Posts Tagged ‘Hamilton County’

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

High Peaks Happy Hour: Indian Lake’s Bear Trap Inn

We had heard that Indian Lake was quite busy this winter with snowmobilers aplenty. Unfortunately, it didn’t make it to our itinerary until now, mid-May. After driving through town several times looking for The Bear Trap Inn, we concluded that May might not be the best time to visit Indian Lake. We stopped at the Indian Lake Restaurant and Tavern to ask for directions, stayed long enough to gather intel for a review, and went on our way. We just hadn’t driven far enough through town.

The Bear Trap Inn had been recommended to us by several people we’ve met while doing our reviews elsewhere. As we entered the tavern, Pam had two thoughts; “My, how little!” and “I’ve been here before.” The main tavern was about 10′ x 12′, but there was obviously more seating in an adjacent room. The bar seated about 10 to 12 people, but there were also a few stools and a small bar on the wall as well. Not wanting to be away from the “action”, we found one empty seat at the bar. It was only a few minutes before people started shuffling to seat us both. Pam jokingly said to the bartender, “I’ll have a frozen margarita!” She flashed a playful grin and asked for a vodka and grapefruit instead. We were obviously strangers a little early for tourist season, and we felt a sense of curiosity buzzing in the air.

Kim engaged someone next to her in conversation and Pam looked to the man on her left. There was something familiar about him and her mind raced for the connection. She recalled a man in North Creek, at The Barking Spider, many months ago who had told us about the snowmobile activity in Indian Lake, and who had suggested we visit The Bear Trap. He had also mentioned that he owned the Adirondack Trail Motel across from the Bear Trap.

Pam decided to go for it, and suggested that they had met before in North Creek. He didn’t recall immediately, until she mentioned “Happy Hour in the High Peaks”. It’s a small bar, so others took in the news as well. The mood changed much like the Group W Bench verse in Arlo Guthrie’s Alice’s Restaurant – they all moved back over on the bench. We were in, and the conversations came from all directions. Our cards were circulated and everyone seemed to have a story to tell. So many stories were fired at us at once, it was difficult to take notes, so we have only memory to go on.

Kim spent quite awhile talking to the woman next to her. Patty has worked for years in bars all over the area and offered suggestions as to where we should go and where we should not. She was very interested in what we were doing and mentioned that the Bear Trap had been visited by someone writing about restaurants in the Adirondacks.

When we mentioned where we were from, Pam’s long lost friend, Al, asked if we knew his motel manager, Martha, who came from the same town. Pam thought she was someone she had met through her mother. Well, didn’t Martha show up sometime later only to confirm that they knew each other many years back. We met her granddaughter who was absolutely charming.

It was getting to be time to go so Pam quickly whipped out her “official” questionnaire and started asking some factual questions from the bartender. How long has this bar been in business? After taking in input from all around, we narrowed it down to the 1950’s. How long has the current owner been in business? I believe that question settled on “since the 1970s”. They are open year-round, seven days per week. They sometimes have private parties, but the public is invited as well. Every hour is happy hour and every drink is “special”. Of the two bars in Indian Lake, the Bear Trap is the latest bar open. They occasionally have live entertainment, typically for parties.

In the two hours we were there, the population swelled from eight to about twenty, becoming a little cramped and noisy. The Bear Trap seems to cater to bikers, snowmobilers and hunters, though we felt quite welcome. One man, whose name we didn’t catch, was a wealth of information regarding the ownership history of the place. He also recommended we track down a guy named Jerry, a locally notorious bar historian and musician who has played in every bar in town (both of them?).

Just before leaving, Pam recalled something unique to the bar that confirmed that, yes, she had been there before. The Bear Trap is definitely a local bar, and we aren’t sure they would want us to be sending new people to them, but we had such a warm reception that we have mixed emotions. We would suggest that our readers might have an interesting time if they mentioned that they heard of them through Happy Hour in the High Peaks.

Kim and Pam Ladd’s book, Happy Hour in the High Peaks, is currently in the research stage. Together they visit pubs, bars and taverns with the goal of selecting the top 46 bars in the Adirondack Park. They regularly report their findings here at the Almanack and at their own blog.


Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Adirondack Museum Opens for the Season

The Adirondack Museum at Blue Mountain Lake, New York will open for the 54th season on Friday, May 27, 2011. This season, the museum opens two new exhibits and also introduces a host of family activities and special events.

The Adirondack Museum’s two new exhibits – “The Adirondack World of A.F. Tait” and “Night Vision: The Wildlife Photography of Hobart V. Roberts” – showcase two very different, yet complimentary, visions of the region.

“The Adirondack World of A.F. Tait” features paintings and prints depicting life in the Adirondack woods-images of hunters, sportsmen, guides, and settlers, that include a wealth of historical detail. Arthur Fitzwilliam Tait was the classic artist of Adirondack sport. From the objects Tait worked with to Currier and Ives prints and finished oil paintings, the exhibit showcases Tait’s artistic vision and skill and highlights the region’s beauty and character.

“‘The Adirondack World of A.F. Tait’ looks at the life and work of this most quintessentially Adirondack artist,” said Chief Curator, Laura Rice. “This exhibition represents a rare opportunity to see some of Tait’s most important works, including a few from private collections which are rarely, if ever, on exhibit.”

“Night Vision: The Wildlife Photography of Hobart V. Roberts” focuses on the work of one of the nation’s most recognized amateur wildlife photographers in the first decades of the 20th century. The “Night Vision” exhibit features approximately 35 original large-format photographs of Adirondack wildlife. Roberts’ cameras, equipment, colored lithographic prints, hand-colored transparencies, published works, and his many awards will also be exhibited. Roberts’ Adirondack wildlife photographs represent an important breakthrough in science and the technology of photography. His work has been published in Audubon Magazine, Country Life, Modern Photography, and The National Geographic Magazine.

The Adirondack Museum has planned a full schedule of family activities, hands-on experiences, special events, lectures and field trips for all ages. Programming for families in 2011 has expanded to include an Artist in Residence program, and a collaborative canvas where visitors can help paint an Adirondack landscape.

This summer, the museum has a special new event to kick-off summer for families -“Familypalooza” – on July 9. Familypalooza will include a bounce house, music show by Radio Disney, kayaking and paddling demonstrations on the museum’s pond, costumed animal characters, food, face painting and more. Children age 17 and under will be admitted free of charge for the day. Families will also enjoy “The Adirondacks Are Cookin’ Out!” – a tribute to food prepared with smoke and fire – on July 28, and Dog Days of Summer on August 6.

Two special exhibits will also return in 2011. The Adirondack Museum celebrates food, drink, and the pleasures of eating in the Adirondack Park in, “Let’s Eat! Adirondack Food Traditions.” The exhibit shares culinary stories and customs, and a bit about local celebrity Rachael Ray. “Common Threads: 150 Years of Adirondack Quilts and Comforters” includes historic quilts from the museum’s textile collection as well as contemporary comforters, quilts, and pieced wall hangings.

The Adirondack Museum has introduced some lower admissions prices for 2011. The admissions prices are $18 for adults, $16 for seniors (62 and over), $12 for teens (13-17), $6 for kids (6-12) and free for those 5 and under. Admission will be free for members and all active military every day. Reduced group rates are also available.

The museum is open May 27 through October 17, 2011, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., 7 days a week, including holidays. There will be an early closing on August 12, and adjusted hours on August 13; the museum will close for the day on September 9. Visit www.adirondackmuseum.org for more information. All paid admissions are valid for a second visit within a one-week period.


Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Adirondack Family Time: Adirondack Museum Opens May 27

By Diane Chase, Adirondack Family Activities
One of our favorite spots, rain or shine, is the Adirondack Museum. This summer there is plenty of new as well as the familiar when opening day comes on May 27.

According to Marketing Associate Kate Moore, the Adirondack Museum will once again have plenty to entertain family and friends. One activity my family will look forward to is the “Camp Out for Families: An Overnight at the Museum.” From July 7-8 children (with adult chaperone) will explore exhibits by lantern, have dinner, participate in songs and stories by the campfire and sleep in the Woods and Waters exhibit.

