Adirondack Life turns 40 this year. In Park years, that’s the time it took to make 6,000 46ers, add 350,000 acres to the Forest Preserve and subtract 12 paper mills (by the magazine’s own count).
Another milestone has been reached: Betsy Folwell marks 20 years with Adirondack Life — half its existence — first as an editor, now as creative director and always, foremost in many readers’ minds, as a writer. The magazine has published a 250-page anthology of Folwell’s essays called Short Carries, and her prose is even clearer and stronger against the plain white pages of a book.
Some of Folwell’s finely-turned phrases take hold from the moment you read them; they underlie how we see this landscape as much as the granite that dictates what kind of moss, ferns and trees root here. For me, one of her most unforgettable essays is “Lessons From a Dead Loon” (July/August 1989):
“‘I thought maybe you could do something about this,’ the conservation officer told me as he laid the dead loon on the grass. A number-four snelled hook was stuck in the bird’s throat; he had drowned at the end of a fisherman’s set-line off Rock Island in Blue Mountain Lake.”
What struck me is not only that cops seek Folwell out for help, but how acutely observant she is. She knew “our diver . . . one of a pair that made the daily circuit from Lake Durant to Blue Mountain, as predictable as church bells.” She knew her bird just as she knows Elvis, the curled-lip black bear that cruises her back yard; Gerard, the old river driver; the “tow-headed tamaracks” in the October bogs; and the tourists who held a tug-of-war over a Sunday New York Times at a general store she ran one summer.
Short Carries: Essays from Adirondack Life by Elizabeth Folwell is available for $16.95 at adirondacklife.com and in North Country bookstores.
Beginning Saturday, May 9, master bird bander Mike Peterson will again begin banding migrating birds that pass through the Crown Point peninsula on Lake Champlain. The program is a well-established and indispensable technique for studying the movement, survival and behavior of birds.
Bird banding has been used for more than 100 years to keep track of the activities of wild birds. Banding involves placing a metal or plastic band around the leg of a wild bird and then releasing it back into the wild. If the bird is recovered in the future, either dead or alive, the information is sent to the original bander. In this way, scientists can find out how far birds travel how long they live, where they spend their winters and whether the species populations are rising or falling. » Continue Reading.
Sunday is the Spring Blossom Fiddle Jamboree in Long Lake — part concert, part competition, part social gathering. The event draws fiddlers of all ages and abilities from across the North Country. They are invited to show up with two or three tunes in their head, and they take turns on stage, backed by legendary North Country fiddler Donnie Perkins and his talented family band. A featured fiddler also performs several sets.
Fiddle meets are held across the North Country, and each enclave has its own approach. In Redford, for example, folks are accustomed to dancing. In Long Lake people mostly sit, listen and tap feet. A few old timers come out of the woods to play old-time hits like “Golden Slippers”; young’ns discovering perennial regional favorites like “St. Anne’s Reel” and “Whiskey Before Breakfast” are well represented.
The jamboree begins at 12:30 at the Long Lake Town Hall and ends when the last fiddler leaves the stage.
Congratulations to five Lake Placid residents who won the team category in the Tuckerman Inferno pentathalon Saturday. The course links running (8.3 miles), downriver kayaking (7.5 miles), bicycling (18 miles), hiking (3.5 miles) and finally a 600-foot climb-up/ski-down of Tuckerman Ravine, the spring backcountry ski mecca on the side of New Hampshire’s Mount Washington. The Inferno combines the April recreation options of hardcore Northeastern mountain jocks. Team Lake Placid finished in 3:46:21, ten minutes ahead of a second-place group from Vermont. The Lake Placid crew comprised people who manage to stay seriously fit despite serious day jobs: Marc Galvin (run), Charlie Cowan (kayak), Edward Sparkowski (bike), Jeff Erenstone (hike) and Laurie Schulz (ski).
Also Saturday fourteen club cyclists with Team Placid Planet finished the punishing 65-mile Tour of the Battenkill in southern Washington County, the largest bike race in the United States. The loop includes about 15 unpaved miles and attracts both amateur and pro riders with its challenging hills. Among Adirondackers competing were Keith Hager, Dan Anhalt, Bill McGreevy, Charlie Mitchell, Jim Walker, Bruce Beauharnois, Ed Smith, Dan Reilly, Bill Schneider, Bill Whitney, Tim Akers, Shawn Turner, Darci LaFave and Susanna Piller.
