Wednesday, January 13, 2010

An Adirondack Snowmobiling Round-Up

Recent heavy snows mean that snowmobile season is underway so I thought I would take the opportunity to offer a round-up of Adirondack snowmobiling facts, figures, and resources and point newer Almanack readers to a five-part history of snowmobiling in the Adirondacks I wrote in 2007. Snowmobiling was the subject about a dozen posts in 2009; Notable was Mary Thill’s Homegrown Adirondack Sled Porn. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, January 12, 2010

APA May Exempt Lake George Boathouses from New Rules

If a proposal by the chairman of the Lake George Park Commission is adopted, Lake George camps will be exempt from pending Adirondack Park Agency (APA) regulations banning rooftop sun decks on boathouses.

At a heated public hearing on the Adirondack Park Agency’s proposed rules, held at the Lake George Town Hall on January 7, Lake George Park Commission chairman Bruce Young said the APA should authorize the Commission to continue regulating boathouses and docks on Lake George.

“I don’t see what the APA will do that is different from what the Lake George Park Commission does now,” said Young. “There should be provisions in the new regulations exempting the Lake George Park, and I would hope that the APA would honor our request.”

Adirondack Park Agency chairman Curt Stiles will meet with Young to discuss his proposition, said Keith McKeever, a spokesman for the agency.

Speaking one day after the public hearing, McKeever said that APA staff members have already expressed interest in Young’s proposal.

“Chairman Young made a valid point that overlapping regulations can be confusing and redundant, and that can lead to inefficiency,” said McKeever. “Deferring to the Lake George Park Commission would provide the Adirondack Park Agency with an opportunity to adhere to Governor Paterson’s directive to save taxpayers’ money by sharing services and eliminating duplication.”

Mike White, the executive director of the Lake George Park Commission, said he was not informed of Young’s proposal in advance of the public hearing.

But, he said, the Commission has a history of assuming authority from other state agencies to regulate activities on Lake George.

“We’ve directly co-ordinated with other agencies in the rule-making process to avoid duplication, and we’ve been delegated authority by other agencies to issue permits for some regulated activities,” said White.

If the new rules are adopted, authority to regulate boathouses could easily be transferred back to the Lake George Park Commission through a Memorandum of Understanding, said Peter Bauer, the executive director of The Fund for Lake George and a member of the APA’s Technical Advisory List, which the agency consulted when drafting the proposed regulations.

Without that delegation of authority, any new boathouses constructed on Lake George would probably be shorter and smaller than most of those currently permitted by the Lake George Park Commission and local governments.

Under the proposed rule, boat houses will not be allowed to exceed 15 feet in height, can be no larger than 900 square feet and must have pitched roofs.

At the public hearing on January 7, the requirement that roofs be pitched drew the heaviest fire from Lake George residents, contractors and boathouse builders.

According to Jeff Provost, the owner of a firm specializing in the construction of docks and boat houses, “Boathouses with flat roofs are the most popular type of boathouses in this region; it’s what people want.”

The flat roofs are typically used as sun decks, which increases the homeowner’s access to the lakefront and the value of his property.

Because boat houses are exempt from APA rules prohibiting structures within waterfront setbacks, the agency was compelled to develop a definition of boathouses that limited their use to boat storage.

That led to the requirement that roofs be pitched, said Keith McKeever.

It’s also something of an aesthetic mandate, he said.

In 2002, when the Adirondack Park Agency last revised its boat house regulations, the Agency was accused of forcing home owners to build flat, unattractive structures when it contemplated limiting the height of boathouses to 16 feet.

The Agency rejected that provision and chose instead to allow for a wider variety of designs and styles.

According to an APA memo, though, the 2002 regulation was too vague to be easily implemented, and new rules were drafted.

