Thursday, November 10, 2011

Astronomy: The November Night Sky

Here are some naked eye objects for the month of November. All of these objects, although small, should be visible without the help of binoculars or a telescope, so long as you have clear dark skies.

Light pollution is a killer for seeing these objects with your naked eye. To find out how dark your location is, use the Google Map Overlay of light pollution. If you are in a blue, gray or black area then you should have dark enough skies. You may still be able to see some of these objects in a green location. If you aren’t in a dark sky location you may still be able to see these objects with a pair of binoculars or telescope.

You can find help locating the night sky objects listed below by using one of the free sky charts at Skymaps.com (scroll down to Northern Hemisphere Edition and click on the PDF for November 2011). The map shows what is in the sky in November at 8 pm for early November; 7 pm for late November.

If you are not familiar with what you see in the night sky, this is a great opportunity to step outside, look up, and begin learning the constellations. The sky is beautiful and filled with many treasures just waiting for you to discover them. Once you have looked for these objects go through the list again if you have a pair of binoculars handy, the views get better!

Meteor Showers
November 12th is the peak of the Northern Taurid’s Meteor Shower in the constellation Taurus. This meteor shower is leftover debris from the Comet Encke. The Moon will be in Tauris as the meteor shower peaks so expect to only see a few due to being washed out by the Moon’s light. The meteors from this shower that I have seen so far are quite bright and seemingly slow and look like a flare falling from the sky.

November 17th is the peak of the Leonid Meteor Shower in the constellation Leo rising around midnight. The Leonid Meteor Shower produces around 20 meteors per hour. Just like most meteor showers this year the Moon will be affecting it.

The Moon
November 10 is the full Moon, this months full Moon goes by the name of Beaver Moon, and also sometimes referred to as the Frosty Moon.

Last quarter Moon is on the 18th

New Moon is on the 25th. Best night time to go out and enjoy the darkest skies with no interruption from the Moon.

November 9th and 10th the Moon and Jupiter will be 9° below the Moon which is about a fists width apart held at arms length, and 6° to the right of the Moon respectively.

November 19th In the morning hours Mars will be about 8° to the left and a little bit up from the Crescent Moon in the.

November 22nd Moon and Saturn before sunrise about 7° to the left

November 26th just after sunset, very thin Crescent Moon Venus and Mercury can be seen close to horizon.

November 27th the Moon will move up and to the left of Venus.

Mercury
Mercury will get as high in the sky as it will all month just after sunset by mid November and may not be visible due to the mountains of the Adirondacks. May be a difficult planet to spot.

Venus
Venus will be visible all month low on the horizon just after sunset in the West.

MarsAround 1 am in east Mars will be roughly 60° above the horizon by sunrise in the constellation of Leo.

Jupiter
Rises at sunset and sets as the sun rises for most of the month. Jupiter can be found to the left of Pegasus and Pisces and still remains the brightest object in the sky besides the Sun and the Moon.

Saturn
Making a new appearance of about 15° above the horizon as the sun rises

Pegasus
Straight overhead will be the constellation Pegasus also known as The Great Square. This constellation is easy to spot due to the 4 stars that form the Great Square of Pegasus with a seemingly empty area inside of it.

Pisces
To the South of Pegasus is the constellation Pisces. Easily found following the right side of the square of Pegasus south until you reach the keystone of Pisces.

Andromeda
To the East of the square of Pegasus, attached to it in most drawings of the constellations, is the constellation Andromeda. If you find the bright star Mirach and follow the chain of stars to the North it will bring you to the Andromeda galaxy in clear dark skies. The Andromeda Galaxy cataloged as M31 is visible to the naked eye in the northeast. The Andromeda Galaxy is the closest galaxy to the Milky Way lying about 2.5 million light-years away. If in a dark enough location the light produced by this galaxy is roughly the diameter of 5 moons in our sky.

Triangulum
The constellation Triangulum is to the South of Andromeda. Made up of only 3 stars forming a triangle shape.

