Continuing my hikes and bushwhacks to various peaks in the Adirondacks and exploring their history, I paid a visit to Coon Mountain in the Town of Westport, Essex County. From the trailhead located off a dirt road called Halds Road, I made the short, 0.7-mile hike along the leaf-littered trail to the bare-rock lookout point. From the lookout, I found a nice view of Lake Champlain and North West Bay (below), and the Green Mountains of Vermont across the lake. I should note that the true summit of Coon Mountain is about 0.25-miles north-northwest of the lookout point and requires a bushwhack to get to.
The Department of Environmental Conservation has proposed that the ultimate removal of Debar Lodge from the Debar Mountain Wild Forest in Duane will require a full Environmental Impact Statement, or EIS. The scope of that EIS has been out for public comment on the Adirondack Park Agency’s website.
DEC considers the following proposed mitigation for the Lodge’s removal: reclassification of 41-acres where the Lodge is located from Wild Forest to an Intensive Use Day Use Area to become a “recreation hub” involving expanded parking; pavilions; picnicking; bathrooms; trail development; and exhibits. DEC appears to believe that the more intensive the recreational use allowed at the former Lodge location, the faster folks will forget that the Lodge ever existed. I doubt that is the case.
By Diane Parmeter Wills, vice regent of the Saranac Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR)
As of 10:15 this morning, November 17, 2020, the Battle of Valcour-Benedict Arnold monument on Route 9 south of Plattsburgh, erected in 1928 by the Saranac Chapter of the DAR, is in the protective hands of Doug McCabe of the DEC and CCHA Past President Roger Harwood waiting for reinstallation at the Peru Dock as the centerpiece of the historic half ship’s wheel designed by the DEC.
The COVID-19 pandemic has led to unprecedented worldwide societal and economic instability. We’re facing an astonishing loss of human life and unprecedented challenges to public health, economies at every level, food systems, employment, and education. And global extreme poverty is rising for the first time in more than 20 years.
While nations everywhere struggle to prevent the further spread of the virus, developing a Covid-19 vaccine has, apparently, become the number one priority in the world right now. Several candidate vaccines are in development, including a few that are currently in phase 3 trials in the US. The first two were halted briefly after safety incidents, but the FDA has since allowed them to continue. The results are promising.
HISTORIC PRESERVATION: A proposal to take down the Debar Lodge as part of proposed management changes to the more than 88,000-acre Debar Wild Forest Area in Franklin County, has drawn some attention. Gwen Craig’s story was the top-read article in the Explorer this past week. READ IT
As the Lodge is a 1940 Adirondack camp on the State and National Register of Historic Places, historic preservation organizations have rallied around it. See this commentary from AARCH that ran this week in the Almanack. From the Almanack archive, Peter Bauer digs into the “historic” classification of buildings in the Forest Preserve in a three part series that ran on the Almanack in 2018. The first dealt with buildings used for administrative purposes and the effort to retain the inner Gooley Club. The second focused on buildings that are classified as Historic and how this group of buildings is growing. The third deals with public residential use through a formal lodging network.
From 2012, Explorer editor Phil Brown looks at dams in the wilderness, and whether the state should preserve of take them out.
A few years ago, I added a short history of Balm of Gilead Mountain, located in the Town of Johnsburg on the eastern side of Thirteenth Lake. While revisiting the peak with a couple of folks yesterday, I found more questions coming up that were not addressed in my short historical profile (which I had added to my larger profile of Peaked Mountain). I decided to make Balm of Gilead Mountain its own historical profile and elaborate more on its history, especially its name origin.
Historian and author Philip Terrie has written an article for Adirondack Explorer about an advisory group that issued its findings in a report 50 years ago, with over 180 recommendations. Much came from that effort, including the creation of the Adirondack Park Agency. As Terrie writes:
“A half century ago, on the 15th of December, 1970, Harold Hochschild presented a substantial document to Nelson Rockefeller. Hochschild was a multi-millionaire industrialist, a seasonal resident of Blue Mountain Lake, and the founder of the Adirondack Museum. Rockefeller was the governor of New York. The document was the final report of the Temporary Study Commission on the Future of the Adirondacks (TSC), appointed by Rockefeller in 1968 and chaired by Hochschild during the final year of its investigations and public meetings and the composition of its final report. The result of the confluence of these two powerful figures and of the document Hochschild handed to Rockefeller was the Adirondack Park Agency and the beginning of the modern era of Adirondack history.”
Read the article and then weigh in here. How did the Temp Study Commission change the way we view and manage the park? What kinds of things should leaders and elected officials be focusing on in the next 50 years?
Photo: Former NYS Gov. Nelson Rockefeller signing legislation/file photo.
New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) has released a Draft Generic Environmental Impact Statement (DGEIS) that calls for the removal of the historic lodge and other outbuildings. AARCH has advocated for the preservation and public enjoyment of this historic site for more than 15 years and has developed multiple alternatives for the site that are legal and compatible with its Forest Preserve setting. That NYSDEC has so completely and thoughtlessly dismissed these alternatives flies against its obligations under the State Historic Preservation Act and sections of Environmental Conservation Law.
