Saturday, August 6, 2005

Congratulations Natural History Museum

A hearty “good job” is in order for the Natural History Museum of the Adirondacks for securing another $5 million; by all reports progress is being made (audio), but the Almanack hopes they hurry, our natural world is going to be history before too long and the museum may be the only place left to get a glimpse.


Thursday, August 4, 2005

Ticonderoga Plane Crash: Murder-Suicide?

What do the band Phish, the regional airline Capital Airlines, a Connecticut scam artist, and Old Fort Mountain near Ticonderoga have in common?

Maybe a murder-suicide.

A year ago this month, an experienced pilot from Connecticut named Milton Marshall was flying his own twin-engine Piper Navajo chartered by 40-year-old Michael Keilty when the two crashed mysteriously into Old Fort Mountain just south of Ticonderoga cutting a “500 foot long swath through 60 foot [old growth] trees” (Press-Republican, Part I, Part II). Keilty said he was a pilot himself interested in becoming an investor in Marshall’s company.

Marshall had started his career as a professional pilot at the regional airline Capital Airlines in 1952. Capital became a part of United Airlines in 1961 but when Marshall retired in the 1980s he started a new Capital Airlines, a Federal Aviation Regulations Part 135 On-Demand Air Carrier (certificate number VRWA687I). “Quite a bit smaller in size, but not at heart,” the company’s website read.

Now, Marshall’s daughter Kathy Leonzi thinks the crash was no accident.

And oh yeah… Phish… who could forget the 1996 party they threw at the abandoned Plattsburgh Air Force Base in honor of the founder of the original Capital Airlines – Clifford Ball – and what a party it was (audio of the shows and photos) – it was the first of the annual Phish summer festivals and made Plattsburgh (temporarily) the ninth largest city in New York State.


Suggested Reading

Airports: A Century of Architecture


Tuesday, August 2, 2005

Abandoned Adirondack Veterans: Loring Peck

A reader of our recent post on forgotton veterans remembered:

hiking to the grave of “Colonel Peck” in Speculator when I was a child. My grandfather used to bring us up there, but it seemed as if he was the only person who knew about it. There may have been a roadside marker at the trailhead, but I don’t remember anything else that really commemorated Col. Peck’s service. If I recall correctly, he was a hero of the Revolution.

That he was. According to field notes made by Melvin W. Lethbridge and printed in the New York State Historical Association’s quarterly journal in 1926:

On the shore of Lake Pleasant, which is the head of one branch of the Sacandaga River, and about one and one-half miles in on a trail which leaves the mountain road to the lake at Signboard Hill, and bears to the left around the head of the lake, at the foot of Speculator Mountain, in a family cemetery lies the body of a Revolutionary soldier together with his wife and son. This man settled here shortly after the Revolutionary War and hewed a farm out of the wilderness and now rests peacefully there. His name was Colonel Loring Peck, and the place is yet known as “Pecks Clearing.” It is now the property of the State and is overgrown with woods. It should be cleared and preserved by the State.

Peck was born in 1744 and according to History of the State of Rhode Island and Providence plantations (1859-60, over at Making of America) Loring Peck was made a Captain in Colonel Henry Babcock’s Second Rhode Island Regiment (Babcock was replaced by Colonel Christopher Lippitt a month later). This “Second Rhode Island” was actually made of men of the State Militia who were eventually turned over to the Continential Congress. The Regiment “played an important role” at the Battle of Trenton and the Battle of Princeton according to the Rhode Island Historical Society which holds many of the regiment and Lippitt’s papers.

After his service in the Second Rhode Island Loring Peck was at Bristol, Rhode Island in 1777 and 1790 and was living in Amenia, Dutchess County NY in 1800 and 1810 and moved to Lake Pleasant before 1820. He had three sons who served in the War of 1812:

  • Dr. George Peck who married Elizabeth Dunning served as a surgeon in the War of 1812. He was a land speculator and founder of Camanche, the first county seat of Clinton County, Indiana, in the 1830s.
  • Richard Peck served in the War of 1812 with some other men from Wells and Lake Pleasant.
  • William Burke Peck was a Captain in the War of 1812 on the Canadian Frontier with some other men from Wells and Lake Pleasant. According to local historians he opened the first store at lake Pleasant in 1817.

