While looking around I overheard a conversation between another customer and the cashier, and when my son had finally succeeded in herding me to the register I asked the cashier if what I thought I had overheard was true. Yes, she said. Breck and Julia Turner, proprietors, were retiring and the store will be closing next summer. It was sad news, but I was heartened to hear that, if the store must close, it is the choice of the owners and not due to lack of business or escalating rents. I will miss it terribly, and after it is gone my family will find me far less interested in driving the 35 miles from our quiet lakeside camp to the touristy streets of Lake Placid.
For those who love books and/or tobacco and have reason to be in the region, I strongly recommend you drop by With Pipe and Book in its last year of existence, and enjoy a very special store. It is located at 91 Main Street, Lake Placid, New York, and can be called at 518-523-9096.
A very special store indeed – the Almanack wishes them well. Their moving on points-up us how important local business is, particularly in this case to local book publishers and writers like the late Barbara McMartin who no doubt sold quite a few copies out of Lake Placid.
Three of our favorite local history and culture bookstores:
It really began about two years ago. That was when the Bolton Police Department began its harassment of local businesses in Bolton Landing, on Lake George in theAdirondacks. It started with slow drive-bys of the local businesses, particularly the only two places left in town that attract locals – the Sagamore Pub and the Brass Ring. Cars leaving town after 11 pm were pulled over constantly. Then, if that wasn’t bad enough,Bolton police began stalking tourists and locals who were walking down the street minding their own business. They asked for IDs and if someone walking down the street was intoxicated, they were automatically arrested – even if they were minding their own business.
Last summer Bolton Police began parking directly in front of the Sagamore Pub and the Brass Ring and waiting for patrons to leave – if they drove they were followed and stopped; if they walked they were asked for ID. A police sting which sent two undercover police into both bars ended in the closing of the Brass Ring after a new bartender, just 21 years old herself, served two people who looked obviously over-age, but were undercover and trying to deceive the bartenders into serving them. The Sagamore Pub is now closed and the Brass Ring is under new ownership (among other issues these changes mean neither establishments have a presence on the web any more).
So the Bolton Police have decided to move on to parking in addition to their usual tactics . Last Sunday night, the most popular night for locals in town, Bolton Police issued tickets and warnings to every car parked in the public parking lot – the reason? No overnight parking. Cars have to be moved at 2 am, never mind the Brass Ring (now called the Lakeside Pub or some such thing) doesn’t close until 4 am. Lots of locals stood by and cursed while their cars were ticketed afraid to confront police or move their cars from a near-empty public parking lot for fear of police intimidation. Of course, anyone who works at The Sagamore Hotel will tell you that they never see the Bolton Police – you see, the super rich of Bolton are exempt from the pestering the locals and “regular” tourist face.
So it’s no surprise that the overzealous Bolton Police have all resigned this past week. The Glens Falls Post Star speculated on the reason:
Earlier this month, there was talk around town of changing the Bolton department’s duties, [Warren County Sherriff Larry]Clevelandsaid. Rather than focusing on making arrests and writing tickets, the officers were asked to make their presence known to business owners during the day and assist people crossing busy streets.
When they can no longer drive away business and hassle locals the Bolton Police resign – I, and a whole lot of residents and business owners in Bolton, say Good Riddance! Until the Bolton Police can perform their job more appropriately, they ought to stick to what they do best – giving directions and helping tourists cross the street (oh, and hunting aliens).
UPDATE 8/15/06: The ComPostStar is reporting more about why the officers resigned. Apparently they “notified the town they planned to resign Friday, three days after a Town Board meeting that focused on an effort to create a written policy outlining the duties of town police officers. Some Town Board members wanted the department — whose officers work a total of 1,200 hours a year, most of them in the summer — to perform more foot patrols, spend more time directing traffic and assisting pedestrians crossing the street, and issuing more warnings instead of citations.”
In March. the Adirondack Almanack reported on the proposal to build another Convention Center in Lake George. We pointed out that its been long understood by people who bother to look that:
a highly critical report on the convention industry for the Brookings Institution… found that various factors such as industry consolidation, telecommunication advances and rising energy costs have contributed to a nearly 50-percent drop in convention attendance since the late 1990s. But meanwhile, more than 100 U.S. cities completed or began construction of convention centers, increasing the supply of available exhibit space by more than 50 percent.
Now New York State has given $20 million to a convention center in Lake Placid and the Lake George Forum owners have offered to “expand their facility into a full-fledged convention center with an exhibition hall, ballroom and parking deck to be operated by a new public authority.” We can only hope they use similarly wacky design prinicples.