“We have two new exhibits this season, The Adirondack World of A.F. Tait and Night Vision: The Wildlife Photography of Hobart V. Roberts that really showcase the region,” says Moore. “The ‘Adirondack World’ shows the region’s beauty as it pertains to the sportsman and wildlife. The second exhibit showcases the work of Hobart Roberts and his use of technology and science in the early 20th century. These early photographs made him one of the premier amateur wildlife photographers during that time.”

Moore says, “Familypalooza is one way we hope to introduce the to families and get them excited. There will be all sorts of activities like a bounce house, music show with Radio Disney, kayaking demonstrations, costumed animal characters, food vendors, face painting, and lots of arts and crafts.”

Moore also wants people to know there will be a scavenger hunt throughout the museum. How does the bounce house tie into the Adirondacks? It is a nod to the theme parks of the Adirondacks as well as a place to let the kids blow off steam. Moore reminds people that the Adirondack Museum is not a passive experience at all.

“We will have an exhibit that will include looking at art with children as well as labels targeted to children. We will also have artists-in-residence doing demonstrations and anyone can contribute to our collaborative landscape canvas. Please check out the website and click on events.”

Regular children’s program like feeding the fish, gazebo games, the Adirondack playground will continue all season as well as rustic games and crafts and The Reising Schoolhouse.

For year-round residents the pot just gets sweeter as the Adirondack Museum is opening its doors for free each Sunday during the months of June, July and August as well as any open days in May and October. There are requirements like proof of residency (driver’s license, passport or voter registration) required.

The museum is open 10:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m., 7 days a week, including holidays, from May 27 through October 17, 2011. There will be an early closing on August 12, and adjusted hours on August 13; the museum will close for the day on September 9.

Adirondack Family Time tip: Don’t forget your ticket is good for a return trip if used within a week. Save your receipt and sign in at the admissions desk.

Wing Power” By Hobart V. Roberts, Courtesy of Adirondack Museum


Photo and content © Diane Chase, Adirondack Family Activities ™. Diane is the author of the Adirondack Family Activities Guidebook Series including the recent released Adirondack Family Time: Tri-Lakes and High Peaks Your Guide to Over 300 Activities for Lake Placid, Saranac Lake, Tupper Lake, Keene, Jay and Wilmington areas (with GPS coordinates) This is the first book of a four-book series of Adirondack Family Activities. The next three editions will cover Plattsburgh to Ticonderoga, Long Lake to Old Forge and Newcomb to Lake George. 


Sunday, May 8, 2011

June is Adirondack Birding Festival Month

Take the Teddy Roosevelt Birding Challenge this spring in the Adirondacks or join birders from across the country during June’s birding weekend celebrations in the Adirondacks. See boreal birds like the black-backed woodpecker, three-toed woodpecker, boreal chickadee, spruce grouse, Bicknell’s thrush and several migrating warblers.

Join friends and fellow birders at the 9th Annual Adirondack Birding Celebration June 3-5, 2011 at the Paul Smith’s College Interpretive Center in Paul Smiths. The Adirondack Park Institute will host birding trips, lectures, workshops and the popular Teddy Roosevelt Birding Challenge. A special keynote address will be given by noted bird expert, author and naturalist Scott Weidensaul. Registration opened May 1, 2011. For more information or to register, call (518) 327-3376 or log onto AdirondackParkInstitute.org.

The 7th Annual Birding Festival in Hamilton County is slated for June 10-12 in partnership with Audubon NY. Birders will travel through remote and wild forest areas of Hamilton County, including: Speculator, Lake Pleasant, Piseco & Morehouse, Blue Mountain Lake, Indian Lake, Long Lake, Raquette Lake and Inlet. See wood warblers and Boreal Birds like the Olive-sided and Yellow Bellied Fly Catchers, Gray Jays, three-toed woodpeckers and boreal chickadees. Guided walks, canoe excursions and evening presentations add to this weekend of birding in the Adirondacks. Be sure to check out National Historic Landmark Great Camp Sagamore, a vintage Vanderbilt Camp and 27 building complex. Guide walking and birding tours are available.

Can’t make the festivals? Check out the online.

Photo courtesy EPA.


