Posts Tagged ‘Adirondack Dams’

Friday, February 14, 2014

DEC: No Reprieve For Marcy Dam

Marcy Dam aerialThe decision is final: Marcy Dam will be torn down.

As reported last month on the Almanack, the state Department of Environmental Conservation plans to dismantle the dam, which was damaged in Tropical Storm Irene, over the next five years. At the time, though, the department was waiting to hear from the public on the proposal.

Recently, I submitted a freedom-of-information request to review the public comments. Given the popularity of the dam, I was surprised to learn that DEC heard from only two people—and both agreed that the dam should be removed.

One of the writers, Wallace Elton, suggested that a dam failure would damage the environment downstream and put people at risk. “The expense of rebuilding the dam to today’s safety standards cannot be justified with current funding limitations,” he wrote. “Beyond that, this is an opportunity to re-wild a key area in the heart of the Forest Preserve.”

» Continue Reading.


Monday, January 13, 2014

DEC Plans To Dismantle Marcy Dam

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWhen Tropical Storm Irene damaged Marcy Dam, draining most of the pond behind it, hikers debated passionately whether the dam should be rebuilt to restore an iconic vista enjoyed by tens of thousands of visitors over the years.

It looks like it won’t be.

The state Department of Environmental Conservation recently decided to dismantle the wooden dam in stages over the next five years.

DEC spokesman David Winchell said the cost of rebuilding the dam to modern standards would have been too costly and may have conflicted with the management principles for the High Peaks Wilderness Area. Those principles seek to minimize the presence of man-made structures. » Continue Reading.


Thursday, October 31, 2013

The Story of Two Graves: Nat Foster and Peter Waters

peter waters by bridge DSCF0717In January 2010, the Weekly Adirondack reported that the St. Regis Mohawk nation agreed to be a “consulting party” for the East Side Pumping Station project, a station to be built along the Moose River behind the American Legion building in Old Forge. The tribe was contacted because a member was buried in the proximity, on the opposite side of the river, about one hundred eighty years earlier. That person, Peter Waters (a.k.a. Drid), was shot fatally by Nathaniel Foster, Jr. on September 17, 1833 at a location known alternately as Murderer’s Point or Indian Point, where the channel from Old Forge meets First Lake.

Less than twenty years (1850) afterwards, the events preceding the shooting and its aftermath were described in great detail, including trial testimony, by Jeptha Simms in Trappers of New York, which remains the primary source for that part of John Brown’s Tract history today. While the events surrounding the shooting have become a part of history and folklore, influenced by changing attitudes about Foster and toward Native Americans, another parallel story can be told about the graves of these two men. The remains of the two men who were opposing forces when alive, shared unsettled treatment after their burial. » Continue Reading.


Thursday, October 17, 2013

The Fulton Chain Steamer ‘Fawn’

P146 Fawn Unloading Passenger Cargo024In 2008, an exhibit at the Goodsell Museum in Old Forge honored the train stations used by the railroads of the West Central Adirondacks.  The first railroad in the region, nicknamed the “Peg Leg Railroad” or “Wooden Railroad”, did not quite extend to the Forge Tract as planned.  But a more “green” option, in both literal and modern metaphorical terms, provided the additional distance not permitted to this railroad.  The vehicle of the landowner’s choice was a steamer that, in the event of a boiler fire, would have sufficient water available to quench the fire.

Julia deCamp’s father Lyman R. Lyon originally owned all of Township 8, John Brown’s Tract, a replica map of which you can buy at the Goodsell Museum.  Lyon conveyed a two-thirds portion that eventually was acquired by the Sacketts Harbor Railroad Company and subsequently mortgaged in the 1850s.  A few corporate owners and receiverships later, this portion was acquired by Thomas C. Durant for his Adirondack Company that built the railroad from Saratoga Springs to North Creek.  » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, August 13, 2013

The Largest NYS Land Purchase in Forest Preserve History

Four-Flight_Lock_in_Black_River_Canal,_New_YorkThe state’s ongoing purchase of some 65,000 acres from the Nature Conservancy brings to mind the largest land purchase for the Forest Preserve in history.  In 1896, the needs of the Erie Canal resulted in the state’s purchase from Dr. William Seward Webb of 74,584 acres.

The story begins with the Black River, which starts primarily at North Lake reservoir and travels in a route that begins southwesterly then turns northwesterly around Forestport to ultimately end at Lake Ontario.  At 115 miles, it is the longest river running completely within New York’s borders. Bodies of water adding to the Black River’s water volume include Otter and Woodhull Creeks, and the Independence, Moose and Beaver Rivers.  In the 19th century, Watertown and other river towns grew from villages to industrial centers with factories and mills relying heavily on water power. » Continue Reading.


