Wednesday, July 22, 2009

North Creek Depot Museum Lectures, Events

One of the great gems of the Adirondack region is the North Creek Railroad Station at North Creek in the Town of Johnsburg, Warren County. Listed on the State and National Historic Registers the railroad line hugs the western shore of the Hudson River and includes the restored station, freight, and engine houses currently occupied by the Upper Hudson River Railroad, a sand tower, and a ninety foot turntable.

Throughout the summer they offer an unique series of lectures called “Platform Talks” about the history of the area and its relationship to the railroad. There are an number of other events as well:

July 23 Platform Talk, “Sleeping in the Cellar.” Bert Miner recounts his younger days of hosting skiers.

July 30 Platform Talk, “The Adirondack Peddler.” Milda Burns and Ray Flanigan amuse with tales of the Adirondack peddler.

August 13 Platform Talk “Getting Started in Model Railroading.” Bill Bibby educates us on scenery, scale, and material sources for building your own model train.

August 14 The Depot Museum Hoe Down! Fun-raiser event of dinner and square dancing. Ticket information to be announced.

August 15 10-12pm Spring Chidlren’s Workshop – Allie Rose leads a hands-on demonstration about wind energy and participants will build a wind turbine model. This workshop is free and open to children age 7 and older. Adults are encouraged to attend with their children.

August 20 Platform Talk, “Stories from the field.” Steve Engelhart of Adirondack Architectural Heritage offers his expertise on the architecture of the area.

The North Creek Depot Museum is open Wednesday 1-3pm Thursday & Friday 12-5pm Saturday & Sunday 12-4pm. Call for information about private tours at (518) 251-5842 www.northcreekdepotmuseum.com.


Friday, July 17, 2009

Barrels, Buckets, and Casks: Coopering at Adk Museum

Coopering is the ancient art of making casks, barrels, vats, buckets, and other circular or elliptical wooden vessels bound together by hoops. Historically, wooden barrels were used for the storage and transportation of all sorts of goods. Coopering was a valuable skill. David Salvetti will demonstrate the art of coopering at the Adirondack Museum at Blue Mountain Lake on July 18, 19 and 20, 2009. The
demonstration will be held in the Mark W. Potter Education Center from 10:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m. and is included in the price of general admission.

David Salvetti’s love of woodworking began at age seven – with simple
projects such as birdhouses. In 2005, at the age of fourteen, woodworking became something more. The Salvetti family visited the Adirondack Museum in July of that year. The rustic furniture on exhibit fascinated David. Inspired by what he saw, Salvetti cut a sapling on the family’s property and built a twig chair. Another chair
followed in 2006 – winning “Best in Show” (4-H Youth Division) at the Oswego County Fair. David entered the white birch chair in the 2007 New York State Fair, Adult Arts and Crafts competition – winning another blue ribbon. David’s prize-winning rustic chair is on display at the Adirondack Museum and will become part of the permanent collection.

David Salvetti’s exploration of traditional woodworking techniques has led him to build his own shed, making shingles to cover the structure by hand. He has learned to make watertight wooden buckets without nails, adhesives, or modern sealants. He demonstrates his skills at Fort Ontario State Historic Site in Oswego, N.Y.

Coopering is part of a summer-long series of craft and trade demonstrations at the Adirondack Museum. To see a complete listing, visit the museum’s web site www.adirondackmuseum.org and click on “Special Events.”

Photo: Wooden sap bucket, ca. 1800s. Collection of the Adirondack Museum.


Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Theatrical Exploration of the Champlain Quadricentennial

The Adirondack History Center Museum in Elizabthetown is presenting the annual Bits and Pieces Festival, From the Center of the World: A Celebration of Lake Champlain, beginning Friday, July 17 at 11:00 am. An inter-generational group of actors takes on 400 years of history with reflections on the Quadricentennial. Five production dates are scheduled: three Fridays at 11:00am on July 17, 24, 31 and two Sundays at 4:00pm on July 26 and August 2.

The performance project has been created in collaboration with the Depot Theatre, the Westport Central School and the Westport Heritage Festival. It focuses on seven pivotal moments in Lake Champlain history that have global significance. The moments are depicted through fictional characters using soliloquies to explore their personal connections to each event, the changing landscape, and the curious process of human “discovery.” The production moves the audience through and around the museum. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Anniversary of The Great Adirondack Blowdown of 1995

Today marks the anniversary of one of the worst storms in Upstate New York history. During the early morning hours of July 15, 1995 a series of severe thunderstorms crossed the Adirondacks and much of eastern New York. Meteorologists call the phenomena by the Spanish “Derecho” but locals often refer to the event as the Blowdown of 1995. A similar weather event / blowdown occurred in 1950.

