Friday, September 15, 2006

1950s Adirondack Ads Online: Gaslight Village

The Almanack keeps and eye on eBay for unusual items related to our region. This week an extensive list of advertisements for various resorts, hotels, and more have provided interesting reading. One of the more unique is the classic ad for Gaslight Village in Lake George, shown here. We’re glad to see that the convention center proposal for the former amusement park site is all but dead and the Post Star is now reporting that:

The Warren County Finance Committee on Monday unanimously recommended the full Board of Supervisors authorize the county to contribute up to $1.3 million of the $4.1 million purchase price [for the Gaslight Village property], with the village and town of Lake George each contributing $950,000, with the rest paid by private entities.

One of the proposals is an environmental project designed to mitigate the now painfully obvious effects of siltation from the stream than runs near the property and into Lake George where an enormous sand bar has developed over the last 20 years – a project that’s long overdue for a site that’s been an abandoned eyesore for too long.

UPDATE: Democracy in Albany has a timely discussion of the situation in Albany where their last coporate convention center the Knickerbocker (or Pepsi, or whatever they’re calling it now), like the Glens Falls Civic Center, continues to cost more as local leaders push for another convention center.


Wednesday, September 6, 2006

Adirondack Almanack: Recent Editorial Changes

Regular readers have probably noticed a few changes here at the Almanack (thanks in part to Beta Blogger), but I thought I’d review them and seek your input on how to make the only regional Adirondack blog even better.

  • An Adirondack news feed has been added at top right. So far, it hasn’t been as nice as we would have liked, but having the latest google news about the Adirondacks does offer a little something extra. Verdict: not sure if we’ll keep it; we may move to a topix feed instead.
  • We’ve added a section at right called “support the almanack” where you can:
    • Visit our Amazon store (make your purchases through the link and we’ll get a portion of the proceeds).
    • Submit one of our stories to Digg or make us one of your Technorati favorites; by doing so you help bring more readers – more readers, more support, support we could certainly use.
    • Subscribe to one of our RSS Feeds – we recently started using Bloglines as our newsreader – and we love it! No more dozens of open tabs or windows, easy reading, saving stories, and searching. If you don’t do RSS – we highly suggest you do.
  • We’ve made reading some of our more popular stories easier by adding some sections at right. Thanks to our new tags at the bottom of each story we’ll be able to occasionally highlight stories on particular topics. Some of the offerings we have as present are:
    • A selection from our collection of stories of danger and disaster.
    • A selection of some of our favorite posts from the past year and a half.
    • An opportunity to sample some more of our stories by type/category/tag.
    • An opportunity to read stories by county.
    • A revised Archive of all our past Adirondack Almanack stories.
  • A new blogroll of Adirondack blogs – these are all local blogs and local blogs only. Adirondack bloggers have come a long way in the past two years and we’re happy the community of Adirondack Blogs is growing steadily. When is the first Adk Blogger Picnic?
  • A newsfeed of recent stories we’ve dug on Digg. These are stories that are probably not directly related to the Adirondacks but are somehow relevant to our mission or Adirondack news and information.

There are some new features as well in the works including link dumps on specific topics. We hope you like the changes and look forward to your comments and suggestions. feel free to e-mail us at adkalmanack[at]gmail[dot com].


Tuesday, September 5, 2006

Adirondack Winter Survival Quiz

Regular readers know the Almanack is obsessed with stories of danger, death, and survival in our region’s wilderness areas. Now Field and Stream offers an online quiz to see if you know how to survive in the woods during winter conditions. Good luck!


Monday, September 4, 2006

New York Central RR – The Adirondack and St. Lawrence Railroad

Everything is well, now—we are done with poverty, sad toil, weariness and heart-break; all the world is filled with sunshine. – Mark Twain’s Sarcasm from The Gilded Age

Labor Day gives us a great opportunity to think about the historical memory of class in the Adirondacks.

For modern Adirondack workers Labor Day is little more than the season ending three-day weekend that signals the start of the annual southern migration of tourist everywhereis. » Continue Reading.


Saturday, September 2, 2006

Warren County: Eagle Point on Schroon Lake

The sandy beach landing at Eagle Point in Pottersville on Schroon Lake was probably used as a campsite for thousands of years. A short road along the point was already improved for at least 20 years before it was purchased by the State of New York in 1928. Over the next year the state built the Eagle Point Campground with 64 improved sites along a one mile stretch between Route 9 (the International Highway) and the lake – another eight sites were added later.

It now has hot showers, flush toilets, pay telephones, and a small quarters for the DEC caretaker. It’s also a favored spot for some of the folks over at Scream and Fly.


