Sunday, March 26, 2023

Tale of Two Sagamores lecture set for April 7

Great Camp Sagamore & The Sagamore Resort

Great Camp Sagamore & The Sagamore Resort join together to invite you to an evening lecture highlighting the history of both of these Adirondack icons. All are welcome to gather on Friday, April 7 from 6 to 8:30 p.m. for a Tale of Two Sagamores lecture at the Sagamore Resort Conference Center in Bolton Landing, NY.

Historian and author Bill Gates will speak about the rich history of The Sagamore, one of the Adirondack’s most iconic resorts. Robert Engel, historian of Great Camp Sagamore, will share the fascinating history of one of the first Great Camps in the Adirondacks. Both speakers will provide insight into the history and significance of these two Adirondack icons.

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Monday, March 20, 2023

Tales of the Adirondacks, Past & Present: Winning the Olympic Gold Medal by Charity Marlatt

Bobsledders Alan Washbond and Ivan Brown at the 1936 Olympics.

In the spirit of sharing informational, intriguing, and inspiring stories to help highlight the rich social and cultural history of New York State’s Adirondack Mountains, The Adirondack Almanack will share stories written by those who live, work, and play in the ADK, courtesy of OurStoryBridge/Freedom Story Project. These stories, which will be a combination of current and past events, people, outdoor activities and more, will be published on a weekly basis, starting with today’s first story titled, Winning the Olympic Gold Medal by Charity Marlatt. The stories will focus on various locations situated in the Adirondack region, including the High Peaks, the town of Keene, and many other areas around the Park. Stories are compartmentalized into the following categories, arts & culture, catastrophes, work, people, outdoor activities, daily life, community, and natural & man-made environments. 


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Monday, March 6, 2023

Untangling Timbucto and the Roots of Gerrit Smith’s Land Grants of 1846


History has done a poor job of defining and interpreting Gerrit Smith’s 1846 land grants and the Timbucto settlers in North Elba. More recently, scholars have been exploring and telling this rich and fascinating black history of the Adirondacks. However, confusion, fiction, and exaggerations have crept into some narratives. As an independent scholar of history, I believe we need to be vigilant to keep history factual, especially given the current attacks on re-writing and re-framing history. Conjecture and opinions should be stated as such, facts should be backed up by reliable sources and verified by evidence.

Many historical accounts about the land grants and Timbucto are chocked full of errors and myths rather than historical facts. Among these are Alfred Donaldson’s chapter on John Brown in A History of the Adirondacks, Volume II (1921), Mary Lee’s article in New York Times (1929), Beatrice Hughes article in New York State Conservationist (1921), Richard Henry Dana’s article in Atlantic (1871), and various narratives quoting Lyman Epps Jr. These are not reliable sources.

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Sunday, March 5, 2023

North Creek Depot Museum Presents New Video “Interview with the Curator”

Curator Greg Schaefer with host Erin Corr

North Creek, NY – The North Creek Depot Museum is proud to present a new video titled, “Interview with the Curator.”


The North Creek Depot Museum produced a video titled “Interview with the Curator” with President and Curator Greg Schaefer and host Erin Corr. The video was presented as part of an exhibit of winter sports, titled “Daring Descents” (through February 28th) at the Tannery Pond Center in North Creek on Friday, January 20. During the interview, Greg spoke about the story of the Adirondack Railroad and its effect on the region during the period between 1930 and 1945. He described the history of the “Snow Trains” that brought the first skiers up from Schenectady and later from New York City. This was the beginning of the development of skiing at Gore Mountain.

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Thursday, February 23, 2023

HISTORICAL PROFILE:  Fish Hawk Cliffs of Lower Ausable Lake

aerial show of lower ausable lake

Overlooking the northern end of Lower Ausable Lake in Keene are two open ledges which are popular destinations for hikers:  Indian Head and Fish Hawk Cliffs.  The lookouts, both of which are accessible via trail, offer spectacular views of the lake, the Colvin Range to the left, and Sawteeth Mountain and the Lower Great Range to the right.  The Fish Hawk Cliffs are reachable in 0.2 miles via the connector trail from Indian Head to the Mt. Colvin Trail but prepare for a steep into a col along the way.  What follows is some of the history behind Fish Hawk Cliffs which you may not be aware of.

