Monday, March 28, 2022

Telling Our Stories: The Adirondack Story Project

We are blessed to have quality news outlets in the Adirondacks – local newspapers and magazines, social media, and including, of course, the Adirondack Almanack and Explorer. These resources are place-based and provide us with the current news and events. They also serve as archival records for future generations.

Since 2014, I’ve shared a number of my stories on the Adirondack Almanack. There are more avenues for telling one’s stories now, eight years later, primarily through the perfection of online resources because of the Covid-19 pandemic and our resultant isolation.

I want to introduce readers of the Almanack to a project for recording audio stories which began a few years ago through the Keene Valley Library. To date, this Adirondack Community Story Project has collected over 250 three-to-five-minute audio stories on the historical and social cultural history of the Town of Keene.

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Sunday, March 27, 2022

The Forest for the Trees: Remembrance of Frank Dorchak by his son

frank dorchak

By F. P. (Frank) Dorchak

It was 2:20 p.m. February 20, 2022.

I stood in the middle of my dad’s workshop, listening to the drone of the space heater switching on and off against the howling winter swirling and eddying outside the building. I imagined my dad, here, by himself…working on all his woodwork under the bright LED lighting lining the ceiling and beams…calming, classical music playing in the background…puffing on a pipe when he was smoking, otherwise not…his presence—honed from a lifetime of being underwater, in the woods, and helping and leading others—permeating everything. Hands confidently and skillfully manipulating wood to conform to his will, his specifications…smoothing it over…verifying its obedience…

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Wednesday, March 23, 2022

Paul Schaefer and the making of an Adirondack map

The Association for the Protection of the Adirondacks had hired me the previous winter. It was now the spring of 1987. Windows and doors were again opening to the hope and then the reality of spring’s warmth. The director of the Schenectady Museum William (Bill) Verner had given me, practically rent free, a desk and telephone from which to begin work as the Association’s first executive director in over 60 years.

It helped that Bill was a member of my board of trustees, and that his knowledge and love for the Adirondacks and Adirondack history from a home base in Long Lake was long and deep.

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Thursday, March 17, 2022

Newcomb AIC: Aldo Leopold Day set for March 19

“That land is a community is the basic concept of ecology, but that land is to be loved and respected is an extension of ethics.” – Aldo Leopold 

Guests are invited to kick off the arrival of spring by celebrating Aldo Leopold Day on Saturday, March 19 at the Adirondack Interpretive Center (AIC) in Newcomb. Leopold was considered by many as the father of wildlife conservation. Participants have the opportunity to attend an individual program or spend the entire day at the AIC to take part in the whole slate of events which includes a seminar, a bench building workshop, and a film. Pre-registration is required, as space is limited. Interested parties should register by emailing aic@esf.edu or Click here to register. Location: Adirondack Interpretive Center, 5922 State Route 28N, Newcomb, NY 12852.

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Wednesday, March 16, 2022

Digging into Native Americans’ history in the Adirondacks

native american pottery shards

A young boy on my tour last year asked a simple question, “were there Indians here?” With nowhere else to go, I repeated the worn-out line that Native American people used the Adirondacks as hunting grounds. It was an unsatisfying response, for both of us. As Sagamore’s historian, I knew as much as that kid about 98% of the area’s human timeline.

I quickly found a small but growing body of research on Native American history in central and northern New York State. I also learned that these topics, this knowledge, is not new. From my perspective, I could dig into books and articles about the academic pursuit of knowledge. But, Native Americans have been telling their own stories from the beginning. To properly answer that boy’s question, Sagamore needs to welcome the perspectives of the people about whom we’re speaking.

The Eurocentric university-based perspective and the Native American oral history perspective are often presented in concert, each welcoming the other. I reached out to John Fadden at the Six Nations Iroquois Cultural Center in Onchiota, New York. John’s father Ray Fadden and his family, who lived in the Mohawk community of Akwesasne, opened the center in 1954 so that the general public “may acquire the knowledge needed to better understand the history, culture, contemporary realities, and the potential future of Native Nations.” The center remains northern New York’s leading source for discovering a variety of perspectives on Indigenous people.

