Friday, October 17, 2008

Adirondack Museum Celebrates Indian Lake

The Adirondack Museum set aside tomorrow (Saturday, October 18, 2008) for a day dedicated to the Town of Indian Lake, celebrating its 150th anniversary this year. The Adirondack Museum offers free admission to year-round residents of the Adirondack Park in the month of October, and is open from 10:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m.

The special day will begin with a presentation by Curator Hallie Bond at 11:00 a.m. entitled “The Armchair Canoeist’s Guide to Blue Mountain Lake.” Enjoy the warmth and comfort of dry land as Bond leads a “virtual” canoe trip to some of the historic sites on the shores of the lake.

Known as the “Koh-i-noor of the smaller wilderness gems” in the 1880s, Blue Mountain Lake was the most fashionable highland resort in the northeast. The presentation will include “then” and “now” photographs of landmarks such as the Prospect House, Holland’s Blue Mountain House, the town library, the Episcopal Church, and the mighty steamboat Tuscarora.

Bond will ask the audience to reflect on the meaning of “progress” and the ups and downs of a tourist economy. She will also ask Blue Mountain Lake old-timers to help in the identification of mystery photos in the museum collection, and reminisce about days gone by.

At 1:00 p.m., Dr. Marge Bruchac will offer a program called “The Indians of Indian Lake.” The presentation will include historic anecdotes, photographs, and family histories of some of the Indians who have made their homes in the village.

Native peoples such as Sabael Benedict, Emma Meade, and the Tahamont family were involved in growing the Adirondack tourism industry, promoting and preserving herbal medicine, and even in developing the image of the Hollywood Indian. According to Bruchac, these highly visible families were not the “last of the Indians” in Indian Lake.

Dr. Marge Bruchac is a preeminent Abenaki historian. She is an Assistant Professor of Anthropology and Coordinator of Native American Studies at the University of Connecticut at Avery Point. A scholar, performer, and historical consultant on the Abenaki and other Northeastern Native peoples, Bruchac lectures and performs widely for schools, museums, and historical societies. Her 2006 book for children about the French and Indian War, Malian’s Song, was selected as an Editor’s Choice by The New York Times and was the winner of the American Folklore Society’s Aesop Award.

At 2:30 p.m. a reception will be held for all in the museum’s Visitor Center. Caroline M. Welsh, Director of the Adirondack Museum, and Barry Hutchins, Supervisor of the Town of Indian Lake, N.Y., will offer remarks. Cake, tea, and coffee will be served.

Artwork created by students at Indian Lake Central School will be displayed in the Visitor Center throughout the day.

The Adirondack Museum tells the story of the Adirondacks through exhibits, special events, classes for schools, and hands-on activities for visitors of all ages. The museum closes for the season on Sunday (October 19).


Monday, October 13, 2008

OPINION: Museum Planning Should Include Miners

Mining in the Adirondacks was labor-intensive, dangerous work. More than 250 mines and ore processing sites have operated over time in the region, extracting eleven different minerals. Ores from the Adirondacks fed a national hunger for iron as the country expanded in the late 1800s. Mining is a major Adirondack story, which has been covered in part here at the Adirondack Almanack (and then picked up by NCPR).

This week the Adirondack Museum (which closes for the year Sunday FYI) announced that it will re-install its exhibit on Mining in the Adirondacks (expected to open in 2011). According to the Museum, “the extensive new interactive exhibition will tell powerful stories of people and the communities that grew around mines and forges.” As plans for the exhibit progress, the museum has formed a regional advisory committee to serve as a sounding board for curators and museum educators – unfortunately the advisory committee contains no experts on immigration or labor history and it should.

Various immigrant groups, African Americans, and Native Americans have a long history of laboring in Adirondack mines and related industries, and they should be represented in the Adirondack Museum’s planning. Often their stories have been left untold, just as they often went unnamed in local news reports.

In 1907, five unnamed miners – “Polanders, and it was impossible to learn their names” – where injured when the roof of a mine at Lyon Mountain caved in. Two men broke their legs and the other three were less seriously wounded.

“An Italian who was blown up at Tongue Mountain died Thursday,” one report noted. “He accidentally struck a stick of dynamite with a crowbar. The man’s left arm was blown off at the shoulder, there is a compound fracture of his right arm just above the hand, both eyes were blown out of his head, a stone was jammed against his heart and his head was bruised.” It was a remarkable that he wasn’t killed instantly.

