Monday, May 7, 2007

CIA, The Patriot Act, and The Indian Lake Project

Indian Lake Project MKULTRAUnprecedented restrictions on American freedom of travel on the northern and western borders of the Adirondacks have apparently not been reflected in the recent 2006 tourism study [pdf].

Still, the story of 66 year-old Andrew Feldmar, a well-known Vancouver psychotherapist, is indicative of the increasing misuse of the USA Patriot Act that threatens the Adirondack tourism industry. » Continue Reading.


Thursday, April 12, 2007

Adirondackers, Global Warming, & The End Of The World

Carl Thomas of Stony Creek, like his neighbor and Warrensburg First Baptist Church preacher Roger Richards, are regular writers to the Adirondack Journal. There’s a sense that both men believe they have it all pretty-well figured out. They know that evolution and global warming are a bunch of bull and they have no trouble lecturing their neighbors as to why. They don’t use words like “I think” because they prefer “the bible says.”

This past week, as nearly 1,500 communities across the county are preparing to meet together to teach and learn from each other and to renew a call for our nation’s leaders to make some progress – in Bill McKibben’s words, “to Step It Up” – in reducing our emissions of greenhouse gases, Carl Thomas thought it important to write a letter to the editor to say that there was “one major problem with McKibben’s idea: God’s Word.” Then he cited his proof from Matthew, Luke, Mark, and Psalms.


Based on what he calls “simple math” Stony Creek Carl believes that about 2030 is when the world will end, and there is nothing we can do about it – reducing carbon emissions, conserving energy, protecting the environment – it’s all in vain. “To the believer this is what we have been waiting for through the years,” Thomas wrote this past week, saying that “all scholars agree” that 1948 signaled the re-establishment of Israel and, since Psalms it says that most people live to be 70 or 80, “simple math mean[s] by2028…this age will end.”

Stony Creek Carl is one in a long line of true believers with apocalyptic math-bible obsessions. William Miller, of Low Hampton in Washington County, was recently notable for his own widely adopted math-bible obsession.

Miller was one of the earliest and most renowned proponents of what is now called Adventism – a belief held by the present 7th Day Adventist, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and others that the second advent (second coming) of Christ was imminent. Miller, and the Millerites who accepted his teachings, believed the world would end in 1843. This was based on Miller’s “simple math” and supported by Daniel 8:14, which notes that “it will take 2,300 evenings and mornings; then the sanctuary will be reconsecrated.” You can figure out for yourself how that theory worked out.

Like Stony Creek Carl, William Miller did some figurin’ and decided that “2,300 evenings and mornings” actually meant 2,300 years. And since the 2,300 years started in 457 B.C. when Artxerxes I of Persia (that’s basically Iran/Iraq/Syria) allowed the rebuilding of Jerusalem, Miller’s “simple math” determined that Christ would return, and the world would end, in 1843. “I was thus brought” Miller wrote, “to the solemn conclusion, that in about twenty-five years from that time 1818 all the affairs of our present state would be wound up.”

Among Millers earliest believers was a man who Miller described as his “best friend on earth,” Chester Baptist Church pastor Truman Hendryx. Letters between William Miller and Hendryx reveal a close friendship, and a firm belief the world would soon end with Christ’s arrival, albeit with some question as to whether they had the time of his arrival correctly calculated. When the first biography of the William Miller was written in the 1870s, it included reprints of the two men’s correspondence.

Hendryx, Miller, and Stony Creek Carl are united in the belief that the world is going end soon – unfortunately for them (or fortunately, depending on your view) they didn’t have the same bible-math teacher.

There are however, glaring difference in the beliefs of the three men. During Hendryx and Miller’s time a debate regularly raged in Warren County about whether something should be done about slavery. Hendryx and Miller believed that slavery was awful, that it didn’t matter much whether or not slaves were free or not because, well, the world was going to end anyway. Still, they opposed slavery, and spoke passionately about its evils. They did something about slavery because they believed it was wrong. They believed they and their neighbors to the south could do better. Better for the humans held in bondage, and better in terms of their own (and their neighbors) sense of right and wrong.

It’s too bad Stony Creek Carl (and others like him) don’t feel the same way about global warming, one of the more important debates of our own time.

