I was recently on a road trip to and from the beautiful state of Maine. The trip took me across Lake Champlain, through the agricultural and ski lands of Vermont, zipping down the forest-lined highways of New Hampshire, and then into Maine itself, where I briefly visited the coast before heading upstate to Augusta. As beautiful as each of these states is, there was one thing they all had in common: purple loosestrife.
I know, you are thinking “we’ve got purple loosestrife here in New York, too – even in the Adirondacks,” and you would be correct in this thought. But let me tell you – the Adirondacks have nothing compared to these other states, where this elegant purple flower is thick as thieves in every body of water I passed – be it fresh or salt. I was bowled over by how far its reach had stretched, and how established it had become. » Continue Reading.
I recently spent a few days touring around Colorado by bicycle. It was my seventh trip to the state, in both summer and winter.
The trip took me on a few parts of the Colorado Trail, a 450-mile hiking route that follows the spine of the Continental Divide from Denver to Durango. It also took me to some of Colorado’s old mining towns, most of which have been recast as a combination tourist attraction and burgeoning home to the young, artsy and outdoorsy.
The trip got me thinking about the differences between the Rocky Mountains and the Adirondacks, where I first learned to climb mountains and have spent the last 25 years exploring. » Continue Reading.
The Adirondack Park Agency (APA) will hold its regularly scheduled monthly meeting on Thursday, August 12 and Friday August 13, 2010 at APA Headquarters in Ray Brook, NY.
The Agency will consider a third renewal for the Westport Development Park’s commercial/industrial use permit, a shoreline structure setback variance for Camp Chingachgook on Lake George, a Benson Mines wind project, Adirondack Park State Land Master Plan compliance for the Jessup River Wild Forest UMP, Champlain-Hudson Power Express’s proposed 300-mile, 2,000-MW electric transmission line from Canada to New York City via Lake Champlain and the Hudson River, a memorandum of understanding between the Adirondack Park Agency and the Department of Environmental Conservation concerning State-owned conservation easements on private lands within the Adirondack Park, and the Route 3 Travel Corridor Management Plan. Meeting materials are available for download from the Agency’s website. » Continue Reading.
July 17th marked the beginning of Upper Hudson River Railroad’s two-train Saturdays, when both morning and afternoon trains are scheduled, taking passengers northward in the morning to enjoy not only the scenic excursion by rail, but also allowing them to enjoy an outing in one of the First Wilderness Heritage Corridor communities along the route. These Saturday offerings will continue through August 21st. » Continue Reading.
There are just a few weeks left before Director Stan Burdick closes the doors to the Ticonderoga Cartoon Museum. There is a lot of history in the 50-year collection of cartoon memorabilia. A political cartoonist himself, Stan contributed to many local newspapers during his career. His work has been selected numerous times for the annual publication, “Best Editorial Cartoons of the Year” and in 1996 he won the New York Press Association Award for his editorial cartoon of Eliot Spitzer. My children greet Stan like he is the cable man and he just offered free access to unlimited channels. They look at me like I am the only thing holding them back from nirvana. I shush them off making sure they carefully maneuver through the aisles.
The museum houses over 700 pieces of original art from mainstream cartoonists like Chuck Jones’ Bugs Bunny, Peanuts creator Charles Schulz, and Gary Trudeau’s Doonesbury to the more obscure work of Henri Daumier, an 18th century French caricaturist. Special exhibits include the work of Arto Monaco (creator of Santa’s Workshop and Land of Make Believe), Sid Couchey’s Richie Rich, and Charles Dana Gibson’s Gibson Girls. The collection will be moved to the Pittsburgh ToonSeum in September.
There is also a reference library of over 300 books if anyone has a moment to research any favorite comic strip characters. For us, Mr. Burdick manages to answer a seemingly endless array of questions.
