Sunday, May 4, 2014

The Cabin on Raquette Lake’s Indian Point: A New Mystery

SONY DSCMy cousin Stephen FitzPatrick’s curiosity was peeked by my writings.  A piece of the puzzle had always been in his hands but he did not know it.  Prompted by my last article, Stephen searched through boxes of his mother’s memorabilia and found the photo at left.

It’s dated 1910, the year of construction according to our family’s oral history.  Could this be the first photo of the little red cabin?  Our previous research had narrowed the window in time to between 1905 and 1918.  This would appear to squeeze the date of construction to a mere five year period between 1905 and 1910. It was time to see what evidence I could find of the Thachers on Indian Point between the pages of books, newspaper articles and letters. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Logging History: Lumber Scaling Rules and Tools

log-measurement-1900_0William Fox’s short “History of the Lumber Industry of New York State” in the Sixth Annual Report of the Forest, Fish and Game Commission (1901) includes a photograph (shown here) of a crew scaling and marking logs at a skid way.

Scaling is the term used for the measurement of logs to determine their usable wood content.  When developing tables for log measurements, certain assumptions were made concerning natural variations in diameters (log’s thickness inside the bark) and reductions for waste due to unseen defects, saw kerf (saw width) and slab loss at the mill.  » Continue Reading.


Kid next to water
Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Historic Saranac Lake Events For May

HSL logo BLACKHistoric Saranac Lake is gearing up for a busy month in May, with a variety of talks, tours, and events scheduled celebrating Saranac Lake’s unique history and architecture.

The month kicks off with a walking tour on May 1 as part of Saranac Lake’s “Daffest” Festival. A walking tour leaves Riverside Park at 10:30 AM. The group will stroll along the shores of Lake Flower, learning about some of the cure cottages that once catered to TB patients. The tour ends at the Bartok Cabin, where the great composer, Béla Bartók, spent the last summer of his life. The tour is $5 per person or free to Historic Saranac Lake members. A boxed lunch is available following the tour for $15. » Continue Reading.


Monday, April 28, 2014

William Rush Merriam of Wadhams (Part 2)

05WRMerriam1885When the president began handing out appointments, William Merriam was a strong candidate for many positions. In business, he had recently been touted as the right man to head the Northern Pacific Railroad, of which he was already a director. In politics, he was mentioned as the front-runner for many very important positions: Department of the Interior, Secretary of the Treasury, Secretary of War, ambassador to Germany, and ambassador to Russia. He was widely considered very capable of filling any of those positions, and had another thing going for him: no skeletons in the closet, and no scandals for the opposition to resurrect.

And it’s true: the rival party well knew of Merriam’s qualifications, his intelligence, and affability. His only problem came from within his own party’s ranks—yet it had nothing to do with politics, and little to do with Merriam himself. » Continue Reading.


Monday, April 28, 2014

John Brown Day: Local Connections to Slavery, Abolition

JB Day 2014[4]Launching John Brown Day 2014, students from high schools across the Adirondacks will attend special screenings of 12 Years a Slave, the Academy award-winning film based on the autobiography of Solomon Northup, a free Black Adirondacker who was kidnapped and sold into slavery in the mid-1800s.

Born in Minerva in 1808, Northup lived many of his early years in the region, married and made a home with his wife and their three children in Saratoga Springs. It was there in 1841 where his harrowing entrapment and subsequent enslavement on a Louisiana cotton plantation began.

Eighteen years later in October 1859 John Brown’s raid on the federal arsenal in Harpers Ferry, Virginia, lit the spark that ignited the war that ended the chattel slavery that Northup and millions of other people of African descent endured in the United States. » Continue Reading.


Thursday, April 24, 2014

Event To Recreate America’s First Victory at Ticonderoga

No Quarter Release 2014Fort Ticonderoga kicks off the 2014 season May 10-11 with its “No Quarter” event recreating the capture of Fort Ticonderoga on May 10, 1775.

In this weekend-long recreation visitors will experience “America’s First Victory” by exploring this dramatic story from the perspectives of both the British garrison and the Green Mountain Boys, including face-to-face interactions with the historical characters including Ethan Allen and Benedict Arnold. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Fox Conner: The Adirondacker ‘Who Made Eisenhower’

Fox Connor on HorseA little-known forest retreat called Brandreth Park has several unimpressive dwellings and sparse communication with the outside world. Yet back in the dark days of World War II generals Eisenhower, Marshal, Patton and others in the American military headquarters of England and Europe felt it necessary to keep their lines of communication open and flowing with one of its residents, Major General Fox Conner, U.S Army, Retired.

It’s safe to say that most Americans have never heard of Brandreth Park or of this soldier who never served in WWII but who nonetheless contributed to the victory over Germany. Those who do remember Conner, consider him “the man who made Eisenhower”. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Charlie Herr: The Founding Of The Town of Webb

1895 County MapOn a recent election day, I was reminded of the Supreme Court’s historic decision that determined the 2000 Presidential election and of the importance of every vote cast.  I learned of another close election while researching the building of the Sucker Brook Bay Road (now Uncas Road).  I also discovered why the building of the segment from Eagle Bay to Old Forge took five years while Sucker Brook Bay Road was completed within two.

