There is a movement afoot to transform the northern end of the Upper Hudson Railroad into a multi-use trail. Although the project has only just begun, Friends of the Upper Hudson Rail Trail have met twice so far in the North Creek area and according to organizers indications are good the new trail will become a reality. The entire route, from the North Creek Railroad Station to the Open Space Institute’s 10,000 acre Tahawus Tract is owned by NL Industries (National Lead, the former operators of the mine at Tahawus), who have been reported for several years to be eager to dispose of the property and salvage the rails. Access points are owned by Warren County, Barton Mines, and the Open Space Institute.
The route would be 29 miles long in three counties (Warren, Hamilton, and Essex) beginning along the Hudson to a bridge just below the gorge, then along the Boreas River, Vanderwalker Brook, and Stillwater Brook before rejoining the Hudson River near Route 28N in Newcomb and finally crossing the Opalescent River and into the mine area. Riders could continue past the restored iron furnace along the Upper Works Road to end at the Upper Works, a southern trailhead to the High Peaks and Mount Marcy. » Continue Reading.
Friday, October 16th, will be the 150th anniversary of the anti-slavery raid on Harpers Ferry that ended in the trial and execution of John Brown of North Elba. An “Anniversary Procession” will take place from the Kennedy Farm, where Brown and his compatriots spent there last weeks before the raid, to Harpers Ferry. Tim Rowland, 46er, author of High Peaks: A History of Hiking the Adirondacks from Noah to Neoprene, and a regular reader of Adirondack Almanack who lives about 10 miles from the Kennedy Farm, sent this anecdote about the annual John Brown procession: » Continue Reading.
In early October, John Brown and his small militia were making their final preparations for a raid on the slaveholders of Virginia. The time and place for a raid seem right even now. It was the harvest season in the south and the fields would be filled with disgruntled and overworked slaves bringing in the crops, a perfect opportunity to turn them to revolt. Harpers Ferry was lightly guarded and the arsenal there contained about 100,000 muskets and rifles – enough to carry on a lengthy guerrilla war against southern slaveholders. » Continue Reading.
One of the familiar attacks on John Brown (and by extension his anti-slavery legacy) involves his failed business ventures and accusations that he was a swindler and a drifter, roaming from place to place – only briefly and uneventfully staying in North Elba. “Over the years before his Kansas escapade Brown had been a drifter, horse thief and swindler,” Columbia University historian John Garraty once wrote. Garraty served as the president of the Society of American Historians and was co-author of the high school history textbook The American Nation (he died in 2007). A closer look at Brown and the his family, however, reveals an experience typical of many Americans, then and today, and the importance of North Elba on Brown’s plans for a raid into Virginia. » Continue Reading.
This month three anti-environmental activists clashed with state agencies charged with protecting the environment in the Adirondack Park. In what appears to be a growing trend, all three men are using legal technicalities to attempt to enforce their own personal wills.
Earlier this month, Salim B. “Sandy” Lewis won the right to have three additional single-family houses exempted from Adirondack Park zoning rules because they were built on a farm. Lewis had refused to seek an APA permit because he claimed that the structures were for agricultural use, as farmworker housing. The APA Act says all structures on a farm count as a single principle building lot, and are exempt from density requirements and APA permits. After losing in a lower court, State Attorney General Andrew Cuomo’s Office appealed on behalf of the APA, but Appellate Division justices agreed with Lewis’s claim that the houses were farm buildings, equivalent say, to a barn, a greenhouse, or a chicken coop. » Continue Reading.
John Brown’s raid on the slaveholders of Virgina is often considered a hopeless fool’s errand, but it was far from it. Brown’s plan was simple enough: capture weapons and ammunition form the Harpers Ferry federal Armory, retire to the countryside and conduct nighttime border raids to free Southern slaves. The principal goal of the actual raid was to free slaves, not attack and hold a Southern state. Brown, well-armed and experienced in the type of raid he was planning, was fairly confident in its success. » Continue Reading.
John Brown has often come down to us as a lone nut, bent on an suicidal mission, but this is far from the truth. Brown was part of a larger movement to free slaves that grew with passage of the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 (which required the return of escaped slaves to their masters with all its potential for torture and death at their hands) and the large Underground Railroad movement. It’s little understood that Brown was intimate with northern politicians, industrialists, ministers, and folks from all walks of life, including the leading intellectuals of the era – the Transcendentalists. » Continue Reading.
