Posts Tagged ‘Tahawus’

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Commentary:
Preserving and Promoting Adirondac and the Upper Works

Signage at Blast FurnaceToday I conclude my series on Adirondac the the McIntyre Mines.  The deserted village of and the remains of the operation at Upper Works make for an evocative Adirondack destination.  Though this abandoned settlement’s historically significant mining heritage is known among locals, history buffs, and High Peaks backpackers who use the Upper Works trailhead, it is by no means widely known, or even somewhat known.   There are great benefits to be had if this fact changes.

When the Open Space Institute purchased the Tahawus Tract from NL Industries they put a terrific plan in place to designate the area containing Adirondac and the 1854 blast furnace as a historic district.  Work began some years ago to stabilize and preserve the furnace, the one original village building, McMartin House (or MacNaughton Cottage)  and the cemetery.  However the work has taken years and  I hear through the grapevine that funding is an obstacle.  As a result the implementation of the historic district has been slow.  » Continue Reading.



Saturday, September 7, 2013

Adirondac: The Search for the Church of Tubal Cain

Tubal Cain on North Elba 1858 Land MapToday I return to my series on the McIntyre Mines, the Settlement of Adirondac and the romantic sense of the past the area embodies.  Being a ghost town, and an area of historical significance dating back nearly two centuries, the remains of the works, village, and private club possess an unmistakable aura of mystery.

This sense of the unknown, of the forgotten lives and fortunes of those who partook of Archibald McIntyre’s enterprise, extends beyond the experiences of wondering visitors who are discovering it for the first time or the hundredth.  Indeed, despite the fact that the history of Adirondac has been well-chronicled and that primary documents abound (mostly in the form of letters and business records) there are many things that remain legitimate mysteries to this day.  For example there were several furnaces  that were built or improved during the nearly thirty years the proprietors tried to make a go of it.  We still do not know where all of them were located.  We do not know where the original log boarding house sat, nor do we know where the great guide John Cheney lived during his many-year association with the mines. » Continue Reading.



Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Teddy Roosevelt Rides Again in North Creek

tedd-rides-again-450pxTeddy Roosevelt is not available to recreate his historic 1901 ride from the North Creek Train Depot, but nationally recognized Roosevelt reprisor Joe Wiegand will be on hand to fill those famous shoes.

On September 14-15 the Saratoga/North Creek Railway (SNCRR) is providing historic train rides, recreations and special excursions surrounding the theme of Teddy Roosevelt’s famed ride from Tahawus to North Creek. » Continue Reading.



Saturday, July 27, 2013

Newcomb: The Adirondac Cemetery

Gravestone at AdirondacThe most obvious attraction to the settlement of Adirondac in its current state is that is is a ghost town, crumbling and abandoned.  It is no wonder that people find ghost towns appealing, being as they are romantic places tinged with loneliness and even sadness.  Most of all they are landscapes of mystery, places where the imagination can run with little limit, wondering at the lives and stories echoed within.

Like any ghost town and perhaps even more than most owing to its wild, forbidding setting, Adirondac invites mystery.  To the knowledgeable visitor some of that mystery requires little imagination, merely some history.  Where was the earliest furnace?  Where and what was the nature of the house in which legendary guide John Cheney resided?   How many families lived in the settlement at its peak?  These and many other questions have no answer.

When I first became obsessed with Adirondac in the 1980’s I entered into a mystery adventure of my own.  I assumed that there must be a cemetery associated with the settlement and I resolved to find it.  It was more than fifteen years before my wife Amy succeeded. » Continue Reading.



Saturday, July 20, 2013

David Henderson: The Prince of Adirondac

Henderson MonumentIt was June of 2007 and I was ensconced in the Adirondack Museum library, fortuitously avoiding an unusually muggy early summer afternoon.  I had gone there to do a little research for a work of historical fiction that I thought I might write.  By then my interest in Adirondack history was in full thrall, which made holding the document I had been presented by librarian Jerry Pepper something close to a religious experience.

It was an original letter, written in 1826, well preserved though the paper was a bit brittle and slightly darkened with age.  The script was beautiful; fluid and robust but not embellished or overly fussy.  The writing was sincere, filled with a youthful wonder and spirit of adventure but at the same time composed with a powerful energy and purpose.  Its tone was mellifluous, phrased but unforced, the work of a superb natural writer.  All in all it was – and is – a remarkable document, a singular account of a journey from the early written history of the Adirondacks. » Continue Reading.



Saturday, July 13, 2013

McMartin House: Adirondac’s Last Building

IMG_6774Those  who visit the Upper Works trailhead pass through the remains of the most notable ghost town in the Adirondacks.   The ruined village is known by various names: Adirondac, the Deserted Village, Tahawus (mistakenly), Upper Works, McIntyre.