Libraries and other organizations plan their online story projects using free OurStoryBridge tools
“OurStoryBridge: Connecting the Past and the Present,” released at www.ourstorybridge.org on Sept. 29, has received national interest beyond the original expectations of its creators. Based on this interest, OurStoryBridge organizers hope to help New York state libraries and other organizations use this model to create their own audio story projects in 2021.
Shown here: a screen shot from the “Adirondack Community” online story project: myadirondackstory.org
Last week’s Dexter Lake article covered a decade or two of turmoil near St. Regis Falls around the turn of the century. This week, we return to Dexter Lake eighty years on…
Media coverage of Orrando P. Dexter’s 1903 murder case raged on for quite some time, with national newspapers ‘feasting on the social conflict’ and local editors, worried about the negative impact on Adirondack Tourism, tried to defend the North Country and its people. As the unsolved murder case slowly faded from the headlines, Dexter Lake once again returned to its quiet former self and all was quiet on the lake for decades. The estate underwent numerous changes in use. It had been a summer camp for boys, sportsman’s hotel, St. Lawrence University research center, and most recently a private residence.
In honor of Veteran’s Day, Fort Ticonderoga will be expressing their appreciation for our servicemen and women on Saturday November 14. The day features a live reenactment of the American Army at Ticonderoga as its soldiers looked forwards towards uncertainty after the defeat of the British on October 28, 1776.
Through a dramatic recreation of living history vignettes, visitors will see army officers thank the soldiers for their service and persuade them to reenlist. The soldiers’ life and historic trades programs will highlight the preparations for soldiers marching to General Washington’s aid and the defense of Ticonderoga in the New Year.
This event showcases the efforts which led to the liberty and independence of our nation, allowing us to defend it for generations to come. Virtual visitors from around the globe may tune into Facebook Live as well to watch the dramatic recreation of moments from the American Army at Ticonderoga throughout the day.
“This living history event will highlight the American Army’s trials at Ticonderoga and reflect on the sacrifices which led to victory and independence,” said Beth L. Hill, Fort Ticonderoga president & CEO. “Our commitment to bringing the dramatic and real story of our past to life through unforgettable programs such as the Continue in the Service…and Save their Country living history event is an opportunity to share with our visitors the importance of Ticonderoga in the founding of America. The digital component allows viewers and supporters from across the globe to experience this event from the comfort of their homes.”
Highlighted programming includes guided tours, on-going historic trades programs, and weapons demonstrations. The full visitor schedule can be found at www.fortticonderoga.org.
North Country Community College, along with Paul Smith’s College and the Zonta Club of the Adirondacks are co-sponsoring a free virtual screening of “Without a Whisper – Konnon:Kwe.”
Telling the untold story of how indigenous women influenced early suffragists in the fight for freedom and equality, the film is by Akwesasne resident Katsitsionni Fox. The film will be available for viewing November 9-15, and a question and answer session with Fox will take place on November 12 at 7 p.m.
Back in 1848 before the first women’s rights convention in Seneca Falls, European colonial women severely lacked rights, while the Haudenosaunee women had strong political and spiritual authority in every aspect of their lives. Communication between early colonial suffragists and Haudenosaunee women in New York State contributed to shaping their thinking, laying the groundwork for the struggle for equality to come.
“Without a Whisper – Konnon:Kwe” Follows Louise Herne- Mohawk Bear Clan Mother, and Professor Sally Roesch Wagner as they explain the narrative about the origins of women’s rights in the united states.
Murder in the Adirondack wilderness is rare; unsolved murders even more so. After more than a century, the mysterious death of Orrando P. Dexter continues to be a topic of conversation and is part of the region’s legacy that perplexes and mystifies local residents and visitors alike.
Dexter Park is a private preserve, located five miles from the northern border of the Adirondack Park, near St. Regis Falls, about 37 miles northwest of Saranac Lake. The rich history of this property began in the late nineteenth century when Dexter, a wealthy New York attorney, purchased nearly 10,000 acres surrounding the pristine, 200-acre East Branch Pond.
In the late 1800s, Dexter constructed a $50,000 Adirondack reproduction of the German artist Albrecht Dürer’s Nuremberg home and named it Sunbeam Lodge. He built a guesthouse (in which no one ever stayed,) a boathouse, barn, carriage house, and several other outbuildings, and renamed the East Branch Pond after himself. Like many other owners of exclusive Adirondack preserves, he posted and fenced in his entire property.
A new series on Showtime starring Ethan Hawke as abolitionist John Brown prompted me to dig into the Almanack archive for articles about Brown. (And don’t miss scholar/writer Amy Godine’s virtual Grange Hall talk tomorrow night about the historic statue of Brown at his Lake Placid farm.)
Here are a few gems:
- His last days: 2009 marked the 150th anniversary of Brown’s anti-slavery raid on Harpers Ferry, Virginia, his subsequent execution and the return of his body to North Elba. That fall, Almanack founder John Warren penned a series of articles about Brown’s last days.
- Brown’s widow: All about Mary Ann Day Brown, John’s wife and Washington County native.
- Adirondacker Hall of Fame: Tim Rowland on why John Brown gets top billing in list of famous Adirondackers.
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