Friday, April 24, 2009

Adirondack Weekly Blogging Round-Up


Thursday, April 23, 2009

Spring Fiddle Jamboree This Weekend

Sunday is the Spring Blossom Fiddle Jamboree in Long Lake — part concert, part competition, part social gathering.

The event draws fiddlers of all ages and abilities from across the North Country. They are invited to show up with two or three tunes in their head, and they take turns on stage, backed by legendary North Country fiddler Donnie Perkins and his talented family band. A featured fiddler also performs several sets.

Fiddle meets are held across the North Country, and each enclave has its own approach. In Redford, for example, folks are accustomed to dancing. In Long Lake people mostly sit, listen and tap feet. A few old timers come out of the woods to play old-time hits like “Golden Slippers”; young’ns discovering perennial regional favorites like “St. Anne’s Reel” and “Whiskey Before Breakfast” are well represented.

The jamboree begins at 12:30 at the Long Lake Town Hall and ends when the last fiddler leaves the stage.


Thursday, April 23, 2009

Placidians Win Multisport Mountain Race

Congratulations to five Lake Placid residents who won the team category in the Tuckerman Inferno pentathalon Saturday. The course links running (8.3 miles), downriver kayaking (7.5 miles), bicycling (18 miles), hiking (3.5 miles) and finally a 600-foot climb-up/ski-down of Tuckerman Ravine, the spring backcountry ski mecca on the side of New Hampshire’s Mount Washington.

The Inferno combines the April recreation options of hardcore Northeastern mountain jocks. Team Lake Placid finished in 3:46:21, ten minutes ahead of a second-place group from Vermont. The Lake Placid crew comprised people who manage to stay seriously fit despite serious day jobs: Marc Galvin (run), Charlie Cowan (kayak), Edward Sparkowski (bike), Jeff Erenstone (hike) and Laurie Schulz (ski).

Also Saturday fourteen club cyclists with Team Placid Planet finished the punishing 65-mile Tour of the Battenkill in southern Washington County, the largest bike race in the United States. The loop includes about 15 unpaved miles and attracts both amateur and pro riders with its challenging hills. Among Adirondackers competing were Keith Hager, Dan Anhalt, Bill McGreevy, Charlie Mitchell, Jim Walker, Bruce Beauharnois, Ed Smith, Dan Reilly, Bill Schneider, Bill Whitney, Tim Akers, Shawn Turner, Darci LaFave and Susanna Piller.


Thursday, April 23, 2009

‘Canton Eddie’ — Turn-of-the-Century Safecracker

Mary Thill’s post about recent Adirondack bank robberies got me thinking about “Canton Eddie” (a.k.a. “Boston Shorty,” Edward Collins, Edward Burns, Harry Wilson and possibly Harry Berger and Eddie Kinsman) who real name is believed to have been Edward Wilson, a native of St. Lawrence County who was born in about 1876 in Canton. He was the perpetrator of a string of daring robberies in New York, Massachusetts, and Vermont, and probably elsewhere during his lengthy career. Using nitro-glycerin and “the rest of the safecracker’s outfit” he blew the safes of more than 30 post offices, including the Montpelier, Vermont Post Office at least twice in 1905 and in 1907. By the time he was arrested for the last time in 1916, he had already served a number of prison sentences totaling more than nine years.

Wilson turned up as part of a gang of burglars who called Rouses Point their home and roamed and robbed many post offices and stores in the Champlain valley in the early-1890s, including the Ticonderoga Post Office. Several were captured in late December 1894. In 1896 Wilson was sentenced to four years in Clinton Prison under the name Eddie Burns. After his release he served another year in the penitentiary in Columbus Ohio under the name Edward Wilson.

During the summer of 1907 Eddie was making camp at Rouses Point and using nitro-glycerin to rob local safes, including those at post offices in Hermon in St. Lawrence County ($800), at Montpelier, Vermont in June and at Sackets Harbor near Watertown in July 1907. In early November he hit the store of A. P. Boomhauer in Mooers Forks and the next day Napierville, Quebec., where Eddie and three accomplices roughed up a bank manager, blew the safe, and then escaped on a railroad hand-car with $2,000. On January 24, 1908 Canton Eddie was already known as a “notorious post office yegg man” when he was arrested in Lyons, New York, with his partner at the time, James Kelley. It’s believed that he was sentenced to four years in Auburn Prison.

