Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Adirondack Hacks

Randomly organized links to ideas for making life in the Adirondacks just a little bit easier – technology tools and tips, do-it-yourself projects, and anything else that offers a more interesting, more convenient, or healthier way of life in our region.

Test Drive An Electric Motorcycle

Tips For Bear-Proofing Your Home

Make Your Own Vanilla Extract

Build Your Own Trash-Can Smoker

Open A Beer-Bottle With A Chainsaw

Adirondack Hacks is an occasional feature of Adirondack Almanack. Take a look at our Adirondack Hacks archive here.


Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Ralph Nader To Speak in Glens Falls April 26th

Thanks to the folks at Adirondack Progressives, Independent Presidential Candidate Ralph Nader will return to Glens Falls on Saturday April 26, 2008 for an appearance at The Charles R. Wood Theater at 8:00 pm. Adirondack Progressives is a group of area citizens interested in fostering local dialog on today’s most important issues.

The local Glens Falls Post Star relegated Nader (who is a Presidential Candidate after all!) to page B7 on Saturday. You can read Matt “Two Political Parties = One Massive Corporation” Funiciello’s take on their efforts to diminish Nader’s candidacy at his blog (there’s more Ralph Nader stuff there too). Brian over at MoFYC also writes a lot about Ralph from a local and regional perspective. There is more on the flip – » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Pending Adirondack Related State Budget Items

Here is an e-mail recently received from the Adirondack Council’s John Sheehan outlining the pending Adirondacks related budget deals. According to Sheehan, this is the “Environmental Conservation budget plan agreed to by Legislative leaders, which is in the process of being passed by both houses. The Governor is expected to sign the bills.” At least some time soon, the budget is now a week late.

The big news for us is that it looks like the the money is available to finish the (Pataki initiated) Domtar land purchase, the Lake George West Brook money didn’t make it, but money to study the impacts of road salt did.

The Almanack reported in January Spitzer’s budget proposals relating to the Adirondacks. » Continue Reading.


Sunday, April 6, 2008

Hybrid Cars and the Adirondacks

In December of 2007 the old Subaru went down for the count and it was time for a new car. We got lucky (likely because it was December, not exactly a banner month for car sales) and found the Honda Civic hybrid we were looking for in Schenectady – it was the only one they had and we bought it on the spot.

At first, many of our friends, relatives, and neighbors showed some skepticism. They asked whether we thought we were jumping in to a new, unproven, technology. Some congratulated us for being ahead of the curve. Others wondered about the pick-up, asked if the batteries would hold-up for long drives in the mountains, questioned the costs of repairs, how it would handle in the ice and snow -you name it, they asked it.

So on the flip are some observations about our Hybrid experience so far.

The four-door Honda Civic that we bought doesn’t look funny – aside from the hybrid label on the back and the more streamlined look, it appears generally like most other current sedans.

Most folks who ride along have no idea it’s a hybrid unless we tell them. The car has the same pick-up as comparable automatics of its size. The only clue it’s a hybrid from the inside are the gauges and the fact that it shuts off when you come to a stop. Once you lift your foot off the brake, it starts right up again and you’re off. If the stereo is on, and you don’t know it’s happening, you can’t tell. On a related note – if we got rid of all the unnecessary stop signs in America and replaced them with yield signs we would save a LOT of gas.

Overall the mileage could be better. Although it’s rated for 45 mpg, we’ve gotten only 36 on average so far. Even so, I’m sure the old Subaru got a lot less then it was rated for – the bottom line is we’ve cut our monthly gas bill about 35 percent. Every car should have a current mpg gauge – just seeing how our driving is wasting gas has offered us as much savings as the hybrid technology.

As we’ve learned to drive the hybrid, we’ve gotten better mileage. We stared with about 32 on average, but since there’s a gauge showing the current mpg and a trip setting, we’ve been making a contest to see who can get the best mileage – I recently got an even 42 mpg on a trip to Albany and back. The trick we’ve learned is to keep the speed down on the highway (69 instead of 72), keep the cruise-control on, and keep the rpms below 3,000 when climbing large hills. We could probably make the 45 mpg average if we drove only 55 on the highway, which is not going to happen. It’s true that the mileage is considerably better in the city, primarily because the speeds are in the 20s, 30s, or 40s.

