Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Bauer: What Does The New State Senate Mean For The Adirondacks?

NYS CapitolOn Election Day in November 2018, voters across New York State voted for a new direction for the 63-member New York State Senate. With some races remaining close and needing to be finalized based on a count of absentee and provisional ballots, it appears that Democrats have elected 40 Senators and Republicans just 23. There is no way to overstate just what a sea change this is for New York State politics.

There is also no way to overstate the questions that this sea change raise for the Adirondack Park, which is cut up into four State Senate districts, each steadfastly represented by a Republican. These four Senators – Betty Little, Joe Griffo, Patti Ritchie and Jim Tedisco – led by Little whose 45th Senate District has the majority of the Adirondack Park, were members in excellent standing in the exclusive club of the Republican Senate Majority. With a membership of around three dozen they unrelentingly, efficiently and ruthlessly wielded power and thoroughly enjoyed their political spoils. » Continue Reading.


Friday, November 9, 2018

The Continuing Saga of Jefferson Co’s Huckleberry Charlie

Charlie Sherman was in great demand and welcome at just about any event he favored, for attracting a crowd was the key to success, and few folks could attract a crowd like Charlie could. He followed an itinerary that lasted for decades, traveling from fair to fair, selling his wares (sometimes vegetables, berries, peanuts, or soda) and working as a huckster, promoting other vendors and exhibits. Roaming the grounds, he delivered spiels, sang, pontificated on everything from politics to local history, talked about his past, and spouted witty sayings, often in poetic fashion. It was a win-win situation, adding to an event’s atmosphere while putting the spotlight on Charlie — and the more attention he received, the more he liked it.

He was already known far and wide as a beloved eccentric, but — either to maintain his status, or because innate quirkiness guided his impulses — Charlie upped his game in the early 1900s by expanding his wardrobe in unusual ways. Whatever the reason, it played out over time as a roaring success. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Cure Porch on Wheels Project Moving Forward

Blue Moon Builders installing custom made sliding windows on the Cure Porch Historic Saranac Lake has been awarded a grant to support the Cure Porch on Wheels project in 2019. The New York Council on the Arts (NYSCA) has approved $16,000 to support programming on Historic Saranac Lake’s oral history booth and mobile exhibit space.

This is the latest of a number of grants that have supported the project. In 2018, a NYSCA Museum Program grant supported the construction of the Cure Porch on Wheels.

The Cure Porch on Wheels project is modeled on the cure porches of Saranac Lake, where tens of thousands of people from around the world came to take the “fresh air cure” for tuberculosis. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Jefferson County’s Charles Sherman: Huckleberry Charlie

The Altona Flat Rock is a rare and spectacular site I’ve referenced here in the past, and was the subject of my first book written long ago (it was updated in 2005 with new glaciology information). Besides details on the unusual topography, glacial remnants, an incredibly persistent fire, and one of the world’s largest dams when it was built in the early 1900s, there was also a human history to tell.

The forbidding landscape, similar to expanses in Maine, was conducive to the growth of blueberries, the harvest of which evolved into a phenomenon. Entire families established temporary villages of tents and shacks on the Flat Rock from July into September, picking thousands of quarts for sale to local customers and East Coast markets, including Boston and New York City.

A similar business was conducted at the same time on what today is known as Fort Drum in Jefferson County. It was originally known as Pine Camp, located on a several-thousand-acre area that historically bore the name of Pine Plains. While the Altona site in Clinton County was known locally as the Blueberry Rock, Pine Plains near Watertown was known for producing great quantities of huckleberries, a close “cousin” fruit that provided the nickname for our subject, Charles Sherman. » Continue Reading.


Thursday, October 25, 2018

The Legend of Jack-O-Lantern

A Young boy carving a Jack O Lantern Perhaps the single-most-recognizable symbol of the Halloween season is the traditional hollowed out pumpkin carved into a smiling or ominous, illuminated-in-the-dark face. But, “Why,” I’ve often been asked, “is it called a jack-o-lantern?”

While much of what’s known is ambiguous at best, the first widely-accepted mention I can find dates back to the five classes of fairies in Cornish lore: the Small People, the Brownies, the Spriggans, the Buccas, Bockles, or Knockers, and the Piskies. The Piskies went about confusing wary travelers; getting them hopelessly lost and eventually leading them into bogs and moors with a ghostly light called Ignis Fatuus; ‘the foolish fire’. Among the named Piskies were Will-O’-the-Wisp, Joan the Wad, and Jack-O’-Lantern. » Continue Reading.


Monday, October 22, 2018

Hudson River History: The 1903 Spier Falls Disaster (Conclusion)

In spring 1903, more than a thousand men were at work on the final stages of the Spier Falls hydropower project. A large number of skilled Italian masons and stoneworkers were housed in a shantytown on the Warren County (north) side of the river.

Most of the remaining work was on the Saratoga County (south) side, which they accessed by a temporary bridge. But the company feared that the high waters of springtime had made the bridge unsafe. To avert a potential catastrophe, they destroyed it with dynamite. » Continue Reading.


Sunday, October 21, 2018

High Peaks Happy Hour: Valcour Brewing Company, Plattsburgh

Ulysses S. Grant drank here. Maybe. Originally built in 1838 as an army barracks for enlisted men, known as Old Stone Barracks, the grand building on Ohio Avenue in Plattsburgh is now home to Valcour Brewing Company.

Though Grant is reported to have stayed in the officers’ barracks that once stood adjacent in the mid 1800s, it’s possible he may have sat on the porch of the Old Stone Barracks swilling beer and swapping stories with the enlisted men.

Even if Grant didn’t drink here, Valcour Brewing Company can openly boast that Kim and Pam Ladd drank here – twice in one day. » Continue Reading.


