Friday, August 6, 2010

This Week’s Top Adirondack News Stories


Thursday, August 5, 2010

Current Conditions in the Adirondack Park (August 5)

This announcement is for general use – local conditions may vary and are subject to change. Detailed Adirondack Park camping, hiking, and outdoor recreation and trail conditions can be found at DEC’s webpages. A DEC map of the Adirondack Park can also be found online [pdf]. Listen for the weekly Adirondack Outdoor Conditions Report on Friday mornings on WNBZ (AM 920 & 1240, FM 105 & 102.1) and on the stations of North Country Public Radio.

Fire Danger: MODERATE

Be sure campfires are out by drowning them with water. Stir to make sure all embers, coals, and sticks are wet. Stir the remains, add more water, and stir again. If you do not have water, use dirt not duff. Do not bury coals as they can smolder and break out into fire later.

General Weather Report
Friday: Cloudy, chance of afternoon showers; high near 67.
Friday Night: Partly cloudy, low around 36.
Saturday: Sunny, high near 67.
Saturday Night: Mostly clear, low around 37.
Sunday: Sunny, high near 75.
Sunday Night: Chance of showers and thunderstorms; low around 55.

The National Weather Service has begun providing a weather forecast for elevations above 3000 feet and spot forecasts for the summits of a handful of the highest peaks in Clinton, Essex and Franklin counties. [LINK]

General Backcountry Conditions

Wilderness conditions can change suddenly. Hikers and campers should check up-to-date forecasts before entering the backcountry as conditions at higher elevations will likely be more severe. All users should bring flashlight, first aid kit, map and compass, extra food, plenty of water and clothing. Be prepared to spend an unplanned night in the woods and always inform others of your itinerary.

Biting Insects
It is “Bug Season” in the Adirondacks so Black Flies, Mosquitos, Deer Flies and/or Midges will be present. To minimize the nuisance wear light colored clothing, pack a head net and use an insect repellent.

Firewood Ban
Due to the possibility of spreading invasive species that could devastate northern New York forests (such as Emerald Ash Borer, Hemlock Wooly Adeljid and Asian Longhorn Beetle), DEC prohibits moving untreated firewood more than 50 miles from its source. Forest Rangers have begun ticketing violators of this firewood ban. More details and frequently asked questions at the DEC website.

Bear-Resistant Canisters
The use of bear-resistant canisters is required for overnight users in the Eastern High Peaks Wilderness between April 1 and November 30. All food, toiletries and garbage must be stored in bear resistant canisters; DEC encourages the use of bear-resistant canisters throughout the Adirondacks.

Low Impact Campfires
Reduce the impact on natural areas by utilizing lightweight stoves, fire pans, mound fires or other low impact campfire techniques. Use only dead or small downed wood that can be broken by hand and keep fires small. Leave hatchets, axes and saws at home. Never leave a fire unattended, don’t burn garbage, and restore the appearance of your fire site; do not move fire rings. Campfires are prohibited in the Eastern High Peaks Wilderness [LINK].

Local Adirondack Conditions

Western Warren County: Western Warren County will be a busy area this weekend with the
Stony Creek Mountain Festival, featuring musicians, vendors, exhibits and children’s games in the town park and a town-wide garage sale on Saturday and Sunday. In North Creek, hundreds of visitors will be on hand for Saturday’s annual “Race The Train” event, an 8.4 mile race against the Upper Hudson River Railroad train from Riparius to North Creek. On Saturday afternoon North Creek will host Waynestock, a North Country Hardship Fund benefit concert at the Historic North Creek Ski Bowl, and an unrelated celebration of Adirondack authors that will bring some twenty writers to Main Street to meet fans and sign books.

Ausable River: There is no public access to area of the East Branch of the Ausable River known as Champagne Falls, where a young boy recently drowned. No swimming is permitted and dangerous rocks and currents are found there. Heed the additional “No Trespassing” and “No Swimming” signs that have been posted. This covers both the Grist Mill and Hulls Falls sides of the River. Parking is being restricted. Law enforcement officers have added this area to their patrols and will be enforcing the law.

Lake Champlain: Hot and humid weather this week means that potentially toxic algae blooms in Lake Champlain are still a concern. Affected areas could include Westport, Port Henry, and Crown Point, and near St. Albans on the Vermont side, but there may be other blooms as well. Take the following precautions: Avoid all contact (do not swim, bathe, or drink the water, or use it in cooking or washing) and do not allow pets in algae-contaminated water.

Raquette River Boat Launch: Rehabilitation of the Raquette River Boat Launch on state Route 3 outside Tupper Lake, also known as “The Crusher”, is complete. DEC expended approximately $190,00 from 2009 EPF Parks Capital Fund to upgrade the parking lots, install a new concrete boat ramp and floating dock, construct a separate launch area for canoes and kayaks and the improve the site so it is accessible for people with mobility disabilities. Paddlers are encouraged to use the canoe and kayak launch and retrieval area which is located just 50 feet upstream of the boat launch ramp.

