Posts Tagged ‘Saranac Lake’

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Adirondack Geology: Some Fascinating Rocks

I was going to write about skunk cabbage today, but I find myself sitting in a local rock shop where the proprietors offered to let me use of their Wi-Fi. Surrounded by all these geological wonders of the world, I feel compelled to tip my hat to some of our local geologic treasures.

As I’ve mentioned in the past, geology isn’t my strong suite, but I sure do love rocks. I suspect most of us do. Who hasn’t, at least as a kid, stuffed his or her pockets with rocks found along beaches, roadsides, or in gardens? Some of us never outgrow this obsession. And even though geologic terms run through my mind like sand through an hourglass, I am drawn to the varied forms and colors that most of us only encounter in rock or New Age shops.

When it comes to local (Adirondack) rocks of note, the one that springs first to mind is garnet. Garnet is found in pretty good quantity in the North River area, where Barton Mines is the primary business capitalizing on this semiprecious gemstone. I have been to programs where Barton representatives gave presentations, and it is simply amazing what garnet is used for. Most of us probably think of garnet as a lovely wine-red stone that is featured in jewelry and is January’s birthstone. But at Barton, much of the garnet that is mined is used for things like sandpaper, or to make a blasting compound that is used to etch glass. Who’d have thought it?

A mineral that we find in pretty good quantity around the Park is mica. Usually we only find little bits of broken flakes, but I have found small sheets sitting on top of the ground. In North Creek, at the Ski Bowl Park, some folks put in a lovely garden, complete with some terrific boulders. On these boulders are fanned protrusions of mica, thin sheets, stacked one on top of another, and then fanned out and emerging from the hardened grasp of the rock – it is amazing to behold.

Labradorite is a feldspar mineral found in large crystal masses of anorthosite. For those who don’t know, anorthosite is one of the major rock types in the Adirondacks, or at least in the High Peaks. It is a very old rock, not common on earth and found on the moon. One of the neat things about labradorite is the way it can shimmer with colors, an effect called labradoresence, or the schiller effect. Lesley, one of the shop owners here, showed me some labradorite rocks she picked up from the Opalescent up near Calamity Brook in the southern High Peaks. She polished them up and there, when the light catches it just right, it looks like blue and green northern lights skittering across the glossy surface. Of course, I had to purchase one for my collection.

Another interesting rock here in the shop is moonstone, which is a type of feldspar. Apparently rockhounds used to be able to mine it up in Saranac Lake. It isn’t a rock with commercial value, except in the rock-collector’s world. Lesley showed me a large chunk she got from up in Saranac Lake, as well as some jewelry made from small polished bits of moonstone. Like the labradorite, it has a bit of the schiller effect – a blue, green or even pinkish dash of color when the light hits it just right.

For those interested in Adirondack geology beyond the academic level, rock shops are the place to go. The folks who run these places love rocks and geology and are always willing to share their passion with others. I wrote before about the shop at Natural Stone Bridge and Caves, but other rock shops dot the park, like Lesley’s Minerals Unlimited in Long Lake. While much of her merchandise is from other parts of the world, she has a nice collection of local rocks and minerals that make a stop here well worth the drive.

Photo credit: Labradorite, courtesy Wikipedia.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Olympic Medalist Billy Demong Returns to Dewey Mtn

2010 Olympic gold and silver medalist Billy Demong will speak at the Town of Harrietstown’s Dewey Mountain Recreation Center at 4 p.m. Monday, October 4. The Vermontville native, who cross-country-ski raced at Dewey as a kid, returns to his home mountain to kick off a fundraising campaign to replace its base lodge. All are welcome.

Demong will be available to meet well-wishers and sign Dewey stickers after remarks, which will also feature Saranac Lake skiers and coaches Natalie Leduc and Kris Cheney Seymour. The public is invited to stay for coffee and cookies, and to walk or mountain bike on Dewey’s trails.

Dan and Debbie Stoorza of the Bean-To will introduce “Hammer Down,” a limited edition of its popular Hammer roast coffee. Demong and the Stoorzas came up with the idea for Hammer Down last winter, inspired by the four-bean blend and the phrase Demong uses to psyche himself up at the start of a race. The proceeds from each bag of Hammer Down beans sold this ski season will go toward Dewey’s lodge-replacement project.