A Derecho is part of a larger family of storms called a Mesoscale Convective System (MCS), a complex of thunderstorms that becomes organized on a scale larger than the individual thunderstorms and which includes phenomenon like lake effect snow. An MCS can sometimes act in ways similar to a hurricane and can produce torrential downpours and high winds. Aside from the remarkable power of the weather event, another unique thing happened – a shift in public policy with regard to salvage logging of public lands. The State’s decision to forgo salvage logging was in stark contrast to federal policies at the time that allowed federal lands to be logged in similar salvage situations. » Continue Reading.


Monday, July 13, 2009

Protecting The Adirondacks: A New Era Begins

After months of discussion and evaluation, the decision was made on Saturday to formally consolidate the Association for the Protection of the Adirondacks (AFPA) with the Residents’ Committee to Protect the Adirondacks (RCPA) and to form a new organization called Protect the Adirondacks. The new organization will continue a better than 100-year history of protecting the Adirondacks so I thought I’d take a moment to take a look at the new group and how it developed historically.

At their annual meeting last Saturday at Heaven Hill Farm outside the Village of Lake Placid, the memberships of both organizations voted in favor of consolidation, which enables the process to move through the final legal steps of incorporation. The membership of the Residents’ Committee voted 83-0 in favor of the consolidation. The membership of the Association voted 111-2 in favor. » Continue Reading.


Sunday, July 12, 2009

Crown Point Pier and Champlain Lighthouse Reopened

Restoration work on the Crown Point Pier and Champlain Memorial Lighthouse has been completed and both facilities are once again open to the public. Restoration work on the pier included reenforcement of the bulkhead and piers, removal of zebra mussels, refurbishing of the metal trusses and decking, repair of the roof — including replacement of broken slate shingles, thorough cleaning of exterior and interior surfaces and placement of new signs.

Work on the lighthouse included restoration of the Rodin sculpture, thorough cleaning and repair of outer stonework and thorough cleaning, resealing and painting of the interior. The Rodin sculpture has not been placed back on the lighthouse, but will be prior to the Quadricentennial Celebration in September. » Continue Reading.


Saturday, July 11, 2009

Adk Museum Presents The Adirondack Mining Village

Mining was once a major industry in northern New York State. Small iron mines and forges appeared along Lake Champlain in the late 1700s. In the 1820s, the industry began to grow rapidly, reaching its peak in the mid-to-late 1800s. The story of mining is much more than minerals found and ores extracted. This Monday, July 13, 2009 Dr. Carol Burke will explore human aspects of Adirondack mining in an illustrated program entitled “The Adirondack Mining Village” at the Adirondack Museum at Blue Mountain Lake.

Part of the museum’s popular Monday Evening Lecture series, the presentation will be held in the Auditorium at 7:30 p.m. There is no charge for museum members. Admission is $5.00 for non-members.

Burke’s presentation reflects an ongoing project that documents accounts of the daily lives or ordinary people who lived and worked in the now abandoned mining villages of Tahawus and nearby Adirondac (known in the 1950s as “The Upper Works”). Dr. Burke will share photographs and recollections of everyday life in these former company towns.

Carol Burke, a Professor at the University of California at Irvine, is a folklorist and journalist whose ethnographic work has produced books that document the lives of Midwestern farm families, female inmates in our nation’s prisons, and most recently, members of the armed services. Six months ago she was embedded with an army unit in northern Iraq.

Dr. Burke spends her summers in the Adirondacks and is currently documenting the everyday life of the once-flourishing mining village of Tahawus. Before joining the faculty at the University of California at Irvine, Professor Burke taught at Vanderbilt University, Johns Hopkins University, and the United States Naval Academy.

The broad story of mining in the Adirondacks is one of fortunes made and lost, of suicide, madness, and ambition, and the opening of one of America’s last frontiers. Mining shaped the physical and cultural landscape of the Adirondack Park for generations. The Adirondack Museum plans to open the completely revitalized exhibit “Mining in the Adirondacks” in 2012 to share this incredible history.

Photo: Adirondack Village, Near the Upper Works. From Benson J. Lossing’s The Hudson, from the Wilderness to the Sea, 1859.