Mary Thill’s post about recent Adirondack bank robberies got me thinking about “Canton Eddie” (a.k.a. “Boston Shorty,” Edward Collins, Edward Burns, Harry Wilson and possibly Harry Berger and Eddie Kinsman) who real name is believed to have been Edward Wilson, a native of St. Lawrence County who was born in about 1876 in Canton. He was the perpetrator of a string of daring robberies in New York, Massachusetts, and Vermont, and probably elsewhere during his lengthy career. Using nitro-glycerin and “the rest of the safecracker’s outfit” he blew the safes of more than 30 post offices, including the Montpelier, Vermont Post Office at least twice in 1905 and in 1907. By the time he was arrested for the last time in 1916, he had already served a number of prison sentences totaling more than nine years. Wilson turned up as part of a gang of burglars who called Rouses Point their home and roamed and robbed many post offices and stores in the Champlain valley in the early-1890s, including the Ticonderoga Post Office. Several were captured in late December 1894. In 1896 Wilson was sentenced to four years in Clinton Prison under the name Eddie Burns. After his release he served another year in the penitentiary in Columbus Ohio under the name Edward Wilson.
During the summer of 1907 Eddie was making camp at Rouses Point and using nitro-glycerin to rob local safes, including those at post offices in Hermon in St. Lawrence County ($800), at Montpelier, Vermont in June and at Sackets Harbor near Watertown in July 1907. In early November he hit the store of A. P. Boomhauer in Mooers Forks and the next day Napierville, Quebec., where Eddie and three accomplices roughed up a bank manager, blew the safe, and then escaped on a railroad hand-car with $2,000. On January 24, 1908 Canton Eddie was already known as a “notorious post office yegg man” when he was arrested in Lyons, New York, with his partner at the time, James Kelley. It’s believed that he was sentenced to four years in Auburn Prison.
By 1911, Canton Eddie was back at work robbing safes, mostly along the Black River Railroad and St. Lawrence River. On Friday May 19, 1911 he hit the Saranac Post Office located in the H.J. Bull general store. Three explosions blew the store windows out and completely destroyed the safe. Eddie was tracked to Cadyville, near Plattsburgh, but escaped. He hit the Trudeau Post Office in early 1911; by then he was being pursued by the New York Central Railroad Detective Joe McWade, who set up headquarters at various times in Saranac Lake. In June 1911 McWade caught Eddie with John Raymond in a Syracuse Hotel with “enough nitro-glycerin, fuses, and caps . . . to blow up an army.” Eddie was also in possession of a razor case with five small saws. Two other accomplices, including an unnamed chauffeur, escaped capture. McWade turned Eddie over to New York Central Police in Utica. According to press reports, prosecutors didn’t have enough evidence to convict him of robbery so he was released.
In May 1912 Eddie robbed the Post Office at Black River and on May 22, 1912 he was captured again near Utica. This time, giving the name Edward Burns, he was taken to Verona, near Rome, and handcuffed to a man named Frank Murray – he almost immediately broke the handcuffs and both men escaped. In September and October Eddie robbed the Norwood and Waddington post offices and took $1,800.
On June 7, 1912 he robbed the Lake Placid Post Office safe by driving to the south shore of Mirror Lake, taking a boat across the lake, sneaking to the Post Office and jimmying a window before going to work on the safe with his explosives. Heavy blankets were laid over the safe to deaden the sound of the explosion, and its said that a man sleeping just 35 feet away was not awakened. When he was finished he returned to the boat, rowed back across the lake, and drove out of town before sunrise with nearly $3,000. It was three hours before the crime was discovered.
In 1913 and 1914 Eddie was responsible for a number of robberies near the Canadian border, including a store in Standish and the Chazy Lake Delaware & Hudson Railroad Station. In April 1915 Canton Eddie Collins and an accomplice hit the Lisbon Post Office and several other area post offices. Despite his growing a beard to avoid being recognized, he was finally caught during the first week of May 1915 in Syracuse with his accomplice James Post, but again there was not enough evidence to convict him of the post office robberies. “The brainiest and nerviest of crooks,” as the Ticonderoga Sentinel called him, plead guilty to a lesser charge of possessing nitro-glycerin and was sentenced to just a year and eight months in Auburn prison.
Beginning around November 1916 thousands of dollars worth of cash started to turn up missing from mail cars traveling between Buffalo and Niagara Falls. In July 1917 Eddie was in fact back working with a two other men near Buffalo, robbing express freight cars at a watering stop at Wende, New York. They robbed the train station at Akron, New York, and the next night were captured as they returned to Wende to break into the Wende Station.
Joe McWade, the New York Central detective who made his headquarters at Saranac Lake during the first search for Canton Eddie, was a man of some adventure himself. In 1913, while on duty at Tupper Lake Junction, he shot two Canadians who were hopping the train when he ordered them off and they ran – one man later died. McWade was arrested and held in the Malone jail; later he was tried for first degree manslaughter, found guilty and fined $500. “The chagrin and remorse which he experienced from his trial and conviction were never forgotten by the detective,” one newspaper reported. “As soon as possible after the trial he sought a position in the southern part of the state where his duties would take him from away from the scene of the unfortunate shooting.”
