Thursday, August 26, 2010

The Great Adirondack Rutabaga Festival

The Third Annual Great Adirondack Rutabaga Festival sponsored by Adirondack Harvest, The Adirondack Farmers Market Cooperative and the Town of Keene will be held at Marcy Field in the town of Keene from 9:00 AM until 1:00 PM on Sunday September 5th, 2010. The event is one of only two Rutabaga Festivals in the country.

The rutabaga comes to us from Sweden where the climate is comparable to the Adirondacks. This hardy, tasty and adaptable vegetable thrives in our sometimes harsh climate. Part turnip, part cabbage, this versatile root crop can be served in salads, in desserts, as rutabaga chips, mashed alone or with potatoes or turnips, as French fried rutabagas or as a component in bread.

The festivities begin with a Rutabaga 5K Run across flat terrain at 9:00 AM. Runner registration begins at 8:15 AM. All entries in the biggest rutabaga contest must be registered by 10:00 AM. The High Peaks Hula Hoop Championship will start at 10:30 AM.

Chefs from Adirondack Catering Service, Baxter Mountain Tavern, Generations, Green Point Foods, High Peaks Resort and the Mirror Lake Inn will begin serving free samples of their favorite rutabaga dishes at 11:00 AM.

Ongoing events include a Rutabaga Fetch open to friendly and talented dogs starting at 10:30 AM, children’s games, displays and educational exhibits. The 2010 Rutabaga King and Queen will be crowned at 12:30 PM. Throughout the event, the Keene Farmers Market will offer an array of fruits, meats, baked goods and vegetables.

For more information visit www.adirondackharvest.com or call 518-962-4810 x404.


Thursday, August 26, 2010

ACW Presents 3 Authors in 3 Venues

The Adirondack Center for Writing presents three readings with three different authors in three different venues throughout the Adirondacks. All of these readings are free and open to the public.

The series kicks off with author Steve Stern reading from his latest novel, The Frozen Rabbi at Red Fox Books in Glens Falls, NY on Thursday, August 26 at 7pm. In The Frozen Rabbi a Memphis teenager stumbles upon a preserved cleric in his family’s basement freezer.

“Some people got taxidermied pets in the attic, we got a frozen rabbi in the basement. It’s a family tradition,” says the boy’s father. The Washington Post said, “As a metaphor for the modern incongruity of ancient religious tradition, a frozen rabbi could be embarrassingly heavy-handed, but an actual frozen rabbi? That’s just funny. Page after page, Stern embraces every outrageous possibility, in lush, cartwheeling sentences that layer deep mystery atop page-turning action atop Borscht Belt humor.”

Then ACW welcomes author and historian Colin Wells at the Grange Hall in Whallonsburg, NY on September 16th at 7pm. Wells’ talk is titled “Potty Humor and History: The Strange Friendship of Nicolo Machiavelli and Francesco Guicciardini” and will explore Nicolo Machiavelli’s friendship with the “first modern historian.” Wells’ most recent book is called A Brief History of History: Great Historians and the Epic Quest to Explain the Past. The book brings together evocative sketches of the great historians with concise summaries of their most important works. Wells demonstrates how brilliant minds have changed our understanding of history, how history itself moved forward over time as a way of approaching the past, and why “history” is a startlingly fluid concept, with an evolutionary course–a story–all its own.

The third and final reading in this series presents poet Jay Rogoff at the Saratoga Arts Center in Saratoga Springs on September 21 at 7pm. The author of several books of poetry, Rogoff will read from his latest book, released this September. Rogoff’s poetry has been described as “dazzling, soaring, inspiring poetry,” by Andrew Hudgins, while essayist Rachel Hadas said, “Rogoff is a wise and seasoned observer who misses almost nothing; we readers are in his debt.”


Thursday, August 26, 2010

Climate Change in the Adirondacks

“Although global in scale, the impact of climate change will be felt, and its effects will need to be fought, at the local level.” That simple truth – that the climate is changing, that we’ll feel it, and fight it, here in the Adirondacks – is taken from the flap of the new book Climate Change in the Adirondacks: The Path to Sustainability by Jerry Jenkins (who is giving a talk on the book this Friday at 7 PM at the Northwoods Inn in Lake Placid).