Stan even gives us a quick cartooning demonstration and explains this particular art form that with all the ease of computers and scanning is still rendered by hand. He shows how a political cartoonist has to be up on current events by reading newspapers and listening to the news, find the right concept, think up the caption, draw it, and “ink” the artwork. The original art is then reduced in size, scanned and e-mailed to the newspapers to be read by all. That is the simplified version.
I am not sure my children grasp how much work goes into each cartoon. They innocently ask if they can go back to reading and looking at the cartoons. Gladly. It is an opportunity not to be missed. We can fill them in later on specific historical events that created the cartoons.
The Ticonderoga Cartoon Museum is located on the lower level of the Community Center on Montcalm Street. It is currently open on Fridays from 2:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. or by appointment. Please call 518-585-7015 for additional times and more information.
The Empress is one of two five-star climbing routes on Chapel Pond Slab—a route first ascended in 1933 by the legendary Fritz Wiessner.
Empress is long—865 feet, usually climbed in seven pitches—but not especially difficult. It’s rated only 5.5 on the Yosemite decimal scale. It’s mostly friction climbing: you smear your soles on small toeholds to progress upward. There also is an off-width crack in one section. Click here to a read a more detailed description of the route.
I climbed Empress for the first time the other day and had a great time. My ascent was all the more exciting in that I did it solo, without a rope, without protection against a fall.
Climbers often ascend Chapel Pond Slab solo. A few weeks ago a friend did laps on Regular Route, the other five-star route on the cliff, while waiting for me to meet him. The guidebook Adirondack Rock contains a photo of a solo climber on that same route. The book also tells of a soloist who slipped on a neighboring route and slid far down the slab, ripping the skin off his palms. “He then drove to a bar using his wrists,” the authors write.
To many people, solo climbing is lunacy. In a recent issue of the Adirondack Explorer, however, the Lake Placid climber Don Mellor defends the practice. He argues that we all take risks and that what seems like lunacy to one person is an acceptable risk to another.
“The pleasure of a bushwhack comes from the uncertainty of the outcome,” says Mellor, the author of American Rock and other climbing books. “The slide hike is exciting, not in spite of the danger, but because of it. Appreciating security by tasting insecurity is an elemental human endeavor. The only real variable, I guess, is the size of the dose.”
That said, solo climbers do push the limits. Two years ago, Alex Honnold scaled a 23-pitch route on Half Dome in Yosemite National Park. The sheer-vertical climb is rated 5.12a—too hard for most climbers even with a rope.
Click here to see video of this incredible feat (sorry for the German overdubbing).
If the average climber attempted to solo this route, it would indeed be lunacy. But Honnold obviously is not your average climber, and he knows his limits.
Indeed, climbers usually stay well within their comfort zone when going solo. Nevertheless, accidents do occur, some of them fatal, even to the best of climbers. John Bachar, one of most renowned soloists in the world, died in a fall last summer. He had been solo climbing for decades. Apparently, the odds caught up with him.
What do you think? Do solo climbers have rocks in their heads?
Photo from halfway up Empress taken by Phil Brown.
As fans of Mark Twain the world ‘round await the fall release of his unexpurgated autobiography a century after his death, scholars, authors, teachers, and other admirers of Twain will gather on the time-carved shores of Lower Saranac Lake to draw a more intimate portrait of the writer and humorist and explore his indelible contributions to American life and letters.
On Saturday, August 14, Dr. Charles Alexander of Paul Smith’s College, Dr. Margaret Washington, Associate Professor of History at Cornell University, and beloved children’s author Steven Kellogg of Essex, NY, will headline the day-long “Mark Twain in the Adirondacks” program at Guggenheim Camp on Lower Saranac Lake. Doors will open at 9:30 a.m. At 10:00 a.m., Dr. Alexander will explore Twain’s surprising connections to the Adirondacks, focusing on his retreat from the outside world to the Kane Camp on Lower Saranac Lake in 1901 and the little-known essay, “The United States of Lyncherdom”, Twain wrote when the news of lynchings in Missouri reached him there. So incendiary, Twain allowed publication of the essay only after his death.