All of these names (some more historically valid than others) hearken back to the original settlement carved out of the wilderness more than a hundred and eighty years ago by prospectors eager to capitalize on the massive veins of iron ore to which they had been guided by Abenaki Indian Lewis Elijah Benedict in 1826.

However, the collapsing structures lining the old village street and ranging back into the woods date from a more modern era, most around the turn of the twentieth century and into the 1920’s (though the foundations of some are original to the mining village).  The last of them was abandoned as recently as the 1960’s.  Now the Adirondack forest is reclaiming them at its usual unrelenting pace. » Continue Reading.



Saturday, July 6, 2013

Upper Works: The Lost Settlement of Adirondac

Collapsing AdirondacIt was early afternoon of a warm, windless July day, eight years ago.  Bits of sunlight flecked the ground, filtered by the dark foliage of the forest stand in which I found myself.  Minutes before I had been with my family, gathered together in conference along a faint trail.  Now I was alone, off trail, pushing through a phalanx of young hardwood growth dotted with cedar, hemlock and spruce.  Though my wife and three sons were spread out in the woods somewhere within shouting distance, the only sound I could hear was that of my own labor, of leafy branches pushing past my ears as I forged up a steep and uneven rise.

As I have so many times in the Adirondacks I felt a deep sense of loneliness.  No doubt due in part to the nature of my quest I experienced that disconcerting and enchanting feeling of being unmoored from time, as though I might next encounter Alvah Dunning or Mitchell Sabattis at the top of the ridge… or more to the point, David Henderson.  I imagined that my explorations might channel me back in time more than a century, never to see my family again, instead to have to live a life out of any generation I have known, perhaps as a guide or trapper of old.  » Continue Reading.



Friday, January 25, 2013

Protect’s Vision for Former Finch Pruyn Lands

Protect Upper Hudson mapProtect the Adirondacks has come up with a vision for the former Finch, Pruyn lands that is at odds with the management plan proposed by the state Department of Environmental Conservation.

Essentially, Protect wants more land classified as Wilderness.

The biggest difference is that Protect wants the Essex Chain of Lakes to be included in a 39,000-acre Upper Hudson Wilderness Area. The Wilderness Area would encompass lands that the state owns or intends to acquire over the next several years, including OK Slip Falls and the Hudson Gorge.

As I reported here this week, DEC proposes to classify the Essex Chain Wild Forest. Given this classification, DEC intends to keep open several interior roads, permit floatplanes to land on Third Lake in the Essex Chain (only during mud season), and allow mountain bikers to ride on a network of dirt roads in the vicinity of the chain—all of which would be banned under a Wilderness designation. » Continue Reading.



Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Forest Preserve Fight: Tahawus Rail Spur Decision Appealed

Tahawus Rail Line (Phil Brown Photo)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.



Monday, June 25, 2012

Dave Gibson: Saratoga-North Creek RR, On To Newcomb

News comes this week that the Saratoga & North Creek Railroad (Iowa Pacific Holdings) has gotten federal go-ahead to extend commercial rail uses to and from the former mine at Tahawus, Newcomb. I extend the company and the towns through which the spur line passes a thumbs-up and good luck, not just for its rail rehabilitation and future commercial success, but for its educational success.

That said, the State of New York, by failing to hold public hearings to share information and hear opinion about the complicated issues behind re-extending the line from North Creek to Newcomb, failed its responsibilities for the Forest Preserve. » Continue Reading.



Sunday, June 3, 2012

Cabin Life: The Rewards of Trail Work

Memorial Day weekend is over.  It was beautiful weather, the campground was full, and I’m exhausted.  After working three fourteen hour days in a row, I’m glad the campers are gone, even though we didn’t really have any problems with the crowd.  Lots of guys talking about fishing, wondering where to get ice and firewood, and wondering how long they can extend their weekend.

I like working in the campgrounds, even though dealing with the public is often unnecessarily stressful.  Drive slow, be quiet and keep your dog on a leash.  It’s not that much to ask, but many people find it difficult to follow those simple rules.  But what I love about my job is the chance to be on the trail crew.  They pay me to hike, and I have to pinch myself every time. » Continue Reading.



Saturday, April 28, 2012

Lost Brook Dispatches: Trailblazing

Of all the deep, wild urges rooting around in my head (god knows there is a subject that could turn away scores of readers), said urges being imbued in every way with the powerful, primeval pull of the Adirondack landscape, the strongest has always been trailblazing.

The fantasy of traveling on foot into parts unknown, marking a path like a scout of lore, has been the adventure that has most fired my imagination and passion. It is simply the most romantic thing of which I can conceive. » Continue Reading.



