Saturday, November 1, 2014

Chaos On An Adirondack Train:
The Case Against Pullman Porter Smith

Pullman Porter Helping Woman circa 1880sWhen the night train to Montreal set out from Utica on April 29, 1931, James E. Smith had already been toiling over the needs and wants of his passengers for many hours. At 29 years old, Smith had been a Pullman porter for about three years. He had done a stint in Pennsylvania and now was employed on the New York Central line of the Pullman Company.

The experience of the Pullman porter was both uncommon yet ordinary. The Pullman Palace Car company hired black men almost exclusively as porters. This practice began under the direction of the founder of the company, George Pullman, after the Civil War. On board a luxurious and comfortable Pullman Car, Pullman porters were expected to be the ideal servants to their well off white passengers. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Forge House History Conclusion: Thomson Years

1870 butvauell Abstract adc from forge company003 - CopyThe Old Forge Company, Thistlethwaite now its president, sold the Forge House to Charles I. Thomson and his son, Raymond E. Thomson in August 1915.  Thistlethwaite would soon establish the Adirondack Development Corporation to which the heavily mortgaged Old Forge Company in January 1916 would transfer remaining unsold tract lots.

The new company would open a store front on today’s Point Park triangle.  Unbelievably, the deed acquired by Thistlethwaite’s company still included the 1871 right to raise the dam three feet that belonged to the state since 1879.  The state certified the dissolution of the Old Forge Company in 1919. » Continue Reading.


Monday, October 27, 2014

The Samuel de Champlain History Center

SamDeChampHistoryCenter“You can’t go home again” is an adage based on the title of a Thomas Wolfe book, but with a different meaning from Wolfe’s original intent. The adage suggests we can’t relive our youth, and in a wider sense can’t recapture what once was. If that’s true, I recently came as close as one can by visiting my hometown for a book-related event. The result was a Mayberry-like evening with a roomful of nice people, and a close-up look at the accomplishments of a dedicated historian seeking to preserve our heritage.

I was raised in the northeast corner of New York State in the village of Champlain, representative of small-town America in the 1950s and 60s. The Champlain Literary Club recently asked me to speak about my books and the milestones our business has achieved during ten years in business as of October 2014. » Continue Reading.


Sunday, October 26, 2014

Mitchell Sabattis, Abenaki Guide and Boatbuilder

Screen Shot 2014-10-20 at 9.17.23 PMWhen I walk the land around Matthew Beach’s original hut and William Wood’s shanty on Raquette Lake’s Indian Point, I imagine the Abenaki guide Mitchell Sabattis pulling into their landings in a canoe or guideboat made by his own hand. Indian Point was a waypoint for many a traveler boating through the Central Adirondacks.

While it is impossible to know how often Sabattis visited those acres, we have written record of at least three occasions: his trips with Joel Tyler Headley in 1844-46, accompanying C. W. Webber in 1849, and an expedition of women who explored the region in 1873 (beautifully told in Barbara McMartin’s book To the Lake of the Skies).

Sabattis guided for my great-great-grandfather George Hornell Thacher in 1862 as he explored the region from a base camp Sabattis had on Blue Mountain Lake’s Crane Point. Even if Thacher and his guide traveled to Raquette Lake however, it’s unlikely they spent a night on Indian Point.  Sabattis maintained a campsite from 1852 to 1877 on Watch Point according to Ken Hawks, who now owns the property. » Continue Reading.


Saturday, October 25, 2014

A Lecture on Wilderness by William Cronon

Giant from Amy's Lookout.  Many new Irene slides.This week I attended the Third Annual Jordahl Lecture, established by the Gaylord Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies in Madison, Wisconsin.

This year’s lecture, intended to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the signing of the Wilderness Act, was given by renowned environmental historian William Cronon. As we ponder revisions to both New York State’s Open Space Conservation Plan and the Adirondack Park State Land Master Plan (SLMP), Cronon’s presentation provides an interesting and useful historical perspective. » Continue Reading.