Once built, Lake George Venture Partners, owners of the Forum, would either sell the facility to the authority for $13.5 million or lease it for $775,000 annually, under a proposal to be presented to the Executive Host Committee of the Warren County Board of Supervisors at 1:30 p.m. Friday [July 28] at the Warren County Municipal Center.
Hmmmm… we wonder who makes out on that deal – certainly not the taxpayers of Warren County we’ll bet.
[The study] will measure the local economic impact of tourism in a 10-county area.
The first report, issued in 2003, showed that the average tourist spent an average $63.66 a day while in the Adirondacks — $33 on a day trip and $109 if they stayed overnight, according to Laurie Marr, executive director of the Research Center.
The final results were released in 2004 and showed that tourists to northern New York spent over $1.5 billion in 2003 with a local economic impact of almost $150 million (in local government revenues). It also showed that an estimated 35,000 jobs are supported by both direct and indirect tourist dollars across northern New York, with a resultant $662 million in wages and income earned by business owners in 2003.
Bryan Higgins at SUNY Plattsburg conducted a similar study in about 2000 and reported at that time that only two had been done in the previous ten years:
We are aware of only two scientific assessments of regional tourism issues and needs having been conducted in the Adirondacks during the 1990’s. The first was a brief visitor intercept survey at various attractions and lodgings in the Park, carried out by Ambrosino Research (1993) for the Adirondack Regional Tourism Council. The second was a compilation of available research prepared by Dr. Chad Dawson at the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry (ESF) et al. (1994) for the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. A key finding of Dawson’s report is that the lack of accurate and objective data on recreation and tourism use within the Adirondack Park is a serious limitation to any NYSDEC comprehensive recreation and tourism planning efforts and therefore needs to be addressed in the future.
The most recent county reports are interesting reading as was this detail from the Plattsburg PR:
The 2003 study revealed a few surprises to some: just 7 percent of the tourists that year were from the New York City-Long Island area; 6 percent were from Canada; and only about $14 a day was spent on shopping.
It’s not clear if that is just Clinton County or the region in total and unfortunately the combined results are not available on the web. Also, the poverty numbers are still elusive. According to the New Tork Times, in 1992 the only five counties with unemployment rates above 15% were Hamilton, Warren, Essex, Lewis and Jefferson.
Strange as it may seem, Paul Reubens (a.k.a. Pee-Wee Herman) spent part of this week, the week of the 15th Anniversary of his arrest for, well, we’ll let the Daily Rotten describe it:
arrested in Sarasota, Florida for jacking off twice with his left hand inside the South Trail XXX Cinema. It was screening the triple feature Catalina Five-O: Tiger Shark, Nancy Nurse, and Turn Up The Heat. Following his masturbatorial debut, Reubens loses his children’s television show and product endorsements.
Anyway, he spent it where? You guessed it – at EnchantedForest in Old Forge!
The Scaroon Manor Day Use Area, on the site of the old Taylor’s on Schroon, has finally opened to the public (word has it that their will be limited camping facilities beginning next year). According to a DEC press release, it’s the “first new recreational facility constructed in the Adirondack Forest Preserve since 1977.”
Scaroon Manor comprises 241 acres in the towns of Chester, Warren County, and Schroon, Essex County, including 1,200 feet of shoreline on Taylor’s Point on the western shore of Schroon Lake. The day use area, which complies with the Americans with Disabilities Act, contains a beach [next to the abandoned boat crib at left], swimming area, large parking lot, bathhouse, and 58 picnic sites located in the pavilion and surrounding areas. It will be operated by the State Department of Environmental Conservation. The parking lot contains ample parking for all users of the Scaroon Manor Day Use Area, with designated parking spaces for persons with disabilities.
The site features a 120-foot long beach and 10,000 square-foot swimming area that can accommodate hundreds of bathers and swimmers. The lawn area immediately adjacent to the beach provides additional space forrecreation or relaxation. The beach bathhouse has changing areas, flush toilets, and sinks, all of which are accessible to persons with disabilities. The picnic pavilion contains 20 picnic tables and there are 38 additional picnic sites located in three areas close to the beach. Half of the picnic sites in each area are also accessible to people with disabilities.
In the 1700s, the Scaroon Manor site was called Spirit Point because of its use by religious worshipers. The property was home to a large farm, and eventually housed a succession of summer resorts. As a major summer resort from the 1930s through the 1950s, the facility included a grand hotel with a large ballroom, guest cottages, a golf course, and a 500-seat outdoor amphitheater. The last resort at this site – The Scaroon – closed in the early 1960s.
