Saturday, December 5, 2020

History Matters: Bartók’s Birds

“I have been so upset by world events that my mind has been almost completely paralyzed.”  — Béla Bartók

In the midst of the dark days of World War II, a frail man named Béla Bartók came to Saranac Lake for his health. Although he was one of the greatest composers in human history, many Saranac Lakers might have seen him as just another invalid, tiny and pale, wrapped in his dark cape against the cold Adirondack weather.
Bartók and his second wife Ditta fled their native Hungary eighty years ago, as fascism and antisemitism swept across Europe. He had dedicated his life not only to composing, but also collecting and arranging the folk music of Eastern Europe. Nazi Germany was threatening to erase the cultures of the Roma and other peasant peoples of the region. In the face of such terror, Bartók was depressed, impoverished, and sick with a form of leukemia that acted like tuberculosis. He and his wife moved from one cramped, loud, New York City apartment to another. He had ceased composing.

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Thursday, December 3, 2020

An infamous librarian, the Lake Placid Club and the making of a winter sports hub

For nearly a century the Lake Placid Club Resort complex occupied the eastern shore of Mirror Lake. It began in 1895, when Melville and Annie Dewey leased a farmhouse called Bonniblink on a five-acre parcel of land that he referred to as ‘Morningside.’ They chose this site as a place where they could establish contact with nature, find relief from their allergies, and to foster a model community that would provide for recreation and rest for professional people, specifically, educators and librarians. Dewey and his wife felt that occupations involving “brain work put people at higher risk of nervous prostration that, if not checked, would lead to fatigue and even death”

Melville Dewey was born on December 10, 1851 in Adams Center, Jefferson County, NY. At the age of 21, while attending Amherst College in Massachusetts, he invented the Dewey Decimal System. He then went on to become chief librarian at Columbia College (now University), secretary of the Regents of the University of New York State and state librarian. Dewey was also one of the founding members of the American Library Association (ALA), whose aim was “to enable librarians to do their present work more easily and at less expense.” In 1884, Dewey founded the School of Library Economy, the first institution for the instruction of librarians ever organized.

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Saturday, November 28, 2020

Revolutionary War remains on Lake George

digMy first newspaper job was at The Citizen in Auburn, New York. We got a tip one day that said someone had dug up human bones in their backyard, along with the address. My editor asked if I could go check it out.

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Sunday, November 22, 2020

HISTORICAL PROFILE: Coon Mountain of Westport

Continuing my hikes and bushwhacks to various peaks in the Adirondacks and exploring their history,  I paid a visit to Coon Mountain in the Town of Westport, Essex County. From the trailhead located off a dirt road called Halds Road, I made the short, 0.7-mile hike along the leaf-littered trail to the bare-rock lookout point. From the lookout, I found a nice view of Lake Champlain and North West Bay (below), and the Green Mountains of Vermont across the lake. I should note that the true summit of Coon Mountain is about 0.25-miles north-northwest of the lookout point and requires a bushwhack to get to.

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Thursday, November 19, 2020

Although it is historic, Debar Lodge can’t stay

The Department of Environmental Conservation has proposed that the ultimate removal of Debar Lodge from the Debar Mountain Wild Forest in Duane will require a full Environmental Impact Statement, or EIS. The scope of that EIS has been out for public comment on the Adirondack Park Agency’s website.

DEC considers the following proposed mitigation for the Lodge’s removal: reclassification of 41-acres where the Lodge is located from Wild Forest to an Intensive Use Day Use Area to become a “recreation hub” involving expanded parking; pavilions; picnicking; bathrooms; trail development; and exhibits.  DEC appears to believe that the more intensive the recreational use allowed at the former Lodge location, the faster folks will forget that the Lodge ever existed. I doubt that is the case.

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Thursday, November 19, 2020

The moving of a monument

By Diane Parmeter Wills, vice regent of the Saranac Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR)

As of 10:15 this morning, November 17, 2020, the Battle of Valcour-Benedict Arnold monument on Route 9 south of Plattsburgh, erected in 1928 by the Saranac Chapter of the DAR, is in the protective hands of Doug McCabe of the DEC and CCHA Past President Roger Harwood waiting for reinstallation at the Peru Dock as the centerpiece of the historic half ship’s wheel designed by the DEC.

