Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Henry Knox’s “Noble Train” of Artillery Event Saturday

Noble Train Begins 1Visitors to Fort Ticonderoga can discover the story of Henry Knox’s “Noble Train” of artillery at an upcoming living history event, Saturday, December 7, from 10 am – 4 pm. The event will feature a program highlighting Henry Knox’s arrival to Fort Ticonderoga and recreate the beginning of the epic feat that ultimately forced the British evacuation from Boston on March 17, 1776.

The siege of Boston, April 19, 1775 – March 17, 1776 was the opening phase of the American Revolutionary War in which New England militiamen, who later became part of the Continental Army, surrounded the town of Boston, Massachusetts, to prevent movement by the British Army garrisoned within. In November 1775, Washington sent a 25 year-old bookseller-turned-soldier, Henry Knox, to bring heavy artillery that had been captured at Fort Ticonderoga to Boston. » Continue Reading.


Monday, December 2, 2013

The Saga of Albany Jim (Part One)

1A Big Jim BradyThis is not a story about Diamond Jim Brady (1856‒1917), who, during America’s Gilded Age, was a flamboyant, legendary businessman and philanthropist with an appetite for diamonds and other jewels. It is instead about Big Jim Brady, who, during America’s Gilded Age, was known for his own type of philanthropy, had an affinity for jewels, and was a legendary figure—as the handsomest and coolest of crooks.

Big Jim is a tough subject to tackle. From a young age, he was cool, slick, and secretive about his activities, leaving an intermittent and very difficult path to trace. Adding to the challenge—4 different ages applied to him spanning 24 years, 4 birth sites, and 4 aliases, besides the many identities he briefly “borrowed” from others. And just for good measure, top it off with three other well-known Jim Bradys from the same era.

Thomas Byrnes, one of the greatest police detectives in American history, wrote that Brady was a native of Troy, New York. He did have close friends and criminal consorts in that area, and family as well. One of his nicknames was “Albany Jim,” leading many to believe he was from Albany. Others placed his birth at Fairfield in northern Vermont. At any rate, he frequently spent time in the North Country. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Anthony Hall: When The Media Fail, The Public Loses

Article 14, Section 1 - croppedSince November 5, when voters approved an amendment to the state constitution to permit a mining company to mine 200 acres of Forest Preserve lands, we have learned much more about the proposition than we knew before the vote.  We always knew that the company proposed to mine the Forest Preserve, and everyone, proponents and opponents alike, thought it at least noteworthy that two environmental protection groups dedicated to maintaining the integrity of the constitutional clause that states that Forest Preserve lands will remain “Forever Wild,” supported the proposition.

But we did not know that the state officials who were lobbying the legislature to place the proposal on the ballot were unaware that the mining company already had access to a second mine on its own land, which it has not yet begun to utilize. We did not know that the company was spending at least half a million dollars to win passage of the proposition. And that’s not including the thousands of dollars it donated to the campaigns of Senator Betty Little, who sponsored the bill that put the proposition on the ballot. » Continue Reading.


Monday, November 25, 2013

Lawrence Gooley: My Dad Lives On

Ronald GooleySix days ago, I stood staring at an open casket, eyes locked on the face of my father. The funeral home had suddenly become familiar territory: Mom, at age 92, died just 15 days before Dad, who was 89. For more than a decade prior, my wife Jill and I saw them morph from my parents into what can only be described as our best friends.

During that time, about 500 of our weekly Game Days cemented an unexpected bond and left us weak with laughter. Each session was like four teenagers gathering for hours of teasing and repartee. As with any game, Mom focused on winning, but I was there to socialize. We always had a ball.

We each experience things differently, and for me, Dad’s wake was unique. Jill and I arrived early, and for a half hour, we were there in solitude. Jill sat off to the side, crying quietly and feeling guilty for not standing there and comforting me. But it wasn’t just my loss. For a long time, they had been her best and closest friends. And besides, I didn’t need comforting. I was lost in the past. » Continue Reading.


Thursday, November 21, 2013

State Nears Decision In Railroad Debate

MAPUPDATEState officials are nearing a decision on whether to open the management plan for a railroad corridor that runs through Adirondack wilderness.

The future of the corridor has been the subject of public debate for a few years. At issue is whether the rails should be removed to create a multi-use recreational trail.

The state Department of Environmental Conservation and Department of Transportation held meetings in September to gather input from the public. On Wednesday, DEC Commissioner Joe Martens said staff at both agencies have been reviewing and evaluating hundreds of comments.

