Recent heavy snows mean that snowmobile season is underway so I thought I would take the opportunity to offer a round-up of Adirondack snowmobiling facts, figures, and resources and point newer Almanack readers to a five-part history of snowmobiling in the Adirondacks I wrote in 2007. Snowmobiling was the subject about a dozen posts in 2009; Notable was Mary Thill’s Homegrown Adirondack Sled Porn. » Continue Reading.
December 5th marks the anniversary of the end of Prohibition in 1933. To remember that time when the social life of so many Americans was made criminal overnight, I thought I would offer this little nugget from the July 2, 1931 Ticonderoga Sentinel.
One wonders if the men arrested here ever served any hard time. I suspect they did. » Continue Reading.
Assemblywoman Teresa Sayward, who last winter got her wish with the closing of local campgrounds by the DEC, is working hard on her plan to privatize more of the Adirondacks. In a recent opinion piece sent to local media entitled “Preserving The Rights of Adirondack Families,” Sayward argued that the Willsboro mining operation NYCO Minerals should be given permission to mine 250 acres of the Jay Mountain Wilderness, the smallest wilderness area in the Adirondacks.
NYCO built the world’s largest wollastonite mine and processing facility in Sonara, Mexico in 1997, so they can’t be too concerned with American jobs, but that is exactly Sayward’s pitch for the required amendment to the State constitution. “Without this amendment,” she says, “future operations at NYCO could be shortened by many years.” NYCO’s Chairman Jay Moroney told the Adirondack Daily Enterprise that handing over the Forest Preserve lands to private mining company “could provide an extension of life to [their] operation.” How long? Five to nine years, according to Moroney.
I suppose the lack of wisdom in that plan is obvious, but what really gets me is Sayward’s divisive attack on her neighbors whose future she claims is “grim” thanks to late-arriving environmentalists. “My family, friends and neighbors are being forced out of existence and few seem to care,” Sayward says in a classic “us locals are being oppressed by them newcomers” argument.
Sayward’s opinion piece targeted her neighbors who support Protect the Adirondacks, the environmental conservation organization that began in 1901—nearly 110 years ago. “When people first began discovering the Adirondacks, we carried their packs, cut their trees, built their homes, dug their ditches, labored in their mills, taught their children, healed their sick and welcomed them like family” Sayward writes. “Most have become our friends and our neighbors, but those who came with their own agenda have stood Judge and Jury.”
I’ve come to expect a lot of “common man” rhetoric from politicians, but Sayward is so far off the mark it’s disgraceful—she misstates her own connections to the region and insults her neighbors as outsiders.
In the past two months the Adirondack community lost two people Teresa Sayward apparently saw as enemies, Clarence Petty of Coreys, Canton and Saranac Lake and Nellie Staves of Tupper Lake. Both were avid supporters of the Forest Preserve, the Adirondack Park, and Protect the Adirondacks. Both, then, according to Sayward’s twisted logic, were in part responsible for her “family, friends and neighbors . . . being forced out of existence.” Combined, Staves and Petty had more then 160 years of Adirondack experience under their belts.
As far as I can tell, Sayward didn’t even live in the Adirondack Park until the 1972 when Willsboro was brought within the Blue Line. Sayward lived in Connecticut in 1960s before moving to Willsboro.
So what about Sayward’s family? If she is only a part-time Adirondacker, surely her family comes from the Adirondack Park? Surely they were some of the Adirondack guides, loggers, carpenters, ditch diggers, mill hands, teachers, or doctors she claims they were right? Well – no, they weren’t. In fact, only Sayward’s mother lived inside the Blue Line, and only late in life.
Teresa Sayward’s father Joseph Riley, whose family was apparently from Willsboro, died at least 20 years before that town was added to the park in 1972. Sayward’s mother, Beatrice Garrow, was born in Plattsburgh in 1917 the daughter of William and Rose (D’Amour) Garrow.
So Sayward should lay off the hateful “us locals versus them outsiders” nonsense. Environmental conservation, supported and encouraged by those who live here, have helped shape the Adirondack way of life for 125 years. Sayward’s home was only included (apparently against her will) in 1972, if anything, that makes her the late-arriving outsider trying to impose her will.