The way gas prices are rising (our theory is $4 by Labor Day, then it falls off again just before the election and rises considerably afterward) – we’re counting on our hybrid keeping its value enough to allow us to upgrade in two years when hopefully electric cars will be available at a reasonable price – that may be wishful thinking.

As far as the Adirondack conditions, the car climbs hills normally but it’s front wheel drive and does not even closely compare with the Subaru – that’s why we’ve kept our older Legacy wagon. When the weather is bad – like it’s been lately (and the Suuby has made legendary trips lately!) – we take the wagon. When the roads are dry, we take the hybrid. Since we live on a fairly main road, we could probably manage with only the hybrid, otherwise it would have to be one of the four-wheel drive models that naturally get much worse mileage. The combination we have now makes a lot more economic sense.

There you have it – I’d be interested in others comments on the hybrid experiences in the mountains.


Wednesday, March 26, 2008

20 Things Adirondackers Should Know About Rural Life

One of the best new blogs is The Rural Blog, started last year by the Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues. According to their masthead, The Rural Blog is “a digest of events, trends, issues, ideas and journalism in rural America.” They often report on issues in our area as they did when the Glens Falls Post Star started collecting information on local gun owners or in this piece about broadband access in Corinth.

Here are 20 things we’ve learned from the The Rural Blog that affect our Adirondack region:

Global demand for maple syrup is rising, but production is struggling to keep pace

Self-employment is on the rise in rural areas, but the average income of the rural self-employed is falling

While enlistments for Iraq have been dropping in urban areas, rural enlistments have remained stable

The decline in small-market broadcast news is hitting rural areas the hardest

Doctor and surgeon shortages are worst in rural areas

Hillary Clinton does best in mainly rural Republican districts

Many small market newspapers are not just surviving, but also thriving

Balloons are offering wireless service in rural areas

In rural areas, cell phones can cause 911 delays that lead to tragedy

Rural patients are less likely to receive necessary organ transplants

Lack of rural trauma systems kills rural Americans

Strong seat-belt laws help reduce deaths on rural roads

Even though Meth production is in decline, the drug remains a priority for police

Rural Americans make up a disproportionate share of Iraq war casualties

Hobby farms are boosting rural population as urbanites seek rural retreats or retirement

Kentucky’s public-private partnership for rural broadband serves as a national model

Municipal Wi-Fi is thriving in some rural towns

Hunting and fishing is declining, but watching wildlife is on the rise

Rural areas across the nation are struggling to keep educated young people

New EPA rules have left 45 rural counties (including Warren and Essex) out of ozone compliance


Monday, March 24, 2008

$1 Million Awarded to 18 Adirondack Projects

Here is a press release that just arrived from Governor Patterson’s Office. The projects include wireless, historic preservation, affordable housing, tourism, beautification, and more.

GOVERNOR PATERSON ANNOUNCES SMART GROWTH GRANTS FOR ADIRONDACK PARK COMMUNITIES

Projects Link Sustainable Development, Environmental Protection and Community Livability

Governor David A. Paterson and Commissioner of Environmental Conservation Pete Grannis today announced “smart growth grants” for Adirondack communities to help counties, towns, villages and their partner organizations develop plans that link sustainable development, environmental protection and community livability.

A total of $1 million will be awarded to 18 projects – ranging from one proposing a new life for the Indian Lake Theater to another designing a better wireless communication network across the Adirondack Park. The initiative, announced last July, proved so popular that the DEC received more than $3 million worth of proposals from around the Park. The grants relate to a mix of local, regional and park-wide projects.

“The Adirondack Park is a unique American treasure, a special place for residents and the millions who visit each year,” said Governor David A. Paterson. “The Park serves as a model for how to merge environmental sensitivity with the pressing needs of development and expansion. By providing local planning assistance, we hope to meet the challenge of developing sustainable communities while protecting natural resources.”

“This program is dedicated to the belief that sustainable development and environmental protection go hand-in-hand,” said Commissioner Grannis. “Safeguarding the assets of the forest preserve and fostering sustainable development and a good quality of life for residents throughout the Park is in everyone’s best interest. This initiative provides the local planning assistance needed to accomplish both. The overwhelming response demonstrates the program struck a chord with Adirondack Park communities.”

