Posts Tagged ‘Oswegatchie River’

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Cranberry Lake Dam Marks 150 Years

cranberry lake dam Sesquicentennial patch2017 marks the passage of 150 years since a dam was erected at the outlet of Cranberry Lake on the Oswegatchie River. Originally a much smaller lake, the dam was built to help control the flow of water for downstream communities and their mills.

The groundwork for this was laid in 1865 when the state legislature passed an Act declaring the Oswegatchie River a “public highway.” This lead to the formation of a Board of Commissioners and the construction of the dam, which took place late in 1866. The gates were not closed and the water impounded until the spring of 1867.

According to local historians, the land was not cleared, and as the waters rose through through the trees that first spring, buds opened under water, and trees leafed out with just their tops showing, as the dam raised the lake level by over 11 feet. For decades, dead, dying and decaying trees stood in the water, making the scene somewhat grotesque. State Surveyor Verplanck Colvin wrote in 1873 of the difficulties in getting out onto the water to take measurements and elevations, due to the dead trees standing in the lake. » Continue Reading.


Thursday, December 1, 2016

Oswegatchie Conservation Easement Recreation Plan Comments Sought

Oswegatchie Conservation Easement Area MapA draft Recreation Management Plan (RMP) for the Oswegatchie Conservation Easement is now available for public review and comment. The Oswegatchie Conservation Easement encompasses approximately 16,929 acres in the towns of Croghan and Diana in Lewis County, including more than 14-thousand acres located within the Adirondack Park.

The property includes 3.5 miles of the Middle Branch of the Oswegatchie River, shares 9.6 miles of boundary with forest preserve lands, and less than one mile of boundary with state forest land. The Oswegatchie Conservation is primarily accessed from Bald Mountain Road, leading north from Long Pond Road in the Town of Croghan. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Gouverneur, The U.S. Constitution And The Adirondacks

13We all know that Thomas Jefferson gets credit for writing the Declaration Of Independence. As important as that historical document is however, it’s the Constitution that dictates how democracy works in the United States. But who was its author?

James Madison of Virginia has been called the “Father of the U.S. Constitution”.  Some historians say no other delegate was better prepared for the Constitutional Convention, and no one contributed more to shaping the final document. It was Gouverneur Morris, the New York City native and Pennsylvania delegate (at 36, the youngest), who the Rutledge Committee asked to pull together the disparate ideas and thoughts of the convention and mold them into a single document.  Morris immediately went to work – in four days he had a full draft ready. » Continue Reading.


Thursday, September 3, 2015

Wanakena General Store To Close In October

Wanakena General StoreThe Wanakena General Store, a community fixture for decades and a purveyor of outdoor supplies to those heading into the wilderness, will close its doors on October 15.

Rick Kovacs, who ran the store for the past five years with his wife, Angie Oliver, said business was too slow in the off-seasons to make a living. » Continue Reading.


Friday, August 22, 2014

Wanakena Footbridge Replacement Fundraising Underway

Wanakena Ice Jam BridgeSeveral nonprofits from across the Adirondack region have partnered to raise  funds to rebuild the historic and iconic Wanakena Footbridge in the Clifton-Fine community. The suspension bridge was destroyed in January, 2014 when an ice jam on the Oswegatchie River broke and slammed into its side.

Built in 1902 by the Rich Lumber Company, the footbridge provided pedestrian access to residential and commercial areas of Wanakena. It was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1999. Estimates put the full cost of construction at $250,000.

The Wanakena Historical Association has already raised nearly $38,000, but to extend the campaign’s, reach the Adirondack North Country Association (ANCA) has partnered with other local nonprofits to establish an online Adirondack Gives crowdfunding effort.   The Wanakena Footbridge campaign can be found on the Adirondack Gives website. » Continue Reading.


Monday, March 10, 2014

A Day in the Life of a Bushwhacker

Blowdown near Confluence of Middle Branch Oswegatchie RiverPeople often ask me what exactly I do in the Adirondack backcountry during a bushwhacking trip, as if it involves engaging in some arcane art from long ago. I always find this line of questioning a little befuddling, and to this day, I still find myself lacking an adequate response. For the most part, my day remains much the same as any commuter’s, except for the excessive effort involved in struggling through blowdown, hobblebush or other natural impediments, instead of navigating traffic.

