Almanack Contributor Editorial Staff

Editorial Staff

Stories under the Almanack's Editorial Staff byline come from press releases and other notices.

Send news updates and story ideas to Almanack Editor Melissa Hart at [email protected]


Wednesday, January 25, 2006

In The Adirondacks Mining Accidents Once Occurred Regularly

According to the Associated Press the deadliest mining accident in American History was an explosion in a Monongah, West Virginia coal mine in 1907 in that killed 362 people.

Other recent mining accidents include:

2001: Explosions at a Jim Walter Resources Inc. mine in Brookwood, Ala., kill 13 people.

1992: A blast at a Southmountain Coal Co. mine in Norton, Va., kills eight.

1989: An explosion at a Pyro Mining Co. mine in Wheatcroft, Ky., kills 10.

1986: A coal pile collapses at Consolidation Coal Co.’s mine in Fairview, W.Va., killing five.

1984: A fire at Emery Mining Corp.’s mine in Orangeville, Utah, kills 27.

Here in the Adirondacks, mining accidents occurred with regular frequency in the 19th and 20th centuries.

The Chateaugay Ore & Iron Company mines have claimed several men. William Otten was killed on March 13, 1928; later that year, 21-year-old Lyon Mountain miner Floyd Rounds was seriously injured when dust from an explosion was thrown into both his eyes.

Fred Brinks, an Englishman, was killed on July 9, 1927. Polish miner Aleksandra Dachkon was killed at the Lyon Mountain mines in 1920. Another Polish immigrant, Edward Suzbalia, a foreman and 18-year veteran of the Lyon Mountain mines fell into Number 11 Mine in 1909. He fell 200 feet landing on his head and died instantly leaving a wife and two children. “He was held in the highest esteem both by his superior officers,” the Plattsburgh Sentinel reported, “and the men with whom he worked and was considered one of the most careful and reliable men in the employ of the company.”

Three men were killed and one seriously injured in one terrible week in 1927. One was 50-year-old George Bouyea who fell 300 feet into a shaft at Lyon Mountain. The 18-year company veteran and foreman in charge of repairing motors was adjusting a cable at the top of a shaft when he lost his footing. He was instantly killed leaving a wife and seven children.

In 1907, five unnamed miners – “Polanders, and it was impossible to learn their names” – where injured when the roof of a mine at Lyon Mountain caved in. Two men broke their legs and the other three were less seriously wounded.

Foreign workers frequently went unnamed. “An Italian who was blown up at Tongue Mountain died Thursday,” one report noted. “He accidentally struck a stick of dynamite with a crowbar. The man’s left arm was blown off at the shoulder, there is a compound fracture of his right arm just above the hand, both eyes were blown out of his head, a stone was jammed against his heart and his head was bruised.” It was a remarkable that he wasn’t killed instantly.

Dynamite was the culprit in a fatal explosion at the Harmony Shaft in Mineville in Essex County in 1901. During the day shift a charge of dynamite had failed to explode. When the night crew came on, George Baker was informed about the unexploded charge and Baker, James Tate, and Thomas McClellan went to the spot to correct the situation. The blow of the tapping bar exploded the charge of dynamite and Tate’s head was blown off. Baker was blinded, his arm broken and his face badly injured. McClellan was seriously hurt. Baker lost an eye but he and McClellan recovered. Baker was troubled by what had happened. His wife went insane and was committed to a mental hospital in Ogdensburg. Baker started drinking heavily. In 1915, fourteen years after he the mine accident George Baker tried to kill himself with a shotgun. He overloaded the shells and the gun exploded – not to be deterred, he took up a razor and slit his own throat. He was just 45.

UPDATE 1/6/06: Brian Mann of North Country Public Radio (NCPR) interviewed Lawrence Gooley, Adirondack author of “Lyon Mountain: The Tragedy of a Mining Town” after reading about Adirondack mining accidents here at the Almanack. NCPR has set up a webpage where you can hear the interview here.

UPDATE 5/1/06: The Almanack is now an NCPR Featured Blog.


Suggested Reading

Lawrence Gooley’s History of the Lyon Mountain Mines


Sunday, January 15, 2006

Six Flags a Great Escape to Time and the Adirondack Tourism Industry

Today the ComPost Star offers us a typically un-insightful look – this time, they turn their ever alert fluff finder toward a recent gathering of former Storytown employees at the Chapman Historical Society in Glens Falls. The big news? The unflinching analysis? Here it is from the lead:

The secret was kept for more than 50 years by a select group who may have whispered among themselves, but never let out word of their small enclave.

