Thursday, July 2, 2020

In the Company of Graduates

This June, the graduates of the class of 2020 have walked through Saranac Lake High School one at a time, to receive their diplomas with no other classmates beside them. It might be comforting to know that this is not Saranac Lake’s first lonely graduation ceremony. At the high school’s first graduation in 1896, there was only one graduate, Francis H. Slater.

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Monday, June 29, 2020

Fort Ticonderoga Reopens for 2020 Summer Season

After its usual opening date was put on hold due to COVID-19, Fort Ticonderoga will open for the 2020 season on June 30. The admission capacity this summer will be capped at 400 visitors at a time (unless otherwise announced) and advanced on-line ticketing will be required. You may purchase online tickets at www.fortticonderoga.org. The first initial opening phase will only allow visitors access to the exterior spaces during Tuesday through Sunday, from 9:30 am until 5:00 pm. The last ticket for the day will be sold at 4:30 pm.

 

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Monday, June 22, 2020

‘A Woman’s Place’ virtual book reading

finding a womans placeAuthor (and Almanack contributor) Lorraine Duvall will read from her latest book, Finding A Woman’s Place: The Story of a 1970s Feminist Collective in the Adirondacks in a virtual event taking place from 5-6 p.m. Wednesday via Zoom. The event is sponsored by the Caldwell-Lake George Library and the Richards Library in Warrensburg. (Click here for an Adirondack Explorer article about the book)

Duvall will share the fascinating history of a women’s community in Athol, NY (Warren County) which served as a safe harbor for hundreds of women during the tumultuous times of the second wave of feminism in the 1970s. 

Forty-six years ago, seven women left behind the lives they knew and created this commune deep in the Adirondack Mountains that they called “A Woman’s Place.” From 1974 to 1982 A Woman’s Place served as a refuge for self-discovery that changed the lives of hundreds of women.

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Sunday, June 21, 2020

HISTORICAL PROFILE: Treadway Mountain of the Pharaoh Lake Wilderness

Treadway Mountain is a 2,244-foot peak located in the Town of Ticonderoga in Essex County, about two miles west of Putnam Pond. Although not as popular a hiking destination as its big brother to the southwest, Pharaoh Mountain, I consider it a gem of the Adirondack wilderness which offers a big bang for the effort to reach the summit.

A portion of the 2019 U.S.G.S. Graphite, N.Y. quadrangle map showing Treadway Mountain and Putnam Pond.

Although there are three routes up to the peak, I have always started from the Putnam Pond Campground on the trail which heads towards Clear Pond. The hike along the open sections rock and moss, marked with cairns, is an enjoyable one, especially in the fall and winter. You will climb over stretches of beautiful rose quartz as you approach the summit. From the well-open summit, you can venture around and check out a panorama which exhibits the High Peaks, Pharaoh Lake, and the Green Mountains of Vermont.

This historical profile presents the first in-depth discussion of the history surrounding Treadway Mountain, primarily the origin of its name. I also discuss the gentlemen from Ticonderoga for whom it was named and their involvement in the affairs of the town.

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Wednesday, June 17, 2020

Piecing together a 78 year old mystery, and a painting

This is the tale of a good Adirondack story, which is all true, but I had to make up a picture to illustrate it! I am an artist who loves to paint wild Adirondack landscapes, and sometimes a few of the Rocky Mountains too. A man was referred to me, who wanted someone to do a painting of a special Adirondack location for him.

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Wednesday, June 17, 2020

Ti Historical Society gives gift to graduating seniors

The Ticonderoga Historical Society will be offering a free book to all 2020 graduating seniors of the Ticonderoga Central School District. The book is titled: “Ticonderoga – Patches and Patterns from Its Past” and is a collection of vignettes which represent the towns past history and heritage.

THS President Bill Dolback says the following about the book: “We want our young people to appreciate the rich history of our region, offering this volume as a graduation gift is one way in which they can carry that history with them forever.”

To reserve a copy, seniors should call the Historical Society at 518-585-7868 or send an e-mail to [email protected] Books may be picked up at the Hancock House Museum through a contactless delivery system.


Tuesday, June 16, 2020

Great Camp Sagamore updates resources for its historic trail network

By Jen Maguder, Great Camp Sagamore’s Program Director

Big Slope BridgeIn mid-May, seasonal staffers Lily Whiteman and Charles Sykes returned to work remotely for Great Camp Sagamore. Their positions are supported by the Payroll Protection Program, introduced by the federal government to encourage workforce retention and hiring during the COVID-19 pandemic. Lily and Charles are helping to upgrade our online resources for visitors to the Historic Great Camps Special Management Area (HGCSMA).

It’s a long title, so we’re calling Lily and Charles’ work the “trails project” for now.

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Sunday, June 14, 2020

People and Porches

Long after people die, the buildings where they made their lives often remain. Many visitors to the museum follow the footsteps of a family member who came to Saranac Lake with tuberculosis. Often the only trace that remains is the address of a cure cottage and a porch where their relative once took the fresh air.

Places anchor the past. Together with our partners at Adirondack Architectural Heritage, we work to document the places that anchor the history of the Saranac Lake region — from cure cottages to churches to great camps — these structures stand as lasting memorials to the humans who built and cared for them over generations.