From 4:30 to 5:30 the Dewey Mountain Youth Ski League will register kids ages 5 to 13 for this winter’s program. Parents must accompany children who want to sign up.

Adirondack Lakes & Trails Outfitters, operators of Dewey Mountain under a contract with the Town of Harrietstown, will sell season passes for skiing and snowshoeing.

Demong, a four-time Olympian in Nordic Combined, and Tim Burke of Paul Smiths, a two-time Olympian and 2009 World Cup leader in Biathlon, are dedicated alumni of Dewey Mountain. They are also honorary trustees of Dewey Mountain Friends, which is fundraising to improve Dewey’s facilities in partnership with the Town of Harrietstown and the Saranac Lake Rotary Foundation.

Dewey Mountain Recreation Center is on State Route 3 west of Saranac Lake, between Algonquin Apartments and the National Guard Armory. For more information call 891-7450.

Photo: Billy Demong with Dewey Mountain Youth Ski League members Adrian Hayden, left, and Ruben Bernstein, right, in March. Photograph courtesy of Chrissy Hayden.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Saranac Lake: The Allen Mooney Murder

On May 12, 1903, Franklin County attorney Robert M. Moore was at wit’s end. After two years of haggling, all possibilities had been exhausted, and he knew his client was in serious trouble. There was nothing left but a claim of insanity. If that failed, a man was sure to die.

The client was Allen Mooney, and his crime in Saranac Lake became one of the most talked-about murders in North Country lore. It’s not a particularly complex tale, but its salacious and violent aspects guaranteed plenty of media coverage. Legally, it was pretty much a cut-and-dried case. Mooney admitted the shootings, and there was plenty of evidence against him.

However, peripheral factors never mentioned in testimony may have “eased” the jury’s decision. And, there were opinions voiced in court that would never be allowed to reach a modern jury’s ears. It all combined to determine a man’s fate. Not to say that Mooney would have otherwise been found innocent; he was guilty, but his sentence may have differed sharply.

In the early 1900s, Saranac Lake was in some ways like the Wild West. Smuggling, shootings, public drunkenness, prostitution, and murder were subjects bemoaned in the press as far too frequent. Any day was a good day for hell-raising, but Election Day was a particular favorite in many towns. Of course, the folks involved in Mooney’s crime led pretty rough lives. They may well have been clueless that it was Election Day.

The year was 1902, and the principals were: Allen Mooney, 25, a plumber’s assistant; Fred McClelland, 30, a friend of Mooney’s; Charles Merrill, 22, a local laborer and Mooney’s nephew; Viola Middleton, about 30, housemate of McClelland; and Ellen Thomas, about 24, known in Saranac Lake as Ethel “Maude” Faysette, love interest of both Mooney and Merrill.

On Election Day, the group was said to have been drinking and carousing at McClelland’s house. When Mooney eventually became loud and abusive, Fred threw him out. Testimony about the day’s events varied, but there was no disagreement on what happened that evening. Mooney, fueled with alcohol and driven by jealousy over Ellen Thomas, managed to get into the house through a door that had only a chair propped against it (the lock didn’t work properly).

By all accounts, he entered a bedroom and found McClelland there with Middleton. Mooney aimed his gun at McClelland, telling him “If you have anything to say, then say it quick.” After a momentary pause, Mooney fired two shots. One hit McClelland and deflected into Viola Middleton, and the other struck Middleton directly.

Charles Merrill and Ellen Thomas were in another room together. When the shooting began, Merrill hid beneath the bed. Mooney entered, shot the girl twice, and left the room. Charles Merrill was uninjured, and most reports claim he managed to jump Mooney, subdue him, secure the gun, and hold him until the local officer arrived. Both men were jailed (Merrill as a witness), and Mooney was said to have soon fallen into a deep sleep. Upon waking the next morning, he claimed to have no recollection of the previous night’s events.

McClelland’s wounds were serious, but he survived. Ellen Thomas died shortly after the shooting, and Viola Middleton lasted only a few days. In spring 1903, Mooney was indicted on two counts of 1st-degree murder and one count of assault. Awaiting trial, he was held in the bottom floor of the county jail in Malone, in what was referred to as “the cage.”