A day in the life of a bushwhacker is an interesting one indeed, but not that different from a typical commuter’s. We sleep, eat, defecate and work much like other people, but a bushwhacker’s commute is shorter and a lot more pleasant. Of course, any description of a typical day in the Adirondack backcountry fails to include a rain delay, a trail hike, or other out of the ordinary conditions, despite these happening much more often than we care to admit.
» Continue Reading.


Thursday, February 20, 2014

Sitz Pond In The Five Ponds Wilderness

Sitz PondThe Adirondack backcountry contains a plethora of natural gems, such as ponds, lakes, mountains, bogs and beaver meadows. Although many are reachable by trail, the vast majority are islands of remoteness, surrounded by a sea of near-impenetrable forest, just waiting for a human bold enough to venture away from the marked trails to discover them. Few humans ever visit these gems, which undoubtedly suits both the gems themselves and the meager number of visitors just fine.

One of these gems is a small pond found in the southwest corner of the Five Ponds Wilderness. Sitz Pond is its name, and as attractive backcountry ponds go, it ranks up there with the best.
» Continue Reading.


Thursday, January 23, 2014

Skiing To High Rock on the Oswegatchie

Sue Bibeau, and her dog, Ella (Bibeau photo)Earlier this winter, after several long days in the office, I went to bed dreaming of my first backcountry ski trip of the season, a jaunt to High Rock in the Five Ponds Wilderness. Conditions would be perfect. Over the last few days, we had received eight inches of fluffy powder.

Then I woke up. Outside, it was twenty-four below zero, according to my Weather Channel app. Like any sensible person, I immediately broadcast this fact to Facebook. A few people suggested I postpone my trip.

“I have skied at 20 below, but I was 14 and foolish. Stay home, for god’s sake,” posted a former colleague.

But most of my Facebook friends were surprisingly indifferent to the possibility of my freezing to death.

“Burrrrrr & Enjoy!” wrote one. » Continue Reading.


Thursday, November 14, 2013

Getting Lost in the Adirondack Backcountry

Lost in the Five Ponds WildernessA pleasant hike in the Adirondack backcountry suddenly turns into a disaster. The heart quickens in the chest, the echo of the frequent beats drowning out the surrounding natural sounds. A thin sheen of sweat covers the skin, producing a clammy feeling and chills. Breathing becomes labored as if just summiting a faraway peak. A frantic feeling overcomes you, as if mortal danger is imminent.

What is going on? Is it a heart attack? A panic attack? Aliens?

Nope. It just means you made a terrifying discovery, as everything around you looks unfamiliar, and you no longer know where you are. You are lost. All the physical indications are there, the racing heart, the profuse sweating, the difficulty breathing, and the sense of impending doom. Every rock, tree, bird and chipmunk looks threatening. What choice do you have but panic, right?
» Continue Reading.


Monday, October 28, 2013

The Newton Falls Paper Mill’s Painful Death

newtonfalls towerThis summer, a Canadian company called Scotia Investments has been auctioning off parts of the old Newton Falls Paper Mill in the northwestern Adirondacks. It’s the latest painful chapter for a region of the Adirondack Park that has fought for years to maintain its old industrial economy.“It’s tough, it’s really tough,” said Sherman Craig, an Adirondack Park Agency commissioner who owns a woodworking shop in Newton Falls and lives in nearby Wanakena. “After they cut up the paper-making equipment, it’s just a shell.”

Craig joined a half-dozen men in late July in the lobby of the mill’s mostly empty main headquarters for a public auction of roughly four thousand acres of timberland owned by Scotia. The company has declined to say whether the property found a buyer. That means more uncertainty for Terrance Roberts of Canton, president of the Trail’s End hunting club on paper-mill land for decades. “It’s a heartbreak,” he said. “My brother worked here for thirty-something years.” » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Study: Wetlands Key to Revitalizing Acid Streams

New York GLA team of University of Texas at Arlington biologists working with the U.S. Geological Survey in the Black and Oswegatchie river basins has found that watershed wetlands can serve as a natural source for the improvement of streams polluted by acid rain.