Tuesday, August 29, 2006

10 Deadliest Accidents in The Adirondack Mountain Region

Yesterday’s crash of a Greyhound bus near Elizabethtown reminds us of some of the tragic events that have occurred in the Adirondack region. Here is a list of the ten we believe were most tragic:

October 2, 2005 – Ethan Allen Sinking
Twenty-one people drown when the Lake George excursion boat Ethan Allen flips and sinks while turning against a wave.

1903 – Spier Falls Dam Ferry Capsizes
Sixteen men and a young boy were drowned when a ferry carrying workers capsized on the Hudson River near the Spier Falls Dam (then under construction) in Moreau between Lake Luzerne and Mount McGregor. The ferry was overloaded when high water made a temporary bridge too dangerous to use.

November 19, 1969 – Crash of Mohawk Airlines Flight 411
A twin prop-jet commuter plane (a Fairchild-Hiller 227, a.k.a. Fokker F-27) flying from La Guardia Airport in NewYork to Glens Falls crashes on Pilot Knob killing all 14 onboard. The accident is blamed on downdrafts on the leeward side of of the mountain.

August 3, 1893 – Sinking of the Steamer Rachel
The Lake George excursion steamer Rachel, chartered by more than twenty guests of the Fourteen Mile Island Hotel to take them to a dance at the Hundred Island House, is steered by an inexperienced Captain out of the channel and into an old dock south of the hotel. the old peir tears a large hole in the side of the boat below the water line and twelve were killed – many caught on the shade deck as the boat listed and almost immediately sinks.

July 30, 1856 – Burning of the John Jay
The 140-feet long Lake George steamer John Jay, loaded with 70 passengers, catches fire near the Garfield House about ten miles south of Ticonderoga on Lake George. Five die trying to swim to shore to escape the flames. The fire is blamed on an overburdened soot-clogged smokestack – the crew had kept a large hot fire in the boiler in order to make up lost time.

June 3, 1927 – Chazy Lake School Picnic Drownings
Five students, one quarter of the Dannemora High School senior class, drown when their rowboat is swamped in a squall on Chazy Lake during an interclass picnic. The only survivor is their teacher Emma Dunk, whose hand was caught in the boat keeping her above the cold water after she lost consciousness.

August 28, 2006 – Greyhound Interstate Bus Crash
Five passengers are killed when a Greyhound Bus Company’s bus No. 4014, traveling from New York City to Montreal, and making midafternoon stops in Albany and Saratoga Springs, overturns on the Northway (I-87) just before Exit 31 near Elizabethtown.

1995-2005 – Drownings at the Starbuckville Dam
A dangerous backflow whirlpool kills five swimmers at the Starbuckville Dam on the Schroon River over the course of ten years. The dam is finally rebuilt in 2005-2006.

August 12, 2003 – Split Rock Falls Drownings
Four teenagers, all ages 18 and 19, drowned at Split Rock Falls near Elizabethtown while on their day off from their jobs as camp counselors for a Minerva camp. When one fell into the water the other three tried to rescue him.

February and September 2004 – Border Patrol Checkpoint Accidents
In two separate accidents four are killed and more than 60 injured (four critically) when Canadian based buses fail to see a US Border Patrol checkpoint on Interstate 87 in Elizabethtown – poor signage is blamed.

We’d be interested in hearing about others.


Monday, August 28, 2006

A Weekend in the Adirondacks

Every Monday the blogsphere includes a few blogs about travels to the Adirondacks. For your reading pleasure we have two from this summer. Check out Big Daddy – Hubba Bubba’s trip from Rochester to Hadley Mountain by way of Little Falls:

“Saturday, Dylan woke up in a massively bad mood (see lower left photo). We all hiked up to the Fire Tower at Hadley Mountain. Not a bad little hike of 1.8 miles in each direction with an elevation climb of a little more than 1000 ft. It is a very rocky climb. I carried a 32 lb child in a backpack up this little mountain. It was brutal but extremely satisfying once we got to the peak. The firetower is really cool and there were delicious wild blueberry bushes all over the place. We had a nice rest and Dylan had a great time. The view is spectacular from the peak and is in the photo of us with Dylan in the” backpack.

And on a more poetic note, a Philly transplant to New Jersey takes on Mount Jo:

Breathing in pine and sweet damp earth
Sweat pouring down to foster my rebirth
Heart crying out to escape my chest
Pleading with Katie for “one more rest”


Friday, August 25, 2006

Warren County: Starbuckville Dam / Schroon River

The new Starbuckville Dam on the Schroon River was put into service this summer by the Schroon Lake Park District. The old deteriorated timber dam (a replacement for the dam someone dynamited in the 1890s) was replaced with a 158 foot long steel reinforced concrete overflow spillway (at the same elevation).