Monday, May 2, 2011

Guest Essay: Lessons from the 2010 Census

What follows is a guest essay by Ken Strike, Professor Emeritus at Cornell University and member of the board of Protect the Adirondacks. Ken and Lorraine Duvall produced a demographic study of the Adirondacks following 2009’s Adirondack Park Regional Assessment (APRAP) report. The Almanack asked Ken, who lives in Thendara on the Moose River, to provide his perspective on the 2010 Census.

What does the 2010 census tell us about ourselves? The Adirondack population is basically flat with growth in some places and losses in others, and our population is aging. For some it has been easy to conclude that these demographics are the result of a poor economy and that this poor economy results from public ownership of land and the Park’s regulatory environment. However, a more careful reading of the 2010 census data tea leaves does not support these views. Rather, they suggest that we are much like other rural areas – in fact we’re better off than many. Our population dynamics also track the dynamics of the U.S. and NYS white population. No great surprise that. And they suggest that the Park is an asset, not a liability. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Inlet’s Woods ands Water Outdoor Expo

Inlet’s Woods and Waters Outdoor Expo will share information about outdoor recreational opportunities and products on Saturday and Sunday June 4th and 5th 2011. The event will be hosted by the Inlet Area Business Association (IABA) on the Arrowhead Park Lakefront.

The free public event is expected to be a multi-themed outdoor recreational event hosting booths containing products for power sports, paddling, mountain biking, hiking, camping, and fishing. Not for profit Organizations from the many fitness events, environmental organizations, and tourism councils throughout the Adirondack Park are expected to attend. » Continue Reading.


Saturday, April 2, 2011

Adirondack Ingenuity at the Adirondack Museum

What do a jitterbug, a car saw, and a water bicycle have in common – besides really strange names? Learn the answer when you join the Adirondack Museum at Blue Mountain Lake, New York for the final program in the 2011 Cabin Fever Sunday series.

Associate Curator Laura Cotton will reveal the secrets of these and many other Rube Goldberg contraptions on Sunday, April 10, 2011 in a presentation entitled “Adirondack Ingenuity”as part of the museum’s Cabin Fever Sunday programs.

Historically, Adirondackers have been really good at re-inventing, re-using, and re-purposing. Ingeniously clever, local residents have made do with what they have, and made what they have do even more! A number of intriguing examples of North Country inventiveness are part of the Adirondack Museum’s permanent collections and will be at the heart of Cotton’s presentation.

From spruce gum pickers to the mysterious jitterbug, folks have created unique and useful items to make “getting by” a bit easier and occasionally a lot more fun. The museum invites audience participation in the program. Do you have a unique Adirondack artifact? Bring your ingenious example on April 10, and share its clever story!

Held in the Auditorium, the program will begin promptly at 1:30 p.m. Cabin Fever Sundays are offered at no charge to museum members or children of elementary school age and younger. The fee for non-members is $5.00. Refreshments will be served. For additional information, please call the Education Department at (518) 352-7311, ext. 128 or visit the museum’s web site at www.adirondackmuseum.org.

The Museum Store and Visitor Center will be open from noon to 4 p.m.

Laura Cotton, both Associate Curator and Registrar, is a graduate of Whitworth College, Spokane, Washington with a BA in Art and Art Administration. She holds a MA from the University of Washington. She was a Curatorial Research Assistant at the Corning Museum of Glass, Corning, N.Y. before joining the staff of the Adirondack Museum in 2008.

Photo: 1923 Chevrolet pick-up truck that was converted into a buzz saw in the late 1920’s to early 1930’s. Gift of Bradford McAdam in memory of Harold L. McAdam. Collection of the Adirondack Museum.


Thursday, March 31, 2011

Forest Rangers Locate Body of Missing Woman

The body of a missing Central New York woman was located in the Adirondacks by New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Forest Rangers yesterday afternoon.

The body of Kerry Young, 44, of Dewitt, NY was located at approximately 2:00 pm about one mile from her car by two DEC Forest Rangers conducting a ground search. She was found in a stand of conifer trees between the Limekiln-Cedar River Road and Fawn Lake in the Moose River Plains Wild Forest between Indian lake and Inlet.