By 1911, Canton Eddie was back at work robbing safes, mostly along the Black River Railroad and St. Lawrence River. On Friday May 19, 1911 he hit the Saranac Post Office located in the H.J. Bull general store. Three explosions blew the store windows out and completely destroyed the safe. Eddie was tracked to Cadyville, near Plattsburgh, but escaped. He hit the Trudeau Post Office in early 1911; by then he was being pursued by the New York Central Railroad Detective Joe McWade, who set up headquarters at various times in Saranac Lake. In June 1911 McWade caught Eddie with John Raymond in a Syracuse Hotel with “enough nitro-glycerin, fuses, and caps . . . to blow up an army.” Eddie was also in possession of a razor case with five small saws. Two other accomplices, including an unnamed chauffeur, escaped capture. McWade turned Eddie over to New York Central Police in Utica. According to press reports, prosecutors didn’t have enough evidence to convict him of robbery so he was released.

In May 1912 Eddie robbed the Post Office at Black River and on May 22, 1912 he was captured again near Utica. This time, giving the name Edward Burns, he was taken to Verona, near Rome, and handcuffed to a man named Frank Murray – he almost immediately broke the handcuffs and both men escaped. In September and October Eddie robbed the Norwood and Waddington post offices and took $1,800.

On June 7, 1912 he robbed the Lake Placid Post Office safe by driving to the south shore of Mirror Lake, taking a boat across the lake, sneaking to the Post Office and jimmying a window before going to work on the safe with his explosives. Heavy blankets were laid over the safe to deaden the sound of the explosion, and its said that a man sleeping just 35 feet away was not awakened. When he was finished he returned to the boat, rowed back across the lake, and drove out of town before sunrise with nearly $3,000. It was three hours before the crime was discovered.

In 1913 and 1914 Eddie was responsible for a number of robberies near the Canadian border, including a store in Standish and the Chazy Lake Delaware & Hudson Railroad Station. In April 1915 Canton Eddie Collins and an accomplice hit the Lisbon Post Office and several other area post offices. Despite his growing a beard to avoid being recognized, he was finally caught during the first week of May 1915 in Syracuse with his accomplice James Post, but again there was not enough evidence to convict him of the post office robberies. “The brainiest and nerviest of crooks,” as the Ticonderoga Sentinel called him, plead guilty to a lesser charge of possessing nitro-glycerin and was sentenced to just a year and eight months in Auburn prison.

Beginning around November 1916 thousands of dollars worth of cash started to turn up missing from mail cars traveling between Buffalo and Niagara Falls. In July 1917 Eddie was in fact back working with a two other men near Buffalo, robbing express freight cars at a watering stop at Wende, New York. They robbed the train station at Akron, New York, and the next night were captured as they returned to Wende to break into the Wende Station.

Joe McWade, the New York Central detective who made his headquarters at Saranac Lake during the first search for Canton Eddie, was a man of some adventure himself. In 1913, while on duty at Tupper Lake Junction, he shot two Canadians who were hopping the train when he ordered them off and they ran – one man later died. McWade was arrested and held in the Malone jail; later he was tried for first degree manslaughter, found guilty and fined $500. “The chagrin and remorse which he experienced from his trial and conviction were never forgotten by the detective,” one newspaper reported. “As soon as possible after the trial he sought a position in the southern part of the state where his duties would take him from away from the scene of the unfortunate shooting.”

McWade was once shot several times by a gang of train robbers and for several weeks was hospitalized in Buffalo and near death. After he recovered he went after the same gang and eventually captured them. On another occasion McWade took a job as a porter in a dive hotel where a gang of train robbers were believed to be staying. He got into their good graces and joined them in several robberies of freight cars, helping them bury their loot in a large hole near Lockport, New York. After a week he posted several detectives near the hole and set out with the gang to anther robbery. When they arrived at the hole to deposit their loot, they were all captured.


Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Moose ‘n’ Bear Discuss The A-lists


Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Verplanck Colvin Reports & Surveys Going Online

The New York State Library has been digitizing significant parts of its extensive collection, and some of the new online records pertain to our own Adirondack region.

