It was a bold decision that resulted, by some accounts, in the removal of over 1,400 billboards. In the Adirondack Park this law largely prevented an assault of rooftop and roadside billboards that dominate broad stretches of the U.S. – the cluttered strips of Anywhere USA. » Continue Reading.
Posts Tagged ‘Route 28’
The SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry (ESF) is harvesting nearly 16 acres of white pine at the college’s Huntington Wildlife Forest in Newcomb. The harvest of the historic white pine plantation along Route 28 at the base of Goodnow Mountain began last week.
Many of the trees are 140 feet tall and 25 to 30 inches in diameter. White pine has significant historical importance in the United States. Not only did the British treasure the tall, straight stems for ship masts but nearly every colonial structure in the New World was constructed with white pine. » Continue Reading.
Hoss’s Country Corner looms large at the junction of Routes 28N and 30 in Long Lake where the annual Authors’ Night will take place this August 14 for its 28th year. Always held the second Tuesday in August the event has grown from a few to sometimes 80 authors in attendance. According to owner Lorrie Hosley, people now plan their vacations around attending this event.
“This year there are 60 different authors gathered to meet people and sign books,” says Hosley. “It is more manageable. People can walk around and meet all the authors as everyone is always under one tent. People don’t have to buy books. They can bring their copy and get it personalized by the author. Christopher Shaw will be there along with other Adirondack singers and storytellers.” » Continue Reading.
A June 14 decision by the federal Surface Transportation Board’s (STB) Director of Proceedings awarding common carrier status to the Saratoga and North Creek Railway (SNCR), owned by Iowa Pacific Holdings, for freight operations on the 30-mile Tahawus industrial rail spur was appealed June 25 to the full Board by Charles C. Morrison, Project Coordinator for the Adirondack Committee, Atlantic Chapter of the Sierra Club and Samuel H. Sage, President and Senior Scientist of the Atlantic States Legal Foundation (ASLF). » Continue Reading.
The banner beneath Basil & Wick’s trail marker sign read Roadkill Throwdown. To the uninitiated, Throwdown is a Food Network show in which chef Bobby Flay challenges a chef in preparing a specific food. Throwdown in North Creek? How did we not hear about this? And what roadkill would be coaxed into fine cuisine? We were on our way to Long Lake for Happy Hour, but vowed to stop in on our way back through, hoping we’d see Basil & Wick’s chef Chuck Jennings take Bobby down. » Continue Reading.
Glenn L. Pearsall’s Echoes in these Mountains, is subtitled “Historic Sites and Stories Disappearing in Johnsburg, an Adirondack Community,” but thanks to Pearsall, a tireless advocate for local history, those historic sites and stories are being remembered.
The geography of Johnsburg, the largest township in New York State, is central to Echoes in these Mountains. The book is arranged in chapters highlighting various historic sites, all with handy maps to help locate them on the landscape. That approach – locating historical stories around town on the landscape – is part of what drives Pearsall’s personal exploration of his town’s history, and what led to the answer to an interesting historical question. » Continue Reading.
Jeremy Davis is founder of the New England Lost Ski Areas Project (NELSAP) and author of two books on that subject. Last week I had the opportunity to talk with Davis about NELSAP, his books and lost ski areas of the Adirondacks.
Jeff: So, just what is a “lost” ski area?
Jeremy: It’s a ski area that once offered lift-served, organized skiing, but is now abandoned and closed for good. For NELSAP’s purposes it had to have a lift – it could be a simple rope tow or multiple chairlifts, but it had to have a lift. The size of the area or number of lifts isn’t important.
Jeff: And what is NELSAP?
Jeremy: NELSAP is the New England Lost Ski Areas Project, which I founded in 1998 in order to document and preserve the history of ski areas in New York, New England and elsewhere that are no longer in operation.
Jeff: What was the inspiration behind your founding of NELSAP?