A missing person alert had been issued for Ms. Young on Monday evening, March 28, by the Town of Dewitt Police Department. Town of Inlet Police Department checked a vehicle they had noticed parked on the entrance road to the DEC Limekiln Lake Campground off the Limekiln Lake-Cedar River Road and confirmed that it belonged to Ms. Young.

DEC Forest Rangers were contacted to lead the search effort, which began Tuesday morning. Forest Rangers were assisted by members of the NY State Police, State Police Aviation, Town of Inlet Fire Department, Town of Inlet Police Department, Town of Webb Police Department, Hamilton County Sheriff, members of Lower Adirondack Search and Rescue and other volunteers. More than 50 people and a helicopter were involved in the search effort today. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Keene Valley, Sabael Post Offices Slated for Closure

A list of post offices slated for permanent closure includes those at Keene Valley and Sabael (in Hamilton County). The list, titled “Post Office / Station/ Branch Suspensions” is dated February 28, 2011, but was released yesterday by the Postal Regulatory Commission (FRC) despite the desire of the U.S. Postal Service to keep the full list secret while they roll out the closures.

The Post Office in Sabael, located on Route 30, has been closed after it was destroyed by fire at the end of January. Despite a Postal Service announcement that it would be reopened, that is apparently no longer the case.

The Sabael mail is currently being handled by the Indian Lake Post Office, where the approximately 80 Sabeal PO Box holders now get their mail over the counter.

The Keene Valley Post Office closed in November 2010 when the building lease agreement was up. Keene Valley residents have been driving the five miles to the Keene Post Office. The Keene Valley Post Office was established in 1865, before that Orson Phelps carried the mail to Keene for six months for free.

An informational hearing held by Postal Service representatives in Keene Valley February 1st drew about 100 people concerned about local postal service.

“I’m hopeful that, as we move forward, we can find a solution,” Keene town Supervisor Bill Ferebee said at the time, according to a report in the Adirondack Daily Enterprise (ADE). “At least before the summer hits, because we all know what kind of problems this is going to cause.”

“No decisions have been made at this point,” Margaret Pepe, manager of customer relations for the Albany district of the Postal Service said at the meeting. “We’re here to listen to your concerns and gather feedback and input. We are not making a decision here tonight.” Pepe did say that there was no funding available for a new building.

Among the options floated at the meeting was to cluster mailboxes in centralized areas throughout the hamlet or a privately operated facility under contract with the Postal Service such as a Contract Postal Unit or a Commercial Mail Receiving Agency.

The ADE reported at the time that the Postal Service representatives would submit the community feedback they garnered and a decision would be made with 60 days, followed by a 30-day appeal process.

The Post Offices in Plessis, Jefferson County, and Kenwood, Oneida County, are also on the list. The Churubusco Post Office in Clinton County is not on the list, despite rumors that it was about to be closed on the heels of the slosure of the local border crossing.

The full list of Post Offices slated for close is located online [pdf].

Photo: The former Keene Valley Post Office, courtesy The Snow Goose Bed and Breakfast.


Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Adirondack Family Activity: Wild Center’s Otter Birthday Party

By Diane Chase, Adirondack Family Activities
I have been having a great winter skiing and snowshoeing around the Adirondacks so much so that when I received my Otter birthday party reminder at the Wild Center it took me a bit by surprise. It is already that time of year when The Natural History Museum of the Adirondacks (The Wild Center) closes for the month of April to rejuvenate and get ready for a busy summer season. That said, this weekend, March 25-27) will be the last opportunity until May 1st to see what the Wild Center has been up to this winter.

Now with the recent flurries of snow, mud season doesn’t seem to be approaching as fast as some may wish. Keep in mind that if you always wanted to attempt snowshoeing now is the time. The Wild Center offers free snowshoes with paid admission. So practice around the various trails and see how easy it is to go out an explore while the trails are still covered in snow. The added bonus for this weekend is the Otters’ birthday party celebration.

Interpretive Naturalist Kerri Ziemann says,”On Friday and Saturday we will have all our regular programming as well as one more chance for people to find the golden otter before the drawing on Sunday.”

