Early June marks the one-year anniversary of one of the biggest crime stories in the Adirondack region during the past century. The final days of the manhunt for Richard Matt and David Sweat played out in northern Franklin County, focusing mostly on Malone and the large forest south of the village. By coincidence, one of the biggest crime stories of the 1800s unfolded in the same area and shared some key components: murderers on the loose, a manhunt, and Dickinson Center. Both stories rocked a sparsely populated region, where little of consequence ever seemed to happen. » Continue Reading.
Posts Tagged ‘Malone’
The Malone Telegram, recently passing the 110th anniversary of its founding (December 9), was the brainchild of Charles M. Redfield, who was cautioned back in 1905 that starting a daily newspaper in a small city with two established weeklies (the Palladium and the Farmer) was foolhardy. But Redfield forged ahead, confident that the response received in advance from advertisers would support the venture — and he was right.
For those who probe newspaper archives while researching historical topics, people like Charles Redfield are important and much appreciated. In that regard, Redfield’s efforts were vital in a number of communities prior to his tenure in Malone.
Redfield was born in December 1859 in Woodville, about 20 miles southwest of Watertown in Jefferson County. The family lived in different locations, and at age 12, Charles became a newspaper delivery boy for the Watertown Times. While still in his teens, he joined the Times as a “printer’s devil,” an apprentice, which meant helper, trainee, and all-round go-fer. » Continue Reading.
Newspaper articles and poetry are two quite different styles of writing. It’s probably not a common thing to be well-versed (pardon the mild pun) in both, but a century ago, a North Country man enjoyed a regular following in both arenas. One of his poems struck me as capturing nature with beautiful prose, while at the same time recalling a great pleasure that so many Adirondack folks have experienced. » Continue Reading.
The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) will develop a unit management plan for 21,239 acres of public lands in the Northern Franklin County State Forests, DEC Region 5 Director Robert Stegemann has announced.
The Northern Franklin State Forest includes five state forests (St. Regis River, Deer River, Titusville Mountain, Valley View and Trout River), seven detached forest preserve parcels, a state fish hatchery and over 50 miles of public fishing rights. The lands are located in the towns of Bangor, Bellmont, Brandon, Chateaugay, Constable, Dickinson, Malone, Moira and Westville. » Continue Reading.
After release from prison, Alonzo Clark returned to New York and married a young girl in Brandon, south of Malone, where he worked as a farmhand. It wasn’t long before he returned to crime, stealing horses prior to engaging in a high-profile scam at Helena, a hamlet in northern St. Lawrence County. In early 1885, posing as a salesman and tinware repairman, Clark ingratiated himself to Adam Knapp, 69, and his wife, Susan, 50, claiming to be a cousin of Luella, their adopted 16-year-old daughter.
After several nights of reading from the Bible with the family and turning on the charm, Alonzo won them over, particularly Luella. He courted her for several days, using Adam Knapp’s own horse and cutter to woo her on country rides. Within about two weeks’ time, they married. » Continue Reading.
A new biography is shedding light on an overshadowed North Country political figure, the Nineteenth Vice President of the United States. In William Almon Wheeler: Political Star of the North Country (2013, SUNY Press), author Herbert C. Hallas leaves no doubt that Wheeler was a more significant political figure than the existing literature may lead one to believe.
The book is the first and only complete biography of Wheeler, a man referred to as “the New York Lincoln,” who helped to found the Republican Party and build it into a formidable political force during the Gilded Age. Wheeler’s life is an American success story about how a poor boy from Malone achieved fame and fortune as a lawyer, banker, railroad president, state legislator, five-time congressman, and vice president of the United States. » Continue Reading.
Recently acquired by the Monette family of Malone, Titus Mountain Family Ski Center has undergone a facelift that our family has met with welcoming arms. My kids have skied at most of the Adirondack and beyond ski mountains and have found Titus Mountain to be a perfect place to experience family-friendly trails and gain some ski lift independence.