Blogging live from the Forever Wired Conference at Clarkson University, where a strong turnout of 250 telecommuters, mobile workers, educators and advocates for the region’s economy and technology have gathered to figure out how to use the Internet to develop North Country businesses.
State comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli kicked the conference off with a keynote address on the In-State Private Equity Investment Program. His message in brief: the state is acting as venture capitalist, investing in innovative businesses and new technologies.
DiNapoli says the goals of the program are to diversify the state pension fund portfolio and provide returns to the one million people who depend on it; the parallel objectives are to encourage economic growth in New York and create jobs. He credited state investments with creating 2,700 jobs in the state since the program began in 2007, and he says returns have been strong. So far the fund has invested $1 billion, financing 27 companies with an average return of 30 percent. DiNapoli called it a “small success story” in an otherwise stressed state economy and budget. Seventeen investment managers decide which companies to entrust with the pension fund’s money, and about $500 million is available for investment right now.
In the North Country, the the Common Retirement Fund (CRF) invested $2.5 million in ZeroPoint Clean Tech, based in Potsdam, a renewable energy company providing biomass-to-energy and water treatment technologies; $22.5 billion in Navilyst Medical’s acquisition of Boston Scientific Corporation’s catheter manufacturing business, much of it based in Glens Falls; and $6.9 million in Climax Manufacturing Company, of Lowville, manufacturers of folding cartons and recycled paperboards.
Most of the investments around the state similarly went to larger businesses that employ a lot of people, but DiNapoli says the fund is open to entrepreneurial ideas and that he realizes that the economy has made it tough lately for start-ups to access private capital.
“If you are prepared to make a commitment to New York and can make a compelling case for our investment, we’ll make a commitment to you and your business,” the comptroller said. “My message is a simple one: as an investor I am betting on New York.”
John Warren is attending a session on “What are the basic business concepts that will lead to my success” and says he’ll file some thoughts later this afternoon.
This is the second installment of a series of posts marking the 150th anniversary of John Brown’s anti-slavery raid on the Harpers Ferry Armory, his subsequent execution and the return of his body to North Elba in December of 1859. I’ll be writing each week to retrace the steps of Brown and his followers. You can read all the posts in the series here. » Continue Reading.
This year marks the 150th anniversary of John Brown’s October 16, 1859 anti-slavery raid, during which he led 19 men in an attack on the Harpers Ferry Armory. He was charged with murder, conspiring with slaves to rebel, and treason against Virginia (West Virginia was not yet a state) and after a week-long trial was sentenced to death in early November. Brown was hanged on December 2nd (John Wilkes Booth snuck in to watch) and his body was afterward carried to North Elba in Essex County to “moulder in his grave.” » Continue Reading.
Even though the State Land Master plan didn’t address them specifically, in the mid-1990s the Adirondack Park Agency acted early on the use of Mountain Bikes on state land. Gibb Technologies’ new 4 x 4 waverunner combination, dubbed the Quadski, is a motorized vehicle that Peter Bauer, Executive Director of the Fund for Lake George and former head of the Residents Committee to Protect the Adirondacks, believes needs to be addressed early as well. Check out the video.
“[Mountain Biking] was a case of the APA acting on an issue before there was resource degradation, widespread established use, and where the SLMP had not contemplated an issue,” Bauer recently told the Almanack by e-mail. “[This] is an issue where the APA and DEC should act quickly and proactively or the trails and waters of the Adirondack Park will be changed forever.” The Aquada, another amphibious sport vehicle, has also been gaining ground after Sir Richard Branson became the first to cross the English Channel in one in 2004. » Continue Reading.
Without announcement Gore Mountain has quietly shuttered their mountain biking facilities and reduced their already paltry off-season schedule – it’s a further sign to some in the North Creek area that the Olympic Regional Development Authority (ORDA) has been giving the Gore Mountain ski resort short shrift. For much of the last decade the Gore Mountain schedule has changed frequently and been sporadic. Plans to cut back summer operations in 2002 prompted a vigorous lobbying effort by North Creek businesses.
“Our off season schedule has always been weekends in the fall,” Gore Mountain General Manager Mike Pratt told me by e-mail, “We have often tried to extend season into the summer, when we think there is an opportunity.” Last year Gore operated weekends in August, and in September through Columbus Day, but with only scenic rides and a bar-b-que according to Pratt, who is responsible for the Gore Mountain schedule. This year’s schedule will be shortened by ten days (Labor Day through Columbus Day) but will also include lift service for mountain biking. “This year’s schedule is our traditional schedule,” Pratt told me, “Although we have tried various schedules to extend our off-season operation, we have consistently reduced the season back to our traditional times of operation, the fall foliage season.”