Sunday, the secret was revealed as former Storytown USA employees got together for a “remember when” afternoon at the Chapman Historical Museum.

Diamond ‘Lil, the Marshall, several tough cowboys and the first Cinderella to ride in the pumpkin coach ‘fessed up to a little-known fact: Little Bo Peep was also a can-can girl at Dan McGrew’s Saloon.

So was Mary, who had the little lamb, said Joe Hanlon, of Lake Luzerne, who dated both damsels during the summers he spent working at the amusement park.

Wow… teenagers who worked at Storytown in the 1950s and 1960s dated… and the fake Little Bo Peep and Mary (we assume sans lamb) were also can-can girls… the scandal!

In case you hadn’t heard, Six Flags, the parent company of The Great Escape, recently put itself up for sale. Last month, finding no buyers, they took themselves off the market. Wouldn’t it have been great if Charley Wood [bio, obit] had sold the company locally or turned it over to its long standing employees to run? Apparently they were both low paid and hard-worked:

“Charley (Wood) kept us busy,” said Hanlon. “Between the shows we’d do at Ghost Town, we’d have to clean the stable then go around picking up cigarette butts. The girls did the can-can shows, changed clothes and played the other parts. He got eight hours of work out of us, all right.”

…Dick Spector of Glens Falls, recalled working at Storytown in the summer of either 1961 or 1962.

“I was an outlaw four days a week, I drove Cinderella’s coach one day and was the garbage man one day a week,” Spector said. “My pay was $1.10 an hour, except the day I did garbage I made $1.25 an hour.”

Woods made millions (and did give heartily to local causes), but today Six Flags / Great Escape Splashwater Kingdom / Storytown is still making big bucks, still paying a minimum wage, and only recently were discovered to have been pulling some tax scheme to apparently avoid paying sales tax (good luck finding that news anywhere on the web). Anyway, it would be nice if the Adirondack region’s largest and most profitable tourist hot-spot took a leadership role in anything but making money – say in paying affordable wages to local residents forced to work in the tourism industry?

Anyway, on a less annoying note, links to sites about two great old-time amusement parks of days gone by:

Time Town
Frontier Town


Tuesday, January 3, 2006

New Adirondack Snowmobile Trail Conditions Website

From the Adirondacks Speculator Region Chamber of Commerce comes a new website that offers snowmobile trail conditions laid out in tables that identify each route (with trail numbers, segments between intersections, and municipal locations), the date the trail was last groomed, the date conditions were assessed and the conditions (great, good, fair, poor, closed).

The page includes trails in Lake Pleasant, Speculator, Arietta, Piseco, Wells, and Morehouse. The page also links to Trail Etiquette, a Trail Map cover 650 miles of area trails, GPS points, a Webcam and Photo Gallery, and a discussion board covering the area plus Indian Lake, the Moose River Plains, and other areas of the park.

Here at the Almanack, we have always believed that appropriately placed snowmobile trails (kept out of wilderness and wild forest areas) are an important component to the Adirondack economy. Riders should accept and defend the seven wilderness “leave no trace” principles.

Links to area snowmobile clubs – enjoy.


Monday, January 2, 2006

In New York The State of The State is The State of The Adirondacks

We normally keep our post here at the Adirondack Almanack to regional concerns. But it’s time for Governor Pataki’s State of the State Address – and while the Pataki Administration has been piling it high and deep, a more sober assessment, relevant for those of us inside the Blue Line, comes from the People’s State of the State. A rally is planned in Albany for tomorrow to urge New York lawmakers to do something about poverty in New York including its “skyrocketing heating bills, lack of access to affordable quality health care, and high housing costs.”

Some highlights from their press release:

Food lines at food pantries and soup kitchens remain at historically high levels and expect the situation to worsen following federal budget cuts and changes in the federal TANF program.

If we look back in time 25 years, a few of our local churches were beginning closet pantries. Today we have 43 food pantries and 22 soup kitchens in Albany and southern Rensselaer County alone, serving more than 2 million meals each year. Programs do not have the resources to do what they are being asked to do,” noted Lynda Schuyler, Director of the Food Pantries of the Capital District.