On Saturday, there will be at least a dozen Step It Up events inside the Adirondack Park. We received a number of invitations to local events, but we hope to split our own time between the event at Garnet Hill Lodge near North Creek (with hopes of enjoying the “Adirondack vegetarian buffet lunch” from 12 to 1) and an evening at Bolton Landing where Big Tuna and Blues Highway will be playing at 5 pm, at The Conservation Club (on Edgecomb Pond Road).


Thursday, March 15, 2007

Two Years Old – An Adirondack Blog History

This week marks our second anniversary here at the Adirondack Almanack. Big thanks to all our regular readers and a big hello to the new readers arriving every week. If you like what you read here, why not support the Almanack by making your next Amazon purchase through us and/or letting your friends know about us? If you own a local business contact us about advertising here.

Before we get started on blogging in the Adirondacks, Rebecca Blood has put together a nice history of blogging – which has been said to have begun in December 1997 when Jorn Barger first used the term Weblog.

State of the Blogosphere

David Sifry (founder and CEO of Technorati) periodically updates the state of the blogosphere. Here are some of his most interesting blog facts from one year ago:

[Technorati] currently tracks over 75,000 new weblogs created every day, which means that on average, a new weblog is created every second of every day – and 13.7 million bloggers are still posting 3 months after their blogs are created. In other words, even though there’s a reasonable amount of tire-kicking going on, blogging is growing as a habitual activity. In October of 2005, when Technorati was only tracking 19 million blogs, about 10.4 million bloggers were still posting 3 months after the creation of their blogs. In addition to that, about 2.7 million bloggers update their blogs at least weekly.

When Adirondack Almanack first went online in 2005 Technorati was tracking over 7.8 million weblogs. They apparently stopped tracking the number of blogs after last summer’s debate over the accuracy of Sifry’s assertion that there were 55 Million weblogs and growing. Still, the number is huge and growing all the time.

The Pew Internet & American Life Project estimated in July 2006 that the “US blog population has grown to about 12 million American adults,” about 8% of adult American internet users. “The number of US blog readers was estimated as 57 million adults (39% of the US online population), although few of those people read widely or read often.” [link]

Adirondack Blogs

A look at the sidebar of Adirondack Almanack reveals that there are now 20 blogs written in the Adirondacks, nearly all created in the last year or so. When Adirondack Almanack went online there was (we believe) just one, Brain Clouds, by North Country Public Radio’s poet-web-guy Dale Hobson (apparently founded in April 2002). Coincidentally, the Adirondack’s second two blogs, Adirondack Musing and Adirondack Almanack, were founded on the same day (March 10, 2005).

Mainstream media has been slow to catch on and local, old-style, media have reported only once on local blogs. The Glens Falls Post Star’s Conrad Marshall wrote a piece in May of 2005. Back in January, Stephen Barlett wrote a piece on blogging for the Plattsburgh Press Republican that regurgitated the typical threat-to-young-people scare tactics and failed to mention a single local blog including the paper’s own “folksy” blog On The Sly, written by Foxy Gagnon (hardly a danger to youth). Oddly, just a month later, the Press Republican announced what it’s calling a “newsroom blog” aptly titled On The Beaten Path and featuring a post by Bartlett. The blog is aptly titled because it travels the same well-worn road as the rest of the paper and so far goes almost nowhere exceptional.

As far as new media trends are concerned, the Glens Falls Post Star has finally smartened up and abandoned the online subscription model, and now provides free access to the Post Star’s web readers (which we suggested a couple years ago). They tried a Don Coyote blog which was abandoned fairly quickly. Then came Maury Thompson’s All Politics is Local blog, er column, which so far has had little new or unusual to add to the local political reporting. No local mainstream media outlet has managed to have a truly successful blog, even on the most basic level of Adirondack Almanack or Adirondack Musing, let alone the success of the Times Union’s Capital Confidential, which actually provides additional context to stories (by occasionally covering third parties for instance), local connections to national stories, and occasionally a breaking story or inside scoop.