The old 16 foot gate was replaced with two 14 foot wide gates and a new a fish passage area was added along with a stepped spillway to reduce water turbulence below the dam. In the previous ten years five swimmers had been killed after being trapped in the backflow at the bottom of the dam. » Continue Reading.


Thursday, August 24, 2006

Third Annual Upper Hudson River Bluegrass Festival in North Creek

The Third Annual Upper Hudson River Bluegrass Festival is being held at the North Creek Ski Bowl this weekend (Fri-Sun). The festival features Smokey Greene, Al & Kathy Bain, Gary Blodgett, Gold Wing Express, Acoustic Blue & others. For information call Sara at 518-251-5842 or Penny at 518-251-2612. See you there!


Thursday, August 24, 2006

Adirondack Pool Balls: The Albany Billiard Ball Company

Here in the Adirondacks local pubs almost always have a pool table. For most of the history of Adirondack billiards, the Albany Billiard Ball Company supplied the balls. The company is believed to be one of the earliest plastics companies in the world.

According to The Smithsonian the business was started in 1868 in the South End of Albany. John Wesley Hyatt (1837-1920), one of the company’s founders, was the inventor of celluloid which was used as a substitute for ivory, from which billiard balls were then being made (before the 1600s, bibilliardalls were made of wood).

According to Brunswick: “Ivory from elephant tusk grows in an annual ring, much like a tree. A blood vessel that goes through the center of the tusk can be seen as a black dot.” The dot served as the center mark of the ball where the ball was pinned while being turned on a lathe.”

The Plastiquariana> reports that:

[Albany billiard ball maker] Phelan & Collander were offering a $10,000 reward for a suitable substitute for ivory, the growing shortage of which was threatening their business. Hyatt spent several years in the search for such a material but there is no evidence that the prize was ever awarded. Indeed, Hyatt set up his own manufacturing company which, a little later, became the Albany Billiard Ball Company. Initially, composition balls were coated in a coloured layer of almost pure cellulose nitrate [called collodion].

According to the Smithsonisn, The “Hyatt” composition ball dominated barroom and pool hall tables until the 1960s, but according to the Billiards Guide:

Unfortunately, the new balls could shatter under hard impact and manufacture of them had to be stopped until a fix for this problem was found. The discovery that solved this problem was celluloid. However, because of the problems with his earlier billiard balls, acceptance of these celluloid billiard balls did not come easily. However, this process did lead to the discovery of Bakelite and cast-phenolic resins which are the main components of billiard balls even to this day.

Thanks for the photo and idea from an anonymous Craiglist Request.

Some Adirondack Pool Links

The Winners of Last Year’s Joss Cues Northeast 9 Ball Tournament at Adirondack Billiards in Glens Falls

The Greater Albany American Poolplayer Association


Suggested Reading

Byrne’s Complete Book of Pool Shots: 350 Moves Every Player Should Know

Byrne’s Treasury of Trick Shots in Pool and Billiards


Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Adirondack Region Marijuana Crop Will Be HUUUUUUUGGGGGGE

The Glens Falls Post Star is reporting that there will be a “bumper pot crop” in Washington County thanks to hot and humid weather this summer. “We’re hearing it’s a great crop,” said Saratoga County Undersheriff Michael Woodcock, “It was jungle-like weather, and it is a tropical plant.”

The PS reports: “With its prodigious farmland, Washington County has long been one of the biggest producers of marijuana in the Northeast, though the advent of indoor growing operations has led to a drop in seizures over the past decade or so. In the early 1990s, 10,000 to 15,000 plants were pulled up annually in the county.The agricultural areas of Saratoga County have also been significant pot-producers over the years. This summer, local police will be able to employ a new, old weapon in the search for illicit pot patches.”

It seems that the Iraq War has taken qualified helicopter pilots out of the local pot-busting action, but starting this year the old helicopters will be back thanks to the newly established Northern Branch of the Capital District Drug Task Force which covers Saratoga, Washington and Warren counties.

“We’re hearing it’s going to be a pretty good year,” said Cambridge-Greenwich Police Chief George Bell. Cambridge was the site of the biggest seizure so far this summer, when State Police pulled up 103 plants last month in the hamlet of Center Cambridge.

The question is – when will they start prosecuting all those poppy growers in our region? As Jim Hogshire pointed out a few years ago in an article in The Atlantic Monthly, poppies grown by millions of home gardeners are fully capable of producing opium. Here’s an excerpt from his book Opium for the Masses:

Very potent, low cost opium is available in virtually every town in the country. It is entirely possible that it is carried by your local grocer. It’s even possible that you could walk into a grocery store and come out with all the ingredients you need to make your own morphine and perhaps even heroin if you’re clever.