Jeremy: As a kid, not long after I had first learned to ski, we took a family trip to North Conway, New Hampshire. On the way up I saw this mountain called Mount Whittier that had closed down about five or six years earlier, and it made me wonder what had happened. At the time it was still pretty visible, but now it’s almost completely grown in. A short while later, on another family trip to Jackson, New Hampshire, we saw another lost area from the top of Black Mountain, called Tyrol. Seeing those two abandoned areas sparked my curiosity and made me want to learn more about them, but there weren’t any resources back then. After that, whenever we took family ski trips, if we saw an old area on a road map that we knew wasn’t open, I’d drag my parents there to check it out. They were really supportive about that and found it fun. Gradually I collected more and more information – postcards, brochures and trail maps, old ski books. Then, while I was in college, I decided to put what I had on the web. That was October of 1998. Gradually, more and more people began to see it and they would send me more information. The thing that really catapulted the website was a Boston Globe article in December of 2000 on the front page of the New England section of the Sunday paper. By 7am I had more hits than I had gotten in a year. The traffic shut down the site and overloaded my email. The AP picked up the Globe story and it ran in what seemed like every New England newspaper over the next few weeks. The project just mushroomed from there. What we have up on the site now is just a fraction of all the information that we’ve collected over the years. It’s a lifetime of work.
Jeff: You’ve got nearly 700 lost ski areas listed on the website now, 19 of them are lost Adirondack ski areas.
Jeremy: Right, in fact those 19 areas are just the start. I think the real number is probably between 50 and 60 areas within the Adirondacks. We’re always looking for more information. If we can get to the owners, or the people who ran the ski school or managed the areas, that kind of primary source information is invaluable.
Jeff: Are there any lost Adirondack areas that you’re particularly interested in, areas that you’re looking for more information on?
Jeremy: Paleface, near Jay, is one. Paleface was run like a dude ranch, an all-inclusive resort with lodging, a bar and restaurant, indoor pool, and skiing. There was a double chair, a T-bar, and a dozen trails with 750 feet of vertical. It operated from 1961 until the early 1980s, and had been re-named Bassett Mountain near the end. Mount Whitney, also near Whiteface, is another one we’d like to gather more information about. And there are lots of other Adirondack areas that we have to research.
Jeff: What factors led to these ski area closures? Were there any factors that were particular to the Adirondacks?
Jeremy: Well, you have the same factors that caused ski areas all over the Northeast to close down: insurance and snowmaking costs, the gasoline shortages in the ‘70s, bad snow years, competition and changing skier preferences. But there are some interesting cases in the Adirondacks: Harvey Mountain is a good example.
Jeff: What happened there?
Jeremy: Harvey Mountain was a classic, family-owned ski area on Barton Mines Road in North River, just a few miles up the road from state-run Gore. It had a T-bar, 400 feet of vertical, and operated from 1962 to 1977. It was a great alternative to Gore. But they weren’t allowed to have a sign advertising the mountain on Route 28 at the bottom of Barton Mines Road. They got around that by paying somebody to park a truck with a sign for Harvey Mountain each day at the turnoff for Gore, but eventually regulation and competition from Gore caused the ski area to shut down.
Jeff: It seems like there’s a good number of lost Adirondack ski areas that have been re-born: Hickory outside of Warrensburg, Oak Mountain near Speculator, Big Tupper. Is that unusual?
Jeremy: It is pretty unusual for a lost area to re-open, and there’s a unique, interesting story behind each one of those. Besides those three that you mentioned, several towns have their own rope tows that are still open: Indian Lake, Long Lake, Chestertown, Newcomb, Schroon Lake. A lot of people don’t realize those areas exist and are completely free. There’s also Mount Pisgah in Saranac Lake, which is municipally operated and very affordable. You’ve also got places like Willard, West Mountain, Titus Mountain (near Malone) and McCauley Mountain (Old Forge) that still have that local, more intimate feel. So we’re really lucky in the Adirondacks to have these smaller areas that can introduce people to the sport and be an affordable alternative to the big areas. Hopefully the number of ski areas has stabilized, and short of some economic catastrophe, we won’t lose any more.
Jeremy: Eventually there will be. I don’t know what region we’ll do next, but the series will probably continue with a new book every two years or so until we’ve covered all of New York and New England. That will be eight books in total, so that’s a lot of work.
Readers who may have information to share with NELSAP are encouraged to visit NELSAP’s website or contact Jeremy Davis at email@example.com. Reader input has been a critical part of NELSAP’s success over the years.
Photos: Top: Spring skiing at Harvey Mountain (courtesy Ann Butler and NELSAP). Middle: Paleface Mountain (courtesy NELSAP). Bottom: Davis at Gilbert’s Hill outside Woodstock, VT, site of the first lift-served skiing in the United States (courtesy Jeremy Davis).
Jeff Farbaniec is an avid telemark skier and a 46er who writes The Saratoga Skier & Hiker, a blog of his primarily Adirondack outdoor adventures.