Loring Peck was living with his son Loring Jr. in Lake Pleasant 1830, at the reported age of 80 to 90. His gravestone says “In Memory of Col. Loring Peck, a Patriot of the Revolution. Died July 29, 1833 in the 90th year of his age.” In 1935 a small bronze plaque was placed at the back of his gravestone by Minnie Peck Hall Krauser a member of the (Denver, Colorado) Regent Peace Pipe Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution.

It would be interesting to know how he got the sobriquet “Colonel.” If anyone has any additional info on Peck or other abondoned veterans – let the Almanack know.

Photos courtesy Elizabeth Emery, Gloversville, NY. Visit her online at http://www.visitsacandaga.com/


Thursday, July 28, 2005

Adirondack Regional Airlines

The Tops Supermarket news got us thinking about other local corporate rip-offs, pull-outs and victims and that got us to regional airlines.

Robert E. Peach, a World War II Navy bomber pilot who won two Distinguished Flying Crosses, started with Robinson Airlines (out of Ithaca Municipal Airport and later the Oneida County Airport) when they had only three planes in 1945.

Robinson Airlines became Mohawk Airlines [old plane photos] and Peach was the driving force behind Mohawk’s expansion, he served as president and later the board chair.

Mohawk was purchased by Washington DC based Allegheny Airlines in 1970 and Peach shot himself in Clinton NY the following year.

In 1975 Allegheny pulled its Adirondack regional operations out and “refocused” on the Alleghenies (e.g. Pittsburgh).

Allegheny became a part of US Airways Group in the 1980s.

In 1978 Paul Quackenbush founded Empire Airlines, which filled the Allegheny void and grew to over 24 departures a day in 1987 when they were purchased by Piedmont Airlines which also became a part of US Airways Group which relocated the regional reservations and maintenance facilities.

Can anyone report on the status of regional airlines today?


Monday, July 25, 2005

Big Box Tops and Adirondack Blight

In the Adirondacks, Tops Supermarkets are ubiquitous to say the least. Many communities depend on Tops as the only supermarket of any size in town. Much of the fresh produce brought into the region is sold in Tops – in a number of places – North Creek, Schroon Lake, Chestertown, Indian Lake and others – the local Tops is the only game in town. Most had been Grand Unions until they were purchased in 2001. Some are still run-down and most offer a limited selection of fresh meat, fish and produce so it doesn’t bode well for a whole lot of us that Ahold, the multinational corporation that now owns Tops has abandoned it for greener pastures.

Tops is just a trade name, the real name of the company was the Niagara Frontier Services, begun in 1960 by Savino Nanula, Armand Castellani (the owner of Great Bear Market) and Thomas Buscaglia (a grocery equipment salesman) near Buffalo / Niagara (the later two are now dead). Tops along with it’s subsidy Sugercreek / Wilson Farms convenience stores were purchased by Ahold in 1991 in their bid to control America’s groceries [pdf].

Ahold just sold Sugercreek / Wilson Farms to “WFI Acquisition, Inc.,” – a corporate shield for Savino Nanula’s “The Nanula Group,” which is actually a corporation formed by Nanco Enterprises, Inc. and the New York City investment firm Bruckmann, Rosser, Sherrill & Co. Bruckmann, Rosser, Sherrill & Co is a coporation formed by former senior executives of Citicorp Venture Capital (who doesn’t even have a website they care so little about who knows about them) and, well, they are, you know.

But who knows what Nanco Enterprises is, though we do suspect the “Nan” in “Nanco” and the “Nan” in “Nanula” are one in the same – another shield from personal responsibility for what your corporate identity does, it wouldn’t surprise us it if was some kind of tax shelter as well.

Anyway… the question is, will Nanula and his good ole boys buy back the Tops in our midst now that Ahold has had its way with them? Or will they simply go the way many Grand Unions have – to abandoned blight. Its just another reason that the Big Box sucks… imagine what our towns and villages would have looked like had these “Super” Markets not replaced the locally owned corner grocery.

A great opportunity to mention that local baker Matt Funiciello, owner of Rock Hill Bakehouse, is hosting James Kunstler on Tuesday, August9th.