For more news from Lake George, read the Lake George Mirror http://www.lakegeorgemirror.com


Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Adirondack Council Sues Over Snowmobile Plan

The Adirondack Council has announced that is has filed a lawsuit in the New York State Supreme Court in Albany against the Adirondack Park Agency (APA), the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) and the Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation (OPRHP) over their plan to site snowmobile trails in wild areas.

Last fall the Adirondack Council asked the APA to reject DEC’s proposed snowmobile trail plan saying that it was an attempt to keep wide snowmobile trails deep inside the Forest Preserve rather than move them toward the edge of public lands, closer to existing travel corridors. » Continue Reading.


Monday, January 11, 2010

Guilty Pleasures: Skiing Adirondack Backcountry Glades

There’s plenty of good powder in the woods these days. It’s an ideal time for skiing glades.

Good luck finding one. Most backcountry skiers would sooner give out their bank PINs than reveal the locations of their favorite glades.

In the decade I’ve lived here, I’ve stumbled upon a few glades while exploring the woods and learned about others through word of mouth. I ski three or four glades fairly regularly.

It’s a guilty pleasure, though. Many glades are surreptitiously maintained by skiers who cut saplings and underbrush—which is illegal in the forever-wild Forest Preserve.

I’ve talked to skiers who insist that the grooming doesn’t harm the forest. As much as I enjoy skiing glades, I am a tad skeptical. Certainly, it changes the natural environment. Then again, so does just about everything we do in the wild—whether it’s cutting a hiking trail, driving a polluting snowmobile over a marsh, or stocking a stream with hatchery fish. The question is how much alteration of the environment is acceptable.

Recently, I happened to meet a well-respected environmental scientist at a trailhead, and I asked him if thinning glades damaged the forest. His off-the-cuff answer: not much.

An article in Vermont Life takes a hard look at the issue of cutting bootleg trails and thinning glades. One critic argues that cutting saplings creates a forest of even-aged trees and when these trees die, gaps in the forest will emerge. Yet the article also quotes an expert suggesting that glades can be managed to minimize the environmental impact.

Many resorts, including state-run facilities at Whiteface and Gore, have created glades to satisfy their patrons’ desire to ski in a more natural environment. Some backcountry skiers would like to see the state authorize the creation of managed glades in wild portions of the Forest Preserve. Frankly, I see that as a long shot, but it’d be neat if Paul Smith’s College or the state College of Environmental Science and Forestry looked at the impact of ski glades. As a long-term experiment, students could thin a glade on their own, study it over the years, and come up with suggestions for glade management. This information could be useful to resorts and perhaps to backcountry outlaws as well.

Backcountry skiers need to watch what they wish for. If the state did permit maintained glades in the Forest Preserve, everyone would know their locations.

I have a feeling, though, that hard-core enthusiasts would be skiing elsewhere.

Photo by Phil Brown: A skier in an Adirondack glade.

For more stories about backcountry skiing and snowshoeing, visit the Adirondack Explorer website.


Monday, January 11, 2010

2010 Geoff Bodine Bobsled Challenge

What do racing cars, bobsledding, and Lake Placid have in common? They were all represented at this year’s Geoff Bodine Bobsled Challenge, held this weekend at the Olympic Sports Complex in Lake Placid.

The premise of this bobsledding race is unique; instead of bobsled athletes racing against each other, race car drivers and drag racers compete on the famous Lake Placid track. Some notable racers included Morgan Lucas (youngest professional driver on the NHRA tour), Jeg Coughlin (5 time world champion), Shawn Langdon (back-to-back world champion in 2007-2008 in the Super Comp Class), Melanie Troxel (only woman in history to win national events in Top Fuel and Funny Car, the top categories of drag racing), and Joey Logano (the youngest winner in two of NASCAR’S three top divisions).