Monday, July 22, 2013

New State Lands: Proposed Upper Hudson River Dams

Gooley-Kettle19Like many readers of the Adirondack Almanack, I have been closely following the public meetings, discussions, editorials, and position statements concerning the land use proposals for the former Finch-Pruyn lands encompassing the Essex Chain of Lakes and the Upper Hudson River. I do have my favored position, as does everyone who loves and appreciates the Adirondacks.  But my intent here is to talk about the “near losses”. That is to say the geographic area of our concern, over the many years, would have been very different, if a few politicians, and engineers had their way.

Of course a near loss would have been if the State of New York had not purchased the land from the Nature Conservancy. Another near loss would have been if the Nature Conservancy had not purchased the property form the Finch-Pruyn Paper Company in the first place.  The citizens of New York State could have lost it all.

But there was another potential loss, in the mid-to-late 1960’s that would have mooted all of the present discussions.  There was a plan to dam the Upper Hudson in order to supply water and hydro-electric power to the parched, urban, metropolitan area of New York City.  » Continue Reading.


Thursday, June 20, 2013

Dave Gibson: Fighting For A Wild Upper Hudson, 1968-2013

Proposed Gooley Dam Reservoir c 1968This week’s Adirondack Park Agency public hearings in Minerva and Newcomb about the classification of new Forest Preserve land along the Upper Hudson River, Essex Chain of Lakes, Cedar and Indian Rivers were well attended and informative. At Minerva Central School, there was no applause, no heckling. Folks listened to differing viewpoints respectfully, and several speakers noted a fair amount of common interests.

While most speakers favored a Wild Forest classification which would allow motorized access through an area long closed to public use, one former Finch, Pruyn manager noted the damage done to the roads by all-terrain vehicles. There was only one speaker in Minerva who favored unrestricted, unregulated, all-out motorized use from the Goodnow Flow to the Cedar River. Most appreciate the havoc this would cause to a region they know, or wish to get to know.
» Continue Reading.


Monday, May 13, 2013

Ethan Rouen: Paddling Lows Lake

Lows-Lake-Canoe-Trip-152Sitting in a canoe surrounded by nine miles of water always feels dramatic, but sharing those nine miles with no one but your paddling partner and the occasional loon is transcendent.

It was 7:30 on a weeknight, and my wife, Kim, and I had been paddling from the Bog River through Lows Lake for almost eight hours. Moments before, I was a bit panicked. We (okay, I) had lost our map several miles back, and the campsite where we had planned to pitch our tent for two nights wasn’t where we thought it was. » Continue Reading.


Monday, May 6, 2013

Some Beaver Dams I Have Known

BeaverDam WLate last week, I found myself gazing into the woods as we headed down the Northway, en route to the Crandall Library Folk Life Center for a pleasant evening of entertainment. It was partially a business trip, but after listening to Dan Berggren and friends sing, alternating with readings by Carol Gregson from her first book (Leaky Boots) and her new release (Wet Socks), it sure didn’t feel like business. A good time was had by all, as evidenced by a very appreciative crowd.

During the ride south from the Plattsburgh area, my partner, Jill, handled the driving, which allowed me to enjoy uninterrupted views of the scenery. Included were some roadside marshes with beaver dams and lodges, prompting a flood of memories tied to my history with beaver dams. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Dam History: The Oxbow Reservoir Project

Proposed Oxbow DamThe Raquette River, from Raquette Falls to the State Boat Launch on Tupper Lake, is one of the nicest stretches of flat-water anywhere in the Adirondacks.  Paddling this river corridor under a clear cerulean blue sky, on a sunny autumn day with the riverbanks ablaze in orange and red, is exquisite.  For me, though, the river’s history is as captivating as its natural beauty.

Countless people have traveled this section of river over the centuries.  There were native peoples who hunted, fished, and trapped, the hinterlands of Long Lake and further into the Raquette Lake area, long before whites appeared on the Adirondack Plateau.  There were the early farmers and families wanting to start a new livelihood.  There were the guides and their wealthy “sports”, (and later the families of these sports) desiring adventure and recreation.  There were people seeking better health and relief from the despair and disease of the cities.  There were merchants, hotelkeepers, charwomen, day labors, ax-men, river drivers, and a host of others. There were the famous, the not so famous, and the down-and-out.