What’s Good Locally

Many of our regular readers come to us by way of our RSS feed, having signed up after we mentioned we set up the feed and mentioned our own experience with feed readers (particularly Bloglines) last summer. A large number of regular readers of the Almanack also come by way of our e-mail subscription. All the local papers with web content have good RSS feeds, except the Adirondack Daily Enterprise which is on its way to missing the boat entirely.

Not surprisingly, North Country Public Radio is the one local media outlet that has an established web presence of real merit. While we salute their acceptance of the blog community, (especially their inclusion of Adirondack Almanack as a “featured blog”), their own blog – iNCPR: Staff Blog of North Country Public Radio – hasn’t had a post since late January. Despite a tag line that says “A peek behind the curtain at member-supported North Country Public Radio” there have only been eight posts, all but one in November of last year. They can be forgiven to some extent, because NCPR already has a great site with lots of local “behind the scenes” content and their small staff and small budget no doubt make it difficult to keep up with the blog. Their RSS feeds are well done and inclusive of the majority of their stories – something way ahead of the Adirondack’s other NPR station, WAMC, which is wallowing in fairly lame local content and proprietary feeds that make following their news on a standard feed reader impossible. So compared to the better funded WAMC, NCPR is a web giant who deserves the accolades we more often heap on it.

As long as we’re talking NCPR, here are a couple of questions / suggestions:

Where is the RSS feed for 8 O’Clock Hour?

How about including every story and feature program in the RSS feed seperately? We’re thinking about All Before Five in particular?

How about getting an intern to update the iNCPR blog?

How about doing a story on Adirondack blogging?

Now that you know how we feel, drop us a note (e-mail address at right) and let us know how we can improve the Almanack.

UPDATE 3/23/07
We received the following note from a reader. We’re reprinting it here because we think it accurately reflects the attitude at least some at the Post Star have had about new media – an attitude we hope they’ve changed.

I was either living in the area or had just relocated from North Creek to Buffalo when the P-S went to a pay site. I wrote to complain and received a bitchy letter back from an editor (can’t remember who, sadly) about how within two years every newspaper would be a pay site and I was basically lucky they’d been free this long. Right about now, I’m trying not to gloat.


Sunday, February 4, 2007

Black History Month: Adirondack Stories

For Black History Month, the Adirondack Almanack presents a list of stories of African-American history in the Adirondacks.

Adirondack Slaves
The first slaves arrived in New Netherlands in the 1620s and before slavery was finally, albeit gradually, abolished in New York in 1827, we have numerous examples of slaves in the Adirondacks. Several were taken captive by French and Indian raiders who attacked the Schuyler plantation (then Old Saratoga, now present day Schuylerville) in 1745. They were transported along the Lake George, Lake Champlain corridor to Canada. Black slaves (and some free blacks) were at the siege of Fort William Henry by Montcalm in 1757 and at the Fort George in 1780. At Whitehall, slaves owned by Philip Skene (who had a daughter that was half African American) probably mined the iron for cannonballs used by Benedict Arnold at Valcour Island in 1776. William Gilliland’s diary frequently mentioned “my negro Ireland” who cleared Gilliland’s land and planted his crops. Census records of the poor house in Warrensburgh noted two former female slaves were residents in 1850. » Continue Reading.


Saturday, January 20, 2007

Aquarium of the Adirondacks

This week news broke of a plan for a Aquarium of the Adirondacks – described in their mission statement as a “unique interdisciplinary attraction as the only aquarium facility of its kind to feature species of the Adirondack Region in addition to aquatic exhibits from around the world.”

In smartly keeping one eye on the Adirondack region, the Aquarium hopes to “foster stewardship by merging culture, history and science to promote learning and understanding of the incredible depth of the Adirondack landscape and a broader appreciation and respect for the global world of water.”

Sure the earth is two-thirds water, but only recently has the underwater world around us been truly explored. Only recently, for instance, have we even discovered that America’s Oldest Intact Warship was laying in the south basin of Lake George.

The aquarium’s developers are looking for a location for a 60,000-square-foot aquarium with parking and outdoor features. Our suggestion? The old Gaslight Village property – how about a creative facility that is nothing like the poorly designed Lake George Forum (notice there are no photos of the crappy building on their site), but rather includes native architecture, integrated convention / aquarium / wetlands space – just onshore from one of America’s greatest wreck dives – the 1758 Land Tortoise radeau. An option on the land has just lapsed. Think of it, Lake George Steamboat Company, a National Historic Landmark and New York State Submerged Heritage Preserve, and the Queen of American Lakes.