Moose River Plains Wild Forest: The main Moose River Plains Road (Limekiln Lake-Cedar River Road) and the Otter Brook Road up to the Otter Brook Bridge are open. DEC, the Town of Inlet, and the Town of Indian Lake have partnered to make repairs to roads and campsites along the road. Gates to side roads, including Rock Dam Road, Indian Lake Road, and Otter Brook Road, remain shut and the roads closed to motor vehicle traffic at this time.

Lake George Wild Forest / Hudson River Recreation Area: Funding reductions have required that several gates and roads remain closed to motor vehicle traffic. These include Dacy Clearing Road, Lily Pond Road, Jabe Pond Road, Gay Pond Road, Buttermilk Road Extension and Scofield Flats Road.

Lake George Wild Forest: Equestrians should be aware that there is significant blowdown on horse trails. While hikers may be able to get through the trails, it may be impossible or at least much harder for horses to get through. Lack of resources, resulting from the state’s budget shortfall, preclude DEC from clearing trails of blowdown at this time.

St. Regis Canoe Area: The carry between Long Pond and Nellie Pond has been flooded by beavers about half way between the ponds. A short paddle will be required.

St. Regis Canoe Area: DEC and Student Conservation Association crews will be working throughout the summer to move 8 campsites, close 23 campsites and create 21 new campsites. An online map of the St. Regis Canoe Area depicts the campsites that are being moved, closed or created. Please help protect this work by respecting closure signs. Work will occur during the week, and only on one or two campsites at a time.

Whitney Wilderness / Lake Lila: Beaver activity has caused the flooding of the Stony Pond Road approximately one mile from the trailhead. Please use caution if you choose to cross this area.

Pok-O-Moonshine Mountain: Climbing routes on The Nose on the Main Face of Poke-o-moonshine Mountain have reopened.

Giant Mountain: All rock climbing routes on Uppper Washbowl remain closed due to confirmed peregrine falcon nesting activity. All rock climbing routes on Lower Washbowl in Chapel Pond Pass are opened for climbing.

Chimney Mountain / Eagle Cave: DEC is investigating the presence of white-nose syndrome in bats in Eagle Cave near Chimney Mountain. Until further notice Eagle Cave is closed to all public access.

Opalescent River Bridges Washed Out: The Opalescent River Bridge on the East River Trail is out. The cable bridge over the Opalescent River on the Hanging Spear Falls trail has also been washed out. The crossing will be impassable during high water.

High Peaks/Big Slide Ladder: The ladder up the final pitch of Big Slide has been removed.

Caulkins Brook Truck Trail/Horse Trail: Much of the blowdown on the Caulkins Brook Truck Trail/Horse Trail between the Calkins Brook lean-tos and Shattuck Clearing has been removed. The trail is open for hikers but remains impassable to horses and wagons. DEC crews continue to work to open the trail.

Calamity Dam Lean-to: Calamity Lean-to #1, the lean-to closest to the old Calamity Dam in the Flowed Lands, has been dismantled and removed.

Mt. Adams Fire Tower: The cab of the Mt. Adams Fire Tower was heavily damaged by windstorms. The fire tower is closed to public access until DEC can make repairs to the structure.

Upper Works – Preston Ponds Washouts: Two foot bridges on the trail between Upper Works and Preston Pond were washed out by an ice jam. One bridge was located 1/3 mile northwest of the new lean-to on Henderson Lake. The second bridge was located several tenths of a mile further northwest. The streams can be crossed by rock hopping. Crossings may be difficult during periods of high water.

Duck Hole: The bridge across the dam has been removed due to its deteriorating condition. A low water crossing (ford) has been marked below the dam near the lean-to site. This crossing will not be possible during periods of high water.

Northville-Placid Trail: Beaver activity has blocked a section between Plumley Point and Shattuck Clearing. Hikers can use a well used, but unmarked, 1/4 mile reroute around the flooded portion of the trail.

Wilmington Wild Forest: All rock climbing routes on Moss Cliff in the Wilmington Notch have reopened.

——————–
Forecast provided by the National Weather Service; warnings and announcements drawn from NYS Department of Environmental Conservation and other sources.

The new DEC Trails Supporter Patch is now available for $5 at all outlets where sporting licenses are sold, on-line and via telephone at 1-866-933-2257. Patch proceeds will help maintain and enhance non-motorized trails throughout New York State.


Thursday, August 5, 2010

North Creek Hosts Authors, Waynestock, Race the Train

North Creek will be busy this weekend with events for runners, music fans and book lovers. Hundreds of visitors will focus on the annual North Creek “Race The Train” event and later on “Waynestock,” hosted by a locally-based community group that raises funds for families suffering from tragedy or misfortune. A celebration of local authors will bring some twenty writers to town as well.