As usual, the case was tried in the newspapers until the actual trial date arrived. There were stories of Ellen Thomas (as Maude Faysette) having been arrested two days before the shooting, only to be released the next day. And, local bars were taken to task over serving liquor to Allen Mooney, knowing his condition and his reputation.

In May 1903, court testimony confirmed the shooting was done by Mooney in a drunken, jealous rage. Intent was proven by his purchase of a gun and cartridges that afternoon. Upon arrest, he reportedly said words to the effect, “I’ll go quietly. I’ve made a fool of myself.” Attorney Moore, left with no other defense, strove to prove Mooney’s insanity at the time of the shooting.

As evidence, he cited Mooney’s aunt (his father’s sister), who “lost all control of herself” during hysterical fits that kept her confined to a Canadian asylum for many years. And, Mooney himself was said to have suffered epileptic seizures since childhood, often turning violent during the attacks. Doctors said that, due to his physical condition, a small amount of alcohol could cause him to “become violently insane and unconscious of his acts.”

Best of all, though, were the professional opinions about Mooney’s appearance. As one reporter wrote, the doctors said, “From the peculiarities of his head, eyes, and looks, they would classify him as a degenerate who was more susceptible to insanity than a normal man.” Add the booze, and you had a powder keg, but one that was not responsible for its own explosion.

The prosecution was inclined to agree, partially. Four doctors, including one from the Ogdensburg Insane Asylum, upped the ante with this assessment: Mooney “ … represented a low type of manhood and possessed certain peculiarities of degeneracy.” But they also felt he was rational, and based on the same factors cited by the defense—physical condition, appearance, and actions—they believed Mooney was conscious of his acts.

Next week: The verdict; some interesting new friends; Mooney’s introduction to Robert Elliott.

Photo Top: The Franklin County Government Buildings, early 1900s.

Photo Bottom: Saranac Lake in the early 1900s.

Lawrence Gooley has authored eight books and several articles on the North Country’s past. He and his partner, Jill McKee, founded Bloated Toe Enterprises in 2004 and have recently begun to expand their services and publishing work. For information on book publishing, visit Bloated Toe Publishing.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Hobofest Returns to Saranac Lake Sunday

The second annual Hobofest will be held this Sunday, September 5th, from noon until 10 pm. Hobofest is a free music celebration of the Hobo spirit. It all happens on the lawn by the train station at 28 Depot Street in Saranac Lake, against the backdrop of the Adirondack Scenic Railroad. Hobofest is a grassroots community event bringing performers from near and far. The event is hosted by 7444 Gallery, programmed by Seward’s Folly Productions, and supported by your generous donations and the purchases of Hobofest goods.

11:45 Hobo fanfare to welcome the first train, led by Kyle Murray (Rainbow Lake)
12:00 Steve Langdon (Saranac Lake)
12:40 Pete Seward & Shamim Allen (North Elba, Saranac Lake)
1:00 Keith Gorgas (Goldsmith)
1:20 Theresa Hartford (Saranac Lake)
1:40 Jamie Savage (Piercefield)
2:00 Pine Ridge Rounders, (Bloomingdale, Saranac Lake)
2:50 Barn Cats (Rainbow Lake/Bloomingdale, Saranac Lake, Montreal)
3:45 Shamim Allen (Saranac Lake)
4:10 Roy Hurd (Saranac Lake
4:40 Mother Banjo (Minneapolis)
5:15 Cracking Foxy (Saranac Lake)
6:10 Steve Langdon – send off for last train of the day (Saranac Lake)
6:30 Roulette Sisters (Brooklyn)
7:45 Frankenpine (Brooklyn)
9:00 Big Slyde (Lake Placid)


New-grass-chamber power trio, Big Slyde, plays acoustic music with freshness and a contagious energy. This groove-oriented ensemble offers intricate mazes against delightful lush textures. John Doan: banjo, dobro, Mikey Portal: guitar, Christina Grant: cello. Refined instrumentation yet hardly ever “twangy.”

Frankenpine brings home former Saranac Lakers, Ned Rauch and Colin Dehond. Its “modern waves radiate from the form of piney old bluegrass and country.” (Adirondack Enterprise). Kim Chase: vocals, guitar, Matthew Chase: banjo, Ned Rauch: resonator guitar, mandolin, vocal, Liz Bisbee: violin, vocal and harmony vocals, Andy Mullen: accordion, harmonica, vocal, Colin Dehond: electric bass.