Saturday, March 10, 2012

Lost Brook Dispatches: The Wilderness Experience

In these dispatches and in other Almanack posts over the last two weeks there has been quite debate going about wilderness. Is there really such a thing in the Adirondacks? It is only in the eye of the beholder? Has it been defined primarily by 19th-century aesthetic paradigms? Would a more substantial version of wilderness be “rescue-free?” These and other issues illustrate the complexity of how we experience our park.

In last week’s dispatch I suggested three different ways to frame the question: the ecological, the anecdotal and the experiential. I devoted most of that post to the anecdotal perspective, having as I do a predilection for good stories, of which there is no shortage in the Adirondacks. Whatever the truths about wilderness, our experience of it is deeply engaging, romantic in a broad sense. I think that’s why the anecdotal perspective is valuable. Stories of the wilderness feed our romantic notions, inspire us, remind us of our own stories and evoke memories and images that are part of our history, both real and imagined. » Continue Reading.



Wednesday, June 15, 2011

The Tahawus Blast Furnace Ruins

If you ever climbed Mount Marcy from Lake Colden, you probably drove up the narrow road from Newcomb to the Upper Works trailhead, past an odd but massive stone structure near the southern entrance to the High Peaks. You might have wondered about this relic from the American industrial revolution, how it worked, and when it was built.

In a few months, the Open Space Institute (OSI), which bought the site from NL Industries in 2003, will install illustrated interpretive panels explaining the fascinating history of this important Adirondack site. I’ve been working on the team preparing these panels, and I’ve learned far more about 19th-century iron smelting than I ever thought was possible. » Continue Reading.



Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Joe Martens Nominated to Lead DEC

There were hints last week that it would happen, but it’s official, Olympic Regional Development Authority (ORDA) Chair and Open Space Institute (OSI) President Joesph Martens has been nominated by Governor Andrew Cuomo to head the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC).

Martens has quite a legacy already in the Adirondack region. Under his leadership OSI secured protection of the 10,000-acre Tahawus property and most recently the 2,350-acre Camp Little Notch in Fort Ann. Martens also spearheaded OSI’s involvement in the Nature Conservancy’s 161,000-acre Finch Pryun purchase. » Continue Reading.



Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Extreme Adirondack Cross-Country Skiing

One of my favorite winter trips is what one might call “extreme cross-country skiing.” That is, skiing on routes that aren’t generally considered by the cross-country community. Routes you won’t find in Tony Goodwin’s Classic Adirondack Ski Tours.

Some of these routes are long and committing. Others require the use of snowshoes or skins (unless you’re a member of the Ski-To-Die Club, a group of locals who took extreme skiing to a new height by taking wooden cross-country skis in the 1970s down mountain descents that would give most people on modern alpine gear pause).
» Continue Reading.



Sunday, January 24, 2010

APA To Hold Public Hearings on Land Classification

The Adirondack Park Agency has scheduled five public hearings to hear comments on proposals to classify or reclassify about 31,500 acres. The acreage in question is located in Clinton, Essex, Franklin, Fulton, Hamilton, Herkimer, Lewis, Oneida, St. Lawrence, and Warren counties. Included in the proposals is the 17,000 acre Chazy Highlands tract, located in the towns of Ellenberg, Dannemora and Saranac, in Clinton County, which is being recommended for Wild Forest classification. The Tahawus Tract, which includes Henderson Lake in the Town of Newcomb, is also being proposed for addition to the High Peaks Wilderness Area.

An inter-active map and detailed descriptions of the proposed classifications are available from the Adirondack Park Agency’s website at http://www.apa.state.ny.us/

The Public hearings will take place at the following locations and dates:

January 25, 2010, 7:00 pm

Newcomb Fire Hall
5635 Route 28N
Newcomb, NY

January 27, 2010, 7:00 pm

Park Avenue Building
183 Park Ave
Old Forge, NY

January 28, 2010, 7:00 pm

Saranac Town Hall, 3662 Route 3
Saranac, NY

February 2, 2010, 7:00 pm

St. Lawrence County Human Services Center
80 SH 310
Canton, NY

February 5, 2010, 1:00 pm

NYDEC, 625 Broadway
Albany, NY

The public is encouraged to attend the hearings and provide comment. The Agency will also accept written comments regarding the classification proposals until March 19, 2010.

Written comments should be submitted to:

Richard E. Weber
PO Box 99, Ray Brook, NY 12977

Fax to (518)891-3938
E-mail apa_slmp@gw.dec.state.ny.us.

Photo: Location map for State lands under consideration. Courtesy the APA.



Thursday, December 3, 2009

Advocacy Group On-Board With Upper Hudson Rail-Trail

Parks & Trails New York, an Albany-based advocacy group, has joined an effort to develop a rail-trail between North Creek and Tahawus.