Pleiades
A great grouping of stars in the constellation of Taurus the Bull. Looking at it has always reminded me of a smaller version of the little dipper. In dark locations you can see anywhere from 5-7 and possibly a few more stars in this grouping. It has also been called the seven sisters and is actually a Messier object, number 45. These are very hot blue and extremely luminous stars that have formed within the last 100 million years. This grouping of stars has quite a bit of history in mythology.

Perseus
The Double Cluster, cataloged as NGC 869 and NGC 884 is a beautiful cluster that shows quite a group of stars with the naked eye. M34, which you may need to wait until around 11pm for it to be high enough to see is nearly a moon-diameter wide and is a fairly easy to see open cluster.
Look for a grouping of stars around the brightest star in Perseus, Mirphak.

Aquila
The Great Rift is a non-luminous dust cloud that can be seen splitting the Milky Way in two separate streams. It stretches from Aquila to the constellation Cygnus although it is more prominent in the constellation Aquila.

Hercules
Messier Object 13 (known as M13) is a globular cluster. It will have a small hazy glow to it. Hercules is getting lower in the sky so M13 may be difficult to spot through the haze of the atmosphere.

Cygnus
North America Nebula (NGC7000) – The unaided eye sees only a wedge-shaped star-cloud which may be quite dim, or not visible at all. In dark skies it should pop out a bit. Located near the star Deneb. M39 an open cluster patch of stars northeast of the star Deneb. The Northern Coalsack spans across the sky between the stars Deneb, Sadir, and Gienah in the northeastern portion of Cygnus. If you don’t know which stars of Sadir and Gienah just find Deneb with the map and look to the east northeast.

Photo: Above, a screen capture of the constellations straight overhead this month. Image from the freeware programStellarium. Below, a long exposure image taken by Michael Rector of the constellations Auriga, Taurus, Perseus and the open cluster of stars Pleiades. Upper left is Perseus, upper right cluster of stars is Pleiades, below Pleiades is Taurus, and near bottom center is Auriga. In the upper left corner there is a fuzzy grouping of stars, that’s the double cluster.

Michael Rector is an amateur astronomer with his own blog, Adirondack Astronomy


Wednesday, November 9, 2011

High Peaks Happy Hour: Garrison, Lake George

The Garrison in Lake George, once a mecca for college students working in Lake George in the summer, or home for Thanksgiving or Christmas break, was and still is a haven for the locals. Situated on a hill, just far enough from Lake George Village, the Garrison offers security from the summer tourists as well as gorgeous views of the surrounding mountains from the deck in front.

As with many local pubs, the regulars at the Garrison welcome newcomers, but take comfort in being surrounded by their comrades. It’s one of those bars that you can visit as seldom as once a year and be sure to see someone you know, or visit for the first time and make friends you’ll see again and again.

Pam was once a regular at the Garrison in the ’80s and ’90s. Much like Norm of Cheers fame, she had her own designated barstool, at least in her mind, and, when necessary, was known to hover near it until it became available. Located at the end of the bar, in a far corner, it provided her with a view of everyone in the room, as well as a direct line to the door to see who was coming or going.

She recalls young Brian’s first days as a novice bartender, barely old enough to drink. The Garrison had been going through a number of bartenders at the time and Pam grew weary of “breaking them in”. Brian was different – curious and eager to learn. They started a game of “shot of the day”. While Pam worked her day job, it was Brian’s task to come up with a new concoction before she arrived for Happy Hour. He never knew which day she would come, but was always ready with something clever for shot du jour.

Built in 1953 on the site of Fort William Henry’s garrison, the Garrison has been continually in business since then. It fell victim to a fire in the early 1980s, but a new log structure was quickly built to replace it.

Current owner, BJ Forando, has owned it for the past 10 years. The original structure had an upstairs loft, dubbed the Koom Room in the 1960s, and the term remains on their sign. The origin and purpose of the Koom Room remains a closely guarded secret, though we suspect no one really knows. Not much has changed since then, but the carpeting, once perpetually sticky from spilled beer and cocktails, has thankfully been replaced at least a couple of times. College pennants still adorn the pine ceiling. Some, dusty and dingy, date back to before the fire, salvaged and ceremoniously redisplayed. The Garrison offers a free pitcher of beer for any pennant not currently among its collection.