Adirondack conservationist Paul Schaefer was a pied piper for young people in search of a cause, just as John Apperson had been for him when Schaefer was in his early 20s. By the 1970s and 80s, Paul was approaching 80 years of age, and scouts, teens, and earth activists of all ages found their way to Paul’s doorstep. I want to share a few of the lessons he conveyed.
One spring day in 1990 I met with Paul to discuss Governor Mario Cuomo’s Commission on the Adirondacks (Berle Commission) report which was about to be made public. Paul mentioned that on Earth Day, a group of “idealistic” young people had come down to pay him a visit. He had planned to show his award-winning film, The Adirondack: The Land Nobody Knows, but his Bell and Howell 16-mm projector could not be found (I had borrowed it). Instead, Paul invited the students into his living room. “I’ve never had a better time in my life,” Schaefer told me. “These kids were idealists, and we need them.”
They declared that one of their proposals was to do away with Route 28 and 30 between Blue Mountain Lake and Tupper Lake. “You mean you want to close the road?” “Yes,” they responded, “it damages the wilderness character of the park.”
Paul challenged them. “Before you come up with some hair-brained scheme like that you take me up on this: you start at my cabin near the Siamese Ponds Wilderness, and you walk the 15 miles across that wilderness to Indian Lake, taking a tent, pack and compass. Until you do that, you don’t know what wilderness is, you have no conception of it. You can’t possibility advance your cause by closing a road, the lifeblood of the economic well being of the park for wilderness reasons if you haven’t crossed a wilderness area on your own two feet and knows what it’s about. If you want to advance your cause in the Adirondacks, you’ve got to temper your idealism with realism.” He was very stern with them, but he closed with “I’d love to have you come back and talk more.” They were very surprised to learn they had been invited back after the lecturing they had received.
On another Earth Day, Paul was asked to give a presentation at the local high school. The student that issued the invitation told him that “kids my age just aren’t interested in the environment. They’re not motivated.” Paul responded, “I’m sorry to hear that but it doesn’t matter how many show up.”
It turns out Paul couldn’t make it, so he asked a fellow Adirondack activist named Bill White (Bill was also a protégé of John Apperson) to deliver the program in his stead. Afterward, Bill White dejectedly reported to Paul that only two people showed up for the lecture, including the girl and her teacher.
Schaefer responded, “Bill, you’ve got to remember that in 1946 I took the train out to Broome County, Binghamton, and we went all that way to talk about the Moose River Plains in the Adirondacks, and our fight to prevent the dams from flooding it. Only 15 people turned out for the meeting. Oh, it was bitterly discouraging to have brought ourselves and our information so far for only 15 people. But remember Bill, while we needed thousands of brochures to be distributed in Binghamton over the next few days, among the 15 in our audience was a man who stood up after our presentation and said ‘you give me 50,000 of those brochures and I could use another 50,000 and I will distribute every one of them.’”
It turned out that Broome County produced the most votes in 1955 to defeat the Panther Mountain Dam proposal (to amend Article XIV, the Forever Wild clause in the NYS Constitution to build a huge power dam on the South Branch of the Moose River). “Never underestimate that one person among 15, or among two in your audience,” Schaefer said.
Photo: Paul Schaefer at his Adirondack cabin, photo by Paul Grondahl and courtesy of the Adirondack Research Library of Protect the Adirondacks.
“A cougar!” I shouted.
By the time my passenger looked, the cat had retreated to the other side of the guardrail and was ambling away from the road.
The state Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) says wild cougars (also known as mountain lions, panthers, and pumas) have not lived in the Adirondacks since the nineteenth century. The agency concedes that cougars are spotted on occasion, but it insists that they are released pets. Last week, DEC denounced as a hoax a rumor that a cougar had been struck and killed by a vehicle in Black Brook. » Continue Reading.
The 114,000-acre Siamese Ponds Wilderness Area has always been one of the premiere places to cross-country ski in the Adirondacks. But this winter, the region offers something even more compelling: a new trail.
This is the first winter that skiers can travel the eight-mile Botheration Pond Loop, a route that circles around the Balm of Gilead Mountain and several lesser hills. The route begins and ends at Old Farm Clearing, located near the Garnet Hill cross-country ski resort.
The loop combines existing trails with more than a mile of new trails and two bridges, 35- and 55-feet long, that were built last summer by nearly a dozen volunteers and DEC staff under the supervision of Ranger Steve Ovitt. » Continue Reading.