Sunday, October 2, 2005

Lake George Cruise Boat Ethan Allen Tragedy

Ethan AllenThe 40-foot tour boat Ethan Allen has capsized on Lake George. It happened at 3 pm; 49 passengers were on board.

Update: The Associated Press is reporting 20 were killed, making it the deadliest such tragedy in the history of Lake George and the Adirondack Region. We’ve been told that the emergency room at Glens Falls Hospital was overwhelmed and forced to send patients to Saratoga Hospital. The AlbanyEye is reporting on the reporting. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, September 28, 2005

RIP: Barbara McMartin

Long time Adirondack resident, advocate, historian, and guide-book writer Barbara McMartin has died (more). She will be missed. The Adirondack Almanack owes a great debt to her rigorus study and appreciation of our region.


Sunday, August 28, 2005

Adirondack Tops Supermarket Update

Adirondack Almanack reported on the Tops issue early. The latest from Champlain has Price Chopper moving in, but apparently not in time.

The [Tops] Champlain grocery’s lease with Pomerleau Real Estate of Burlington expires Oct. 1.

“We’re trying to get them to stay a little longer,” said Champlain Village Mayor Jeffrey Moore, hoping to have that grocer remain until Price Chopper opens next spring.

Ticonderoga looks out of luck. Elizabethtown may not be so lucky either (if that’s what you call getting a mega-regional chain in the place of a mega-international chain). You’ve got to hand it to the Press-Republican for working this story, especially considering all the serious news they have to deal with. Even if they don’t quite get it:

If Grand Union couldn’t make local operations profitable and Tops is looking for a way out of town, what’s to offer hope that another chain would come in? And, if not a chain, what local merchant would want to take on the responsibility for just one community?

Who do they suppose supplied these towns before the mega-marts?

This is a great opportunity to point readers to Dead Malls online. Wouldn’t it be great if folks near some of these dying strip malls could post the photos and give some details?


Thursday, August 25, 2005

Are the Adirondacks in for big snow this winter?

Apparently, according to recent studies: “The Great Lakes of North America, the planet’s largest concentration of fresh water, are thawing earlier each spring, according to an analysis of ice break-ups dating back to 1846.” Could it also mean a later freeze and more lake effect snow for our region? Wouldn’t it be nice if we had a local media to explore this trend?

The latest Lake George freezes according to the Warren County Department of Public Works (full data pdf):

February 29, 1966
February 10, 1983
February 8, 1950
February 7, 1988
February 5, 1953

Years that Lake George did not freeze:

1918-1919
1990-1991
1994-1995
1996-1997
1997-1998
1998-1999
2000-2001
2001-2002

Largest single snowfall (Warren County):

38″ January 25-27, 1986
22″ February 16, 1958
22″ February 14-15, 1950
22″ March 3, 1994
21″ March 5, 2001
20″ February 4, 1961
20″ March 13, 1993


Monday, August 22, 2005

Fun in Minerva

Sometimes camping can be fun, sometimes not.


Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Adirondack and New York State Map Round-Up

Ever since Alan McLeod (host of A Good Beer Blog) turned us on to NYCO’s map of upstate bloggers, (and yeah, he likes maps too) and its recently inspired CNY ecoBlog’s local ecology news map, we’ve been wanting to do a really cool map round-up – so here goes:

If you don’t have Google Earth yet – you are missing out. Terra Server is great for a pay site that’s slow but provides nice printing capabilities, but Google Earth is just plain cool. The detail is amazing, just zoom in to Lake George and take a look at the sedimentation and you’ll see what we mean. Will this level of satellite photography and mapping eventually let us discover all those illegal camps and illicit dumps as well? We can only hope so – of course if we can see the world from space with a few clicks, can you imagine what big brother is doing?

It’s really something that Google Maps can give us a good idea of who dies first in a nuclear attack, but we’re more interested in the old stuff right? So here is:

And More Generally:

Yeah… maps are neat-o.



Suggested Reading

The Adirondack Atlas


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.