Wednesday, July 1, 2009

"In Search of the Picturesque" at Adirondack Museum

Nineteenth century armchair travelers and well-to-do American tourists eagerly read published travel guides and narratives, which often featured paintings reproduced as engravings. These images helped advance an artist’s reputation and marketability, and also shaped travelers’ expectations of the Adirondack wilderness. The Adirondack Museum‘s Chief Curator Laura Rice will lead visitors in search of the picturesque through the museum’s paintings, prints, rare maps, and photographs, many of which have never been exhibited during an illustrated program entitled “In Search of the Picturesque: Landscape and Tourism in the Adirondacks, 1820-1880” at the Adirondack Museum on Monday, July 6, 2009.

The first offering of the season in the Adirondack Museum’s Monday Evening Lecture series, the presentation will be held in the Auditorium at 7:30 p.m. There is no charge for museum members. Admission is $5.00 for non-members.

Rice will discuss how guidebook authors reinforced visual messages by using painterly language to describe scenes travelers would encounter along a given route. The visual and descriptive imagery promoted the Adirondacks as a public treasure, contributed to a national understanding of wilderness as evidence of God’s hand in creation, and fostered the development of wilderness as a national icon and reflection of the American character.

The Adirondack Museum introduced a new exhibit in 2009, “A ‘Wild, Unsettled Country’: Early Reflections of the Adirondacks,” that showcases paintings, maps, prints, and photographs illustrating the untamed Adirondack wilderness discovered by early cartographers, artists, and photographers.

Laura Rice joined the staff of the Adirondack Museum in 2003. She had previously served as a Curator, Museum Educator, and Consultant at a number of other museums. Ms. Rice holds a Master of Arts degree from the University of Pennsylvania in American Civilization with an emphasis on Museum Studies. She is the author of the award-winning book Maryland History in Prints: 1752 – 1900, a history of the state of Maryland based on selected images in the Maryland Historical Society Print Collection.

Photo: Untitled: Wolf Jaw Mountain, by Horace Wolcott Robbins, Jr., 1863.


Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Adirondack Iron Ore Program in Wilmington

The Wilmington Historical Society will sponsor the program “Adirondack-Champlain Iron: Creator of Boom Towns & Ghost Towns, 1750s-1970s” with guest speaker John Moravek, Associate Professor of Geography, SUNY Plattsburgh. The program will be held at the Wilmington Community Center on Springfield Road in Wilmington, Essex County, on Friday, July 17, at 7 pm. The public is encouraged to attend. Refreshments will be served. For further information, contact Karen Peters at 946-7586 or Merri Peck at 946- 7627.

About the speaker: John Moravek has been on the faculty at SUNY Plattsburgh since arriving in fall semester of 1969. Now an Associate Professor of Geography, he teaches a variety of courses, including Physical Geography, Historical and Cultural Geography of the United States; as well as the History and Cultural Geography of Russia. He has also offered a popular and intensive two-week workshop (a 3-credit course) on the Historical Geography of the Adirondack Region every July for the past 26 years consecutively which he considers a genuine labor of love as an incorrigible “Adirondackophile”. John is also an official Forty-Sixer, having climbed the first 45 mountains solo. His doctoral dissertation, completed in 1976, investigated a number of facets of the history and geography of the Adirondack-Champlain Iron Industry. He has also presented several papers on the topic at professional meetings, with aspirations of writing a book on the topic at some future date. Currently, his publications include a number of Review Essays/Book Critiques on various topics, primarily related to the Adirondack Region.


Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Abenaki Day at The Adirondack Museum

Abenaki is a generic term for the Native American Indian peoples of northern New England, southeastern Canada, and the Maritimes. Members of the Abenaki Watso family will share the traditions, culture, and heritage of their ancestors at an upcoming event at the Adirondack Museum on Saturday, July 11, 2009. These Native Peoples are also known as Wabanaki (Eastern Abenaki – Maine and the Canadian Maritimes) or Wôbanakiak (Western Abenaki – New Hampshire, Vermont, and southeastern Canada). In the Native language Wôbanakiak translates roughly to mean “People of the Dawn.”

A majority of the Watso family who will demonstrate or present at the Adirondack Museum are from the Odanak reserve in the province of Quebec. The Abenaki Nation at Odanak, historically called the St. Francis, is now called the Odanak Band by the Canadian government.

“Abenaki Day” will feature demonstrations of traditional skills from 10:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m. The demonstrations will include: sweet grass and black ash basket making by Barbara Ann Watso; bead work with Priscilla Watso; pounded black ash splint making with John Watso and Martin Gill; and traditional wood carving by Denise Watso.

