Posts Tagged ‘Lake Champlain-Champlain Valley’

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Conservation Partnership Program Grants Awarded Locally

Conservation Partnership Program grants totaling $1.4 million were awarded to 53 nonprofit land trusts across the state according to a statement by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and the Land Trust Alliance. The grants, funded through New York State’s Environmental Protection Fund (EPF), will be matched by a total of $1.2 million in private and local funding.

The purpose of the grants is to increase the pace, improve the quality and ensure the permanence of voluntary conservation of private lands, which is expected to result in environmental and economic benefits for communities throughout New York. » Continue Reading.



Saturday, March 31, 2012

Forest to Fields: Champlain Valley Agriculture History

A short booklet, From Forest to Fields: A History of Agriculture in new York’s Champlain Valley published by Cornell Cooperative Extension (CCE) of Essex County and the Lake to Locks Passage Scenic Byway highlights the rich history of the Champlain Valley with a focus on the region’s farms and fields.

From Forests to Fields is authored by Anita Deming, who has more than 30 years experience as an agricultural extension agent with CCE, and Andrew Alberti, Program Manager for Lakes to Locks Passage since 2008 (where he focuses on 21st century technology applications and local and regional interpretation and planning). Alberti is also editor for the Lakes to Locks Passage and National Geographic Geotourism website. » Continue Reading.



Thursday, March 29, 2012

Camp Little Notch, Closed Since 2008, Plans Reopening

The nonprofit Friends of Camp Little Notch have signed an agreement with the Open Space Institute to lease, with an option to purchase, the site in Fort Ann where many of the group’s members attended summer camp as girls.

In addition, the Friends have announced that the camp will be reopening this summer for the first time since 2008. The Girl Scouts of Northeastern New York had operated the camp for 70 years previously.

The protection of Camp Little Notch, which is located between Lake George and Lake Champlain in the southeastern corner of the Adirondack Park, began two years ago and has unfolded via a series of creative partnerships since.

In November 2010, the Open Space Conservancy, OSI’s land acquisition affiliate, purchased the 2,364-acre Camp Little Notch, a former Girl Scout camp, from the Girl Scouts of Northeastern New York. In March 2011, OSI sold 1,921 of the acres to Meadowsend Timberlands Limited, a sustainable forestry company.

The third phase of the project, which is hoped to ensure the long-term protection of the property, is to sell the remaining 443 acres to the Friends of Camp Little Notch, a nonprofit group created by former Little Notch campers, counselors and supporters. The sale of the camp, like the sale of the forest tract to Meadowsend, will be subject to a conservation easement that limits development while permitting camp uses.

The Friends have signed an agreement that gives them three years to raise the $1.1 million purchase price. The group’s current lease payments are being credited toward the acquisition cost.

“This landscape has captured the hearts of hundreds of Girl Scouts over the years, and it is fitting that the Friends of Camp Little Notch are involved now in the permanent protection of the site,” said OSI CEO and President Kim Elliman. “This project, through each of its phases, has created jobs and tax revenue for the town of Fort Ann while preserving an Adirondack institution.”

This summer, Camp Little Notch is expected to run three one-week sessions for girls ages 7-17, and a two-week session for girls ages 9-17. Activities include nature exploration, low and high ropes course adventures, hiking, yoga, cookouts, the arts, social consciousness education and aquatics.

Camp Little Notch will also offer wilderness trips for girls ages 14-17, and a three-week Counselor-in-Training program for girls ages 16-17. Interested parties are advised to contact the camp director, Julie Schwartz, by phone at (518) 306-9239 or by email at campdirector@camplittlenotch.org.

Camp Little Notch and the surrounding forestlands are dominated by northern hardwoods, an 80-acre lake that is drained by Mount Hope Brook, and a variety of rustic camp structures. Its lands are ideal habitat for a variety of Adirondack flora and fauna, including black bear.



Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Fort Ti to Host Conference on Lake George, Champlain

Fort Ticonderoga will a conference on Lake George and Lake Champlain on August 11-12, 2012 that will explore the history, geography, culture, ecology, and current issues related to the Lake George and Lake Champlain region.

The conference will include sessions exploring the 18th-, 19th-, and 20th-century history of Lake George-Lake Champlain region, examining the works of 19th- and 20th-century photographers, and detailing current issues of concern related to the ecological well-being of these two important lakes.

Programs include a history strand looking at the 1758 “Sunken Fleet” in Lake George by noted underwater archaeologist Joseph Zarzynski and the Steamer Ticonderoga that sailed on Lake Champlain from 1906-1953 by Curator Chip Stulen from Shelburne Museum. Chapman Museum Director Timothy Weidner will discuss the works of Seneca Ray Stoddard related to Lake Champlain while photographer Mark Bowie talks about the photographic works of his grandfather Richard Dean of Dean Color.

SUNY Plattsburgh geologist David Franzi will talk about how the glaciers of the last ice age formed today’s Lake Champlain Basin. Meg Modley, from the Lake Champlain Basin Program, provides an update on the current battle against invasive species in both lakes, and Emily DeBolt from the Lake George Association, talks about lake-friendly landscaping techniques.

Fort Ticonderoga recently received a grant from the South Lake Champlain Fund of the Vermont Community Foundation to support the conference and has also received programming support from the Lake George Association.

Registration for the conference is now open. A downloadable conference brochure is available online.

You can also receive a printed version by contacting Rich Strum, Director of Education, at Fort Ticonderoga, at rstrum@fort-ticonderoga.org or at 518-585-6370.



Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Team Adirondacks: Local and Regional Tourism

Despite the fact that it’s been more than twenty years since I walked the halls of my Adirondack K-12 school, I still consider myself a Westport Eagle.

I’m actually somewhat of a traitor, living in neighboring Moriah. But since our two schools were in different sports leagues (based on enrollment), the people of Westport do continue to welcome me for reunions and the like. (Now, if I lived in Elizabethtown, we’d be having a whole different conversation.)

It occurred to me long ago that our Adirondack community rivalries embed themselves early via friendly competition on soccer, baseball and football fields. As we grow older, those loyalties remain.

The competitive rivalries continue today for those who grew up in these communities, and are contagious for those who relocate to them from afar, but the stakes have changed. Instead of a league title, there is a competition between municipalities for County, Region and State attention and funding, and for most, competition for a share of tourism; the greatest economic driver for the region.

It is encouraging and inspiring to see those municipal boundaries disappear, however, courtesy of a threat from a common rival. A crisis such as Tropical Storm Irene, for example, showcased both the communities rivalries AND teamwork. The Town of Jay perceives that it didn’t initially receive the heightened attention from Albany and the media that the town of Keene and the repair to Route 73 received. On the other hand, the ongoing outpouring of hands-on cleanup and monetary support for relief efforts in all of the affected communities from the Adirondack neighborhood was overwhelming and inspiring.

This takes us to the reason I brought this up; a recent instance in which those community boundaries disappeared in front of my very eyes.

New York State’s tourism promotion program, I Love New York, is run by the the state’s Empire State Development wing. In 2012, they hired a new public relations agency to promote the State’s regions to the traveling public via traditional public relations efforts. The agency, M.Silver Associates, were ushered around the state to meet with tourism promotion agents from each county in meetings set up by region. This was an exercise set up so that the agency could learn as much about the regions as possible in order to develop their strategy for acquiring editorial coverage.

For tourism promotion, the state has been cut into 11 geographic regions, including the Catskills, Finger Lakes, New York City, Thousand Islands-Seaway and Greater Niagara, and the Adirondacks. As communications director for Essex County, I attended the meeting in which they solicited information about the Adirondacks from representatives from the Counties that comprise our region; the Tourism Promotion Agents that make up the Adirondack Regional Tourism Council.

We went around the room, describing the events, attractions, activities and experiences that differentiated our respective Counties as the PR agency staff furiously took notes. As the conversation drew on, however, the comments from the individual counties took on a more collective, regional context. Oddly enough, that change happened right after M. Silver mentioned what they had learned while talking to the “Catskills people”, and that they were headed next to talk to the “Finger Lakes” representatives.

New York State is big, and some of our competition lies within. Suddenly, we were not St. Lawrence, Essex, Warren and Hamilton Counties; we were Team Adirondacks. And when we had finished explaining all the reasons that the Adirondacks should represent most of M. Silver’s promotional efforts versus the other regions of New York State, we then turned our attention to the adjacent states.

As an unintentional catalyst for mayhem, the M.Silver rep asked innocently, “Isn’t Lake Champlain in Vermont?”

An uproar quickly ensued. We replied defensively that the “Adirondack Coast” is collectively promoted from Plattsburgh south to Ticonderoga, despite the vast promotion of “Vermont’s Lake Champlain”. 

The evidence was stacked up with comments from every side of the table. “Vermont doesn’t own Lake Champlain, and WE produce maple syrup, too,” “Forts Ticonderoga and Crown Point are on OUR side,” and the most convincing: “Everyone knows that Champ, the Lake Champlain monster, lives on the New York side of the lake.”

The conflict over our common asset, Lake Champlain, seems strangely appropriate as one of the most historically significant waterways in America, home to discoveries and events that shaped the Country. And fittingly, the conversation culminated in the proposed creation of a new event in which the Adirondacks wage a battle against Vermont to gain control of Lake Champlain – in tandem with the celebration of the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812.

The mission of the Adirondack Regional Tourism Council is to promote the region collectively on behalf of the Counties, and our organization has long subscribed to a regional approach with respect to destination marketing. But this conversation banded us together in a different context, and there is a greater understanding that not just for Essex County’s Lake Placid, or Warren County’s Lake George, but for all of our region’s communities, our competitive advantage is to tie our destinations to the Adirondacks. After all, visitors don’t know when they’ve crossed a county line.

The meeting for me was enlightening and encouraging. In those moments when we were able to shout out our individual differentiators, I learned even more about the visitor experiences that the rest of the region offers.

And now I look forward to seeing what our Team Adirondack uniforms look like. We’ll need them for our war with Vermont.

Illustration: Lake Champlain-River Richelieu watershed. Courtesy Wikipedia.

Kimberly Rielly is the director of communications for the Regional Office of Sustainable Tourism based in Lake Placid.



Monday, March 5, 2012

Champlain Area Trails Spring Travel-Writing Contest

Champlain Area Trails (CATS) has launched its Spring Travel-Writing Contest. “We invite people to write about using the trails, patronizing local businesses, and visiting New York’s Champlain Valley,” said Chris Maron, the CATS Executive Director. “The winner will earn $500. And People’s Choice prize is $250, so it is definitely worth the effort. The top entrees will be on our website and linked to many other websites, making it a good way to promote the Valley and give exposure to writers.”

CATS is coordinating a series of travel writing contests to boost the local economy through outdoor recreation based tourism. “People research vacation destinations online. We want them to see these articles about New York’s Champlain Valley and get inspired to come here, enjoy the outdoors, visit local businesses, and tell others about this beautiful area,” added Maron. » Continue Reading.