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Wednesday, March 16, 2022

Timbuctoo Institute would build opportunity in the Adirondacks

john brown and timbuctoo

By Aaron Mair

The Adirondack Park is a national treasure because our ancestors had the foresight in the 1880s and 1890s to protect its forests and waters as a legacy for future generations to inherit and enjoy. Creating the Forest Preserve and the “forever wild” clause of the state constitution were bold, new ideas.

Now, more than 120 years later, we can see how smart our ancestors were. The Adirondack Park was transformed in less than a century from a smoldering mess of wildfires, clear-cut forests and muddy rivers into the world’s largest intact, temperate deciduous forest. Today, it hosts most of the rare forest wildlife, wilderness and old-growth forest remaining in the Northeast.

What caused people as far away as New York City to act?

 

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Sunday, March 13, 2022

Challenges of Researching Local History: The Grist Mill at Cooper’s Falls

Cooper's Falls

Tracking down documentation of historic sites can be a real challenge, especially so here in the Adirondacks when the historic site may be little known or perhaps the site even lost in enveloping forest growth.

Some time ago I was approached by friend Evelyn Greene. Evelyn is a daughter of the famous Adirondack environmentalist, Paul Schaefer, and is a great explorer of the local woods. Evelyn told me about an abutment near a picturesque waterfall on the North Creek stream, about 3.6 miles upstream of where the steam enters the Hudson River at the village of North Creek. She wondered if I knew anything about it and wondered if there had ever been a mill there. Despite all my research on 55 historic sites in the Town of Johnsburg for my first book, Echoes in These Mountains, I replied I knew nothing about it.

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Friday, March 11, 2022

Three Reasons You Are Alive Today 

gladys with gun

A WWII Tale of Close Calls and Near Misses

Everyone I know has a story or two that goes something like this: “I might not even be here today if it weren’t for…” We all have close calls, dodge accidents, or do crazy things in our youth and most of us live to tell the tale. But those near misses are the reason our children and grandchildren are here too. This is one such collection of WWII tales from my family, now passed down to my two grown daughters.

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Monday, March 7, 2022

Scarlet fever: Keene’s struggles to contain an outbreak harkens to today

keene scarlet feverScarlet fever is something we don’t have to think about any more.  However, more than 100 years ago, this childhood killer struck fear into the hearts of parents everywhere, including the little town of Keene.

On March 4, 1912, in the face of a frightening scarlet fever outbreak, the Keene Town Board of Health took emergency action.   The Board ordered “that the church, school houses, library, neighborhood house and Keene Valley Club House shall be closed until further notice.”

Today, in the midst of our Covid-19 turmoil, the disputes over vaccines, masks, and other government-scientific recommendations, it is hard to imagine a citizen board of health exercising that kind of power—to declare the church and the schools and the library closed.  Boom.   “Mo(tion) carried,” says the official one-page document, hand-written in pencil.

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Friday, February 18, 2022

The Voluntary Professionals Behind the Adirondack Research Library

Many organizations introduce their work with the words “were it not for the volunteers, we could not…” That can be justifiably said of the Adirondack Research Library (ARL), formerly part of the Association for the Protection of the Adirondacks (AfPA).

This largest Adirondack collection outside of the Adirondacks launched in 1979 as part of Union College’s Schaeffer library. It then moved and in 1985, courtesy of then Museum Director Bill Verner (formerly curator with the Adirondack Museum in Blue Mountain Lake) occupied a corner of the Schenectady Museum. In 1988, ARL became a committee of the nonprofit Association for the Protection of the Adirondacks (1901-2010). Following the untimely and sad death of Bill Verner, in 1989 the Schenectady Museum’s next director told us we had to move out. So, for the next 15 years the AfPA and ARL rented space below a dental laboratory in Schenectady. Suffice it to say, that situation was less than ideal. We made the best of it but dreamed of better opportunities. Much better opportunities.

