Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Edward Shortt: Notable Jefferson Co Inventor

01ShorttSteamPumpHistorically, the northwestern foothills of the Adirondacks have been home to a number of inventors.

Among the most notable from Jefferson County is a man whose work had a tremendous impact on products used widely by many industries.

One of his inventions is credited with preventing many accidents, thus avoiding an untold number of deaths and injuries.

Edward G. Shortt was just one year old when his family emigrated from Ireland to the United States in 1847. John and Esther Shortt settled in Redwood, about 20 miles north of Watertown, finding work in several nearby communities. Edward, the oldest of about a half-dozen children, attended schools in Redwood and Philadelphia. At about the age of 14, he began working with his father in John’s carriage-making shop, where the young boy’s aptitude for invention and problem solving was revealed. » Continue Reading.


Monday, January 26, 2015

Buy Local: A Long History and Familiar Themes

18741219 OgdDailyJournal 02A sense of community is important to most of us. We join clubs, sports teams, civic and arts organizations, historical associations—groups that represent our interests. There’s strength in numbers and satisfaction in knowing that we’re part of something significant. The push to buy local, heightened recently by an economy where average Americans still struggle, is another example. Supporting small local businesses helps your neighbor, keeps money in the community, and benefits us all.

The ideas behind Buy Local movements seem new, exciting, sensible—and two out of three ain’t bad. Exciting and sensible, for sure. But new? New-ish, maybe? Not even close.

Pleading, begging, encouraging, cajoling, and instructing the public on why buying local is important have been components of the “movement” for well over a century. And for most of that time, the reasons given for buying local have remain unchanged. » Continue Reading.


Sunday, January 25, 2015

New Biography Of John Stark: Roberts’ First Ranger

John Stark BiographyFew men contributed as much to the American victories of the French And Indian and Revolutionary War, yet have been as little recognized, as a New Hampshire farmer and lumberman by the name of John Stark. Although he is not well known outside of New Hampshire, a few words he wrote live on there today: Live Free or Die. A new biography by John F. Polhemus and Richard V. Polhemus, Stark, The Life and Wars of John Stark: French & Indian War Ranger, Revolutionary War General (Black Dome Press, 2014) should help bring this remarkable man’s life into appropriate perspective.

Stark served as a captain of rangers with Robert Rogers in the French and Indian War and as a colonel and general in the Revolution at Bunker Hill, Trenton, Princeton, Westchester, Springfield, Saratoga, Ticonderoga and West Point. His greatest achievement, however, was at the Battle of Bennington. The Battle of Saratoga and the surrender of Burgoyne on October 17, 1777 was the turning point of the American Revolution, but the Battle of Bennington on August 16th set the stage. » Continue Reading.


Saturday, January 24, 2015

Bakers Mills: Remembering Earl And Daisy Allen

668-47 Earl AllenIt was during the late 1980’s that Paul Schaefer introduced me to Daisy and Earl Allen in Bakers Mills. Earl has passed away this past month, and his wife Daisy died some 14 years before. But the memories of Daisy’s warmth and kitchen, and Earl’s legend as a teamster, maple sugar maker, artisan, maker of hay rakes, and master of old engines remain strong. Both would do anything they could for people.

Paul and his fellow hunters relied on Earl for some twenty years or more to hitch up his team of work horses to a wagon and bring there gear into hunting camp and out again. Rev. Daisy Dalaba Allen was pastor of the Sodom Community Church and president of the Pentecostal Holiness Association. » Continue Reading.


Friday, January 23, 2015

Adirondack Museum Cabin Fever Sunday Series

Screen Shot 2015-01-20 at 2.38.32 PMOn our visits to the Adirondack Museum, my family has always found that there really isn’t enough time to see it all in one day. That is why the Adirondack Museum Cabin Fever Sundays present a different way of learning about the vast information tucked within the museum’s buildings in Blue Mountain Lake.

According to Adirondack Museum Marketing Assistant Paige Doerner the second Cabin Fever event will feature Adirondack Life Senior Editor Niki Kourofsky’s tales of “Adirondack Outlaws.” Kourofsky is bringing the Adirondack’s criminal element to light and is highlighting just a few of the historical scallywags, bandits and fiends from her recently published book, Adirondack Outlaws: Bad Boys and Lawless Ladies. » Continue Reading.