For those not in the know, a tiny golden otter has been hiding in various places within the Wild Center for the past twelve weeks. Children and adults are welcome to search and use a list of clues to find the evasive creature. Once found, submit his/her name into a raffle for a chance to win a pack basket full of otter related goodies. Thankfully nothing that I saw relates to having to go home with a real otter though there is a huge plush toy right on top.

“For this weekend the otters’ birthday will be held on the 27th and we will have activities all day starting at 10:00 and ending around 3:30. There will be enrichment programs about otters and craft tables open for anyone to color an individual quilt square. We will then tie all the squares together to create a quilt,” continues Ziemann.

Additional events are face painting and storytelling sessions with author Hope Marston of “My Little book of River Otters” at noon and 1:00 p.m. Ollie the Otter, the Wild Center mascot, will also be around for picture taking. Currently the Wild Center as four otters: Squirt, Louie, Squeaker, and Remy. The raffle will be drawn at 1:30 p.m. with a celebration of cupcakes (for humans) and ice “cake” for the otters.

After a month of spring cleaning the Wild Center will reopen on May 1st with a green festival as part of “Build a Greener Adirondacks Expo.”

If that doesn’t fit into the schedule, the Adirondack Museum will hold two more Cabin Fever Sundays. Women and their role in early conservation is the March 27 topic where Museum Educator Jessica Rubin will highlight early female activism. On April 10, curator Laura Cotton will discuss artifacts from the museum’s collection that show chase Adirondack ingenuity. These events are at 1:30 p.m. in the auditorium and free to museum members or elementary-school-age children and younger. Otherwise it is $5 for nonmembers. Though to see the whole facility you will have to wait until its May 27th opening day.

Photo and content © Diane Chase, Adirondack Family Activities ™. Diane is the author of the Adirondack Family Activities Guidebook Series including the recent released Adirondack Family Time: Tri-Lakes and High Peaks Your Guide to Over 300 Activities for Lake Placid, Saranac Lake, Tupper Lake, Keene, Jay and Wilmington areas (with GPS coordinates) This is the first book of a four-book series of Adirondack Family Activities. The next three editions will cover Plattsburgh to Ticonderoga, Long Lake to Old Forge and Newcomb to Lake George. 


Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Women And Conservation at the Adirondack Museum

March 2011 marks the centennial celebration of International Women’s Day. Although women have long been dedicated and progressive history makers, their actions were slow to receive international attention. Adirondack Museum Educator Jessica Rubin will offer a presentation entitled “Women and the Conservation Movement” as part of the museum’s popular Cabin Fever Sunday series on Sunday, March 27, 2011.

Rubin will discuss the role of women and female-centered organizations in the early conservation movement, excellent examples of historic female activism. Groups such as the National Federation of Women’s Clubs and individuals like journalist Kate Field and botanist Lucy Bishop Millington will be highlighted in the presentation to illustrate the unique ways women interacted with and advocated for the American wilderness at a time when most were confined to the “private sphere.”

Rubin will show that women were instrumental in the creation of state and federal conservation legislation and protections long before they had the right to vote. From the Adirondacks to California women were outspoken players in the national conservation crusade.

Held in the museum’s auditorium, the program will begin promptly at 1:30 p.m. Cabin Fever Sundays are offered at no charge to museum members or children of elementary
school age and younger. The fee for non-members is $5.00. Refreshments will be served. For additional information, please call the Education Department at (518) 352-7311, ext. 128 or visit the museum’s website.

Jessica Rubin holds a B.A. in Politics from the University of California, Santa Cruz and will receive a M.A. in Public History from SUNY Albany in the spring of 2011. She joined the staff of the Adirondack Museum in 2008. She previously taught at the Conserve School, a college-preparatory school with an environmental and outdoor focus in northern Wisconsin. Her love for and interest in the environment was greatly influenced by four summers of work in Yosemite National Park.

Photo: Photo by female photographer Katherine Elizabeth McClellan, 1898. Collection of Adirondack Museum.


Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Adk Snowmobile Trails Conference, Stewards Sought

The New York State Snowmobile Association (NYSSA) will be holding the 4th Annual Adirondack Park Snowmobile Trail Conference at the Adirondack Hotel in Long Lake on Sunday, April 10th From 10:00 AM to 1:00 PM.