The challenge is about more than bobsled racing; the Bodine challenge also supports Olympic bobsledding. In 1992, NASCAR veteran Geoff Bodine carried out his idea of introducing US-made sleds to the US Bobsled team. At the time, the US team was racing with European sleds and had not won a medal since the 1956 Winter Games. Bodine decided that, like racing, successful bobsledding depended on having sleds equipped with the most current technology available. The sleds were designed with NASCAR technology, and eventually the US Team broke the Olympic drought when they won silver, bronze (4 man event) and gold (women’s competition) in the 2002 games. Now they are consistent competitors on the World Cup circuit.

Started in 2005, the Geoff Bodine Bobsled Challenge is also a fundraiser to continue the advance in US Bobsled technology. It also gives NASCAR drivers a chance to drive a bobsled and hopefully inspire them to contribute to the project.

This year, the overall winner was Melanie Troxel, the first woman to ever compete in the event. She raced brilliantly, and noted the differences between bobsledding and racing. “It was a totally new experience and a lot to take in,” she said, “I noticed that you get beat around in the sled a lot more, and have to hold your position. I hope to be back next year.”
For more information on the Geoff Bodine Bobsled Challenge and the US Bobsled project, visit the Geoff Bodine challenge website.


Monday, January 11, 2010

Impact of Fireworks On Lake George? Not Much

A Lake George Association study of weekly fireworks displays on Lake George found that there is apparently no significant increase in key contaminants found in fireworks in the lake’s water and sediments. The Association warned, however, that the study was limited in its scope and there is still questions about what level is safe for a key environmental pollutant, perchlorate. Perchlorate is absorbed by the thyroid gland in place of iodine, which can interfere with the thyroid, essential to metabolism and mental development. Perchlorates, barium, and antimony are all associated with fireworks.

Each year lakes around the around the Adirondacks are host to dozens of fireworks display. Lake George sees the most, with weekly displays in Lake George Village, and regular displays at other town parks such as Bolton, and at private organizations and hotels. There is, however, no registration or permitting process for fireworks, so no way to know exactly how many. The sense of some members of the Association that the displays were becoming more numerous each year led to the study.

The Association collected water samples from three sites in Lake George Village before and after five fireworks events last summer and also made a comparison of sediment samples from the village and those taken near Shelving Rock, where no large fireworks displays are believed to have occurred. The samples were analyzed for perchlorates, barium, and antimony. The entire study is available in pdf, but this is what the Association said in a press release this week:

There is no federal or NYS drinking water standard for perchlorate. In 2006 Massachusetts was the first to set such as standard, and set the drinking water standard for perchlorate at 0.002mg/L. Part of the problem is that there isn’t really much agreement on what is or isn’t a safe amount of perchlorate. But for the purposes of our study we used 0.002 mg/L as a reference point. Our results showed no change in perchlorate, with perchlorate levels less then 0.002 mg/L for all tests, before and after firework events. We also did not find a change in antimony levels, and while barium levels slightly fluctuated, the results were also not significant. We also found perchlorate levels of less than 0.002 mg/L in the sediment samples from both locations. Perchlorate-free fireworks are available for use, however they are much more costly than traditional fireworks. Since perchlorate has implications for human and environmental health, a switch to perchlorate-free fireworks for fireworks used over Lake George might want to be considered.

However, our initial findings did not find changes in perchlorate levels in the water attributable to fireworks, so they do not necessarily support the need of this additional expense at this time. We would still like to caution that this study was by no means comprehensive, so we can not know for certain if there is need for a concern over perchlorate or not. We can only weigh our options based on the knowledge we have available to us and do our best to protect Lake George and the economic viability of the region.

Other studies that did find changes in perchlorate levels measured at much smaller intervals. For instance, one study we reviewed had a method detection limit (MDL) of
0.003 ug/L, compared to the MDL of 1.2 ug/L that our lab was able to achieve. So we
might not have been able to detect changes that were present. However, the question of
what levels are relevant in terms of safety for human and environmental health is still
unanswered. Do we need to be able to detect 0.003 ug/L of perchlorate in our drinking
water? We don’t have that answer right now.