The group Friends of the Upper Hudson, which seeks to build a 29-mile multi-use trail along an old railroad bed, recently announced the partnership. Parks & Trails will provide help with technical issues, planning, public outreach, grant writing, fundraising and other activities.

The trail would follow the railway formerly used to haul ore from the NL Industries mine, passing through the towns of Johnsburg, Indian Lake, Minerva and Newcomb. The trail would provide easy access to the scenic Upper Hudson and Boreas Rivers, as well as a dramatic crossing of the Hudson over a long trestle.

When complete, the trail could lure tens of thousands of users to a part of the Adirondacks that is not visited by many hikers. But there are concerns about the project. First is the cost, estimated at $4.4 million for a stone-dust trail, or $7.3 million for paved. And there are also access questions, as the right-of-way (across both private and state land) will expire with the removal of the tracks. However, backers say a federal law to encourage the reuse of rail beds may solve the complicated land issue.

The project backers have completed a feasibility study and are working with partners to acquire and preserve the corridor for trail use.

Trains haven’t run on this section of rail for decades. To the south, a tourist line called The Upper Hudson Scenic Railroad operates in warmer weather on the same line between North Creek and Riparius. That railroad faces an uncertain future: the section is owned by Warren County, which is seeking proposals from new operators for a scenic railroad. The rail-trail would ave no impact on the tourist line.

The Friends of the Upper Hudson Rail Trail maintain a website here. To find out more about the Healthy Trails, Healthy People program, contact Parks & Trails New York at 518-434-1583 or ptny@ptny.org or visit the Parks & Trails New York website here.



Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Upper Hudson Rail Trail Planned: North Creek to Tahawus

There is a movement afoot to transform the northern end of the Upper Hudson Railroad into a multi-use trail. Although the project has only just begun, Friends of the Upper Hudson Rail Trail have met twice so far in the North Creek area and according to organizers indications are good the new trail will become a reality. The entire route, from the North Creek Railroad Station to the Open Space Institute’s 10,000 acre Tahawus Tract is owned by NL Industries (National Lead, the former operators of the mine at Tahawus), who have been reported for several years to be eager to dispose of the property and salvage the rails. Access points are owned by Warren County, Barton Mines, and the Open Space Institute.

The route would be 29 miles long in three counties (Warren, Hamilton, and Essex) beginning along the Hudson to a bridge just below the gorge, then along the Boreas River, Vanderwalker Brook, and Stillwater Brook before rejoining the Hudson River near Route 28N in Newcomb and finally crossing the Opalescent River and into the mine area. Riders could continue past the restored iron furnace along the Upper Works Road to end at the Upper Works, a southern trailhead to the High Peaks and Mount Marcy. » Continue Reading.



Saturday, July 11, 2009

Adk Museum Presents The Adirondack Mining Village

Mining was once a major industry in northern New York State. Small iron mines and forges appeared along Lake Champlain in the late 1700s. In the 1820s, the industry began to grow rapidly, reaching its peak in the mid-to-late 1800s. The story of mining is much more than minerals found and ores extracted. This Monday, July 13, 2009 Dr. Carol Burke will explore human aspects of Adirondack mining in an illustrated program entitled “The Adirondack Mining Village” at the Adirondack Museum at Blue Mountain Lake.

Part of the museum’s popular Monday Evening Lecture series, the presentation will be held in the Auditorium at 7:30 p.m. There is no charge for museum members. Admission is $5.00 for non-members.

Burke’s presentation reflects an ongoing project that documents accounts of the daily lives or ordinary people who lived and worked in the now abandoned mining villages of Tahawus and nearby Adirondac (known in the 1950s as “The Upper Works”). Dr. Burke will share photographs and recollections of everyday life in these former company towns.

Carol Burke, a Professor at the University of California at Irvine, is a folklorist and journalist whose ethnographic work has produced books that document the lives of Midwestern farm families, female inmates in our nation’s prisons, and most recently, members of the armed services. Six months ago she was embedded with an army unit in northern Iraq.

Dr. Burke spends her summers in the Adirondacks and is currently documenting the everyday life of the once-flourishing mining village of Tahawus. Before joining the faculty at the University of California at Irvine, Professor Burke taught at Vanderbilt University, Johns Hopkins University, and the United States Naval Academy.

The broad story of mining in the Adirondacks is one of fortunes made and lost, of suicide, madness, and ambition, and the opening of one of America’s last frontiers. Mining shaped the physical and cultural landscape of the Adirondack Park for generations. The Adirondack Museum plans to open the completely revitalized exhibit “Mining in the Adirondacks” in 2012 to share this incredible history.

Photo: Adirondack Village, Near the Upper Works. From Benson J. Lossing’s The Hudson, from the Wilderness to the Sea, 1859.



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