Friday, October 24, 2014

‘My Collection’ Exhibit Coming to Warrensburgh Museum

Collectibles samplingLocal residents are asked to show off part of their own collections at the Warrensburgh Museum’s Holiday Exhibit, entitled “My Collection.” 

The exhibit, sponsored by the Warrensburgh Historical Society, will run from December 6 through January 14, 2015. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Forge House History: The Forge Company Years

1870 buuell 1897 P418 1 Map Old Forge village026In October 1895, Victor Adams assembled a group of investors together in Little Falls and secured an arrangement with Garmon and Crosby to purchase a 50% interest in the Forge Tract properties. The group’s business plan was to enlarge and improve the Forge House, to build a two-mile railroad from Fulton Chain Station to the Forge House dock and to begin development of the tract into a resort town.  They would eventually also establish a transportation company that would buy the independent public steamers on the lower four lakes.

The name of the syndicate would be The Old Forge Company, often referred to as the Old Forge Improvement Company.  In addition to Garmon, Crosby and Adams, the directors would also include Nelson R. Gilbert, J. Judson Gilbert, Homer P. Snyder and Hadley Jones.  Samuel F. Garmon was the company’s first president and Titus Sheard was a director in the new railroad company.  The company soon completed surveys of the Forge Tract, laid out the first streets named after most of these individuals in Spring 1896 and filed the first village map with the Herkimer County Clerk’s Office. » Continue Reading.


Monday, October 20, 2014

For Joe Bromley, An Arm and A Leg Were Enough

01GorrowBromleyNiagFalls1930Among the motivating factors driving life choices are two that often go hand in hand: inspiration and perspective. People challenged by physical or mental disabilities inspire us by their achievements and provide perspective, as in, “Hey, if you can accomplish all that, maybe I should drop the excuses and try working harder.” In the world of sports, I think of major-league pitcher Jim Abbott, born with no right hand, but who played the field well and pitched a no-hitter, and Tom Dempsey, born with no fingers on his right hand and no toes on his right foot, but became a record-setting kicker in the NFL.

While able-bodied folks can find all sorts of reasons not to attempt something, people like Dempsey and Abbott say, “Why can’t I?” Paradoxically, many see them as handicapped, but they embrace normalcy. And in the North Country, one of the finest examples of that is Joseph Bromley of Ogdensburg.

Bromley was born in October 1908, the sixth child of James and Emma Bromley. When he was just two and a half years old, Joseph was involved in a horrific accident. While left briefly unattended by a sibling, Joe wandered into the road and was struck by an oncoming streetcar. His right arm was severed below the elbow, and his crushed right leg had to be amputated below the knee. » Continue Reading.


Monday, October 20, 2014

Restored Lake George Boathouse Gets Preservation Award

Lake George Historic BoathouseThe Lake George Kayak Company has been awarded a Preservation Award by Adirondack Architectural Heritage (AARCH) for its restoration of an 1880s boathouse on Green Island.

The boathouse now serves as the Lake George Kayak Company’s retail store, selling kayaks, canoes, paddleboards and boating-related gear. The restoration was completed in 2013.

According to Kate Ritter, AARCH’s program director, the awards are presented annually to those who have “undertaken sensitive restorations or rehabilitations and demonstrated long-term stewardship.” » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Harry McDougal: Back When Politics Was Truly Local

Lt Gov Malcolm Wilson, Harry McDougal, NYS Senator Ron Stafford (Lake George Mirror file photo)It may seem hard to believe, but politics were once truly local. A Congressional candidate was nominated by his party only after he had already served his community, usually in local and state offices, where his character and his abilities had been given a chance to reveal themselves.

The erosion of locally-rooted politics has been attributed to the nationalization of congressional races by Newt Gingrich’s Republicans in 1994, to the proliferation of politicized and polarizing radio shows and television networks and to the tides of money from lobbyists and corporations flowing into local races.