Smart growth is sensible, planned growth that balances the need for economic development with concerns about quality-of-life, such as preserving the natural and built environment. Smart growth is also becoming a useful tool to attract businesses that value community quality-of-life.

The 2007-08 Environmental Protection Fund included $2 million in grants to promote smart growth initiatives; $1 million was earmarked for the Adirondacks. Smart growth can be useful in addressing land-use issues facing rural communities – workforce housing, aging infrastructure, water quality, economic development, open space protection and village/hamlet revitalization.

The grant winners include 12 projects that address local issues, four that are regional in nature and two that are park-wide in impact.

The grants include:

– $106,971 to the Town of Saranac to develop the “Wireless Clearinghouse” project to create a comprehensive plan for identifying potential structures for telecommunications infrastructure to bolster wireless networks in the Park. The State University of New York at Plattsburgh and the Adirondack North Country Association will assist the Town;

– $100,000 to the Town of Tupper Lake to produce a “Community Development Priorities” plan. Part of the plan includes developing a “visual identity” for the Town and Village of Tupper Lake, and concept designs for streetscape and waterfront projects;

– $42,600 to the Town of Indian Lake to plan the re-opening of the Indian Lake Theater. The 250-seat, Main Street venue has been closed for more than a year. Local officials want to explore re-opening the facility as a year-round community stage and screen, offering films and musical and theatrical performances, and a public space for schools, libraries and other organizations for meetings, lectures and seminars;

– $100,000 to Essex County to create an “Essex County Destination Master Plan” that will focus on communities beyond Lake Placid. It will explore opportunities to take advantage of recreational and natural resources in an economically sustainable way in locales such as Moriah, North Elba, Schroon Lake, Ticonderoga and Wilmington;

– $50,000 to the Town of Wilmington to conduct feasibility studies for a community center, municipal offices, historical society building and a fly fishing museum; and

– $35,000 to the Town of Chester to make plans for retaining existing affordable housing and establishing new affordable housing opportunities for working families.

Senator Betty Little said: “Balancing stewardship of the environment with the economic, housing and infrastructure needs of our Adirondack villages, towns and counties is critically important. I am pleased to see this partnership between the State and our local governments. I want to thank Commissioner Grannis for spearheading this initiative and congratulate the recipients for their successful applications.”

Assemblywoman Teresa Sayward said: “I applaud Commissioner Grannis and the DEC for addressing the needs of the North Country. These grants as well as collaboration among State and local officials, business leaders and concerned citizens are a good step toward a balanced approach to our economic development while sustaining the character of the Adirondack region.”

Assemblywoman Janet Duprey said: “I am pleased DEC has recognized the unique issues facing municipalities within the Adirondack Park. I congratulate the local governments that have been awarded smart-growth funding and look forward to working with these communities as they complete these projects. The large number of competitors for the grants points out the struggles facing Adirondack Park municipalities, and I encourage Commissioner Grannis and DEC to continue this competitive grant program.”

Adirondack Park Agency Chairman Curt Stiles said: “We were impressed by the innovative and comprehensive grant applications that were submitted by Adirondack municipalities. We extend our congratulations to the grantees and look forward to the successful implementation of their plans. This was a very competitive grant program and demonstrated a strong need for future support. Partnering with local governments and State agencies enables smart growth through synergy and shared values, and makes for stronger communities.”

Upstate Empire State Development Corporation Chairman Dan Gundersen said: “I look forward to seeing these projects enhance and shape the Adirondack communities in a way that invites economic development that is compatible with the Adirondack’s natural environment.”

Secretary of State Lorraine Cortés-Vázquez said: “The Adirondack smart-growth initiative represents a model for inter-agency and inter-governmental collaboration on some critical challenges and opportunities in the Adirondacks. With these grants, the State and the individual Adirondack communities have demonstrated an impressive commitment to economic and environmental sustainability in the region.”

Brian L. Houseal, Executive Director of the Adirondack Council, said: “It was a great pleasure to stand with Commissioner Grannis last summer as he announced in Lake George that half of the State’s smart growth grants would be awarded to communities and organizations in the Adirondack Park. Sound planning is a wise investment for municipalities, and it helps preserve open space, natural beauty, water quality, and wildlife habitat.”