Anti-hunger advocates are seeking an increase in state funding for the Hunger Prevention and Nutrition Assistance Program from $22.8 million to $30 million. State funding is down $2 million from four years ago. Groups are also concerned about Congress’ elimination of all funding for the Community Food Nutrition Program, the main federal funding for anti-hunger organizations.

Unfortunately, there is probably no one monitoring the poverty situation in the Adirondacks (one of the poorest regions in the state) and no visible advocates for working poor families. There’s more here.

Another disturbing trend for our area is the effective elimination of the DEC ability to monitor our environment and deal with corporate polluters and exploiters. From Inside Albany this week we learned that nearly 800 staff positions have disappeared from the agency since the mid-1990s:

[Environmental Committee Chair Thomas DiNapoli, a Nassau county Democrat] invited DEC commissioner Denise Sheehan to answer questions about how the agency was coping with its severely reduced staff. However, she faxed her testimony, saying she was unable to appear. Sheehan gave no reason and didn’t send an assistant commissioner to read her testimony.

DiNapoli asked Assembly staffer Rick Morse to read Sheehan’s statement. It ran down a list of nearly a dozen examples of Governor Pataki’s “leadership” on the environment. They included the governor’s greenhouse gas initiative to cap carbon dioxide emissions. Also on the list were Pataki’s open space acquisitions. He counts 932,00 acres of land toward his goal of preserving a million acres. The statement did not mention the department’s decline in staff.

Not only were the numbers down, [Environmental Advocates] Tim Sweeney said. Governor Pataki’s general hiring freeze combined with early retirement incentives had stripped the agency of valuable knowledge. Valuable expertise and institutional memory had been lost in the retirements. The trend is likely to get worse. A comptroller’s report estimated that 38% of the department’s staff will be retirement-eligible by 2007. About a thousand more could go by then.

Worse indeed. More large scale developments like those at North Creek and Tupper, enormous development pressures on Warren and Essex counties, proposed wind farms in the park, roads being turned over to ATVs, snowmobile trails expanding every year, more visitors every year, all while year round residents deal with a serious lack of affordable housing, generations of local poverty, closing public schools, low-wage tourism jobs – the one state agency that should be taking a lead role on life in the Adirondack Park is asleep at the wheel.

2006 – here we come.


Monday, October 31, 2005

Happy Halloween / Samhain

Happy Halloween, the old Celtic Pagan holiday Samhain and the anniversary of the day Martin Luther began the Protestant Reformation. The old holiday was taken over by Pope Gregory IV in 840.

Also, the anniversary of the death of Houdini in 1926 and of River Pheonix in 1993.

For your scary enjoyment:

Halloween Night 1952
America’s Electric Chair
The Scariest Place in the Adirondacks


Sunday, October 30, 2005

Internet Stuff Sunday – Interesting and Bizarre

Vermont’s Diabologue recently had an interesting reminescence on the early days of the Internet. Say What? has added their own memories of the Commodore 64.

Some folks over at the BlueMoo.net Adirondack community board are worried about their kids holding their breath… yeah… big danger there.

And why we’re on Adirondack community boards, the amazingly dull Adirondacks Live Journal is looking for a new moderator.

In case you missed it… the Queensbury Pagan Day apparently rocked and people are surfing the St. Lawrence!

Oh yeah… got junk mail problems? Think of the fun you can have with this.


Friday, October 28, 2005

They Come and They Go

There has been quite a turnover of bloggers recently. Gen X at 40 reports “Ray quit blogging yesterday and is released from the burden.” And sadly Democracy in Albany is reporting their “imminent retirement. At the very least I’m taking a sabbatical (at least 3 months).” This following their being voted Metroland’s Best Blog (News) this past year:

Despite all of the you-scratch-my-back attention heaped on certain blogs by local media (i.e., the Times Union’s oft-requited love for the schizophrenic Albany Eye blog), the author of DIA has managed to make his Internet soapbox into the most consistent and insightful forum on the Web for discussing the issues affecting the Capital Region. DIA and its legion of regular commenters succeed where their counterparts fail: welcoming debate on entries, encouraging the spread of information, casting a wide-reaching, critical eye on local media (including Metroland, of course) and generally providing a great online clearinghouse for all things regional and political.

Even our beloved Newsbreakers Blog seems to have been abandoned; as has apparently the Newsbreakers Parent Site.

