State officials, Tupper Lake residents, and others turned out in force on Tuesday afternoon to dedicate a new hiking trail to Andrew Goodman, a twenty-year-old civil-rights activist murdered in Mississippi fifty years ago.
Goodman and two fellow activists—James Chaney and Michael Schwerner—were kidnapped and killed by the Ku Klux Klan in June 1964. That summer, activists traveled through the Deep South in a campaign to register African-Americans to vote.
The murders and their aftermath was dramatized in the 1988 movie Mississippi Burning starring Gene Hackman and Willem Dafoe.
Earlier this year, the state Department of Environmental Conservation and volunteers created a 1.6-mile trail to the top of Goodman Mountain south of Tupper Lake.
“The story of Andrew’s short but impactful life cannot be forgotten,” DEC Commissioner Joe Martens said at Tuesday’s ceremony dedicating the trail.
The name of the 2,176-foot peak was changed in 2002 from Litchfield Mountain to Goodman Mountain. Bill Frenette, the late Tupper Lake historian, led the campaign for the change.
The Goodman family lived in New York City but began spending summers in Tupper Lake in the 1930s. David Goodman, Andrew’s younger brother, said the siblings and their cousins often climbed the peak together.
“Ten months of the year we were in the concrete jungle; two months we were in the real forest,” David remarked after Tuesday’s ceremony.
He said the trail is a fitting tribute to his brother. “What I love so much about it is that the community came together,” he said.
For the first 0.75 miles, the trail follows the route of an old highway through the forest. It then takes a sharp left and winds around the mountain as it climbs to the partially open summit, which offers views to the east, south, and west. Still visible on one bedrock outcrop, in fading paint, are the words “Billy Goodman 1938.”
The first quarter-mile of the trail is accessible to wheelchairs as the work crew simply removed a wide swath of dirt that had covered the old tarmac. Beyond this, the highway grade steepens, and the workers removed only a narrow band of dirt.
Once the trail leaves the old highway, it ascends gradually, often making use of switchbacks. Thus, it is suitable for casual hikers and families with young children.
Andrew Goodman’s grandfather built the concrete shelter protecting Lumberjack Spring near the trailhead. Despite a state notice that the water may contain giardia, some people still use the spring.
GOODMAN MOUNTAIN DIRECTIONS: From the village of Tupper Lake, drive south on NY 30. You will reach the turnoff for trailhead on the left 7.5 miles after crossing the Raquette River. The trailhead turn is 0.4 miles beyond the turn for Horseshoe Lake (NY 421) on the right side of NY 30.
Photos by Phil Brown: David Goodman at the trailhead; view south from the summit.