The elevation is 2025-ft and the crumpled trail map I find in my ski jacket shows that Titus Mountain has six double chairlifts, two triple chairlifts, and two hand-tows serving 42 trails and two terrain parks. » Continue Reading.
Climate change; global warming; superstorms; extended droughts; the hottest year ever; December tornadoes; on and on it goes. Changes are happening everywhere. Even here at home this year, worms and bugs on our sidewalk in mid-December! There have been so many devastating storms and floods and fires. We do benefit from modern forecasters using the most advanced technology to predict the weather, helping us to avoid any big surprises, or to at least prepare.
The same was true of weathermen seventy-five years ago: they did their best to predict what the weather would bring―days, weeks, and even months in advance. But they weren’t alone in doing so. Competing against them were country prognosticators who sometimes did better than the latest technology. » Continue Reading.
Dannemora Mountain and a Truckload of Carrots:Hills, Speed, and Pioneer Motorcycle, Indy Racer Ralph Hepburn
On a recent drive in Clinton County, I was reminded of a story told to me by my grandfather, James Lagree. Jim was a Churubusco farmer, but he also worked other jobs, including road construction. We both loved fishing, and in my pre-teen years, he took me to all his secret places, including Bradley Pond near Lyon Mountain. As it turned out, he had worked on construction of the Bradley Pond Road.
The conversation that day drifted to other roads, and that’s when he told me the story of a truck losing its brakes on Dannemora Mountain. It was hilarious the way he told it (he was great with jokes and embellishments), but I recently learned just how true the story was.
If you’ve ever driven east over the mountain, you’re familiar with one of the steepest roads and most dramatic speed changes in the Adirondacks. For the sake of all the strictly law-abiding drivers out there, yes, the change is technically no different from many others: a main highway (in this case, Rt. 374) enters a village, where the speed limit drops immediately to 30 mph.
But the difference is this: after a couple of curves during the brisk, mile-and-a-half descent, a final, steep, straight incline ends abruptly at the village limits. The road suddenly flattens, and perhaps not everyone has decelerated to 30 mph by that point. Add snow or ice, and you’ve got hellish road conditions.
But weather wasn’t a factor in two of the most famous incidents linked to that section of highway. One of them occurred in September 1930, when nationally renowned driver Ralph Hepburn visited the region.
Inducted into the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame in 1998, Hepburn won motorcycling championships and set records during a superb career, and then turned to automobiles. Many more records fell to his skills, and fifteen times he competed in the Indianapolis 500, never winning, but finishing second twice.
As the automobile industry flourished, racing champions were hired to promote and demonstrate the capabilities of different brands. Hepburn was employed by Studebaker in that capacity, and while touring New York State in 1930, he briefly set up headquarters at the dealership in Plattsburgh.
His highest-profile publicity stunt locally was a speedy climb up Dannemora Mountain, accompanied by two newspapermen. Despite the curves, he reached the summit while maintaining the astonishing speed of 50 mph. That was more than eighty years ago, when cars were in their infancy, and I can guarantee, I’ve been stuck going up that grade behind cars that were going much slower.
And consider this: when Hepburn did it, the road surface was composed of dirt and gravel, hardly conducive to high speeds and good traction.
Hepburn made a second run that day, carrying six passengers (some of them on the running boards, which must have been quite the rush). Carrying nearly 1300 pounds, the Studebaker crested the mountain at 41 mph. It was typical of Hepburn’s flare for the dramatic.
After the Dannemora exhibition, he continued promoting and racing for many years. Hepburn died doing what he loved (he was killed during qualifying practice for the 1948 Indy 500, a race he is famed for having led in three different decades―1925, 1937, and 1946).
The second famous incident on that notorious section of Dannemora highway occurred in October 1939. It began when a produce truck, driven by William Coryea of Malone, suffered brake failure while heading down the mountain. The road had been rebuilt with concrete several years earlier, which meant better tire grip and a smoother ride. To a freewheeling vehicle without brakes, it also meant greater velocity.