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Saturday, November 14, 2020

Dairy Cows, Milkmaids, and the First Vaccine 

The COVID-19 pandemic has led to unprecedented worldwide societal and economic instability. We’re facing an astonishing loss of human life and unprecedented challenges to public health, economies at every level, food systems, employment, and education. And global extreme poverty is rising for the first time in more than 20 years.

While nations everywhere struggle to prevent the further spread of the virus, developing a Covid-19 vaccine has, apparently, become the number one priority in the world right now. Several candidate vaccines are in development, including a few that are currently in phase 3 trials in the US. The first two were halted briefly after safety incidents, but the FDA has since allowed them to continue. The results are promising.

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Saturday, November 14, 2020

Historic buildings and the Forest Preserve

HISTORIC PRESERVATION: A proposal to take down the Debar Lodge as part of proposed management changes to the more than 88,000-acre Debar Wild Forest Area in Franklin County, has drawn some attention. Gwen Craig’s story was the top-read article in the Explorer this past week. READ IT

As the Lodge is a 1940 Adirondack camp on the State and National Register of Historic Places, historic preservation organizations have rallied around it. See this commentary from AARCH that ran this week in the Almanack. From the Almanack archive, Peter Bauer digs into the “historic” classification of buildings in the Forest Preserve in a three part series that ran on the Almanack in 2018. The first dealt with buildings used for administrative purposes and the effort to retain the inner Gooley Club. The second focused on buildings that are classified as Historic and how this group of buildings is growing. The third deals with public residential use through a formal lodging network.

From 2012, Explorer editor Phil Brown looks at dams in the wilderness, and whether the state should preserve of take them out.


Thursday, November 12, 2020

HISTORICAL PROFILE: Balm of Gilead Mountain

A few years ago, I added a short history of Balm of Gilead Mountain, located in the Town of Johnsburg on the eastern side of Thirteenth Lake. While revisiting the peak with a couple of folks yesterday, I found more questions coming up that were not addressed in my short historical profile (which I had added to my larger profile of Peaked Mountain). I decided to make Balm of Gilead Mountain its own historical profile and elaborate more on its history, especially its name origin.

» Continue Reading.


Thursday, November 12, 2020

Phil Terrie on an important milestone for the Adirondack Park

Nelson Rockefeller signing legislationHistorian and author Philip Terrie has written an article for Adirondack Explorer about an advisory group that issued its findings in a report 50 years ago, with over 180 recommendations. Much came from that effort, including the creation of the Adirondack Park Agency. As Terrie writes:

“A half century ago, on the 15th of December, 1970, Harold Hochschild presented a substantial document to Nelson Rockefeller. Hochschild was a multi-millionaire industrialist, a seasonal resident of Blue Mountain Lake, and the founder of the Adirondack Museum. Rockefeller was the governor of New York. The document was the final report of the Temporary Study Commission on the Future of the Adirondacks (TSC), appointed by Rockefeller in 1968 and chaired by Hochschild during the final year of its investigations and public meetings and the composition of its final report. The result of the confluence of these two powerful figures and of the document Hochschild handed to Rockefeller was the Adirondack Park Agency and the beginning of the modern era of Adirondack history.”

Read the article and then weigh in here. How did the Temp Study Commission change the way we view and manage the park? What kinds of things should leaders and elected officials be focusing on in the next 50 years?

Photo: Former NYS Gov. Nelson Rockefeller signing legislation/file photo.


Tuesday, November 10, 2020

Support the Preservation of Debar Pond Lodge

Debar Pond LodgeDebar Pond Lodge is an historic Great Camp designed by noted Adirondack architect William G. Distin, a protégé of Saranac Lake architect William Coulter, and built in 1940. This spectacular rustic-style log lodge stands on the shore of scenic Debar Pond in the northern Adirondack town of Duane (Franklin County). It is listed on the New York State and National Registers of Historic Places.
Adirondack Architectural Heritage (AARCH) supports the preservation and public use of Debar Pond Lodge. We should treat this valuable cultural resource the way we treat our incredible natural resources – with great care and stewardship.

