Wednesday, February 19, 2014

The Fulton Chain Fish Hatchery: A Short History

scan0002According to Frank Graham, Jr., the first conservation agency established by New York was the Fisheries Commission.  It was established in 1868 to examine Adirondack water sources used by downstate cities and to study the impact of forest destruction by timber cutting neighboring these waters and on the fish they contained.

By the 1880s, the agency established hatcheries in various areas of the state to bolster fish populations in those water bodies and their tributaries suffering from nearby industrial operations such as mills on the Black River.  Since fishing pools in the Adirondacks were being rapidly depleted by the growing popularity of the region, the agency determined to establish fisheries in that region.  » Continue Reading.


Saturday, February 15, 2014

A New History of Warrensburg Published

Book cover frontFollowing five years of planning, research, writing and design, the Warrensburgh Historical Society has released Warrensburg, New York: 200 Years of People, Places and Events (2014) in honor of the town’s Bicentennial Celebration.

Spearheaded by Town Historian Sandi Parisi, the effort involved more than 20 volunteers. The 184-page soft-cover book, laid out as an encyclopedia of Warrensburg history, contains more than 300 photographs and a 19-page index with over 2,300 listings.

Topics range from the town’s earliest settlers in the late 18th century to more recent notables of the 20th century, plus industries, businesses, and events that contributed to a thriving and prosperous community which influenced the local, state and national scenes. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Horace and Nellie: An Adirondack Murder

scan0001(1)Over a hundred years ago, Lowville and Watertown papers held readers’ attention with headlines such as “A Woman Murdered”, “Struck in the Head”, “Murderer Caught”, and “Fulton Chain Murder”. The murderer escaped from the scene, was caught by authorities and later jailed at Auburn State Prison.  No, this murder did not occur at Big Moose Lake and the evidence did not point to Chester Gillette. And while this murder caused much excitement and newsprint, a movie never resulted.

On September 21, 1899, at about 10 in the evening, Horace Norton struck Nellie Widrick, supposedly his wife, with an axe on the Moose River Lock and Dam building’s porch and subsequently fled from the scene.  What follows is their story. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Great Camp Sagamore to Hosting Guided Snowshoe Tours

Great Camp Sagamore in WinterGreat Camp Sagamore will host two guided snowshoe hikes of the grounds February 15 and 16 as part of Raquette Lake’s Annual Winter Carnival. This is a rare opportunity for visitors to see the National Historic Landmark in the winter, a season when the former Vanderbilt family owners traditionally visited.

The free, guided hikes depart from the camp’s barn parking lot at 10 a.m. both days and conclude two hours later with hot cider in the Reading Room of the Conference Building. Guides will lead groups through the camp grounds to see building exteriors, then trek to different portions of the newly designated Great Camps Historic District that includes Sagamore.  » Continue Reading.


Monday, February 10, 2014

Whallonsburg Grange Lyceum Lectures Feature History

The-GrangeAn Adirondack history lecture series continues at the Whallonsburg Grange Hall, 1610 NYS Route 22 in the Champlain Valley. Presentations on the early settlement, the philosophy and invention of the wilderness ideal, the history of the forest preserve and boats and boating are included in the schedule.

The series “Our Wild Home” will take place on Tuesday nights at 7:30. A donation of $5 is requested, students always free. More information is at www.thegrangehall.info. The schedule of talks is: » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Benjamin Harrison’s 1895 Fulton Chain Vacation

P10 Gen Harrison and party at Old Forge dock175 (2)The widower ex-President Benjamin Harrison and part of his extended family came to the Fulton Chain in the summer of 1895.  By the following summer, his summer home Berkeley Lodge would be built on a peninsula between First and Second Lakes for him and for a new wife.  Our story starts with the election of 1888.

