Almanack Contributor John Sasso

John Sasso

John Sasso is an avid hiker and bushwhacker of the Adirondacks and self-taught Adirondack historian. Outside of his day-job, John manages a Facebook group "History and Legends of the Adirondacks." John has also helped build and maintain trails with the ADK and Adirondack Forty-Sixers, participated in the Trailhead Steward Program, and maintained the fire tower and trail to Mount Adams.


Saturday, May 2, 2020

History of Arab Mountain – Beyond the Fire Tower

Arab Mountain (or, more often, Mount Arab) is a 2,539-foot peak located in the Town of Piercefield in St. Lawrence County, almost five miles west of Tupper Lake and nine miles east of Cranberry Lake.
The hike to the summit is relatively easy and short (a two mile round-trip), and one can climb the steel, 35-foot Aermotor fire tower (built in 1918) and enjoy the beautiful panorama of the Adirondacks from the cab. Just across from the fire tower is the old observer’s cabin which has been restored and turned into a museum. The museum, established by the Friends of Mt Arab (FoMA), contains a wealth of information on the use of Arab Mountain for fire observation. The cabin is open when the summit steward is on duty, from the late spring to early fall. In regard to peak-bagging challenges, it is part of the Fire Tower Challenge and the Tupper Lake Triad. (Editor’s note, fire towers are currently closed due to COVID-19, and the Fire Tower Challenge is temporarily suspended
Much of the history given here is prior to Arab Mountain being established for fire observation in 1911. I delve into the history of its name, appearance on nineteenth-century maps, and use in early surveys. I also briefly discuss a nearby peak that is virtually unheard of and is unmapped: Gull Pond Mountain.

» Continue Reading.


Monday, February 13, 2017

At Avalanche Lake The ‘Hitch-Up Matildas’ Have A Long History

Two spans of catwalks, known as “Hitch-Up Matildas,” are anchored along the cliff walls of Avalanche Mountain to allow hikers to safely traverse the edge of Avalanche Lake.  They offer dry footing, a breathtaking view of the Trap Dyke, and of the expanse of water sandwiched between Mount Colden and Avalanche Mountain.

The “Hitch-Up Matildas” got their name from a story about Bill Nye  – for whom Mount Nye is named – guiding a hike for Matilda Fielding, her husband, and their niece, back in 1868. The story was first published by Seneca Ray Stoddard in The Adirondacks Illustrated (1874), which I encourage folks to read here. » Continue Reading.


Monday, January 9, 2017

Some History of the Famous Red Barn in Keene

In late December, the rustic red barn that stood at the intersection of Routes 73 and 9N in Keene was taken down by the Department of Environmental Conservation after it became hazardous.

Although not an officially-recognized historic landmark, many who have traveled through Keene saw the barn, with its majestic High Peaks in the background, as a quaint countryside icon.

Since it came down, folks have waxed nostalgic while mourning the abrupt loss of this unassuming structure. I decided to dig into the barn’s history and see if there was more to it than met the eye. » Continue Reading.