At 11:00 a.m., Steven Kellogg will read passages from Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and share why he counts it among his favorite books. Dr. Washington will continue the focus on Huck Finn, guiding the audience through critical debates over the work since its publication in 1885 and Twain’s straightforward treatment of slavery and race.
Following their formal presentations, Kellogg, Washington and Alexander will invite the audience to participate with them in an open-ended conversation about Twain and his lasting influence and power to provoke even today, 100 years after his death.
In November, the University of California Press will publish the first of three volumes of Twain’s half-million word autobiography, most of which the author dictated to a stenographer over the course of the four years before he died in 1910. According to New York Times reviewer Larry Rother, “a very different Twain emerges, more pointedly political and willing to play the angry prophet” (NYT 10 Jul 2010).
“Mark Twain in the Adirondacks” will be held at the rustic Guggenheim. Complimentary coffee, tea and pastries will be provided in the morning and ice cream donated by Stewart’s Shops will be served during the afternoon conversation. People are encouraged to pack a lunch.
A $5 donation is requested for Guggenheim program. Optional hour-long boat tours to the privately-owned Kane Camp where Twain stayed will be offered in the afternoon, starting at 2:00 p.m. Sign-up for the tours is on a first come, first serve basis, beginning when the doors open at 9:30 am. Tickets for the boat tours are $20 each, which includes entrance to the talks at Guggenheim Camp.
“Mark Twain in the Adirondacks” is a joint project of Historic Saranac Lake, John Brown Lives!, Paul Smith’s College, Keene Valley Library, and Saranac Lake Free Library. On July 23, Keene Valley Library hosted Huck Finn Out Loud—a twelve-hour marathon reading of the novel. Volunteer readers and listeners from all walks of life hailed from across the North Country and from Paris, France.
North Country Public Radio is media sponsor of “Mark Twain in the Adirondacks”. Funding has been provided by New York Council for the Humanities, Stewart’s Shops, Cape Air, Paul Smith’s College, and International Paper-Ticonderoga Mill. For more information, contact Amy Catania, Director of Historic Saranac Lake at 518-891-4606 or Martha Swan, Director of John Brown Lives! at 518-962-4758.
The approximately three million acre, publicly-owned and “forever wild” NYS Forest Preserve in the Adirondack and Catskill Parks is taxable for all purposes. Since 1886, that’s been the law. How can we make sure such tax obligations are paid, forever? I want it that way, and so do many others.
The law says that Forest Preserve lands shall be valued for tax purposes as if privately owned (Section 532a of the Real Property Tax Law). Late 19th century lawmakers recognized that downstate economic and other benefits of protecting upstate watersheds in the Adirondacks and Catskills more than justified waiving the State’s exemption from being taxed. And thus it has been ever since. » Continue Reading.
In the past 200 years, a few ships have borne the name Plattsburg. In the War of 1812, there was the unfinished vessel at Sackets Harbor, a project abandoned when the war ended. There was the rechristened troop transport that hauled thousands of troops home from the battlefields of World War I. There was the oil tanker that saw service in the Pacific theater during World War II. And there was the cruise boat that plied the waters of Lake Champlain in 2003–4. One of them played a role in perhaps the most famous maritime disaster of all time. The unfinished ship at Sacket’s Harbor had been designated the USS Plattsburg. The oil tanker was the Plattsburg Socony, which survived a horrific fire in 1944. Thirty-three years later, after two more re-namings, it split in two beneath 30-foot waves and sank off Gloucester. The cruise ship was the short-lived Spirit of Plattsburgh. But it is the USS Plattsburg from the First World War that holds a remarkable place among the best “what if” stories ever.
In early April 1917, just three days after the United States entered World War I, a merchant marine ship, the New York, struck a German mine near Liverpool, England. The damage required extensive repairs. A year later, the ship was chartered by the US Navy, converted into a troop transport, and newly christened the USS Plattsburg.