Established in 1892, the Adirondack Park features world-class natural and cultural resources, including the Nation’s only constitutionally-protected wild forest lands. In contrast to America’s national parks in which no one resides, the Adirondack Park is home to 130,000 full-time residents and hundreds of businesses whose future depends on continued protection of the natural resources and a sustainable economy.

Many Adirondack communities lack the resources to comprehensively address the land-use challenges before them. The smart-growth grants program will provide communities with technical capabilities necessary to plan for the future.


Friday, March 21, 2008

Adirondack Blogosphere: Year Three

This month marks the third anniversary of the Adirondack Adirondack and that means a look at the local blogosphere.

New Local Blogs of Note

This past year, once again, has been a banner year for local blogs. A look at our blogroll (at right, below) shows that a number of new blogs have joined the ranks. Here are a few that I think are the best new local blogs:

Corktown Capers – written by the chaplain of the Corinth Fire Department. You’ll remember that Corinth recently had a devastatingly destructive fire. Here is another post – God in Three Inches – worth reading and thinking about.

City Mouse / Country House – the ramblings of a musician, artist, craftsperson, modern homesteader and who knows what else, splitting his time between the Adirondacks and the big city. Check out I Have a Propane Problem, and Authentic Dreams for a taste of what it’s all about.

Adirondack Naturalist – NatureGirl says : “From sea slugs to sundews, redpolls to resin blisters, the world presents an endless array of “WOW” upon which we can feast our eyes, ears and mind.” Her blog has so far proven to be the proverbial dinner table. May we suggest My Favorite Marten and a helping of Hungry Deer?

Lake Placid Skater – a figure skater and speed skater living and training in Lake Placid writes this local blog that provides a little insight into what’s really happening on the Olympic rink – loaded with photos. Check out her report on the “load-in” for 2008 Empire State Games entitled Meeting Monica and find out what speed guarding is all about.

There has been a movement toward local business blogging. The best of the business blog bunch has been The Cottage Chat based in the The Cottage Cafe, the former Mirror Lake Inn boathouse turned pub-style restaurant in 1976. The Cottage Chat’s mix of event notices, Lake Placid gossip, and general community news is the best of what Adirondack business blogging can (and should) become. Another blog worthy of note this year is the infrequently updated but funny, irreverent, and mildly urbanesque cogblog from the women of Adworkshop / Inphorm.

Something we hope not to see anymore in local business blogs is the attempt to attract readers by using blog titles that mis-construe the true nature of the blog. Adirondack Vacation Guide, by Harbor Hill Inns and Cottages in Saranac Lake is a classic example. Some advice: be honest with your readers business bloggers, be upfront about your purpose, offer value. Take the good example of Christy’s Motel in Old Forge; their regular reports on snowmobiling conditions no doubt attract readers and customers – without the subterfuge.

Local Media Enters the Blogosphere (Sort Of)

The local papers have begun to get into the blogging game more seriously. Syracuse was named one of America’s Top Twenty Blogging Cities and I suspect that a large part of the reason is the Syracuse Post-Standard’s acceptance of the blog community. Unlike local media who – even though they’ve tried to enter the Adirondack blogsphere – have yet to cover the local blog scene in any even remotely appropriate way, the Post-Standard online includes an enormous list of blogs, and reports regularly on local blogs and blogging. Even the Adirondack Almanack graced their pages when we wrote about the Best Summer Adirondack Travel Blogging in September 2007.

The best local newpaper blogs (other media still hasn’t entered the fray) arrived this past year at the Albany Times Union. Their list of blogs is impressive, but so far offer little more than your average old media style commentary. Perhaps the best blog of the bunch is Birding by Rich Guthrie. Guthrie’s pursuit of his topic demonstrates the kind of potential local newspaper blogs have.

The Saratogian’s managing editor Barabara Lombardo entered the local blogosphere with Fresh Ink – not much happening there though. The Glens Falls Post Star’s effort (blog list) seems like some kind of weird joke, unless you’re a sports fan. The archives are nearly impossible to navigate.