The property was acquired by New York State in 1967, and became part of the Adirondack Forest Preserve. Many of the original buildings were sold and removed to new locations, some of which can still be found on the shores of Schroon Lake today.
That last line is interesting – the big rub has always been that they simply burned down a historic hotel and resort complex. That’s still true.
No word on what will become of the “500-seat outdoor amphitheater” (right) an amazing Greek style theatre that looked pretty rough last time we saw it.
Hayduke over at the Adirondack Forum informs us that through a Freedom of Information request he has received documents showing that The Mountaineer in KeeneValley has been granted a Temporary Revocable Permit to run a second Great Adirondack Trail Run along the same route as last year through the Giant Wilderness Area.Naturally, running a race through a wilderness area is, well, a bit incompatible with wilderness – so incompatible that last year’s race was limited to 60 people and was widely reported in the local press, and on the organizer’s website as “the first and most likely the last run we will organize.”
This event is all about celebrating our 30th anniversary, our two river associations, getting exercise and having fun! We are delighted you will be joining us. This run promises to be one of the most beautiful and adventurous runs of your life.
Well that’s beautiful and adventurous as long as you don’t happen to be climbing Giant as 60 people (or more this year?) run by.
Sponsors last year included Patagonia, Salomon, Montrail, Smartwool, Honey Stinger and Trail Runner Magazine with proceeds going to Ausable and Bouquet River Associations.
Here at the Almanack we are always ready to support appropriate use of the Adirondack Park were varying levels of protection ensure that at least some of these great north woods remain pristine – well as pristine as possible given that some folks will always want to explore the wilderness for themselves – it seems pretty clear that these kinds of large scale events belong in Wild Forest or Instensive Use areas rather than Wilderness Areas.
The race is apparently scheduled for June 17, 2006. Comments can be sent to
Denise Sheehan (email@example.com) Acting Commissioner NYS Department of Environmental Conservation 625 Broadway Albany, N.Y.12233-1010
Last week the Warren County Board of Supervisors voted to establish a “public” Authority which would use occupancy tax money to purchase the former Gaslight Village (who can resist humming the tune… “Gaslight Village, yesterday’s gone today). The $5.4 million property, owned by the Charles R. Wood Foundation, would be used for another convention center. Back in the day it was a railroad yard up the line from the Lake George [ahem] Spanish Colonial style D & H Train Station:
Back to 1998, the Albany Business journal, bastion of the coporate press and ignoring the more than half million dollar annual shortfall of the Glens Falls Civic Center, reported dutifully in an article entitled ” ‘Tin Box’ is all that’s needed for some conventions” that:
“Economically, the only way our community is going to grow is by lengthening the [tourist] season,” said Robert Blais, mayor of the village of Lake George. “The only way to do that is to make a suitable building to house the organizations we presently have coming to Warren County, as well as others who may want to come here.”
At his urging, Blais said, Warren County recently allocated $100,000 to the project, and a new convention center committee was charged with hiring a firm to conduct a marketing study to determine whether a center is feasible anywhere in the county. The spot favored by many interested in the project is Lake George, which already has proven itself to be a draw for the county.
Then we had:
Delays mean not only lost time, but lost money, however. “Warren County is surely losing millions every year by not having some sort of tin box–a rudimentary, simple convention center,” said William Dutcher, president of Americade Inc., a week-long motorcycle touring rally held in Lake George each year.
Dutcher pointed out that car clubs, motor home clubs, sports-oriented groups and regional conventions all would be attracted to the area if a facility were built to accommodate them.
Well that all worked out well for Blais and now we have the entirely architecturally incongruant and almost utterly useless tin box that’s design draws on Lake George’s lengthy local history of Greco-Roman vernacular architecture – the Lake George Forum – well that’s useless except for the local news fluff pieces on Zambonis, and events like Hockey, Bounce-A-Palooza, Hockey Camp, the Teen Dance and Bounce-A-Palooza Party, Hockey, another Brewfest, another Adirondack Living Show, more Hockey.
And still the convention center cowboys ride on…even in the face of the facts. Metroland this week [get it while it last – they still don’t have permalinks] is featuring a report on the proposed Albany convention center (stand back Jim Coyne):
‘Few cities learn from their own mistakes or the mistakes of any others,” says Heywood Sanders, a professor of public administration at the University of Texas at San Antonio.
