Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Adirondack Progressives Gear-up for Election 2006

Adirondack Progressives, who have been heralded here at the Almanack a few times before, have announced that they will meet at 7:30 pm, tomorrow (Thursday, 7/15) at the Rock Hill Bake House Cafe in Glens Falls.

According to always active progressive Matt:

It’s time! Howie Hawkins (Green candidate for U.S. Senate against Hillary) is coming to Glens Falls next month for a fundraiser that we’re going to put on for him! We need to help this man out …in the fall, we can likely have him come up with Malachy McCourt (the Green candidate for Governor) and hear them speak at the Wood Theater. Let’s see the Post-Star ignore that! So far they have neglected to mention, even once, that there are any alternatives to Hillary and Spitzer.

We hope you can make it!

While we’re at it: The Working Families Party Election Round-Up for June


Thursday, May 18, 2006

The Strange Life of James Jesse Strang

I prophesy in the name of the Lord God of Israel, unless the United States redress the wrongs committed upon the Saints in the state of Missouri and punish the crimes committed by her officers that in a few years the government will be utterly overthrown and wasted, and there will not be so much as a potsherd left.

So it was that Joseph Smith, prophet of God and founder of the Mormon Church (now the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints) rather mistakenly announced the demise of these United States on this day in 1843.

So what do Joseph Smith and the Mormon Church have to do with the Adirondack region? A man named James Jesse Strang – his parents were born in Saratoga and Washington counties at the end of the 18th century. He was born in 1811 and later moved with his wife to Chautauqua County. He later moved to Nauvoo, Illinois where he met Joseph Smith, the Prophet of the Mormon Church.

Long story short, Strang converted to Mormonism, was elected to the State Legislature, claimed to have had heavenly visions, and that an angel appeared before him to tell him the secret location of – you guessed it – another buried account of ancient people, this time etched into brass plates.

After Joseph Smith was killed by a mob in Illinois in 1844 a feud erupted between Strang and Brigham Young over who was his rightful heir. Smith’s followers divided between “Brighamites” and “Strangites.” Although Strang produced a letter from Smith appointing him the new Prophet (still in the Yale University Library), and 12,000 believers allegedly joined him, the winner was Brigham Young who excommunicated Strang and took his followers to Utah – home of the Big Love!

Strang moved with about 125 followers to Beaver Island, Michigan where he proclaimed himself “King of the Kingdom of God on Earth” and well, generally pissed off the local Irish fishermen and farmers by extracting tithes from them.

That didn’t last long and James Jesse Strang was shot 150 years ago this June and died a short time later. His spiritual descendents are still spread around the Midwest, Canada, and even Mexico although a mob burned the Beaver Island temple around the time of Strang’s death. There are no temples for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (known as the True Faith – not to be confused with the Utah folks who use Latter-Day, rather than Latter Day).


Suggested Reading

Biography of James Jesse Strang


Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Adirondack Region School Board Vote Results

All school budgets in Clinton, Essex, Lewis and Jefferson counties passed! Here’s a report from NCPR’s Brian Mann

Essex, Fulton, Saratoga, Washington and Warren Counties from Capital News 9
Southern Adirondack Details from ComPost Star
Clinton County fromThe Plattsburgh Press Republican


Sunday, May 14, 2006

An Adirondack Mothers Day

Everyone’s favorite Adirondack celebrity Rachael Ray on the School of Mama and for mom – The Barefoot and Pregnant Bear – Yikes!


Suggested Reading: Rachael Ray’s Latest Cookbook – Perfect for the Grocery-less Adirondacks


Wednesday, May 10, 2006

SUNY Potsdam Republicans Organizing Armed Militia on Campus

You read it right… SUNY Potsdam College Republicans, apparently afraid of something, are organizing shotgun-toting patrols.

Kelly Eustis tells NewsWatch50 he borrowed the idea from student leaders at SUNY New Paltz but also believes it’s a Republican-oriented issue.

“I believe it is our constitutional right,” Eustis said. “It will show people that it is the right to bear arms. It will also act as a defense organization for the students of SUNY Potsdam and act as a kind of a watchdog group for police.”