At the age of 55, Benjamin Harrison became the 23rd President in the first election where the electoral college vote went contrary to the popular vote.  Besides his wife, Caroline Scott Harrison, the White House family included son Russell Lord, his wife Mary and their daughter Marthena; daughter Mary Scott and husband J. Robert McKee and son Ben (“Baby McKee”); and Caroline’s 90 year old recently widowed father Rev. John Scott.  Later in the term, it included niece Caroline’s widowed 30 year old niece, Mrs. Mary Scott Lord Dimmick.  » Continue Reading.


Monday, February 3, 2014

Charles Shaw, Ace Attorney From Jay (Part 2)

CPShaw 02 BookletDespite all his accomplishments, Charles Shaw’s career is largely defined by a decade-long battle he fought on behalf of the cable interests for rail control of New York City’s streets. Cable’s two main rivals: horse-powered rail and underground lines. Both had many powerful backers.

Initially, Charles was hired to perform one task: lobby the state legislature for specific modifications of a bill under consideration in Albany. After earning the modern equivalent of more than a quarter million dollars for his efforts, Shaw was retained by the cable men, who wanted San Francisco-type cars operating on 70 miles of New York City roads.

Charles became the leading voice for cable, and was often vilified for his intense lobbying efforts. He refused to give up, at one point leading a four-man legal team against a cadre of 38 lawyers. The New York Times and other newspapers saw Shaw’s plan as nothing more than a city land-grab. But still he fought on, winning some victories and eventually spending over a million dollars in the effort. How high were the stakes? It was estimated that lobbyists representing cable had coughed up close to $5 million … and had still come up empty so far. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Fulton Chain Steamers 101: The Fulton Navigation Years

PC500 Steamers Train at Forge House  165In a letter dated April 19, 1901, Dr. William Seward Webb informed J. Pierpont Morgan in New York City that, on behalf of the Raquette Lake Railway directors, he was accepting the option from the Old Forge Company to purchase the two mile Fulton Chain Railroad and the docks and  boats of the Crosby Transportation Company.

Dr. Webb informed Morgan that the purchase price was $45,000, but additional amounts necessary for repairing the railroad lines and upgrading the docks brought the total costs to $56,000.  Dr. Webb also asked Morgan and the other partners copied in the letter to send him their share of the purchase price.  The other paying partners were Collis P. Huntington, William C. Whitney and Harry Payne Whitney. » Continue Reading.


Monday, January 27, 2014

Charles Shaw: Ace Attorney from Jay

CPShaw 01Among those to rise from humble Adirondack roots and pursue life in the big city was Charles P. Shaw, a native of Jay, New York, where he was born in 1836. “Humble,” meaning relative poverty, aptly described most North Country citizens in those early days. But Shaw may have had an advantage since there were two doctors in the family: his father, Daniel, and his grandfather, Joshua Bartlett. As educated men, they were more likely to stress among their family the importance of education.

For whatever reason, Charles was an excellent and precocious student. There survives in old newspapers an anecdote suggesting he was indeed an unusually bright pupil. » Continue Reading.


Monday, January 27, 2014

The Olympics’ Impact On Lake Placid

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIt all started in August. The media inquiries about Lake Placid’s Olympic heritage have increased by the day as we get closer to the games in Sochi.  Many want photos, or to visit to write or film a news story, and most want to know what impact hosting the games has had on Lake Placid in general.

As communications director for the region’s destination marketing organization, my job is to support our efforts to drive overnight visitation, and implement promotional messaging that is based on research. And through that research, we know that the biggest driver of overnight visitation to Lake Placid and the Adirondacks is outdoor recreation – hiking, paddling, cycling and the like – hands down. However, for a couple of months every four years, I prepare to spend a lot of time responding to the expected influx of Olympic-themed media requests. » Continue Reading.


Saturday, January 25, 2014

Running Silver:
Restoring The Fish Migrations of Atlantic Rivers

Running SilverEver wonder what pristine runs of migratory fish in Atlantic rivers looked like to early colonists? Some saw so many salmon, shad, alewives and other species that they said the waters “ran silver” with fish as they swam upstream to spawn.