Friday, March 2, 2012

The Battle on Snowshoes Event at Fort Ticonderoga

A living history event at Fort Ticonderoga highlighting Major Robert Rogers and the Battle of Snowshoes will be held on Saturday, March 10 from 10 am – 4 pm. Visitors will be able to encounter the French Garrison in the middle of winter inside Fort Ticonderoga and tour through opposing pickets of British rangers and French soldiers adapted to frontier, winter warfare.

At 1 pm on Saturday, visitors will experience the hectic tree to tree fighting in a recreated battle during which the rangers make a stand against superior numbers, only to retreat through the deep woods.

Visitors will be invited to tour Fort Ticonderoga as it appeared in the winter of 1758, meet the French and Indians who overwhelmed Roger’s experienced woodsmen, and see how native and French soldiers survived the deep winter at this remote military post. More adventurous visitors can take a hike led by a historic interpreter through the opposed pickets of soldiers in the deep woods. In these tours visitors can see how rangers kept a vigilant watch for subtle signs that might reveal their ferocious enemy.

“The Battle on Snowshoes event recreates the savage fight between Robert Roger’s rangers, and a mixed French force of regular soldiers, milice, and allied native warriors on March 13, 1758,” said Stuart Lilie, Director of Interpretation at Fort Ticonderoga. “This event is designed to be a rich experience for both participants and visitors alike.”

Re-enactors portraying French soldiers and native allies will live inside the period furnished barracks rooms of Fort Ticonderoga. They will recreate the winter garrison for Fort Carillon, as it was known until 1759. Just as in the March of 1758 these re-enactors will sortie out from the Fort to meet and overwhelm Roger’s men.

Major Robert Rogers force of both volunteers from the 27th foot, and his own rangers headed out on an extended scout from Fort Edward along Lake George, following an attack on a similar patrol from Captain Israel Putnam’s Connecticut rangers. Hiking on snowshoes due to the three feet of snow, the tracks of Roger’s force were spotted on its march up the west side of Lake George. Near the north end of Lake George, Major Rogers, advanced scouts spotted their French counterparts. Rogers and his Rangers took up positions in a ravine, setting his force in ambuscade to await whatever French patrol would come to meet him.

The French patrol that met Roger’s men proved far larger than he imagined, and in this Battle on Snowshoes, the rangers’ ambush was itself surrounded and overwhelmed. In deep woods on deep snow, the rangers were forced to retreat with heavy casualties as the French regulars, malice, and natives pressed home their attack. Despite stands along the way, this retreat quickly became chaotic as rangers, Roger’s included, ran for their lives from superior numbers of French.

Illustration from Gary S Zaboly‘s “A True Ranger: The Life and Many Wars of Major Robert Rogers” (Garden City Park, NY: Royal Blockhouse, 2004).



Monday, February 20, 2012

Ice Fishing: Lake Champlain Shanty Stories

The centuries-old tradition of ice fishing in the North Country has taken a real hit this winter, what with remarkably mild weather dominating the news. In an already terrible economy, the incomes of businesses and individuals alike have been deeply affected by the unusual conditions. There’s little that can be done, but perhaps a few interesting shanty stories from the past will provide a little distraction.

Wind has always been a factor in the lives of ice-fishermen, occasionally turning shanties into moving vehicles. A Plattsburgh fisherman, Frank Herwerth (caretaker at Clinton Community College) discovered just that in 1928 when a stiff March wind sent him sliding a couple of miles to near the middle of Lake Champlain.

The following year, in the narrows at Putnam, south of Ticonderoga, strong winds pushed a shanty across the lake, smashing it against the opposite shore. There were many similar cases over the years where even tethered structures broke free and slid for considerable distance on the open lake.

During the freakishly warm winters of the early 1930s, fishermen got an early start on the task of removing shanties dotting the few frozen sections of Lake Champlain. As conditions deteriorated at Bluff Point near Plattsburgh, one man in a group of five friends drove across the ice and successfully towed his shanty to shore.

Encouraged, his pals followed suit. One of them asked to borrow a car, and the owner lacked the wisdom to say no. Less than 100 feet from shore, the car began to settle in the soft surface. The passengers made a quick exit, and a short time later, another Dodge was on the lake’s bottom. (Not funny for the environment, of course, but a real head-shaker that someone would loan a car in that situation.)

One of the strangest sights ever to grace the surface of Lake Champlain (or any other lake, for that matter) occurred in late March 1911, during a terrific gale. Toppled shanties blew across the lake at speeds estimated between 20 and 30 mph, but that was only a prelude to the star attraction.

On Willsboro Point, a two-story home on the eastern shore was being moved about a half mile to a new location on the point. The easiest way was to deposit it on the ice and slide it, rather than cut a number of trees and attempt the move on land.

The sight of a two-story house sitting on the lake would have been enough, but the gale winds that arrived that day turned the situation into one of high drama. The house began to move to the southwest, slowly at first, but gained momentum, and was soon hurtling down the lake at an estimated speed of 40 mph.

Anomalies in the ice surface caused the house to spin and lurch at times as it sped along. At one point, it was headed towards a community of ice-fishing shanties. Finally, the house struck a prominent crack in the ice, which sent it twirling and slowed its progress. It eventually came to a halt in the vicinity of Split Rock Point, ten miles from its origin. When the wind died down, a team of horses hauled the house back to Willsboro Point.

Finally, here’s one of the many pranks ice fishermen engaged in, as reported in the Ticonderoga Sentinel seven decades ago: “Del Dumas thought his Champlain fishing shanty was afire when he awakened from a nap in the tiny shack the other day—but it developed that a jokester had plugged Mister Dumas’ stovepipe from the exterior, and you could have smoked a ham inside the hut.”