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Wednesday, February 16, 2022

Bones, Metals, and Medals: Figuring Out the History of Ice Skating

olympic oval ice skating rink The lighting of the torch in Beijing on February 4th signified the beginning of the XXIV Olympic Winter Games, where many of the athletes are wearing ice skates as they compete for medals in figure and speed skating and ice hockey. While many people will watch these talented athletes on television, others will brave the weather and go to the local pond or outdoor rink to pass the puck or to simply skate in the crisp winter air.

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Tuesday, February 15, 2022

Robert Rogers and his Rangers return to Fort Ticonderoga

battle on snowshoes rogersRobert Rogers and his Rangers return to Fort Ticonderoga Saturday, February 26, 2022 through the dramatic 1759 Battle on Snowshoes reenactment from 10 a.m.-4 p.m.

The Battle on Snowshoes event vividly recreates the final winter battle between a scout of Mohawk warriors, British Regulars, and Rogers’ Rangers, versus the French garrison of soldiers, Canadians and Native American warriors at Fort Ticonderoga on March 7, 1759. This event is designed to be a rich experience for guests of all ages as they explore the final Battle on Snowshoes within the year 1759.

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Wednesday, February 9, 2022

Psychologist’s Question of Courage While Facing TB in ADKs Resonates amid COVID-19

Rollo May

 

By James Schlett

Eighty years ago, in 1942, a graduate student named Rollo May was diagnosed with Tuberculosis, the early twentieth century’s version of COVID-19. He later joined the thousands of people who retreated to the Adirondacks to help save them from the disease, which what was then known as “the captain of death.” At the time of his diagnosis, May was a former pastor who had recently enrolled in a psychology program at Columbia University Teachers College in New York. Tuberculosis had threatened to cut short this life that showed so much promise and later heralded the American existential psychology movement.

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Saturday, February 5, 2022

This month in Almanack history: February

Phil Brown paddles Shingle Shanty Brook in the Adirondack Park

Let’s take a trip down memory lane at some stories that were popular in February months of years past….

Don’t bill hikers for rescues: From 10 years ago, Phil Brown digs into the issue of whether backcountry users should be charged for rescues.

The Adirondack Rail Trail’s Benefits For Wilderness: Writing in 2016, Pete Nelson explains how the Adirondack Rail Trail can be seen as a win for wilderness advocates.

A Q&A with travel writer Carol Cain: Another from Pete Nelson from 2014, he asks travel writer Carol Cain about her Adirondack experiences and thoughts about diversity in the region.

(Momentary) Victory for paddlers: A recap from 2013 about former Explorer editor Phil Brown’s court battle to uphold paddlers’ rights. (Please note: the case was ultimately decided against Phil Brown and the DEC, who had joined the suit.  In 2019, after the case was litigated all the way through the New York Court of Appeals, a New York State Supreme Court ruling established that the Shingle Shanty Brook and Mud Pond Outlet are not “navigable-in-fact,” and the privately-owned waters are not open to the public.)

Trapping and pet safety: From 2019, an overview on keeping your pets safe during trapping season.

Photo: Phil Brown paddles Shingle Shanty Brook in the Adirondack Park. Almanack archive


Friday, February 4, 2022

Deer Jackers, Drunkards and Loggers: The Hunt family’s Adirondack Legacy

Some brief history and lore, fact and possibly fiction, of the Hunt branch of my Adirondack gene pool. This story spans the vast rolling wilderness of Connecticut 300 years ago, the tall virgin wilderness forests of Vermont, and then the rugged wilderness of the Adirondacks of New York, and a tiny wooden roof of the 121-year-old Hunt family home in Indian Lake, New York.

hunt house indian lake

Our Indian Lake farmhouse has 121-year-old cedar shakes that are beautifully weathered and dark brown.

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