The Adirondack Museum has a perfect opportunity to tell the stories of immigrant labor and others who labored in the mines, but they cannot do that properly without including historian of labor and immigration in the process. The museum claims it will convey the “the ebb and flow of a transient population of immigrant workers, work shifts, and company-sponsored social activities set the rhythm of life in mining towns.” The museum’s advisory committee includes a retired GE engineer, a retired mining executive, a retired mining engineer, a mining reclamation specialist, and lots of other bigwigs – but not a single miner; and that’s wrong.

Members of the Mining Advisory Committee include: Dick Merrill, retired General Electric engineer, historian and author from Queensbury, N.Y.; Scott Bombard, Graymont, Plattsburgh, N.Y.; Conrad Sharrow, retired college administrator and Dorothy Sharrow, retired elementary school teacher, Clifton Park, N.Y.; Vincent McLean, retired mining executive, Lake Placid, N.Y.; Gordon Pollard, professor SUNY Plattsburgh, and industrial archeologist; Carol Burke, professor, CAL-Irvine, oral historian, folklorist, and former Tahawus resident, Irvine, Ca.; Bob Meldrum, Slate
Valley Museum, Granville, N.Y.; Don Grout, retired mining engineer, Lake
Placid, N.Y.; Betsy Lowe, Director, DEC Region 5 and mining reclamation
specialist, Lake Placid, N.Y.; and Adirondack Museum Board of Trustee
members Rhonda Brunner, AuSable Forks, N.Y.; Gilda Wray, Keene Valley, N.Y.;
and Glenn Pearsall, Johnsburgh, N.Y.


Wednesday, October 8, 2008

5 Questions: Northern NY Library Network’s John Hammond

I asked John Hammond, Executive Director of the Northern New York Library Network (NNYLN), five questions about the library consortium’s efforts to digitize northern New York newspapers. The NNYLN added its millionth page earlier this year.

AA: What is the North New York Library Network?

JH: The Northern New York Library Network is a consortium of public, academic, school, and specialized libraries chartered in 1965 to improve library and research service to the people of the North Country. Our service area consists of Clinton, Essex, Franklin, St. Lawrence, Lewis, Jefferson, and Oswego counties. In addition to the Northern New York Historical Newspapers project, we support several other initiatives such as an online catalog of all the materials held in all the libraries in the region (ICEPAC) and a regional digital history project (North Country Digital History). All of our projects can be accessed from our main site: www.nnyln.org

AA: How many newspapers / pages do you currently have online?

JH: We currently have thirty-four newspaper titles online, totaling 1.2 million pages. The site has proven to be quite popular – for instance, there were 24,356,486 individual searches conducted on the site in the last twelve months. From the feedback we receive, it appears that researchers from all over the country find the site to be very useful.

AA: What’s the process you use to get the newspapers online?

JH: We use a Mekel automated scanner to scan previously microfilmed newspapers, and then run those results through Optical Character Recognition (OCR) software. When you enter a search term, you are actually searching the results of the OCRing, but then get to read the digital image of the actual newspaper article you’re interested in….with your search term highlighted on that page. We load both the images of the actual newspapers and the OCR results on servers here in the NNYLN office in Potsdam, NY.

AA: Who pays for the NNYLN Newspaper Project?

JH: Paying for a project of this magnitude is an ongoing challenge. The NNYLN paid the start-up costs from special projects funds, and we have been very fortunate to receive support from many sources, including the Lake Placid Education Fund, the New York State Library, the Friends of the Potsdam Public Museum, the St. Regis Falls Historians Association, the St. Lawrence County Genealogical Society, and many individual researchers who contribute using our online form.

AA: You must see a lot of newspapers – is there a favorite? Which one?

JH: Each newspaper has its own story to tell….they all did a wonderful job reporting local news over the years. Of course, since we are processing so many materials – some in better shape than others- we like those that are the most legible so that our efforts result in a product of greatest research value.


Monday, September 29, 2008

Fort Ticonderoga Appeals to Public for Help

Although it is apparently, no longer up, two local newspapers have reported (1, 2), that Fort Ticonderoga is asking the public to keep the fort from shutting down. According to Fred Herbst of Denton Publications:

You have probably seen the headlines. Fort Ticonderoga is in a very difficult financial situation. We don’t want to sell assets. We don’t want to lay off staff. We don’t want to curtail our education programs. We don’t want to close. Without the help of our friends and supporters, however, we may be faced with having to take one or more of these measures.