Race the Train is an 8.4 mile race from Riparius to North Creek. Runners board the tourist train of the Upper Hudson River Railroad in North Creek at 8 AM. The train transports the runners (and any family members with purchased tickets) along the Hudson River to Riparius. The train whistle will begin the race back to North Creek along a shady road that starts as pavement and changes to dirt from miles 3 to 7.5.

Waynestock III will feature music at the Pavilion at the North Creek Ski Bowl Park all afternoon. Billed as “BIGGER-BETTER-LOUDER” the event features auctions, raffles, food, and noon to midnight entertainment. Entertainment includes Vinnie Leddick, Blonde Roots, S.L. Smith Band, Phil Camp, Don’t Quit Your Day Jobbers, Donna Britton Band, Finger Diddle, Dogtown Cadillac, Hoffmeister and Keystone Band. A small price of admission supports the North Country Hardship Fund.

The Hudson River Trading Company, 292 Main Street, will host “Rhythm & Rhymes at the Hudson: A Celebration of Authors and Artists” on Saturday from 1pm-3pm. Twenty authors and artists from all over the Adirondacks and northern New York region will sign their books and CDs under the tents in front of the store. Guitarist Scott Adams will perform his Adirondack music.

Among the award-winning writers are Gary and Carol Vanriper, authors of the Adirondack Kids series; Ross Whaley, co-author of the The Great Experiment in Conservation: Voices from around the Adirondack Park; Jerry Jenkins, author of his latest, Climate Change in the Adirondacks; and Elizabeth Folwell, author of Short Carries: Essays from Adirondack Life and a co-author of the bestseller Dog Hikes in the Adirondacks.


Thursday, August 5, 2010

‘Dog Days’ at Adirondack Museum Saturday

Dogs will be welcome at the Adirondack Museum this Saturday, August 7th. The now legendary celebration of all things canine — “Dog Days of Summer” — will return for a fourth year. In 2009, 159 dogs of all shapes, sizes, and breeds participated in this event.

Visitors and their pets can explore all that the Adirondack Museum has to offer and enjoy a variety of dog demonstrations, programs, and activities. All dogs are welcome when accompanied by well-behaved owners.

The event will include a few simple rules and regulations for pups and their people: dogs must be leashed at all times; owners must clean up after their pets – special bags will be available; dogs will only be allowed on the grounds – not in the exhibit buildings; Doggie Day Care will be available throughout the day at no charge, with the understanding that dogs cannot be left for more than an hour; poorly behaved or aggressive dogs will be asked to leave the museum grounds with their owners.

Sheep herding demonstrations will return this year. Sarah Todd of Dog Days Farms will herd with a variety of breeds including a Belgian sheep dog, Bearded Collie, German Shepherd, an Old English sheep dog, and an Appenzeller. Visitors can watch these amazingly skilled animals work at 2:30 and 4:00 p.m.

“Dog Days” demonstrations will include “Dancing With Dogs” at 12:00 noon. An informal workshop for visitors and their own dogs will follow. Join members of the Adirondack High Peaks Training Club for fast-paced routines. The talented dancing dogs include German Shepherds, Corgis, Labs, Rotweiller, Border Collie, and Australian Shepherd.

Watch a variety of skilled dogs and their handlers, the “JAZZ Agility Group,” go through their paces on an agility and obstacle course featuring hurdles, weave poles, and tunnels, at 10:00 a.m. and 12:00 p.m.

The annual “pooch” parade will include a costume contest this year. The parade will begin at 1:00 p.m. Gift certificates from Benson’s Pet Centers will be awarded category winners, and there will be participation prizes for all. Benson’s Pet Centers are located in Queensbury, Clifton Park, and Albany.

The Lake Placid Pub and Brewery will sponsor an “Ubu Look-Alike” contest as part of the festivities. Not that long ago, Lake Placid, N.Y. was home to Ubu, a legendary chocolate lab with a nose for great beer. Ubu’s story is still going strong, thanks to Ubu Ale, the brewery’s signature beer named in honor of the dog. Is your “best friend” an Ubu double? Chocolate labs can vie for the honor and a gift certificate for the Lake Placid Pub and Brewery.

Lake Placid Pub and Brewery will also offer samples of Ubu Ale and other craft beers at “Dog Days.” Participants must be twenty-one years of age.

Adirondack storyteller Bill Smith will tell “Tall Tails,” humorous stories about people and their dogs at 11:30 a.m., 1:30 p.m., and 3:30 p.m. Chris Shaw will provide music at 2:00 and 4:00 p.m.

