A few weeks ago, I found an aluminum basket at a shop in Massena. In style, it mimics baskets that are traditionally made from black ash. Available information indicated it was made by someone who worked at Alcoa some years ago.
This 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.
In the southwestern spur of the Adirondack High Peaks Wilderness lies Kempshall Mountain, a peak with a prominent history in fire observation. Rising 3,350 feet on the northeast side of Long Lake, it is the town’s highest peak. After the 35-foot steel tower on its summit was closed in 1971 and dismantled in June 1977, the trail to it from Long Lake was left largely unmaintained and nature was allowed to slowly consume what man had made. Today, some old State trail markers can be seen along parts of the former trail.
Ticonderoga, NY – The Ticonderoga Historical Society will commemorate U.S. entry into World War II with a free public program on Friday, June 25 at 7 p.m. at the Hancock House, 6 Moses Circle, Ticonderoga.
“We’ll Meet Again: The Home Front in World War II” will take a look at the significant efforts of the men, women and children who helped staff coastal defenses, established victory gardens, took over jobs in factories and farms, and otherwise contributed to support the overall war effort.
This year marks the 80th anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, which led to the United States’ entry into the war. “Wars are not only fought on battlefields,” said program presenter Diane O’Connor. “The physical and emotional support of the citizens at home was a vital element in ultimate victory. During World War II, citizens took part in bond and scrap drives, put up with shortages and rationing of food and materials, stepped into jobs vacated by young men in factories and on farms, and otherwise supported the war effort in a remarkable manner. We have to ask if we would be up to facing those challenges today.”
The program will be held outdoors, under a tent and attendees should bring their own lawn chairs. Reservations may be made by calling the Hancock House at 518-585-7868 or via e-mail to: [email protected]
The State Legislature has just adjourned, but on a good many nights this past month I grew sleepy watching legislative TV or legislative proceedings on the internet. For the non-debate pieces of legislation, meaning when the legislative majority is not allowing minority debate on bills, the viewer is treated to the following exchanges in a monotone, one after the other: The speaker or his representative, or the Senate president or her representative: “The clerk will read the bill.” The clerk: “a bill to” …whatever it does. The speaker or his representative: “The clerk will read the final section.” The clerk: “this act shall take effect immediately.” The speaker, president or their representative: “The vote: 63 in favor. The bill is passed.” All of that has taken less than ten seconds. Next.
ELIZABETHTOWN — Doors to the Adirondack History Museum opened Memorial Day weekend with additions and new exhibits that promise to intrigue, inform and delight.
Lobby and ground floor rooms and halls welcome area residents and guests to explore the history of fishing in the Adirondacks with Gone Fishin’, a look at how lakes, ponds, and rivers sustained and challenged fishermen going back to the earliest inhabitants of these lands. Some of the Essex County Historical Society’s most rare fishing rods, lures and reels are on display.
The Hedges on Blue Mountain Lake is commemorating its 100th season in 2021. In recognition of this milestone, Hamilton County and the Town of Indian Lake have designated May 28 as “The Hedges Centennial Day.” The NYS Legislature also recognized the anniversary.
Richard and Margaret Collins welcomed the first lodging guests on May 28, 1921, and the rustic resort in the Great Camp tradition has been operating ever since, opening this year on June 9. » Continue Reading.
Hear about the wild ideas that became “A Wild Idea: How the Environmental Movement Tamed the Adirondacks” by Brad Edmondson.
Adirondack Explorer Editor Brandon Loomis will interview Edmondson about his 19-year project interviewing the people who fought for and against the Adirondack Park Agency Act that culminated in the book and a special series for the Adirondack ExplorerRegulators and rebels: The forever wild fight.
Presented by Adirondack Explorer and Adirondack Center for Writing 7 p.m. Thursday, May 13.
The Adirondack Forest Preserve is celebrated as one of the world’s best-protected wilderness reserves, but of course this is New York State, not the distant, untrodden surface of Venus; with precious few exceptions all of the lands that are now “forever wild” were once privately owned, and many parcels were developed to one degree or another before the state acquired them for the Forest Preserve. If you’ve enjoyed any of the Adirondack Park’s “blockbuster” purchases over the last quarter-century, such as Little Tupper Lake, Round Lake, the Essex Chain of Lakes, Boreas Ponds, or Madawaska Flow, you have explored land that was once populated by dozens of modest hunting camps.