What does at least seem to make sense at this time is to track the fireworks displays that occur over Lake George every year, so that we can have a better idea of the number and locations of these events. This is at least a starting point. And then in the mean time we can look for answers to some of the questions that are still out there.


Sunday, January 10, 2010

Bob Marshall in the Adirondacks

It’s safe to say Bob Marshall had left a lasting impression and significant legacy by the time of his death at the age of 38. Although he served only briefly in government—in the 1930s he was chief of forestry in the Bureau of Indian Affairs and then head of recreation management in the Forest Service—his ideas about wilderness preservation have had a lasting impact on wild places across the nation. Best known as the founder of the Wilderness Society, Marshall, with his brother George (and their guide Herb Clark) were the first Adirondack 46ers. The book Bob Marshall in the Adirondacks, edited by the Adirondack Almanack contributor and Adirondack Explorer editor Phil Brown, presents a variety of Marshall’s writings related to the region.

Bob Marshall’s father was Louis Marshall, considered a key player in the founding of the New York State Forest Ranger program and the State Ranger School in Wanakena. Bob Marshall grew up in New York City but spent youthful summers formulating his wilderness ethic in the Adirondacks. Although he was a prolific writer, only eleven of his articles or journals have been published, and so Bob Marshall in the Adirondacks in an important contribution to the history of the Marshalls, wilderness preservation, and the Adirondacks. » Continue Reading.


Saturday, January 9, 2010

APA To Meet: Keenan Reservoir, Lewis Cell Tower, Westport

The Adirondack Park Agency (APA) will meet on Thursday, January 14, 2010 at APA Headquarters in Ray Brook, NY. Highlights of the meeting will include reconstruction of the Keenan Reservoir spillway in Laurene, an application to build a cell tower between exits 31 and 32 of Interstate 87 (Adirondack Northway) in the Town of Lewis, and additions and revisions of the Town of Westport’s local land use program. The one day meeting will be webcast live on the Agency’s website at http://www.apa.state.ny.us. Materials for the meeting can be found at http://www.apa.state.ny.us/Mailing/2010/01/index.htm.

Here is the text of the agency’s meeting announcement:

The Full Agency will convene on Thursday morning at 9:00 with Executive Director Terry Martino’s report highlighting monthly activity. Mrs. Martino will also introduce Elizabeth Phillips, Esq, who was hired in December 2009 as a Senior Attorney in the Legal Division.

At 9:15 a.m., the Regulatory Programs Committee will consider a shoreline structure setback variance request from the City of Glens Falls. The City proposes to reconstruct the Keenan Reservoir spillway which is located off Beartown Road in the Town of Lake Luzerne, Warren County. The reservoir is a component of the City’s water supply source and in need of repair.

The Committee will also deliberate a T-Mobile Northeast, LLC application for construction of a telecommunication tower. The tower would be located west of Interstate 87 (Adirondack Northway) between exits 31 and 32 in the Town of Lewis, Essex County. Project design includes tower space for an additional telecommunications carrier.

The committee meeting will conclude with a presentation highlighting telecommunication projects approved by the Agency in 2009.

At 11:15, the Local Government Committee will convene to review proposed additions and revisions put forth by the Town of Westport related to their approved local land use program. The town has administered an approved program since 1986. These proposals represent a multi-year effort by the Town Board, Planning Board and Zoning Office to correct deficiencies and provide greater opportunities for residents and businesses. Agency planning staff assisted the town in preparing the amendments.

At 1:00, the Economic Affairs, Park Policy and Planning Committees will meet jointly for two presentations. The committees will be briefed by Northern Forest Center Executive Director Rob Riley and Program Manager Joe Short regarding the status of the Sustainable Economy Initiative (SEI) and recently authorized Northern Border Commission.

