Posts Tagged ‘Ausable River’

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Restoring Arto Monaco’s Land of Makebelieve

Among theme-park historians Arto Monaco is a legend. The work of Monaco in designing the area’s theme parks has become a central part of the history of tourism in the Adirondacks. His creations have been found in the defunct Old McDonald’s Farm (Lake Placid), The Land of Makebelieve (Upper Jay), Gaslight Village (Pottersville and then Lake George), and Frontier Town (North Hudson), at Storytown (now the corporate Great Escape) and Santa’s Workshop in Wilmington (the last of a breed and a spot that made our Seven Human-Made Wonders of the Adirondacks).

Monaco was a 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 Makebelieve. Monaco died in 2005, but not before the Arto Monaco Historical Society (AMHS) was organized (in 2004) in order to preserve and perpetuate Monaco’s legacy, assemble a collection of his work, and stabilize and restore the Land of Makebelieve which was closed in 1979 after the Ausable River flooded the park for the eleventh time.

Since they first went into the woods with tools in 2006, volunteers of the AMHS have hacked the now overgrown Land of Makebelieve out of the encroaching forests in hopes of saving what’s left of Monaco’s legacy there from the ravages of nature.

On Saturday, September 26, the AMHS will hold its 2009 Annual Meeting followed by a another work session at the former Land of Makebelieve site from 1 to 4 pm. The morning meeting will be held at Paul Johnson’s Bakery, on Route 9N one mile south of the Upper Jay bridge. Lunch is available for those who stay for the afternoon work session. To RSVP, or for information on the upcoming work day or volunteering for the AMHS in general, contact them through their website at http://www.artomonaco.org/.

Photo: The Land of Makebelieve in 2006 before volunteers began work on the abandoned theme park.


Friday, June 5, 2009

Wilmington: New Multi-use Flume Trail System Opens

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has officially opened the Flume Trail System as the first trail system on forest preserve lands in the Adirondacks designed to allow mountain biking. Representatives and staff from DEC, the Town of Wilmington, the Wilmington Mountain Peddlers, Adirondack Mountain Club (ADK) and Whiteface Mountain Ski Area and the members of the public attended a ribbon cutting ceremony at the trailhead in the Wilmington Wild Forest. Earlier that morning volunteers spent time working on the trails. Afterward the Town of Wilmington and the Wilmington Mountain Peddlers hosted a barbecue.

The Flume Trail System includes approximately eight miles of trails for four season recreational activities including mountain biking, hiking, cross country skiing, and snowshoeing. The trails were designed to meet the specifications of the International Mountain Bicycling Association and include trails rated as easy, moderate and hard. The system includes a trail along the West Branch of the Ausable River and a hiking only trail to Flume Knob.

The majority of the trails lie within the Wilmington Wild Forest unit of the forest preserve, however, approximately two miles of trail are located on the Whiteface Mountain Ski Area, which is operated by the Olympic Regional Development Authority.

The Town of Wilmington strongly advocated for mountain bike trails during DEC’s development of the management plan for the Wilmington Wild Forest. In addition to the Flume Trail System, the management plan, which was approved in October 2005, also proposes a seven mile multi-use trail system in the Beaver Brook Tract, off of Hardy Road, designed to include mountain biking. The Town also appropriated funds to pay for the Adirondack Mountain Club’s professional trail crew to construct new trail segments at the Flume in 2007.

The Wilmington Mountain Peddlers have been involved from the early days of trail development at the Flume, and have also been strong advocates for mountain bike trails. The group has volunteered countless hours to construct and maintain the trails. They will continue to maintain the Flume Trail System under DEC’s Adopt-A- Natural-Resource program.

In addition to work by their professional crew, the Adirondack Mountain Club has organized numerous volunteer work projects to upgrade existing trails and construct new trail segments at the Flume. An ADK volunteer trail crew will be constructing a new trail to connect the Flume Trail System with the Whiteface Trail from the Wilmington reservoir this summer.