The Roulette Sisters play a hip-shaking blend of American country blues, traditional songs, popular, and old timey music regularly to denizens of the urban environment.Gorgeous 4-part harmonies, and stone cold authentic acoustic blues playing, sweeten their innuendo-laden songs. Mamie Minch: resonator guitar, vocals, Meg Reichardt: guitar, vocals, Megan Burleyson: washboard, vocals, Karen Waltuch: viola, vocals.

Cracking Foxy is making it’s debut appearance at Hobofest, performing vintage jazz, Hawaiian and vaudeville-era tunes. The line up features the three-part harmony of Abbey Curran, Sarah Curtis and Shamim Allen, backed by John Bouman on standup bass, Steve Langdon on guitar and Mark Hofschneider on ukelele and banjo. Dancing is not required but highly encouraged.

The Barn Cats play a bedrock mix of traditional American Roots Music; Bluegrass, Old time, Gospel, Blues and Country. They dwell on the northern slopes of the Adirondacks, and can be found almost any Wednesday night at the Shamrock in Gabriels. Addison Bickford: fiddle, vocals, Peter Reuter: guitar, Daun Reuter: mandolin, Sarah Curtis: vocals, ukelele, bodhran, Joe Costa: banjo, Mike Wanner: bass

The Pine Ridge Rounders are a hard-driving center-of-the tracks Bluegrass ensemble, flavored with a little grit, salt, and coal dust. Ken Casler: vocals, banjo, Kris Casler, mandolin and vocals, Kevin Woolley guitar, dobro, vocals, Peter Reuter: guitar, Jonathan Bouman: bass,

Roy Hurd – A living Adirondack legend and a well-traveled storytelling song man, he has written deftly crafted commercial country hits covered by the likes of The Oak Ridge Boys.This much-loved member of our community endures.

Mother Banjo – Called an “outstanding poet” by Inside Bluegrass Magazine and selected as a Midwest Finalist in the Mountain Stage NewSong Contest, Mother Banjo offers the mother’s milk of song, mixing original indie-folk with traditional folk and gospel music. She is currently touring behind her album The Sad and Found, which was named the #10 album of 2009 by the St. Paul Pioneer Press.

Jamie Savage – Sure-footed and grounded in this land, his keen observation and deep intonation tell us of where we live and who we are.

Theresa Hartford – A passionate, sometimes growling, song-mistress who sings of heartbreak, love, and redemption.

Keith Gorgas – Currently a resident in the ghost town of Goldsmith , population eight. Keith has spent five years living as a real hobo; hitchhiking, hopping trains, planes, & boats, and living under bridges.

Shamim Allen – A pivotal figure on the local music scene, Shamim’s rhythmic force propels us forward; her voice soothes with soul-saving promise.

Steve Langdon – Legendary past winter-caretaker in the wilds of Lake Colden, he plays authentic country blues. Witness him go against a locomotive with his bare hands.
Kyle Murray – The Shamrockin’ pied-piper of percussion, spinning his web on an emerald loom.

Directions to DEPOT PARK:

From North (Bloomingdale/Plattsburgh) – Rt 3 south to Depot Street, Take a Right at Light on Depot Street at the Stewarts Shops. Second Building on the right after Robert Morris Park.

From South (Tupper Lake) – Route 3 North to Main Street, Left at light on Main Street, Veer Left onto Broadway, Past Post Office on Left, Right at next light onto Bloomingdale Avenue, First Left at light on Depot Street, Second Building on the right after Robert Morris Park.

From East (Lake Placid) – Rt 86 to Saranac Lake, Left onto Lake Flower Avenue, Right at light on to Church Street, thru stop sign, Straight at next light, Veer Left (straight ahead) at Next light on to Depot Street between Stewarts and Robert Morris Park, Second Building on the right.

From West (Malone) – Rt 86 to Saranac Lake past Kinny Drugs on right, thru first light, left on Bloomingdale avenue at next light, First Left at light on Depot Street, Second Building on the right after Robert Morris Park.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Saranac Lake: 4 Days, 32 Artists, 90 Paintings

Thirty-two artists spent Aug 19 – 22 in the Saranac Lake area and produced over 90 paintings for the annual Adirondack Plein Air Festival. They had three Adirondack summer days to paint outdoors, on location, before the Show & Sale held on Sunday in the Harrietstown Town Hall in Saranac Lake.

