy LGA.


Monday, February 6, 2012

The Disappearing Adirondack Spruce Grouse

The spattering of sizable tracts of boreal forests that remain in the Adirondacks serve as home to several species of birds that have evolved the ability to survive in northern taiga woodlands. Among the feathered creatures that are well adapted for a life in lowland stands of conifers is the spruce grouse (Falcipennis canadensis), a dark colored bird viewed by some as being as much a symbol of the Great Northwood’s as the moose.

As its name implies, the spruce grouse inhabits those softwood forests dominated mainly by spruce; yet not all spruce forests serve as home to this northern bird. High elevation forests that cover the upper slopes of our tallest peaks are not as suitable as lowland locations despite the similar presence of spruce and balsam fir. Because higher altitudes are more frequently buffeted by strong winds, the microclimate that exists there is more adverse than the one that characterizes sheltered, lowland settings. » Continue Reading.


Monday, February 6, 2012

The Chazy Native Who Upturned Mormon Politics

During the ongoing battle for the Republican nomination, a candidate’s religion has sometimes surfaced as an issue. The intent was to scare voters and create a negative feeling about the candidate whenever the religion is mentioned. In this case, the candidate is Mitt Romney and the religion is Mormonism. It’s interesting that fear and loathing of Mormons coming to power is not a new thing. In the 19th century, when they dominated life in the Utah Territory for several decades prior to statehood, a fierce battle was waged between two religious factions.

Many factors came into play before things were resolved. In one of the climactic moments that helped eliminate a powerful theocracy, a North Country man ended the Mormon’s 43-year rule of their greatest bastion, Salt Lake City.

George Montgomery Scott was born in July 1835 in Chazy, New York. From northern Clinton County, he moved West during California’s gold rush. In San Francisco, he established a successful hardware business, supplying the tools of the trade to hundreds of miners.

In 1871, in pursuit of new opportunities, Scott moved to the Utah Territory, where many mines were in early development. Besides investing in the Crystal Gold and Silver Mining Company, he also established the very successful George M. Scott Hardware in Salt Lake City.

As a member of the Lily Park Stock Growers Association in Colorado, he frequently dabbled in horses and range stock. In one transaction alone, Scott purchased 60 railcars of cattle (over 1000 head). The man obviously had plenty of money. Known as one of Salt Lake City’s leading businessmen, he traveled in first-class accommodations to several states and territories on both business and pleasure trips.

The downside among all this financial success was Utah Territory’s political atmosphere. Non-Mormons had virtually no voice in government because Mormons (a very high percentage of the population) were strictly bound by church rules, which applied to their entire lives, not just their religious activities. They generally voted as a bloc, which gave them absolute control of government. And unlike federal law, they allowed suffrage, in effect doubling their voting power.

When the US expanded westward, winning the Mexican-American War added vast new territory to the nation. Mormon leaders in Salt Lake City grasped the opportunity to firmly establish a power base. Statehood was applied for under the name Deseret. Had they been successful, the newest American state (Deseret) would have encompassed modern-day Utah, most of Arizona and Nevada, plus parts of California, Colorado, Idaho, New Mexico, Oregon, and Wyoming. Officers were elected to represent Deseret, led by Governor Brigham Young.

At the federal level, the State of Deseret’s application was denied because of two main issues: the proposed size was too large, and the controversial policy of polygamy was incompatible with American law. Since Mormon rules governed people’s religious and civil life, Washington legislators were doubtful about their future adherence to the laws of the land. Technically, the denial came because the area fell short of one requirement for statehood, a minimum population of 60,000.

The application was modified in 1850 to embrace what became known as the Utah Territory, and with congressional and presidential approval, Brigham Young was appointed as governor.

During the next four decades, at least six applications for Utah statehood were denied. There were many impediments, but the territory had become a virtual theocratic state controlled by the Mormons. Added to that was the ultimate deal-breaker: polygamy. To the adherents of other religions, plural marriage made Mormons nothing more than heathens.

For decades, the struggle for control of the Utah Territory was much more a religious battle than a political one. Progress was slow, but the non-Mormons made inroads, supported by federal laws outlawing bigamy and the president’s official removal of Brigham Young as governor in 1857.

Young resisted the order and prepared for war when federal troops were dispatched (the standoff became known as the Utah War, although no battles were actually fought). It is testament to Mormon power that, despite the setbacks, they maintained control of the territory for three more decades.

One reason for that dominance was revealed by a simple head count. In 1870, Salt Lake City’s population was about 90 percent Mormon, a number that would gradually decline during the great western migration.

Religious differences are often the root causes of war, and in Utah, that’s what dominated politics. Unlike most of the nation, Utah had no Democratic or Republican parties. Instead, it was the Liberals (the anti-Mormons) versus the People’s Party (the Mormons).

The anti-Mormons made gains over the years, particularly in Tooele County, which became known as the Republic of Tooele when residents voted the Liberals into power for a five-year period. During that time, it created an odd situation. Tooele leaders, under the Liberal flag, instituted women’s suffrage.

While it may have worked well in Tooele County, the Territory’s Liberal Party was forced to oppose the measure. Independent women might vote their own minds, but the Mormons already practiced suffrage, which added to their power because the Mormons generally voted as a bloc.

Anti-Mormons gained small victories here and there, gaining a more solid footing. Dramatic changes in the character of the population aided their cause. By the late 1880s, it was estimated that Salt Lake Mormons had been reduced from 90 percent to about 50 percent of the city’s head count.

The bitter battle came to a head in the 1880s with the aggressive enforcement of new laws against polygamy. Within that atmosphere, the fight against religious rule was won in several more communities. While it may have had a political face, the conflict was between two sets of church beliefs.