Special presentations will be held in the Mark W. Potter Education Center. At 11:00 a.m. Lois, Alea, and Andy Rockcastle will offer “From Sprint Mushing to the Iditarod: Tales of the Trails.” At 11:30 a.m. Lisa Godfrey and Elizabeth Folwell, contributors to the Shaggy Dog Press publication Dog Hikes in the Adirondacks, will talk about their favorite trails and experiences hiking with dogs.

In addition, Ralph Holzhauer will offer “Fur Under the Desk,” based on his book of the same title. The book tells the real-life story a teacher and dog lover who introduced dog therapy and dog-assisted special education at his school. Finally, Museum Curator Hallie Bond will discuss “Canine Tourists in the Adirondacks” at 3:00 p.m. Historic photographs from the collection of the Adirondack Museum of dogs on vacation over time will illustrate Bond’s presentation.

From 11:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m. “Doggy Booths” featuring great regional working dogs and organizations will be open. Participants include: Champlain Valley K-9 Search and Rescue Dogs; the Schenectady Chapter, Therapy Dogs; Tri-Lakes Humane Society; North Country SPCA; and Canines Can Do. Dog owners and representatives will answer questions about the training, care, and work of special dogs.

“Dog Days of Summer” will also include an expanded agility course for visiting dogs, “Say Woof,” a photo opportunity for dogs and owners, and special story hours for puppies and kids at 11:00 a.m., 2:00 p.m. and 4:30 p.m.

Visitors are asked to bring a donation of food, toys, or cleaning supplies to the museum on “Dog Days.” A drop-off spot will be located in the Visitor Center. The museum will deliver donations to regional animal shelters.

This year’s “Dog Days of Summer” event was made possible by generous support from Nancy and Lawrence Master.

Photo: “Everybody Smiles Here,” The Antlers Hotel on Lake George ca. 1930. Photo by Alfred Santway; collection of the Adirondack Museum.


Thursday, August 5, 2010

New Website Features Franklin County Mill Town

There is a new website about the Reynolds Brothers Mill and Logging operation in the community of Reynoldston in the Township of Brandon (Franklin County) which was in operation from 1870 – 1940.

“We have created this website to document the history of this small community using oral history tapes and transcripts we created in 1969/70 as well as with historical photographs and a range of related historical documentation,” according to local historian and website volunteer Bill Langlois.

Reynoldston is one of the many logging centered communities in the Adirondacks that prospered during the cutting of local forests but disappeared when those same forests were clear cut.

The site already features oral history interviews, photographs and documents and is expected to expand to include material on Skerry in the Township of Brandon and the Bowen Mill as well as a wide range of other tapes and transcripts on the early history of Franklin County.


Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Bladderworts: Pretty, But Deadly Adirondack Natives

What child hasn’t read about carnivorous plants? Usually by the time we are in 4th or 5th grade, someone we know has discovered the Venus Fly Trap, that classic carnivore of the floral world. But one needn’t travel to the tropics, or even The South, to discover the joy of plant carnivory. Right here in the Adirondacks we have pitcher plants and sundews, two carnivores that are popular in their own right. But we also have bladderworts, smaller and less unusual (at least on the surface – they look like snapdragons), but no less deadly. These are plants worthy of our attention.

New York is home to fourteen species of bladderworts, four of which are threatened and one that is endangered. Some species float in the water, while others are “rooted” in the soil at the water’s edge (bladderworts don’t technically have roots). Most sport bright yellow flowers that rival birdsfoot trefoil for brilliance, but two come in shades of pale purple, making them a delightful find.

Bladderwort – the name is bound to make one chuckle. It sounds funny and brings some funny images to mind. “Wort” comes from the Anglo-Saxon language, and it simply means “plant.” The “bladder” part of the name does not refer to an excretory system, however. If one pulls up a bladderwort, one will see all sorts of little pouches, or bladders, clinging to the plant. These bladders are the dangerous part of the plant.

Bladderworts come in two basic varieties up here: free-floating aquatics and terrestrial. Despite the name, terrestrial species (which make up about 80% of the world’s bladderwort species) are actually not growing high and dry – they are found in saturated, water-logged soils. This is because bladderworts must have water in order to get their food.

In a nutshell, here’s how it works. The bladders, which look kind of like little helmets, are more or less flat when they are set. When they are set, they are in a state of negative osmotic pressure. Across the opening to the outside world, each bladder has what is essentially a lid. Attached to the lid are the trigger hairs. When a small creature brushes by the trigger, a lever-like action takes place. Where the hair attaches to the bladder, it levers an opening in the seal around the lid. Once this seal is broken, the vacuum is released, the lid flies open, and the surrounding water (and its contents) are sucked into the bladder. When the bladder is full, the lid closes and calmness is restored…at least in the water. All of this happens in the tiniest fraction of a second.