Adirondack legend Clarence Petty died at his son’s home in Canton on Monday at the age of 104. Petty was the subject of Christopher Angus’s biography The Extraordinary Adirondack Journey of Clarence Petty: Wilderness Guide, Pilot, and Conservationist which chronicled his remarkable life.
Petty spent his early life in a squatters cabin on Upper Saranac Lake and later moved with his family to Coreys. He graduated from Saranac Lake High School and the College of Forestry (now SUNY-ESF). He worked in the Civilian Conservation Corps during the Great Depression and was a pilot during World War Two. Later he worked for the Conservation Department and the Adirondack Park Agency where he influenced the classification of Adirondack lands. New York State Conservationist featured Petty in its February 2009 issue. » Continue Reading.
150 years ago this week, John Brown was executed and his body was returned to the Adirondacks. Had Brown escaped from Harpers Ferry rather than been captured he might well today be just a footnote, one of the tens of thousands that struggled to undermine the institution of slavery in America before the Civil War. It’s often said that just one thing secured Brown’s place in the hearts of millions of Americans that came after him – his execution and martyrdom. There is another equally important reason Americans will celebrate the life of John Brown this week however – he was right slavery would end at a heavy price. » Continue Reading.
One hundred and fifty years ago, while John Brown waited to hang for leading the raid on Harpers Ferry, Virginia, his compatriots were led to the Charles Town court and tried before Judge Andrew Parker.
Edwin Coppoc, who served under Brown’s command in the engine house, was tried on the same charges as Brown: conspiracy to incite a slave insurrection, treason against the State of Virginia, and first degree murder. His trial began the day before Brown was sentenced and ended the next day with convictions on all counts. Before he was sentenced, Virginia Governor Henry A. Wise appealed to the Virginia legislature to reduce his maximum sentence to life in prison, apparently on account Coppoc was a Quaker. That request was rejected. » Continue Reading.
Yesterday’s tragic death of two in the crash of a Piper Cherokee 140 single engine aircraft en route from Saratoga to Malone recalls the sometimes perilous nature of airplane travel in the Adirondacks. While the investigation is still underway, New York State Police have confirmed that Daniel R. Wills, age 48, of North Bangor, and his passenger Ronald E. Rouselle, age 66, of Malone, were killed in a crash that appears to have occurred at about 4,600 feet near Tahawas in the Santanoni Mountain Range in Newcomb. The accident appears to be the second fatal crash at Santanoni; a 1984 crash of a small private plane at Santanoni Peak also killed two. That same year a Cessna 206 crashed into Boreas Mountain. That aircraft, containing the skeleton of the pilot, was discovered by hikers in 1990.
Here is a list of nearly 30 plane crashes that have happened in the Adirondacks since 1912:
1912 – A Curtiss-Wright Bi-plane fitted with pontoons (believed to be the first airplane to fly over the Adirondacks) crashed into Raquette Lake; the pilot (Robert J. Collier, heir to Colliers weekly and the first President of the Aero Club of America) was unhurt and the plane was salvaged.
1926 – A private plane attempting to land on Lake George plunges through thin ice; the pilot and two passengers, who were on their way to Lake Placid were rescued by boat.
1928 – George Walker, the 27 year old President of Albany Air Service, crashed his Waco biplane into the Nazarene Church steeple in Wilmington. Two local boys were with him in the plane and they escaped unhurt, but Walker was seriously injured and it was considered a miracle he survived.
1931 – Three people were injured when their private plane crashed into a tree while landing at a makeshift airport on the Baldwin-Ticonderoga Road.
1934 – American Airlines Curtis Condor biplane crashes into Wilder Mountain, all four onboard survived.
1939 – The motor of a small private plane failed to gain altitude while taking off from Lake Clear Airport. The pilot, Herman Perry of Paul Smiths, survived.
1939 – One woman was injured when a chartered seaplane crashed into Pollywog Pond near the Saranac Inn. The pilot and another passenger were unhurt.
1942 – One man is killed and one survives when they stole an Aeronca from the Wesport air strip, ran out of gas, and crashed between Moriah and Port Henry.