Photo: Headline from January 1928.

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 13, 2012

Natural History: Climate Change and the Winter of ’32

“Is our climate changing? This is a question heard often these days. Some are inclined to believe it is, but others are inclined to believe it is just one of those unusual open winters. The weather has been so mild that pussy willows are showing buds, woodchucks are out, and caterpillars were found crawling on the ground.” Those aren’t my words. They’re from the Norwood News, January 20, 1932.

On my way to the mailbox four times in the past week, I stepped between different types of insects on the sidewalk, a reminder of how unusual our weather has been. While reading about years past, it struck me how this mild winter parallels those of 1932 and 1933.

In both instances, ice fishing was drastically curtailed by the open waters of Lake Champlain and the St. Lawrence River. Fishermen were successful back then by using motorboats from Whitehall to Rouses Point, in the dead of winter, to access the best fishing spots.

Temperatures were often in the 50s, pleasant for sure, but not so much for business. Logging, a mainstay of the region’s economy, was months behind schedule. Even when brief cold snaps allowed construction of the required ice roads, balmy weather quickly turned them to slush and mud. Cut timber, ready to haul, lay in the woods until cold weather returned, which wasn’t often.

It was feared the 1932 Olympics in Lake Placid would be cancelled due to a lack of snow: January’s temperatures averaged nearly 13 degrees above normal. At one point, the entire bobrun was washed out by heavy rain. Snow was hauled in by train to ensure the games would be held. A storm just days before the opening ceremonies helped, but warm temperatures caused problems throughout the Games.

In 1932 and 1933, events normally associated with summer occurred throughout the winter, grabbing everyone’s attention. In January: outdoor picnics; bicycling; ducks and geese flying north; the picking of wildflowers; and, in Whitehall, using the village street-sprinkler to suppress road dust.

In February: fishing from rafts at Port Henry; boating on Lake George and Lake Champlain; woodchucks, chipmunks, and other mammals out and about; blackbirds, robins, and other songbirds sighted regularly; and snakes (some of them hit by cars) seen on area roadways.

Both months saw golfers on area courses, interrupted only by occasional cold―and thunderstorms! Baseball players couldn’t resist the opportunity to play, although the effort was often better characterized as mudball. Still, in most any year, even playing catch in winter wasn’t even a consideration.

Experience tells us we’ll still get slammed this season, but just as folks did back then, we can marvel for now at how far into the new year the weather has remained so warm. It’s been a pleasure, and for me, a back-saver as well.

Photo: Headline from January, 1933.

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.



Saturday, February 11, 2012

Champlain Watershed Educators Opportunities

Since 1992, the Champlain Basin Education Initiative (CBEI) has provided professional development opportunities for educators who wish to teach their students about the Lake Champlain watershed. More than 700 educators have participated in workshops and graduate courses offered through the CBEI partners. A new web resource, WatershED Matters, has now been developed to compile the knowledge and teaching strategies used by recent course participants. WatershED Matters is housed within the Lake Champlain Basin Program’s website on behalf of the CBEI partners.

WatershED Matters features curriculum units and community projects currently being implemented by New York, Vermont and Québec educators. The CBEI partners expect the site to grow as educators suggest links to their favorite field trips and classroom resources for teaching about the Champlain basin.

“This resource tool has been in demand for several years by both teachers and the CBEI partners,” says Colleen Hickey, Education and Outreach Coordinator for the Lake Champlain Basin Program. “In recent years, nearly 40 educators have completed our eleven day watershed course and it’s great to be able to share what they’ve learned about the Lake, its tributaries and nearby resources.”

Champlain Basin Education Initiative partners currently include: the Lake Champlain Basin Program, Shelburne Farms, Lake Champlain Sea Grant-UVM Extension, ECHO at the Leahy Center for Lake Champlain, the Lake Champlain Committee, and curriculum coach Amy Demarest. Several New York groups have also assisted with educator outreach in the past year by implementing workshops about specific watershed topics.



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.



Monday, January 30, 2012

Local Civil War History: The One-Legged Jims

I guarantee you’re going to enjoy this. Continuing in the vein of last week’s piece related to the Civil War (a Plattsburgh woman who served as a man), here’s another unique North Country link to that conflict. Though a true story, it’s perhaps best characterized as one of those Ripley’s Believe It or Not! items, and begs the question: What the heck are the odds of that happening?

I can’t answer that, but I do recall that in my former employment, it was notable when three men all having the same first name worked in the same department. So what can you say about a group of three war veterans called “The One-Legged Jims”?

Among the many Union outfits filled by soldiers from upstate was Company A, 77th Regiment, New York State Volunteers. Enlistment sites, always plentiful, included Chatham, about twenty-five miles south of Albany, and Westport, on the shore of Lake Champlain.

The interest here focuses on three enlistees: James G. Allen, 39; James E. Barnes, 35; and James A. Lawrence, 19. Barnes and Lawrence mustered in at Westport on October 1, 1861, while Allen mustered in at Chatham on February 4, 1864.

All three served in Company A, 77th Regiment. Even though there’s more than a two-year span between their muster dates, they all ended up serving at the same time in 1864. Three Jims, same regiment, same company―no big deal.

In June of that year, the men of the 77th were joined in battle at Petersburg, Virginia. During a lull, the troops relaxed behind the breastworks (barriers to protect from ground attack). Many of them laid down to rest, talking and joking amongst themselves to ease the tensions of war. Within their midst, by mere coincidence lying side by side, were the three aforementioned Jims.