Fort Ticonderoga’s financial troubles began when benefactors Deborah and Forrest Mars Jr. withdrew their support – it’s been covered at length here.

The original statement continues:

Fort Ticonderoga needs its army of defenders now more than ever. The new Mars Education Center is 95 percent paid for. We have raised and borrowed more than $22 million, but we still need $700,000 to settle the outstanding bills and an additional $3.5 million to repay the loans and replenish our endowment fund.

Herbst revealed more about the details of Forrest Mars conflict with Executive Director Nick Westbrook.

“The ride is over,” he wrote in an Email to Westbrook that was provided to the Times of Ti.

The Email said Westbrook would not listen to new ideas and had stopped communicating with Mrs. Mars, when she was president of the fort board of trustees.

“We will not be writing any further checks,” Mr. Mars wrote. “Your performance as a manager is lacking. As a historian and archivist, etc., you excel. You have not given proper supervision and leadership to the staff.”

Mr. Mars said he and his wife paid for most of the Mars Education Center.

“As far as the new center, I would think that besides not communicating with your president (Mrs. Mars) regarding the opening of it, the exhibits to be in it, the budget for operating it and a program for the future use, you might have been nice enough and polite enough to communicate with the major donor (Mr. Mars),” the Email reads. “Not a word from you to either of us. We do not even know if you can fund it.”

The Email also said Mr. Mars had paid for one of Westbrook’s sons to attend a private school and had paid for vacations for Westbrook and his wife.

The Fort is under threat to close next year or sell off some it collections; Westbrook will be resigning. The fort closes for the season October 20th.

“The fort is running through its available endowment funds to pay the Mars Education Center bills, and, in the absence of a major infusion of funds, the fort will be essentially broke by the end of 2008,” Paine said in the memo.


Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Local Museums Offer Free Admission Saturday

This Saturday, September 27, 2008, nearly 100 museums in New York State will participate in Smithsonian magazine’s fourth annual Museum Day – including some in our Adirondack region. Museum Day is an opportunity for museums and cultural institutions nationwide to open their doors free of charge. A celebration of culture, learning and the dissemination of knowledge, Smithsonian’s Museum Day reflects the spirit of the magazine, and emulates the free-admission policy of the Smithsonian Institution’s Washington, D.C. – based museums.

Last year, nearly 100,000 people attended Museum Day. All fifty states plus Puerto Rico were represented by 651 participating museums. Here is a list of local museums that are offering free admission Saturday:

Adirondack Museum, Blue Mountain Lake
Adirondack History Center Museum, Elizabethtown
Brookside Museum, Ballston Spa
Frederic Remington Art Museum, Ogdensburg
National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame, Saratoga Springs
Sci-Tech Center of Northern New York, Watertown
Slate Valley Museum, Granville
The Children’s Museum at Saratoga, Saratoga Springs

A complete list of New York museums that are participating is located here.

Museum visitors must present Smithsonian magazine’s Museum Day Admission Card to
gain free entry to participating institutions. The Museum Day Admission
Card is available for free download at Smithsonian.com.


Friday, September 12, 2008

Cemetery Preservation and Conservation Workshop

The Adirondack History Center Museum (AHCM,) Essex County Historical Society, and Adirondack Architectural Heritage (AARCH) will present a cemetery preservation and conservation workshop on Saturday, October 11, 2008. The event will be led by Jon Appell of New England Cemetery Services. The day will include a presentation followed by a hands-on demonstration during which participants will work on gravestones in a local cemetery.

Those attending will learn about the origins of gravestone carving in America, various stone types and styles, and the progression of repair techniques from the 1900s to the present. The workshop will also cover basic stone repair techniques and their proper cleaning.

The workshop begins at 9AM and ends at 4PM; the cost is $40 for AARCH, AHCM, and Essex County Historical Society members and $45 for non-members. For more information or to make reservations, call AARCH at 518.834-9328.


Thursday, September 11, 2008

Fabric and Fiber Arts Fest at Adirondack Museum

Spinning, weaving, knitting, quilting, and a host of talented North Country artisans will take center stage at the Adirondack Museum for a celebration of traditional and contemporary fiber arts at the Adirondack Fabric & Fiber Arts Festival on Saturday, September 13, 2008.

