Tuesday, September 8, 2020

OSI: Upper Works projects almost complete

McNaughton Cottage at Tahawus Ghost TownThe Open Space Institute (OSI) has announced that a series of projects aimed at improving public access at its historic, 212-acre Adirondac Upper Works property are near completion. The property serves as a southern entrance to many popular High Peaks Wilderness Area trails. Once completed, this project will better accommodate the growing number of people coming to explore the High Peaks – and in doing so, better disperse visitors to the area and protect the region’s hiking trails and precious natural resources.

Among the projects underway is the construction of a new, 60-car parking area and trailhead. The projects are part of OSI’s $1 million capital improvement plan to upgrade overall public access to Upper Works, Henderson Lake, and the Adirondack High Peaks; preserve and improve its historic structures; and deepen visitor engagement.

In addition to the physical improvements underway on site, OSI also unveiled a new logo for the property, which will be incorporated into new signage planned for the site.

“With every construction milestone, we are growing more excited about the completion of the trailhead and parking area,” said OSI’s president and CEO, Kim Elliman. “Moreover, we are excited about the prospect of improving southern access to the High Peaks, which we hope will make the area more welcoming and help relieve some of the pressure on other locations within the Adirondacks.”

OSI has been working on the redesign and expansion of the Upper Works parking area with the Town of Newcomb, which is providing an in-kind contribution toward the work. The parking area is expected to open by Memorial Day 2021.

OSI also indicated that it is pursuing additional partnerships, private funds, and grants to fully achieve the ambitious plan.

What’s next

Other future, planned upgrades for Adirondac Upper Works include: the renovation of the historic MacNaughton Cottage which will provide a space for a satellite private outfitter and visitor information; the installation of new kiosks, wayfinding signage, and bathroom facilities; and additional stabilization of the 1854 MacIntyre Blast Furnace.

Recognizing the historic and environmental importance of this spectacular landscape located in the heart of the Adirondack Park, OSI acquired the 10,000-acre Tahawus tract in 2003. OSI then transferred most of the property to DEC, but retained 212 acres for educational, historic, and recreational purposes.

Work to date

Since then, OSI, with support from the Overhills Foundation, Prospect Hill Foundation, Walbridge Foundation, and New York State Council of the Arts, has invested nearly $900,000 in improvements at Adirondac Upper Works, including site planning; the initial stabilization of the blast furnace; the creation of an interpretative trail with educational panels that guides visitors from the northern parking area, through the former Village of Adirondac, to the historic 1854 Blast Furnace; and the structural preservation of MacNaughton Cottage. Built in 1845, MacNaughton Cottage is the site from which then Vice President Theodore Roosevelt began his midnight ride to the presidency in 1901.

Attracting hundreds of thousands of visitors annually, the High Peaks Wilderness Area is the best known, most heavily used, and largest wilderness in the Adirondack Park. Increased visitorship to the High Peaks over the past few years is providing a boon in certain Adirondack communities.

Photo of MacNaughton Cottage from Almanack archive

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10 Responses

  1. Boreas says:

    I always preferred this approach to many of the peaks. Good trails and relatively level and scenic routes. I hope the maintenance and patrolling of those trails increases with usage. I haven’t been to Upper Works for a year or two. I hope to get back there this fall and check out the upgrades.

    On a separate note, any news on whether Gulf Brook Road has been repaired at Boreas Ponds?

    • Doesn’t look like it will be fixed that soon:
      Boreas Ponds Tract: Gulf Brook Road, which provides access to the Boreas Ponds, remains closed to public motor vehicle use at this time due to washouts caused by the 2019 Halloween storm. Hikers, off-road bikers, and horse riders may still use the road to access ponds. DEC is working to repair the storm damage. Repairs to ditches and replacement of small culverts is underway. Additional work includes installing large culverts and bridges to ensure the road is resilient to damage from future storms. DEC is working to have the road open as early as possible, but likely not until the 2021 season.

  2. Warren says:

    Over use is the eventual downfall of everything. But the almighty dollar comes first. There is no wilderness experience in the High Peaks anymore. Might as well go to Six Flags. What a shame. Is nothing sacred? Do you gotta ruin everything?

    • Alan says:

      That’s boomer AF dude. 60 parking spaces ruining everything??? We need 1,000 more parking spaces. There is plenty of woods for everyone. No one is looking for “opportunities for solitude” anymore in the woods. There is an epidemic of loneliness in this country. We have too much solitude at home and work. I work in a building with 1,300 other people but Monday to Friday I don’t speak to another human being. That’s the way work is nowadays. People want to be with their friends now when hiking, not be alone.

      • terry V says:

        This is why we need a “like feature” on this site.
        Alan is spot on.
        When people use a resource they then learn to respect it and protect it.
        How great is it to see new people out enjoying the park.
        We always went on Nature vacations when our kids were young and now in their early 20’s I am so proud of their environmental awareness.
        their friends went to Disney and still talk about waiting on line.
        Hikers mean jobs; jobs mean families can make it in the park and not have to move out.

    • Ed says:

      I hiked into Lake Colden from Upper Works with a friend in the early 1990s , had our pick of about 3 different lean-tos . Next day we climbed Algonquin and had the top to ourselves. A couple years later we came back and did the same with Mt Colden , still no problem finding a lean-to , and we shared the mountain top with one other group . Things sure have changed .

    • Good Camp Owner says:

      How dare you…..Did you see any of the Park, have you been to the top of any of the High Peaks? Walk any of the trails or visit any of the areas that the State of NY or any of the conservation organizations have acquired and added to the experience we know as the Adirondacks. They do not belong to you Warren, not now not ever. You go to Six Flags, I am using the Park and inviting everyone to use it with me.

  3. Pat B says:

    I’m surprised no comment has been made here about the vandalism this past weekend to the large trailhead sign for Upper Works @ the intersection of Blue Ridge Road & Upper Works Road in Newcomb. Was it done in protest against promoting the use of the area? In light of this, I fear for the safety of the all the work OSI has put into this project.

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