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) has released a Draft Generic Environmental Impact Statement (DGEIS) that calls for the removal of the historic lodge and other outbuildings. AARCH has advocated for the preservation and public enjoyment of this historic site for more than 15 years and has developed multiple alternatives for the site that are legal and compatible with its Forest Preserve setting. That NYSDEC has so completely and thoughtlessly dismissed these alternatives flies against its obligations under the State Historic Preservation Act and sections of Environmental Conservation Law.


Tuesday, November 10, 2020

StoryBridge online story project gains momentum

Libraries and other organizations plan their online story projects using free OurStoryBridge tools

“OurStoryBridge: Connecting the Past and the Present, released at www.ourstorybridge.org on Sept. 29, has received national interest beyond the original expectations of its creators. Based on this interest, OurStoryBridge organizers hope to help New York state libraries and other organizations use this model to create their own audio story projects in 2021.

Shown here: a screen shot from the “Adirondack Community” online story project: myadirondackstory.org

» Continue Reading.


Thursday, November 5, 2020

Dexter Lake and star power in the northern Adirondacks

Last week’s Dexter Lake article covered a decade or two of turmoil near St. Regis Falls around the turn of the century. This week, we return to Dexter Lake eighty years on…

Media coverage of Orrando P. Dexter’s 1903 murder case raged on for quite some time, with national newspapers ‘feasting on the social conflict’ and local editors, worried about the negative impact on Adirondack Tourism, tried to defend the North Country and its people.  As the unsolved murder case slowly faded from the headlines, Dexter Lake once again returned to its quiet former self and all was quiet on the lake for decades. The estate underwent numerous changes in use. It had been a summer camp for boys, sportsman’s hotel, St. Lawrence University research center, and most recently a private residence.

» Continue Reading.


Wednesday, November 4, 2020

Veteran’s Day Living History Event

In honor of Veteran’s Day, Fort Ticonderoga will be expressing their appreciation for our servicemen and women on Saturday November 14. The day features a live reenactment of the American Army at Ticonderoga as its soldiers looked forwards towards uncertainty after the defeat of the British on October 28, 1776.
Through a dramatic recreation of living history vignettes, visitors will see army officers thank the soldiers for their service and persuade them to reenlist. The soldiers’ life and historic trades programs will highlight the preparations for soldiers marching to General Washington’s aid and the defense of Ticonderoga in the New Year.

This event showcases the efforts which led to the liberty and independence of our nation, allowing us to defend it for generations to come. Virtual visitors from around the globe may tune into Facebook Live as well to watch the dramatic recreation of moments from the American Army at Ticonderoga throughout the day.

“This living history event will highlight the American Army’s trials at Ticonderoga and reflect on the sacrifices which led to victory and independence,” said Beth L. Hill, Fort Ticonderoga president & CEO. “Our commitment to bringing the dramatic and real story of our past to life through unforgettable programs such as the Continue in the Service…and Save their Country living history event is an opportunity to share with our visitors the importance of Ticonderoga in the founding of America. The digital component allows viewers and supporters from across the globe to experience this event from the comfort of their homes.”

Highlighted programming includes guided tours, on-going historic trades programs, and weapons demonstrations. The full visitor schedule can be found at www.fortticonderoga.org.


Monday, November 2, 2020

New film highlights indigenous women’s role in the suffrage movement

North Country Community College, along with Paul Smith’s College and the Zonta Club of the Adirondacks are co-sponsoring a free virtual screening of “Without a Whisper – Konnon:Kwe.”

Telling the untold story of how indigenous women influenced early suffragists in the fight for freedom and equality, the film is by Akwesasne resident Katsitsionni Fox. The film will be available for viewing November 9-15, and a question and answer session with Fox will take place on November 12 at 7 p.m.

Back in 1848 before the first women’s rights convention in Seneca Falls, European colonial women severely lacked rights, while the Haudenosaunee women had strong political and spiritual authority in every aspect of their lives. Communication between early colonial suffragists and Haudenosaunee women in New York State contributed to shaping their thinking, laying the groundwork for the struggle for equality to come.

“Without a Whisper – Konnon:Kwe” Follows Louise Herne- Mohawk Bear Clan Mother, and Professor Sally Roesch Wagner as they explain the narrative about the origins of women’s rights in the united states.

Registration for both the virtual screening and the Q&A is available by visiting https://form.jotform.com/202884609227158 or www.nccc.edu/live.

 



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