Meanwhile, within the bladder, dire things are happening. Digestive enzymes and bacteria get to work on the prey. Prey items vary in size and species depending on the species of bladderwort involved. The free-floating bladderworts have larger bladders and can take on larger prey, sometimes capturing fish fry, mosquito larvae and even small tadpoles. More likely, however, they are eating things like water fleas and nematodes. The terrestrial species, with their smaller bladders, are consuming things like protozoans and rotifers, microscopic creatures swimming through the watery soil.

The rate of digestion depends on the size of the prey. Some food can be digested quickly, in a matter of minutes, while other items take hours, or even days, to be consumed. When the food had been completely reduced to soup, special cells extract the slurry, transporting it into the stem of the plant, once more creating a vacuum in the bladder. The trap is now reset and ready for its next victim.

While reading up on the digestive habits of these plants, I found myself grateful that they are so small. Can you imagine a bladderwort large enough to engulf a human? No body of water would be safe for swimmers! This could be the stuff of horror movies (giant bladderworts grow near nuclear reactors…swimmers and watercraft are warned to stay out of the water…)!

Science fiction aside, these are some pretty interesting, and highly sophisticated, plants. Bladderworts can be found in many of the Adirondack’s lakes, ponds, bogs, and even along streams and rivers. While they tend to prefer acidic water, some do very well in more alkaline conditions. If you are paddling along and see what look like bright yellow snapdragons sticking above the water’s surface, you have probably found a free-floating species. Reach in and lift out the leafy mass to see the bladders, but be sure to return it to its watery home when you are done.


Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Want A Free Ski Pass? Dress The Part

Here’s a question: how dedicated of a skier are you?

Dedicated enough, perhaps, to wear ski gear in the middle of summer?

That’s what Whiteface workers are looking for. This Saturday, the “Whiteface Road Warriors” will be hanging around Lake George looking to give away winter 2010/11 day passes. Here’s the catch: to qualify, you’ll have to risk heatstroke, strange stares and perhaps forced psychiatric care by dressing for snow skiing in August.

Don’t worry — you don’t have to wear your insulated one-piece jumpsuit. A ski helmet, goggles, boots or other equipment will be enough, according to an announcement from Whiteface this week.

“If you’re spotted dressed for winter, you’ll automatically win a ticket,” Whiteface officials said.

This Saturday the crew will be lurking around Lake George’s Million Dollar Beach, Main Street and the various campgrounds. Next weekend the crew promises to be at Albany’s Farmer’s Market at Empire State Plaza, Washington Park and the bar Red Square, which is hosting an event called the Giant Panda Guerilla Dub Squad (don’t ask, but it sounds like the kind of crowd where a guy in ski goggles and boots won’t get looked at twice).

The crew will also be in Saratoga Springs on the weekend of Aug. 20 to 22. Visits are also being planned for New York City and Canada in the fall.

Sounds like a clever promotion for Whiteface and good way for those skiers who don’t embarrass easily to win a free pass. If you want to follow the exploits of the Whiteface Road Warriors, click here.


Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Commentary: Firetowers and Wild Lands Management

I love fire towers – and fire wardens. They remind me of my youth and the excitement of finding a firetower and firewarden tending it, and weaving stories around the campfire about the fire warden living on the flanks of a wild mountain.

Interpreting Adirondack cultural and environmental history from a firetower is important work being undertaken by wonderful volunteers and some Forest Rangers in the Adirodnack Park. Our Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) acts in the spirit of an educational and interpretive force for the Park by participating actively in the restoration and educational use of the 20 or so firetowers in Wild Forest areas, such as the Bald Mountain Fire Tower above Old Forge and Inlet, Hadley Mountain in Saratoga County, Azure Mountain in Franklin County, Wakely Mountain firetower in Hamilton County, and many others. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Diane Chase’s Adirondack Family Activities: Nature Tours at White Pine Camp

By Diane Chase, Adirondack Family Activities™

White Pine Camp, originally built in 1907, became the Summer White House in 1926 for President Calvin Coolidge. Situated among 35 acres of land, White Pine Camp houses 18 buildings and an interesting architectural history. We walk past the single story guest cottages with asymmetrical rooflines and marvel over the trees growing through the covered decks.

My children run outside the cottages and then back in to confirm that the trees are indeed alive. They are not as interested in the brainstorm siding (rough-hewed clapboards) as in the bowling alley, boathouse and footbridge to the Japanese teahouse.

Stuffed animals have a different connotation at White Pine Camp than at our house. Our guide urges us to the Great Room. My daughter wonders about a “great room” full of toys. She quickly returns to us to report her discovery that animals at White Pine are not only stuffed but mounted.

My son tests his navigational skills by returning to the tennis court unattended while I stay at the New Boathouse and review the historical exhibit. Soon after we reunite and start the return trek, passing the Fred Huette Alpine Rock Garden.