The most important draw we have in the Adirondacks is our natural environment. Developing the Adirondacks as the premier location to experience the natural world is a good idea – the Adirondacks has the potential to be the greatest living natural history center in the east – that’s a sustainable and laudable environmental and economic goal.

Here’s hoping the Aquarium of the Adirondacks joins the Adirondack Wild Center in promoting it.


Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Adirondack Architectural Heritage 2007 Awards

Adirondack Architectural Heritage has announced awards for six local property owners and partnerships for “sensitive restoration, rehabilitation and long-term stewardship.” Unfortunately, their website does not include the most recent winners. From what we’ve gathered from the Press Republican, they are:

Bob Reiss and Doug Waterbury for stewardship of Santa’s Workshop, founded in 1949 in Wilmington.

Fred Schneider, Web Parker, and Chris Covert of Renaissance Development for restoration of the circa 1906 Stark Hardware Building in Saranac Lake.

Robert Mayket, Tim Maloney, Todd Kemp, and Brian Boyer for a sensitive restoration of the Twin Pines boathouse on Loon Lake (circa early 1900s).

Bill Zullo for long-term stewardship the 1870 Bed & Breakfast in Indian Lake.

Gary Heurich for restoration and relighting of the Split Rock lighthouse, in Essex on Lake Champlain. The lighthouse was established in 1838 and replaced in 1867.

Paul and Shirley Bubar for appropriate restoration of the Wells House in Pottersville (built in 1845).

From their website, where they maintain a list of endangered properties in the Adirondacks:

Adirondack Architectural Heritage (AARCH) is the nonprofit historic preservation organization for New York State’s Adirondack Park. AARCH was formed in 1990 with a mission to promote better public understanding, appreciation and stewardship of the Adirondack’s unique and diverse architectural heritage. This legacy includes not only the nationally recognized “Great Camps” and other rustic buildings but also the many other structures that embody the whole range of human experience in the region. These other structures include: a wide variety of homes and farmsteads; the churches, commercial buildings, town halls and libraries that make up most Adirondack settlements; bridges, railroad buildings, lighthouses and other transportation related structures; and industrial sites related to the region’s important iron, wood, quarrying and tanning industries.


Thursday, September 28, 2006

Animal Encounters: Moose in the Adirondacks

Relatively fewer hunters and natural predators combined with the amazing adaptability of some species has led to a recent boom in the populations of New York’s largest animals – moose, bear, deer, coyotes and bobcats. In the past few years a 400 pound bear was shot in the City of Albany’s Washington Park after it wandered for a couple hours around the downtown area. In 1997, a moose wandered Albany’s inner city neighborhood of Arbor Hill before being relocated. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, September 19, 2006

International Talk Like A Pirate Day: Adirondacks Edition

September 19th is International Talk Like A Pirate Day and in celebration we’ll look at pirate treasure in the Adirondacks.

Obviously, pirates in the region were few and far between. OK, we can’t even come up with a single one, but that doesn’t mean we don’t have stories of buried pirate treasure.

University of California at Davis Professor of History Alan Taylor has explored “Treasure Seeking in the American Northeast, 1780-1830” and reports that: » Continue Reading.


Saturday, September 2, 2006

Warren County: Eagle Point on Schroon Lake

The sandy beach landing at Eagle Point in Pottersville on Schroon Lake was probably used as a campsite for thousands of years. A short road along the point was already improved for at least 20 years before it was purchased by the State of New York in 1928. Over the next year the state built the Eagle Point Campground with 64 improved sites along a one mile stretch between Route 9 (the International Highway) and the lake – another eight sites were added later.

It now has hot showers, flush toilets, pay telephones, and a small quarters for the DEC caretaker. It’s also a favored spot for some of the folks over at Scream and Fly.


Tuesday, August 29, 2006

10 Deadliest Accidents in The Adirondack Mountain Region

Yesterday’s crash of a Greyhound bus near Elizabethtown reminds us of some of the tragic events that have occurred in the Adirondack region. Here is a list of the ten we believe were most tragic:

October 2, 2005 – Ethan Allen Sinking
Twenty-one people drown when the Lake George excursion boat Ethan Allen flips and sinks while turning against a wave.