Friday, July 22, 2005

The Flag or Egret Question

Stopped into the local Post Office to pick up a new roll of stamps. “Would you like flags or egrets?” the postmaster asked. The Almanack is fine with egrets or flags (they’re only stamps after all), but the question struck us as funny… was the postmaster checking our loyalty?

“At least you have a choice now,” he says, noting that until recently they only carried flags. We scanned the lobby wondering if someone was watching by video – and decided they probably weren’t – then noted that probably, flag stamps didn’t exist before the Civil War, and they couldn’t have been offering no stamps before that so…

It turns out the first flag stamp was apparently issued in 1869. Big brother discovered the power of “The Flag or Egret Question” somewhat later.


Thursday, July 21, 2005

Hey Cool…

The Association for the Protection of the Adirondacks, the people who brought us the Listing of Oldest and Rarest [Adirondack] Books has updated its Adirondack Chronology [pdf]. It’s an amazing bit of community history in its purest form.

Who knew that it was just .65 billion years ago that the Iapetus opened in the Adirondacks with much North-Northeast rifting and jointing and formation of diabase dikes… next time we’re at the Mt. Colden Trap Dike, we’ll really have something to think about.


Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Where There’s Smoke, There’s Not Always Fire

Michael Virtanen, our Associated Press writer, is reporting from Wanakena that the 1995 blowdown that toppled nearly a million acres of forest, nearly half in the Five Ponds Wilderness alone, is recovering in extraordinary ways. And look mom… despite all the lies and hype from Carol W. LaGrasse and the rest of the right-wingnuts, the wilderness did not go up in smoke. The same folks who are (at least partially) responsible for the ignorance of a few leaders against the conservation easements on International Paper lands [pdf] in the North. Which, by the way, is now under threat as IP “reorganizes” or “moves to China” – however you would rather pronounce it.

By the way, Virtanen’s latest is a piece on Adirondack guides.


Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Remembering Veterans

There’s always plenty of loud-mouths who demand respect for veterans. The question is, where are they when something actually needs to be done to show respect for people who have served American causes. Certainly not in Schuyler Falls where the grave of a veteran from one of America’s most important wars, the American Revolution, was recently [re]discovered. How long before the graves of Korean, Vietnam, Gulf and Iraq War veterans are forgotten – apparently not too long if a recent [re]discovery of a graveyard abandoned in the 1880s in Rutland County VT is any indicator.

A question for readers: From what other wars are their abandoned memorials in the region?

The grave of Ephraim Williams (who died at 42 at the Battle of Lake George on September 8, 1755) was only recently resurrected by a group of Williams College students. Williams left money in his will – made out just before he left for battle – to Williamstown for the establishment of a school, now Williams College.


Friday, July 15, 2005

Visit The Adirondacks: Bring Your Gas Mask and Cell Phone

OK – we’re pissed… we’re tired of the long history of selling out our unique homeland for corporate gain.

“The policy of the state shall be to conserve and protect its natural resources and scenic beauty” of the Adirondacks – that’s what NYS Constitution says.

But maybe its time for a revision to the constitution to reflect the new realities of a region that beckons city folk to bring their cash and see the last unspoiled (a-hem) forest east of the Mississippi. So, the Almanack suggests, that when you visit, you remember to bring:

Your gas mask, preferably with a modification for your cell phone so you can order music festival tickets on the way home from visiting the towers on top of Black Mountain, and bring a documentary on timber rattlers for the kids to watch in the back of the SUV while you sit in traffic. Oh and don’t forget your emergency beacon.

Well, at least we don’t have a secret prison system… er wait, maybe we do. And it ain’t fun being there either.


Thursday, June 16, 2005

We like beer…

Especially good local beer. Lake Placid Pub and Brewery’s UBU (as in “sit Ubu sit”) is an extra special favorite. We’ve always been a fan of the Saranac Brewery, though we were terribly distressed when regional favorite Utica Club left the shelves in droves. Sure Saranac is keeping the old F. X. Matt / Utica brewery operating, but Utica Club was a classic! So it’s with great hopes and anticipation that we look forward to the return of the old greats in a retro beer revival.

We’re glad Yuengling is back, but we still fear for Genny, and the now lamented 12 Horse Ale.