McWade was once shot several times by a gang of train robbers and for several weeks was hospitalized in Buffalo and near death. After he recovered he went after the same gang and eventually captured them. On another occasion McWade took a job as a porter in a dive hotel where a gang of train robbers were believed to be staying. He got into their good graces and joined them in several robberies of freight cars, helping them bury their loot in a large hole near Lockport, New York. After a week he posted several detectives near the hole and set out with the gang to anther robbery. When they arrived at the hole to deposit their loot, they were all captured.
The New York State Library has been digitizing significant parts of its extensive collection, and some of the new online records pertain to our own Adirondack region.
We noted last August the availability of orderly books of Captain Amos Hitchcock’s Connecticut provincial companies during the French and Indian War. Now the library has a new blog, and it reported yesterday that staff are in the process of digitizing the Reports and Surveys of the Adirondack Mountains compiled by Verplanck Colvin. When they are done, the collection will include 17 books and hundreds of rare 19th century Adirondack maps and plates, like the one above of Lower Saranac Lake and its environs in Townships 21 and 24 (Macomb’s Purchase). It will be an outstanding collection of local maps. When it’s finally online we’ll let you know and add it to our Adirondack Map Round-Up.
This week’s Pulitzer Prize to the Glens Falls Post-Star is not sitting as comfortably as it should. At the risk of being called a sour grape (the P-S published my editorial cartoons for a few years until Editor Ken Tingley and I had a disagreement in 2002), I compared the juror lists from this year and last. Ken Tingley, who sits on the Post-Star editorial board, served as a Pulitzer juror this year (for editorial cartooning) and last year (for commentary). One of his co-jurors on last year’s panel was among the five jurors who awarded Mark Mahoney the prize for editorial writing this year.
Tingley recently told the paper, “When I was a judge last year, I came back and said to Mark, ‘We can play in this league. You can win this thing.’”
No one should diminish editorial page editor Mark Mahoney’s well-deserved honor. It’s just too bad that there was not a little more daylight between the award and Mr. Tingley.
The New York State Police are continuing their investigation into the armed bank robbery at the Community Bank in Tupper Lake on April 10th. They have released the following identifying information on $50.00 bills that were stolen during the robbery: Serial Number / Federal Reserve Bank District # / Series
The State Police are requesting folks compare $50.00 bills in their possession with the ones reported stolen during the robbery. If anyone has information about this currency, they should contact the New York State Police at 518-897-2000.
In late March and early April, cultures from three pine siskins from Warren County yielded Salmonella typhimurium. Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) wildlife pathologists also detected salmonella in a house sparrow found in Putnam County.
The bacteria may be spread via bird feeding. Following is a synopsis from Kevin Hynes, a biologist in DEC’s Wildlife Pathology Unit, with advice for bird feeders:
“The pine siskins that died from Salmonellosis were from two separate areas in the Town of Queensbury. I am not sure where the Salmonella in these cases originated, perhaps from bird seed that was contaminated during the manufacturing or distribution process or, more likely, from seed and areas around birdfeeders becoming contaminated by the feces of infected resident birds.
“Typically in the late winter and early spring we see the pine siskins and common redpolls dying from Salmonellosis. These birds are winter visitors to New York from Canada, and they appear to be unusually sensitive to Salmonella poisoning. The siskins and redpolls may also be stressed as they travel south in search of food. Occasionally we see our year-round resident birds like house sparrows succumbing to Salmonellosis, but not as commonly as the siskins and redpolls, which leads me to believe that the resident birds have a higher tolerance for Salmonella and can act as carriers, infecting feeders, and areas around feeders, with feces containing Salmonella bacteria.
“Try to keep your feed dry because Salmonella grows better in moist environments. It is a good practice to take your feeders down once a week and sanitize them with a 10% bleach solution (1 part chlorine bleach to 9 parts water), and shovel or sweep up the spilled seed under your feeders and discard it in the trash where birds will not have access to it. In addition, if you notice birds acting sick (sitting alone all “puffed up” or acting weak) you should take your feeders down for a week or two to allow the birds to disperse, clean up any spilled seed from the ground and sanitize the feeders by soaking them in a 10% bleach solution for at least 10 minutes before drying them and resuming feeding. Wear gloves when cleaning bird feeders and wash your hands afterwards.
“If you find dead birds, caution must be exercised when disposing of the carcasses, because humans and pets are susceptible to Salmonella infection. Birds sick with Salmonellosis are easy prey for cats and dogs which can then become infected with Salmonella, which can result in sickness and death. The NYSDEC Wildlife Pathology Unit may be interested in examining birds found dead at feeders (especially if there are four or more at one time) please contact your Regional NYSDEC Wildlife office for guidance or visit the NYSDEC website.”
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