Guided tours are available on Saturdays through Labor Day Weekend at 10:00 a.m. and 1:30 p.m.; adults are $10 and children $5. Though White Pine Camp is privately owned, the tours are organized through the Adirondack Architectural Heritage (AARCH). Please call 518-834-9328 for additional information.

“At Adirondack Architectural Heritage, we provide a tour guide as part of our mission to educate people on the history, architecture and the historic buildings of the Adirondack Park. White Pine Camp is an important part of heritage,” says Program Director Susan Area. “White Pine Camp, having been host to President Calvin Coolidge, is a wonderful example of a Great Camp. We appreciate that the owners of White Pine Camp allow us to continue to expose people to this privately owned camp. The funds we do raise go back to our organization to further our mission to educate the public on Adirondack buildings. White Pine Camp is a unique set-up to our other tours.”

Adirondack Architectural Heritage conducts over 30 daylong tours all summer to sites of historical and architectural interest that range from downtown walking tours to planned cottage communities to great camps to industrial and agricultural sites that are all relative to the development of the Adirondack Park.

The historical tour is not the only option. A free guided nature walk is available on Tuesday mornings by calling White Pine Camp directly at 518-327-3030 to reserve a spot.

Edward Kanze leads the free walks. Kanze is a licensed guide and proprietor of the Adirondack Naturalist Company as well as a renowned wildlife photographer. He has authored five books and has written for numerous magazines. He brings his extensive knowledge of the Adirondack wilderness to each interpretive walk. This walk covers the vast lands around White Pine Camp and adds another element to the history of the property. Though the walk is free, reservations are recommended due to the popularity of the event.

To get to White Pine Camp take Route 30 north to the Route 86 junction at Paul Smith’s College. Turn NE onto Route 86 for ½ mile. White Pine Road will be on the left.

photo of the White Pine Camp Japanese Teahouse and content © Diane Chase, Adirondack Family Activities ™. Diane is the author of the Adirondack Family Activities Guidebook Series including the recent released Adirondack Family Time: Tri-Lakes and High Peaks Your Guide to Over 300 Activities for Lake PlacidPublish Post, Saranac Lake, Tupper Lake, Keene, Jay and Wilmington areas (with GPS coordinates) This is the first book of a four-book series of Adirondack Family Activities. The next three editions will cover Plattsburgh to Ticonderoga, Long Lake to Old Forge and Newcomb to Lake George. 


Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Let’s Eat: Adirondack Corn

In 1916, the New York Commissioner of Agriculture reported that Essex County is “by far the most broken and mountainous section of the state.” In spite of the fact that “only about one-third of the area of the county is in farms and only about one-eighth improved farms, yet there is a remarkably good report of agricultural production.” County farmers produced 96,383 bushels of corn in 1915, along with barley, oats, buckwheat, potatoes, and hay and forage.

Corn has long been a staple food in the Americas. It is a domesticated plant, bred from a wild grass native to southern Mexico nearly 7,000 years ago. Its use as a cultivated food plant in the northeastern United States began about 1,000 years ago.

Although the Adirondack climate is not generally conducive to agriculture, there are pockets in the valleys and surrounding areas where the growing season is long enough, and the soil rich enough, to grow corn. The vegetable was one of the staples of the Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) diet. European settlers in the region grew corn where they could, not only to feed themselves, but to feed their livestock as well. As settlement and tourism in the region grew, Adirondack hotels and resorts kept kitchen gardens to feed guests. Adirondack families grew their own vegetables, preserving what they did not eat in season for the long winter months. Locally grown corn was featured on the menu for human and animal consumption.

Although the Commissioner’s 1916 report indicating that most crops grown in Essex County were produced “for the supply of camps, cottages, hotels, and summer tourists,” by the late 1800s, some northern New York farms were growing enough corn to export to wholesale dealers in cities like Boston, Syracuse, Rochester, Watertown and New York City.

During the Depression, newspapers like the Malone Farmer offered advice on creating healthy and inexpensive meals. In October, 1931, readers were advised that “as for cost, corn preparations are among the more economical of the common foods. Two pounds for five cents is the average price per pound by bulk for both corn meal and hominy.”

A regular column, called the “Market Basket,” offered readers tips on shopping, canning, cooking, and sample menus. The May 20th, 1931 edition also included a recipe for corn soup:

2 cups canned crushed corn
1 cup water
1 quart milk
1 onion, cut in halves
1 tablespoon flour
4 tablespoons butter
Salt to taste
Pepper

Combine the corn and the water, cook for 10 minutes, and stir constantly to keep from sticking to the pan. Press the corn through a strainer. Heat the milk and the onion in the double boiler and thicken with the flour and fat, which have been well blended. Add the corn pulp, salt, and pepper, Heat, remove the onion, and serve. Buttered popcorn makes an interesting substitute for croutons to serve with corn soup.