The Garrison currently serves at least a dozen draft beers, mostly domestics and mass-produced specialty beers, and at least as many more in bottles, as well as malt coolers (Mike’s Hard Lemonade, Twisted Tea and Smirnoff Ice). The liquor selection is pretty standard, no specialty drinks, and the shot-of-the-day is a thing-of-the-past. Garrison Happy Hour specials, 50 cents off beer and well drinks, is offered Monday through Friday from 4 to 7 p.m. WiFi and Quick Draw are available. The bar opens daily at 11 a.m. and closes around midnight, but is subject to demand. Only seldom do they close to the public for private functions, but they do close for Thanksgiving and open late on Christmas Day.

For your amusement, activities include pool, electronic darts, arcade games, the toy claw and a jukebox. A variety of seating options can be found here. Outside on the deck, there are built in benches and a picnic table, but more seating is probably offered outside in fair weather. The bar accommodates up to 18 people. Two tables with seating for 4 each and a pub table for two are in the immediate vicinity. The restaurant, somewhat separated from the bar by a partition, features two large tables seating 6-8 each and can be put together for large parties. Several booths line the walls, accented by pendant lights above and Lake George panoramic prints. The menu is primarily bar fare – appetizers, sandwiches, burgers, soups and salads all in the $5 to $10 range. Lunch specials are offered daily at around $7.95. We don’t often comment on food, but Kim found the seafood chowder delicious!

Winter is the Garrison’s busiest season and it’s the only bar in the village that’s right on the snowmobile trail, but summer months afford nice views from the deck where you can lounge for hours in the sun or breeze, listening to the drone of boats on the lake. A huge parking area lends an air of optimism and endless possibilities. Kelly, our bartender the day we visited, was pleasant, professional, attentive and friendly. No matter the season or the time of day, you are sure to feel safe and welcome at the Garrison.

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, November 9, 2011

Art Supports the Community in Saranac Lake

So often you hear about how the arts support a community, but what does that actually mean? In Saranac Lake, NY, the burgeoning Adirondack arts community, it means a check for $2000 from Saranac Lake ArtWorks—a collective of independent art galleries and the Adirondack Artists Guild (of 14 artists), the Pendragon Theatre, and local arts businesses working together to promote local artists—to Historic Saranac Lake.

For the third year, Saranac Lake Art Works has raised money through their annual Adirondack Plein Air Festival to give back to the community. The Adirondack Plein Air Festival, held in mid-August, has become a well-known event in the Adirondack region, drawing artists from all over the east coast.For 4 days, artists can be seen at their easels all over the countryside, and for one of those days, they Paint the Town, in miniature, using 5×7 canvasses that are exhibited at the end of the day for a silent auction. The artists each donate one of their paintings to ArtWorks, and the proceeds are used to support other organizations in Saranac Lake.

Each year, the amount has grown, starting with $1000 raised in 2009 for the Saranac Lake Young Arts Association. In 2010, they gave $1200 to help BluSeed Studios, and this year they brought in $2000 for Historic Saranac Lake for their attention to documenting the history of the cure cottage architecture unique to this town.

Throughout the year, Saranac Lake ArtWorks continues to promote local artists and to hold events that bring tourists up to their little village on Lake Flower. In December they will be holding the Art for Under $100 Sale, which provides the unique opportunity to purchase valuable artwork from the local talent at a very good price.

Photos: Above; a painting donated by Sandra Hildreth for the 2011 Paint the Town event.

Linda J. Peckel explores the Adirondacks by following the arts wherever they take her. Her general art/writing/film/photography musings on can be found at her blog Arts Enclave.


Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Phil Brown: USGS Streamgages Under Threat

One of the more amazing statistics to emerge from Tropical Storm Irene was that the East Branch of the Ausable crested at 18.43 feet in Ausable Forks—three feet higher than the previous record and more than eleven feet above flood stage. The river’s flow peaked at fifty thousand cubic feet per second, a hundred times greater than normal.