Martens said a decision is not too far off.  “It’s weeks, not months away, I’m hoping,” he told Adirondack Almanack. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Become Part of the Local Underground Railroad

Underground_Railroad_Experience_Poster1This Saturday my family and six of my son’s friends will be celebrating his birthday by becoming part of the Underground Railroad. It won’t be the typical birthday party, but it is the one that my son wants to share with his friends. Presented by the Pok-O-MacCready Outdoor Education Center and the Underground Railroad Historical Association, the North County Underground Railroad Experience will be held rain, snow or shine at the Willsboro 1812 Homestead Museum on November 23 from 6-9 pm. This trip through local history is a mere $5 per person.

Participants will play the roles of escaped slaves while the Pok-O-MacCready staff plays the roles of bounty hunters, abolitionists and marshals. According to Brian DeGroat, Director of the Outdoor Education Center, the event is geared to children ages 10 and older due mainly to the serious issues regarding slavery and gearing the lecture to an older audience. » Continue Reading.


Monday, November 18, 2013

Benjamin Haynes, North Country Architect

BWH 1st Presb ChurckNo matter how long a life lasts, the residue left behind is often fleeting, and within a generation or so, most of us are largely forgotten. But it’s also true that every life has a story, and many of them are worth retelling. I often glean such subject matter from obituaries, or from gravestones as I walk through cemeteries. A tiny snippet of information stirs the need to dig for more, perhaps revealing unusual or remarkable achievements and contributions.

A recent example involves Benjamin Wood Haynes, a native of Westford, Vermont, who lived and worked in northern New York in the latter half of the 1800s. Intriguing to me was a reference to him as a “builder,” and so the digging began, yielding some impressive nuggets. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Era of Private Sportmen’s Clubs Ends

gooley-club-600x357As I write this, the debate is continuing to rage over how much motorized access should be allowed on former Finch, Pruyn lands sold to the state, but regardless of the decision, the age of private hunting and fishing clubs on those lands is quietly drawing to a close.

We’re in the middle of a ten-year slide to oblivion for the iconic Gooley Club, the Polaris Mountain Club, and others, but this is a significant year in that slide. As of a year ago, there were thirty-three clubs leasing land from the Nature Conservancy, which bought the Finch, Pruyn properties in 2007 in the most significant land acquisition since the creation of the Adirondack Park. Of those, twenty-three have or had camps, as in permanent structures, on their lease-holdings. A few of those have already folded operation. More will follow year by year as doomsday approaches, until, by September 30, 2018, every vestige of those camps will be gone at owner expense, all leases will end, and an Adirondack way of life will slip into history. Regardless of how the lands are classified and managed, they will become wholly public lands. » Continue Reading.


Saturday, November 9, 2013

New Book: When Men and Mountains Meet

when men and mtns meet 001Glenn Pearsall’s first book, Echoes in These Mountains: Historic Sites and Stories Disappearing in Johnsburg, an Adirondack Community (Pyramid Publishing, 2008), was well received for including the first documentary evidence that famed Civil War photographer Mathew Brady was indeed born in Johnsburg. Now Pearsall has brought forth When Men and Mountains Meet (Pyramid Publishing, 2008), subtitled “Stories of Hope and Despair in the Adirondack Wilderness after the American Revolution.”

“The story of the Adirondacks is more than the history of great camps, guide boats and environmental protectionism. It is, ultimately, the story of a people and their relationship to the land,” Pearsall begins the book. He calls this a book of cultural history, and it is, but it also draws much from environmental history, although more in the vein of “on the ground historians” like William Cronon and Alfred Crosby than the political approaches of Roderick Nash or Frank Graham. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Celebrating An Adirondack Veterans Day

St Lawrence County Flag RockSadly, Veterans Day doesn’t seem to get the press that Halloween does. Yes, I realize it doesn’t come with candy or ring the doorbell dressed up like a ninja. Instead it quietly rolls around each November 11th.

Celebrated first as Armistice Day to commemorate the November 11, 1918 truce ending World War I, the name was changed in 1954 after World War II and the Korean War to honor all American veterans of wars.  So besides the individual town celebrations to remember those veterans that made the ultimate sacrifice and gave their lives as well as those that continue to serve, here are three ideas to say thank you. » Continue Reading.