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Friday, February 10, 2023

The Heart of the Adirondacks: The Totten & Crossfield Purchase

The boundary of the Totten and Crossfield Purchase, represented within the bounds of the Adirondack Park. Shown within the Purchase are the gores and numbered townships.

The Totten and Crossfield Purchase is a massive land tract named for Joseph Totten and Stephen Crossfield, two shipwrights from New York City who, acting as front-men for two prominent land speculators, acquired the 1.15 million acres from the Mohawk and Caughnawaga Indians in 1772.  This tract was sometimes referred to as Jessup’s Purchase.  While much has been written about the Purchase, I want to impress upon the reader, especially those who live or enjoy leisure time in the Adirondack Park, the great extent of this tract and provide a quick overview of its history.  If you would like to learn more about this very famous and important Adirondack land tract, see Volume 1 of A History of the Adirondacks by Alfred Donaldson, Rural Indigenousness by Melissa Otis, and Verplanck Colvin’s State Land Survey reports (which are available online through Google Books).

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Thursday, February 9, 2023

Who was Julian Walbridge Rix?

The cover of December 6 1884 - Harper's Weekly

During the winter of 1884-85, Harper’s Weekly, A Journal of Civilization” ran two issues that contained articles dealing with the need for the State of New York to create a Forest Preserve to regulate the logging industry and protect water resources.  The first article ( Harper’s Weekly, Saturday, December 6, 1884 ) was accompanied by seven (7) drawings ( engravings ) by the artist Julian Walbridge Rix.  On the cover of that first issue were two (2) illustrations, titled “Destruction of the Adirondacks – Drawn by Julian Rix :  1. Great Burned Tract on the Road to Indian Lake  [and] 2. Ragged Mountain near Schroon River”. 

Further into that issue there were five (5) additional drawings by Rix in which he illustrated forest destruction brought about by mining, lumbering, and forest fire. The article had an accompanying text.  The actual author of that text is unknown but may have been C. S. Sargent.  Professor Charles S. Sargent’s byline does appear in the companion issue of Harper’s Weekly, Saturday, January 24, 1885.  Both articles are written in the same style and they both express the need for the State of New York to protect its mountainous forests. 

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Wednesday, February 8, 2023

Historic Saranac Lake Museum adds tuberculosis and public health history collection

Historic Saranac Lake Museum employee with U-Haul truck

Saranac Lake, NY – Historic Saranac Lake Museum Archivist/Curator Chessie and Museum Assistant Emily have been on an adventure to retrieve an important tuberculosis and public health history collection. The collection contains more than 1,000 fascinating items documenting the treatment, prevention, and detection of tuberculosis from Saranac Lake, across the country, and the world. It was generously donated to the museum to make sure that it could be used by the public and generations to come.

Chessie and Emily arrived home on Tuesday [Jan. 31] after spending several days sorting, inventorying, packing, and driving the artifacts and ephemera home from Georgia.

Those with the museum expressed thanks to those who supported this project with special donations. Museum staff haven’t quite reached their goal to help them process these new donations and make them available to the public, so please visit the fundraiser page to donate if you can.

Photo at top: Historic Saranac Lake Museum employees (Archivist/Curator Chessie and Museum Assistant Emily) embark on a road trip to collect items for the tuberculosis and public health history collection. Photo courtesy of the Historic Saranac Lake Museum.

Tuesday, December 20, 2022

126 Acres of Historic Brookdale Farm Protected in Perpetuity

Mourning Kill Stream running through property.

December 13, 2022 – Saratoga PLAN completed two conservation easements with the Pott and VanVorsts families permanently protecting 126 acres of farmland in the Saratoga County Town of Ballston. Conservation of this fertile farmland means it will be forever available for farming and critical wildlife habitat for generations to come.


Both easements include land originally part of the Brookdale Farm, which originated circa 1835 by the McKnight family, a relative of the Potts by marriage four generations prior. The Brookdale Farm is thought to be the original 1800’s hops farm on Hop City Road where wagons were filled with the farm’s hops and transported to breweries in Albany. In addition to hops, the farm also had Merino sheep and dairy cattle, and produced hay and corn.