Hell erupted in an instant, courtesy of a Rebel shell that landed virtually in their laps. In describing the scene firsthand, Dr. George Stevens said, “Its explosion threw them in every direction. One went high in the air and fell twenty feet from the spot where he was lying when the shell exploded. Strange to tell, not a man was killed, yet three had each a leg crushed to jelly, and two others were seriously wounded.”

But for the quick work and dedication of medical personnel, the three Jims with mangled legs might have died on the spot. The surgeon gave each a glass of brandy, administered chloroform, and went to work.

Within thirty minutes, three limbs were amputated, the remaining stumps were treated and bandaged, and the men were in ambulances. Their destination was City Point, eleven miles away, where they arrived within three hours of being wounded. The speedy effort saved their lives. Later, all three were transferred to Stanton General Hospital in Washington.

One shell, three legs lost … three left legs … and three one-legged survivors, all named Jim. What are the chances? The coincidence wasn’t lost on anyone, and it earned the men plenty of extra attention during their recovery. In the years to come, they became known informally as The One-Legged Jims. Their story developed into a sort of military urban legend: men would tell it as an incredible army tale from their own outfit, perhaps not aware that it was, in fact, a true story taken from New York’s 77th.

After the war, Jim Lawrence eventually moved west, but Barnes remained in his hometown of Westport. At veterans’ GAR (Grand Army of the Republic) reunions across the state, he became known as the best of storytellers. The highlight, of course, was the retelling of how The One-Legged Jims, a very exclusive club, came into being. Many of the listeners had been present when the shell exploded.

“Well, boys, it was down in a rifle pit before Petersburg on the 21st of June, 1864 – lots of you remember the day – myself, Jim Lawrence, and Jim Allen, all of Company A … had finished our coffee and were lying down, smoking our pipes. My head was supported by my arm, which rested on my knapsack, and my right leg was curled up under me, my left one being stretched out. The other two Jims were lying near me in about the same position. That Rebel shell came, it did, and three Jims lost their left legs.”

He was always careful to describe the treatment and efficiency of the surgeon and others who worked so hard to keep them alive every step of the way.

Barnes made his mark outside the military as well. A pension (equal to $800 a month today) for the loss of his leg helped financially, but he also worked. Those who follow the history of Lake Champlain might recognize James Barnes as the first keeper of Barber’s Point Lighthouse when it opened in 1873.

For the remainder of his life, Barnes attended GAR gatherings. The best one of all, from his perspective, came in 1884, when the annual reunion of the 77th Regiment was held at Westport. Jim’s stories were a highlight of the affair. Over the years, from Saratoga to Plattsburgh, he entertained folks in like manner and made many friends at veterans’ events.

The 1890 reunion was remembered by many as both sweet and bittersweet. Jim Lawrence, the only other surviving member of The One-Legged Jims, came all the way from Nebraska, reconnecting with his friend and sharing stories from the past. It was fortunate that he did.

After the Gloversville reunion, Barnes headed for Westport, but stopped to visit a friend at Fort Ann in Washington County. While there, he was struck down by a stroke and never made it home alive.

As fate would have it, the reunion for 1891 was held in Westport. The unfortunate absence of Barnes was noted in a published summary of the event:

“The ‘boys in blue’ … adjourned to the lower rooms, where refreshments were served and old army stories (which no doubt grow tougher as they grow older) were told. James Barnes, the champion storyteller, was missed from the ranks, he having been summoned by the last roll since their last reunion.”

Photo: The crimson silk flank marker of New York’s 77th Regiment.

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.



Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Funding Restored for 18 Champlain Basin Streamgages

U.S. Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and U.S. Senator Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) have announced that they have secured funding to prevent the imminent shutdown of 18 United States Geological Survey (USGS) river and lake gauges in the Lake Champlain basin. Those gauges – nine in Vermont and nine in New York – were seen as vital to communities impacted by last year’s spring floods and during Tropical Storm Irene. The funding has been secured through the Great Lakes Fishery Commission (GLFC).

Even before the storms of 2011, however, the USGS gauging network in New York was threatened under earlier rounds of budget cuts. These 18 gauges, plus several more around New York and Vermont, were to be shut down in less than two months, on March 1.

For years Leahy, a senior member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, has secured year-to-year funding for the 18 Champlain Basin gauges, but budget cuts this year closed the traditional funding stream. Last month the Leahy and Schumer wrote to the GLFC and to U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar requesting the funding. In a prepared statement the senators said the influx will keep these gauges operating while buying time to work on long-term funding solutions for the monitoring network. Leahy chairs the Appropriations Committee panel that oversees the GLFC budget and previously fought to have Lake Champlain come under the purview of the Great Lakes Fisheries Commission.

The gauges are considered important for ongoing water quality control monitoring and improvements, recreational boaters and paddlers, and as lifesaving tools when flooding threatens. Half of the gauges slated for shut-down have been identified by the National Weather Service as important for their flood forecasting work. Some streamgages have been operational since the early 1900s; the gauge just upstream from the Route 22 bridge over the Boquet, for instance, has been recording since 1923.