Activities are planned from 10:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. at the Blue Mountain Lake, New York museum, and will include demonstrations, a lecture, textile appraisal, quilt documentation, displays, vendors, a “knit-in,” and hands-on opportunities. All are included in the price of general museum admission.

For centuries Adirondackers have spun, woven, and sewn – making textiles both functional and beautiful. Contemporary fiber artists have taken traditional techniques to new heights as they explore color, texture, and design.

The Adirondack Museum will offer a display of rarely seen historic textiles from the collection as part of the Festival, including crazy quilts with silks and embroidery and intricately patterned buff mittens.

Demonstrations will be held from 10:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m.

Members of the Northern Needles Quilting Guild and the Adirondack Regional Artists Alliance will display their work and demonstrate the skills and methods needed to create traditional and art quilts.

The Serendipity Spinners – a “loosely knit” group of women who have been spinning together for many years – will demonstrate the various aspects of wool processing.

Sandi Cirillo is a fiber artist from Corning, N.Y. who specializes in felt making. She will demonstrate the uses of felted wool to create unique pieces, including bowls, jewelry, and books. Cirillo has been felting for over fifteen years. Her work is exhibited locally, throughout the state of New York, and across the nation. Examples of her work may been seen on her web site at www.especially-for-ewe.com

Textile appraiser and historian Rabbit Goody of Thistle Hill Weavers, Cherry Valley, N.Y. will help visitors discover more about personal antique and collectible fabric pieces. For a small donation to the Adirondack Museum ($5 per piece, three pieces for $10) she will examine vintage textiles and evaluate them for historical importance and value. Only verbal appraisals will be provided.

Goody is a nationally recognized textile historian and expert in the identification of historic textiles. She is the founder, owner, and director of Thistle Hill Weavers, a commercial weaving mill that produces reproduction historic textiles for museums, designers, private homeowners, and the film industry. Textiles created by Thistle Hill have appeared in more than thirty major motion pictures. For more about Thistle Hill Weavers, visit

Dr. Jacqueline Atkins, a textile historian and the Kate Fowler Merle-Smith Curator of Textiles at the Allentown Art Museum, Allentown, Pennsylvania will present an illustrated lecture, “The Japan Craze: The Japanese Influence on American Textiles and Art” at 1:00 p.m. Atkins will explore how a “craze” for all things Japanese inspired new textile designs in the late nineteenth century and look at its lasting effect.

The Fabric and Fiber Festival will include an afternoon “Knit-In” in the beautiful Visitor Center from 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. Folklorist and knitter Jill Breit will host the activity. This will be an opportunity for knitters to work on a project in the company of other knitting enthusiasts, and to exchange tips with participants about how to tackle tricky techniques.

Knitters are encouraged to bring finished projects to display, as well as works in progress. While the group knits, Jill will talk about popular styles of knitting in the Adirondacks, a resurgence of interest in handspun yarn, and the role of knitting groups in this traditional fiber art.

Jill Breit is Executive Director of Traditional Arts in Upstate New York, an organization devoted to documentation and presentation of folklife in the North Country. She is the curator of the exhibition “Repeat from Here: Knitting in the North Country” and author of an article Knitting It Together: A Case Study of a Sweater. She will be working on an Aran pullover during the “Knit-In.”

Regional artisans and crafters will offer handmade and specialty items at the Adirondack Fabric and Fiber Arts Festival in the Marion River Carry Pavilion.

Visitors of all ages can use treadle sewing machines to make a souvenir balsam sachet in the Mark W. Potter Education Center from 11:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m.


Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Fort Ti Executive Director To Step Down

North Country Public Radio is reporting that Fort Ticonderoga’s longtime executive director Nick Westbrook will step down (Post Star says next year). According to the report board president Peter Paine says Westbrook will remain “affiliated with the historic site in a scholarly and advisory capacity” and described the move as “part of a planned transition.”

Ongoing controversy over the loss of the Fort’s most important benefactor has been covered at length on the New York History Blog before.

This weekend the New York Times covered the story:

This summer, the national historic landmark — called Fort Ti for short — began its 100th season as an attraction open to the public with two causes for celebration: the unveiling of a splashy new education center, and an increase in visitors, reversing a long decline.