The book is an extensive gathering of data on local climate change problems, and as importantly, what Jenkins calls “An Adirondack Strategy” that includes suggestions for moving from fossil fuels (coal and oil) to renewable energy (sun and wind). What makes this book so valuable is that Jenkins has crafted a readable and useful reference developed with local Adirondack conditions in mind: our excessive automobile and home energy use; the increasing loss of ice and snow cover and winter recreation businesses and facilities; the northern movement of the boreal forest and invasive species from the south; the loss of northern climate cultural traditions. “These losses will be extensive,” Jenkins writes. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Red Squirrels: Feisty Adirondack Rodents

Who hasn’t gone for a walk in the Adirondacks and been sputtered at by a small rodent up in a tree? This russet-colored animal, the red squirrel, is probably the most commonly seen (and heard) mammal within the Blue Line. In fact, even as I write this, a red squirrel is fussing outside the window. Is another squirrel encroaching on its perceived turf? Is it trying to scare the birds away from the mother load of sunflower seeds we placed on the platform feeders? Who knows? I sometimes think these squirrels cuss at the world simply because they can.

Here in the Adirondacks we have several members of the squirrel clan. Starting with the smallest and working our way upwards, we have the eastern chipmunk (small, striped, sleeps away the winter), the red squirrel (small, reddish year-round raider of birdfeeders), the flying squirrel (northern and southern species, both of which are nocturnal), the grey (and sometimes black) squirrel (larger, more often found in villages and urban areas, as well as forests dominated by hardwoods), and (drum roll please) the woodchuck (bet you didn’t know that this was a squirrel). But today I’m focusing on the red squirrel, Tamiasciurus hudsonicus, that feisty, surly, aggressive, and yet adorable rodent that calls the north woods home. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Lake George’s Best-Kept Hiking Secret is Out

Cat and Thomas mountains have only been open to hiking for the past seven years, but word is getting out.

On the Adirondacks’ most famous and perhaps most scenic lake, hikes abound. Visitors can choose from challenges, like Black or Tongue Mountain, or easy afternoon climbs, such as Sleeping Beauty or Pilot’s Knob.

Still, among those treasures, Cat and Thomas stand out for their ease of access, stellar views and, well, relative solitude. Located near Bolton Landing on the lake’s west side, the hikes just aren’t as well-known as the usual suspects. But that, of course, is changing.

The mountains, formerly private, were purchased by the Lake George Land Conservancy in 2003 for $1 million. Visitors can hike one or both mountains, or — my favorite — connect them both via a 6.5 mile loop. The mountains are reached via former logging roads that don’t ascend more than 750 feet. However, the connecting loop includes a difficult trail that requires scrambling up and down some considerably steep sections.

Thomas is the lesser of the two peaks, at least in terms of views — it faces west, so you can’t see the lake. There is, however, a neat cabin at the top (or at least there was the last time I visited — the property owners have been planning to remove it at some point).

Cat offers a stellar view of Lake George from its bare, rocky summit. Spread out before you is Bolton Landing, Tongue Mountain, and in the distance, the range of peaks stretching up the lake’s east side.

To reach the preserve, take Northway Exit 24 and head east. After two miles, make a right on Valley Woods Road. The main parking lot is on the right shortly after the turn. There’s also a separate parking lot further down for those who just want to climb Cat Mountain. The trails are well-marked and easy to follow.


Wednesday, August 25, 2010

2010 Elections: Statewide Third Parties, 23rd CD Update

I’ve got a few quick notes to pass along today.

For starters, I hope readers will take a look at some of the third party candidates running for state and federal office this fall.

Libertarian candidate Warren Redlich and Green Party candidate Howie Hawkins both submitted the mandatory minimum of 15,000 signatures to appear on the ballot in November.

As governor, Redlich says he’d stop wasting money and cut spending. He’d also cap bureaucrat’s salaries at $100,000.

Meanwhile, Hawkins is espousing the merits of a living wage for all New Yorkers. He also wants to see a greater investment in renewable energy and a ban on proposed hydrofracking as it relates to natural gas drilling.

Also running on the Libertarian line this fall is Manhattan attorney Carl Person. He’ll challenge a crowded slate of candidates angling for the attorney general’s seat.

Randy Credico and John Clifton have been tapped by the Libertarians to challenge U.S. Senate incumbents Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand. Both men oppose drug prohibition and support open immigration.

The Green Party has a couple candidates running in those senate races, too. Colia Clark will take on Schumer and Cecile Lawrence will run against Gillibrand.