Our suggestion for local media outlets? Take a lesson from the Syracuse Post Standard and get involved in your local blog world and abandoned attempts to merely capitalize on it. That’s just not what the blogosphere is about – it’s about a variety of voices engaging the local media world. There’s nothing wrong with making money from your efforts, but provide your audience with value first.

Those interested in the local blogospere should check out our comparison of local news stories reported on blogs and local mainstream media which appeared to show that local blogs are competing head-to-head for internet eyeballs.

There is also now a list of mentions of Adirondack Almanack in the local media, for those who are interested.

On a related note – although in the past year the New York Times opened its historic archives to readers, local newspapers have yet to figure out that people want to be able to access their stories for more than a week or two even though, as we recently pointed out, there is obviously a great desire to access old copies of local papers.


Saturday, March 15, 2008

Adirondack Historic Newspaper Site Hosts Millionth Page

Quite a milestone over at the Northern New York Library Network’s historical newspaper site. According to Alex Jacobs at the Watertown Daily Times, they just added their millionth scanned page of local newspapers from the past.

Just three years after its founding, the Northern New York Historical Newspapers Web site now has 1,004,000 pages available from 28 newspapers in seven counties.

The millionth page was among 84,000 pages added from the former Potsdam Courier-Freeman, published from 1861 to 1989. Its addition was supported by the Friends of the Potsdam Public Museum, which helped finance the microfilming of issues from 1946 to the mid-1980s.

This part should interest local media who still charge for access to their own digital archives (attn: Albany Times Union and Glens Falls Post Star – even the New York Times has begun opening theirs).

Since the Potsdam publication was added, more than 24,000 searches have been conducted on the online Courier-Freeman archive, said Thomas J. Blauvelt, library network systems administrator.

At the NNLN’s page you can look at scanned copies of the originals and search their index – ads and all. They are going to add the Tupper Lake Free Press and the Massena Observer next.

SOME TIPS
Search for full or last names of people you know, famous people you’re interested in, places, industries, ideas.

Instead of viewing the pages in the built-in online viewer, download all the pages for a single search term into their own folder and view them later in your pdf program (like the free Adobe Acrobat).

Also check out the Brooklyn Daily Eagle online and another more local newspaper archive here.

And don’t forget our own Great Adirondack History Searches from 2005.

And also Adirondack Genealogy: Researching Local Roots from 2007.


Monday, March 10, 2008

Adirondack Hacks

Randomly organized links to ideas for making life in the Adirondacks just a little bit easier – technology tools and tips, do-it-yourself projects, and anything else that offers a more interesting, more convenient, or healthier way of life in our region.

Build A Homemade Maple Syrup Boiler

Find NCPR On The Dial and On The Map

Grow The Perfect Handlebar Mustache

Learn Easy Bar Tricks

Adirondack Hacks is an occasional feature of Adirondack Almanack. Take a look at our Adirondack Hacks archive here.


Friday, February 29, 2008

Adirondack Snowmobiling: Resources, Conditions, and Controversy

This winter, after a number of years of lackluster snow conditions, Adirondack snowmobiling has once again made a resurgence. Here are a few things about Adirondack snowmobiling you should know:

Snowmobile Trails
The Adirondacks are criss-crossed by hundreds of miles of snowmobile trails. A free Adirondack Snowmobile Trail Map is available here. Trailsource is also an excellent resource for New York State snowmobile trails.

Snowmobile Conditions
Conditions throughout the region vary depending on elevation, nearness to large lakes, and latitude.

Current Northeast Snow Depths

Snowmobile Online Resources
Snowmobile forums offer sled fanatics discussions of videos, people offering sleds or parts for sale and other classifieds, snow tech, snowmobile politics, vintage snowmobiles, and any number of topics related to sledding. Some of the more popular are:

Trail Conditions.com
Snowmobile Forum
Snowmobile Fanatics
Net Sleds
Snowmobile World

Snowmobile History
Our post on the history of snowmobiling in the Adirondacks tracks the development of the snowmobile (or more generally, motorized snow travel) from the emergence of snow machines in the early 1900s, through the development of the personal sled that is so familiar today. The five part history continues into the explosion of makes and models and the spread of snowmobiling throughout the Adirondack region with races, clubs, and dealers taking advantage of the boon in snowmobile sales that occurred from 1965 to 1970. It concludes with the emerging conflicts over snowmobiles in the Adirondack Region.

