Thursday, September 10, 2020

State Parks office announces historic restoration projects

State Parks Stabilizes Childhood Home of Suffragist Susan B. Anthony

On the 100th anniversary of the passage of the 19th Amendment, which granted women the right to vote, State Parks and community leaders joined to celebrate a $695,000 stabilization project at the 19th century brick home in Washington County, where suffragist Susan B. Anthony spent part of her childhood.

Work at the deteriorated 1832 two-story brick home on Route 29 in Battenville where Anthony lived from ages 13 to 19 includes repairs to the roof, masonry and drainage, as well as mold remediation and water damage, is expected to be completed this fall.

State Parks has a purchase agreement on an adjoining four-acre site that contains a former historic tavern dating to the period when the Anthony family lived next door. Supported by the state Environmental Protection Fund, the $130,500 purchase will allow for future creation of adequate parking for the Anthony home and serve as a staging area for continued phased redevelopment of the building for an as-yet undetermined future use.

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Monday, September 7, 2020

Doctors in the Garden

In a time when compassion and logic often seem in short supply, many of us have a newfound appreciation for doctors and scientists. Saranac Lake’s history is full of professionals in medicine and science who had a passion for learning and an intense curiosity about the natural world.

Our own Dr. Edward Livingston Trudeau was a naturalist at heart. He learned an interest in the natural world from his father James, who accompanied his friend John J. Audubon on scientific expeditions. When Edward fell sick with TB, he credited the peace he found in the Adirondack forest for his ability to fight the disease.

Later, that same appreciation for nature inspired Trudeau to pursue the scientific study of  tuberculosis. In 1882, Dr. Robert Koch announced his discovery of the tuberculosis bacterium. Trudeau learned of his study and rushed to replicate Koch’s work, despite never having used a microscope himself. Motivated by his desire to find a cure and his own curiosity, Trudeau demonstrated incredible persistence in the face of adversity. He began his work in a remote, freezing village with no running water, electricity, or train service. As he stated in his autobiography, “One of my great problems was to keep my guinea-pigs alive in winter.” Trudeau worked with improvised laboratory equipment, and even when his first home and home laboratory burned down, he didn’t give up.

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Friday, September 4, 2020

What’s in a name? Poke-O-Moonshine Mountain

I revisited Poke-O-Moonshine Mountain last spring, making it at least four ascents I have done of it, thus far, from both the north and south trails. The views of the Lake Champlain region from the summit never fail. Poke-O-Moonshine, located in the Town of Chesterfield in Essex County, just 3/4-mi north of the Town of Lewis
boundary, is a peak on the Fire Tower Challenge and whose east-facing cliffs are popular with rock-climbers.

This write-up is more of a historical “brief” on this peak, as there is a bit more history surrounding it than provided here. For those interested in the history of Poke-O-Moonshine in regards to fire observation and its tower, see Martin Podskoch’s book “Adirondack Fire Towers: Their History and Lore, The Northern Districts” (2003).

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Friday, September 4, 2020

Ticonderoga Historical Society presents program on Prohibition

The Ticonderoga Historical Society will present a free public program on Friday, Sept. 11 at 6 p.m. at the Hancock House, 6 Moses Circle, Ticonderoga.

The program will be titled “Our Best Endeavors: Temperance and Prohibition in the Champlain Valley” and will be presented by Susan Evans McClure, Executive Director of the Lake Champlain Maritime Museum.

“When you think about Prohibition, most people imagine 1920s gangsters and bootleggers with tommy guns and fancy cars,” says McClure. “But to truly understand federal Prohibition in the Champlain Valley, you have to start earlier than the ratification of the 19th Amendment in 1919. Vermont actually had statewide prohibition from 1853-1904.”

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Monday, August 31, 2020

Annual fire tower lighting set for Saturday, 9/5

Labor Day weekend offers a perfect socially distanced outdoor activity – the annual nighttime lighting of Hurricane Fire Tower.
People are invited to hike up and see the lighting at close range, or view it from afar.
A lantern beacon will shine out from the 101-year-old tower at 9 pm on Saturday, Sept. 5, and can be spotted for miles around.

Hurricane Mountain – visible from many spots in Keene and Elizabethtown, to Lake Champlain and Vermont, as well as surrounding smaller peaks – was a key survey peak for legendary Adirondack surveyor Verplanck Colvin.

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Sunday, August 30, 2020

Letters and Lemonade

“I discovered that I wanted to stay in touch with a number of friends from my previous healthy existence, and I was soon writing to everyone within reach of the postal service … the mail delivery became the high spot of my day.” — Richard Ray, TB patient.

In times of trouble, some of the most essential workers are the people who deliver the mail. It can get lonely here in the Adirondacks, where there are more trees than people. Mail carriers keep us connected, and post offices in rural hamlets serve as social hubs.

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Saturday, August 29, 2020

Historic Saranac Lake awarded IMLS Inspire! grant

Historic Saranac Lake (HSL) announced that it has been awarded an Inspire! Grant for Small Museums through the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS). The $48,300 award will support HSL’s work to catalog and rehouse a portion of its image collections. The project will enable HSL to gain intellectual and physical control over its collection in preparation for a major expansion into the historic Trudeau Building adjacent to the museum. Over two years, HSL will create catalog records for photographs, postcards, and photo albums, and implement long-term archival storage. The project tackles a major next step identified in the museum’s recently completed Collections Preservation Plan, also funded by a grant from IMLS. 