Meanwhile, in New York’s 23rd Congressional District, Saranac Lake accountant Doug Hoffman picked up an endorsement from the National Defense Political Action Committee.

Here’s Hoffman’s response to the endorsement:

“As a veteran myself, who trained at Fort Drum, I understand our nations need to be eternally vigilant in this age of global terror,” he said. “On land, sea, and in the air, our troops must be the best equipped and most professionally trained fighting force in the world. We owe this to those who serve and to those they protect. As a Congressman I will stand shoulder to shoulder with the National Defense PAC as we work to achieve these goals for our nation, our military, our veterans and their families.”

Also, Matt Doheny was on the campaign trail all weekend long. Check out Jude Seymour’s coverage here.

Finally, the chairman of the Upstate New York Tea Party is expecting a large turnout for the Sept. 1 debate in Plattsburgh.


Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Diane Chase Adirondack Family Activities: Fort Ticonderoga

By Diane Chase, Adirondack Family Activities

There is too much to see. We have entered what looks like a fantasy world and it isn’t Disney. Tri-corn hats, fife and drum, cannons and muskets surround us. My children practically spin in a circle unsure what to visit first. Each climbs aboard a cannon while one eagerly points to Lake Champlain. The other is busy protecting us from the unknown enemy. She is protecting us from a raid on Fort Ticonderoga.

I am just trying to keep up. There is a whole schedule of events to attend. I am feeling a bit underdressed. We are surrounded by people in period costume. We go through the museum and try to take in some of the 30,000 objects on display. The West Barracks holds an impressive display of ancient artillery including an engraved sword owned by Alexander Hamilton, the 1st Secretary of the Treasury.

Fort Ticonderoga was built by the French military in the mid-1700s as one of a series of forts used to control Lake Champlain. Originally named Fort Carillon, the fort was built atop the narrows of the La Chute River as the waters enter Lake Champlain to maintain control over the waterway. Its complicated history shows a change of hands between British and American forces.

My son is lobbying for some kind of weapon. The familiar whine of “everyone else here has one” as I look around, does ring true. This has an essence of Ralphie in A Christmas Story all over it. He promises he will always aim over his sister’s head. Now those are words I don’t hear every day. I tell him he is going to have to be content to watch the flag ceremony and musket demonstration. He practically salivates when the drum starts to sound.

I sneak out of the Fife and Drum demonstration for a visit to the chocolate tent. Mars Inc. researched and duplicated an 18th century chocolate recipe. It is not the hot chocolate I am used to but a bittersweet concoction slightly spiced with vanilla, red pepper, nutmeg and cinnamon. This dark steaming beverage was the breakfast of the soldier. The demonstrator carefully grates a bar into a chocolate pot and adds water to the shavings. She pours the bitter mixture into sample cups for all to try. This was a staple of the 18th century soldiers, sometimes the only breakfast they would have. My daughter’s squeals of excitement pull me from my chocolate-induced haze. She would like some chocolate. She tosses the mixture down like a warrior, waving off an offer for seconds. She must leave me now to march with the rest of the corps.

This Friday, August 27th, will mark the last of the season’s daily family activities. Throughout the summer children have had the opportunity to complete crafts befitting the revolutionary theme such as make a soldier’s diary, a tri-corn hat or design a power horn.

“By the beginning of September most children are back in school so we focus on other activities such as the Garrison Ghost Tours, “ says Group Tour Coordinator Nancy LaVallie. “We are open until October 20th with our regular programming, guided tours and other special events like seminars and the annual Revolutionary War Encampment. There is plenty to do.”

Built in 1755 by the French, Fort Ticonderoga is the site of the first American victory of the American Revolution. For more information regarding history of the fort, chocolate and hours of operation please contact 518-585-2821. For those interested in a discount, check out the online coupon for 10% savings on a visit.

Photo of Fort Ticonderoga Fife and Drum Corp 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 Placid, 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 24, 2010

DEC Region 5 Forest Ranger Report (July-August 2010)

What follows is the July and August Forest Ranger Activity Report for DEC Region 5, which includes most of the Adirondack region. These reports are issued periodically by the DEC and printed here at the Almanack in their entirety. They are organized by county, and date. You can read previous Forest Ranger Reports here.

These incident reports are a stern reminder that wilderness conditions can change suddenly and accidents happen. Hikers and campers should check up-to-date forecasts before entering the backcountry and always carry a 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.