Eustis said that after just a few days of soliciting he has 16 students interested in being a part of the militia.

At SUNY New Paltz, Student Association leaders are proposing patrols consisting of three students, two armed with shotguns and a third carrying a video camera.

Friends… prepare your arm salutes! We only hope there isn’t a beer garden nearby.


Suggested Reading: Potsdam Public Museum’s Photo History of Potsdam


Monday, May 8, 2006

Some Posts From Around the Adirondack Region You May Not Have Seen

Over at jockeystreet we have a great post on the meaning of May 1st – that’s the original May 1st, not the jingoistic 1958 Cold War version that is dying a slow and deserving death in Glens Falls – apparently much to the dismay of the Glens Falls Post Star.

Speaking of the region’s worst daily – and we recently spoke with a long time VIP at the paper who completely agreed with that assessment. We wish we could say more about that but he asked us not to. Anyway, Matt is back with his Angry (and strikingly disturbing and truthy) Letters to the Editor which demonstrate the long held accusations of Matt’s. Apparently they are withholding and corrupting the news, printing painfully slanted rhetoric in place of the news, and, well, lying to their readers.

A nice comparison is to take a look at these two stories:

From the Post Star: DEC wins court decision stopping vehicle use on Adirondack roads (now that’s a headline – how the hell will we get to the grocery? or the pub?)

And from the North Country Gazette (now a one woman about to go under webzine): Horicon Loses Attempt to Lift ATV Ban

In other internet news – we have a bizarre thread on the need to carry guns while hiking. Forget the bears! Its the teenagers some are ready to shoot.

And there’s the local Wikipedia war with words!

While we’re going on about the new wonders of the internet – Metroland has a good read about the death of local music retailer The Music Shack – unfortunately the blame is all on us, has nothing to do with them:

For every music collector, record collector, appreciator of album covers and lover of lyric sheets, there is a careless bandit, an unemotional music drone, the one who downloads music willy-nilly, regardless of taste, ignoring the band’s history or influences, oblivious to the group’s importance and pedigree or lack thereof. These buyers are the ones who are giving Memorex, Dynex and Verbatim a boost in the piggy bank. They are the ones you see scooping the jumbo CD carrying cases off the shelves at Wal-Mart to fill with ugly, scribbled-on discs. They are the people who don’t recognize the album covers or know the track names of their favorite bands.

Metal fans are in a tizzy – where will they buy the latest Tool? Meanwhile, music is making real progress on an old front – connecting with the dramatic and awful things that are happening today. We give you:

The release of Bruce Springsteen’s cover of Pete Seeger tunes from Hudson Mohawk IMC
The release of Neil Young’s Living With War (with extra mp3 goodness for all you “unemotional music drones”) from Vermont’s False 45th Blog.

UPDATE #1 – 05/10/06: NCPR reports on calls to restrict ATV use by young children.

UPDATE #2 – O5/10/06: Forgot to mention a really great music blog agregator with plenty of great mp3 goodness – elbo.ws


Monday, May 1, 2006

Lake George Fire – A Chance to Fix Some Lake George Blight

Last week’s fire in Lake George Village destroyed a block of architectural blunders that had replaced the majestic Hotel Lake George, which itself was destroyed by fire in 1978.Let’s only hope someone has a little better foresight and consideration of the character of the village when they rebuild (or approve a rebuild) this time. Consider what it looked like in the 1950s:

The old Hotel Lake George had been a local landmark owned byCaldwellSupervisor (as the Town ofLake Georgewas known then) Edwin J. Worden – it was called the Hotel Worden until the late 1940s or early 1950s. » Continue Reading.


Thursday, April 27, 2006

Three New Species Found in the Adirondack Treetops

Graduate student researcher Heather Root has made international news with the discovery of three new species in the canopy near Newcomb. The paper was presented at the Ninth Annual Northeast Natural History Conference in Albany.

UPDATE 05/09/06: North Country Public Radio has picked up on this story. Root told NCPR’s Brian Mann that she also found a rare lichen believed to have disappeared from the Adirondacks decades ago.