Tug Hill Commission Executive Director John Bartow will then discuss the Tug Hill Resident and Landowner Survey. This survey was designed to gather input from citizens related to quality of life in the Tug Hill region and attitudes towards future land use decisions. It was a collective effort between Tug Hill Commission professional staff and The Center for Community Studies at Jefferson Community College.

At 2:30, Town of Moriah Supervisor Tom Scozzafava will be the guest speaker for the Community Spotlight presentation. Supervisor Scozzafava will overview his community and highlight important community issues facing this Essex County town.

At 3:00, the State Land Committee will receive an update on revisions to the Interagency Guidelines for Invasive Species Management on State Land. The Committee will also hear an informational presentation on the Jessup River Wild Forest Unit Management Plan Amendment.

At 4:15, the Full Agency will convene to take action as necessary and conclude the meeting with committee reports, public and member comment.

The next Agency meeting is February 11-12, 2009, at the Adirondack Park Agency Headquarters.

March Agency Meeting: March 11-12 2010 at the Adirondack Park Agency Headquarters.


Saturday, January 9, 2010

Adirondack Weather: The Strength of Snow

We’ve all seen it: a branch, a fence post, a sign where the snow that fell upon it seems frozen in a perpetual state of falling off, never quite letting go. How does it do that? It’s not like snow is endowed with abs of steel, or, like a snake, has near mythical suspension abilities thanks to overlapping scales. Or does it?

I’ve been taking the time this winter to read up on, well, winter itself. To most folks snow is merely frozen rain, end of story, but there are people out there who make it their life’s work to study snow, in all its glory, and they have discovered some pretty amazing things. I’m not just talking about how every snowflake is different, or how when water freezes it expands and floats. That’s old hat. I’m talking about the hidden characteristics of snow, those little details that make or break winter survival for small mammals and alpine skiers. It’s pretty amazing stuff.

Snow, as it turns out, has three different phases of metamorphism: destructive, constructive and melt. Each one has its own set of characteristics that influence the snowpack around us. We’ll start with the first and work our way through them.

Let’s say it’s a typical winter day here in the Adirondacks. Flakes of snow drift lazily towards the ground, eventually landing to add their fluffy mass to all those that have gone before. From the moment a snowflake forms, it is acted upon by myriad outside forces, wind and temperature not the least among them. Their delicate forms, be they needles or plates, are battered, melted, and reshaped. Ultimately what remains is a rounded grain of ice. Smaller grains are absorbed into larger grains until all the grains of ice in the snowpack are comparable in size. The warmer it is, the faster this happens.

As you can probably guess, each time a small ice grain melds into a larger one, the associated pockets of air around the grains decrease. Bit by bit, the snowpack gets denser. The grains bond together more strongly. As the bonding increases, so does the mechanical strength of the snow. This is what allows piles of snow to ooze over the edge of a supporting structure while never actually letting go, like in the photo above.

Next comes the constructive metamorphism, alternatively referred to as the creation of a temperature gradient within the snowpack. Basically, what happens is this. The snow at the bottom of the snowpack is warmer than the snow on top. This makes sense, since the earth is warm and the air is cold. Because it is warmer below, the snow at the bottom of the pack begins to sublimate, turn from a solid directly into a gas, in this case from ice to water vapor.

It’s a basic property of physics (the Second Law of Theromdynamics) that stuff migrates from areas of high concentration to areas of low concentration. Therefore, the water vapor produced at the lower portions of the snowpack moves upwards towards colder and drier regions. As the vapor cools, it re-condenses on the ice crystals around it, increasing their size and thus their strength. Meanwhile, sublimation continues below, shrinking the size of the ice crystals at the bottom, reducing their strength, and creating what is known as depth hoar, a very loose and fragile type of snow that makes travel easier for the small mammals that run about under the snowpack while at the same time making it more treacherous for alpine travelers – think avalanche.

The final change that occurs in snow is the melt metamorphism. This may seem pretty straight forward: the air warms up, the snow (and ice) melts. Ah, but the devil is in the details, and this is no different with snow.