Just a few months after the record storm, the U.S. Geological Survey is warning that it will be forced to discontinue most of the streamgages in the Lake Champlain basin on March 1 unless funding can be found to keep them going.

Throughout New York State, the USGS plans to discontinue thirty-one gages, including nine in or near the Adirondack Park. (The USGS uses the spelling “gages” rather than “gauges.”)

The gage that measured the record crest on the East Branch of the Ausable is not on the chopping block, not yet anyway. However, one nearby that is at risk has been in operation for more than eighty years, longer than any of other gages scheduled to be discontinued.

“We’ve got eighty-two years of records at this site. It is important for determining how flows are changing over time,” said Ward Freeman, director of the USGS New York Water Science Center in Troy. The center’s website contains real-time data from rivers throughout the state.

Streamgages measure the height and flow of rivers. Data are used to predict floods, calculate nutrient pollution, assess conditions for paddling, and determine when it’s appropriate to put lampricide in tributaries of Lake Champlain.

John Sheehan, spokesman for the Adirondack Council, warned that without stream data, riverside communities will find it more difficult to protect themselves. “We won’t know what the changes in a river’s height and volume are, and as a result we can’t plan for flooding events,” he said.

In the past, many gages were funded through congressional earmarks, but lawmakers eliminated the earmarks a few years ago to save money, Freeman said. He added that the USGS needs $134,000 to keep the nine North Country gauges operational. (Each gage costs about $15,000 a year to operate and maintain.)

Eight of the gages are on rivers that feed Lake Champlain. Besides the Ausable, they are the Great Chazy, Little Ausable, Salmon, Boquet, Mettawee, and Putnam Creek. The ninth is on a narrow part of Lake Champlain itself near Whitehall.

Gages on another dozen rivers in Vermont that feed Lake Champlain also are scheduled to be shut down. Four others were discontinued in October.

This year, USGS was able to keep the gages on Lake Champlain tributaries running only after obtaining financial assistance from the Lake Champlain Basin Program. Freeman said he hopes the Lake Champlain organization and other interested parties can come up with money again.

“We’re going to do all we can to save these gages,” Freeman said.

Eric Howe, a technical coordinator for the basin program, said the non-profit organization will do everything it can to keep the gages operational, but it’s too early to tell if the group will have enough funds. Last year it spent about $150,000 to keep the gages running.

“The gages were extremely important during Tropical Storm Irene,” Howe said. “They helped us see what the tributaries were doing in the flooding.”

Thanks to a gage on the Winooski River, he said, farmers were able to round up volunteers to harvest crops in advance of floods.

Freeman is asking those willing to contribute funding for the gages to call him or Rob Breault at 518-285-5658 or email dc_ny@usgs.gov.

Click here to read the Adirondack Explorer’s comprehensive coverage of Tropical Storm Irene.

Photo by Ken Aaron: a high-water line near Ausable Forks.

Phil Brown is the editor of the Adirondack Explorer newsmagazine.


Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Adirondack Family Activities: Underground RR at Pok-O-MacCready

Bounty hunters and escaped slaves may sound like a game for the Wii but this Friday, November 11 from 6:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m. you can get your children off the couch and into living history. For a fiver, Pok-O-MacCready Outdoor Education Center (OEC) in Willsboro’s is welcoming the public to experience what is would be like to be part of the Underground Railroad.

Though the Adirondacks has ties to the Underground Railroad, this particular experience, though historically accurate, is not placed true to the location. According to Stites McDaniel, Director of the Pok-O-MacCready Outdoor Education Center (OEC) to provide a more in-depth experience participants play the roles of slaves and attempt to avoid bounty hunters as they move from station to station.

“Bounty hunters wouldn’t have necessarily gone this far north,” says McDaniel. “It would have been more likely the common citizen turning in a runaway for the reward. We had to take a bit of creative license in order for the participants to get, what we felt, would be the entire experience from escape to freedom. There was still the danger throughout the Underground Railroad network as the slaves were shuttled north.”

