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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Kid next to water
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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Wednesday, February 2, 2022

Inlet’s Neodak Lodge 1901-1958

At the August 2017 Inlet Historical Society’s Annual Membership Meeting at The Woods Inn, I presented a program about The Neodak Lodge. My research was augmented by Kathy Tortorello, Diane Tyrell and Marylou Arps, granddaughters of Roy and Emma Rogers, who generously provided me with Rogers family information and photographs. That program and its supporting content became the foundation for this history. Also, this is an updated version of the article printed afterwards in the Adirondack Express.

neodak lodge

What is the origin of the word Neodak? Three authorities use the term. Two indicate it as the first part of a Cayuga (Iroquois Nation) town name, Neodakheat, in western New York. The third considered the name as typical usage of Native American-sounding names in the Adirondacks, giving Nehasane Park and Neodak Lodge as examples.

A 1927 account about the New Neodak Hotel claimed that Native Americans in the distant past routinely landed at the Head of Fourth Lake and named it “Neodak”, meaning “good location” or “head of the lake.”  According to a 1941 report, sixteen Rochesterians representing the “Cayuga Tribe” made the “first” of planned annual pilgrimages to the burial ground of Chief Neodakis (?), “famous Adirondack tribal leader of the 18th century.”  Following a ceremony and a steak dinner, the group concluded festivities with an evening “indian circle” council fire, featuring stories, songs and “tribal games.”

Later, a traditional Neodak Lodge event would have a “chief Neodakis” meet the steak roast boat at an Eighth Lake location where a ceremony included the taking of a volunteer female guest as an “indian wife.”   Participants sang and danced around a large tree and the Neodak staff treated them to a wonderful feast. Then, wearing headdresses and paint on their faces, they returned on the Osprey to Sixth Lake Dam where they were transported to the Neodak.

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Monday, January 31, 2022

AARCH presents three virtual presentations

poke-o-moonshine fire towerAARCH is excited to announce that we will host THREE upcoming virtual webinars exploring a variety of topics and themes. All these programs are FREE and open to the public, and will feature a presentation followed by a Q&A period with attendees via Zoom. Pre-registration for each program is required.

First up on Tuesday, February 8 is Poke-O-Moonshine & Adirondack Fire Towers. Our friend David Thomas-Train, coordinator of the Friends of Poke-O-Moonshine, will share a brief history of Adirondack fire towers, the devastating fires that led to their construction, the evolution of fire tower design, and a detailed history of preservation and restoration at Poke-O-Moonshine Fire Tower.

David will also share more on the Friends’ recent and ongoing trail rehabilitation efforts. This event is co-sponsored by our friends at the NYS Chapter of the Forest Fire Lookout Association (FFLA).

To REGISTER, click HERE.

 

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Friday, January 21, 2022

A look back at the Eagle Bay Hotel, 1897-1945, Fourth Lake

The Eagle Bay Hotel on Fourth Lake opened in June 1897 and operated until it burned on August 7, 1945. On the former Hotel grounds today is Eagle Bay Village, formerly the Eagle Bay Villas. At its demise, the Hotel was part of a group of large, popular early 20th century hotels that included The Arrowhead, The Wood, Rocky Point Inn, Holls Inn and Neodak Lodge on the shores around the Head of Fourth Lake. Only The Wood, now The Woods Inn, remains.

fourth lake

This history is based not only on my research, but also the files of the Goodsell Museum, and information in books such as God’s Country and Fourth Lake Early Camps and Hotels.  Looking at the Hotel’s knoll in Eagle Bay from a boat, it is hard to picture the Hotel’s structures that served Fulton Chain guests for almost fifty years.

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Monday, January 17, 2022

This day in Adirondack Almanack history: Boreas Pond

boreau pondA look back at some of the top stories from five years ago, when the Boreas Pond land classification dominated the headlines:

Boreas Ponds debate: The Adirondack Park Agency held public hearings on Boreas Ponds at eight different locations around the state in November and December. Hundreds of people spoke, offering a potpourri of opinions. But one constant was a sea of green T-shirts bearing the slogan “I Want Wilderness.” READ MORE

‘What is Wilderness’, commentary by Dave Olbert: What is Wilderness, Wild Forest, Primitive, and so on as we apply these terms to our Adirondack Park? They are labels we give to parcels of land within a line drawn on a map. These terms only regulate what we can and can’t do within the corresponding boundaries on the lands that all New Yorkers own. READ MORE

More on the classification: Ethan Winter writes to urge the APA to reject the classification alternatives it has proposed in lieu of a designation for the Boreas Tract that ensures uncompromised Wilderness and a buffer of at least one mile for the Boreas Ponds. READ MORE

Boreas Ponds photo taken by Phil Brown, June 2016


Sunday, January 16, 2022

Lake George Historical Association awarded grants to support 2022 programming

Lake George Historical Association

In 2021, the Lake George Historical Association (LGHA) was awarded the following grants for implementation in 2022:

  • The Lake Champlain Basin Program (LCBP) awarded the LGHA $7,500 for a 2022 Champlain Valley National Heritage Partnership (CVNHP) Conservation Community Grant to the Lake George Historical Association for its “Called by the Water” room. This grant provides the LGHA with the capacity to reformat content interpreting the cultural, historical and recreational aspects of the lake itself, including a panel which focuses on the Clean Water Act (2022 is the 50th Anniversary of the act) and how Lake George pollution is regulated. Six large interpretive retractable exhibit panels will be on display in the room for summer season 2022 and will become available for schools and historical venues, including libraries, for loan as a travelling exhibition.
  • The Alfred Z. Solomon Foundation has awarded the Lake George Historical Association $15,000.00 toward the enhancement of a children’s interactive exhibition installation in the “Called by the Water” room.
  • The LGHA is sponsoring a Touba Family Foundation grant for $2500 to support area musician Hui Cox to create a musical piece with a video based on the climate countdown clock message of urgency about the climate crisis. An opening rehearsal performance will be produced at the LGHA museum in late spring/early summer 2022 and at a local Glens Falls venue.

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Friday, January 7, 2022

Raising A Glass! From an antique bottle

cut bottles

Celebrating my Adirondack Bottle Diving adventure forward into 2022

This past year brought what appeared to be an exciting culmination point in my three-year Adirondack bottle diving adventure.

First, I discovered a one- of- a- kind vintage Saranac Lake “F.M. Bull” glass & wood stopper pharmacy bottle. Then, Historic Saranac Lake Museum’s Archivist/Curator, Chessie Monks-Kelly, and I joined forces in an endeavor that culminated not only in that F.M. Bull bottle being on display in their pharmacy bottle collection, but also in twenty-five more of my antique Saranac Lake “Collins Brothers” bottles being made available in a very successful fundraising effort through Historic Saranac Lake’s museum store.

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Kid next to water

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