1943 – Two Royal Canadian Air Force flyers on a training mission crashed into Wilmington Peak, north of the Whiteface Memorial Highway, in a snowstorm. They had been circling looking for a place to land; both men were killed.
1944 – Army National Guard C-46 transport crashes three miles west of Lewes Lake on Blue Ridge Mountain near Speculator. The wreckage was discovered in August 1945 by searchers looking for a civilian plane that went down between Lake Placid and Booneville.
1945 – A two seat Taylorcraft crashed on Labounty Hill, about a half mile from Saranac Lake; both the plane’s occupants were killed.
1945 – A small plane carrying three people flying from Lake Placid to Rome, NY crashed on Bullhead Mountain in Johnsburg. A search failed to locate the accident site and it remained undiscovered until a hunter came upon the crash several months later, along with the two women and one male pilot who were killed in the crash.
1950 – Two men survive the crash of their Fairchild trainer when it goes down off River Road in Lake Placid.
1958 – Julian Reiss, owner of Santa’s Workshop, and his daughter crashed near Moose Pond but were able to walk out to safety a day later. When Reiss returned to the spot in hopes of salvaging the plane, he discovered someone had stolen the planes 450 pound engine.
1959 – A NYS Department of Conservation plane on a fish stocking mission crashed into the side of Mt. MacNaughton after taking off from Lake Clear Airport. Four survived, but Chester Jackson of Saranac Lake was killed.
1962 – A B-47 bomber crashes into Wright Peak while on a training mission; four were killed.
1969 – The deadliest aircraft accident in Adirondack history occurred when a Mohawk Airlines commuter turbojet crashed into a mountain near Pilot Knob on Lake George. The plane had left New York City, made a stop in Albany to discharge 33 passengers, and was circling for a landing at the Warren County Regional Airport in Queensbury when it went off course. All fourteen on board were killed.
1969 – A Cherokee 140 piloted by F. Peter Simmons crashed in Iroquois Mountain. Simmons was badly hurt but was rescued and recovered.
1972 – A Bonanza en route from Montreal to Albany with two on board is reported missing. A hunter discovers the wreckage and two bodies near Meacham Lake in 1973.
1974 – An F-106 jet on a training mission from Griffiss Air Force base crashes near Hopkinton. The body of the pilot, who ejected before the crash, is found 20 miles away near Seveys Corners.
1978 – An eleven passenger Piper Navajo crashes at 3,100 feet near the summit of Nye Mountain. Three were killed, but a dog on the plane walked through miles of wilderness and arrived at Lake Placid 10 days later.
1980 – A Beechcraft Baron carrying two pilots and a family of three crashes into Blue Hill on its approach to Lake Clear; all five are killed.
1984 – A small private plane crashes into Santanoni Peak killing two.
1984 – A Cessna 206 crashes into Boreas Mountain. The aircraft and the skeleton of the pilot, are discovered by hikers in 1990.
1986 – Two Massachusetts Air National Guard A-10 Thunderbolt jets crashed near Wells while training. One of the plane’s pilots was killed; the otehr safely ejected.
1992 – An early morning Plattsburgh flight of a USAir Express 19 commuter plane crashes into Blue Hill while descending to land at Lake Clear; two of the four on board survive.
2000 – Two men barely survive the crash of a small private plane near Lake Placid.
2004 – A single engine Piper Arrow crashes within a mile of Lake Clear Airport while en route to Virginia. Pilot Paul Grulich and his wife Alice were both killed.
2007 – A twin engine Beech private plane crashes at Lake Clear Airport killing the pilot.
Photo: An early plane crash from the holdings of the National Archives.
There’s been a lot of discussion in recent months about the exportation of the “Adirondack model” – the sense that the environmental conservation model used here in the Adirondack region can be exported to other places in the world. It’s an argument that North Country Public Radio’s Brian Mann called “one of the great orthodoxies of Adirondack theory.”
Recent interviews by former Adirondack Park Agency chairman Ross Whaley to support the 600 page tome The Great Experiment in Conservation have left a sense that the Adirondack experiment – that combination of public and private lands, overseen by a combination of local and regional authorities – can not be repeated. » Continue Reading.