Once, even national elections were local, as Harry McDougal, the Republican leader of Essex County for decades, recalled in an interview in the 1960s. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Forge House History: The Garmon And Crosby Years

1880 front porch forge houseP323AEunice B. Lamberton sold the 1,358 acre Forge Tract in 1888 for $10,000 to Dr. Alexander Crosby and Samuel Garmon.

Dr. Crosby was born in Martinsburg in 1836. He began his medical practice in 1862 and moved to Lowville in 1867.  He rapidly built up a large practice and was for many years considered one of the most skilled physicians and surgeons in the state, often called in to testify at criminal cases.  In 1875, Crosby was elected to the State Assembly, was later a Democratic Party state chairman and was on both the State Board of Charities and Lewis County pensioners’ board.  Crosby died in 1911. » Continue Reading.


Sunday, October 12, 2014

Joel Headley:
Among The First To Popularize The Adirondacks

Screen Shot 2014-10-06 at 2.45.55 PMAnd how solemn it is to move all day through a majestic colonnade of trees and feel that you are in a boundless cathedral whose organ notes swell and die away with the passing wind like some grand requiem. Still more exciting is it to lie at midnight by your camp fire and watch the moon sailing up amid the trees or listen to the cry of the loon, wild and lonely, on the wild and lonely lake, or the hoot of the owl in the deep recesses of the forest. – Joel Tyler Headley

Many have probably heard of “Adirondack Murray”, the Reverend William H. H. Murray who wrote Adventures in the Wilderness in 1869.  His book is credited with driving throngs of tourists to escape the cities for the Adirondacks in the latter quarter of the nineteenth century. However, it was Joel Tyler Headley two decades earlier who wrote the seminal book The Adirondack or Life in the Woods in 1849 that brought the first wave of wealthy sports to explore the region. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Forge House History: The Country Hotel Years

1909 forge house from pond_0If any image represents early Fulton Chain history, it is the Forge House atop the elevation overlooking the pond as a king viewing his realm. When the hotel burned in 1924, prominent citizens planned to quickly rebuild it but the era of the big summer hotel had ended, replaced by smaller, shorter stay motoring hotels to cater to the automobile tourist.

Today, its location is a grassy knoll across from the Old Forge Fire Department building, down the street from the Old Forge Hardware store and behind the Forge Hotel sign.  But while the Forge House existed, the traveler was given the name of an individual there who would not fail to provide necessary comforts.  This narrative is about the hotel’s owners, and about the proprietors and managers who usually were not the owners. » Continue Reading.


Monday, October 6, 2014

Historic Saranac Lake Wins Preservation Award

AARCH AwardOn September 29, Historic Saranac Lake was presented an Adirondack Architectural Heritage Award at a luncheon at the Woods Inn in Inlet. The award was granted for the restoration of the Saranac Lake Laboratory as a museum, community space, and organization offices.

“It is a real honor,” Executive Director Amy Catania said in a statement to the press. “Many community members have put in a lot of hard work on the restoration of this special building. Thanks to everyone’s hard work, we are now open as Saranac Lake’s downtown history center, serving thousands of visitors every year from near and far.” » Continue Reading.


Monday, October 6, 2014

Hog-Pen Charley: One for the Record Books

1885HogpenCharleyHdlineHistorically, New York State has long been home to some of the nation’s toughest prisons. More than a century ago, having served 18 years at Sing Sing, 19 at Auburn, or 31 at Clinton marked any man as one tough son-of-a gun. So what could be said about a man who served all three of those sentences? The toughest SOB ever? Not even close. He was a hard case, no doubt, but in time, dedicated recidivism earned him media portrayals as quirky, unusual, and eventually somewhat endearing. It’s doubtful his victims felt that way, but it happens that some criminals gain personas making them far more acceptable than the average crook. Among those was upstate New York’s Hog-Pen Charley. » Continue Reading.


Page 29 of 98« First...1020...2728293031...405060...Last »