They Join:

Mike Beganyi
Greg Dennis: Between The Lines
The WAMC Northeast Pirate Network
Albany Eye.Net
Where’s Orwell
The WFP (Working Family Party) Blog
DoctorAlbany
Culture’s Anecdote
The Unknown Prosecutor

They come and they go. New regional blog additions include:

Out Of My Head
Stacie’s Blog

And it looks like Take Back Our Campus is Coming Back, at least we hope so.


Thursday, October 27, 2005

Adirondack Health Care, Influenza Shots, Avian Flu and the coming Pandemic

First, take a look at Adirondack Musings explanation of Drugs for Flu. Then, NCPR’s Brian Mann is offering us some insight on the coming flu pandemic [audio]:

A deadly strain of influenza could mutate and begin to spread aggressively among humans. There have already been dozens of cases where the disease made the leap from birds to people and in extremely rare instances the avian flu appears to have passed between humans. More than a hundred and twenty people have been infected so far, most of them in Asia. Nearly half died.

NCPR has also provided some links we’re copy here along with a discussion of the possibility from American Scientific:

Next, consider the shortage of Tamiflu, the drug considered most effective in combating H5N1 the avian influenza (a.k.a. Asian bird flu).

And from the CDC a short history:


Outbreaks of influenza H5N1 occurred among poultry in eight countries in Asia (Cambodia, China, Indonesia, Japan, Laos, South Korea, Thailand, and Vietnam) during late 2003 and early 2004. At that time, more than 100 million birds in the affected countries either died from the disease or were killed in order to try to control the outbreak. By March 2004, the outbreak was reported to be under control. Beginning in late June 2004, however, new outbreaks of influenza H5N1 among poultry were reported by several countries in Asia (Cambodia, China [Tibet], Indonesia, Kazakhastan, Malaysia, Mongolia, Russia [Siberia], Thailand, and Vietnam). It is believed that these outbreaks are ongoing. Most recently, influenza H5N1 has been reported among poultry in Turkey and Romania [and today Russia and Croatia, ed]. Human infections of influenza A (H5N1) have been reported in Cambodia, Indonesia, Thailand, and Vietnam.

Finally, here in the Adirondacks we already apparently have a severe shortage of health care professionals and a (at least currently) a lack of modern health care information exchange.

Luckily, and this may be our saving grace if the axe ever does fall – we don’t live in overcrowded suburban hell.


Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Ralph Nader supports Adirondack native Alice Green in race for Albany Mayor

ADK Almanack has been following the campaign of Albany mayoral candidate and progressive ADK native Alice Green – yesterday Ralph Nader was in town to support her candidacy, demand the current mayor Gerald Jennings, a.k.a. sun-tan man, debate her and to oppose the Abany Convention Center debacle.

Democracy in Albany has mixed feelings about the Nader-Green appearance, but did like one thing that Nader said:

“The mayor is a back-door escape artist who doesn’t want any exchange with organized citizenry,” said Nader, who said the city’s one-party domination means “that you don’t have an election, you have a coronation.”

That sounds like another fine institution about 45 minutes north.


Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Adirondack Winter Begins With A Vengence

As predicted, we’re already headed for a tough winter [recent photos from Saranac Lake], and there is more to come.


Monday, October 24, 2005

Two More Adirondack North Country Soldiers Killed in Iraq

Two soldiers from Lowville have been killed while serving in Iraq. Seamus Davey, 25, and Kelly Cannan, 21. Two more lives lost, two more families damaged. The son’s and daughters of the rich and powerful are avoiding the military like the plague and Iraqi veterans are suffering from plagues of their own.

Some facts from the last Gulf War according to the Department of Veterans Affairs (as of March 1, 2001):
696,661 U.S. troops served in the Gulf War between August 2, 1990 and July 31, 1991 — these are considered “Gulf War Conflict” veterans by the VA

Of the 696,628, 504,047 are separated from service and eligible for benefits through the VA

As of December 1999, more than 263,000 sought medical care at the VA

Of the 504,047 eligible veterans, 185,780 (36%) filed claims against the VA for service-related medical disabilities

Of the 171,878 VA claims actually processed, 149,094 (80%) were approved in part (note — most claims are made up of multiple issues, if any one issue is granted, VA considers it approved)

Of the 504,047 eligible for VA benefits, 149,094 (29%) are now considered disabled by the VA eleven since the start of the Gulf War; and

Another 13,902 claims against the VA still pending.