I was an early visitor at all of these properties, exploring their secrets while the ink was still wet on the deeds. In 1998, just weeks after the “William C. Whitney Area” opened to the public, I found a small cabin on the north shore of Little Tupper Lake that even DEC staff didn’t seem to know about. At Madawaska Flow in 2004 and Round Lake in 2006, I ventured into recently abandoned cabins that stood on expired leases, quietly awaiting their demolition. These structures reminded me that what I had come to explore as “wilderness” had been perceived and used as something slightly different a few years earlier.
Because of these experiences, as well as my interest in Adirondack history, I have never been deluded into thinking our wilderness is a people-less place; it may be the natural landscape that attracts me and fills my daydreams, but I am also familiar with (and fascinated by) the human story that haunts the Forest Preserve.
These days it seems like everyone wants to call the Adirondacks home. During the pandemic, closed-in city spaces have lost their allure. It’s a repeat of Saranac Lake’s tuberculosis years, when tens of thousands of people came here from around the world in search of the fresh air cure. When you want to avoid germs, a place with more trees than people is a good bet. Mohawks picking berries in the Adirondacks. Illustration by John Fadden.
In 1849 William Stanton brought his family across the frozen lake to an ice filled cabin on the west side of Long Lake next to Joel Plumley who had arrived in 1832. He was an unfriendly vengeful man. He had been known to set fires, cut tails of animals, and refuse to help anyone. He claimed Long Lake as his own and saw neighbors as intruders. His remarks when asked to help a starving family that arrived in the dead of winter; “Why should I if they are fool enough to come in the middle of December.” William Stanton’s daughter, Lavonia, kept a journal and this text was sourced from that journal.
At age fourteen, Lavonia married a local man named Benjamin Emerson. They moved on to the back section of the land left by John and Alice Boyden who had encountered Mr. Plumley’s wrath because they bought the land that he wanted. One day Alice went out to the back field and discovered that the man had set fire to their hay. That was the final straw. They packed up their belongings, moved across the lake, and built another house.
A couple of years ago we started kicking around some ideas for sharing with readers the story of the people who fought to create the Adirondack Park Agency: their fervor and idealism, their mapping and lobbying, and the pushback they encountered then and for years to come.
We had only started to discuss how we might go about assembling such a narrative, and who might be best to write it, when Ithaca journalist and author Brad Edmondson wrote us an unsolicited email suggesting that we might have a use for a bunch of interviews he had conducted with the same characters — both APA proponents and opponents — over the years. He had taped some of them with the understanding that he wouldn’t print anything until after they had died, and now that time had arrived.
Sing on, sing on you gray-brown bird, Sing from the swamps, the recesses, pour your chant from the bushes, Limitless out of the dusk, out of the cedars and pines. Walt Whitman, “When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom’d”
A whole year has gone by since we first heard the word “Covid.” We are coming full circle, and soon the hermit thrush will sing again.
Elizabeth W. Little was born in 1884, probably in the grand home that her grandparents built in Menands on the south side of the Menand Road in the 1860’s.
She was the daughter of Charles W. Little and Edith Elizabeth Herbert. Elizabeth was the youngest of three daughters born to the C.W. Little family. Elizabeth’s grandfather was Weare C. Little, who was born in Bangor, Maine but moved to the Albany area and established a very successful book publishing and selling business on State Street in Albany by 1828. By 1868, Weare C. Little’s name appears in the Albany City Directories as residing at Menands. Tax records of 1870-71 show that he owned 46 acres of land with buildings in Menands.
The W.C. Little’s publishing company was very profitable, enabling him to purchase the 46 acres of very desirable land on the south side of the Old Menand Road just west of the present day entrance to the Sage Estate. His land continued westward up the old Menand Road to a point about opposite of the present day intersection with Schuyler Road.
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