But instead of celebrating, its caretakers issued an S.O.S., warning that the fort, one of the state’s most important historic sites, was struggling for survival, largely because of a breach between the fort’s greatest benefactor — an heir of the Mars candy fortune — and its executive director.

The problem is money: The fort had a shortfall of $2.5 million for the education center. The president of the board that governs the fort, which is owned by a nonprofit organization, said in an internal memo this summer that the site would be “essentially broke” by the end of the year. The memo proposed a half-dozen solutions, including the sale of artwork from the group’s collection.


Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Teddy Roosevelt and The Adirondack Forest Preserve

This post has been cross-posted to New York History, the blog of Historical News and Views From The Empire State.

In the heart of the Adirondacks is the Town of Newcomb, population about 500. The town was developed as a lumbering and mining community – today tourism and forest and wood products are the dominate way locals make a living. As a result the Essex County town is one of the Adirondacks’ poorer communities ($32,639 median income in 2000). » Continue Reading.


Thursday, August 14, 2008

American Mountain Men at the Adirondack Museum

Press release forwarded for your information:

The Adirondack Museum will host an encampment of American Mountain Men interpreters on August 15 and 16, 2008. The [event is open to the public, but the encampment is by invitation only.

Participants in the museum encampment are from the Brothers of the New York, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Massachusetts segment of the national American Mountain Men organization.

While at the Adirondack Museum the group will interpret the lives and times of traditional mountain men with colorful demonstrations and displays of shooting, tomahawk, and knife throwing, furs, fire starting and cooking, clothing of both eastern and western mountain styles, period firearms, and more. This year’s encampment will include blacksmithing and a beaver skinning demonstration.

Mountain men are powerful symbols of America’s wild frontier. Legends about the mountain man continue to fascinate because many of the tales are true: the life of the mountain man was rough, and despite an amazing ability to survive in the wilderness, it brought him face to face with death on a regular basis.

All of the American Mountain Men activities and demonstrations are included in the price of regular museum admission.

The American Mountain Men group was founded in 1968. The association researches and studies the history, traditions, tools, and mode of living of the trappers, explorers, and traders known as the mountain men. Members continuously work for mastery of the primitive skills of both the original mountain men and Native Americans. The group prides itself on the accuracy and authenticity of its interpretation and shares the knowledge they have gained with all who are interested.


Tuesday, August 12, 2008

New York History – A History Of Taxidermy

Hunters, fishermen, and those interested in taxidermy may find my recent post at New York History interesting. The story includes the “world’s largest mounted fish, maybe the largest piece of taxidermy in the world” – a 73-year-old, 32-foot, mounted whale shark caught off Fire Island in 1935 and believed to have weighed about 8 tons (16,000 pounds).

It also includes a short history of taxidermy and the covers the role of Carl Akeley whose lifelike creations were installed in dioramas at the American Museum of Natural History in New York.

New York History is my new blog of “Historical News and Views From The Empire State.” Recent stories have included:

Historic Central Park Concert Numbers Questioned

A Week of New York Disasters

State Library Thief Expected to Plead Guilty

Executed Today Blog: New York’s Electric Chair


Monday, August 11, 2008

OPINION: Going Local in The Adirondacks

There was an interesting story in Sunday’s Press Republican about Gordon Oil in AuSable Forks. The company was founded by Clifford Gordon in 1921 and is now in it’s third generation. Part of the story was a tiny detail at the end that says a lot about our current economic environment:

“Starting out as Standard Oil of New York — or SOCONY, as the sign on top of the display [at Gordon’s main office] states — in the 1920s it became Mobiloil and then, in 1931, Socony-Vacuum.

Following 1955, every decade or so the parent company underwent business transformations, which included Socony Mobil Oil Co., Mobil Oil Corp., Mobil Corp. and, in 1999, ExxonMobil…

Lewis [Gordon, who operated the business with his brother Waxy for 50 years) recalled the big tanks they used to have, which were cut down for steel during World War II.

“There used to be storage in Plattsburgh,” he said. “Big barges would come through Whitehall and unload up there, and we would go get it.

“Now it all has to be trucked in. All the big companies had their tanks there in Plattsburgh. It’s kind of too bad.”

When the company switched to electrically operated pumps years ago it gave it’s older pumps to a local farmer who used them for many years. That’s the kind of localism we’ve lost and it’s to our detriment.