Monday, June 13, 2005

Indians and Empire

We like the Empire Journal. Sure they are a little nutty sometimes. They can be rabidly right wing. But they have an anti-establishmentarianism bent that makes up for their repetitive hang up on the Terri Schiavo case and their fear that behind every government official is an illegal schmuck assuming illegitimate authority over the common people – let’s face it, we like them because, whether they know it or not, they’re good old fashion libertarian anarchists. We like to check in with Ginger Berlin, whose latest rant on political free speech and the blogosphere is timely and locally produced.

We have a lot of folks who say they are reporting on our area. WAMC claims to have a North Country Reporter. NCPR has plenty of North Country news, provided you limit the North Country to everything above and to the West of Exit 31. The Champlain Channel, Capital News 9, they all have pretensions to North Country reporting – those who pay attention know they’re false.

But leave it to the Empire Journal to give us the latest on the Mohawk Land Claim – 12,000 acres in the Adirondack Region are at issue, local taxes are at issue, Indian Sovereignty is at issue.

The Mohawk (one tribe of the Iroquois Confederacy) have argued that thanks to the 1796 Treaty with the Seven Nations of Canada, they still own the Village of St. Regis, a six mile-square piece of land in Northern NY, a chunk on the Grasse River in Massena, and a number of islands in the St. Lawrence River – including Barnhart Island.

The Iroquois, although inspirational in our own form of government, defenders of America in every war since the earliest, and an independent country in their own right, have been given short shrift by the State of New York and the United States. ADK Almanack wishes them the best.


Sunday, June 12, 2005

Come on your honor… everyone’s doing it!

Famous pot smokers aside. Last week, in a second bid to subvert the will of voters in ten states, the Bush Administration got the US Supreme Court to rule that the Feds can prosecute the sick for marijuana crimes when they are legally proscribed cannabis in states that have medical marijuana laws – and they have wasted no time in getting it done. We already know about the high costs of prohibition (especially in the North Country). We’d like to know where the states rights conservatives stand on this one, but we’re aware that the media is in their pocket so it was no surprise that the story quickly faded from public and the tough questions were never asked – or at least never answered.

It will have an impact in Vermont though, and in New York where a half-hearted reform of the draconian Rockefeller Drug Laws last year means that the battle over our last war — the War on Drugs (remember that one?), which has imprisoned millions of Americans and filled North Country jails and prisons with our non-violent neighbors, is far from over. A recent edition of public radio’s To the Point makes a good one – The War on Drugs has become the War on Pot. It only makes sense; people on the political left seem to smoke more pot after all.

A little history:

Draconian: From the Greek King Draco, whose laws were so severe they were said to be written in blood.

Marijuana Act of 1937 – First federal law to limit access to Marijuana via a tax (the original tax stamps like those that used to appear on cigarettes and booze) were recently auctioned off by the Treasury Department. Marijuana was outlawed first in the west (particularly) California and Louisiana.

In Cali (now said to be home to America’s most potent pot) the impetus was the need to eliminate immigrant Mexican labor during the depression – since they were pretty much the only folks around smoking the weed, passing laws outlawing it and then arrested and deporting them was a great way to free up jobs for Okies and other white working poor.

In Louisiana, it was jazz musicians and racism that inspired the right-wing prosecutors to outlaw pot and wage a war against the evils it inspired – mainly that Negro music and it’s decadent dancing, which it was said led to white slavery, black on white rape, and you name it.


Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Historic Crimes

Regular readers know that ADK Almanack likes history, especially since we’re doomed to repeat it. That’s why we simply can’t believe that the powers that be will allow the historic Adirondack Railroad to be ripped up for scrap by corporate killer NL Industries (NCPR Report). Actually, we can believe it. Just take a look around – everywhere there are historic sites destroyed for little profit (if any). On Schroon Lake in the 1970’s the State of New York simply burned down the historic Scaroon Manor, there’s nothing left of that great historic hotel except what remains of the abandoned beach.

Cemeteries really get our blood boiling, like the Old Burying Ground in Keeseville that has been abandoned and vandalized over the years – or the Dresden Station Cemetery on Route 22 in Washington County that has been so neglected and overgrown that while hacking through the brush on a recent visit we noticed a buried stone, completely buried, face down, and when we turned it up, we discovered it was the grave of a Revolutionary War Veteran – we wonder what the graves of Vietnam or Iraq War vets will look like when they become history. » Continue Reading.