Participants will play the roles of escaped slaves while staff and volunteers play the roles of bounty hunters, abolitionists and marshals. McDaniel encourages people to come with questions as the event always closes with a discussion. He asks that people take a moment to truly suspend belief and immerse themselves in the experience.

“We run this program with high school and lower middle school students,” says McDaniel. “We have had children as young as seven and are able to cater to the age of the participant. We do not over glamorize. We want families with younger children to feel included.”

This community event is a partnership with the 1812 Homestead, where the event takes place. According to McDaniel the “escaped slaves” will move to each station where there will be an historic discovery during the re-enactment. When a group is participating in a learning station they are off limits to the bounty hunters. As the group moves from station to station they are then running from bounty hunters or may be fortunate to find an abolitionist.

McDaniel says, “We try to incorporate as much historical reference as possible. People may meet a traveling abolitionist named Lucretia Mott. There will also be someone acting as a member of local Keese family. The whole re-enactment is about two hours. Within that timeframe participants will be doing their own learning. We do end with a debriefing. We don’t end the activity without a discussion.”

Pok-O-MacCready Outdoor Education Center (OEC) in Willsboro, a not-for-profit organization comprised of 300 acres, focuses on an outdoor educational experience. The waterfront facilities provide opportunities for canoeing, kayaking and fishing while the property utilizes onsite skiing, mountain biking and nature trails. Catering primarily to school and youth groups, the Pok-O-MacCready OEC continues to add community events to their roster based on their popular school events.

photo of Underground Railroad re-enactment at Pok-O-MacCready Outdoor Education Center used with permission.

Diane Chase is the author of the Adirondack Family Activities Guidebook Series including the recent released Adirondack Family Time: Tri-Lakes and High Peaks Your Guide to Over 300 Activities for Lake Placid, Saranac Lake, Tupper Lake, Keene, Jay and Wilmington areas (with GPS coordinates), the first book of a four-book series of Adirondack Family Activities.


Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Third Adirondack Youth Climate Summit This Week

As preparations for the third Adirondack Youth Climate Summit, on November 9th and 10th, are reaching a crescendo, science centers around the country and the world are in touch with The Wild Center in Tupper Lake to talk about using the Youth Summit model to create a shared summit platform that would allow students in different locations to share ideas and successes. The Summit will bring together more than 170 participants from 30 high schools and colleges across the Adirondacks and ultimately effect more than 25,000 students.

The Summit is the only one of its kind in the country and has already led to financial savings and shifts in mindsets across the Park. Students who participated last year returned to their schools implementing change – creating school gardens to provide food for their cafeterias, expanding recycling and composting programs, replacing power strips with energy smart strips, examining energy saving opportunities by conducting carbon audits for their schools and presenting to school boards about their activities and financial savings. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Dave Gibson: Solitude on Eleventh ‘Cataract’ Mountain

There’s a great deal weighing on people’s minds this early November, starting with how they’ll get through another Adirondack winter, keep their family healthy, and earn a living. Some are wondering if they’ll be elected on Tuesday, others confused about who they’re going to vote for. One town supervisor I spoke with in July informed me that four of his town’s five rural post offices would be shuttered in 2012, and asked me if the fate of local post offices concerned me. I said it did.

My Adirondack Wild colleague Dan Plumley and his neighbors lost their Keene Valley local post office this year. I do recall a citizen campaign waged decades ago to keep the only small post office in Hallowell, Maine – near where I was born. It succeeded. Hope is always a crucial part of any early November day.

Some lose their immediate November worries and thoughts in the fall hunt, or adventure. My conservation mentor Paul Schaefer was in hunting camp this time of the year, beginning in 1931 when as a 23-year old he first guided the Cataract Club into the Siamese wilderness until the mid 1980s when his bad knee finally gave out on him. Often, Paul and other members of the Cataract Club would climb Cataract Mountain which stretches for miles above the East Branch of the Sacandaga River valley in Bakers Mills. That’s not the mountain’s designated name. On maps it is Eleventh Mountain.