When Coryea reached the base of the mountain road, his speed was estimated at 60 mph. With the weight of 150 bushels of carrots on board, the truck was sure to coast for some distance. Stopping it would not be easy.
Racing through the village could have been disastrous, and Coryea had little time to think. After about three-tenths of a mile, near the gates of Dannemora Prison, he solidly sideswiped a moving car, and then another, sending carrots flying into the streets.
But the truck slowed only a little, and people were in danger. Coryea then hit a bread truck and two more parked cars. Bread products and carrots scattered everywhere while vehicles bounced aside, but still the truck kept rolling.
Finally, it slowed enough for Coryea to whip sharply onto a side street, where he drove the truck into a brick wall at the back of Lafountain’s store. The reason, as he later told police, was to avoid hitting any more vehicles. It’s amazing that through it all, there were no injuries.
I don’t know if my grandfather actually witnessed the aftermath, and although he was quite the storyteller, it doesn’t seem like he embellished it much after all. The crushed cars, with food scattered everywhere, and nobody hurt, were actually elements of the true story. Unlike many other Dannemora accidents on that stretch of highway, it thankfully lacked tragedy, and has been looked back upon with at least some amusement.
Photos: Ralph Hepburn (courtesy wikipedia); the maps shows Rt. 374 entering at the upper right and plunging into the village on the far left. Clinton Prison is at the bottom left.
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.
Located in the foothills of the Adirondacks, The Ekurb Players are pulling together the last minute details for their annual Mystical Forest at Sellers Park in Burke, N.Y.
Formed in 2007, The Ekrub Players (Ekrub is Burke spelled backwards) is a not-for-profit Children’s performance group focusing on creative ways to bring families together and get children outside. The Mystical Forest event is one of the first programs the group started when it opened its doors in 2007.
Co-Founder and President Gina Strachan says, “A lot of our inspiration comes from Richard Louv’s book, Last Child in the Woods. My husband and I moved from Vermont and found out that there weren’t a lot of child-related activities in the area. We are developing other children’s programs so check out the website. My family had participated in a variety of productions in other places as well in Vermont.”
The Mystical Forest will take place at Sellers Park in Burke. Over 500 carved pumpkins will light the trails as costumed “Spirit Guides” lead groups of up to 20 people through the woods. A tour leaves every 10 minutes and every tour lasts about an hour.
“This is not a gory, horror trail,” assures Strachan. “This is a story trail. People will be led through the forest for an hour tour to various skits led by costumed volunteers. We even received the rights from J K Rowling to do a Harry Potter skit based on The Tale of the Three Brothers. Snow White, Rapunzel and Red Riding Hood are a few of the other familiar characters families can look forward to seeing.”
According to Strachan a special addition is the group The Tales from Remikreh, sword -fighting re-enactors, that have performed in Alexandria Bay for the past 16 years. She recommends that people dress for a walk in the woods and appropriately for the weather. Admission is $8 for adults, $5 for students and seniors and children under 5 are free.
There will be food available for purchase such as hamburgers and hotdogs, drinks as well as a sweet treat vendor. The tour schedule is as follows: Friday, October 21 from 6;30 p.m. – 9:30 p.m., Saturday, October 22 from 6:30 -.m. – 9:30 p.m. and Sunday, October 23 from noon to 3:30 p.m. No reservations are required. If you bring a canned good to benefit the local food pantry you can save $1 on admission. There is plenty of parking available.
Sellers Park is located on Route 11 in Burke. Strachan recommends you “just follow the ghost signs along Route 11 and you won’t miss it.”
Photo: The Ekrub Players’ Mystical Forest Ghost (Courtesy Diane Chase)
Diane Chase is the author of the Adirondack Family Activities Guidebook Series including the recent released Adirondack Family Time: Tri-Lakes and High Peaks Your Guide to Over 300 Activities for Lake Placid, Saranac Lake, Tupper Lake, Keene, Jay and Wilmington areas (with GPS coordinates), the first book of a four-book series of Adirondack Family Activities.