While most of the artists focused on village scenes or our beautiful mountain, river and lake views, Peter Seward, of Lake Placid, made a political statement with his painting of the empty Sears parking lot, titled “Don’t Even Think of Parking Here”.

Sponsored by Saranac Lake ArtWorks and organized by Susan Olsen, owner of Borealis Color, and Sandra Hildreth, a member of the Adirondack Artists’ Guild, the Plein Air Festival has become a significant event for this arts community. “Plein Air” is a French term that basically means working out in the “open air” as opposed to painting indoors in a studio. Artists came from the Saranac Lake area as well as Plattsburgh, Liverpool, Poughkeepsie, Harriman, Nyack, Tivoli, Burlington, VT, and Milford, DE.

The following awards were given out during the Show & Sale, donated by area businesses and organizations. Anne Diggory, a plein air painter from Saratoga, was Juror of Awards and made all the selections.

Diane E. Leifheit, of Gabriels, received the “Best of Show” Award for a pastel painting of the classic view of some barns in the village of Gabriels with Whiteface Mountain in the background. Donated by Eric Rhoads, she will receive a free 1/4 page ad in the prestigious Artist Advocate magazine, valued at $650.

The Village of Saranac Lake and Mayor Clyde Rabideau donated $400 for the “Mayor’s Award”. It went to Nancy Brossard, of Childwold, for her oil painting of Lower Saranac Lake from Mt. Pisgah. This award was to go to the work of art that best represented the Saranac Lake area.

Cape Air donated $250 and it was awarded to Crista Pisano, of Nyack NY, for her oil painting, “View from the Fish & Game Club”.

The Adirondack Medical Center also donated $250 for a work of art “in the spirit of health and healing in the Adirondacks” and it was given to Tim Fortune, Saranac Lake, for his idyllic painting of the Saranac River.

Saranac Lake ArtWorks donated a $100 award which was given to Margaret Bayalis, of Milford, Delaware, for her oil painting “Reflections”.

Bookstore Plus in Lake Placid gave us an artists’ paint box valued at $89 and it went to Lita Thorne, of Harriman, NY for her painting “Beauty Along Route 3”.

The Lodge at Lake Clear provided a gift certificate for dinner for 2 and it was won by John Bayalis, Milford, DE, for his detailed watercolor “Morning Light”.

The Robert Louis Stevenson Tea Room gift certificate for “the most Romantic” work of art was won by Tarryl Gabel, Poughkeepsie, for her oil painting “Sunrise Over the Marsh”.

A gift certificate from T.F. Finnegan’s was won by Bruce Thorne, Harriman, NY, for his Impressionist style painting “Left Bank”.

From noon until 3:30 both visitors and artists could submit their vote for the “People’s Choice Award”, a $150 gift certificate donated by Borealis Color, and it was awarded to Laura Martinez-Bianco, of Marlboro, NY, for her oil painting “Woodland Interior”.

In addition to the artwork produced for the Show & Sale in the Town Hall, 23 of the artists also created a 5×7 piece during the “Paint the Town” event on Thursday and donated them to Saranac Lake ArtWorks. A Silent Auction was set up at the Adirondack Artists’ Guild and raised $1200, which is being donated to Bluseed Studios to help support their wonderful children’s programs and classes.

With two successful years now and growing in reputation, the Adirondack Plein Air Festival will be scheduled for Aug 18 – 21, 2011. For more information contact Susan Olsen at 518-891-1490 or Sandra Hildreth at

Photos provided by Sandra Hildreth: Painting by Peter Seward, Lake Placid (above). Diane Leifheit, Gabriels, and her “Best of Show” pastel painting: “Mid Morning Light” (below).

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Robert Louis Stevenson Palooza August 7–8

Saranac Lake is celebrating one of its most famous former residents, Robert Louis Stevenson, with a showing of the 1931 production of “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde” as well as a public reading of Stevenson’s awesome and spooky poem “Ticonderoga.”

At 7 p.m. Saturday August 7 the Stevenson Society will show a film adaption of the novel “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde” at Historic Saranac Lake’s Trudeau Laboratory building at 89 Church Street. Fredric March earned an Academy Award for his dual portrayal of Jekyll and Hyde. Stevenson scholar Martin Danahay will say a few words about the film. Admission is free. Popcorn, juice and water will be available.