Rejean Obomsawin will share traditional Abenaki legends that have been passed down by the elders at 11:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. Rejean is a singer, drummer, and guide at the Musee des Abenaki at Odanak.

Jacques T. Watso will offer traditional Abenaki singing and drumming at 10:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m.

Cultural anthropologist Christopher Roy will present a program entitled “Abenaki History in the Adirondacks and in the Adirondack Museum” at 12:30 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. Drawing on the museum’s Abenaki collections, Roy will share the findings of his research on the history and contemporary lives of Abenaki people in the Adirondacks and throughout the Northeast.

Christopher Roy is completing a PhD program at Princeton. Of particular interest to his research are the histories of residence off-reserve, questions of law and belonging, as well as the work of family historians in understanding Abenaki pasts, presents, and futures.

The Watso family has strong ties to the Adirondack region. Their ancestors include Sabael Benedict and his son Elijah, Abenaki men familiar to early settlers and explorers of the region, and Louis Watso an Abenaki man well known in the southern Adirondacks in the latter half of the 19th century.

Descendants Sabael Benedict and Louis Watso lived throughout the region, some as full-time residents and others moving back and forth between villages like Lake George and Saratoga Springs and Odanak, an Abenaki village on the lower St. Francis River in Quebec.

This branch of the Watso family also descends from John and Mary Ann Tahamont, basket makers who spent many summers at Saranac Lake around the turn of the last century.


Tuesday, June 23, 2009

At Wiawaka, A Healing Retreat for Women Vets

For your information comes this press release about a Healing Retreat for Women Vets at Wiawaka Holiday House on Lake George, August 10-12th. Established in 1903, Wiawaka is one of the oldest continuously operating retreats for women in the Unites States. The retreat was established by Mary Fuller a progressive activist for women’s rights who wanted to establish an affordable respite for female immigrants working in the shirt-collar factories, mills and laundries of her native Troy, and Cohoes. Here are the details:

Do you have a wife, a mother or a daughter serving in the military? Today, many people do. Nearly 20 percent of America’s troops in Iraq and Afghanistan are women. They fly planes and helicopters, drive trucks and other equipment along mine-infested highways, and place their lives at risk in equal measure to the men; all this in wars that have the highest rate of post-traumatic stress and suicide of any wars since such data has been collected.

Women in the military are not new; many have served with distinction in Vietnam, Korea, and both World Wars. They wear the scars and medals to prove it. Women have faced not only all the same challenges as men (including living with severe deformities as a result of advances in combat-related care and long separations from loved ones), but the added challenges of potential rape and sexual harassment.

In an effort to support our troops, and most especially the women who have served, Creative Healing Connections, known for its annual Adirondack Healing Retreats for Women Living with Cancer and other Chronic Diseases, has joined with Wiawaka Holiday House, to host a retreat this August for women who have served in the military.

The retreat will be open to women veterans of any branch of the military no matter when they served, be they currently serving, recently finished their service or served in Vietnam or at any other time. The cost is modest with many full and or partial scholarships available through the support of the Charles R. Wood Foundation and Glenn and Carol Pearsall Adirondack Foundation.

“When women veterans come home they need care, a safe place to tell their stories and share their experiences with other women who have experienced the same stresses. Our goal is to provide them that space, to help them build a network with others who have faced similar challenges, and to provide them with an array of techniques to enhance the quality of their lives,” said Fran Yardley, director of Creative Healing Connections, more popularly known as the Adirondack Healing Retreats.

“Wiawaka has terrific facilities,” Yardley continued. “It is located on the shores of Lake George and is very private. It was founded in 1903 by women for women ­ it has a long history of serving women – it provides women a safe and welcoming environment, a retreat that is beautiful, serene and historic ­ the energy of generations of women is present in every fiber of the place and the sounds of the waters lapping the shores and the summer breeze clears the soul. It is a magic place.”

Creative Healing Connections, Inc. will bring to the retreat its seasoned faculty which has had great success in using the arts, nature, movement and listening skills to help women develop support networks, share their stories and gain techniques they can use to enhance their life. Specialists who have extensive experience working with veterans will join their faculty.

“Our retreat is for women who have recently served as well as those who have served in the first Gulf War, Vietnam, Korea and other military situations,” said Yardley, “Indeed we seek a range of experiences. We and Wiawaka have received underwriting support to insure that any person wishing to attend can afford to do so.”