Fresh snow is nature’s best reflector of shortwave (solar) energy. Translation: it keeps away the heat of the sun, thus reducing the likelihood of melting. However, as we all know, snow rarely stays in that pristine white condition. Road salt and sand, bird seed and old leaves, branches, bits of bark, cone scales…all sorts of stuff gets onto the snow, changing it from the perfect reflector into something that readily absorbs longwave energy, what we commonly think of as heat. This heat is coming from earthbound objects, like trees. Trees are dark; they soak up the solar energy (shortwave) and release it (longwave) to the surrounding environment. This is why trees (and rocks, and buildings) are often seen with a dearth of snow at their bases – it has all simply melted away.

The details of melt metamorphism have to do with energy exchange: the energy released when a solid becomes a liquid, and the energy required for liquids to refreeze, and how this affects the snowpack as the liquid moves downward through the layers. Suffice it to say that at the end of this process, the entire snowpack has reached a uniform temperature.

Rain and fog continue the melting process. Again, we are looking at energy transfer, but this time from the atmospheric moisture to the snowpack. This is directly influenced by the air temperature and the amount of moisture that is penetrating the snow. In the final analysis, as water evaporates and condenses, energy (heat) is lost, which melts more of the surrounding ice, which evaporates, and condenses…until all the solid water (ice) is gone (either liquid or vapor).

What all this sums up to is the simple fact that the snow beneath our feet is constantly, and I mean constantly, changing. From moment to moment it is never the same. This gives whole new meaning to the phrase “there is nothing permanent but change.” So, we should all go outside and enjoy the freshly fallen fluffy snow while we can, for tomorrow it may be gone.


Friday, January 8, 2010

Weekly Adirondack Web Highlights


Friday, January 8, 2010

Local Genius: Champlain Bridge Designer Ted Zoli

As a rule, bureaucracies and genius are incompatible. A notable exception will be found in the New York State Department of Transportation and the Vermont Transportation Agency, which recently released plans to replace an eighty year old bridge spanning Lake Champlain. Leading the team designing the new bridge is consultant Ted Zoli, a 2009 winner of a MacArthur fellowship, commonly known as the genius award.

Among other things, the MacArthur Foundation cited Zoli’s sensitivity to the context in which his “elegant and enduring” bridges are built, and Zoli clearly appreciates the natural, historical and social context of the bridge at Crown Point. » Continue Reading.


Friday, January 8, 2010

This Week’s Top Adirondack News Stories


Thursday, January 7, 2010

Adirondack Music Scene: Blues, Rock and Folk Duos

There are a lot of great musical acts to choose from this weekend in a variety of locales. I’ll be doing the Dewey Mountain Ski Jam because it’s such fun to ski in the dark and then be all cozy in their small lodge. Plus listening to one of my all-time favorite musicians Steve Langdon is almost enough to keep me from skiing. He sings and plays with such power and conviction, if I’m feelin’ blue his gigs always bring me up.

Friday, January 8th:

In Saranac Lake, Steve Langdon is performing at The Dewey Ski Lodge from 6:30 to 9:30 pm. This is part of the Friday Night Ski Jam and this one features food donated by Eat n Meet.

In Plattsburgh at Gilligan’s Getaway there will be a “Tribute to Simon and Garfunkel” concert. Show starts at 8 pm, ticket’s are $18 in advance and $20 at the door. Call (518) 637 – 4989 for more information. You can also catch this show in Saranac Lake at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at Will Rogers.

In Jay at The Amos and Julia Ward Theatre there will be a JEMS Coffee House featuring Stoneground Express. This trio features Larry Stone throwing some jazz into his accomplished country and blues repertoire.

In Saratoga the band Bearfoot will be performing at Cafe Lena.
I’ve checked out some their material on line and it sounds very very good. They hail from Anchorage Alaska. I wish they were touring closer to my home base.