Paul wrote in his book Adirondack Cabin Country (Syracuse University Press, 1993) that “Half a century ago a number of us who hunted that mountain and were enthralled by its magnificence, decided to give it a more fitting name. ‘Cataract Mountain’ it has been, and it is for us, U.S. Geological Survey maps notwithstanding. Five crystal streams tumble off the thickly forested peak that stretches 3, 249 feet in elevation. Some of the cataracts that form are spectacular.”

This past weekend I bushwacked up Cataract Mountain with my friend Herb. I think we were going to find something, not to lose our thoughts or troubles, relatively light as those may be – perhaps to find a coyote standing tall on that peak, yipping and yelping and looking out on their wild domain. Despite the slow, tough climb around boulders, birch, beech and balsam thickets, Herb said he was determined to summit.

When we finally reached one of the mountain’s five summits, we rested and looked out at the valley of the East Branch of the Sacandaga glimmering 900 feet below us, Rt. 8 winding to its left. We gazed on Black, Harrington and other mountains in the blue distance. Suddenly Herb exclaimed, jumped up and found coyote scat not 20 feet from where we were eating our lunch. Look, Herb said, a coyote did survey his domain from this very spot! As had Paul Schaefer, many times.

Paul writes in Adirondack Cabin Country: “There are numerous spots where I can stand on a rocky ledge above the precipitous forested slopes dropping off to the valley far below and experience a solitude so wonderful that it causes emotions I can not describe…Here on Cataract Mountain – protected by the ‘forever wild’ covenant – the work of the Divine Artist is all about us, from the lichens clinging to the bare rocks to the hawk wheeling in the sky far above.”

It was true. The rock, lichen, ferns, shining, soaking moss had a luminous intensity during Herb’s and my adventure. We checked our watch. Fleeting thoughts of home and of gathering darkness found its crevice and latched on. We’d better go. Picking our way down the steep slope, we reached the trail in good shape as the sun was setting, pleased with ourselves. A mile away on the other side of the mountain, the Cataract Club was settling into their camp, now in its 80th fall season. As for their quarry, the sagacious white-tailed deer, it was long gone – like that coyote.

Photos: Above, Paul Schaefer at his Adirondack cabin below Cataract Mountain; Below, Herb at the summit of Cataract, or Eleventh Mountain.


Monday, November 7, 2011

Big Brown Bats and the Adirondack Winter

Despite remarkable similarities in appearance, flying styles and behaviors, not all bats are created equal. In the Adirondacks, there are approximately nine species of these dark, winged mammals during the summer months, yet all possess their own unique physical characteristics and habits.

The manner in which bats deal with the total lack of flying insects that occurs with the onset of winter is one feature that illustrates how bats are different. Even though more than half the species that populate our region migrate to and then enter caves or mines that extend deep underground, all have definite preferences for below the surface. While some species proceed far from the entrance in order to reach warmer and damper locations, others favor cooler and drier spots closer to the world above. » Continue Reading.


Monday, November 7, 2011

Lawrence Gooley: Long History of the ‘Rooftop Highway’

As has happened for so many, many years now, the Rooftop Highway is in the news again, with plenty of pros and cons presented and a whole lot hanging in the balance. While listening to some of the arguments, it struck me that the idea is perhaps a little older than some of us think. Paul Sands of WPTZ recently commented that the Rooftop Highway idea hasn’t moved for 20 years, but at the very least, I’m old enough to recall the intense discussions during the 1970s, and that takes us back 40 years.

Of course, the record shows that the concept was legitimized a half-century ago when, in early 1961, the New York State legislature passed a bill that included the proposed road as part of the federal interstate highway system.

In the 1960s, the idea was pushed by State Senator Robert McEwen (an Ogdensburg native) and Clinton County Assemblyman Robert Feinberg (Malone native and Plattsburgh resident). In fact, Feinberg said it would happen “sooner or later,” even if Governor Nelson Rockefeller vetoed the bill (which he did, after both houses passed it).

Perhaps not so coincidentally, Feinberg’s father, New York State Senator Benjamin Feinberg, was highly critical of the condition of the state’s highways in the late 1930s. At that time, he called for the construction of four-lane highways to help make travel safer. Decades later, Robert followed up on his father’s ideas.