Sunday, November 3, 2013

Dave Gibson: Vote Yes on Prop 4

Raquette LakePerhaps I first heard of the Township 40 disputed land titles during the Adirondack Park Centennial year, 1992. It was probably that fall during a Raquette Lake cruise on the WW Durant with Capt. Dean Pohl. I recalled the issues when canoeing on the lake later that decade. My friend Dan and I paddled Raquette Lake, took the Marion River Carry en route through the Eckford Chain of Lakes. I was back paddling on Raquette Lake through some high winds and waves when our mentor Paul Schaefer died in July, 1996.

I felt terribly that I was not with Paul when he died, but consoled myself with the knowledge that he would have certainly approved of where I was at the time he died, paddling into the teeth of the wind to reach a quiet bay on this great Adirondack lake. Paul was fond of showing us an early 20th century map of Township 40 to make the point that before becoming the famous first chief of the U.S. Forest Service, Gifford Pinchot had (in about 1900) proposed lumbering thousands of acres east and south of Raquette Lake, a threat which had energized the organization of the Association for the Protection of the Adirondacks, the citizen and advocacy organization Paul served for 50 years and which I had the privilege of working for. » Continue Reading.


Thursday, October 31, 2013

New York’s Anti-Mask Law And Civil Unrest

murray249The approach of Halloween together with recent news that the last scheduled criminal case stemming from the arrests of hundreds of Occupy Wall Street protestors had been dismissed, has swung the spotlight of history back on New York’s anti-mask law.

It was one of the first tools used by New York City police to break up the Occupy Wall Street protest when it began in September, two years ago. Within days of donning Guy Fawkes masks, demonstrators were charged by police for violating the anti-mask law, section 240.35(4) of the New York Penal Law. Its origins go back to a statute passed in 1845 to suppress armed uprisings by tenant farmers in the Hudson Valley who were using disguises to attack law enforcement officers. » Continue Reading.


Thursday, October 31, 2013

The Story of Two Graves: Nat Foster and Peter Waters

peter waters by bridge DSCF0717In January 2010, the Weekly Adirondack reported that the St. Regis Mohawk nation agreed to be a “consulting party” for the East Side Pumping Station project, a station to be built along the Moose River behind the American Legion building in Old Forge. The tribe was contacted because a member was buried in the proximity, on the opposite side of the river, about one hundred eighty years earlier. That person, Peter Waters (a.k.a. Drid), was shot fatally by Nathaniel Foster, Jr. on September 17, 1833 at a location known alternately as Murderer’s Point or Indian Point, where the channel from Old Forge meets First Lake.

Less than twenty years (1850) afterwards, the events preceding the shooting and its aftermath were described in great detail, including trial testimony, by Jeptha Simms in Trappers of New York, which remains the primary source for that part of John Brown’s Tract history today. While the events surrounding the shooting have become a part of history and folklore, influenced by changing attitudes about Foster and toward Native Americans, another parallel story can be told about the graves of these two men. The remains of the two men who were opposing forces when alive, shared unsettled treatment after their burial. » Continue Reading.


Monday, October 28, 2013

Local Corn That Pops, Preserves Cultural Traditions

IndianCornBPW724As winter edges closer, sweet corn is but a distant memory and field corn is fast disappearing into the insatiable headers of roaring combines. But here and there a few market growers and gardeners are bringing in some less common types of corn. While not very significant to the regional economy, locally raised popcorn and decorative “Indian” corn have emotional and cultural value that goes beyond their monetary worth.

In recent years, US farmers in the Midwest have been producing around 200 million pounds of popcorn annually, which translates to something like $70 million. (It also equals roughly a billion kernels, in case that fact comes in handy for you someday.) » Continue Reading.


Monday, October 28, 2013

Bill Bray: Standing Strong to the End

03A BrayAfter years of loyal service to his party and resisting against the most powerful men in American politics, M. William Bray was unceremoniously dumped from the New York State Democratic ticket in 1938. The strategy was questionable at best, considering the support he enjoyed in 40 upstate counties.

It was Bray’s growing influence that they feared. For years, Roosevelt, Farley, and others had tried to erode his power base but were unable to do so. In fact, by all measures, Bray was more popular than ever. In 1936, during his third run for lieutenant governor, he had outpolled Governor Lehman by nearly 60,000 votes (3,028,191 to 2,970,595).

It was embarrassing to party leaders that he was favored over the state’s chief executive, and galling to Farley in particular. But dropping a candidate who attracted three million voters seemed akin to political suicide. What could the Democratic Party leaders have been thinking? » Continue Reading.


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