Almanack Contributor Mike Prescott

Mike Prescott

Mike Prescott is a former history teacher and secondary school principal who found a new retirement avocation in paddling Adirondack waters and exploring their history. Mike is a retired New York State Licensed Guide, and also volunteers with the Northern Forest Canoe Trail, the Raquette River Blueway Corridor, the New York State Trails Council and with the Adirondack Mountain Club. Feel free to contact him at mpresco1@nycap.rr.com


Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Commentary: Vote Yes on the Township 40 Amendment

Township 40 (Totten and Crossfield, 1900)On Tuesday, Nov. 5, 2013 New York State voters will have an opportunity to vote on several state-wide propositions.  Proposition #4 (Prop 4), is one of two Constitutional Amendments affecting the Adirondacks.  It’s the result of long-standing title disputes between the State of New York and property owners on Raquette Lake in the old Township 40 of the Totten and Crossfield Purchase.

A positive vote will correct an injustice that has been perpetuated for over 100 years.

I write as an interested party, but I’m not directly involved in any aspect of the controversy that gives rise to Prop 4.  I don’t own property on or near Raquette Lake.  I’m not one of the contested property holders.  But, for nearly 35 years I have paddled the waters of this lake starting with a group of high school students, canoeing, camping, and learning about the outdoors.  I’ve paddled the lake with my wife, with friends, and with clients as an Adirondack guide.  In 2005, I paddled Raquette Lake  recreating the 1883 paddle of George Washington Sears (a.k.a. Nessmuk) and many times since as a trail steward for the Northern Forest Canoe Trail. » Continue Reading.


Monday, July 22, 2013

New State Lands: Proposed Upper Hudson River Dams

Gooley-Kettle19Like many readers of the Adirondack Almanack, I have been closely following the public meetings, discussions, editorials, and position statements concerning the land use proposals for the former Finch-Pruyn lands encompassing the Essex Chain of Lakes and the Upper Hudson River. I do have my favored position, as does everyone who loves and appreciates the Adirondacks.  But my intent here is to talk about the “near losses”. That is to say the geographic area of our concern, over the many years, would have been very different, if a few politicians, and engineers had their way.

Of course a near loss would have been if the State of New York had not purchased the land from the Nature Conservancy. Another near loss would have been if the Nature Conservancy had not purchased the property form the Finch-Pruyn Paper Company in the first place.  The citizens of New York State could have lost it all.

But there was another potential loss, in the mid-to-late 1960’s that would have mooted all of the present discussions.  There was a plan to dam the Upper Hudson in order to supply water and hydro-electric power to the parched, urban, metropolitan area of New York City.  » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Dam History: The Proposed Tupper Lake Reservoir

Tupper Flooded Outlined labelsI am often dwarfed by the vastness of the landforms which surround me.  The glacial lake basin that forms part of the Raquette River Valley is one such formation.  The old meandering Raquette River from Raquette Falls to Piercefield Falls is a good example.  The river twist and turns, almost comes back upon itself for several miles, as it flows towards its mouth on the St. Lawrence River.  At one point it flows into a lake area and makes a series of rather long graceful turns.   The already slow moving water slows even more, and the current of the river is almost unnoticeable.  Such is the glacial river basin that forms Simon Pond, Tupper Lake and Raquette Pond.  Here the particulate matter, which once came from the surrounding mountains, falls out of suspension.  The slowing of the river as it passes through these lakes, over centuries and centuries, over thousands and thousands of years, since the last glacier, allows for great deposits of earth (sand, mud and muck) to build up on the floor of the lakes.

It is here that the dam story continues.   In prior articles in the Adirondack Almanack I wrote about another proposal for a dam at the Oxbow on the Raquette River, “Dam History: The Oxbow Reservoir Project”.  I also wrote about two smaller dams, “Raquette River History: Setting Pole and Piercefield Dams”.   But now the story of the proposed Tupper Lake Reservoir Dam(s), and how all of these dam proposals are related.  Yes, two proposals (Dam #1 and Dam #2). » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Raquette River History: Setting Pole and Piercefield Dams

Seneca Ray Stoddard photo “the Cut” with Simon(d) Pond and Mt. Morris (1888)Over the past several years I have been involved with the Raquette River Blueway Corridor (RRBC), which organizes Raquette River Awareness Week,  a week of events along the river from its source at Blue Mountain Lake to the St. Lawrence River at Akewesasne.

The staff at The Wild Center have also been involved, by helping to educate the public about the natural history of river with a week of river-related activities, and a river clean-up from “The Crusher” boat launch on Route 30 between Tupper Lake and Upper Saranac Lake, to Simon(d) Pond. This section of the Raquette includes the Oxbow and “The Cut” (an area just north of Simon Pond). » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Dam History: The Oxbow Reservoir Project

Proposed Oxbow DamThe Raquette River, from Raquette Falls to the State Boat Launch on Tupper Lake, is one of the nicest stretches of flat-water anywhere in the Adirondacks.  Paddling this river corridor under a clear cerulean blue sky, on a sunny autumn day with the riverbanks ablaze in orange and red, is exquisite.  For me, though, the river’s history is as captivating as its natural beauty.

Countless people have traveled this section of river over the centuries.  There were native peoples who hunted, fished, and trapped, the hinterlands of Long Lake and further into the Raquette Lake area, long before whites appeared on the Adirondack Plateau.  There were the early farmers and families wanting to start a new livelihood.  There were the guides and their wealthy “sports”, (and later the families of these sports) desiring adventure and recreation.  There were people seeking better health and relief from the despair and disease of the cities.  There were merchants, hotelkeepers, charwomen, day labors, ax-men, river drivers, and a host of others. There were the famous, the not so famous, and the down-and-out.

All of these people, and many others, used the Raquette ( Racket or Racquette ) River as a transportation highway.  The number of footfalls on the carries at and around Raquette Falls is limited only to the imagination.  In his book Adirondack Canoe Waters: North Flow, Paul Jamieson refers to the nearby Indian Carry, at Corey’s separating the Raquette River system from the Sacanac River system, as the “Times Square of the woods.”  ( Note: In the Adirondacks one “carries” around rapids and waterfalls, one does not “portage.” ) » Continue Reading.



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