1903 – Spier Falls Dam Ferry Capsizes
Sixteen men and a young boy were drowned when a ferry carrying workers capsized on the Hudson River near the Spier Falls Dam (then under construction) in Moreau between Lake Luzerne and Mount McGregor. The ferry was overloaded when high water made a temporary bridge too dangerous to use.

November 19, 1969 – Crash of Mohawk Airlines Flight 411
A twin prop-jet commuter plane (a Fairchild-Hiller 227, a.k.a. Fokker F-27) flying from La Guardia Airport in NewYork to Glens Falls crashes on Pilot Knob killing all 14 onboard. The accident is blamed on downdrafts on the leeward side of of the mountain.

August 3, 1893 – Sinking of the Steamer Rachel
The Lake George excursion steamer Rachel, chartered by more than twenty guests of the Fourteen Mile Island Hotel to take them to a dance at the Hundred Island House, is steered by an inexperienced Captain out of the channel and into an old dock south of the hotel. the old peir tears a large hole in the side of the boat below the water line and twelve were killed – many caught on the shade deck as the boat listed and almost immediately sinks.

July 30, 1856 – Burning of the John Jay
The 140-feet long Lake George steamer John Jay, loaded with 70 passengers, catches fire near the Garfield House about ten miles south of Ticonderoga on Lake George. Five die trying to swim to shore to escape the flames. The fire is blamed on an overburdened soot-clogged smokestack – the crew had kept a large hot fire in the boiler in order to make up lost time.

June 3, 1927 – Chazy Lake School Picnic Drownings
Five students, one quarter of the Dannemora High School senior class, drown when their rowboat is swamped in a squall on Chazy Lake during an interclass picnic. The only survivor is their teacher Emma Dunk, whose hand was caught in the boat keeping her above the cold water after she lost consciousness.

August 28, 2006 – Greyhound Interstate Bus Crash
Five passengers are killed when a Greyhound Bus Company’s bus No. 4014, traveling from New York City to Montreal, and making midafternoon stops in Albany and Saratoga Springs, overturns on the Northway (I-87) just before Exit 31 near Elizabethtown.

1995-2005 – Drownings at the Starbuckville Dam
A dangerous backflow whirlpool kills five swimmers at the Starbuckville Dam on the Schroon River over the course of ten years. The dam is finally rebuilt in 2005-2006.

August 12, 2003 – Split Rock Falls Drownings
Four teenagers, all ages 18 and 19, drowned at Split Rock Falls near Elizabethtown while on their day off from their jobs as camp counselors for a Minerva camp. When one fell into the water the other three tried to rescue him.

February and September 2004 – Border Patrol Checkpoint Accidents
In two separate accidents four are killed and more than 60 injured (four critically) when Canadian based buses fail to see a US Border Patrol checkpoint on Interstate 87 in Elizabethtown – poor signage is blamed.

We’d be interested in hearing about others.


Friday, August 25, 2006

Warren County: Starbuckville Dam / Schroon River

The new Starbuckville Dam on the Schroon River was put into service this summer by the Schroon Lake Park District. The old deteriorated timber dam (a replacement for the dam someone dynamited in the 1890s) was replaced with a 158 foot long steel reinforced concrete overflow spillway (at the same elevation).

The old 16 foot gate was replaced with two 14 foot wide gates and a new a fish passage area was added along with a stepped spillway to reduce water turbulence below the dam. In the previous ten years five swimmers had been killed after being trapped in the backflow at the bottom of the dam. » Continue Reading.


Thursday, August 24, 2006

Adirondack Pool Balls: The Albany Billiard Ball Company

Here in the Adirondacks local pubs almost always have a pool table. For most of the history of Adirondack billiards, the Albany Billiard Ball Company supplied the balls. The company is believed to be one of the earliest plastics companies in the world.

According to The Smithsonian the business was started in 1868 in the South End of Albany. John Wesley Hyatt (1837-1920), one of the company’s founders, was the inventor of celluloid which was used as a substitute for ivory, from which billiard balls were then being made (before the 1600s, bibilliardalls were made of wood).