Snowmobiling Controversy
The DEC and the Office of Parks Recreation and Historic Preservation are developing a Snowmobile Plan for the Adirondack Park. The plan will establish a baseline for creating a comprehensive and integrated Adirondack Park snowmobile trail system. It also establishes standards for developing and maintaining trails on DEC managed lands in the Adirondacks. Despite the excitement of some snowmobile clubs who have misrepresented the plan’s goals and effects by claiming that it will mean no new trails in the Adirondacks, the plan will likely call for the establishment of long-awaited new connector trails between towns.

The DEC press release on the snowmobile plan

Opposition from The New York State Snowmobile Association

Opposition from Winter Wildlands: Snowmobiles Stress Wildlife In Winter

New York Times Article Snowmobilers vs. Hikers in the Adirondacks

The APA is accepting comments on the plan until March 4, 2008.

Snowmobile Safety
Statewide there were nine people were killed on snowmobiles in December 2007. In January 2008 an ATV and two snowmobiles went through the ice on Lake Pleasant in Hamilton County and a snowmobile went through the ice on Lake George in Warren County. Worse news came in February 2008 however, with the tragic deaths of three snowmobilers within five days on Trail 7C connecting Boonville and Forestport.

The winter of 2007-2008 has claimed 18 snowmobilers lives so far (the deadliest sledding season was 2002-2003 when 31 riders died, their were 10 fatalities in New York in the 2006-2007 season and 14 the year before that). Snowmobiling can be dangerous. Use common sense and avoid thin ice on lakes and rivers, and high speeds on trails.

Take a minute to think about snowmobile safety and make others aware of the potential dangers:

Take the Safe Riders Online Quiz


Tuesday, February 26, 2008

African American History – Essex County Expulsions?

It’s February and that means a post on some aspect of African American history in the Adirondacks.
Here is last year’s popular list of stories.

I recently discovered that one of the Almanack‘s posts, The Ku Klux Klan in the Adirondacks, had been used for the companion website of the new PBS documentary film Banished: American Ethnic Cleansings. As a result of the attention, I thought I’d dig a little deeper on the issue of racial cleansing and the Adirondacks. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, February 20, 2008

The Seven Human Made Wonders of the Adirondacks

In no particular order, Adirondack Almanack’s list of Seven Human Made Wonders of the Adirondacks. Our list of the Seven Natural Wonders can be found here. Feel free to add your comments and suggestions.

Whiteface Memorial Highway
Although Lake George’s Prospect Mountain Veterans Memorial Highway deserves honorable mention, the Whiteface Mountain Veterans Memorial Highway deserves a spot on our list of wonders. Considered a test case for both the New Deal Works Progress Administration and the constitutional protection of the Forest Preserve, construction began in 1929 (after passage of the necessary amendment) and eventually cost 1.2 million dollars. The completed road, an eight-mile climb (at 8 percent average grade) from the crossroads in Wilmington, comes within 400 feet of the summit of the fifth highest mountain in the Adirondacks. New York Governor Franklin D. Roosevelt announced at the groundbreaking that a “distinguished French engineer” had driven the road and told him, “I, of course, know all of the great mountain highways of Europe. There is no highway in all of Europe which can compare for its engineering skill, for its perfection of detail, with the White Face Mountain Highway of the State of New York.” When the road was completed, F.D.R. (by then President of the United States) officially opened the route on July 20, 1935 and dedicated it to the “veterans of the Great War.” In his closing remarks F.D.R. said “I wish very much that it were possible for me to walk up the few remaining feet to the actual top of the mountain. Some day they are going to make it possible for people who cannot make the little climb to go up there in a comfortable and easy elevator.” The result of F.D.R’s desire is the 424-foot tunnel into the core of the mountain that ends in a elevator which rises 276 feet (about 27 stories) to the summit.