In New York, the gauges that will benefit from the funding are:

Clinton County

· Great Chazy River at Perry Mills

· Little Chazy River near Chazy

· Salmon River at South Plattsburgh

· Little Ausable River near Valcour

· Ausable River near AuSable Forks

Essex County

· Bouquet River at Willsboro

· Putnam Creek east of Crown Point Center

Washington County

· Lake Champlain north of Whitehall

· Mettawee River near Middle Granville



Wednesday, November 23, 2011

High Peaks Happy Hour: Burleigh House, Ticonderoga

The entrance door was freshly painted at The Burleigh House in Ticonderoga. (A neglected entrance is one of Pam’s pet peeves.) As we approached the bar toward the back of The Burleigh House, we experienced an absolute first in our many bar experiences this year – all of the patrons were women! Nope, never encountered that before. There were probably six women in all and it wasn’t the ladies’ auxillary night either. The bartender was cute and personable and male – maybe he was the attraction?

As we took a seat and surveyed our drink options, we were greeted immediately by the bartender named Luke. Kim and Luke discussed beer options but she ordered a soda since it was her turn to drive. Lake Placid UBU Ale, Switchback Ale, Samuel Adams Octoberfest, and Coors Light are available on tap, and several bottled beer, malt and non-alcohol choices are offered as well. Pam readily noticed something new behind the bar, a chocolate raspberry vodka. She and Luke set to the task of designing a drink and the waitress, Barbie, soon joined them. Luke suggested a white russian variety and it was done. While Pam sipped the delicious drink, the waitress worked out a name and posted the newly born “Razz-berry Kiss” on a specials board at $3.50.

Pam sat, half listening, quietly contemplating something, while the owner, Kim Villardo, shared the history of The Burleigh House with Kim. When she pointed out an old picture of the original Burleigh House, Pam turned to it and studied it rather intensely. On the ride home later, she said that she had a sense of timelessness at the bar, like she was sitting in the original bar long ago. We tried to pinpoint what caused that feeling. Was Luke dressed in black and white, with a bow tie and cummerbund? No, but he was professionally attired in khakis and a button-down shirt. Was it the women in their fancy hats with cigar smoking men milling around them? No, they were casually dressed and still no men to be seen. Was it the ambient lighting reflecting shimmering bottles and liquids off the mirrored walls behind the bar? Yes, perhaps, and maybe a combination of factors, too much alcohol consumption not being one of them.

In 1953, fire destroyed the original Burleigh House, once an elegant four-story hotel with a bar and an orchestra downstairs. A new structure replaced the original in a simpler fashion with a bar and restaurant, sans orchestra, but there is Quick Draw and they do occasionally feature live music. Although it is no longer affiliated with the Burleigh family, the name was retained out of a love of the history of Ticonderoga.

Dozens of framed historic photographs, collected over the years by owner Kim Villardo, hang throughout the restaurant in silent retrospect. A gas fireplace adorns the pine covered wall near the bar, a vintage hand-colored and ornately-framed photograph of the original hotel hanging over the mantel. Open and spacious, with movable partitions for custom privacy, the interior conveys the impression of many rooms with distinct personalities. One area holds a pool table, a piano, and a few pub tables. A lounge in the center of the room, partitioned from the restaurant and bar with half walls, features two sofas, a piano and another smaller fireplace. The bar, with its soft, warm cherry finish, seats 15 to 20 patrons with leather stools comfortably spaced. Staff and patrons were friendly and interesting, as well as interested in what we were up to.

The Burleigh House doesn’t offer daily Happy Hour specials, but they do feature holiday drinks and a variety of spontaneous drinks like Cosmos, specialty shots and this day, and the Razz-berry Kiss. The kitchen is closed on Monday and Tuesday. The bar is open daily at 11 a.m. and noon on Sunday. They are open until midnight Sunday through Thursday and until 3 a.m. on Friday and Saturday.

On the more trendy side, The Burleigh House has free wi-fi, a website, and a Facebook page.

Located equidistant from Lake Champlain and Lake George, The Burleigh House is a summer hot spot. Though closed for the season, a large outdoor patio out back awaits the warmer weather. Local residents, snowmobilers and the occasional off season tourists support the business year-round. When you visit The Burleigh House, and we know you want to, have a Razz-berry Kiss with Luke and take a quiet moment to see if you feel the timelessness too.

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.



Saturday, November 19, 2011

Books: The Loss of the Lake Champlain Bridge

In The Loss of the Lake Champlain Bridge: A Traveler’s Story, Jean Arleen Breed uses poetry and color photographs to chronicle the human story of struggle and the efforts to survive amidst the loss of a vital transportation link between New York State and Vermont.

After the tragic collapse of a Minneapolis bridge in August 2007 killed 13 people, inspections of infrastructure were begun across the country. The bridge connecting Crown Point, New York to Addison, Vermont was found to be deteriorating.

Two years later, it was discovered that the process had accelerated, causing transportation officials to reduce traffic on the bridge to a single lane while the necessary repairs were made to ensure the public’s safety.

In early October 2009, it was announced that the repairs would be completed within a week. But at the end of that week came the stunning announcement: the bridge was unsafe and was immediately closed to all traffic until further notice.

The closure deeply affected thousands of citizens who used the bridge daily to reach jobs and to gain access to health care facilities, grocery stores, and other necessities. Severely restricted traffic flow led to the closure of businesses on both sides of the lake and crippled tourism, a critical source of revenue in the Lake Champlain Corridor.

Several battles ensued over the funding; how to help those who were most affected by the closing; whether or not to replace the bridge; and the creation of a temporary substitute passage across the lake to save citizens from a daily detour of 100 miles.

Among those forced to use alternative routes was Jean Arleen Breed, who recorded the story in verse. The supportive efforts of “The Corridor Poet,” as she came to be known, were appreciated by citizens and politicians alike.

The book covers the wide range of emotions suffered by friends, neighbors, and families as they faced extreme difficulties.