Look out grandma!


Suggested Reading

Poppies: A Guide to the Poppy Family in the Wild and in Cultivation

The Little Book of Opium

Opium: A History


Wednesday, August 23, 2006

With Pipe and Book: Will Lake Placid Lose The Adirondacks’ Best Book Store?

Although it was reported a couple weeks ago by NCPR, Tigerhawk reminds us that With Pipe and Book, a landmark Lake Placid book store is closing next year after 29 years. We quoth:

While looking around I overheard a conversation between another customer and the cashier, and when my son had finally succeeded in herding me to the register I asked the cashier if what I thought I had overheard was true. Yes, she said. Breck and Julia Turner, proprietors, were retiring and the store will be closing next summer. It was sad news, but I was heartened to hear that, if the store must close, it is the choice of the owners and not due to lack of business or escalating rents. I will miss it terribly, and after it is gone my family will find me far less interested in driving the 35 miles from our quiet lakeside camp to the touristy streets of Lake Placid.

For those who love books and/or tobacco and have reason to be in the region, I strongly recommend you drop by With Pipe and Book in its last year of existence, and enjoy a very special store. It is located at 91 Main Street, Lake Placid, New York, and can be called at 518-523-9096.

A very special store indeed – the Almanack wishes them well. Their moving on points-up us how important local business is, particularly in this case to local book publishers and writers like the late Barbara McMartin who no doubt sold quite a few copies out of Lake Placid.

Three of our favorite local history and culture bookstores:

Owl Pen Books in Greenwhich, Washington County, NY

HOSS’s Country Corner in Long Lake, Hamilton County, NY

Old Forge Hardware, in Old Forge, Herkimer County, NY


Suggested Reading

The “Edge” of Humor and Other Stories of Lake Placid People


Thursday, August 17, 2006

Utica Photo Essay Wins National Press Photography Association’s "New America Award"

Better late then never – congratulations to UNHCR Refugees Magazine photojournalist Vincent Winter for his amazing series of photos documenting immigrant refugees in Utica. The piece was titled “The Town That Loves Refugees: A small American town, Asian freedom fighters, Somali ‘slaves’ and survivors of the ‘killing fields’”

Gotta love this bit:

“Utica loves refugees,” Gene Dewey, the Assistant Secretary of State in the Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration in Washington, told a Senate hearing last year. “Utica has benefited from refugees. The town was going downhill, but it is now reviving because of refugees.”

The piece was also picked up by ABC News.


Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Rachael Ray: August York Stater of the Month

We couldn’t resist pointing you to the first Adirondacker to win the highly esteemed “York Stater of the Month” award – Rachael Ray – and you know how much we love RR.


Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Local Police Gone Wild: Shots Fired in Lake George


If the Bolton Police Department debacle wasn’t enough – now we have news of a “veteran” Warren County Sheriff Deputy who whips his gun out for a little wild west action:

Officer Jeffrey Clarke committed a “blatant and gross violation” of department policy by firing his department-issue handgun at the fleeing car, Sheriff Larry Cleveland said. Cleveland said the department may seek his termination over the incident.

He hit a tire with one of the shots but still was not justified in firing at the vehicle because he was not in danger at the time, the sheriff said.

“Our policies specifically prohibit the discharging of a firearm at a vehicle,” the sheriff said.

Clarke fired his .45-caliber semiautomatic handgun during a chase that began on the Northway shortly after 4 a.m. Saturday.

The pursuit began when sheriff’s officers and State Police tried to stop a vehicle for speeding. They later learned the vehicle had been taken without permission from the parking lot of a Lake George motel.

The driver of the car led them through Diamond Point and along Route 9 before turning onto Finkle Farm Road, a dead end.

When the fleeing car got to the end of the road, it stopped. Sheriff’s Sgt. Tony Breen approached the vehicle on foot in an attempt to grab the steering wheel, Cleveland said.

As Breen tried to grab the wheel, the driver gunned the engine. The car’s side view mirror then struck the radio on Breen’s equipment belt, spinning the sergeant around but not injuring him, Cleveland said.

Clarke then fired several times at the car as it sped down the road. It was not known how many shots were fired, but it did not appear anything of significance was hit other than the car tire, the sheriff said.

The shot that hit the tire did not stop the vehicle, police said. Instead, the car ran out of gas minutes later, with the driver running off into nearby woods.

He was suspended without pay – a small price to pay for an officer who is obvisouly out of control. He should be glad he didn’t kill someone (an 18-year old no less) and we should be wondering what else he’s been up to that we haven’t heard about.


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