Unnoticed in the mix was New York State Assemblyman Leslie G. Ryan (of Rouses Point), who presented serious arguments for the establishment of a main highway north to the Canadian border, and another running east from Clinton County to Watertown, the same concept known today as the Rooftop Highway.

Ryan’s ideas may well have been adopted by Congress when the interstate highway system later became reality. In 1940, when he proposed the idea of a multi-lane route across northern New York, his motivation came from several sources. Some of those same reasons were cited years later in the battle over the Rooftop Highway.

At the time, the United States was still fifteen months away from entering World War II. England and Canada, however, were at war with Germany. It occurred to Ryan and many others that a German victory could suddenly place the Nazis on our northern border, which was basically undefended.

(From the days of the Revolutionary War through the Civil War, the northern border had been a constant security concern. Since that time, the level of worry had waned, but it was still an issue.) By mid-1940, the Germans had won many victories, and Canada and Britain (among others) had already been at war with them for a year.

With German dominance a real possibility, Assemblyman Ryan addressed the problem eloquently in a letter to Congressman Clarence Kilburn, who in turn presented it at the federal level to the War Department. Ryan’s arguments were compelling.

“It seems to me that a weakness in our national defense, and one that would seriously hamper our cooperation with Canada, is our present system of main highways in northern New York. Over our narrow roads, it would be practically impossible to move large numbers of troops and military equipment, including heavy guns and tanks, with the speed necessary for effective operation in modern mechanized warfare.

“Because our Northern border is completely undefended, our inability to speedily concentrate forces in this section might well prove disastrous to our national defense, more particularly if Germany should defeat England and attempt an invasion of this country through Canada.

“It is my belief that the main highway from Glens Falls to the Canadian boundary at Rouses Point should be widened to provide three or four lanes, and the U. S. Highway No. 11 from Rouses Point through Champlain, Mooers, Ellenburg, Chateaugay, and Malone to Watertown and south to Syracuse, should likewise be widened, and much of it resurfaced with concrete.

“Such improvements would provide broad military highways from Albany, Syracuse, and then south to and along the Canadian boundary over which troops and military equipment could be moved speedily to the northern frontier if it should become necessary.

“They would also give direct connection between Lake Champlain and the St. Lawrence River, and the three United States Army posts at Plattsburgh, Madison Barracks [Sackets Harbor], and Fort Ethan Allen, the latter by way of the Rouses Point bridge.”

Looking to the future, Ryan added, “In ordinary times, these three or four lane highways would be no more than adequate to care for our constantly increasing local and tourist automobile traffic.” In other words, the changes wouldn’t be overkill, even in peacetime.

In the 1960s, twenty years later, McEwen’s plan cited a top priority that was remarkably similar to Ryan’s: “From a defense standpoint, this Rooftop Highway could be very important. Such installations as Rome Air Force Base, Camp Drum, Plattsburgh Air Force Base, Atlas missile sites in the Plattsburgh area, and the Burlington dispersal area would be served by this Rooftop Highway.”

Most, if not all, media refer to the “original” plan floated in the early 1960s for a Rooftop Highway, but the concept was promoted by Assemblyman Leslie Ryan of Rouses Point two decades earlier. Depending on which side of the argument you’re on, part of the blame or credit goes to Mr. Ryan.

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, November 7, 2011

Fred Monroe: Economic Councils Need Coordination

What follows is a guest essay by Frederick H. Monroe, Executive Director of the Adirondack Park Local Government Review Board (LGRB). The LGRB was created by the Adirondack Park Agency Act “For the purpose of advising and assisting the Adirondack Park Agency in carrying out its functions, powers and duties.”

Through his vision and leadership, Gov. Andrew Cuomo has offered to the communities of New York a major opportunity – with the potential for large rewards: The chance to set our own economic agendas, regionally, with the ten Regional Economic Councils. And, initially, a piece of the $200 million in state funding that goes along with them. » Continue Reading.


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