In January 2005, Sanders became a focal point of frustration for many elected officials with their eyes on projects like the one in Albany, when he authored a highly critical report on the convention industry for the Brookings Institution, a public-policy think tank in Washington, D.C. Sanders found that various factors such as industry consolidation, telecommunication advances and rising energy costs have contributed to a nearly 50-percent drop in convention attendance since the late 1990s. But meanwhile, more than 100 U.S. cities completed or began construction of convention centers, increasing the supply of available exhibit space by more than 50 percent. This growing gap between supply and demand, concluded Sanders, “should give local leaders pause as they consider calls for ever more public investment into the convention business.
Sen. Elizabeth Little, R-Queensbury, who proposed the public authority operate the Civic Center as well as the proposed convention center, said the county could receive word from the state before legislative session wraps up in June.
Glens Falls Mayor Le Roy Akins Jr., Lake George Village Mayor Robert Blais and Town Supervisor Lou Tessier all expressed support for the idea Wednesday.
Blais, however, conditioned his support on the inclusion of the Lake George Forum on the list of venues the public authority could operate, saying he’s concerned the Forum could suffer from competition with the authority-run venues.
“The Forum could suffer from competition” – do you think so Mr. Blais? According to Metroland:
Recently built or expanded convention centers in major cities (and tourist destinations) including Baltimore, San Francisco, St. Louis and Portland, Ore., all have failed to approach the number of booked conventions proposed in their initial feasibility studies, while new facilities scheduled to open in Boston, Omaha, Neb., and various other cities across the nation have struggled to prebook enough events to fulfill expectations. Like gamblers who refuse to leave the table, many of these cities have found themselves locked in one expensive, risky convention-related investment after another as they try to make up for their earlier losses.
Across the nation, the cycle has followed a similar course: New facilities are built when consultants report that the existing facilities are outdated, existing facilities are expanded when consultants determine that the current facilities are no longer adequate (the standard life cycle of a convention center is only 15 to 20 years) and massive hotels are constructed when neither of the two former plans generate the predicted financial windfalls.
So folks… does Warren County join the bandwagon – again? Maybe this time it can have publicy funded classic Adirondack Egyptian architectural details.
UPDATE 4/5/06:Maury Thompson at The Glens Falls Post Star (get it while you can) reports, in one of the most blatant examples of advocacy journalism we’ve seen in a long time, that even though convention centers are in the works for Lake Placid, Plattsburgh, Glens Falls, Lake George, Saratoga Springs, Albany, and who knows where else, well, they are just a good idea. Thompson asked the opposition – well – nothing – they didn’t figure in his idea fair and balanced reporting.
UPDATE 4/24/06: Another entry from the folks at the Post Star – this time from a more balanced Madeline Farbman. The jist? Warren County is moving ahead despite long held desires from the local water quality folks to return the Gaslight Village site to a filtering wetland (get it while you can).
Over at eBay, there is a unique item of Adirondack history for sale. A 24-page advertising pamphlet from 1910 for Taylor’s on Schroon (photo above). And there it is, one simple line: “Gentile trade solicited” – in other words Jews need not apply. In the first decades of the 1900s anti-Semitism and nativism were rampant in the Adirondacks as in the rest of the country. The Ku Klux Klan worked hard from its local base in Schenectady to establish Klan groups in Ticonderoga, Glens Falls, Saranac Lake, and elsewhere – some were quite successful. This tidbit, written by C.F. Taylor Jr., is one of the more rare blatant examples. » Continue Reading.
A while back (a long while back) William Dowd’s Hops To It post got us thinking about doing a nice piece on the history of hops in New York and the Adirondacks; Especially now that the Beer Hawkers have returned to the Glens Falls Civic Center.
Hops, once a leading specialty crop in New York state, suffered from plant disease and insect pests. Prohibition in the 1930s also helped spell the crop’s demise, and 50 years ago, production ceased.
The last beer made entirely from New York-grown hops was brewed in the 1950s.
In the Adirondacks hops were an important supplemental crop for many farmers and hop picking provided income to many women and children as well. In Merrilsville George Lamson hired local women to pick his hops every year – Mrs. Henry Fadden wrote a poem about her hop-picking experience:
I went picking hops and though I worked with a will, I had to go back with my box half filled.
To find my house in disorder, my dishes unwashed. The children were sleepy, my husband was cross;
And because I didn’t get the supper before I swept the floor, He kicked the poor dog and slammed the back door.
And said that if I would leaving picking hops alone, He would give me a job of picking stone.
His advice was unheeded, I refused with disdain, And resolved the next day to try it again.
Convinced if only I would do my best, I could pick hops as fast as the rest.
But the weather was cold and I almost froze. My fingers were numb and cold were my toes.
Thus for five long days I labored and toiled, My work was neglected, my temper was spoiled.
And though you may think my experience funny, I am resolved in the future to let the men earn the money.
