Tuesday, January 6, 2015

A Short History Of Holls Inn, Fourth Lake

1960 holls inn P000094 Aerial View of Holls InnOn the south shore of Fourth Lake near the Herkimer – Hamilton County boundary is Holl’s Inn.  According to a real estate ad in the Adirondack Express, the three story hotel on the six-acre parcel closed in 2006. However, Holl’s Inn continued to advertise rooms and meals as late as 2008 and housekeeping cottages until 2009 in the local summer guides.  The hotel sold in 2013.

Operating as Holl’s Inn since 1935, the hotel and its property has had a long history beginning with the first travelers to the head of Fourth Lake.  One of those travelers was Charles Pratt of Brooklyn, NY. » Continue Reading.


Monday, December 29, 2014

Preservation Grants For Westport, Fort Ticonderoga

The Y-D House at Fort TiconderogaThe Preservation League of New York State recently made two grants to support preservation efforts in Essex County.

The Town of Westport received a Preserve New York grant of $7,000 to support the cost of completing a National Register Historic District nomination for the Hamlet of Westport.

The League also presented a Technical Assistance Grant of $3,000 to the Fort Ticonderoga Association to support the cost of a building condition survey of the circa 1912 “Y-D House”, a very rare example of a full size rustic building built for the use of children in America. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Local Lighthouses Kick Off ‘Cabin Fever Sundays’

AdirondackMuseum-CabinFeverSundays_Lighthouse-LakeChamplainFrom North Creek to Blue Mountain Lake to Glens Falls, this winter the Adirondack Museum’s “Cabin Fever Sundays” series is presenting a wide-ranging look at life in the Adirondacks – yesterday, today, and tomorrow.

In the first installment of the series, author and photographer David E. Cook will take the audience on an exploration of approximately 80 – 85 light towers that have marked the waters inside the current boundaries of the Adirondack Park, dating back to around 1815. » Continue Reading.


Sunday, December 21, 2014

Adirondack Murray’s Guide Honest John

Honest john“Honest John Plumbley [sic], the prince of guides, patient as a hound, and as faithful, – a man who knows the wilderness as a farmer knows his fields, whose instinct is never at fault, whose temper is never ruffled, whose paddle is silent as falling snow, whose eye is true along the sights, whose pancakes are the wonder of the woods…”

– Rev. William H. H. Murray, Adventures in the Wilderness, 1869.

William H. H. Murray is widely credited with bringing the masses to the Adirondacks.   The historian Warder Cadbury said, “Murray quite literally popularized both wilderness and the Adirondacks.” “Murray’s Rush”, the onslaught of tourists who rushed to the mountains in response to his book, gave rise to the claim that the Adirondacks are the birthplace of the American vacation.

John Plumley* is the man who brought the Adirondacks to Murray. » Continue Reading.


Saturday, December 20, 2014

Where Was the Mysterious Station 77?

Colvin-Survey-Disk-Best-PictureThanks to the good faith and honesty of Kyle Kristiansen, the young man who unearthed a benchmark disk from Verplanck Colvin’s 1882 Adirondack Survey in a New Jersey field, I had in my possession a triangulation survey bolt marked Station 77.

Colvin and his crew placed thousands of benchmarks, but only about three hundred of these nickel-plated copper triangulation bolts, which I was told were numbered roughly from 1 to 299.

I assumed it would be a simple matter to find records that would positively identify it. I was mistaken. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, December 17, 2014

John Todd’s ‘Long Lake’ Recalls The 1840s

Long Lake Church in the WildernessThe Long Lake Historical Society has voted to acquire a first edition of John Todd’s book, Long Lake.

First printed in 1845, this small volume was written after Todd’s fourth trip to Long Lake. He first arrived in September, 1841 and found eight or ten families “scattered along towards the head of the lake. . . .They lived in their little log houses, and their little boats were their horses, and the lake their only path.” » Continue Reading.


Saturday, December 13, 2014

The Mysterious Benchmark At Station 77

Colvin Division of Levels - Measurement of Whiteface MountainIt was late on the afternoon of November 4th, 1875.  A party of men worked feverishly in dense fog and deepening Adirondack frost, chiseling into the hard summit stone of Mount Marcy, New York’s highest point. They had been working since the first hint of daylight without the benefit of food or water, pressing on to finish their work as conditions worsened.  They turned their attention to setting a benchmark – chipping into anorthosite so tough that it had destroyed scores of their drill bits and chisel points.

Their leader Verplanck Colvin had just completed the final rod and level measurement in a series that had begun weeks before, many miles away on the shore of Lake Champlain. At last the height of the mightiest peak in the Empire State was determined with accuracy: 5344.311 feet above mean tide.

The benchmark they laid on Marcy in the growing darkness and cold that afternoon was number 111 in a long sequence rising from Westport. » Continue Reading.


Sunday, December 7, 2014

Adventures With Hermit Noah John Rondeau

The Hermit cover for JohnIn 1951, Dr. Roger D. Freeman found himself sharing a lean-to camp at Indian Falls in the Adirondack High Peaks of Essex County with none other than legendary Noah John Rondeau.