The book is published by Almanack contributor Lawrence Gooley’s Bloated Toe Publishing. Purchases can be made here.



Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Almanack Welcomes Tourism Writer Kimberly Rielly

Please join us in welcoming our newest contributor to Adirondack Almanack, Kimberly Rielly. Rielly is the director of communications for the Lake Placid Convention and Visitors Bureau / Regional Office of Sustainable Tourism, the accredited destination marketing organization (DMO) responsible for promoting the Lake Champlain, High Peaks, Schroon Lake and Whiteface regions of Essex County.



A lifelong resident of the Lake Champlain basin, Rielly will be writing about the destination marketing and planning issues that affect the region’s tourism economy.



Monday, October 24, 2011

Rouses Point: History at the Canadian Border

Few villages in New York State can lay claim to as rich a heritage as Rouses Point, and like the oft-used real-estate axiom says, there are three primary reasons—location, location, location. As New York’s northernmost and easternmost village, Rouses Point can be found at the north end of Lake Champlain. Bordering on Canada to the north and Vermont to the east, for decades it was a shipping and transportation crossroads, serving both water and rail traffic.

Until Interstate 87 was completed in the late 1960s, adding a major customs facility at Champlain, Rouses Point was one of the busiest border crossings in the state. That made for an incredible mix of good, bad, famous, and dangerous folks passing through the village every day.

A book could be written on that subject alone, but in deference to space limitations, here’s a smattering of the interesting visitors to pass through a village whose population has stood at around 2,000 for more than a century.

In 1893, thirteen rail cars filled with British soldiers and their horses passed north into Canada, returning after appearing at the Chicago World’s Fair. It was the largest British presence in the village since thousands of defeated foot soldiers from the Battle of Plattsburgh (September 11, 1814) fled north in retreat.

In 1904, two circuses crossed at Rouses Point into Canada. For locals, this was a frequent and enjoyable event. Dealing with customs regulations was time-consuming, which meant the circus animals had to be walked, fed, and tended to, allowing curious visitors to view lions, tigers, elephants, and other critters … sort of a free show.

Besides Rouses Point’s proud legacy as a stop on the Underground Railroad, helping escaped slaves to freedom in Canada, there were also instances of white slavery in the opposite direction, bringing young girls into the states to work as prostitutes.

Noted financier J. P. Morgan, Jr., son of one of the wealthiest individuals in American history, reportedly traveled through the village in his plush, private rail car following the end of World War I. Destination: Ottawa, to pay Canada for armaments used by the US during the war. He was said to have been accompanied by $50 million in gold (worth $630 million in 2011). It was nothing unusual for Morgan, who handled hundreds of millions of dollars in such payments each year for the governments of France and England as well.

New York City’s legendary vanishing judge, Joseph Force Crater, was reportedly seen in Rouses Point in 1930. Though his acquaintances believed he had been murdered, authorities were dispatched to the border village to conduct a search (unsuccessful, of course).

At about the same time, recently retired World Heavyweight Boxing Champion Gene Tunney passed through Rouses Point after touring through southern Quebec.

Following a state visit to Washington, the King of Siam traveled north through the village in 1931. Five years later, Anna Hauptmann spent time in Rouses Point after being denied entry into Canada, even though she was accompanied by her lawyer. Anna was well known as the widow of Bruno Hauptmann, who was executed five months earlier after being found guilty of kidnapping and murdering the Lindbergh baby, a deed that became known as the “Crime of the Century.”

In 1940, prior to America’s entry into World War II, millions of dollars worth of armed and battle-ready planes, built on Long Island, streamed north through Rouses Point to assist Canada’s war effort.

Considering the level of traffic that once passed through the village on road and rail, the village is much quieter today. In the 1920s, for example, more than a million people crossed the Rouses Point border in a single year. On one busy weekend, 9,000 cars went through customs, and in 1925, officers reported that six and a half miles of boxcars passed south from Canada daily.

Of course, those statistics occurred during Prohibition, which saw increased traffic due to smuggling. The high number of border crossings reduced the chances of being caught. Since thousands were arrested, it’s certain that a much larger number of booze smugglers escaped detection. (Flo Ziegfeld was among those caught by local customs officials.)

Rouses Point has also been visited by several US Presidents, among them James Monroe, William McKinley, Harry Truman, Franklin Roosevelt, and Dwight Eisenhower.

The most famous of foreign visitors to the village were British royalty. In 1919, the Prince of Wales toured Canada and accepted an invitation to visit President Woodrow Wilson at the White House. Wilson was bedridden with illness at the time, so a “bemedalled staff of admirals and generals” was dispatched to greet the Prince when he first stepped onto American soil at Rouses Point.

On November 10, 1919, Edward, Prince of Wales, arrived at the train station. Awaiting him were Secretary of State Lansing, Major General John Biddle of the US Army, Rear Admiral Albert T. Niblick of the US Navy, and Major General Charleston of the British army.

The band of Plattsburgh’s 63rd US Infantry was on hand to play the British and American national anthems. A group of young ladies held an unusual canopy (the flags of both countries sewn together) while Prince Edward strolled beneath it, shaking the hand of each girl.

Augmented by a contingent of several hundred from Plattsburgh, the throng, estimated at around 2,000, offered a gracious welcome to the future king, whose friendly, pleasant demeanor endeared him to the crowd.

(Years later, Edward made his lasting mark on royal history. After ruling as king for less than a year, he famously chose to abdicate the throne in order to marry a commoner, Wallis Simpson.)

Another royal visit to Rouses Point twenty years later lacked the details of Edward’s sojourn, though it was considered a great honor for the private rail car of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth to pass through any village.