The group, led by associate professor of biology Sophia Passy, also contends that recent increases in the level of organic matter in surface waters in regions of North America and Europe – also known as “brownification” – holds benefits for aquatic ecosystems.  The research team’s work appears in the September issue of the journal Global Change Biology. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, June 26, 2013

The Oswegatchie River’s Carpet Spruce Swamp

P6189641 Middle Branch Oswegatchie River confluenceTrying something new is often rewarding, although potentially anxiety producing as well. Unfortunately, finding a new area to explore within the northwestern Adirondacks is swiftly becoming more difficult, forcing me further and further off the beaten track. Even months-long injuries have failed to slow this trend.

Although difficult, there remain a few places yet for me to explore. Recently, I narrowed the number of places when I explored a remote portion of the Five Ponds Wilderness where I only had limited experience. This overlooked backcountry gem is bordered by the South Ponds to the west, Riley Ponds to the north, the odd-shaped Crooked Lake to the east and the Middle Branch of the Oswegatchie River to the south.
» Continue Reading.


Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Peavine Swamp Trails: Skiing the Quiet Groves

peavineOn the Peavine Swamp trail system in the northwestern Adirondacks near Cranberry Lake I found a tranquil route through open forest, culminating on a knoll overlooking the Oswegatchie River. Removed from the more challenging terrain of the High Peaks backcountry, the trails allow the skier to settle into a soothing rhythm of kick and glide over level ground and rolling ridges. The occasional gully or steeper pitch is enough to rate the trail’s difficulty moderate or intermediate—but in a low-key way.

It’s a good trip for looking around and appreciating the forest, and on a clear day in early January, I was  accompanied by two skiers who were well qualified to be guides through these woods: Jamie Savage, professor at the Ranger School in Wanakena, and John Wood, senior forester for the state Department of Environmental Conservation. Jamie uses these lands as an outdoor classroom for his students. And John, working with Jamie and other partners in the area, has been developing plans for increasing hiking and skiing routes near Cranberry Lake. » Continue Reading.


Saturday, March 9, 2013

Lost Brook Dispatches:
Traveling Campbell’s Northern Survey

Five PondsAs I described in last week’s Dispatch, the more I become engrossed in Adirondack history the more my interest has grown in Archibald Campbell’s incomplete survey of the northern line of the Totten and Crossfield Purchase.

Having possession of his field notes and maps plus a 1911 large-format map of the Adirondack Park as well as modern USGS maps, I did a bunch of digitizing, calibrating, measuring and finagling, virtually recreating his journey.  This summer I plan to hike it to see it for real and compare my experiences to his.  But the virtual trip was a most interesting project for me and I would like to take you along.

Beware!  Unless you are a Class-One Adirondack Nerd this Dispatch might lead to narcolepsy.  But if you have been following my surveying series with interest, then lace your boots, grab your gaiters, your Gunter’s chain and your rum and let’s hike together into the primeval forest. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, September 5, 2012

The Adirondacks: A Place to Dream

View from High RockSept 7 – 9 there will be a congregation of artists, scholars, historians, and writers in Lake Placid for an exploration of Adirondack cultural heritage (more info). Free and open to the public, it should prove to be enjoyable and informative to all who love this place. I was thinking about this event as I paddled with a group of friends on the Oswegatchie River, in the Five Ponds Wilderness. Our objective was High Rock – not a terribly difficult or long paddle, although it was challenging in places because the water levels were pretty low and rocks were exposed. Having recently returned from almost four weeks in Glacier National Park – where the “big sky” glacier carved landscapes are truly magnificent – I couldn’t get over the fact that I was still moved by the scenery flowing past me along the Oswegatchie.

Orange brown rocks just beneath the surface, covered with colorful paint swatches from all the boats that have scraped across them for more than a century. Massive white pines that probably were too scrawny to harvest during the logging booms of the 1900’s, were now towering over the river. The tag alder filled flood plain that this wild river was meandering through. The Five Ponds Wilderness is a prime example of how this amazing place can inspire. » Continue Reading.


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