Adirondack farmers hosted “husking bees” during harvest. Families and neighbors gathered together to remove cornhusks before cooking for a crowd. In Willsboro, an unidentified farmer or family member used a small wooden peg, pointed on one end and held with a strap of leather to the thumb as an aid in removing husks from many ears of corn. Made by hand near the turn of the 20th century, it would have made such a repetitive task easier.

Come see the corn husker (76.163.12), and other corn-relates artifacts in ‘Let’s Eat! Adirondack Food Traditions” at the Adirondack Museum in Blue Mountain Lake, on exhibit this season through October 18, 2010.

Corn Husker
Found in Willsboro, NY
ca. 1890-1930
76.163.12
Gift of Dennis Wells


Tuesday, August 3, 2010

DEC Expands Online Google Earth Offerings

Outdoor enthusiasts have a new tool to help plan their trip to visit any of the 2,500 miles of recreational trails throughout New York, Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) officials have announced. DEC’s Mapping Gateway has been expanded with information that enables the public to use Google Earth and other mapping tools to find trails and learn more about the state lands that surround them.

DEC’s Mapping Gateway combines existing web mapping applications and map collections with new offerings, such as a full-featured, interactive data inventory and map viewer.

DEC continues to expand the availability of “Virtual Globe” data (http://www.dec.ny.gov/pubs/42978.html) to provide a variety of interactive aerial map representations using virtual globe software such as Google Earth. In addition, some data has been incorporated into Google Maps – which does not require any software downloads – to provide an even more accessible way for people to obtain DEC’s information.

The Mapping Gateway now includes information about 2,446 miles of recreational trails that DEC manages, including:

* Hiking Trails.
* Cross-Country Ski Trails.
* Horse Trails.
* Trails open to motor vehicle use by people with “Motorized Access Program for People With Disabilities” (MAPPWD) permits.
* Mountain Bike Trails.
* Snowmobile Trails.

In addition to the trail information, visitors can click on the trail and find out the location, features and regional contact information for the forest, wildlife management area, or other state land on which the trail is located. DEC advises the public to check with the regional office covering the destination being visited to make sure trails and roads are open and if any advisories are in effect.

The new features announced today are in addition to Mapping Gateway enhancements rolled out last year for fishing, boating, bird watching and more. Other map offerings that can be used with Google Earth include the locations of ecological zones, brownfields, dams, and bulk storage facilities.

Instructions are available on the DEC website for those needing information about how to download and use the Google Earth software. By using Google and leveraging existing technology that many people are already familiar with, DEC is able to reduce software development costs. In addition, the available data is compatible with other virtual globe software like ArcGIS Explorer and NASA’s WorldWind, enabling the public to use the data in many different contexts.


Monday, August 2, 2010

The Cougar Question: Have You Seen One?

Several months ago, I confessed here on Adirondack Almanack that I once saw a cougar—or thought I did. I say “confessed,” because if you tell people you saw a cougar in the Adirondacks, some of them will look at you funny.

Others will tell you about their own cougar sighting.

I’m bringing up cougars again because the Adirondack Explorer recently received an interesting letter from Don Leadley, a longtime outdoorsman from Lake Pleasant. Leadley responded to an Explorer column written by our publisher, Tom Woodman, discussing our endless fascination with the possibility that cougars may be living in our midst. » Continue Reading.


Monday, August 2, 2010

McKeever: A Small Error Leads to Rail Calamity

On May 9, 1903, a seemingly minor error led to a terrible catastrophe near Old Forge in the southwestern Adirondacks. About seven miles south on Route 28 was Nelson Lake siding (a side rail, or pullover) on the Mohawk & Malone Railroad (an Adirondack branch of the New York Central). A little farther down the line from Nelson Lake was the village of McKeever.

That fateful day started like any other. From Malone, New York, about 90 miles northeast of Nelson Lake, train No. 650 (six cars) was heading south on its route that eventually led to Utica. At around 8:00 that morning and some 340 miles south of Malone, train No. 651 of the Adirondack and Montreal Express departed New York City. At 1:05 pm, it passed Utica, beginning the scenic run north through the mountains.

The original plan called for the northbound 651 to pass through McKeever and pull off on the siding at Nelson Lake, allowing the southbound 650 to continue on its way. It was a routine maneuver. On this particular trip, the 651 northbound (normally a single train) was divided into two parts. The intent was to pull both parts aside simultaneously at Nelson Lake siding.

However, the 2nd unit heading north was traveling much slower than the nine cars of the 1st unit, prompting a change in plans. Because of the distance between the two units, it was ordered that the train from Malone (the 650) would meet the 1st section of 651 at Nelson Lake. Three miles down the line, it would meet the 2nd section at McKeever.