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Monday, August 24, 2020

Ti Historical Society marks suffrage centennial

The Ticonderoga Historical Society will present a free public program on Friday, Aug. 28 at 6 p.m.  at the Hancock House, 6 Moses Circle, Ticonderoga.  “The Suffrage Centennial:  Trial and Triumph” will highlight the struggle to provide women the right to vote.  

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Saturday, August 22, 2020

Weekend read: Women’s suffrage

This week marked the 100th anniversary of the 19th amendment, which gave women the right to vote.

For those fighting for women’s suffrage, this victory was hard-won. In honor of the milestone, here are a few stories from the Almanack archive.

Inez Milholland: A fervent fighter for suffrage and Adirondack resident. Born and is buried in Lewis, she died young and never lived to see the fruits of her labor.

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Thursday, August 20, 2020

The difficult side of sickness

The fresh air cure wasn’t all a bed of roses.

First-hand accounts left behind in letters, photographs, diaries, and memoirs paint a picture of life in Saranac Lake during the TB years. It’s an incomplete record that can lead us to believe curing was an overwhelmingly positive experience.

It takes energy, time, and a degree of mental and physical well being to leave behind a personal record. People who were very ill, illiterate, or struggling with poverty did not have the same opportunity to create, or later preserve, accounts of their experiences.

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Thursday, August 20, 2020

Battle of Plattsburgh commemoration kicks off Aug. 23

The “Battle of Plattsburgh 2020 Virtual Commemoration” will be presented online at 1814inc.com starting Aug. 23.

It will feature 30-minute videos of various BOP related events and activities, interviews, music and other 1814 related info. Mountain Lake PBS will air two movies “The Final Invasion” and “Battle of Plattsburgh Bicentennial Commemoration,” which includes interviews with long term committee volunteers. WIRY radio will also broadcast interviews and music related to the battle.

There will be commemoration ceremonies open to the public at various 1814 historic sites in Plattsburgh and surrounding areas. 

 

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Wednesday, August 19, 2020

The History of Blackface in the Adirondacks

funs famous fellowsFor a century and a half, white men “blacking up” and performing as blackface minstrels drew eager audiences to Adirondack halls and stages. Writer and independent scholar Amy Godine tracks the long uneasy history of this unabashedly racialized performance style from its antebellum introduction as a big-city circus act to its later revival as a locally-produced nostalgia act in Adirondack towns and cities.

Even into the 1960s, and long after blackface was widely recognized as racist, hometown blackface flourished on Adirondack stages. (Iterations still crop up in North Country college campuses.)

In a presentation coming up Thursday, Aug. 20 at 6 p.m., Godine explores the tenacious roots, representations and consequences of this toxic tradition in Adirondack life.

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Monday, August 17, 2020

Mapping and Surveying the Adirondacks

The Ticonderoga Historical Society presents a free public program titled “Mapping the Adirondacks” at the Hancock House, 6 Moses Circle, Ticonderoga on Friday, Aug. 21 at 7pm.

“Mapping the Adirondacks” will kick off the museums latest exhibit, which features more than 18 military, political, and romantic maps from its collection, some of which are being shown for the first time.

Pete Nelson, writer, lecturer and history buff will be presenting the program. His articles regularly appear in numerous regional publications (including the Almanack) and he teaches mathematics and history at North Country Community College. Currently he is writing a book on early Adirondack Surveyors, a passion which merges his love for both history and mathematics.

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Wednesday, August 12, 2020

Fresh Air School: Lessons in outdoor education

As autumn approaches, schools are thinking about ways to keep students safe by maximizing time outdoors. The concept of outside instruction is not new. Leading up to WWII, open air schools were built in the United States and Europe to protect children from tuberculosis. Even in Saranac Lake, where temperatures in the winter tend to stay well below freezing, some children attended unheated, open air classrooms.

In the mid-1920s, the Saranac Lake School District built an open air school at River Street, at a cost of $12,000. All Saranac Lake children were weighed periodically and X-rayed annually. Those found to be underweight attended the Fresh Air School. The building, now used for a nursery school, is located behind the former River Street School. In 1937, the Fresh Air School moved to a new six-room addition built at Petrova School. 

Open air education wasn’t just for preventing illness and improving health. It was also widely used in summer camps as a natural extension of the camping experience. At local camps over generations, children have learned skills outdoors, such as arts, crafts, sports, and music.

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Sunday, August 9, 2020

Historic Saranac Lake opens to the public with limited hours

Historic Saranac Lake’s Saranac Laboratory museum is re-open, operating under limited hours and strict guidelines in order to keep their patrons and their staff healthy. The museum is the first laboratory in the nation that was built for the study of tuberculosis, showcasing Saranac Lakes history as a community that built a bustling economy around the response to an infectious disease.

Museum staff expects that visitors will find Saranac Lakes history relevant once again in response to COVID-19. The museum is currently open on Thursdays through Saturdays from 10am or 5pm, and visitors are encouraged to check out historicsaranaclake.org for updates.

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