Almanack Contributor Peter Slocum

Peter Slocum

Peter Slocum lives in Keene and is a trustee of the Essex County Historical Association and a volunteer at the North Star Underground Railroad Museum in Ausable Chasm.      


Thursday, April 21, 2022

The hikers are coming … but how many?

Hikers on Cascade Mountain, eastern High Peaks Wilderness

In 2020, the Adirondack trails were overwhelmed with hikers looking for Covid-safe recreation.  People were lined up long before dawn for trails in the High Peaks.  Highways turned into parking lots, and wilderness rangers into meter maids.

Then in 2021, with Covid still a presence in the Northeast, the hiker crisis evaporated.

The crazy busy hiker weekends were gone.  Keene Supervisor Joe Pete Wilson says he towed only one (ONE!) car from the Garden trailhead in 2021.    That place is usually a combat zone.

» Continue Reading.


Monday, March 7, 2022

Scarlet fever: Keene’s struggles to contain an outbreak harkens to today

keene scarlet feverScarlet fever is something we don’t have to think about any more.  However, more than 100 years ago, this childhood killer struck fear into the hearts of parents everywhere, including the little town of Keene.

On March 4, 1912, in the face of a frightening scarlet fever outbreak, the Keene Town Board of Health took emergency action.   The Board ordered “that the church, school houses, library, neighborhood house and Keene Valley Club House shall be closed until further notice.”

Today, in the midst of our Covid-19 turmoil, the disputes over vaccines, masks, and other government-scientific recommendations, it is hard to imagine a citizen board of health exercising that kind of power—to declare the church and the schools and the library closed.  Boom.   “Mo(tion) carried,” says the official one-page document, hand-written in pencil.

» Continue Reading.


Saturday, September 25, 2021

New map on Hurricane

hurricane map
Thanks to the NYS Archives, a talented climbing and photographic team in Keene, and relentless volunteers, the Hurricane Fire Tower has a new fire-sighting map table that offers hikers a special look at the tower’s role in saving the Adirondack Forest.

» Continue Reading.


Thursday, August 26, 2021

Annual fire tower lighting happening Sept. 4

hurricane mountain

Friends of Hurricane will be participating again this year in the annual lighting of the fire towers.   This will be the 8th Annual Lighting of the Fire Towers which will include towers in the Adirondacks and the Catskills.  

A lantern will light the 102 year old Hurricane tower on Saturday, September 4th from 9 pm until 9:30 pm. 

People are invited to hike up and see the lighting at close range or view it from vantage points in Keene, Elizabethtown and areas to the east and near Lake Champlain.  The tower is also visible from multiple surrounding smaller peaks.

The event is meant to showcase the history of fire towers around the state.  They were erected early in the early 20th century, as fires ravaged hundreds of thousands of square miles of wild forest.

Anyone who is interested in helping with the lighting or has any questions about the lighting can contact Mary Jean Bland at [email protected]

Photo by Mike Lynch/Adirondack Explorer


Thursday, July 15, 2021

John Brown Farm and New York’s Voter Suppression History

voter suppressionThis year we are celebrating New York State’s acquisition of John Brown Farm 125 years ago.  And it is good that we are.

But let us also recall a 200th Anniversary linked to the John Brown Farm – a connection that has particular importance this year as we witness a voter suppression spree around our country.  Two hundred years ago, that was us–our New York ancestors–enacting explicit rules to keep blacks from voting.

John Brown and his family came here to the Adirondacks as part of an effort to counteract New York State-sponsored suppression of voting rights for black men.

We are now seeing a wave of voter suppression efforts in states controlled by Republican legislators fearful of losing their majority power.  Well, guess what?  That’s exactly what was going on here in good old New York back in the early 1800’s.  We New Yorkers apparently were leaders in voter suppression.  We even put it into the state constitution!  That’s more than the states are doing today.

» Continue Reading.


Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Hurricane Mtn Fire Tower’s 2017 Season Recap

Summit Steward Jonathan TrzepkowskiHurricane Mountain’s fire tower continued to benefit in 2017 from a strong partnership between dedicated community volunteers and the state Department of Environmental Conservation.

The tower restoration project also attracted generous financial support from the 46er Trust and daughters of the Longware family that organized the “Save the Tower” Campaign back in the early 2000’s. » Continue Reading.


Sunday, June 15, 2014

In 1845 An Abolition Activist Toured the Adirondacks

Gerrit Smith in the 1840sLate spring of 1845 found Gerrit Smith, a leader of the Liberty Party, touring the North Country in search of disaffected “Whigs and Democrats, whose intelligence and Christian integrity will not permit them to remain longer in their pro-slavery connections.”

Smith, from Peterboro, in Madison County, traveled from Saratoga Springs, through Glens Falls and then into Essex and Clinton counties on his quest to build a credible third party, a devoted anti-slavery party. His report, printed in the Albany Patriot in late June, details the villages his visited, the people he met, and the difficulties he faced. » Continue Reading.



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