More than 9,600 Gulf War veterans have died.

Conflict veterans are 51% more likely to have their claims denied than “theater” veterans (those who served in the Gulf since August 1, 1991)


Sunday, October 23, 2005

From North Creek Kevin Kimmerly’s Widow Speaks Out Against The War

When the first soldier from the North Country to die in Iraq was buried two years ago there was a lot of talk in the Adirondacks about whether or not his life was wasted on a immoral and illegal war waged for the rich with the lives of the working class. Now the widow of Kevin Kimmerly is finally speaking out against the war that took her husband and son’s father. Some excerpts:

“Why did we start a war with Iraq? President Bush had no proof of weapons of mass destruction, although he said he did. It was so obvious to other countries the weapons didn’t exist.”

She said the U.S. government should have allowed NATO more time to inspect for the weapons.

“It makes me so mad … not just for the loss of my own husband. No good is coming from the war, and it’s not getting any better,” she said. “Every day it goes on, and there’s just more pain and suffering. Every time they report that another soldier has died, I know what the soldier’s family is going through.”

Kevin Kimmerly had been deployed to Iraq in April 2003, soon after President Bush announced confidently that the war was “over,” she said… Kimmerly was mortally wounded just two weeks before he was due to return to the United States to be stationed in Kansas.

…as a self-described “news junkie,” [Mrs. Kimmerly] dreams of a career in law or politics. Through the latter, she said, perhaps make changes in the world. “I’d like to change so many things in government and politics that don’t make any sense,” she said.

The day Kevin Kimmerly was buried a local pub was filled with people defending the war and swearing he didn’t die in vain… that somehow, we’d see it was all worth his life… how easy it was for them then, how quickly they’ve forgotten Kevin Kimmerly and the nearly 2,000 others… now, the war is never mentioned, unless someone argues that it’s a waste – then the big mouths, moving to the edge of their seats, start in with their ignorance.

As an aside… here’s what the Post Star wrote on the day they buried Kevin Kimmerly. Here’s what others wrote.


Friday, October 21, 2005

More Tops Supermarkets in the Adirondacks Sold

Tops has sold a few more stores to it’s suppliers [report].

C&S Wholesale Grocers of Keene, N.H., has agreed to buy the two Tops Markets stores in Saranac Lake and the stores in Elizabethtown, Bolton Landing, AuSable Forks, Schroon Lake, Peru, North Creek, Corinth, Warrensburg and Chestertown.

Now we can only hope they actually do something worthwhile with these stores instead of just using them to exploit locals without other supermarket options.


Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Adirondack Elected Officals Get Miserable Grades

Environmental Advocates have released their annual voters guide and once again the representatives in the Adirondack region have some of the worst scores in the state. Our representatives Betty Little and Teresa Sayward definately need to go. Little is currently working to get all of the RV campgrounds in the Adirondacks put under the control of the Health Department after successfully spreading a large volume of mis-information regarding proposed APA rules for newly built campgrounds that would require them to undergo strict review of their often seriously underdesigned sewage systems. These campgrounds, which provide little by way of tourism dollars, are toxic wastelands waiting to be “discovered.” Full time residents of the park can only hope they are not the ones to discover them after its too late and their drinking water, swimming hole, or favorite fishing spot is contaminated.


Friday, October 14, 2005

Home Building in the Adirondacks

The number of homes being built in the Adirondacks is getting out of control. The Adirondack Park Agency (APA) is understaffed and the local economy is increasingly dependent on new construction. The Glens Falls Post Star recently reported that home sales in Warren County are up 38 percent from 2004. More alarming is the fact that the median selling price of those homes, jumped nearly 20 percent in just one month — from $165,500 in July 2005 to $197,900 in August 2005.

This month’s issue of Adirondack Life has a large feature piece devoted to housing prices and related issues. Unfortunately, their webpage has taken a turn for the worst and they have exactly no content.

It’s clear that in our parts of the park the only real opportunity for young people is to become a part of the housing boom and work as laborers building houses. Local companies have continuous ads for workers and we see more and more workers from out of state. This summer we saw home construction workers from Montana and Alabama among others.



Support the Adirondack Almanack and the Adirondack Explorer all year long with a monthly gift that fits your budget.

Support the Adirondack Almanack and the Adirondack Explorer all year long with a monthly gift that fits your budget.