We noted last August the availability of orderly books of Captain Amos Hitchcock’s Connecticut provincial companies during the French and Indian War.

Now the library has a new blog, and it reported yesterday that staff are in the process of digitizing the Reports and Surveys of the Adirondack Mountains compiled by Verplanck Colvin. When they are done, the collection will include 17 books and hundreds of rare 19th century Adirondack maps and plates, like the one above of Lower Saranac Lake and its environs in Townships 21 and 24 (Macomb’s Purchase). It will be an outstanding collection of local maps. When it’s finally online we’ll let you know and add it to our Adirondack Map Round-Up.


Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Opinion: Ken Tingley and The Pulitzer Jury

This week’s Pulitzer Prize to the Glens Falls Post-Star is not sitting as comfortably as it should. At the risk of being called a sour grape (the P-S published my editorial cartoons for a few years until Editor Ken Tingley and I had a disagreement in 2002), I compared the juror lists from this year and last.

Ken Tingley, who sits on the Post-Star editorial board, served as a Pulitzer juror this year (for editorial cartooning) and last year (for commentary). One of his co-jurors on last year’s panel was among the five jurors who awarded Mark Mahoney the prize for editorial writing this year.

Tingley recently told the paper, “When I was a judge last year, I came back and said to Mark, ‘We can play in this league. You can win this thing.’”

No one should diminish editorial page editor Mark Mahoney’s well-deserved honor. It’s just too bad that there was not a little more daylight between the award and Mr. Tingley.


Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Tupper Lake Bank Robbery Investigation Continues

The New York State Police are continuing their investigation into the armed bank robbery at the Community Bank in Tupper Lake on April 10th. They have released the following identifying information on $50.00 bills that were stolen during the robbery:

Serial Number / Federal Reserve Bank District # / Series

IB30849903A / B2 / 2006
GA01293917A / A1 / 2004
AD52511085A / D4 / 1996
EB23155745A / B2 / 2004
1B81072465A / B2 / 2006
GB32244863A / B2 / 2004
GB19388624A / B2 / 2004
EF06406154A / F6 / 2004
CL08247764A / L12 / 2001

The State Police are requesting folks compare $50.00 bills in their possession with the ones reported stolen during the robbery. If anyone has information about this currency, they should contact the New York State Police at 518-897-2000.


Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Salmonella Found in Warren County Siskins

In late March and early April, cultures from three pine siskins from Warren County yielded Salmonella typhimurium. Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) wildlife pathologists also detected salmonella in a house sparrow found in Putnam County.

The bacteria may be spread via bird feeding. Following is a synopsis from Kevin Hynes, a biologist in DEC’s Wildlife Pathology Unit, with advice for bird feeders:

“The pine siskins that died from Salmonellosis were from two separate areas in the Town of Queensbury. I am not sure where the Salmonella in these cases originated, perhaps from bird seed that was contaminated during the manufacturing or distribution process or, more likely, from seed and areas around birdfeeders becoming contaminated by the feces of infected resident birds.

“Typically in the late winter and early spring we see the pine siskins and common redpolls dying from Salmonellosis. These birds are winter visitors to New York from Canada, and they appear to be unusually sensitive to Salmonella poisoning. The siskins and redpolls may also be stressed as they travel south in search of food. Occasionally we see our year-round resident birds like house sparrows succumbing to Salmonellosis, but not as commonly as the siskins and redpolls, which leads me to believe that the resident birds have a higher tolerance for Salmonella and can act as carriers, infecting feeders, and areas around feeders, with feces containing Salmonella bacteria.

“Try to keep your feed dry because Salmonella grows better in moist environments. It is a good practice to take your feeders down once a week and sanitize them with a 10% bleach solution (1 part chlorine bleach to 9 parts water), and shovel or sweep up the spilled seed under your feeders and discard it in the trash where birds will not have access to it. In addition, if you notice birds acting sick (sitting alone all “puffed up” or acting weak) you should take your feeders down for a week or two to allow the birds to disperse, clean up any spilled seed from the ground and sanitize the feeders by soaking them in a 10% bleach solution for at least 10 minutes before drying them and resuming feeding.  Wear gloves when cleaning bird feeders and wash your hands afterwards.