The actual written order said “2nd 651 at McKeever.” An official investigation later determined that the order was read to the engineman and then handed to him. But, when later reviewing the note, his thumb had covered the “2nd” on the order. All he saw was “651 at McKeever.” As far as he knew, he would pass both parts of the 651 at the McKeever side rail.

When the southbound 650 train approached Nelson Lake, the engineer believed there was no reason to reduce speed. He passed the Nelson siding at between 50 and 60 miles per hour. Just 1,000 feet past the side rail, the 650 suddenly encountered Unit 1 of the northbound 651. It was traveling at about 10 to 15 miles per hour, slowing for the upcoming turn onto the side rail at Nelson Lake. It didn’t make it.

The 650’s whistle blew and the emergency brake was engaged, slowing the train slightly before the tremendous collision. A newspaper report described “a roaring crash, a rending of iron and wood, a cloud of dust and splinters, and the trains were a shattered mass. The locomotives reared and plunged into the ditch on either side of the track.”

The impact had the least effect on the last occupied car of each train, but even those passengers were thrown from their seats, suffering minor injuries. The two trains had a total of 16 cars, half of which were splintered and piled atop each other.

While all the cars were badly damaged, it was the front of both trains that suffered most. Several of the lead cars were completely destroyed. Others telescoped within each other, causing horrific injuries. Screams of pain drew help from those who were less impaired.

The two trains carried more than 200 passengers. Nearly everyone suffered some type of injury from flying bits of glass and metal. Some victims were pinned within the wreckage, and a few were thrown through windows. Thirty-seven (mostly from the 650) required hospitalization.

Three passengers suffered critical injuries, including at least one amputation. There were dozens of broken bones and dangerous cuts. When some of the damaged cars ignited, passengers and railroad employees joined forces to extinguish the flames. Others performed rescue missions, removing victims and lining them up side-by-side near the tracks for treatment.

Three men were killed in the accident. Frank Foulkes, conductor of the northbound train (651), was later found in a standing position, crushed to death by the baggage that surged forward from the suddenness of the impact. John Glen, Union News Company agent on the southbound train (650), was killed when he was caught between two cars. William Yordon, fireman on the 650, died in his engine, scalded to death by the steam, like the hero of the song “Wreck of the Old 97.” Another report said that Yordon’s head was crushed.

A surgeon and a few doctors arrived from Old Forge, tending to the wounded. Trains were dispatched from Malone and Utica to haul the injured passengers both north and south. Another train set forth from Utica, carrying several more doctors to the scene.

The northbound 651 wasn’t only carrying human passengers that day. A theatrical company, performing A Texas Steer at various theaters and opera houses, was on board, including a variety of animals. Identified as the Bandit King Company, the troupe had a special horse car for animals belonging to the show.

When the collision forced the door open, a horse leaped out and ran off. Others weren’t so lucky. A passenger reported that the trained donkey, the pigs, and most of the other animals were killed. Amidst the chaos and their own losses, the men and women performers provided first aid for the injured until doctors arrived. They were later praised effusively for their efforts.

It took a 40-man crew four days to clear the wreckage from the massive pileup. The official report to the New York State Senate by the superintendent of the Grade Crossing Bureau in 1904 cited the engineman’s finger as the probable cause of the accident.

Top Photo: 1912 map of the Nelson Lake area 7 miles southwest of Old Forge. The extra tracks at Nelson Lake indicate the siding.

Bottom Photo: Unfortunate thumb placement inadvertently led to tragedy.

Lawrence Gooley has authored eight books and several articles on the North Country’s past. He and his partner, Jill McKee, founded Bloated Toe Enterprises in 2004 and have recently begun to expand their services and publishing work. For information on book publishing, visit Bloated Toe Publishing.


Monday, August 2, 2010

DEC Seeks Turkey Survey Volunteers

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) is encouraging New Yorkers to participate in the Summer Wild Turkey Sighting Survey, which kicks off in August.

Since 1996, DEC has conducted the Summer Wild Turkey Sighting Survey to estimate the average number of wild turkey poults (young of the year) per hen statewide and among major geographic regions of the state. This index allows DEC to gauge turkey populations and enables wildlife managers to predict fall harvest potential. Weather, predation and habitat conditions during the breeding and brood-rearing seasons can all significantly impact nest success, hen survival, and poult survival.

During the month of August, survey participants record the sex and age composition of all flocks of wild turkeys observed during normal travel. Those who want to participate can download a Summer Wild Turkey Sighting Survey form from the DEC website to record your observations. Detailed instructions can be found with the data sheet. Survey cards can also be obtained by contacting your regional DEC office, by calling (518) 402-8886, or by e-mailing fwwildlf@gw.dec.state.ny.us (type “Turkey Survey” in the subject line).

On the DEC website:

Summer Wild Turkey Sighting Survey

Citizen Science Initiatives

DEC Regional Office Contact Information


Sunday, August 1, 2010

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