In 1939, Rouses Point was featured in articles from coast to coast as the place where “the first reigning monarchs ever to visit the United States and Canada” departed from American soil.

Security for the trip was at the highest level ever seen in the North Country. D&H Railroad Police, FBI agents, NYS Police Troop B officers, and the entire 26th Infantry from Plattsburgh handled an important assignment: “… practically every station, crossing, culvert, underpass, and overpass will be patrolled for hours before the royal train passes through this section.”

Separately, a massive crew was charged with ensuring against any equipment failures: “… every inch of the roadbed from Troy to the Canadian boundary at Rouses Point will be patrolled by section men and other railroad employees just ahead of the train to make certain there are no broken rails or obstructions on the track.”

The royal tour of Canada received worldwide media coverage, but the US excursion, described as “a private diplomatic mission” related to impending hostilities in Europe, was more low-key. Small crowds gathered at northern New York rail stations to watch the royal train pass by on the trip’s farewell leg.

Traveling north along Lake Champlain’s shores, the train bearing the King and Queen reached the Rouses Point station at 5 a.m. on Monday, June 12, their last stop in America. A number of Canadian Mounties, having stayed overnight at Rouses Point’s Holland Hotel, assumed security duties at the border crossing. Within about fifteen minutes, the royal couple was on their way to Halifax, where they would sail back to England.

Interesting visitors are just a small part of the village’s story, which spans many and diverse subjects: the discovery of the Lake by Samuel de Champlain; various conflicts, including the Revolutionary War, the War of 1812, the Lower Canada Rebellion, and the Fenian struggle during the Civil War; the stories of Fort Blunder and Fort Montgomery; a lengthy border dispute with England; smuggling of just about every commodity imaginable; the wild times of rum-running during Prohibition; and more.

Rouses Point is one of New York State’s historical treasures.

Photo Top: Edward, Prince of Wales, 1919.

Photo Middle: Gene Tunney headline.

Photo Bottom: Headlines touted the royals’ departure point from the United States.

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.



Thursday, October 13, 2011

Extensive Watermilfoil Found in Champlain’s South Bay

Variable-leaf watermilfoil (Myriophyllum heterophyllum), an aquatic invasive plant, has been found in the South Bay of Lake Champlain, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) announced today.

Variable-leaf watermilfoil is difficult to control once a population is established in a waterbody. It is able to grow in a wide variety of environmental conditions, is aggressive and grows rapidly. Dense growth of variable-leaf watermilfoil crowds out beneficial native aquatic plants and can impair recreational uses including boating, fishing and swimming. » Continue Reading.



Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Volunteers Sought for Ausable Tree Planting

Landowners and volunteers are being sought to participate in planting trees along river and stream corridors in the Ausable River Valley on Friday, October 14. The tree planting will be part of an event to kickoff a new program to restore and protect river and stream corridors in the Lake Champlain watershed by the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC).

Landowners with property along the Ausable River, either of its branches or any their tributaries that need trees along the river and stream banks can receive free trees from the DEC Saratoga Tree nursery planted by volunteers. The trees will shore up eroded stream banks, protect property from flood damage and improve wildlife habitat.

Volunteers are being sought to join federal, state and local officials in planting trees along stream and river banks. Volunteers will meet at Marcy Field along Route 73 in the Town of Keene at 10 am on October 14. Refreshments will be available at that time. After hearing about the new program and receiving encouragement and instruction from officials, volunteers will be assigned to teams and plant trees under the instruction of a team captain. DEC and others will be providing transportation for volunteers and the trees.

The tree planting will wrap up by 4 pm, or when all trees or sites have been planted. Volunteers do not have to stay until end, they can plant for as much time as they desire. Volunteers are asked to dress properly for the being outside and the weather conditions for that day as the event will take place rain or shine. Sturdy hiking shoes or boots will be needed. Volunteers should also bring the following items:

* Work gloves;
* Shovel (if possible, there will be some shovels available );
* Water bottle;
* Snacks (if desired); and
* Lunch (if you plan to work into the afternoon).

Landowners and volunteers are encouraged to contact their local town office or the DEC (897-1291) before close of business Thursday, October 13, if they plan to participate. In the Town of Keene contact Supervisor Bill Ferebee at 576-4444, and in the Town of Jay contact Supervisor Randy Douglas at 647-2204.

The Lake Champlain conservation projects are part of President Obama’s America’s Great Outdoors (AGO) initiative and these conservation projects are receiving $1.3 million dollars. On October, 12 the Obama Administration is releasing a report which details how AGO is opening up access to lands and waters, restoring critical landscapes, and supporting thousands of jobs and billions of dollars in economic activity. The report outlines combined conservation and recreation successes, including gains in youth employment, new trail designations, the creation of urban campgrounds, and historic investments in large landscapes from Lake Champlain to the Florida Everglades.

Photo: A recent Ausable River tree planting volunteer effort (Courtesy Ausable River Association).



Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Take A Crown Point Historic Schooner Tour

This weekend the historic wooden schooner, Lois McClure will make her last stop for the season at another historic location, Crown Point Pier, located on the water just below the Champlain Lighthouse. Those visitors of history; rejoice, lovers of ships; unite and budget watchers; celebrate. This tour is free.

Part of the Farm, Forestry and Fishery Tour, the 88′ schooner Lois McClure and Urger tugboat will offer free tours from 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 on October 15-16 at the Crown Point Pier. This tour has been raising awareness of the importance of “sustainable agriculture, responsbile foresty and clean, healthy waterways.” » Continue Reading.



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