The last reference I could find regarding the growing of hops in the Adirondack region was a 1949 notice of the arrival of “400 pounds of Bavarian beer hop roots” in Malone where “local growers hope to revive a once-flourishing New York industry.” Unfortunately, the importers were not mentioned by name, and how the experiement went was never revealed.
We’re on record regarding the inadequacy of our region’s media, but today just seems weird. First we have Rick Brockway, the Oneonta Star’s Outdoors Columnist, who gave us a strangely rambling an incoherent rant on, well, we guess it’s something along the lines of build more roads into the Adirondacks to protect them.
Here’s a gem of nonsense:
The Adirondack back-country was put out of reach for the majority of the people. The APA closed the wilderness lakes and ponds to aircraft. Float planes were prohibited from landing, thus making the only access into those areas by foot. I still backpack into that great land, but so many others can’t.
Today, the old growth forests are rotting away and falling down, and most of the lakes are dead or dying from acid rain.
There is no push to reclaim these areas, primarily because so few people use the land and water. Their faint voices are never heard.
Out of reach of most people? Maybe this outdoor columnist hasn’t been paying attention. Otherwise he might recall one recent controversy in the region – the overwhelming numbers of large hiking and camping parties, some arriving by Canadian buses, that led to restrictions on group size in the back-country. Forget about his amazing assertion that “the old growth forests are rotting away and falling down” – ah… yeah… where is that exactly?
Then there is a classic from none other than George Farwell, chairman and education program director of the Iroquois Chapter of the Adirondack Mountain Club in Utica. It seems that he is concerned, forget about the whole lot of more important issues on the Adirondack table, that people using the backcountry are relying on rescue services far too frequently. Hey we might even agree, but for this:
These “incidents” (not really accidents, as “accident” infers circumstances beyond one’s control), have become more commonplace.
Ahhh… they have? By what standard Mr. Farewell? A simple search of local newspapers reveals that Adirondack history is loaded with search and rescue operations, when the Adirondacks was a more remote place it was a lot easier to get lost or hurt. There were a lot more people in the region in the 19th and 20th centuries. Today there are a lot more search and rescue organizations, it’s highly doubtful there are more people getting into trouble in the woods. They’re just more widely reported.
When a coasting (sledding) accident happened in Keeseville one Thursday night in 1902 “Wilfred Graves, aged twenty-three years was almost instantly killed, and his sister Miss Rachel Graves, and Miss Edith Bulley were crushed so that it is feared they cannot recover. Among the others hurt were: Harry Miles, broken leg; John King, arm broken; George La Duke, arm dislocated.” It was no wonder the newspaper carried the headline “Frightful Coasting Accident.” Getting the seriously injured to a hospital in a timely manner in 1902 was all but impossible – not so today from even the most remote areas.
Travel over the ice in the days of fewer bridges meant for more accidents. Albert Rand with his wife and three children were crossing Lake George on the ice in February 1860 when their horse and sleigh “suddenly went through a crack in the ice” just a short distance from the shore. They cried out in vain for help as Rand struggled to drag himself onto good ice and then saved his wife and one of his children – the other two were drowned.
J. M. Riford, a merchant from Moriah in Essex County loaded his wife and their two children into their sleigh and set out to visit his father across Lake Champlain in Warren, Vermont on January 11, 1884.The family had a good team of horses and was expected to make the trip over in one day – they never arrived and were never heard from again. “Their friends fear that they are at the bottom of Lake Champlain or frozen to death
under the snow in the Green Mountains,” the New York Times reported.
These are just a couple of stories that indicate the kind of dangers people faced in the region, that they simply don’t face anymore. A little bit of research would easily dispel the myth that somehow the Adirondack region is a more dangerous place today. A short visit to the remaining (and recently reborn) stands of Old Growth would put an end to the notion that our forests are “rotting away.” We’re not saying the Adirondacks are not dangerous, they are, always have been. A little research, that’s all we ask from our local media, a little research, a little investigation.
The bottom line these days seems to be, if your beat is supposed to be the Adirondacks, if you can’t find a ship run-aground, and you can’t be bothered with the real issues like backhandedly opening the region to ATVs, or running your town like an old boys club, then just make something up – rotting ancient forest, silly people in the woods, whatever you like.
The Adirondack Almanack's contributors include veteran local writers, historians, naturalists, and outdoor enthusiasts from around the Adirondack region. The Almanack is the online news journal of Adirondack Explorer. Both are nonprofits supported by contributors, readers, and advertisers, and devoted to exploring, protecting, and unifying the Adirondack Park.
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