In the 19th century the state of New York built many dams, reservoirs, and even feeder canals in the Black River watershed of the Western Adirondacks as the Erie Canal’s dry periods became more and more costly.
Many of these spots became important recreational attractions, and helped to shape how the Adirondack Park is used today. » Continue Reading.
Fifty springs ago, the Upper Hudson River was conserved as a wild, free flowing river. The Schenectady Gazette’s writer Pete Jacobs reported the news in the April 17, 1969 edition of that newspaper:
“Without opposition, the Assembly gave swift approval to legislation prohibiting the construction of the Gooley Dam on the Upper Hudson River, branded by conservationists as a threat to the wild river country.”
In addition to Gooley, the bill blocks construction of any reservoirs on the river from Luzerne to its source in the Adirondack Park.» Continue Reading.
Saranac Lake based Northern Power & Light, Inc. has gained approval to operate under a new program created by New York State that allows electric customers to purchase a share of the electricity from a small renewable generator.
The company operates a a 700 kW hydroelectric plant, Azure Mountain Power, in St Regis Falls. » Continue Reading.
Adirondack history is naturally rife with river-related stories—wildly successful fishing trips, damaging floods, wilderness exploration, and dam construction. Rivers were the lifeblood of development: settlements sprang up along waterways, where partial diversion of streams provided the wheel-turning power necessary to many industries. But freshets were so common and destructive that dams were introduced as flood-control measures, and then for hydropower as the electrification of society unfolded.
Recognizing the great financial potential of providing electricity to industries and the masses, power companies sought to develop dozens of potential reservoir sites. Among the arguments they used to justify building dam after dam was public safety. Ironically, the construction of a hydro dam was marred by one of the worst tragedies in Adirondack history. » Continue Reading.
Quarry Dam, on the West Branch Ausable River just outside Lake Placid, has been identified for removal this summer. The removal is being conducted by the Lake Champlain Chapter of Trout Unlimited, in collaboration with others.
The abandoned concrete and timber crib dam, three feet high and about 50 feet long, is creating undesirable impacts on the fish and aquatic life. » Continue Reading.
TAUNY, Traditional Arts in Upstate New York, will host a lunchtime program, TAUNY Talk & Taste: “Tupper Lake Dams: The Dammedest Place” with Mike Prescott on Tuesday, October 3, from 12 to 1 pm. TAUNY’s current exhibit tells the stories of the dams and powerhouses built along the Raquette River in the 1950s and more recently.
One alternate plan for the river would have left much of Tupper Lake as we know it under thirty feet of water. Raquette River guide and historian Mike Prescott will give a presentation on the other river – the other Adirondack geography – that might have been. Guests will also have the opportunity to enjoy a specially crafted meal by Big Spoon Kitchen, inspired by the granola, power bars, water, and fruit that Mike usually takes on a paddle. Big Spoon’s “paddle lunch” will include a healthy wrap, an apple, and their signature chocolate peanut butter power balls. » Continue Reading.
TAUNY (Traditional Arts in Upstate New York) is holding an opening reception for their latest exhibit, “You’ll See Our Tracks: Raquette River Dam Stories” on Saturday, June 10, 2017 .
The Raquette River, which flows from Raquette Lake to the St. Lawrence River, is one of the most heavily dammed rivers in New York State.
From 2014 to 2016, TAUNY partnered with the Raquette River Blueway Corridor Group, the Village of Potsdam, and Watertown PBS to document the stories of people involved in or significantly affected by the construction of the hydroelectric dams and powerhouses along the Raquette River. » Continue Reading.
The Adirondack Park Agency held public hearings on Boreas Ponds at eight different locations around the state in November and December. Hundreds of people spoke, offering a potpourri of opinions. But one constant was a sea of green T-shirts bearing the slogan “I Want Wilderness.”
BeWildNY, a coalition of eight environmental groups, created the T-shirts to push the idea that Boreas Ponds should be classified as motor-free Wilderness. » Continue Reading.
From its founding in 1893, and over the next 30 years, the Beaver River Club was the destination of many of the visitors to the Stillwater area.
It was the summer retreat of wealthy and influential families from Syracuse, Utica and to a lesser extent from throughout New York State. The decision to enlarge the Stillwater Dam and create today’s Stillwater Reservoir utterly destroyed this glittering outpost in the wild. Here is its story. » Continue Reading.
During his years as a senior advisor to many younger Adirondack conservationists, Paul Schaefer told some interesting stories. He witnessed the following incident in the New York State Legislature in 1953, when he was about 45-years-old, at the height of his effectiveness as a conservation organizer. The following story is about passage of what was called the Ostrander Amendment, an amendment to Article 14, Section 1 – the “forever wild clause” – of the New York State Constitution.
In 1953, the Ostrander Amendment had been twice passed by the State Assembly and the bill was on the floor of the State Senate, then being chaired by Lieutenant Governor Frank Moore. The Clerk of the Senate began to read the bill when a State Senator came up to the Lt. Governor’s desk, grabbed the bill from the Clerk, and quickly left the Senate Chamber. The Lt. Governor sent one of his aides after him and as the aide rushed out of the Senate chamber, he saw the Senator headed into a washroom. Following him, the aide found the State Senator about to flush the bill down the toilet. The aide, a big man, grabs the Senator by the collar, snatches the bill from his grasp and takes it back to the Senate Chamber and hands it back to the Lt. Governor, who said, according to Paul, “the next man who tries to take this bill I will personally hit with this gavel.” » Continue Reading.
Why do they call it Boreas Ponds? After all, if you look at an aerial photograph, such as the one at left, taken by Carl Heilman II, it’s just one water body. This fact is also evident from the 1999 USGS map below.
The reason is not mysterious. Like many Adirondack lakes, the water level of Boreas Ponds has been raised by a dam. As an 1895 map indicates (it’s shown farther below), Boreas Ponds used to be three ponds connected by narrow channels.
When the state acquires Boreas Ponds from the Adirondack Nature Conservancy, it must decide whether the concrete dam should be retained.
One of the real pleasures in researching and writing When Men and Mountain Meet was exploring the actual sites of the historic places mentioned in my book: the little town of Castorland on the Black River, the LeRay Mansion at Fort Drum, Gouverneur Morris’ Mansion at Natural Dam and David Parish’s house, now the Remington Art Museum, in Ogdensburg. And then there was finding Zephaniah Platt’s grave in the Riverside Cemetery in Plattsburgh, in Lake Placid the site of the 1813 Elba Iron and Steel Manufacturing works , Charles Herreshoff’s flooded iron ore mine in Old Forge and the complex of building foundations that made up John Thurman’s 1790 development at Elm Hill.
There was one site, however, that was a little harder to locate than the others; Sir William Johnson’s fishing camp “Fish House”. » Continue Reading.
In 1892 the New York State Legislature created the Adirondack Park and in 1894 placed “Forever Wild” forest protection into the State Constitution. Thus began a process of wilderness protection for what today covers thousands of lakes and millions of acres of forests.
During the following sixty years however, there were scores of determined efforts by developers, local governments, and subsequent legislatures to weaken that protection to promote mining, logging, hydroelectric power, roads, commercial recreation and off-road access by jeeps, snowmobiles, floatplanes and motorboats. To repel these threats, America’s first modern grassroots wilderness protection campaigns began. » Continue Reading.
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