On Sunday, August 8, at 1:30 p.m., the Stevenson Society will hold a festive Annual Meeting at the Robert Louis Stevenson Memorial Cottage and Museum, at 44 Stevenson Lane, in Saranac Lake. The event will feature a bagpiper and an entertaining recitation of Stevenson’s famous poem “Ticonderoga” by Peter Fish of the St. Andrew’s Society. Martin Danahay will also speak on the adaptation of Stevenson’s work to stage and screen. The Annual Meeting will follow these events. The public is invited at no charge. Chairs and tents and light refreshments will be provided.

For more information call the Stevenson Cottage: (518) 891-1462

Between long residencies in Scotland and the South Pacific, Stevenson stayed in Saranac Lake the winter of 1887–88, writing and convalescing from a lung ailment. Another local landmark paying tribute to the Scotsman is the Robert Louis Stevenson Tea Room, which serves lunch, tea and dinner.

Photograph of Robert Louis Stevenson, 1880

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Chris Morris: Election 2010 Update

New York State Attorney General Andrew Cuomo and his RV tour zipped through upstate New York last week, and two prominent North Country Republicans announced their support for Watertown businessman Matt Doheny in the race for New York’s 23rd Congressional District seat.

Let’s start with the congressional race. Franklin County Legislator Paul Maroun and Franklin County Republican Committee Chairman Jim Ellis were in Tupper Lake last Wednesday, where both men said they would be supporting Doheny – as opposed to Saranac Lake accountant Doug Hoffman – in September.

Ellis told WNBZ’s Jon Alexander that Hoffman will need to come to terms with both his fundraising numbers and his support among Republicans. Ellis indicated that Hoffman – who narrowly lost to Democratic Congressman Bill Owens last fall – is lagging in both fields.

“If he fails to do either of those things he should pull out,” he said. “He’s failing according to any objective test.”

Maroun, a Republican himself who sought endorsements for the congressional seat earlier this year, was pretty straight forward in his endorsement of Doheny.

“I try real hard to not support a loser. I really go out of my way not to support losers,” Maroun said. “I’m pretty confident that although Mr. Hoffman is a nice man, I think Matt Doheny is going to win this race.”

Reacting to the endorsements, Hoffman’s campaign spokesman – Rob Ryan – told North Country Public Radio’s Brian Mann that Maroun and Ellis were scared.

“They know that Doug Hoffman is ahead by 32 points in a poll and they know that Matt Doheny is going to lose,” he said. “It’s going to be a repeat of last year when the party bosses backed Dede Scozzafava.”

The poll Ryan refers to is an in-house survey funded by Hoffman’s campaign that shows the Conservative and Tea Party backed candidate with a commanding lead ahead of the September GOP primary.

That’s the latest news in the 23rd race; let’s turn to the gubernatorial election.

I have now had the opportunity to personally interview both Democrat Andrew Cuomo (last Friday in Saranac Lake) and Republican Rick Lazio (earlier this spring). My conclusion: they seem an awful lot alike.

For starters, their respective views on the size of government, New York’s legislative houses, ethics reform and the state’s fiscal mess are very similar.

And here’s the kicker: they also sound a lot like what Governor David Paterson has been saying for the last several months.

So here’s my question: does it matter who is living in the Governor’s Mansion?

Without significant reform in the state Senate and Assembly, it seems like our current problems could continue right on into 2011, new governor and all.

I haven’t met Carl Paladino yet, although I hope to. The one thing the Buffalo businessman has brought to the table so far is a little sizzle and pop; without his flair for the dramatic, the race would be a total snooze fest.

Which reminds me: Paladino’s duck – Mario Junior – was standing outside the Saranac Lake Adult Center while Cuomo spoke inside. I wish the duck took questions, alas…

It’s worth noting that North Elba Supervisor Roby Politi was in attendance during Cuomo’s campaign stop. Politi endorsed Cuomo’s candidacy – and if you go by popular belief, that makes another North Country Republican endorsing a Democrat.

I say “popular belief” because no one is quite sure what political party Politi belongs to. As he put it to me, he “votes for the person who is best for the job, regardless of political affiliation.”