Women veterans wishing to register may go to www.creativehealingconnections.org/vetretreat.html or the Wiawaka
web site: www.wiawaka.org or contact Wiawaka Director, Christine Dixon, (518) 203-3101, director@wiawaka.org.


Monday, June 22, 2009

Summer Events at the Adirondack Museum

Summer is a great time to check out the Adirondack Museum – here are a few events you won’t want to miss. You can see all the events we write about here at Adirondack Almanack by clicking the events link at right.

Paddle Making Classes with Caleb Davis
Friday, July 10 or Friday, August 7
Make your own traditional cherry or white ash paddle in a one-day class.
9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. each day, including a 2-hour break for lunch on your own, and the chance to explore the museum. Limited space, pre-registration is required. $100 non-refundable fee due at registration. 518-352-7311 ext. 115.

Brown Bag Lunches
12:00 – 1:30 p.m. To reserve a space, please call 518-352-7311 ext. 181.

July 13 – “Mapping in the Adirondacks” – Join Librarian Jerry Pepper for a rare behind the scenes tour of the museum’s historic map collection.

August 3 – “A Perfect Fit: An Introduction to Adirondack Clothing” – Associate Curator Laura Cotton offers a presentation about Adirondack clothing from the museum’s textile collection.

August 31 – “Mining in the Adirondacks” – Chief Curator Laura Rice introduces the people and places of Adirondack mining through historic photographs, objects, and archaeology.

Member-Only Field Trips
Act fast to reserve your spot – spaces still remain for the following trips:

August 6 – Newton Falls – Tour one of the oldest and largest paper mills in the Adirondacks.

August 29 – St. Regis Lake – Paddle and explore St. Regis Lake once known as “the St. James of the Wilderness,” a reference to the stately Court of Queen Victoria.

September 2 – Dannemora Correctional Facility – A fascinating look at the third oldest prison in New York State.

For reservations please call 518-352-7311 ext. 181.

Visit the Special Events section of the museum’s web site at www.adirondackmuseum.org for the most up-to-date information about member-only programs and all events at the museum.


Monday, June 22, 2009

Santa’s Workshop Turns Back the Clocks

Santa‘s Workshop opens for their 60th season this Saturday (June 27th) with some prices from the past. Between the hours of 11am-1pm on opening day Mother Hubbard’s Cupboard will be serving up 25 cent cokes and 25 cent hot dogs (admission to the park is additional). Santa’s Workshop is open 5 days per week June 27th-September 7th from 10am-4pm with additional hours during the fall and winter months. Check their website for dates and times at www.northpoleny.com.


Monday, June 22, 2009

William F. Fox, Father of Modern NY Forest Rangers

Last week the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) held a ceremony to honor William F. Fox, the “father” of the state’s modern-day forest rangers, on the 100th anniversary of his death.

Fox was born in 1840 in Ballston Spa, Saratoga County, and graduated from Union College in Schenectady in 1860. He served in the Civil War as Captain, Major and then Lieutenant Colonel in the 107th New York Volunteers and later wrote a number of books on both the Civil War and forestry.

Fox’s 1902 History of the Lumber Industry in the State of New York, written under the auspicious of Gifford Pinchot, is considered the first authoritative work on the logging industry in New York. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Canadian Guns on Mohawk Land, 400 Years Later

The border closing this week at the Cornwall bridge, prompted by Akwesasne Mohawks protesting the Canadian government’s new policy to arm border agents, offers a distant echo of the unwelcome introduction of firearms to Mohawk lands in northern New York from north of the border 400 years ago.

According to David Hackett Fischer’s book Champlain’s Dream, Samuel de Champlain’s incursion into the valley that now bears his name was in fact a military campaign to confront Mohawks, who had been disrupting trade routes along the St. Lawrence river. At the end of July 1609, Champlain and two French soldiers allied with a coalition of northern Indians — Montagnais, Algonquin and Huron — ventured deep into Mohawk territory, engaging a superior force of the legendary warriors at the southern end of the lake.

Champlain and his French soldiers brought to the seemingly lopsided battlefield the latest advances of European ammunition: the arquebus, a short shoulder-fired gun. Champlain packed his firearm with multiple balls. By Fischer’s account, Champlain’s first shot brought down two Mohawk chiefs and a third warrior. The two flanking soldiers fired into the Mohawk ranks, felling a third chief. The warriors left the field, pursued by the gun.