Thursday, October 18, 2018

RR Board President Responds To Rail-Trail Issues

It is certainly unfortunate that the debate concerning the Adirondack Railroad has continued for as long as it has. One would surely think that adults, objective in their analyses and wishing for the greatest good as an outcome, could have solved this long ago but, no. There is even a renewed attack from the trail advocates.

We had hoped that after the resounding success in the courts and the unambiguous decision of State Supreme Court Justice Robert G. Main, that we could begin talks to successfully implement the 1996 Unit Management Plan and not continue the bickering. So let’s take another look. Several economic studies have been undertaken over the past years using data from Essex County and NYS publications. Assessed by outside, independent consultancies, the conclusions are clear. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, October 17, 2018

The Spier Falls Disaster: An Adirondack Tragedy

Adirondack history is naturally rife with river-related stories—wildly successful fishing trips, damaging floods, wilderness exploration, and dam construction. Rivers were the lifeblood of development:  settlements sprang up along waterways, where partial diversion of streams provided the wheel-turning power necessary to many industries. But freshets were so common and destructive that dams were introduced as flood-control measures, and then for hydropower as the electrification of society unfolded.

Recognizing the great financial potential of providing electricity to industries and the masses, power companies sought to develop dozens of potential reservoir sites. Among the arguments they used to justify building dam after dam was public safety. Ironically, the construction of a hydro dam was marred by one of the worst tragedies in Adirondack history. » Continue Reading.


Saturday, October 13, 2018

The Most Negative Sales Pitch Ever

A little more than a century ago, a horrendous description of an Adirondack village appeared in newspapers, including the Mail and Express published in New York City. At issue was the placement of a yet-to-be-built tubercular sanitarium. Feelings ran so high at the time, you’d swear they were selecting the next Supreme Court justice. But taking sides is nothing new, as proved by use of the written word back then to describe one of the candidate locations. As you’ll see, it’s hard to believe they were talking about the same place. » Continue Reading.


Friday, October 12, 2018

Adirondack Experience Readies for Change of Season

The season is coming to a close for the Adirondack Experience, the museum on Blue Mountain Lake, but isn’t not the end of the activities. Each fall the museum gets ready for winter and provides opportunities for people to bring home a special Adirondack gift from their unique shop.

According to ADKX Director of Marketing Ausra Angermann, the museum has two planned weekends set for people to do their holiday shopping and visit beautiful Blue Mountain Lake. On November 23-24 and December 14-16 from 10 am to 4 pm, the museum provides a special shopping experience to all visitors. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Father Fitz: Missionary to the Adirondacks

Rev John FitzgeraldThe Rev. John G. Fitzgerald, or “Father Fitz,” as he was known to contemporaries, was the first resident Roman Catholic priest in Old Forge. He is fondly remembered as a missionary to the widely scattered working people of the region and as a prolific builder of churches. His obituary in 1925 and local histories rightly focus on his time in Old Forge, but Father Fitzgerald had a significant career prior to that. His early assignments reveal a resourceful and energetic clergyman who made an impact across the Adirondacks and North Country. He served the people of northern New York State for a total of 49 years providing faith, culture, and kindness.

John Gerald Fitzgerald was probably born November 19, 1850 in Deptford, Kent, England (now part of Greater London). His parents, Patrick Fitzgerald and Joanna O’Connor, were both born in Ireland. John was educated in Catholic schools in England, namely: Blackheath; Sedgley Park in Wolverhampton; and St. Edmund’s in Ware, Hertfordshire. Records from St. Edmund’s show that a John Fitzgerald attended the school from 1868 until 1871. Soon after, John emigrated to the United States where he attended St. Joseph’s Provincial Seminary in Troy, NY. He was sponsored by the recently established Diocese of Ogdensburg. At seminary, John served as choirmaster and developed what would become a lifelong interest in music. He was ordained at Troy by Bishop Bernard J. McQuaid of Rochester on June 10, 1876. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Restored “Adirondack Holiday” Film Screening in Lake Placid

adirondack holidayFirst released in 1960, Adirondack Holiday showed Essex County as a four-season vacation paradise. Now, almost sixty years later, the half-hour short has been restored to all its original color splendor. Its premiere screening will take place during this year’s Lake Placid Film Festival, October 26th to 28th. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, October 10, 2018

The 1918 Flu Epidemic in St. Lawr Co, Oct 18

Ad that appeared in the Canton Commercial Advertiser in 1918The next St. Lawrence County Historical Association’s Brown Bag Lunch Series has been set for Thursday, October 18th. This program begins at noon, will be led by Bryan Thompson and will focus on the 1918 Flu Epidemic. Attendees are encouraged to bring a lunch and enjoy a beverage and dessert provided by SLCHA.

Bryan Thompson, a seventh generation St. Lawrence County native, is the municipal historian for the town of DeKalb. While deputy and town historian, he received the Hackman Research Fellowship and the Dearstyne Award for Excellence from the state archives. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Pieces of Eight: Curiosities From Fort Ti’s Collections

Gold mourning pendant featuring hair from George Augustus Lord Viscount HoweFort Ticonderoga has announced a new museum exhibit, ‘Pieces of Eight: Curiosities from the Collection,’ featuring objects from the bodies of famous or interesting characters from early American history.

The exhibit was conceived following the overwhelmingly positive response to Fort Ticonderoga’s display of extremely rare locks of Benedict Arnold’s hair in May. Curatorial staff began extensive research and identified eight intimate artifacts that compromise the new exhibit. Many involve human hair, which was trimmed, saved, mailed, and even made into jewelry where it was carried across the world. » Continue Reading.