Sunday, January 18, 2015

Early Forestry Education On Raquette Lake

Post Standard 06211915An article in the June 21, 1915, Syracuse Post-Standard was the first anyone in our family had heard of the role our property on Indian Point played in the evolution of early forestry education in the United States.

The August Forest Camp was a miniature village of 9×9 tents where approximately twelve boys and men lived while participating in morning instruction and afternoon fieldwork. The month long program included elementary forestry, zoology, botany and fungi courses taught by prominent U. S. pioneers of forestry science. An old Adirondack guide also taught a week of Woodcraft “such as a man should know who wishes to spend any length of time in the woods”. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Holls Inn On Fourth Lake (Part II)

1915a 638k_Pratt charles carolineIn 1896, Charles O’Hara had come from Glenfield and built Inlet Inn along the channel from Fifth Lake on land purchased from David Frank Sperry in 1897, operating it as a boarding house.

In November 1907, O’Hara purchased the Arrowhead from Albert C. Boshart and operated both hotels.  But on the morning of September 23, 1913, the hotel originally established in 1893 on the shores at the head of Fourth Lake by Fred Hess, renamed in 1898 the Arrowhead by William Moshier, burned to the ground.  While determining whether to rebuild, O’Hara leased the Eagle Bay Hotel for the 1914 and 1915 seasons. » Continue Reading.


Monday, January 12, 2015

Correcting The Record On Randy Douglas

Willis-WellsOn Tuesday, January 6, the Press-Republican reported a remarkable achievement of Essex County Board of Supervisors Chair Randy Douglas.

Here’s how the newspaper’s article began: “Jay Town Supervisor Randy Douglas was sworn in Monday for an unprecedented sixth term as chairman of the Essex County Board of Supervisors.” The italics are mine. Their claim is wrong.

Among the subjects I’ve covered on Adirondack Almanack is Willis Wells, a shining star of Essex County’s past and a member of the Lake Placid Hall of Fame. I recently discovered that the articles about his great career, and even his obituary (he died in 1949), were in error. Both sources noted that Wells had served eight terms as chairman of the Essex County Board of Supervisors, including six consecutive. Actually, he served nine terms, including seven consecutively. Bold headlines pronounced his election each year. » Continue Reading.


Monday, January 12, 2015

The Hydrofracking Report In Historical Perspective

George Bellows - Up the Hudson (1908)Governor Andrew Cuomo’s decision in December to ban the use of hydrofracking in New York State was politically astute. The governor asserted he is merely following the recommendations in a new report from the State Health Department, A Public Review of High Volume Hydraulic Fracturing for Shale Gas Development.

That report, based on four years of research, is also politically judicious. It avoids condemning hydrofracking or sensationalizing its potential health risks. Instead, it concludes that “the overall weight of the evidence from the cumulative body of information” studied for the report demonstrates that there are “significant uncertainties about the kinds of adverse health outcomes that may be associated with HVHF [High Volume Hydraulic Fracking], the likelihood of the occurrence of adverse health outcomes, and the effectiveness of some of the mitigation measures in reducing or preventing environmental impact which could adversely affect public health.” The 184-page report is buttressed by 74 references, mostly well-documented studies and reports from the past few years. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, January 6, 2015

The Barnes Family: Forest Preserve Protection Pioneers

billboardIn 1935, New York State held a large celebration commemorating 50 years of its Forest Preserve. The jubilee, with parades and the unveiling of a new monument, centered in Lake Placid and the list of attendees included Conservation Commissioner Lithgow Osborne, Governor Herbert Lehman and even President Franklin D. Roosevelt. New York had much to be proud of, having preserved “wild forest lands” for the previous 50 years with the promise of forever ahead.

A similar celebration would be held for the centennial, but the 50th anniversary resonates in a different way.  It was still close enough to the actual events, and many remembered them, along with the decades of debate over the appropriateness of forest lands to fend for themselves, remaining uncut and wild. » Continue Reading.


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.



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