This year conference will focus on the several new Unit Management Plans (UMP) that have been approved and those in the works. Once approved by the Adirondack Park Agency (APA), plans for trail improvements can begin. Additional topics will be the status of Adirondack easements, Recreation Plans, and the new Trail Stewards program. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Fish and Wildlife Service Says Eastern Cougar Extinct

Although the eastern cougar (a.ka. puma, panther, catamount) has been on the endangered species list since 1973, its existence has long been questioned (especially here in the Adirondacks). The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service conducted a formal review of the available information and, in a report issued today, concludes the eastern cougar is extinct and recommends the subspecies be removed from the endangered species list.

New York State paid its last bounty on a mountain lion killed in Hamilton County in 1894; just over 150 state and county mountain lion bounties were paid between 1860 and 1894. Before he died in 1849, professional hunter Thomas Meacham is believed to have killed 77 mountain lions. Despite their being already nearly extinct, New York State established a mountain lion bounty in 1871 and over the next eleven years 46 mountain loin bounties were claimed. Adirondack mountain lion sightings reported to the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation increased markedly in about 1980, jumping from 5 in the 1960s and 9 in the 1970s, to 44 in the 1980s. Some 90 sightings were reported in the 1990s. » Continue Reading.


Monday, February 14, 2011

Lawrence Gooley: Love So Strong, It’s Criminal

(Warning: If your partner reads this, expectations for today may rise.) Ah, Valentine’s Day. Love is in the air. Chocolates, flowers, and special cards are a must. Maybe a family meal, or perhaps a romantic dinner for two. Jewelry? Diamonds? The sky’s the limit when it comes to making your sweetheart happy and showing true dedication. But it’s all pretty amateurish compared to real commitment. Which brings us to Fred Roderick and Agnes Austin.

Here’s the story as described in 1883 in a couple of newspapers. Without hard facts, I can’t account for all the details, but you gotta love the sense of purpose, focus, and ingenuity this couple used to achieve togetherness.

At Sageville (now Lake Pleasant, a few miles southeast of Speculator), Fred Roderick, about 25 years old, had been jailed for stealing a pair of horses, which had since been returned. In those days, a convicted horse thief could expect to do time in prison. Next to murder, it was one of the most serious crimes—horses were a key component to survival in the North Country.

In rural Hamilton County, it was no simple task to organize a trial, so for several months the county jail served as Roderick’s home. It was lonely at times, but he wasn’t entirely without company. Every Sunday, the local Methodist pastor brought a dozen or so members of his congregation to the jail, where they sang songs and held a prayer meeting.

For a couple of years, young Agnes Austin was among the church goers who participated. Shortly after Roderick’s incarceration, parish members noticed that, instead of lending her voice to the choir at all times, she seemed to have taken a personal interest in Fred’s salvation.

Soon Agnes gained special permission from the sheriff for weekday visits which, she assured him, would lead Roderick down the straight and narrow. But it seemed to work in the reverse. Agnes began showing up less often on Sundays and more frequently during the week. Imagine the whispers among her church brethren. Their pretty little friend was consorting with a criminal!

Or maybe her missionary efforts were sincere after all. Fred Roderick finally came forward and accepted religious salvation, owing it all, he said, to young Agnes. People being what they are, tongues wagged more frantically than ever about the supposed scandalous goings-on. Mr. Austin forbade (what was he thinking?) Agnes from making any further jail visits. Taking it one step further, he spoke to the sheriff, hoping to kill a tryst in the making.

It wasn’t long after that Agnes disappeared. With her supposed lover lingering hopelessly in jail, why would she run away? Well, as it turns out, she didn’t. Agnes and Fred had made plans. She was told to hide out at his father’s camp, where he would join her after his escape. (Country jails were often loosely kept, and escapes were common.)

After waiting more than a week, Agnes took matters into her own hands, which led to a sight that shocked the residents of Sageville. A constable rode into town, and behind him trailed Aggie Austin. The charge? That she was a horse thief. In broad daylight, she had taken not just any horse, but one of the very same horses Fred had stolen.