The Adirondack Almanack reports current outdoor recreation and trail conditions each Thursday evening. 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. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, August 24, 2010

APA Seeks General Comments on APA Rules

Pursuant to Executive Order No. 25 issued by Governor Paterson, all New York agencies are required to conduct a regular review of their regulations to ensure that they are current, reflect available technologies, establish clear standards, avoid undue burdens and are as flexible as feasible.

Accordingly, the New York State Adirondack Park Agency invites comments from regulated entities and interested parties to identify existing regulations that impose unnecessary, burdensome or excessive costs, paperwork, reporting or other requirements.

The Agency’s regulations are contained in Subtitle Q of Title 9 of the Official Compilation of Codes, Rules and Regulations of the State of New York (9 NYCRR), which may be accessed on the New York State Department of State website.

The Adirondack Park Agency requests public comment which describe and quantify any burdens and suggests appropriate remedies that the agency may undertake to eliminate or amend regulations that are unnecessary, unbalanced, unwise, duplicative or unduly burdensome.

Public comments must be received on or before October 18, 2010. Submit comments in writing to:

Adirondack Park Agency
Attn: APA-Executive Order No. 25
PO Box 99
NYS Route 86
Ray Brook, New York 12977

In addition, comments may be submitted electronically at the following e-mail addresses: [email protected]; and to Gaurav Vasisht at [email protected]; and to the Governor’s Office of Regulatory Reform at [email protected]


Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Saranac Lake: 4 Days, 32 Artists, 90 Paintings

Thirty-two artists spent Aug 19 – 22 in the Saranac Lake area and produced over 90 paintings for the annual Adirondack Plein Air Festival. They had three Adirondack summer days to paint outdoors, on location, before the Show & Sale held on Sunday in the Harrietstown Town Hall in Saranac Lake.

While most of the artists focused on village scenes or our beautiful mountain, river and lake views, Peter Seward, of Lake Placid, made a political statement with his painting of the empty Sears parking lot, titled “Don’t Even Think of Parking Here”.

Sponsored by Saranac Lake ArtWorks and organized by Susan Olsen, owner of Borealis Color, and Sandra Hildreth, a member of the Adirondack Artists’ Guild, the Plein Air Festival has become a significant event for this arts community. “Plein Air” is a French term that basically means working out in the “open air” as opposed to painting indoors in a studio. Artists came from the Saranac Lake area as well as Plattsburgh, Liverpool, Poughkeepsie, Harriman, Nyack, Tivoli, Burlington, VT, and Milford, DE.

The following awards were given out during the Show & Sale, donated by area businesses and organizations. Anne Diggory, a plein air painter from Saratoga, was Juror of Awards and made all the selections.

Diane E. Leifheit, of Gabriels, received the “Best of Show” Award for a pastel painting of the classic view of some barns in the village of Gabriels with Whiteface Mountain in the background. Donated by Eric Rhoads, she will receive a free 1/4 page ad in the prestigious Artist Advocate magazine, valued at $650.

The Village of Saranac Lake and Mayor Clyde Rabideau donated $400 for the “Mayor’s Award”. It went to Nancy Brossard, of Childwold, for her oil painting of Lower Saranac Lake from Mt. Pisgah. This award was to go to the work of art that best represented the Saranac Lake area.

Cape Air donated $250 and it was awarded to Crista Pisano, of Nyack NY, for her oil painting, “View from the Fish & Game Club”.

The Adirondack Medical Center also donated $250 for a work of art “in the spirit of health and healing in the Adirondacks” and it was given to Tim Fortune, Saranac Lake, for his idyllic painting of the Saranac River.

Saranac Lake ArtWorks donated a $100 award which was given to Margaret Bayalis, of Milford, Delaware, for her oil painting “Reflections”.

Bookstore Plus in Lake Placid gave us an artists’ paint box valued at $89 and it went to Lita Thorne, of Harriman, NY for her painting “Beauty Along Route 3”.

The Lodge at Lake Clear provided a gift certificate for dinner for 2 and it was won by John Bayalis, Milford, DE, for his detailed watercolor “Morning Light”.

The Robert Louis Stevenson Tea Room gift certificate for “the most Romantic” work of art was won by Tarryl Gabel, Poughkeepsie, for her oil painting “Sunrise Over the Marsh”.

A gift certificate from T.F. Finnegan’s was won by Bruce Thorne, Harriman, NY, for his Impressionist style painting “Left Bank”.