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Tuesday, June 9, 2020

Reflections on White Pine Camp

We at Adirondack Architectural Heritage were devastated to hear of the terrible fire that engulfed several of the buildings at White Pine Camp on Sunday evening. By Monday morning, we learned that the fire had been contained to a cluster of buildings in what was the former service complex and that the camp’s Main Lodge, lakeside cabins, boathouses, and other buildings were spared.

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Wednesday, June 3, 2020

Azure Mountain – Beyond the Fire Tower

Azure Mountain is a 2,518-ft peak located in the Town of Waverly in Franklin County, about 1.5 miles west of the St. Regis River and almost four miles east of the St. Lawrence County line. Although it is a short, easy, one-mile hike to the summit, you gain about 1,000 feet on the ascent. On the summit is a steel, 35-foot Aermotor fire tower built in 1918 (pictured here). From the cab of the tower, you can enjoy a beautiful panorama of the northern Adirondacks, the High Peaks, and the hills of the St. Lawrence region. In regard to peak-bagging challenges, it is part of the Fire Tower Challenge. (Editor’s note: Fire towers are currently closed due to COVID-19.)

Much of the history given here is prior to Azure Mountain being established for fire observation in 1914. I delve into the history of its name, appearance on maps, its use in early surveys, and the lodge which once stood at its base: the Blue Mountain House. 

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Wednesday, June 3, 2020

Life in the Graveyard

Graveyards are for the living. It’s something I think about every autumn, when Pine Ridge Cemetery comes alive with children on our annual fifth grade field trip. Ahead of time, the students research a person buried there. As we walk down to the graveyard from school, excitement builds. Upon arrival the kids race around, looking excitedly for their person. It’s like a bizarre version of an Easter egg hunt.

With the help of friendly and unflappable volunteer, Jim Clark, the kids eventually find their gravestones. We stop at the resting places of Charlie Green, Julia Miller, Don Duso, and many others. We notice the memorials for veterans, fire fighters, and children. Jim Clark fills in with stories he remembers. The simple lesson of the day is that our lives matter.

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Sunday, May 31, 2020

The Luxury of Health

Since we first opened our museum doors in 2009, thousands have come to learn about Saranac Lake’s history as a center for tuberculosis research and treatment. Visitors often ask about the cost of care and who was able to afford it. Was Saranac Lake’s fresh air treatment just for rich people? Did people of different ethnic groups and social classes have access to the cure?

These were topics we discussed with a school group this past March. The students were participating in the spring break program of the Division of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion at SUNY Potsdam. We were days away from the pandemic shutdown, and Saranac Lake’s historic connection to infectious disease felt newly relevant that morning.

In the late 1800s, when Saranac Lake was becoming famous as a health resort, one in seven people in the United States was dying of TB. The disease afflicted people from all walks of life. Public health measures and improved living conditions were beginning to lower the rate of infection in the United States. Still, TB continued to spread. It especially plagued poor people, living and working in crowded, poorly ventilated spaces.

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Sunday, May 24, 2020

How to be the life of the (socially distant) party

Spending time at home lately? Maybe it’s an opportunity to pick up a musical instrument.

Good parties need great music, ‘twas always thus. If you can play, you’re the life of the party. Okay, maybe this was truer before the invention of DJs, but it’s still true.

 Alfred Gwynne Vanderbilt grew up in the 1880s–1890s hearing superb orchestras play at lavish parties hosted by his parents and others in their social set. Years later, the parties Alfred threw at Sagamore, his Adirondack camp, would not have orchestras, but guests would play the piano.

 And it appears that the host himself had skills. The photo is a little blurry, but just look at Alfred’s smile while he strums his mandolin, sitting on his Main Lodge porch in the summer of 1913. Let’s imagine the scene at the Playhouse that night: “Alfred, where’s your mandolin.” “No, no…well, ok!”

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Sunday, May 24, 2020

Calls for Nominations for the AARCH Preservation Awards

The 25th annual AARCH Preservation Awards, which recognize exemplary historic preservation work throughout the Adirondacks, will take place on Saturday, Sept. 19, 2020.

Residents of the Adirondack North Country region may submit their nominations of historic buildings in their communities that have been brought back to life.

The 2020 recipients will be honored during an event held at the Grace Memorial Chapel on Sabbath Day Point near Silver Bay on Lake George. Refreshments will be served post gathering. Projects of any size are eligible, and the deadline is June 1 to send in your nominations. To find applications and additional information, go to https://www.aarch.org/preserve/aarch-awards/nominations/.


Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Finding solace in our furry friends

During these days of solitude, many of us are finding great comfort in our animal friends. Blissfully unaware of troubles in the world, our pets are thrilled that their humans are spending more time at home.

Pets are a source of companionship and joy for us now, just as they were for the TB patients of the past. During the TB years, many patients spent two years or more, mostly in bed. Cut off from family and friends, patients were often lonely, scared, and anxious. Animals provided friendship and distraction from worry. Some wealthy patients rented entire houses for their cure, and they were able to bring their pets with them to Saranac Lake. John Black came from Mansfield, Ohio, with his dog, Buddy. Sadly, John eventually lost his struggle against TB, and the John Black Room Room at the Saranac Laboratory Museum was built in his memory. In this photo, John looks very frail, but you can see how happy he was to be with his dog.

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