There were about 4 million slaves in the United States at the time of John Brown’s raid on Harpers Ferry, Virginia in 1859. Slavery in the South rested on complex and often convoluted political, social, and economic systems, enforced by violence. Perhaps because forcing people to work for you for free was so dependent on violence, the south was continuously racked with fear – fear that one’s slaves (or someone else’s) would rise up against them. » Continue Reading.
For reasons of political expediency, Republicans in the North initially distanced themselves from John Brown and his raiders. Many joined the chorus of (often pro-slavery) voices proclaiming Brown insane, no doubt in part to protect their own political party, for as John Brown’s biographer David S. Reynolds put it, “the implication was that republicans, and by extension many Northerners, were lawbreakers who threatened national peace.” The truth of course, was that Brown had probably already planned a raid into Virginia to free slaves there before the Republican Party was founded in 1854. » Continue Reading.
Following the capture of John Brown and his associates at Harpers Ferry they were first held in the armory’s guardhouse. The next day, October 19th, 1859, they were taken to the County Jail in Charles Town, about eight miles away. On October 25th (after being questioned by Virginia Governor Henry A. Wise, Virginia Senator James M. Mason, and Representative Clement Vallandigham of Ohio) John Brown was led into court for arraignment. He was manacled to Edwin Coppoc and escorted by some 80 militiamen with bayonets fixed. Brown was still suffering from his wounds and needed to be supported at the bench. » Continue Reading.
As you might expect, my desk-side book shelves are heavily burdened with Adirondack books. Guides to hiking, climbing, wildlife, forestry; books of photography sit beside fiction and various technical reports—all here within easy reach. Most are history—general histories, political histories, environmental and cultural histories, books on logging, tanning, prohibition, Native Americans, county histories. Recently I received a tidy volume on Adirondack logging history that focuses on Warren County, Phillip J. Harris’s Adirondack, Lumber Capital of the World, which seems to have drawn from them all to good effect.
Harris’s book takes on, with incredible detail, the people and places that made the southeastern Adirondacks unique in the history of the American lumber industry. In 1850, New York produced more lumber—about a billion board feet a year from around a half million trees—than any other state in the nation. Southern Warren County was where much of the lumber was milled and where the Adirondack lumber barons reigned. Their names—James Morgan, William, Norman and Alison Fox, Jones Ordway, James Caldwell, John Thurman, Samuel Prime, Henry Crandall, Zenus VanDusen, Jeremiah and Daniel Finch, Augustus Sherman, George Freeman, William McEchron—are found scattered through the county’s history books, until now.
Harris’s book takes on the large and small, from the first pioneers and their patents, to the lumber camps, jobbers, log drives, log marks, and sawmills. The Delaware and Hudson Railroad is featured in one chapter, the Fort William Henry Hotel in another. In 1865 there were some 4,000 sawmills in New York State, one hundred years later there were fewer the 200, today maybe fewer then 50. One of the bigger contributions Harris makes to the history of the Adirondack lumber industry is in explaining how that came to pass.
My neighbor came to the door last week in a fit of outrage over a new DEC regulation that made it clear that leaving your gear in the backcountry was against the rules, except in certain cases. He read about it in the Adirondack Journal, a free Denton Publications paper that appears—whether we like it or not—in our mailboxes each week. “Best pack out your boat” was the title of the “Outdoor Tales” column by Denton Managing Editor John Gereau. » Continue Reading.
Ten men were killed during John Brown’s Raid on Harpers Ferry, Virginia in October 1859. All but two were buried in a common grave on the Shenandoah River, across from Harpers Ferry. The body of Jeremiah Anderson, who was bayoneted in the final storming of the engine house, was handed over to a local medical school – his last resting place remains unknown. Watson Brown’s body was given over to Winchester Medical College where it remained until Union troops recovered it during the Civil War and burned the school in reprisal. » Continue Reading.
As the first full day of John Brown’s raid dawned almost no one in the village of Harpers Ferry knew what was happening. Charles White for instance, a Presbyterian minister who had spent the evening the raid began on an island between the rifle works, and the armory and arsenal reported that he “knew nothing until daylight when the gentleman with whom we were staying came into our room and notified us.” » Continue Reading.
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