The Whiteface Mountain Ski Area has allowed some of their trails to be included in the Flume Trail network for the free use of the public. These include a scenic trail along the West Branch of the Ausable River, utilized by bikers, hikers, and anglers. Mountain bikers can pay a fee to access the ski areas other 25 trails and the gondola to the top of Little Whiteface. Crews from Whiteface also assisted in the construction of some of the initial trails in the trail system. A proposed hiking only trail to Bear Den Cliffs, will be constructed in the future on the Whiteface Mountain Ski Area lands, and will be open to the public as part of the Flume Trail system.

The Flume Trail System can be accessed from trailhead on Route 86, approximately 2 miles west of the hamlet of Wilmington or from the Kid’s Campus parking lot at the Whiteface Mountain Ski Area.


Tuesday, May 12, 2009

NYSEG Ordered to Open Ausable Chasm to Paddling

Serious whitewater boaters are frothing at the prospect of access to a Class IV multidrop stretch of the Ausable River along Upper Ausable Chasm. Word on the Northeast Paddlers Message Board is that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has ordered New York State Electric & Gas (NYSEG) to develop a plan to enable kayakers to cross its land to reach the river for the period between Memorial Day and October 31.

But patience: paddlers are saying it’s doubtful NYSEG will be able to comply in time for this season.

The Adirondack Mountain Club and American Whitewater, a national organization, have battled for years for the right to use NYSEG’s land to get to a 3.4-mile stretch of the Ausable, from the NYSEG powerhouse below Rainbow Falls Dam to the Route 9 bridge. “BOO YAH. That thing runs ALL SUMMER,” comments one paddler on the Northeast Paddlers Message Board, which has more information. The run is expected to draw boaters from around the Northeast because of its consistent water.

NYSEG and the Ausable Chasm Corporation, which operates a tourist attraction at the gorge, had argued against boating access because the steep and narrow canyon, 150 feet deep in places, makes rescue difficult. Ausable Chasm Co. also offers tubing and rafting for paying guests on the lower portion of the chasm. But ADK and American Whitewater countered that FERC had a duty to maintain public access to a public waterbody that had become obstructed by the power dam.

This YouTube video offers a preview of the drops and rapids.


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 [email protected]


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.


Thursday, August 16, 2007

Bridge Collapse Recalls Historic Adirondack Disaster

The recent collapse of the bridge spanning the Mississippi River at Minneapolis brought to mind the tragic history of similar events in the Adirondacks.

Workers building the historic Stone Arch Bridge (photo above from the late 1800s) over the Ausable River 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. The tremendous crash was said to have shaken buildings as far away as Port Kent.

Delays in the construction of the bridge caused by the collapse inadvertently caused a more tragic accident that same year. On local militia “muster day,” September 13, 1842, the unfinished bridge caused the Essex County militia to cross a smaller swinging bridge (supported by chains) nearby. The bridge was filled with bystanders as they marched across in lock step. It’s believed the overloaded bridge combined with the stamping feet of the marchers caused the bridge to collapse into the churning river below. Local newspapers reported that nine people were drowned, and four later died of exposure. Two boys, Richard Pope and Richard Peabody, were swept over a nearby dam with their arms around each other and were among those drowned.

A similar accident twice befell the men building what was then longest bridge in the world (3,239 feet) over the St. Lawrence River at Quebec. As one of the enormous spans was being raised from pontoons, it gave way and crashed into the river taking with it fifty men. Observers said the central span, weighing more than 5,000 tons, buckled at the center before it fell. At least five were killed. The accident occurred in 1916, but just nine years before a similar accident on the same bridge killed 70.In the spring of 1931 the Whallonsburg bridge, which carried much of the Albany-Montreal traffic over the Bouquet River in Essex County, collapsed while Robert O’Neil of Willsboro was crossing. O’Neil’s car fell nearly twelve feet but he escaped uninjured. The bridge’s steel trusses slipped from one of its abutments. The next day four boys were sitting on the railing of the wrecked bridge when it gave way and they went into the water. Kenneth McDougall was knocked unconscious from a serious head injury but the others escaped relatively unharmed. The photo at right shows the new abutments, made of rough quartzite from Champlain Stone.The 1842 Chain Bridge Collapse ranks among the deadliest accidents ever in the Adirondack region. Read more about the others here.


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!



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