Localism – involvement in local politics, local economies, an understanding of local culture and the environment, underlies much of the Green movement. It’s not just politics and the environment, it’s about supportive communities of neighbors working together to protect each other from the sometimes ravenous capitalist economy (seen most recently in energy and food costs). It’s what was happening when Gordon Oil gave over those pumps to that farmer. It’s what was destroyed when those tanks were taken down and not replaced.

Localism is also the future we face. I was recently talking with a local hardware store owner, part of the True Value chain. He sells lumber, paint, the usual goods (plus his simply built furniture). He was telling me that he needed a special piece of lumber that he didn’t stock. He took his truck to pick it up at the Home Depot in Queensbury; they were out of stock, so he went to the Lowe’s and found what he was looking for. The piece of lumber cost him an additional $30 in gas for the truck, plus about two hours of time away from his shop. That piece of lumber could have been boughten for a fraction of the price not a quarter-mile away – albeit at a competing lumber store.

The story of the fuel oil storage facilities and the local hardware store owner are revealing for local businesses. They once stocked nearly everything a household needed. As corporations took over our world, local supplies (seen on store shelfs and those Plattsburgh tanks) have had to pared down their stocks as consumers have opted to drive long miles to shop at big box stores (or shippers have turned to trucking and on-demand wharehousing).

That is something that we’re going to see come to an end, although it make take a while for our neighbors to break their old habits. Even if the price of oil goes down before the election (as we argued it would), the damage has been done, and Adirondackers have started turning local out of necessity. That necessity is something local greens have been vociferously saying was bound to happen since the late 1980s, even as they argued for serious political efforts toward locally sustained communities.

The trend toward localism has already begun in a number of segments of Adirondack society – especially among small farmers and local wood products producers – but now we are going to see a much more general trend. Already Chestertown, North Creek, Schroon Lake, and surrounding areas have taxis – that’s right, cabs, right here in the North Country above Warrensburg. Not just a single car either, several companies that range widely through the mountains. You don’t need a taxi unless you are going someplace local.

James Kunstler (recently interviewed locally here) has been the most public area voice for localism. His books are a must-read for people interested in what future local economies could look like:

The Geography of Nowhere: The Rise and Decline of America’s Man-Made Landscape (1994)

Home from Nowhere: Remaking Our Everyday World for the 21st Century (1998)

The Long Emergency: Surviving the End of Oil, Climate Change, and Other Converging Catastrophes of the Twenty-First Century (2006)

One thing Kunstler makes clear, is that it’s not just about energy – food is as important, and there are several ways to get informed about going local.

NCPR recently celebrated 10 years of the Warrensburg Riverfront Farmers’ Market, and new markets have been established around the region in recent years. Local Harvest does a good job online showing where you can find local farmers and farmers markets in our region, but eating local means more than local farmer’s markets. It means connecting with a local CSA (Community Supporter Agriculture) farm, it means growing your own food (alone and in cooperation with your neighbors), and it means shopping locally for locally produced goods.

Speaking of growing your own, Cornell Cooperative Extension has a program for beginning framers that has recently expanded on the web. According to NCPR who recently reported the news, the new site:

…guides new farmers, and farmers changing crops or marketing strategy, step by step through starting a farm business: from setting goals and writing a business plan, to evaluating land, to taxes and permits. There’s a frequently asked questions section, worksheets to download, and an ongoing forum. The website is the latest offering from the New York Beginning Farmers Resource Center. The center is based at Cornell, but its roots are in the North Country.

We need to get to know our local farmers. The Wild Center is holding two more “Farmer Market Days 2008” on September 11th, and October 2nd “in celebration and promotion of the wonderful local food producers in the Adirondack Region.” Naturally we can’t live on the mostly fancy foods the Wild Center’s program seems to focus on, but their effort is a good start to introducing local farm operations to the Adirodnack community at large.

Adirondack Harvest is a buy local food group that was started 7 years ago. They recently received a $50,000 grant to expand their program, which they describe on their site:

Since its inception in 2001, Adirondack Harvest has grown to encompass Clinton, Essex, Franklin, Hamilton, and Warren counties in northeastern New York. These counties contain major sections of the Adirondack Park and the Champlain Valley. Our focus has been on expanding markets for local farm products so that consumers have more choice of fresh farm products and on assisting farmers to increase sustainable production to meet the expanding markets.