From noon until 3:30 both visitors and artists could submit their vote for the “People’s Choice Award”, a $150 gift certificate donated by Borealis Color, and it was awarded to Laura Martinez-Bianco, of Marlboro, NY, for her oil painting “Woodland Interior”.

In addition to the artwork produced for the Show & Sale in the Town Hall, 23 of the artists also created a 5×7 piece during the “Paint the Town” event on Thursday and donated them to Saranac Lake ArtWorks. A Silent Auction was set up at the Adirondack Artists’ Guild and raised $1200, which is being donated to Bluseed Studios to help support their wonderful children’s programs and classes.

With two successful years now and growing in reputation, the Adirondack Plein Air Festival will be scheduled for Aug 18 – 21, 2011. For more information contact Susan Olsen at 518-891-1490 or Sandra Hildreth at [email protected]

Photos provided by Sandra Hildreth: Painting by Peter Seward, Lake Placid (above). Diane Leifheit, Gabriels, and her “Best of Show” pastel painting: “Mid Morning Light” (below).


Monday, August 23, 2010

Is Adirondack Bouldering Unethical? Illegal?

Glacial erratics are part of the Adirondack landscape. On just about any trail, you can find one of these boulders left behind by retreating glaciers eons ago.

In places, you can find collections of giant erratics. One such place is near Nine Corner Lake in the southern Adirondacks—a major attraction for those who practice the art of bouldering. The guidebook Adirondack Rock describes Nine Corners as the largest boulder field in the Adirondack Park, with more than a hundred “problems” (mini-routes) on about fifty boulders.

Regular Adirondack Almanack contributor Alan Wechsler writes about Nine Corners bouldering in the current issue of the Adirondack Explorer newsmagazine. You can read the story online by clicking here.

Last week, I posted the link to the story on Adirondack Forum’s rock-climbing section and was surprised that it touched off a debate over the ethics of bouldering.

As hikers know, boulders are usually covered—at least partially—with lichen, moss, ferns, and other vegetation. As Alan’s story notes, climbers often scrape off vegetation when creating routes.

A few people on Adirondack Forum suggested that removing vegetation from boulders is wrong.

One poster wrote: “There are few things more beautiful in the forest than a moss cloaked, polypody fern capped erratic—I know I’d be exceptionally ticked if some climber came along and ‘cleaned’ the moss and other vegetation off of a boulder, which undoubtedly took centuries to accumulate. ‘Cleaning moss’ strikes me as a selfish act of vandalism.”

Another contended that cleaning boulders violates regulations against removing or destroying plants growing on state land.

The critics raise valid points. To play devil’s advocate, however, one could argue that removing vegetation from portions of a relatively small number of boulders in the Adirondack Park does little or no harm to the ecological system. I can’t imagine too many people are bothered by it, as most visitors to boulder fields are boulderers. At the same time, bouldering gives great pleasure to those who do it. Applying the principles of Utilitarianism , you can make a case that removing vegetation to facilitate bouldering is, on balance, a good thing. It adds to the sum of human happiness.

Anything we do in the Forest Preserve creates some impact on the environment. Hikers create erosion, trample plants, disturb wildlife, and so on. But these impacts are small, and no one suggests we should ban hiking. The question is how much disturbance of the natural world is acceptable.

What do you think? Do boulderers go too far?

Photo by Alan Wechsler: A climber at Nine Corners.

Phil Brown is the editor of the Adirondack Explorer newsmagazine.


Monday, August 23, 2010

The Murder of Adirondack Guide Eula Davis

In late 1928, the life of an Adirondack guide came to an unfortunate, premature end. Like many of his brethren who died from accidental shootings over the years, the victim succumbed to a serious gunshot wound. But the demise of Eula Davis was no accident. Clearly, this was a case of murder, and the beginning of a twisted saga that kept all eyes glued on the Lake Pleasant region for some time.

The story began on November 30 when local handyman and guide Ernest Duane, 34, reported to police in Speculator that he had found Davis, 60 (also a handyman and guide), dead. The body was located in the Ernest Brooks cabin on Whitaker Lake, several miles northwest of Speculator village. Duane offered to accompany them to the site, but the lawmen opted to investigate on their own, a decision that would prove vital as the case developed.