Pratt says that Whiteface’s Veterans Memorial Highway drives business at Whiteface. “At Gore Mountain, we only have a scenic ride and a bbq. We are making many improvements, are on a tremendous growth curve, are thankful for our gondola, but are not a summer destination.”
Pratt called the notion that Gore Mountain was being shorted by ORDA “the perception… not the reality.” He noted that Gore Mountain is busy with construction projects now including “modernizing the base lodge, building a new lodge at the Ski Bowl, installing snow making pipe on the Sagamore Trail, and working on building trails and installing a triple chair that will complete the interconnect project between Gore and the Ski Bowl.” “I am certain the venues around Lake Placid wish that they were able to invest as much in their facilities as we are,” Pratt says “This is a very exciting time at Gore.”
It might be an exciting time at Gore, but this summer’s rains have surely meant diminished business at North Creek – Gore Mountain could have offered a boost to the sluggish tourist economy. Gore Mountain, like Whiteface, needs to offer summer activities, events, and programs to better utilize the mountain – owned by all New York taxpayers – to fire another cylinder of North Creek’s regional economic engine.
What’s more, Gore needs to have an equal footing with Whiteface in promotions. Gore is almost never mentioned in ORDA press releases, while Whiteface is continuously promoted at the end of each ORDA release with the words: “For more information on ORDA venues and events and for web cams from five locations, please log on to www.whitefacelakeplacid.com.” Those going to the site can choose between two destinations – Lake Placid (last time I checked, not run by ORDA) and Whiteface.
Gore? Nowhere to be found.
There are more then 40 events on the ORDA summer schedule, but Gore is not mentioned until “Mountain Day,” September 12th and the link to that event is bad. Gore has plans for just one additional weekend worth of events until the ski season begins. By way of contrast, Whiteface has Gondola rides, mountain biking, a new disc golf course, guided nature tours, and a weekend-long Octoberfest.
By anyone’s standard, ORDA is falling down on its obligation – and its legislative mandate to manage Gore Mountain. All while claiming, as it did in its 2008-2009 Annual Report, that “during the non-winter months, Gore offers mountain biking, hiking and other summer activities.”
That’s not true, but the management of ORDA and Gore Mountain need to work to make it so – not next year, not next month, but now.
Today marks the anniversary of one of the worst storms in Upstate New York history. During the early morning hours of July 15, 1995 a series of severe thunderstorms crossed the Adirondacks and much of eastern New York. Meteorologists call the phenomena by the Spanish “Derecho” but locals often refer to the event as the Blowdown of 1995. A similar weather event / blowdown occurred in 1950.
A Derecho is part of a larger family of storms called a Mesoscale Convective System (MCS), a complex of thunderstorms that becomes organized on a scale larger than the individual thunderstorms and which includes phenomenon like lake effect snow. An MCS can sometimes act in ways similar to a hurricane and can produce torrential downpours and high winds. Aside from the remarkable power of the weather event, another unique thing happened – a shift in public policy with regard to salvage logging of public lands. The State’s decision to forgo salvage logging was in stark contrast to federal policies at the time that allowed federal lands to be logged in similar salvage situations. » Continue Reading.
After months of discussion and evaluation, the decision was made on Saturday to formally consolidate the Association for the Protection of the Adirondacks (AFPA) with the Residents’ Committee to Protect the Adirondacks (RCPA) and to form a new organization called Protect the Adirondacks. The new organization will continue a better than 100-year history of protecting the Adirondacks so I thought I’d take a moment to take a look at the new group and how it developed historically.
At their annual meeting last Saturday at Heaven Hill Farm outside the Village of Lake Placid, the memberships of both organizations voted in favor of consolidation, which enables the process to move through the final legal steps of incorporation. The membership of the Residents’ Committee voted 83-0 in favor of the consolidation. The membership of the Association voted 111-2 in favor. » Continue Reading.
Last week the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) held a ceremony to honor William F. Fox, the “father” of the state’s modern-day forest rangers, on the 100th anniversary of his death.
Fox was born in 1840 in Ballston Spa, Saratoga County, and graduated from Union College in Schenectady in 1860. He served in the Civil War as Captain, Major and then Lieutenant Colonel in the 107th New York Volunteers and later wrote a number of books on both the Civil War and forestry.
Fox’s 1902 History of the Lumber Industry in the State of New York, written under the auspicious of Gifford Pinchot, is considered the first authoritative work on the logging industry in New York. » Continue Reading.
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