A more direct path to lessening food costs and supporting local farms comes from Adirondack Pork, aka Yellow House Farm and a member of Adirondack Harvest, where you can buy a whole or half locally raised pig (or go in on one with another family). A whole pig serves a family of four for about 6-9 months, depending on your eating habits. They raise a pig for you until it weighs about 200-225 pounds. Your pork is prepared for you by a local butcher – you tell them any special cuts, wrapping, etc., you want. Your meat comes to you wrapped, labeled and frozen. It takes a lot less freezer space then you would imagine, and its cheaper.

The bottom line is the economy is changing and the sooner we accept that it true and end our reliance on the big box stores filled with products from half a world away and their corporate partners. They have a stranglehold on our local economy and it’s time we fought back.


Sunday, August 10, 2008

French and Indian War Orderly Books Online

Check out the orderly books of Captain Amos Hitchcock’s Connecticut provincial companies during the French and Indian War – great primary, albeit difficult, reading [pdf]. Here is a description from the New York State Library, which holds the original volumes:

Orderly books are the companies’ official record of all military orders, and include courts martial, disciplinary actions and promotions. These are the orderly books of Captain Amos Hitchcock’s Connecticut provincial companies during the French and Indian War. The volumes also provide a record of troop movements in northern New York and Canada, and encampments at Albany, Fort Edward, Lake George, Crown Point and Fort Ontario.


Thursday, August 7, 2008

New Northern Forest Institute Announced For Newcomb

The DEC has officially announced that the historic Masten House (at left), on the site of the former iron mines in Tahawus in Newcomb, Essex County, will be the site of “a new leadership and training institute that focuses on the research and management of northern forests.” Northern forests is intended to mean the area that “extends from Lake Ontario at Tug Hill, across the Adirondacks to northern Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine.”

Regular Almanack readers know that Eliot Spitzer’s budget called for $125,000 from the Environmental Protection Fund to be put toward SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry’s purchase and rehabilitation of the Masten House – that had apparently fallen through, late in the budget process, but was apparently found somewhere in DEC’s budget..

The DEC’s press release notes:

The project is a cooperative effort that will enhance forest preserve and wildlands management research and contribute to the local economy. ESF will run the Northern Forest Institute (NFI) on a 46-acre portion of a property owned by [Open Space Institute’s] Open Space Conservancy and leased on a long-term basis to the college for $1 a year. Establishment of the institute is being aided by a $1 million grant from Empire State Development to OSI and $125,000 from DEC to ESF. In addition, DEC has committed $1.6 million over the next four years to ESF scientists who will conduct three research projects on visitor demand, experiences, and impacts, as well as a training program for DEC employees responsible for managing recreational visits to New York State forest preserve lands.

The NFI will focus on meeting the educational and research needs of professional audiences, including representatives of state agencies, business leaders, and educators. The institute will also serve the general public, particularly college and secondary school students.

Here is some history of the Masten House from DEC:

Masten House is within the state historic district that encompasses the former town of Adirondack at the southern entrance to the High Peaks Wilderness area. The town was settled in 1826 and was home to one of the region’s first iron mines and early blast furnaces. The village was resettled in the late 19th century as the Tahawus Club…

The eight-bedroom Masten House was built in 1905 near secluded Henderson Lake and was used as a corporate retreat by NL Industries, which operated a nearby mining site. Masten House is within the state historic district that encompasses the former town of Adirondac at the southern entrance to the High Peaks Wilderness area. The town was settled in 1826 and was home to one of the region’s first iron mines and early blast furnaces. The village was resettled in the late 19th century as the Tahawus Club. Then-Vice President Theodore Roosevelt was staying at Tahawus in 1901 when he learned that President William McKinley had been shot. [Actually, as is noted by a commenter below, Roosevelt already knew McKinley was shot, he thought that the President would be OK and so went to Tahawus].


Wednesday, August 6, 2008

1800s Adirondack Natural History Survey Online

The mid-1800s Natural History Survey of New York has been posted online at the New York State Library here. According to a recent note from the Library’s staff:

The Natural History Survey of New York, undertaken in the mid-1800s, covered zoology, flora, mineralogy, geology, agriculture and paleontology. The NYS Library has digitized the first three components of the survey so far. » Continue Reading.


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