Monday, October 30, 2017

New Book Tells History Of Park’s African-Americans

It’s obvious to anyone who spends time here that the vast majority of people who live in or visit the Adirondack Park are white. This could have consequences for the Forest Preserve, because the Preserve belongs to all New Yorkers and its future is in their hands.

The latest census data indicate that about 18 percent of the state’s population is African-American (another 19 percent is Hispanic or Latino).

Although few African-Americans live in the Adirondacks, our region is not without its own black history. Most people will think of John Brown’s farm in North Elba and Gerrit Smith’s effort to relocate black farmers. But there is much more to the story.

Sally E. Svenson tells the rest of the story in Blacks in the Adirondacks: A History, a new book published by Syracuse University Press. As it turns out, African-Americans lived and worked in the Park as miners, loggers, musicians, waiters, and baseball players, among other things.

The historian Philip Terrie gives a favorable review to Svenson’s book in the November/December issue of the Adirondack Explorer newsmagazine.

The latest Explorer is chockful of news articles and features. If you subscribe, here’s what to expect. (If you don’t, you can do so by clicking here.)

The cover photo, taken by R.L. Stolz, looks forward to winter: it shows an ice climber on a slide on Mount Colden. The issue’s centerspread features more photos from Classic Adirondack Climbs, a marvelous coffee-table book recently published by R.L. and his wife, Karen, who own Alpine Adventures in Keene.

News articles

 The issue contains several news articles.

In an Explorer exclusive, Tim Rowland writes about the clash between an APA commissioner, Art Lussi, and the agency’s staff over a variance Lussi sought for his camp on Lake Placid.

Rowland also wrote a piece on the Champlain-Adirondack Biosphere Reserve — what is it and how can it be used to promote the region?

There are two articles about railroads. Don Lehman and I write about Iowa Pacific’s plan to store tank cars on tracks near the Boreas River. I also write about the reaction to a judge’s decision to block the state’s plan to remove thirty-four miles of track between Lake Placid and Tupper Lake.

Other newsy subjects include:

  • The federal government’s refusal to add the Bicknell’s thrush to its list of endangered species.
  • A short interview with Peg Olsen, the new head of the Adirondack Nature Conservancy.
  • A report on the hiker who died near Wallface Mountain.
  • Lake George’s efforts to cut back on road salt.
  • The state’s plan for improving highways in the Park for people and wildlife.
  • A mysterious die-off of red pines near Wilmington.

Recreational stuff

 On the recreation front, Autumn Rock, an Explorer intern, describes her first-ever hike in the Park—on the Ladies’ Mile near the Ausable Club in St. Huberts. Did you know the trail is named after a shopping district on Fifth Avenue?

Leigh Hornbeck describes a jaunt to Blue Ledges with her young sons, Devlin and Rushton. It’s a scenic swimming hole in the Hudson Gorge.

A photo feature by Mike Lynch documents the rebuilding of the Hitch-Up Matilda bridges at Avalanche Lake. The bridges are bolted to cliffs along the lake.

I write about a ski trip I took last winter on the “orphan section” of the Jackrabbit, from Paul Smith’s to Charlie’s Inn. There’s nothing like ending a tour at a restaurant that serves burgers and beer.

Our Outdoor Skills page, deftly illustrated by Jerry Russell, offers hikers advice about what to do in a whiteout.

Lots of opinions

As always, the issue contains a variety of opinion pieces.

In his Wild Side column, Ed Kanze writes about prehistoric giant beavers. Thanks to Jerry Russell for the cartoon!

John Thaxton writes about the brown creeper in his Birdwatch column.

The Naturalist’s Lens by Larry Master features photos and information about wild turkeys (there are a lot more than there used to be).

Our “It’s Debatable” asks whether the state should require campers to store food in bear-resistant canisters throughout the Park, not just in the High Peaks. Pete Nelson thinks it’s a good idea. Dan Ladd is opposed.

In a Viewpoint column, Olivia Dwyer writes about moving back to her hometown of Keene after years away.

In a second Viewpoint, Explorer founder Dick Beamish advocates a bill in the state legislature that would require developers in the Adirondacks to cluster houses to preserve open space.

Tracy Ormsbee, the Explorer publisher, editorializes in favor of the Fund for Lake George’s low-impact development certification.

And that’s not all, but we’ll let you discover the rest on our own.


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Phil Brown is the former Editor of Adirondack Explorer, the regional bimonthly with a focus on outdoor recreation and environmental issues, the same topics he writes about here at Adirondack Almanack. Phil is also an energetic outdoorsman whose job and personal interests often find him hiking, canoeing, rock climbing, trail running, and backcountry skiing. He is the author of Adirondack Paddling: 60 Great Flatwater Adventures, which he co-published with the Adirondack Mountain Club, and the editor of Bob Marshall in the Adirondacks, an anthology of Marshall’s writings.Visit Lost Pond Press for more information.

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