By the time the armistice was signed, ending the war in November of that same year, the Plattsburg had made four trips to Europe within six months, carrying nearly 9,000 troops of the AEF (American Expeditionary Forces) to battle.
The transport assignment continued, and in the next nine months, the Plattsburg made seven additional trips, bringing more than 24,000 American troops home. A few months later, the ship was returned to her owners, reassuming the name SS New York. After performing commercial work for a few years, the ship was scrapped in 1923.
When the end came, the New York had been in service for 35 years. At its launch in 1888 in Glasgow, Scotland, it was named S.S. City of New York. The S.S. indicated it was a “screw steamer,” a steamship propelled by rotating screw propellers (City of New York was one of the first to feature twin screws). After service under the British merchant flag, the ship was placed under the US registry as the New York, where it served in like manner for five more years.
In 1898, the US Navy chartered the New York, renaming it Harvard for service during the Spanish-American War. It served as a transport in the Caribbean, and once plucked more than 600 Spanish sailors from ships that were destroyed off Santiago, Cuba. When the war ended, the Harvard transported US troops back to the mainland, after which it was decommissioned and returned to her owners as the New York.
A few years later, the ship was rebuilt, and from 1903–1917, it was used for routine commercial activities around the world. In April 1912, the New York was at the crowded inland port of Southampton, England. It wasn’t the largest ship docked there, but at 585 feet long and 63 feet wide, it was substantial.
Towering above it at noon on the 10th of April was the Titanic. At 883 feet long, it was the largest man-made vessel ever built. This was launch day for the great ship, and thousands were on hand to observe history. The show nearly ended before it started.
No one could predict what would happen. After all, nobody on earth was familiar with operating a vessel of that size. Just ahead lay the Oceanic and the New York, and as the Titanic slowly passed them, an unexpected reaction occurred.
The Titanic’s more than 50,000-ton displacement of water caused a suction effect, and the New York, solidly moored, resisted. It rose on the Titanic’s wave, and as it dropped suddenly, the heavy mooring ropes began to snap, one by one, with a sound likened to gunshots. The New York was adrift, inexorably drawn towards the Titanic. A collision seemed inevitable.
Huge ships passing within 50 to 100 feet of each other might be considered a close call. In this case, desperate maneuvers by bridge personnel and tug operators saved the day (unfortunately). The gap between the two ships closed to only a few feet (some said it was two feet, and others said four). Had they collided, the Titanic’s maiden voyage would have been postponed.
No one can say for sure what else might have happened, but a launch delay would have prevented the calamity that occurred a few days later, when the Titanic struck an iceberg and sank within hours, claiming more than 1,500 lives.
There you have it. A ship that bore four names—City of New York, Harvard, New York, and Plattsburg—is forever tied to the fascinating, tragic story of the Titanic.
Photo Top: USS Plattsburg at Brest France 1918.
Photo Middle Right: L to R: The Oceanic, New York, and Titanic in Southampton harbor.
Photo Middle Left: The tug Vulcan struggles with the New York to avoid a collision.
Photo Bottom: The New York (right) is drawn ever closer to the Titanic.
Lawrence Gooley has authored eight books and several articles on the North Country’s past. He and his partner, Jill McKee, founded Bloated Toe Enterprises in 2004 and have recently begun to expand their services and publishing work. For information on book publishing, visit Bloated Toe Publishing.
The much-anticipated local sci-fi adventure Recreator will have its premiere at The Wild Center on Thursday, August 19th at 7pm in advance of a local theatrical run, say the film’s producers, who shot the movie last fall in Tupper Lake. The premiere will benefit the Big Tupper Ski Area, according to Center Executive Director Stephanie Ratcliffe and ARISE Chairman Jim LaValley, co-hosts of the event. Tickets for the benefit, which includes the screening, reception and appearances by some of the actors and filmmakers are $25 and available online at www.wildcenter.org/recreator. » Continue Reading.