Suggested Reading: A History of Adirondack Mammals


Monday, April 24, 2006

Earth Day 2006 and the Adirondacks

In honor of Earth Day 2006, some interesting and important Adirondack related sites.

It’s still not too late to take part in this year’s Hudson River Sweep a clean-up of the Great North River sponsored by the Scenic Hudson. They even have a cool page to locate your local clean-up event. Unfortunately, the closest clean-ups in our area are down in Saratoga County. » Continue Reading.


Monday, April 17, 2006

Adirondack Earthquake Anniversaries – The 1931 Warren County Quake

This week marks the 100th anniversary of the San Francisco Earthquake. It also mark the April 20th anniversary of a 5.1 earthquake that struck near Ausable Forks in 2002 and still another anniversary – an almost forgotten earthquake that occurred in 1931.

At about 3 p.m. Monday afternoon, on April 20, 1931 the first shock hit. The shaking of the earth was severe in Warren County where hotels and other buildings swayed and local stores were rattled, their goods falling from the shelves. There were at least three shocks in all – local newspapers reported the trembling lasted nearly a minute each time.

Earthquakes are not uncommon in New York. According to the New York State Museum’s Geological Survey there have been more than 400 with a magnitude greater than 2.0 since the first was recorded near New York City in 1737. The shocks from that quake were felt as far as Boston, Philadelphia and in the Delaware Gap [more].

A large quake had struck along the St., Lawrence River and Lake Champlain in1877 and significant damage was reported near the epicenter and as far as Saratoga Springs where rumblings were heard and buildings trembled. Another quake was felt locally in 1897 with similar consequences. In 1916, four quakes were centered in Warren County; a large quake centered in Western New York was felt in five states in 1929 including locally.

The 1931 quake was centered near Warrensburg where more than 20 chimneys collapsed and the spire of a church was twisted, but the damage was widespread. Hague was shaken and residents of Lake George Village reported great rumblings and of hearing “a load roar that lasted several seconds.” Walls cracked in Glens Falls; windows were broken in Luzerne. The Postmaster of Whitehall reported dishes broken and the District Attorney in Saratoga reported that the ceiling of his office collapsed. Fearful residents of Ticonderoga fled from their shaking homes. R.L. Baker’s general store in New Russia, up in Essex County, shook considerably, rattling the goods on the shelves and the customer’s nerves. Shelves and homes were shaken in Lewis County and vibrations were felt in Vermont and Western Massachusetts, where a telephone pole snapped and crushed a car. The tremors were noticed as far east as Cambridge, Mass.

Everywhere in Warren County pendulum clocks stopped and chimneys collapsed. A landslide occurred on McCarthy Mountain overlooking the Hudson in Wevertown, a scar on the mountain that can still be traced from above. Luckily, no one was reported injured.


Suggested Reading

Geology of New York


Wednesday, April 12, 2006

2006 Adirondack Wilderness Trail Race Debate

Hayduke over at the Adirondack Forum informs us that through a Freedom of Information request he has received documents showing that The Mountaineer in Keene Valley has been granted a Temporary Revocable Permit to run a second Great Adirondack Trail Run along the same route as last year through the Giant Wilderness Area. Naturally, running a race through a wilderness area is, well, a bit incompatible with wilderness – so incompatible that last year’s race was limited to 60 people and was widely reported in the local press, and on the organizer’s website as “the first and most likely the last run we will organize.”

This event is all about celebrating our 30th anniversary, our two river associations, getting exercise and having fun! We are delighted you will be joining us. This run promises to be one of the most beautiful and adventurous runs of your life.

Well that’s beautiful and adventurous as long as you don’t happen to be climbing Giant as 60 people (or more this year?) run by.

Sponsors last year included Patagonia, Salomon, Montrail, Smartwool, Honey Stinger and Trail Runner Magazine with proceeds going to Ausable and Bouquet River Associations.