“If you find dead birds, caution must be exercised when disposing of the carcasses, because humans and pets are susceptible to Salmonella infection. Birds sick with Salmonellosis are easy prey for cats and dogs which can then become infected with Salmonella, which can result in sickness and death. The NYSDEC Wildlife Pathology Unit may be interested in examining birds found dead at feeders (especially if there are four or more at one time) please contact your Regional NYSDEC Wildlife office for guidance or visit the NYSDEC website.”


Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Bats Flying and Dying in Broad Daylight

The disturbing die-off of the Northeast’s bats has been mostly something we’ve heard about on the news.

Reporters have accompanied biologists into abandoned mines to witness bats dying or dead, piled on the floor of their winter hibernacula. » Continue Reading.


Monday, April 20, 2009

Mark Mahoney of The Post-Star Wins Pulitzer

Mark Mahoney, chief editorial writer for the Glens Falls Post-Star has won the 2009 Pulitzer Prize for Editorial Writing.
The Pulitzer committee recognized Mahoney for:

“. . . his relentless, down-to-earth editorials on the perils of local government secrecy, effectively admonishing citizens to uphold their right to know.”

Finalists in this category included the Washington Post and Chicago Tribune.


Monday, April 20, 2009

Lake Placid Tour Boat Doris II Retired From Service

Management of the Lake Placid Marina has decided to suspend operation of the tour boat Doris II for the 2009 summer season. According to Dan Keefe, spokesman for New York’s Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, a Marine Unit inspector noticed “structural diminishment” to the hull during his annual visit last Thursday. The inspector advised officials at the Marina that no inspection to the vessel would take place until preliminary repairs were made. Lake Placid Marina Manager Brian Bliss characterized the damage to the 58-year old tourist attraction as chronic wear-and-tear. The structural work necessary to restore the hull to compliance was deemed prohibitively expensive. Lake Placid Marina owner Serge Lussi told the Adirondack Daily Enterprise that Doris II would not be restored to operation and that a search for a replacement has been launched. The 60-ft long craft, originally designed to carry 126 passengers, is presently stored on site. No decision has yet been made on sale or disposal of the craft.

Doris II was assembled in the spring of 1951 at George & Bliss boathouse (current site of Lake Placid Marina) on Lake Placid, from a kit of materials shipped from Bay City Boat Co. in Michigan. The purchase and construction were overseen by George & Bliss Manager Leslie Lewis and Captain Arthur Stevens, who skippered the original Doris on Lake Placid from 1903 until its retirement from service in 1950. Doris II was launched July 3, 1951 and toured her first paying customers along the 16-mile shoreline of the lake on July 12 (corrected from earlier version) of that year.

Until a replacement is found, the absence of Doris II raises the prospect of the first summer season since 1882 that Lake Placid will not float a large-capacity touring vessel. Last year The Lady of The Lake, another long-time icon of Lake Placid tourism, was removed from service. Tightened regulations following the capsizing of the Lake George tour boat Ethan Allen contributed to that retirement. A third Lake Placid tour boat of recent years, the Anna, remains on the lake under private ownership, according to Brian Bliss.


Monday, April 20, 2009

A Dry White(water) Season

Low snowpack and scarce April showers have led to burn bans around the Adirondack Park. The drought also has river paddlers wandering, searching for streams pushy enough to float their colorful little boats.

“Whitewater kayakers are being forced into summer habits of traveling downstream, unfortunately by car, to seek water levels suitable enough to sink their paddles in,” writes Jason Smith, on Adirondack Lakes and Trails Outfitters blog. “The Hudson River along with the Moose River, in the central Adirondacks, offer reliable spring flow and are popular spring runs. But even these mighty rivers are running lower than usual. . . . [D]on’t be alarmed if you see a vehicle loaded with short, plastic kayaks driving aimlessly around your neighborhood.”

Other Adirondack critters known to crave a good spring rain are amphibians. In Paul Smiths, in the high-elevation north-central Adirondacks where ice was still on ponds as of Thursday, wood frogs and spotted salamanders began to move on a warm rainy night about two weeks ago, observes Curt Stager, professor of biology at Paul Smith’s College. The cold-blooded creatures live buried in the forest floor most of the year, braving exposure to predators and car tires on rainy April nights to travel to the ephemeral ponds where they breed. Peepers, American toads and other frogs and salamanders also congregate at waterholes this time of year.