A sad scene awaited them. Davis’ corpse was frozen solid; apparently, he had died of exposure and/or loss of blood. A gaping bullet-wound in the lower back was the overriding cause, and Davis had not died easily. Unable to rise after being shot, he had dragged himself across the floor. His body was partially covered with a quilt, and a pillow had been drawn close to Eula’s head, signifying an attempt to keep warm and somewhat comfortable. He had used rags to form a rough tourniquet, and had broken a pencil tip while trying to write a note.

Further investigation revealed an empty wallet in Davis’ pocket, punctured by the fatal bullet.

Davis had many friends in Speculator, and they began searching for the killer while police worked to develop certain clues. Within a few days, they focused on one suspect: Ernest Duane.

An autopsy had uncovered bits of paper money embedded in the body, revealing that Davis’ wallet had not been empty prior to the shooting. Finding the damaged money would surely lead to the killer. But why would Duane kill a popular local man known to be his friend?

Davis, said to have guided for boxing champion Gene Tunney several months earlier, had done quite well financially. It was public knowledge that he had earned several hundred dollars, and had recently purchased winter provisions in town. Questioning of local merchants yielded critical information: in the past few days, someone else had been shopping. Among the legal tender used for payment was a $10 bill with two neat holes in it. The customer was Ernest Duane.

He was brought in for questioning, and after being confronted with evidence, Duane finally confessed to the crime. He offered a lengthy tale, including the decision to rob the old man, who was deaf. When Duane entered the cabin and saw Davis facing away from the door, he shot him in the back. He then took the old man’s wallet and headed for home. On the way, Duane said, he removed only one bill and then flung the wallet into the woods.

Since the empty wallet had already been found in Davis’ pocket, police knew Duane was lying. (He really didn’t seem to have much of a plan. Why admit the shooting but lie about the robbery?) At any rate, a search crew with rakes went to Whitaker Lake in hopes of finding the missing cash buried beneath new-fallen snow. They found nothing.

The next day, police returned to take evidence photographs of the crime scene—but it was gone! That’s right—the entire crime scene was no more. In one of those great Adirondack mysteries, the remote cabin had burned overnight. Arson by Duane’s sympathizers seemed the only plausible explanation.

A day later, Ernest told police where the money was hidden, admitting he had emptied the wallet and placed it back in the victim’s pocket. In Duane’s woodshed they located a roll of bills, pierced by what appeared to be bullet-holes. Employing a bit of trickery, they told him they hadn’t found the money, so Ernest provided written directions. The successful ruse created physical evidence that might later prove valuable.

Police also discovered that Duane owed $200 in fines for game law violations. With a motive and a confession, they now had what appeared to be an open-and-shut case.

But appearances can be deceiving. Still, Duane would go on trial, though under unusual circumstances. Neither the Hamilton County district attorney nor the county judge were lawyers. That unprecedented situation was addressed by Governor Al Smith, who appointed a special prosecutor and assigned a judge. In the meantime, Duane enjoyed cowboy novels in his cell and visits from his new bride, a 14-year-old that he married only a month before the Davis murder.

The prosecution played a powerful hand in the trial, led by impressive witnesses. Doctors dismissed Duane’s epilepsy as a non-factor, and Leonard Egelston, a police officer, introduced some surprising evidence. Early in the investigation, he had taken photographs inside and outside of the cabin. The apparent arson was, as it turned out, a futile attempt to destroy evidence.

The prosecution also offered Duane’s signed confession, along with the note directing officers to the hidden stash of bills. The note was presented as proof that Duane was sane and clear-headed enough after the murder to hide the stolen money and remember where it was hidden.

The defense focused on proving Duane’s supposed mental abnormalities, which they claimed had been exacerbated by the lonely life of a woodsman who often spent long months alone. It seemed like a weak argument at best, but then came the kicker: Duane’s epilepsy, seized upon by his attorneys in a strategy described as the “dream defense.”

Medical experts and Ernest’s brother, Joe, testified about his condition, bolstering claims that he had committed the crime, but had done so “in a fit of insanity.” Supporting the argument was his dismissal from military service during World War I due to a mental disorder (again, epilepsy).

Contrary to what had been earlier announced, Ernest finally took the stand in his own defense. Despite his detailed confession and the note leading officers to the stolen money, Ernest now claimed a seizure had enveloped him as he entered the clearing near the cabin that day, and it subsequently erased all memories of the next several hours. If he had killed Davis and stolen the money, he had no recollection of having done so. (Forty-five years later, serial killer Robert F. Garrow would make the same claim in the same courtroom for the same crime of murder.)