John Waldman’s Running Silver: Restoring Atlantic Rivers and their Great Fish Migrations (Lyons Press, 2013) covers the biology, history, and conservation of shad, salmon, striped bass, sturgeon, eels and the others that complete grand migrations between fresh and salt waters.

This includes the evolution of these unique life cycles, the ingenious ways that native people and colonists fished for these species, ‘fish wars’ between mill dam operators and fishermen, the ravages of damming, pollution, and overfishing, and more recent concerns such as climate change, power plant water withdrawals, and the introduction of non-native species. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Fulton Chain Steamers 101: Crosby Transportation Period

Old Forge Station 1050From 1892 to 1895, steamboat managers tried to outdo each other to attract passengers arriving on Dr. Webb’s railroad.  But these efforts suffered from the growing pains of an embryonic village and bad business practices from Fulton Chain to the Old Forge dock.

As the Utica Sunday Tribune reported, “At the depot everyday are ‘pullers in’ and ‘runners’ for the several boats which run to the head of the lakes.  As soon as a traveler alights from the train he is importuned to take this or that boat.  Then, if he consents to go on a certain boat, perhaps the ‘runner’ for the other boat will get the check for his baggage, and passenger and baggage will go up the lakes on separate boats.  The baggage man had no badge and the men who operate two of the boats go daily down to Remsen to ‘drum up’ business on the way between that station and Fulton Chain.”  It was hoped that Dr. Webb’s agent H. D. Carter would take steps to “obliterate the nuisances which are hampering this resort”. » Continue Reading.


Monday, January 20, 2014

Bernard Smith: NYS Senate Conservation Champion

Bernard SmithBernard C. Smith served in the NYS Senate from 1965-1978, an era when trust in our government’s good will and capability to improve our lives was ebbing fast. But Senator Smith, a Republican, believed strongly in that capability and responsibility.

His belief found expression in numerous laws to protect our environment, laws which had to pass through his Committee on Environmental Conservation.

The Adirondack Park Agency (1971) and its organic act (1973), the Wild, Scenic and Recreational Rivers Act (1972 and ‘75), the Environmental Quality Review Act, the law creating the Department of Environmental Conservation (1972) and its organic act, the Environmental Bond Act of 1972 and many other bills all found a lead sponsor and champion in Senator Smith. » Continue Reading.


Saturday, January 18, 2014

General Nicholas Herkimer And The Battle of Oriskany

image001(7)During the critical Battle of Oriskany in August 1777, Continental forces led by General Nicholas Herkimer defeated the British army under St. Leger in the heart of New York’s Mohawk Valley. It was a hard-won victory, but he and his troops prevented the British from splitting the colonies in two.

In The Battle of Oriskany and General Nicholas Herkimer: Revolution in the Mohawk Valley (History Press, 2013), Paul Boehlert presents a gripping account of the events before, during and after this critical battle.

Although they did not succeed in relieving the British siege of Fort Stanwix, Herkimer’s citizen-soldiers turned back the British and protected America’s northern flank from attack. Herkimer was mortally wounded, but his heroism and leadership firmly placed him in the pantheon of Revolutionary War heroes. » Continue Reading.


Saturday, January 11, 2014

America’s First Crisis: The War of 1812

americas first crisis - the war of 1812The War of 1812, sometimes called “America’s forgotten war,” was a curious affair. At the time, it was dismissed as “Mr. Madison’s War.” Later it was hailed by some as America’s “Second War for Independence” and ridiculed by others, such as President Harry Truman, as “the silliest damned war we ever had.” The conflict, which produced several great heroes and future presidents, was all this and more.

In America’s First Crisis: The War of 1812 (SUNY Press, 2014) Robert P. Watson tells the stories of the battles and leaders and shares the blunders and victories of the war. What started out as an effort to invade Canada, fueled by anger over the harassment of American merchant ships by the Royal Navy, soon turned into an all-out effort to fend off an invasion by Britain. » Continue Reading.