Showers Saturday gave creeks and rivers a noticeable boost. The last two weeks had brought snow and then unrelenting sun. “They [herps] have been dribbling around. It was an early start and then it got cut off by the dry weather,” says Stager, who studies local phenology. “Every year is a little different in the Adirondacks. You’ve got to watch it for decades to notice a real pattern.”

High/dry kayaker sketch courtesy of Jason Smith


Sunday, April 19, 2009

The Ausable Two-Fly Challenge’s 10th Year

The Ausable Two-Fly Challenge will be held on the banks of the West Branch of the Ausable River, Saturday, May 16. Now in its 10th year, the tournament brings together fly fisherman from across the United States, who want to test their skills on the acclaimed river, while at the same time promote the 35-mile long river as a fishery and raise money to protect it.

Rules for the catch and release tournament are simple. Anglers are allowed to bring two barb-less hook flies, of any combination or patterns and once the flies are lost or unusable… you’re out. Anglers must fish with a partner and each must record the total number of fish caught, the length of each fish and the cumulative number of inches. Only fish handled by the angler and successfully released will count as caught fish.

The Two-Fly Challenge begins Friday night, at R.F. McDougall’s, with a fly tying demonstration and the opportunity to rub elbows with some of the best fly anglers from around the country. Anglers are asked to gather Saturday morning at the Whiteface Mountain Regional Visitors Bureau at 6:30 a.m. and the Challenge begins at 7.

The Ausable River Two-Fly Challenge is not a professional contest, but it will feature a pro-division. The pro-division applies to anyone who gets paid to fly-fish, including guides and anyone who professionally competes for money. Prizes will be awarded to winning anglers in both the amateur and pro divisions during the banquet dinner, which will also feature a guest speaker, raffles and auctions.

Registration is open to the public and for more information, contact the Whiteface Mountain Regional Visitors Bureau at 946.2255, or through e-mail at info@ausableflyfishing.com.


Saturday, April 18, 2009

DEC Wants Comments on Upper Salmon River UMP

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has announced that it is beginning work on a unit management plan (UMP) for five state forests, one fishing access site and conservation easement lands encompassing 8,951 acres along the Upper Salmon River. The UMP will also include a pending acquisition from National Grid that covers approximately 675 acres in Oswego, Oneida and Lewis counties.

The DEC is seeking public input and will hold a public meeting on Thursday, May 7, 2009, from 7-9 p.m. at its Salmon River Fish Hatchery in Altmar, N.Y. The evening will begin in an “open house” format that will allow the public to interact with DEC staff and view displays, followed by a brief presentation by DEC staff, then a return to an open house format. The public will be encouraged to fill out comment cards that can be turned in at the meeting or mailed at a later date. Those unable to attend the meeting may submit comments to the contact person by mail or e-mail.

UMPs assess the natural, physical and recreational resources of the landscape and guide state forest land management activities. The Upper Salmon River Unit is comprised of the Salmon River, O’Hara, Hall Island, Battle Hill and West Osceola state forests, which encompass 8,764 acres. The unit also includes the 36-acre Jackson Road Fishing access site and 151 acres of conservation easement lands covering Huckleberry and Burdick islands in the Salmon River Reservoir. Another 675 acres of land to be acquired in a pending acquisition from National Grid is part of the unit as well. These lands are located near the village of Redfield (north of the Salmon River Reservoir) and are in the towns of Orwell, Redfield, Osceola and Florence.

The five state forests covered by the proposed plan currently offer many recreational opportunities including hiking, camping, bird watching, fishing, hunting, trapping, snowmobiling, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing and all terrain vehicle (ATV) access for people with mobility impairments. In addition, these forests are managed to sustain important natural resources including forest products, clean water, clean air and wildlife habitat.

The initial comment period for development of the draft UMP will end on July 5, 2009. However, comments will be accepted continuously throughout the plan development process. After the draft plans are completed, DEC will hold a formal public meeting to accept written and verbal comments.

An informational package is available. Requests for this package, comments and/or questions regarding development of the draft plan should be addressed to: Upper Salmon River UMP, NYSDEC, 2133 Salmon River Fish Hatchery, Altmar, NY, 13302. The public also may e-mail any comments or requests for informational packages to rgpancoe@gw.dec.state.ny.us.