The Adirondack Center for Writing presents Bill McKibben and Verlyn Klinkenborg as a part of The Field Guide to Nature and Environmental Writing – a weekend workshop at Paul Smith’s College. McKibben will give a lecture entitled “Writing and Fighting: The Great Activist Legacy of American Nature Writers” on Friday, August 13th at 7:30 PM. Klinkenborg will read the following evening at the same time, and both talks will be held in The Pine Room at the Joan Weill Student Union on Paul Smith’s Campus. The lectures are open to the public, free for ACW members and $5 for non-members. Bill McKibben is an American environmentalist at the forefront of climate activism and writing. He published The End of Nature in 1989, the first book for a mass audience on the subject of climate change. Since that groundbreaking release, McKibben founded and manages 350.org, which organizes international grassroots climate action, hoping to stabilize global carbon concentrations at 350 ppm.
His most recent book, Eaarth, questions whether we have changed our planet too fundamentally to treat it as the “Earth” we once knew. He outlines how we can live “Lightly, Carefully, Gracefully,” in our communities, and has been called by the Time Magazine, “maybe the world’s best green journalist.” In addition to his groundbreaking climate writing, he is the author of Deep Economy: The Wealth of Communities and Durable Future, Wandering Home and edited the collection American Earth.
Bill is a frequent contributor to magazines including The New York Times Magazine, The Atlantic Monthly, and Orion Magazine, He is also a board member for Grist Magazine. He has been awarded Guggenheim and Lyndhurst Fellowships, and he won the Lannan Prize for nonfiction writing in 2000. He lives with his wife Sue Halpern and their daughter Sophie in Ripton, VT. He is a scholar in residence at Middlebury College.
Verlyn Klinkenborg is an acclaimed author of several books, and of the much-loved column “The Rural Life,” which appears on the The New York Times editorial page twenty-six times a year. Tom Brokaw has called Klinkenborg “our modern Thoreau;” others hear echoes of E. B. White in his voice. Like both of them, Klinkenborg observes the juncture at which our lives and the natural world intersect, and finds the luminous details that transform everyday experiences into luminous and revitalizing prose.
His books include The Rural Life, Making Hay, The Last Fine Time, and Timothy; or, Notes of an Abject Reptile. He has published extensively in The New Yorker, Harper’s, Esquire, National Geographic, Mother Jones, and other periodicals.
Klinkenborg was raised on an Iowa farm belonging to his family, graduated from Pomona College, received a PhD from Princeton, teaches creative writing at a number of American universities and colleges, and lives on a small farm in upstate New York. In 2007, he received a Guggenheim Fellowship, which is funding his current writing project, The Mermaids of Lapland, about the 18th-century English radical and farmer William Cobbett.
Internationally renowned wildlife biologist Amy Vedder will be the keynote speaker at the 2010 annual meeting of The Nature Conservancy’s Adirondack Chapter and the Adirondack Land Trust. The event, which also features family-friendly activities and field trips, is being held on August 14 at Heaven Hill Farm in Lake Placid. The public is welcome.
Amy Vedder, who has over 30 years of experience in conservation efforts across the globe, has overseen more than 100 different conservation projects in locations ranging from New York State and Wyoming to Mongolia and East Africa. With experiences as a Peace Corps volunteer, the Director of the Living Landscapes program for the Wildlife Conservation Society, and now as the Senior Vice President of the Wilderness Society, Vedder has dedicated her career to balancing wildlife conservation issues with human needs. She is perhaps best known for the Mountain Gorilla Project, an innovative approach under taken with her husband, Bill Weber, to conserving habitat in war-torn Rwanda for one of the world’s last remaining gorilla populations. The resulting ecotourism initiative is the basis of her book, In the Kingdom of Gorillas: Fragile Species in a Dangerous Land, which she co-authored with Weber.