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Tuesday, November 29, 2022

The Return of “Echoes in These Mountains,” book release & signing set for Dec. 10

echoes in the mountains book

Echoes in These Mountains was my first award-winning book. Published in 2008, it tells the stories behind 55 historic sites in the Township of Johnsburg, Warren County. The book was well received and the original run of 1,500 copies sold out years ago. With folks asking for up to $114 for a used copy “signed by the author” (eBay emphasis, the original retail price was $16.95), I decided it was time
for a second edition. I used the opportunity to fix some typos, but also to expand the original manuscript with additional historic photographs and added new research and analysis.

The expanded second edition, now totaling 512 pages, will be officially released at a special program on December 10 at the Town of Johnsburg Library [located on] Main Street [in] North Creek, NY. The new edition includes additional documentation of a French & Indian War warpath that passed through the area including pictures of a Revolutionary-Era “cannon” found unearthed along a local dirt road years ago, cannon balls of different diameters found in a garden in Bakers Mills by a local resident and a Revolutionary War French bayonet found near the east shore of Loon Lake.

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Tuesday, November 22, 2022

LeClair Family Donates 127 Acres to Saratoga PLAN for New Curtis Preserve in Corinth

In 1986, Patricia LeClair and her husband built a house on nine acres of land in Corinth that they bought from neighbors, Jack Curtis and Mary Curtis. Jack, Mary’s brother, was an old friend of Patricia’s husband. Over the years, Mary and Patricia became close and Patricia frequently walked in the woods that spread across both the LeClair and Curtis’ properties. After Jack and Mary passed away, the Curtis’ property was left to the LeClair family.


Patricia LeClair held on to an article about Saratoga PLAN for many years and after thinking about how important land preservation was, she decided to donate a substantial portion (127.5 acres) of her land, the land that had been left to her by the Curtis family, to Saratoga PLAN. The LeClair family has made an outstanding gift to the community; helping to ensure the property’s ecological, educational, historic, recreational, and scenic values are maintained for generations to come. This gift to the community was also made possible by Saratoga County’s Farmland and Open Space grant, where monies were used to pay transaction costs, and from the Nature Conservancy’s Resilient and Connected Network grant which will help with future stewardship needs for the land.

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Tuesday, November 8, 2022

Fort Ticonderoga to Present Living History Event: “A Day Longer in the Field” on Nov. 12

Join Fort Ticonderoga for an exciting one-day living history event this Saturday, November 12, 2022 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. In honor of Veterans Day, this event is free to active and retired military personnel. Admission is free for Fort Ticonderoga members and Ticonderoga Ambassador Pass Holders. The living history event will feature American Provincial soldiers who were eager to go home at the end of the 1759 Campaign. With Ticonderoga and Crown Point captured, these American soldiers worked alongside British Regulars to prepare Fort Ticonderoga for winter and the following season’s advance into the heart of New France. Witness how the soldiers in 1759 dealt with the harsh realities of winter on the northern frontier.

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Monday, November 7, 2022

Adirondack Center for Writing to host Lorraine Duvall reading/open-mic on Nov. 9

The Adirondack Center for Writing in Saranac Lake is pleased to host another BarkReaders session, this time featuring Adirondack feminist historian, Lorraine Duvall, who will perform a reading of Finding a Woman’s Place on Wednesday, November 9 at 7 p.m. An open mic will follow the reading. Admission to the event is free, with a suggested donation at the door. The reading and open mic will run for a total of 60 minutes, and registration is required.

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Thursday, November 3, 2022

Call for Entries for Festival of Trees at Hancock House Museum

Ticonderoga, NY – The Ticonderoga Historical Society is inviting individuals and community groups to once again take part in the Festival of Trees at the Hancock House Museum. The popular holiday event will take place from November 25 through December 31. This year’s theme is “Christmas Around the World,” although the decorated trees, centerpieces, and other displays do not have to follow the suggested theme.

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Tuesday, October 25, 2022

What’s in a name: Jabe Pond

Photo #1 - Chimney on Chimney Island - Photo credit John Hastings

My first opportunity to paddle on Jabe Pond was while I was doing some summer loon research, recording and observing loon behaviors.  The pond was then, and is still, an interesting and rewarding paddle.  The loons were quite cooperative.  That summer I found their nesting site and observed them socializing, incubating their eggs, caring for their two chicks; teaching them to fish; to avoid predators; eventually fledge and fly south.  At times fellow loons visited from Lake George (especially when the lake was well peopled).  Over the duration of the summer I often saw ducks, osprey, deer, turtles, an occasional Bald Eagle and other wildlife.  I even saw paw prints of a bear in the sand.  

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