According to Brunswick: “Ivory from elephant tusk grows in an annual ring, much like a tree. A blood vessel that goes through the center of the tusk can be seen as a black dot.” The dot served as the center mark of the ball where the ball was pinned while being turned on a lathe.”

The Plastiquariana> reports that:

[Albany billiard ball maker] Phelan & Collander were offering a $10,000 reward for a suitable substitute for ivory, the growing shortage of which was threatening their business. Hyatt spent several years in the search for such a material but there is no evidence that the prize was ever awarded. Indeed, Hyatt set up his own manufacturing company which, a little later, became the Albany Billiard Ball Company. Initially, composition balls were coated in a coloured layer of almost pure cellulose nitrate [called collodion].

According to the Smithsonisn, The “Hyatt” composition ball dominated barroom and pool hall tables until the 1960s, but according to the Billiards Guide:

Unfortunately, the new balls could shatter under hard impact and manufacture of them had to be stopped until a fix for this problem was found. The discovery that solved this problem was celluloid. However, because of the problems with his earlier billiard balls, acceptance of these celluloid billiard balls did not come easily. However, this process did lead to the discovery of Bakelite and cast-phenolic resins which are the main components of billiard balls even to this day.

Thanks for the photo and idea from an anonymous Craiglist Request.

Some Adirondack Pool Links

The Winners of Last Year’s Joss Cues Northeast 9 Ball Tournament at Adirondack Billiards in Glens Falls

The Greater Albany American Poolplayer Association


Suggested Reading

Byrne’s Complete Book of Pool Shots: 350 Moves Every Player Should Know

Byrne’s Treasury of Trick Shots in Pool and Billiards


Wednesday, August 23, 2006

With Pipe and Book: Will Lake Placid Lose The Adirondacks’ Best Book Store?

Although it was reported a couple weeks ago by NCPR, Tigerhawk reminds us that With Pipe and Book, a landmark Lake Placid book store is closing next year after 29 years. We quoth:

While looking around I overheard a conversation between another customer and the cashier, and when my son had finally succeeded in herding me to the register I asked the cashier if what I thought I had overheard was true. Yes, she said. Breck and Julia Turner, proprietors, were retiring and the store will be closing next summer. It was sad news, but I was heartened to hear that, if the store must close, it is the choice of the owners and not due to lack of business or escalating rents. I will miss it terribly, and after it is gone my family will find me far less interested in driving the 35 miles from our quiet lakeside camp to the touristy streets of Lake Placid.

For those who love books and/or tobacco and have reason to be in the region, I strongly recommend you drop by With Pipe and Book in its last year of existence, and enjoy a very special store. It is located at 91 Main Street, Lake Placid, New York, and can be called at 518-523-9096.

A very special store indeed – the Almanack wishes them well. Their moving on points-up us how important local business is, particularly in this case to local book publishers and writers like the late Barbara McMartin who no doubt sold quite a few copies out of Lake Placid.

Three of our favorite local history and culture bookstores:

Owl Pen Books in Greenwhich, Washington County, NY

HOSS’s Country Corner in Long Lake, Hamilton County, NY

Old Forge Hardware, in Old Forge, Herkimer County, NY


Suggested Reading

The “Edge” of Humor and Other Stories of Lake Placid People


Friday, August 11, 2006

Adirondack Local History Up in Flames

Adirondack landmarks have had a tough year so far – first there was the arson that destroyed the Episcopal Church in Pottersville and then last week the Brant Lake General Store went up in flames.

The Brant Lake General Store was one of those classic places found all around the Adirondacks – part deli, part bait shop, part hardware store, newsstand and convenience store. It only recently changed hands (the new owners added a liquor store) when it caught fire sometime after midnight on August 1. The store’s former owner, Roger Daby, was among firefighters from six local companies and who fought the three alarm fire. » Continue Reading.


Monday, August 7, 2006

Adirondack Birding Google Maps Mash-Up

Thanks to TourPro at Adirondack Base Camp for pointing us to the lastest offering from the Adirondack Regional Tourism Council – an Adirondack birding map!

And while we’re at it – we’ll refer you to our own Adirondack Map round-up from about a year ago.


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