The ultimate seat of Mormon power, Salt Lake City, had remained untouchable for four decades. What many saw as the death knell of Mormon political control came in 1890. The results were touted across the country as the most important election of the year. For the first time, Salt Lake City had elected a non-Mormon mayor.

The victor was George Montgomery Scott, born and raised in Clinton County, New York. It was a prodigious victory, creating hundreds of media headlines.

With Scott assuming control in what had long been the Mormon center of power, change came swiftly to both sides. Latter Day Saints President Wilford Woodruff soon issued the Woodruff Manifesto, forever revising church doctrine with the line, “I now publicly declare that my advice to the Latter-day Saints is to refrain from contracting any marriage forbidden by the law of the land.”

With the grudging acceptance of federal marriage law by the official church, the crux of the problem was suddenly gone. The Mormons, always politically astute, disbanded the Peoples’ Party within a year and directed its followers to the nation’s two major national parties, Democrats and Republicans.

The Liberals were slower to move, but did the same two years later. Since that time, the Mormons have always held great sway in Utah politics, but well short of the control they once tried to parlay into a Vatican-like theocracy. No matter how great your god is, that’s a tough sell in a democracy.

The newly elected mayor of Salt Lake City was virulently anti-Mormon and a devout Episcopal, reflecting one facet of the religious war that shook the West. A number of issues ruled Utah’s early development, but a prominent theme was “my god is better than your god,” the basic foundation of so much strife in the world’s history. In Utah, the god issue came to a head over the concept of plural marriage.

George Montgomery Scott commanded center stage for only two years. The mayoral run was his only foray into politics in a career devoted principally to the world of business and community development. He was a commissioner of the 1883 World’s Fair, treasurer of the Utah Eastern Railroad, a founding member of the Utah Stock Exchange, and supported Episcopal hospitals and churches. His election victory, once the biggest news in the nation, is now a footnote in history

Due to illness and age, Scott sold his business interests in 1904 and retired to California. He died of pneumonia in San Mateo in 1915.

Photos: George Montgomery Scott; advertisement for hardware business.

Lawrence Gooley has authored ten books and dozens of articles on the North Country’s past. He and his partner, Jill McKee, founded Bloated Toe Enterprises in 2004. Expanding their services in 2008, they have produced 19 titles to date, and are now offering web design. For information on book publishing, visit Bloated Toe Publishing.


Monday, February 6, 2012

Champlain Area Trails Writing Contest Winners

An independent field biology study turned out to be especially fruitful for both teacher and student. Every week since January 2011, Westport ninth-grader Peter Hartwell and mentor David Thomas Train have been exploring the Champlain Area Trails along shoreline, streams, wetlands, and woods near Westport. Those explorations eventually prompted them to enter the Champlain Area Trails Society Travel Writing Contest.

Hartwell attends the BOCES Special Education program in Mineville. To supplement the Mineville curriculum, he studies several subjects privately—including field biology with Thomas Train. “Peter and I spend time together every Wednesday after school in outdoor science explorations, and we wanted to share what we do and see,” Thomas Train explained. “He is an avid outdoors explorer, with great observation and drawing skills.” And Thomas Train is certainly no stranger to the trails of the Champlain Valley: He is the guidebook author for the ADK Guide To The Eastern Region. “I know the CATS trails well and am excited every time a new one is developed, more open space is protected, and I have a new place to explore!” Thomas Train said. » Continue Reading.


Sunday, February 5, 2012

17th Annual War College of the Seven Years’ War

Registration is now open for Fort Ticonderoga’s Seventeenth Annual War College of the Seven Years’ War May 18-20, 2012. This annual seminar focuses on the French & Indian War in North America (1754-1763), bringing together a panel of distinguished historians from around the country and beyond. The War College takes place in the Deborah Clarke Mars Education Center and is open to the public; pre-registration is required.

2012 Speakers include:

DeWitt Bailey, British author and 18th-century arms expert, on British weapons of the war.

Maria Alessandra Bollettino, Framingham State University, on slave revolts in the British Caribbean during the war.

Earl John Chapman, Canadian author and historian, on the experiences of James Thompson, a sergeant in the 78th Highlanders.

Christopher D. Fox, Fort Ticonderoga, on Colonel Abijah Willard’s Massachusetts Provincials in 1759.

Jean-François Lozier, Canadian Museum of Civilization, on the use of paints and cosmetics among Natives and Europeans.

Paul W. Mapp, College of William & Mary, on the role the vast western lands played in the battle for empire.

William P. Tatum III, David Library of the American Revolution, on the British military justice system, using ten courts-martial at Ticonderoga in 1759 as case studies.

Len Travers, University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth, on the “Lost Patrol of 1756” on Lake George.

The weekend begins Friday evening with a presentation by Ticonderoga Town Historian William G. Dolback on “Historic Ticonderoga in Pictures.” Dolback is also President of the Ticonderoga Historical Society and leading local efforts to commemorate the 250th anniversary of the first settler in Ticonderoga in 1764.

Begun in 1996, the War College of the Seven Years’ War has become one of the premier seminars on the French & Indian War in the country. It features a mix of new and established scholars in an informal setting for a weekend of presentations related to the military, social, and cultural history of the French & Indian War.

Early Bird Registration for the War College is now open at $120 for the weekend ($100 for members of the Friends of Fort Ticonderoga). Registration forms can be downloaded from the Fort’s website under the “Explore and Learn” tab by selecting “Life Long Learning” on the drop down menu and then clicking on the War College. A printed copy is also available upon request by contacting Rich Strum, Director of Education, at 518-585-6370.

Photo courtesy Sandy Goss, Eagle Bay Media.


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