Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Historic Crimes

Regular readers know that ADK Almanack likes history, especially since we’re doomed to repeat it. That’s why we simply can’t believe that the powers that be will allow the historic Adirondack Railroad to be ripped up for scrap by corporate killer NL Industries (NCPR Report). Actually, we can believe it. Just take a look around – everywhere there are historic sites destroyed for little profit (if any). On Schroon Lake in the 1970’s the State of New York simply burned down the historic Scaroon Manor, there’s nothing left of that great historic hotel except what remains of the abandoned beach.

Cemeteries really get our blood boiling, like the Old Burying Ground in Keeseville that has been abandoned and vandalized over the years – or the Dresden Station Cemetery on Route 22 in Washington County that has been so neglected and overgrown that while hacking through the brush on a recent visit we noticed a buried stone, completely buried, face down, and when we turned it up, we discovered it was the grave of a Revolutionary War Veteran – we wonder what the graves of Vietnam or Iraq War vets will look like when they become history.

There are some bright spots – Adirondack Architectural Heritage cares; John Brown Lives! has become a rallying point for Progressives; in Fort Edward, once one of America’s most important frontier outposts but now like Whitehall [forget a link – there are none] a backwater post-industrial wasteland, local historians and archeologists are hoping that dredging of the Hudson River will recover some long lost artifacts. The folks at the Champlain Maritime Museum have been struggling against the tide to preserve and protect underwater treasures and to reconstruct the once thriving maritime life of Lake George and Lake Champlain – perhaps to correct the grave injustices of the past, when locals simply dug Revolutionary War, French and Indian War, and War of 1812 shipwrecks, cannon, and other artifacts from the water’s edge and cut them up and sold them to tourists, or left them to rot in the elements [more].

A drive over to Vermont should prove to doubters what retaining historic resources does for rural communities – note the quaint Vermont villages where zoning and planning have ruled over the small-minded conservatives who see big government in every attempt to keep the character of towns and villages intact. Conservatives long for a fantasy past of family values and porch sittin’ with neighbors even as they abandoned all they say they love for the profit of the corporations and their shills.

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John Warren

John Warren has been exploring the woods and waters of the Adirondacks for more than 45 years. After a career as a print journalist and documentary television producer he founded Adirondack Almanack in 2005 and co-founded Adirondack Atlas in 2015.

John's Adirondack Outdoors Conditions Report can be heard Friday mornings across the region on North Country Public Radio and on WSLP Lake Placid.

He is also on the staff of the New York State Writers Institute and edits The New York History Blog. He is the author of two books of regional history.




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