All of these people, and many others, used the Raquette ( Racket or Racquette ) River as a transportation highway.  The number of footfalls on the carries at and around Raquette Falls is limited only to the imagination.  In his book Adirondack Canoe Waters: North Flow, Paul Jamieson refers to the nearby Indian Carry, at Corey’s separating the Raquette River system from the Sacanac River system, as the “Times Square of the woods.”  ( Note: In the Adirondacks one “carries” around rapids and waterfalls, one does not “portage.” ) » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Lows Lake, Bog River Among Funded Dam Projects

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced a $5,120,000 investment for NY Works projects that will allow for eight flood control system and dam repair projects in the North Country. Projects slated for the Adirondack North Country include the Lower Lows Dam and Upper Lows Dam on the Bog River. Those dams, made of concrete and located in a area classified Primitive, are favored by paddlers on the Bog River, Hitchins Pond, and Lows Lake. The other dams slated for repair are Palmer Lake Dam in North Hudson (popular with anglers); Taylor Pond Dam in the town of Black Brook, southwestern Clinton County (part of the Taylor Pond Wild Forest); Kingdom Road Dam which holds back Lincoln Pond in Elizabethtown; Main Mill Dam in the City of Plattsburgh; and Whiteside Dam. All are considered “Critical Dam Repairs.” The funds will also support a Malone flood control project.

Two notable back country dams gave way late last summer during Hurricane Irene. The Marcy Dam is expected to be rebuilt. DEC has decided that the Duck Hole Dam will not be rebuilt. » Continue Reading.


Thursday, September 1, 2011

The Duck Hole Dam Breech: What Comes Next?

The massive breach in the dam at Duck Hole, which has led to the demise of the picturesque body of water in the western High Peak wilderness, is initially tragic information to anyone that has spent time at this majestic location. Yet, the healing forces of nature are already at work transforming the muddy plain that now covers a good portion of the site into a meadow in a process known as succession.

Open settings are at a premium in the mature woodlands of the Adirondacks, and any site that contains both rich soil and a healthy amount of moisture will never last more than a single growing season before it is overtaken by vegetation. As a general rule, the herbaceous plants, such as grasses, sedges, weeds, wildflowers, ferns and rushes are the first to colonize such a favorable location. Seeds from these plants are able to travel many miles by a variety of methods which allows them to quickly take advantage of any spot that becomes favorable for growth. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Wildlife Handiwork: Beaver Dams

As more frequent rain begins to replace the prolonged dry periods of early to mid summer, water levels in streams and rivers slowly start to rise from their early August lows. Yet, back country paddlers that are hoping to encounter fewer surface rocks and other obstacles that become present during times of low water are likely to be confronted with a new navigational hazard.

During the latter part of August, the awakening urge in the beaver to erect a series of dams, and to repair and heighten any stick and mud barrier that already exists in various waterways, can cause frustration to anyone hoping to encounter an unobstructed flow of water. » Continue Reading.


Monday, June 27, 2011

Guest Essay: Why Croghan Dam Should Be Saved

What follows is a guest essay by Mike Petroni, a member of the Croghan Dam Restoration Initiative. Concern over the stability of the 93-year-old dam (on the Beaver River in Lewis County) has led DEC to lower the water level of the impoundment by removing stop logs to reduce water pressure on the dam structure. The DEC is planning to remove the remaining logs from the two-section dam in the coming week and eventually breach the concrete structure. The Almanack asked Mike Petroni to provide some background on why local leaders, historic preservationists, and renewable energy advocates hope to keep DEC from breaching the dam.

Straddling the western edge of the Blue Line, Croghan, New York, known for its exceptional bologna, is home to one of New York’s last remaining water powered saw-mills. Over the past few years, the Croghan Island Mill has been the center of a dramatic debate. The question: how will New York manage its aging small dam infrastructure? » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, September 14, 2010

The Origins of Friends of the Forest Preserve

Today’s paddlers on the South Branch of the Moose or West Branch of the Sacandaga Rivers, or hikers, loon watchers and snowmobilers along numerous winding forest trails in the Moose River Plains or Ferris Lake Wild Forests would be fifty feet underwater if the mid-20th century dam proponents, and their state sponsors had held sway.

Citizens who valued these Adirondack valleys for their wildlife and wildness opposed them. One of those organizations was Friends of the Forest Preserve, founded in 1945 by Paul Schaefer. I write this on September 13, his birthday. This history of the founding of the organization is contained in Schaefer’s book, Defending the Wilderness: The Adirondack Writings of Paul Schaefer (1989, Syracuse University Press). » Continue Reading.


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