“I remember descending from Mt. Marcy to Indian Falls and I remember the rainstorm” that evening, said Doctor Freeman, who was taking a break from his studies at Colby-Swarthmore Summer School of Languages in Maine to traverse the Great Range in the Adirondacks. Freeman wished he had known the old woodsman he shared the shelter with was the famed Cold River hermit. “I didn’t learn that until much later,” he said. “He was friendly. He was an expert at building and keeping a fire going on a day when it rained.”

Freeman’s is just one of the stories in The Hermit and Us: Our Adventures with Noah John Rondeau (2014) by William J. O’Hern, which recalls the experiences of backpackers who visited Rondeau’s Cold River hermitage where he lived for over 30 years. » Continue Reading.


Sunday, December 7, 2014

Celestial Burial And Rocky Cabin Chores

DSCN1728In Tibet they practice celestial burial. The deceased’s body is cut up into pieces small enough to be fed to the gathered vultures, who, because of this practice, are considered sacred birds. In our part of the Adirondacks we see few vultures, but, in part, a like ubiquity of rocks drives certain practices here.

During our early family summers on the edge of Adirondack wilderness, we children dreaded being assigned to bury the garbage. Waste disposal still decentralized in the early 1950s. To find where you could dig a hole deep enough to inter garbage was a serial ordeal of trial holes frustrated by hitting nonnegotiable rocks. » Continue Reading.


Saturday, December 6, 2014

New Book On Clinton County’s Civil War Record

Clinton County Historical Association New Civil War BookThe Clinton County Historical Association (CCHA) has announced the publication of a new book, Clinton County Civil War Record: 1861-1865.

In 2010, the Clinton County Historical Association formed a committee to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the American Civil War. Since its formation, the committee has planned numerous lectures and programs at the Museum, and also took on a research project to culminate in the publication of a book. » Continue Reading.


Thursday, December 4, 2014

Fort Ticonderoga Announces Fort Fever Series

snowshoes13_main3Fort Ticonderoga’s “Fort Fever Series” returns this winter with monthly programs January through April 2015.

Programs take place on Sunday afternoons at 2 pm in the Mars Education Center. The cost for each program is $10 per person and will be collected at the door; free for Members of Fort Ticonderoga. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Town of Inlet Beginnings (Part II)

1892 fulton chain club 1_0For many property owners in Inlet, the abstract of title invariably lists James and Jennie Galvin as early, if not the first, owners.  But until I began researching this narrative, I believed, as have other Inlet landowners and early 20th century newspapers, that the Galvins were sole owners of the 6,000 acres surrounding the Head of Fourth Lake.  I learned that Galvin was an agent for the Fulton Chain Club and it was through his efforts that the land was sold for hotels and camps, and ultimately to the first residents of Inlet.

James Galvin, the son of an Irish immigrant, was born in 1835 in Wilna, Jefferson County.  His father Edward was a successful farmer and also managed a prosperous charcoal production trade.  James was listed as a farmhand and a farmer on the 1850 and 1860 censuses, respectively, but from the age of fifteen, he dealt in horses and cattle and became successful in buying stock both in New York and Canada.  He commanded large credit with banks in both regions. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Today In 1859 John Brown Was Hanged

One hundred and fifty-five years ago today John Brown was executed after leading an anti-slavery raid on Harpers Ferry, Virginia, part of the radical movement of tens of thousands of Americans struggling to undermine the institution of slavery in America before the Civil War.

It’s often said that just one thing secured Brown’s place in the hearts of millions of Americans – his execution and martyrdom. But there is another more important reason to celebrate the life of John Brown – his courage in standing against unjust state and federal laws, the press, and popular culture in the cause of basic human rights.

In 2009, I wrote a ten-part series of posts following the last days of John Brown’s fight to end slavery. You can find that here (to read in chronological order, start at the bottom).


Saturday, November 29, 2014

Remembering Peace and Friendship

cathyblog1November 11, 2014 marked the 220th year of the Canandaigua Treaty, which was signed in 1794 by United States representative Colonel Timothy Pickering, and leaders of the Haudenosaunee Nations: the Seneca, Cayuga, Onondaga, Oneida, Mohawk, and Tuscarora. The Canandaigua Treaty established peace, friendship, and respect between the Nations and the United States.

Each year leaders of these Sovereign Nations and others remembering and honoring the treaty meet at the original site of the treaty’s signing, a place called Council Rock.  Council Rock sits on the front lawn of the Ontario County Courthouse on Main Street in Canandaigua, NY. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, November 25, 2014

The Origins Of The Town of Inlet

scythe herrershoff manor_2On November 27, 1901, the Hamilton County Board of Supervisors unanimously passed an act that created a new town from northern Morehouse, with the South Branch of the Moose River dividing the two towns.  Afterwards, Inlet held its first town meeting on January 14, 1902.  Presently (2009), the Adirondack Park Agency reports that Inlet consists of 42,446 acres of which just under 4,000 acres is not state land.

But this narrative is about the over 6,000 acres in the northerly Part of Township 3 of the Moose River Tract surrounding the “Head of Fourth Lake”, as Inlet was formerly known, and the connections among the speculators who owned it prior to Inlet’s creation.  This square tract covers the lands from Fourth Lake to Seventh Lakes down to Limekiln Lake at its southwest corner. » Continue Reading.