Fort Ticonderoga
Although the earliest archeological evidence of Indian settlement dates to 8,000 B.C. (and Native Americans were planting crops there as early as 1,000 B.C.), the first fort built there by Europeans was Fort Carillon constructed by the French in 1755-1758 during the French and Indian War. It’s location at the narrow strip of land between Lake Champlain and Lake George meant that the fort, called the “key to the continent,” controlled the northern portion of America‘s most important north-south travel route through the earl 19th century. Its impressive placement atop the cliffs and its European design kept it from being taken by an overwhelming British force under General Abercromby in 1758. It was taken the following year under General Amherst and again on May 10, 1775, when Ethan Allen, Benedict Arnold, and the Green Mountain Boys surprised the sleeping British garrison. It was retaken by the British in July 1777 by General Burgoyne who managed to place cannon on Mount Defiance overlooking the fort. In 1820, William Ferris Pell bought the ruins and in 1908 Stephen and Sarah Gibbs Thompson Pell began restoration. The following year it was opened to the public (President Taft was on hand) and in 1931 Fort Ticonderoga was designated a not-for-profit educational historic site managed by the Fort Ticonderoga Association.

The Adirondack Museum
Some day the Wild Center in Tupper Lake may make this list, but until then the Aidirondack Museum owns the title Adirondack wonder. The brainchild of mining baron Harold Hochschild, the museum has recently reached its 50th year preserving the heritage of the Adirondacks. Although it began as a small endeavor it has become a must see attraction of 32 acres and 22 buildings. Nearly 3 million visitors have seen the exhibits on mining, logging, boating, recreation, and the environment and culture of the Adirondacks. It is the single largest collection of Adirondack artifacts, including thousands of books (60 published by the museum), periodicals, manuscripts, maps and government documents, over 2,500 original works of art, 70,000 photographs, 300 boats and wheeled vehicles, and a large collection of rustic furniture, art, and architecture. Highlights include the Marion River Carry Railroad engine passenger car and the carriage that brought Vice President Theodore Roosevelt to North Creek the night President William McKinley was assassinated.

North Country Public Radio
Founded at St. Lawrence University and now celebrating their 40th year, today’s North Country Public Radio is a network of stations broadcast from 30 fm transmitters and translators from the Canadian frontier to Western Vermont and south into Hudson Valley. Its regional and national news, public affairs, and music programs have become a part of Adirondack culture in a way that gives NCPR a place on our list of Adirondack wonders. Whether its a ham dinner in Placid, a lost dog in the Keene Valley, a fire in Pottersville, or a political event in Saranac or Tupper, NCPR reaches over, around, and seemingly through the mountains and into our homes in ways nothing else in the North Country does. That’s a wonder in itself.

Keeseville Stone Arch Bridge
Workers building the historic Stone Arch Bridge over the AuSable River on Main Street in Keeseville had a close call in 1842. The bridge of native stone, believed at the time to be the largest such bridge in the country, was being built to replace the original wooden structure erected in 1805. The men had completed the first course of stone including the keystones and had nearly finished the second course when a violent storm blew in. Just as more then 30 men fled the storm’s heavy rain to a wooden shed on the bank of the river, the entire bridge collapsed into the AuSable with a thunderous crash said to have shaken buildings as far away as Port Kent. Since then it’s done quiet service. Rehabilitated in 2000 and now carrying more than 5,500 vehicles a day, the bridge still stands as a testament to Adirondack engineering. Its total length is over one hundred feet with 90 foot stone arch span.

Santa’s Workshop
Each year more and more of the region’s theme parks fade into oblivion. Those that have been lost include Old McDonald’s Farm (Lake Placid), The Land of Make Believe (Upper Jay), Frontier Town (North Hudson), Storytown (now the corporate Great Escape), Gaslight Village (Lake George), and Time Town (Bolton Landing). Santa’s Workshop in North Pole, NY seems the last of a breed and some of the remaining (and still operational in its original context) handiwork of Arto Monaco. Monaco was the local artist who designed sets for MGM and Warner Brothers, a fake German village in the Arizona desert to train World War II soldiers, and later his own Land of Make Believe (as well as parts of Storytown, Gaslight Village, and Frontier Town). Lake Placid businessman Julian Reiss’s Santa’s workshop opened July 1, 1949 and included a very early prototype petty zoo; it received its own zip code (12946) in 1953. A record daily attendance occurred in 1951 when 14,000 people walked through the gates. Julian’s son Bob Reiss took over the operation in the early 1970s, but the number of visitors has continued to drop with the park closing in 2001 only to reopen, hopefully for good.