Here at the Almanack we are always ready to support appropriate use of the Adirondack Park were varying levels of protection ensure that at least some of these great north woods remain pristine – well as pristine as possible given that some folks will always want to explore the wilderness for themselves – it seems pretty clear that these kinds of large scale events belong in Wild Forest or Instensive Use areas rather than Wilderness Areas.

The race is apparently scheduled for June 17, 2006. Comments can be sent to

Denise Sheehan ([email protected])
Acting Commissioner
NYS Department of Environmental Conservation
625 Broadway
Albany, N.Y. 12233-1010

And to

The Mountaineer ([email protected])
1866 Route 73
Keene Valley, NY 12943

Of course we love to hear from you here as well – and welcome to fellow NCPR listeners!


Wednesday, April 5, 2006

Thin Ice: Some Strange and Tragic Stories

New snow yesterday and the disappearance of another ice fisherman, this time on Middle Saranac Lake, was a reminder that Adirondack winters, sometimes brutal, can also be deceiving.

According to Paul Schneider’s The Adirondacks: A History of America’s First Wilderness, snowfalls at higher elevations can average over 100 inches a year and the western edge of the park receives well over 200 inches on average. » Continue Reading.


Monday, March 6, 2006

Warren County Convention Center – Another Round of Corporate Welfare?

Last week the Warren County Board of Supervisors voted to establish a “public” Authority which would use occupancy tax money to purchase the former Gaslight Village (who can resist humming the tune… “Gaslight Village, yesterday’s gone today). The $5.4 million property, owned by the Charles R. Wood Foundation, would be used for another convention center. Back in the day it was a railroad yard up the line from the Lake George [ahem] Spanish Colonial style D & H Train Station:

Back to 1998, the Albany Business journal, bastion of the coporate press and ignoring the more than half million dollar annual shortfall of the Glens Falls Civic Center, reported dutifully in an article entitled ” ‘Tin Box’ is all that’s needed for some conventions” that:

“Economically, the only way our community is going to grow is by lengthening the [tourist] season,” said Robert Blais, mayor of the village of Lake George. “The only way to do that is to make a suitable building to house the organizations we presently have coming to Warren County, as well as others who may want to come here.”

At his urging, Blais said, Warren County recently allocated $100,000 to the project, and a new convention center committee was charged with hiring a firm to conduct a marketing study to determine whether a center is feasible anywhere in the county. The spot favored by many interested in the project is Lake George, which already has proven itself to be a draw for the county.

Then we had:

Delays mean not only lost time, but lost money, however. “Warren County is surely losing millions every year by not having some sort of tin box–a rudimentary, simple convention center,” said William Dutcher, president of Americade Inc., a week-long motorcycle touring rally held in Lake George each year.

Dutcher pointed out that car clubs, motor home clubs, sports-oriented groups and regional conventions all would be attracted to the area if a facility were built to accommodate them.

Well that all worked out well for Blais and now we have the entirely architecturally incongruant and almost utterly useless tin box that’s design draws on Lake George’s lengthy local history of Greco-Roman vernacular architecture – the Lake George Forum – well that’s useless except for the local news fluff pieces on Zambonis, and events like Hockey, Bounce-A-Palooza, Hockey Camp, the Teen Dance and Bounce-A-Palooza Party, Hockey, another Brewfest, another Adirondack Living Show, more Hockey.

And still the convention center cowboys ride on…even in the face of the facts. Metroland this week [get it while it last – they still don’t have permalinks] is featuring a report on the proposed Albany convention center (stand back Jim Coyne):

‘Few cities learn from their own mistakes or the mistakes of any others,” says Heywood Sanders, a professor of public administration at the University of Texas at San Antonio.

In January 2005, Sanders became a focal point of frustration for many elected officials with their eyes on projects like the one in Albany, when he authored a highly critical report on the convention industry for the Brookings Institution, a public-policy think tank in Washington, D.C. Sanders found that various factors such as industry consolidation, telecommunication advances and rising energy costs have contributed to a nearly 50-percent drop in convention attendance since the late 1990s. But meanwhile, more than 100 U.S. cities completed or began construction of convention centers, increasing the supply of available exhibit space by more than 50 percent. This growing gap between supply and demand, concluded Sanders, “should give local leaders pause as they consider calls for ever more public investment into the convention business.