Because she was female, and because she made no effort to run when pursued, bail was set at $600—which Agnes immediately refused. To the puzzled bondsman and the sheriff, she explained: if Fred couldn’t be with her, then she would be with Fred. To that end, she left the camp, stole a horse, made sure she was caught, and now refused to be bailed out of jail.

It gets better. The next morning, Fred informed the sheriff that he wished to marry Miss Austin, and Agnes confirmed the same. Papa Austin most certainly would have objected, but Agnes was 19, of legal age to make her own choice. And that choice was Fred.

The judge was summoned, and the sheriff and his deputies stood witness to the joining. The district attorney weighed in as well, contributing what he could to the couple’s happiness.

Though they must be tried separately, he promised to “bring both cases before the same term of court, and thus allow the pair to make their bridal journey together to their future mountain home at Clinton Prison.”

Now THAT’s commitment.

Photo: Clinton Prison at Dannemora, notorious North Country honeymoon site.

Lawrence Gooley has authored nine books and many articles on the North Country’s past. He and his partner, Jill McKee, founded Bloated Toe Enterprises in 2004. He took over in 2010 and began expanding the company’s publishing services. For information on book publishing, visit Bloated Toe Publishing.


Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Adirondack Family Activities: Adirondack Winter Carnivals

By Diane Chase, Adirondack Family Activities

When the weather hits the negative digits and my kids are stuck inside for any length of time we, like so many other people living here, look forward to opportunities for getting outside. Though with winter storms, weather warning and family time spent shoveling snow, it may be difficult to remember all the reason why we love the snow.

Festivals, carnivals and celebrations of winter are here to remind us why we choose to visit, live and be a part of the snow. Plus a little competition never hurt anyone. Lake George, Old Forge and Saranac Lake are embracing their winter spirit and inviting people to step outside and enjoy the Adirondack weather.

The Coronation of Carnival Royalty kicks off the Saranac Lake Winter Carnival on February 4th.In its 114 year, Saranac Lake’s Winter Carnival’s 2011 theme is Medieval Times. People have been donning their costumes and preparing their serfs (in our case our children) to decide which of the over 80 events to attend.

On Saturday, February 5, watch fireworks over Lake Flower and the lighting of the Ice Palace. From February 4-13, the town of Saranac Lake turns into a medieval fortress of family-friendly activities from a carnival for kids, ski races to treasure hunt. The downtown parade on the 12th doesn’t even finish the array of activities. Sunday brings on cross-country ski races and opportunities to play volleyball or softball in the snow.

McCauley Mountain in Old Forge has a weekend packed with winter activity that will remind us why we love the snow. Twelve-dollar lift tickets at the mountain and a parade to celebrate the 10th Mountain Division and other military branches are reason enough to brave the cold and cheer on the troops. Spend some family time ice-skating at the outdoor Joy Tract Road rink or just relax and watch while sipping hot chocolate by the bonfire.

On Saturday, February 5, the Kiwanis Club of the Central Adirondack will sponsor their 11th Winter Sports Challenge benefiting the Old Forge Community Youth and Activity Center. These snowshoe and cross-country ski activities are held at McCauley Mountain.

Lastly, Lake George celebrates 50 years of Winter Carnival with a month packed with activities. Some weekend events such as face painting and petting zoo are reoccurring while other activities like kite flying, dog sled races and hot air balloon rides are just on specific weekends.

However you choose to celebrate winter, there are so many opportunities to get outside, meet new people and enjoy the Adirondacks.

Photo of the Saranac Lake 2011 Ice Palace content © Diane Chase, Adirondack Family Activities ™. Diane is the author of the Adirondack Family Activities Guidebook Series including the recent released Adirondack Family Time: Tri-Lakes and High Peaks Your Guide to Over 300 Activities for Lake Placid, Saranac Lake, Tupper Lake, Keene, Jay and Wilmington areas (with GPS coordinates) This is the first book of a four-book series of Adirondack Family Activities. The next three editions will cover Plattsburgh to Ticonderoga, Long Lake to Old Forge and Newcomb to Lake George. 


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