Lake Placid Sports Complex

From the early competitions at the Lake Placid Club to the modern Olympic Training Facility, the sports complexes in and around Lake Placid have been bringing the sports world to our doorsteps for over a hundred years. Most are familiar with the stats: 12 awards in each the 1932 and 1980 games; Jack’s Shea two gold medals (the first American to win two gold medals at the same Olympics); figure skater-turned movie star Sonja Henie’s second of three consecutive Olympic gold medals, speed skater Eric Heiden’s five medal sweep (including one world record); “The Miracle” of 1980. After the 1980 Games, the Olympic Regional Development Authority (ORDA) combined under one management Whiteface, the bobsled, luge, cross-country ski and biathlon facilities at Mt. Van Hoevenberg, the Olympic Center, the speed skating oval, and the jumping complex. Since then ORDA has hosted hundreds of major national and international events, including world championships and world cup competitions in bobsled, luge, skeleton, alpine racing, ski jumping, speed skating, freestyle skiing and snowboarding. The Olympic Training facility opened in 1988 (one of only three in the country) and includes a 96-room dormitory that meets the needs of more than 6,000 athletes a year. The Lake Placid facilities are in one of only three communities in the world to have hosted two Winter Olympics, and that alone makes them an Adirondack wonder.

What do you think?

Fire away – let us know which Adirondack human and natural constructed things/places are the most significant, must-see attractions, marvels of engineering, historically important, or have other significance that makes them one of your top seven?

Remember – two lists – one for the human-made wonders, one for natural wonders.


Sunday, February 17, 2008

The Seven Natural Wonders of the Adirondacks

Here is (in no particular order) Adirondack Almanack’s List of the Seven Natural Wonders of the Adirondacks. The Seven Human-Made Wonders can be found here. Feel free to add your comments and suggestions. » Continue Reading.


Sunday, February 17, 2008

Seven Wonders of the Adirondacks

I’ve posted the Adirondack Almanack’s lists of Seven Natural and Human Made Wonders of the Adirondacks here:

The Seven Natural Wonders of the Adirondacks
The Seven Human Made Wonders of the Adirondacks

The contest winner and a recap of readers’ suggestions can be found here.

I’ve closed the comments on this page, but you can still leave comments and suggestions on the two pages of lists above.


Sunday, February 3, 2008

Seven Wonders of the Adirondacks Contest Winner

We had a lot of entries that offered some great suggestions for a final list of the Natural and Human Made Wonders of the Adirondack Region.

For natural wonders folks seem to have generally gone for parts of the Ausable, Hudson, Sacandaga, and Bog rivers. Although the views from various mountains (notably Blue Mountain, Pyramid, and Whiteface) and various waterfalls (Split Rock, Bog River, Buttermilk, and OK Slip falls) also figured prominently in submissions. The St. Regis Canoe Area was also a favorite.

As far as man-made wonders, the Lake Placid Olympic Complex was a obvious favorite. A number of bridges made the submission list, including those at Crown Point, at the head of Tupper, and the Jay Covered Bridge. Various trails made the list as well, including the 10 Waterfall hike from the Ausable Club and the trails around the VIC at Paul Smiths – the Whiteface Memorial Highway was a favorite. A number of old camps such as Foxx Lair, White Pine and the other Great Camps made the list of suggestions and so did a few tourist spots like Lake George’s House of Frankenstien, the Saranac Lake Ice Palace, and Hoss’s Country Corner in Long Lake. One joker suggested a cell tower and another more serious suggestion was “all the various
delicious blogs floating around the region.”

Our contest winner, chosen at random using random.com’s List Randomizer was RonV who wins himself a copy of Rosemary Miner Pelky’s Adirondack Bridgebuilder from Charleston. The book tells the story of Robert Codgell Gilchrist, a Confederate Major who came to the Adirondacks a year after the Civil War ended and built the first suspension bridge over the Hudson River in 1871 at Washburn’s Eddy near Rapairius (then called Riverside). Congratulations!

Adirondack Almanack’s lists of wonders are here:

The Seven Natural Wonders of the Adirondacks
The Seven Human Made Wonders of the Adirondacks

You can still leave comments and suggestions on the two pages above.