Saturday, January 9th:

In Saranac Lake, The Stoneman Blues Band will be at The Waterhole. The show starts somewhere between 9:30 and 10pm

In Willington, Lucid will be performing at Steinhoff’s. Love these guys – they start at 10 pm.

In Potsdam, Der Rosenkaalier the Strauss opera performed live at the Met will be shown between 1 and 5:45 pm at the Roxy Theatre. Ticket prices vary so check the website.

In Saranac Lake a “Tribute to Simon and Garfunkel” concert will be given at Will Rogers. Show starts at 7:30 pm, tickets are $15 in advance and $20 at the door. Call (518) 637-4989 for more information.

In Lowville, Aztec Two-Step will be giving a concert starting at 8 pm. This is part of the Lewis County Historic Society’s Black River Concert Series. Tickets are $18 in advance and $20 at the door.

Sunday, January 10th:

In North Creek, “Working for The Man Songs and Stories of Adirondack Lumberjacks and Miners” will be presented at the Tannery Pond Community Center at 3:30 pm. Non-members will be charged $5.

Photo: Steve Langdon at 7444 Gallery, part of a Light Box Musicians set taken by Ned P. Rauch


Thursday, January 7, 2010

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Thursday, January 7, 2010

The Panther Mountain House: End of an Era

December 30th marked the end of an era in Chestertown. The Panther Mountain House—The P-House, the P, or Club P to locals—that venerable village watering hole, served its last drink. The closing comes on the heels of the death of M. Thomas Carroll, who with his wife Margaret (Markie), lived in and operated the small hotel with a downstairs bar since 1957.

Tom Carroll was born in Ballybaun, County Limerick, and immigrated to America in 1949. He spent ten years in the hotel business before taking charge of the Panther Mountain House from John “Pops” Wertime. The Wertime family had owned the hotel since 1924 when Cohoes attorney Walter H. Wertime bought the building from Mrs. John Baker Brown. The building was built just after the Civil War by the Faxon family. In 1930, the Wertimes had the brick building across the street built, designed to house a theater and retail space (Chestertown’s first bank was located there).

The Wertimes’ “thoroughly renovated and remodernized” hotel, was just that all through the prohibition years. It served as accommodations for 50 people (it was later expanded to accommodate 100), but it served little else. It was run by the daughter and son-in-law of Walter Wertime, Robert H. “Bob” Nicholson of Elizabethtown. Bob Nicholson’s family were pioneers of Elizabethtown (his great-grandfather was the town’s first postmaster in about 1800), with strong connections to the legal profession. Bob’s Nicholson’s brother was John D. Nicholson, head of the Rouses Point border patrol unit during prohibition. During the dry years, the Panther Mountain House housed border patrol officers, including the head of the Chestertown unit, David Walters.

On March 22, 1941, the Panther Mountain House was completely destroyed by fire. “Seven occupants of the hotel were forced to flee scantily clad in the blaze which was reportedly the worst in the history of the community,” according to the Ticonderoga Sentinel. Walter Wertime estimated the damage at $70,000, a loss he told the paper that was not completely covered by insurance (despite Wertime being an insurance broker). “Mr. Wertime escaped from the structure only partially clad,” the paper added “he has no plans for rebuilding.”

Nearby homes were scorched and the theater building across the street briefly caught fire. It was quickly put out, but not before serious damage had occurred to the front of the building, particularly the wooden portions. The windows in the A & P store on the first floor were broken by the heat of the fire and the doors were so badly warped that they could not be opened.

Wertime decided he would rebuild the hotel after all, and asked John Clark, an architect of Troy, to design a new building of concrete block and stucco measuring 84 by 42 feet – the building you see today. Construction was begun in the spring of 1941 (using some of the same foundation) and was completed in time for the summer season.

The Carrolls are hoping to sell the hotel. They say there is some interest, but for now the doors are locked.

Photos: The Panther Mountain House in the 1920s, and below, the downstairs bar.