But there was more to Ernest’s story. Later that night, he suddenly awakened, believing he had shot and robbed Davis. Frantically, Duane jumped out of bed and searched his pockets for money. Finding nothing, he concluded it had been nothing more than a terrible nightmare, and went back to sleep.

In the morning, Ernest went out to cut some firewood. Reaching into his jacket pocket for a match, he instead found a wad of bills. With an earnestness befitting his given name, he told the court, “Then I knew that what I had dreamed was true.” During final summation, his attorney cited “the murder dream which turned out to be reality.”

The jury struggled, and early on, one member promised his vote for acquittal would never change. (So much for an open-and-shut case.) Eventually, they found Duane guilty. Supreme Court Justice Christopher Heffernan was reluctant to pronounce sentence, but he had no choice.

Through a breaking voice, and with tears flowing, he said, “I have but one duty to perform. I have wished it would never come to me, but Mr. Duane, you stand convicted of murder in the first degree, for which the punishment is death.” Seated nearby, the judge’s wife wept openly.

At 3 am, Ernest Duane was removed from his cell and sent off to Sing Sing to await execution. The odd hour was chosen to avoid an expected rescue attempt by Duane’s family and friends.

The defense appealed the verdict, causing an immediate stay of execution. When the appeal was denied, a new trial was sought, but that too was disallowed. Ernest was scheduled to die the week of January 15, 1930. Only one hope remained—commutation by the governor.

Just 24 hours before his execution time, word arrived that Governor Franklin Roosevelt had commuted Duane’s sentence to life in prison. Among other things, the governor felt that a person denied military service due to a mental disorder should not be put to death for that same disorder. When the message was relayed by his keepers, Ernest’s comment was a flippant, “Then I guess I’ll lose my chicken dinner,” the last meal he had requested. He was removed from death watch and assigned to work in the prison shoe factory.

Was it really an out-of-character, spur-of-the-moment decision for Ernest Duane to shoot and rob Davis? Perhaps not, if the “apple-doesn’t-fall-far-from-the-tree” theory holds water. Duane’s father, with a wife and seven children at home, had once pursued and married the 15-year-old daughter of the man with whom he was boarding. That offense netted him five years in Dannemora Prison for bigamy. He later was convicted of game violations.

Ernest had been arrested for drunkenness, game violations, and had married a 14-year-old girl. His character witness and brother, Joseph Duane, had been arrested for car theft and fighting, and he and Ernest had been arrested together for operating a “Disorderly House” (their hotel was used for prostitution).

The Duanes earned plenty of notoriety in their time. With this writing, perhaps Eula (Ulysses) Davis will escape relative anonymity, having suffered a terrible, undeserved fate.

Photo Top: Map of the Speculator-Lake Pleasant-Whitaker Lake area.

Photo Right: L to R: Speculator today remains an outdoor playground.

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


Sunday, August 22, 2010

A New Dean for Paul Smith’s Hospitality Program

James Miller has been named Sodexo Dean of the School of Hospitality, Resort and Culinary Management at Paul Smith’s College. Miller will start the job Monday, Aug. 23. The post, which has been endowed with a $1 million, 10-year pledge from Sodexo Inc., is the first endowed chair at Paul Smith’s College.

“I look forward to working with our hospitality and culinary faculty to provide teaching and learning opportunities that will set our students apart from the competition,” said Miller, who has been on campus since July. “Our location, our facilities and the quality of the college’s faculty, staff and students make this a unique opportunity, and I am glad to be a part of the Paul Smith’s experience.”

Before arriving at Paul Smith’s, Miller was director of corporate and professional training at Massasoit Community College in Brockton, Mass.; there, he was responsible for non-credit training classes offered to local businesses, non-profit organizations and other groups.

Prior to that, Miller held faculty positions at Cape Cod Community College and Bunker Hill Community College and was director of sales and marketing for Fresh Concepts Restaurants, a Massachusetts-based company that is parent of two chains specializing in healthy fast food.

Throughout his career in higher education, Miller has worked closely with the local business community to ensure that academic programs were aligned with industry needs, a according to a Paul Smith’s press reelase which said he has led efforts to develop academic programs and provide professional development opportunities.

Miller has a master’s in business administration degree from Southern New Hampshire University, and a bachelor’s degree in hotel administration from the University of New Hampshire.