As both an admirer of the Adirondack region and an advocate for conservation issues across the Park, Vedder portrays the Adirondack story from a global perspective. “The Park offers more than a century of important lessons for conservation”, and “there is no question that the Adirondack Mountains qualify as a conservation area of global importance,” she wrote in a chapter of the recently published Great Experiment in Conservation: Voices from the Adirondack Park.
The meeting will also feature a conservation update from Executive Director Michael Carr, delivering the latest news on land protection projects, highlighting the chapter’s report concerning climate change in the Lake Champlain Basin and recapping the land trust’s recent work to protect two local farms.
This year’s meeting offers a unique opportunity for children to learn about wildlife. Wendy Hall of the Adirondack Wildlife Refuge and Rehabilitation Center, with a sanctuary in Wilmington, N.Y., will talk about her work and introduce some of the wild birds she has rescued.
Arrival and check-in starts at 11:30 for those interested in bringing their own lunch to enjoy with trustees, staff and fellow supporters of the Adirondack Chapter of The Nature Conservancy and the Adirondack Land Trust. The official meeting, which will take place under the cover of a tent, kicks off at 1:00 pm and runs until 3:00 pm. The wildlife “show-and-tell” for children over 5 also begins at 1 pm and will take place at a separate location on the Heaven Hill grounds.
Participants are asked to register in advance. Field trip descriptions can be found online at www.nature.org/adirondacks under “Field Trips and Events.”
To register for this event and the field trips, contact Erin Walkow at (518) 576 – 2082 x133 or email@example.com. Photo: Wendy Hall with a rescued bird, courtesy The Nature Conservancy.
Clarkson University is now taking registrations at for the second annual Forever Wired Conference on Tuesday, September 7, in Potsdam. Conference organizers intend to grow telework and economic opportunities in the greater Adirondack Park and demonstrate how technology and services can help local businesses and individuals in predominantly rural regions.
Last year’s conference drew more than 260 participants from across New York State and included many seasonal residents of the Park as well. Adirondack Almanack founder John Warren covered the event for the Almanack. This year sessions include a panel of independent broadband technology experts who will answer questions about existing and emerging broadband alternatives; representatives from brick and mortar businesses adopting new Internet-based business strategies, artisans using emerging online business strategies to expand their outreach; and independent entrepreneurs adopting broadband as their primary interface point with customers.
The conference is a central component of the Adirondack Initiative for Wired Work, which is championed by a team of regional leaders and energized professionals dedicated toward creation of a sustainable economy in the greater Adirondacks. Through their activities, the Adirondack Initiative encourages telework, green-tech commerce and entrepreneurship from home offices and businesses with minimal impact on the natural environment.
Clarkson University is expanding support services for teleworkers and entrepreneurs in the area. Renovations are underway now for the Adirondack Business Center hosted by the Clarkson Entrepreneurship Center in Saranac Lake, N.Y. The center will be equipped with wireless Internet, a conference room, quiet workspace, and will provide other amenities to the public. The built-in classroom will hold sessions such as “My Small Business 101” to advance practical business skills of local entrepreneurs.
For more information on the Adirondack Initiative for Wired Work, or to register for the Forever Wired Conference, go to http://www.clarkson.edu/adk, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call 315-268-4483.
The Wild Center introduced its newest member of the family this week. Remy, a one year-old river otter from Pittsburgh Zoo and Aquarium, joins Squeaker, Squirt and Louie at the newly expanded Otter Falls, the most popular exhibition at the Center. Remington, or Remy for short, is named for Frederic Remington, the American painter, illustrator, sculptor and writer who was born in nearby Canton, NY. Dennis Money, who was the President of the New York River Otter Project (NYROP), officially welcomed Remy, while marking the 15th Anniversary of the River Otter Project. In 1995, the NYROP and the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation launched the project that successfully released 279 river otters in Central and Western New York. Most of the released otters were trapped in the Adirondacks. Money also spoke about his experiences restoring other species, including peregrine falcons, in New York State. Money’s stories merge with the Center’s new Return of the Wild exhibition that explores how wild animals are returning to the Adirondacks.
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