Pause be damned:

Sen. Elizabeth Little, R-Queensbury, who proposed the public authority operate
the Civic Center as well as the proposed convention center, said the county
could receive word from the state before legislative session wraps up in June.

Glens Falls Mayor Le Roy Akins Jr., Lake George Village Mayor Robert Blais and Town Supervisor Lou Tessier all expressed support for the idea Wednesday.

Blais, however, conditioned his support on the inclusion of the Lake George Forum on the list of venues the public authority could operate, saying he’s concerned the Forum could suffer from competition with the authority-run venues.

“The Forum could suffer from competition” – do you think so Mr. Blais? According to Metroland:

Recently built or expanded convention centers in major cities (and tourist destinations) including Baltimore, San Francisco, St. Louis and Portland, Ore., all have failed to approach the number of booked conventions proposed in their initial feasibility studies, while new facilities scheduled to open in Boston, Omaha, Neb., and various other cities across the nation have struggled to prebook enough events to fulfill expectations. Like gamblers who refuse to leave the table, many of these cities have found themselves locked in one expensive, risky convention-related investment after another as they try to make up for their earlier losses.

Across the nation, the cycle has followed a similar course: New facilities are built when consultants report that the existing facilities are outdated, existing facilities are expanded when consultants determine that the current facilities are no longer adequate (the standard life cycle of a convention center is only 15 to 20 years) and massive hotels are constructed when neither of the two former plans generate the predicted financial windfalls.

So folks… does Warren County join the bandwagon – again? Maybe this time it can have publicy funded classic Adirondack Egyptian architectural details.

UPDATE 4/5/06: Maury Thompson at The Glens Falls Post Star (get it while you can) reports, in one of the most blatant examples of advocacy journalism we’ve seen in a long time, that even though convention centers are in the works for Lake Placid, Plattsburgh, Glens Falls, Lake George, Saratoga Springs, Albany, and who knows where else, well, they are just a good idea. Thompson asked the opposition – well – nothing – they didn’t figure in his idea fair and balanced reporting.

UPDATE 4/24/06: Another entry from the folks at the Post Star – this time from a more balanced Madeline Farbman. The jist? Warren County is moving ahead despite long held desires from the local water quality folks to return the Gaslight Village site to a filtering wetland (get it while you can).


Monday, February 20, 2006

Taylor’s On Schroon Lake – Anti-Semitism of Days Gone By

Over at eBay, there is a unique item of Adirondack history for sale. A 24-page advertising pamphlet from 1910 for Taylor’s on Schroon (photo above). And there it is, one simple line: “Gentile trade solicited” – in other words Jews need not apply. In the first decades of the 1900s anti-Semitism and nativism were rampant in the Adirondacks as in the rest of the country. The Ku Klux Klan worked hard from its local base in Schenectady to establish Klan groups in Ticonderoga, Glens Falls, Saranac Lake, and elsewhere – some were quite successful. This tidbit, written by C.F. Taylor Jr., is one of the more rare blatant examples. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Dick Cheney and Adirondack Guide John Cheney – Same Genes?

In September 1845, David Henderson (partner in the Adirondack Iron Works and husband of Archibald McIntyre’s eldest daughter) was searching for a source of water for his iron works. The company’s engineer Daniel Taylor believed that a half-mile long canal could be built between the Opalescent River and a branch of the Hudson nearby. Henderson, his eleven-year-old son Archie, and guides John Cheney and Tone Snyder set out to investigate the area. The following year, Joel Headley, in the company of John Cheney, returned to the spot. He related the hunting accident that happened there:

We are off, and crossing a branch of the Hudson near its
source, enter the forest, Indian file, and stretch forward. It is no child’s
play before us; and the twenty miles we are to travel will test the blood and
muscle of every one. The first few miles there is a rough path, which was cut
last summer, in order to bring out the body of Mr. Henderson. It is a great
help, but filled with sad associations. At length we came to the spot where
twenty-five workmen watched with the body in the forest all night. It was too
late to get through, and here they kindled their campfire and stayed. The rough
poles are still there, on which the corpse rested. “Here,” says Cheney, “on this
log I sat all night, and held Mr. Henderson’s little son, eleven years of age,
in my arms. Oh, how he cried to be taken in to his mother; but it was impossible
to find your way through the woods; and he, at length, cried himself to sleep in
my arms. Oh, it was a dreadful night.” A mile further on, and we came to the
rock where he was shot. It stands by a little pond, and was selected by them to
dine upon. Cheney was standing on the other side of the pond, with the little
boy, whither he had gone to make a raft, on which to take some trout, when he
heard the report of a gun and then a scream; and looking across, saw Mr.
Henderson clasp his arms twice over his breast, exclaiming I am shot!” The son
fainted by Cheney’s side; but in a few moments all stood round the dying man,
who murmured, “What an accident, and in such a place!” In laying down his
pistol, with the muzzle unfortunately towards him, the hammer struck the rock,
and the cap exploding, the entire contents were lodged in his body. After
commanding his soul to his Maker, and telling his son to be a good boy, and give
his love to his mother, he leaned back and died. It made us sad to gaze upon the
spot and poor Cheney, as he drew a long sigh, looked the picture of sorrow.
Perhaps some of us would thus be carried out of the woods. He left New York as
full of hope as myself; and here he met his end. Shall I be thus borne back to
my friends? It is a little singular that he was always nervously afraid of
firearms, and carried this pistol solely as a protection against wild beasts;
and yet, he fell by his own hand… Poor man! It was a sad place to die in; for
his body had to be carried over thirty miles on men’s shoulders, before they
came to a public road.

Cheney reported that Henderson had spotted some duck and had handed Cheney his pistol to go after them. The ducks fled before Cheney could get off a shot so he handed the still-cocked pistol back to Henderson. While Cheney and Archie Henderson were going for fish, the elder Henderson laid his knapsack and gun belt on a large rock when the pistol suddenly discharged sending the ball into his side and toward his heart. The Plattsburgh Republican later reported that the little body of water where Henderson died had become known locally as Calamity Pond.

Cheney (John not Dick) was also a renowned and experienced hunter, but a reckless one. Over the dozen or so years following his arrival in Newcomb in about 1830 he reported killing 600 deer, 400 martens, 48 bears, 30 otters, 19 moose, seven wildcats, six wolves, a panther, and what he believed to have been the last beaver.

One day I was chasing a buck on Cheney Lake. I was in a canoe and had put my pistol down by my side. Somehow the pistol slipped under me and discharged, the ball striking me half way between the knee and ankle. Being 14 miles from any habitation at the time and alone, I only stopped long enough to see what harm had been done. Then I seized the oars and started after the buck again as the thought struck me that I might need that deer now more than ever. I caught up with him and made short work of it, took him ashore, dressed and hung him up. But I soon perceived that if I ever got out of the woods I must lose no time. By then my boot was full of blood and my ankle began to pain me bad, so I cut two crotched sticks and with their help I managed to get out of the woods in about eight hours. I only stopped to set down once because it was so hard to start again.

According to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), there were 34 shooting incidents in 2004, three of which were fatal. 2004 is the last year for which confirmed numbers are available. Tentative numbers for 2005 include four hunting deaths in the state.

Despite those tragedies there has been a nearly 70 percent decline in hunting accidents in New York State since the 1960s, due largely to increased training and educational programs for new hunters such as the state mandated hunter safety course. In the 1960s, when there was an average of about 720,000 hunters, there were an average of 137 hunting accidents. In the years since 2000, the number has fallen to 45 (about 688,500 hunters now take to the woods each year).

According to the DEC the best way to be safe while hunting is to: assume every gun is loaded, always keep guns pointed in a safe direction, keep your fingers off the trigger until ready to shoot, be sure of your target and what’s beyond it, wear hunter orange, and keep your distance from men named Cheney.


Suggested Reading

Through the Light Hole: A Saga of Adirondack Mines and Men

Adirondack Forest and Stream: An Outdoorsman’s Reader



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