About 275 students are enrolled in Paul Smith’s hospitality and culinary programs. Several alumni have gone on to become leaders in their fields, such as Dick Cattani ’64, chief executive of Compass Group’s Premier Catering Division; Wally Ganzi ’63, co-chairman and co-owner of The Palm Restaurants; and Jon Luther ’67, executive chairman of Dunkin’ Brands Inc.

Miller is replacing Ernest Wilson, who has been dean of the division since 2008. Wilson is retiring in his native Hawaii after a career in the hospitality industry, the U.S. Army, and higher education.


Saturday, August 21, 2010

Forestry: Free Workshop on Invasive Beetles

On August 24-26, 2010, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Tug Hill Tomorrow Land Trust will offer a free, three-day workshop where participants will learn more about invasive beetles that threaten regional forests and sugarbushes. The workshop will be held at the Quality Inn, Massena, NY.

Forest owners, sugarbush operators, local public works officials, grounds department personnel and any others concerned about the health of woodlands or community forests are encouraged to register for the free training.

The focus of classroom and field surveys during the workshop will be on two invasive tree pests that threaten New York State — the Emerald Ash Borer and the Asian Longhorned Beetle.

Field work with trained invasive pest surveyors will include time in the industrial areas of Massena’s industrial areas, identified as potential “hot spots.”

Contact the Tug Hill Tomorrow Land Trust at 315-779-8240, [email protected], for
registration and details.


Saturday, August 21, 2010

Adirondack Wildflowers: Primrose Watching

Every summer when I was little, my sister and I would spend two weeks at my grandparents’ house in Gloversville, where we would visit with cousins, run through sprinklers, ride our bicycles past beautiful old Victorian houses, feed the birds and squirrels, slide down banisters, and generally have the kind of summer vacation that creates the best memories. One of the evening events that sticks out in my mind, besides making and eating banana splits, was The Watching of the Primrose.

My grandparents’ house (in which my great-grandparents also lived) was surrounded by gardens. All around the foundation, and along the edge of their property, flowers (and tomatoes) blossomed. Bleeding hearts, four o’clocks and foxgloves stand out in my memory, and there, next to the back corner, stood one tall stalk – an evening primrose. As the sun crept toward the horizon and the day came to a close, we’d go outside and stand around this stalk, which was nearly as tall as I, and watch.

Slowly, ever so slowly and then with gathering speed, pop! the bud would open and the yellow petals, all folded inside like a mini floral umbrella, would unfurl. It was a stop-motion film but there in real life. Today’s kids might not be held spellbound by this wonder of nature, but back in the ‘70s, it was still magic.

Do we wonder today why this flower would open when the sun goes down? Flowers exist to bring in pollinators, and in this part of the world most of those pollinators are insects or birds, and most of these pollinators are diurnal – they only come out during the day. What would be out at night to pollinate the primrose? Bats? If we lived in the Southwest, bats might be a consideration, but up here our bats are all insect-eaters. Birds? But the only nocturnal birds around here are owls, and they, being strict carnivores, shun plants except as perches and nest sites.

This leaves insects. Anyone who has been outside in the evening knows that there are some insects that love the night, like mosquitoes. We know that mosquitoes, like owls, are seeking something warm-blooded for a meal (well, at least the females are). But if you are like me, and you sit up at night reading in bed with the glow of your lamp shining through the open windows, your reading is likely disturbed by the soft thuds of insects bouncing into the window screens as they attempt to reach that light. Moths.

Indeed, it is a moth that is responsible for the reproductive success of the evening primrose. In fact, there are many plants that depend on moths for night-time pollination, and they all have something in common: pale petals. Flowers with white or yellow petals show up pretty well at night, especially when the moon comes out. The creative gardener might plant a bed with naught but night-blooming flowers – what a delight to visit when sleep is held at bay by a restless mind.

The moth that visits the evening primrose is Schinia florida, the evening primrose moth. This moth has pink and white wings, and a furry white body. The reason for this pink coloration is not readily apparent. During the day the moth snoozes within the now-closed primrose flower. As the flower ages (each flower “lives” only a short time), its petals turn from yellow to pink, creating the perfect hideout for its pollinator.

I don’t know that I’ve never seen this moth, but I will certainly keep my eyes open for it now. I know where there are a few evening primroses, and it’s been many years since I’ve enjoyed their show. I think I will take some time over the next week or two to seek them out. Not only will I marvel as they open to greet the night, but I will perhaps peek inside the dying blooms during the day to see if anyone is sleeping inside.

Photo from Wikimedia Commons.



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