Cuomo did refer to Saranac Lake as “Saranac” – a critical mistake in the minds of many locals, as Saranac is a much smaller town about 40 miles downriver from Saranac Lake. My friend Nathan Brown at the Adirondack Daily Enterprise claims that it’s a minor hiccup; I beg to differ.

You could feel the collective groan in the room every time he misspoke.

Anyway, that’s it for now. Back next week with another update.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Let’s Eat: The Trudeau Sanitorium Diet

In Rules for Recovery from Tuberculosis, published in Saranac Lake in 1915, Dr. Lawrason Brown stated that “there are no more difficult problems in the treatment of pulmonary tuberculosis than to make some patients gain weight and to help others avoid digestive disturbances.”

Diet was an important part of treatment for tuberculosis, the “white plague.” Highly contagious, tuberculosis (or TB) was one of the most dreaded diseases in the 19th century. Caused by a bacterial infection, TB most commonly affects the lungs, although it may infect other organs as well. Today, a combination of antibiotics, taken for period of several months, will cure most patients.

The drugs used to treat tuberculosis were developed more than fifty years ago. Before then, thousands came to the Adirondack Mountains seeking a cure in the fresh air, away from the close quarters and heat of urban streets. Doctors prescribed a strict regimen of rest, mild exercise, plenty of fresh air, and healthy, easy to digest meals. » Continue Reading.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

New Study: Visitors Are Younger, More Affluent

Visitors to Lake Placid and Essex County in 2009 were younger and more affluent than in 2008 according to the latest travel and tourism study. For the seventh year in a row, the Technical Assistance Center (TAC), based at SUNY Plattsburgh, was contracted by the Lake Placid CVB/Regional Office of Sustainable Tourism (LPCVB) to conduct an independent, third party Leisure Travel Information Study.

According to the report, the average household income of 2009 respondents was $93,211, which is slightly higher than in 2008 and the 5-year average of $91,610. The average age was 49.9 years, slightly lower than in 2008, with a 5-year average of 48.9 years.

Respondents live primarily in the Northeast. Hotels remain the most common type of lodging respondents used during their stay. When asked to select the activities which attracted them to the region, the top three were consistent with the 5 year average: outdoor activities, relax/dine/shop and sightseeing.

The results affirm many of the findings from previous years according to the study’s authors. Although there are seven years of data, the 2009 report compares to a five year rolling average to smooth out anomalies.

The LPCVB promotes the Schroon Lake, Lake Champlain, Whiteface, Saranac Lake and Lake Placid regions. The study is based on a survey of the LPCVB’s 2009 trackable leads database. New leads are added on a constant basis; walk-in visitors, phone and mail inquiries, bingo cards from magazine advertising, and web signups provide a snapshot of the respondents to the 2009 overall marketing efforts.

Although alone receives millions of unique visitors, the survey takes only these trackable leads into consideration. In order to calculate the economic impact of the LPCVB’s marketing efforts exclusively, the results do not include any standard economic multipliers, such as the impact from group visitation, staff expenditures, sales tax or events.

In addition to valuable demographic data and trends, the study’s intent is to determine the effectiveness of the LPCVB’s marketing programs, to measure the return on investment (ROI) ratio for public marketing expenditures and the conversion rate factor, or the number of those leads who actually visited the region.

The report found that the percent of visitors who stated that the information or advertisements viewed influenced their decision to visit the region was 79%, which is near the five-year average of 82%. And, for every occupancy tax dollar the LPCVB spent on marketing, visitors to Essex County spent $89, which is slightly higher than in 2008, and lower than the five-year average of 99:1.

The 2009 report, additional CVB research and more is available for download at a new online resource developed specifically for local tourism-related businesses at

Monday, June 21, 2010

Should Adirondack Scenic Railroad’s Tracks Be Torn Up?

We’re in a fiscal mess. State officials have talked about closing parks and campgrounds, Forest Preserve roads, and the Visitor Interpretive Centers in Paul Smiths and Newcomb.

But I haven’t heard them talking about shutting down the tourist train that runs between Lake Placid and Saranac Lake.

The state spends hundreds of thousands of dollars a year to keep the Adirondack Scenic Railroad in operation. The railroad operates two tourist trains: one out of Lake Placid and one near Old Forge. The latter accounts for the bulk of the railroad’s revenue. » Continue Reading.

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