Examining this delay revealed that a court ultimately approved the handling of highway contracts.  I also learned that a judge determined who would be the first supervisor for the new Town of Webb and that the decision was based on improperly completed ballots. » Continue Reading.


Monday, April 21, 2014

William Rush Merriam of Wadhams:
Minnesota Governor and More

01WRMerriamFrom humble North Country beginnings in a pioneer settlement, a local man rose to play an important government role on a national level. Work performed at the height of his career still affects every facet of our government today. It is also highly valued by researchers, genealogists, and historians as a great repository of valuable historical records.

William Rush Merriam was born in 1849 in the small community of Wadham’s Mills in Essex County, just a few miles northwest of Westport. Many members of the Merriam families in that vicinity played important roles in regional history.

At the time of William’s birth, his father, John L. Merriam, was involved in iron making. While a number of Merriams remained in the Westport–Elizabethtown area, John pulled up stakes when William was 12 and moved the family to Minnesota, eventually settling in St. Paul.

With a partner, John became successful in the field of transportation prior to the arrival of the railroad. At that time, St. Paul was known informally as Pig’s Eye, and was the commerce center of the Minnesota Territory. The name St. Paul was formalized as the capital city when Minnesota became the 32nd state in 1858. » Continue Reading.


Sunday, April 20, 2014

Dating The Cabin on Raquette Lake’s Indian Point

red cabin_croppedAfter my father’s sister Ellen married Michael FitzPatrick, both our families enjoyed summers together sharing the cabin on Raquette Lake’s Indian Point and two nearby lean-tos. That was until 1981, when our family built a new place on the north shore of the peninsula.  Each summer, a growing brood of FitzPatrick cousins continues to inhabit the little, red one-room cabin at the point’s tip.

As a child I would fall asleep in the lean-to that sits just to the right of this cabin, being driven to sleep by the flames dancing in the stone fireplace and the hypnotic pulsing of the green and red lights which adorned the channel buoys in the Needles.  » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Charlie Herr: A History of the Uncas Roads

1896 8th lake eugene scrafford camp 2_0 aIn the off year election of 1918, New York voters elected a new governor (Al Smith) who later became the first Roman Catholic and Irish-American to run for President.  In that same election, voters also approved a constitutional amendment to the “forever wild” Article VII (rewritten as Article XIV in 1938) permitting the construction of a state highway on forest preserve lands from Saranac Lake to Old Forge by way of Blue Mountain and Raquette Lakes.  Until this highway was built, the road from Inlet to the north ended at Seventh Lake.

When the segment from Seventh Lake to Raquette Lake was completed in 1929, it became the route of choice to Raquette Lake from Eagle Bay, replacing what today begins at that place as Uncas Road and ends as Browns Tract Road ending at Antlers Road at Raquette Lake.  Its name changes at Browns Tract Ponds. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Historic Preservation Lecture Series in Warrensburg

100_1704The Warrensburgh Historical Society (WHS), Warrensburgh Beautification Inc. (WBI) and Richards Library are co-sponsoring a monthly four part Historic Preservation Lecture Series beginning in April.
The purpose of the series is to educate the community and its leadership to the benefits of historic preservation – the funding sources and financial incentive programs available, the advantages of adaptive reuse, and the direct correlation with economic development.  » Continue Reading.

Monday, April 14, 2014

History: A Little Fun with Old Advertisements

1Cascarets1898Medicines and cure-alls distributed nationally were once regularly advertised in local newspapers, urging readers to try products that were available in nearby drugstores. One of the most common of these treatments was Cascarets, claiming to be different from Castor Oil and other meds that “irritate and lash the bowels into action, but do not thoroughly cleanse, freshen, and purify these drainage organs.”

Are you familiar with those wonderful colon-cleanse infomercials appearing all hours of the night? Back in 1898, Cascarets was making very similar claims: “…remove the undigested, sour food, and foul gases from your stomach … carry out of the system all the constipated waste-matter and poisons in the bowels which are keeping you half sick, headachy, and miserable.” » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, April 9, 2014

The Herreshoff Manor: Witness to Tragedy

P506 Herreshoff Manor 1892Photographs of the Herreshoff Manor that stood in today’s Thendara depict what could easily pass for a haunted house.  It seems that the building, which stood on an elevation of land not present today, overlooking then (1892) newly built Fulton Chain Station, would collapse with the next stiff breeze.

The story of this structure cannot be told without telling of the trials of its occupants:  Herreshoff, Foster, Waters, Grant, Arnold, Short and Sperry.  Tragedy would be the common thread among those connected with this building. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Lucy Carnegie’s Great Camp On Raquette Lake

Lucy CarnegieMy family began vacationing at Raquette Lake sometime in the mid-1970s, attracted by what is arguably the most beautiful lake in the Adirondacks. As the family grew, I began to look for a larger home and contacted a realtor who sent me a write up on North Point, considered one of the Great Camps and the former summer home of Lucy Carnegie.

I had seen the home while boating and, my curiosity piqued, looked it up in Harvey Kaiser’s book Great Camps of the Adirondacks (2003). I was interested to see who had designed this Swiss chalet style home, so unusual in design compared to the other camps in the area. Kaiser stated that, “The building plans and execution of interior details suggest influences beyond the techniques of local craftsmen, although no record of the architect exists.” » Continue Reading.



Kid next to water

Wait, before you go,

sign up for news updates from the Adirondack Almanack!