The Adirondack Council will file comments with the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) this week objecting to serious flaws in the Unit Management Plan (UMP) for the Independence River Wild Forest.
The Independence River Wild Forest is an area of public land and waters west of Stillwater Reservoir in Herkimer and Lewis counties, extending to the park’s western border. It is bounded by the Ha-De-Ron-Dah Wilderness to the south, Pepperbox Wilderness to the north, and Pigeon Lake Wilderness to the east. Comments on the unit management plan are due to DEC by July 29.
There are two main problems with the plan, both of which involve the DEC’s decisions to ignore current legal protections for the Forest Preserve. Both problems seem to be caused by the DEC’s rush to accommodate the wishes of snowmobile clubs and boosters who are applying local political pressure. » Continue Reading.
The Town of Webb Historical Association and Goodsell Museum, located at 2993 State Route 28 in Old Forge, Herkimer County, is currently featuring the exhibit “Floating Letters-The Town of Webb’s Mail Boats-Over 100 Years of Postal Tradition and Summer Fun” through the end of October.
The exhibit presents the history of the delivery of mail by boat in the Town of Webb on the Fulton Chain of Lakes, Big Moose Lake, Twitchell Lake, Rondaxe Lake, Silver Lake, and other locations from the early 1880s until the present. The exhibit includes photographs, certificates, ledgers and maps -as well as a wide assortment of custom leather & canvas/cloth mail pouches donated or on loan for the exhibit. Included in the exhibit is the story of the Railway Postal Office (RPO) – a unique contract issued to Dr. William Seward Webb & the Fulton Chain Navigation Co. in 1901 whereby an official postal clerk rode on the boats to cancel mail, sell stamps & money orders, and perform other postal duties.
Additional exhibits at the Goodsell Museum include those on Adirondack wildlife, the Goodsell Family (George Goodsell was the first ‘mayor’ of the Village of Old Forge in 1903) and the 90th Anniversary of the Thendara Golf Club. The next featured exhibition, on early medicine, will open December 1st. The Webb Historical Association maintains a regular exhibit on early local doctors which will help form the basis the of the new exhibit.
The Goodsell Museum is open year-round; there is no admission charge.
The museum is also participating in Old Forge’s “First Friday Art Walk” events by including special exhibits connecting art with historical themes. On July 1st from 5-8PM they will have one of Lottie Tuttle’s oil paintings on display. Lottie was one of the Adirondack’s first female guides, she and her husband invented the devil bug fishing lure that was manufactured in Old Forge and marketed across the United States in the early 1900’s.
On July 9th the Association will hold its 9th Annual Benefit Auction. Preview and registration starts at 1 pm, bidding at 2 pm with auctioneer June DeLair from Constableville Auction Hall. The auction is held under a tent on the Goodsell Museum grounds and will include antiques, collectibles, new and nearly new items donated from members and friends of the museum.
The Association also has other programs, workshops, and walking tours. More information can be found online or by contacting Gail Murray, Director, via e-mail at [email protected] or by phone at Photo: The Steamboat Hunter – Captain Jonathan Meeker delivered mail to hotels and camps as early as 1883.
By Diane Chase The Art Center/Old Forge has transformed itself once again. This weekend the newly named VIEW will host its gala reception to welcome the public to their LEEDS certified green building. The VIEW originated with just one event, the Central Adirondack Art Show, where artists were presented on chicken wire displays on founder Miriam Kashiwas’s front lawn. Now in it’s 60th year it is only appropriate that the Central Adirondack Art Show will be on display for the gala opening of the new building.
From Kashiwas’s front yard, the Arts Guild of Old Forge, Inc. was incorporated in 1967 and eight years later purchased its first building, named Arts Center/Old Forge, to support year-round programming. Jody Pritchard, graphic Design/media coordinator for the VIEW, says, “Our new name is VIEW. VIEW is reflective of the Adirondack vistas around us, and expresses the personal relationship that people can have with and through the creation of art. People come to the Adirondacks to view, when they come to VIEW arts they can observe the view of others, as well as express a view of their own. We have national exhibitions, performances and workshops that bring in visitors from other communities as opposed to only serving Old Forge, which our old name implied.”
According to Pritchard the move from the old building to the new graced them with an additional 20,000 square feet which allows for expanded workshop and classroom space, a commercial catering kitchen, a dedicated performance space with retractable seating for 200+, and the ability to stagger exhibits so there is always something fresh to see. All located within a green facility with geo-thermal heating, solar panels, recycled tire/metal roof and other energy efficient amenities.
There will be a variety of events happening throughout July 7-10, 2011 with dancing, silent auction, music, BBQ and ribbon cutting. A few highlights: for stamp collectors or those just interested there will be a special commemorative postal cancellation on Friday, July 8 from 10:30 a.m. – noon at the VIEW. On Saturday there is a nature walk hosted by Gary Lee.
Sunday is family day with a visit from the Utica Zoomobile, face painting, clown and the opportunity to tie-dye a T-shirt or pillowcase (provided) for a small fee. Each day there are ongoing workshop demonstrations but on Sunday, artist Joseph Montroy will hold an introduction to iron casting and spectators can watch his students melt iron and pour the molten ore into molds to create sculptures.
The VIEW is open Monday through Saturday 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. and Sunday noon to 4:00 p.m.
There are many places in the Adirondacks where one can get away from the crowds but few as remote as the Cowboy Beaver Meadow in the northwestern corner of the Pepperbox Wilderness.
The Cowboy Beaver Meadow is a series of beaver swales along the Alder Creek. Nearby one can find a lovely unnamed pond and several beaver created wetlands. But if you expect to find any crowds then think again; this is a rarely visited place. Other than the occasional bushwhacker or hunters during the fall this place probably rarely gets many visitors. The Cowboy Beaver Meadow is an ideal place for those contemplating exploring the backcountry beyond the trails and trying their hand at bushwhacking. Bordered on the east and south by the Alder Creek, north by a dirt road south of Spring Pond and west by the Herkimer/Lewis county line this area allows for testing one’s navigation skills while providing enough natural/man-made landmarks to remain oriented on a map.
The origin of the name for these beaver meadows along the Alder Creek remains unknown. According to a posting on the Adkforum website, the beaver meadow was named after a mysterious cowboy who made his residence in the area around the time of the Civil War.
Gaining access to the Cowboy Beaver Meadow is a challenge. The easiest access is from the west out of Croghan via Prentice Road, a gravel road that eventually turns south and becomes the Main Haul Road. This is a fairly decent dirt road suitable for most cars but caution is required due to the occasional ATV traffic.
Although the Main Haul Road continues to the Soft Maple Reservoir, the Cowboy Beaver Meadow parking area lies at the end of Sand Pond Road located just south of the Sand Pond parking lot. Do not expect a sign or register here, although an old “Parking Area” sign nailed on a tree is present, it is now mostly obscured by new growth.
Historical topographic maps show the area once had a more significant human presence than it does today. An unimproved road once followed along the Alder Creek through the beaver meadow on its way from Long Pond to Crooked Lake. In addition, another road left the beaver meadow and headed up along Pepperbox Creek. A winding, low rock ridge resembling a beaver dam made of boulders that crosses the Alder Creek between beaver ponds is probably the remnants of this old road.
In addition to the rare human artifact there are numerous natural landmarks to investigate in this area, including the many beaver ponds along the Alder Creek, an unnamed pond and a hill with steep forested cliffs.
The unnamed pond provides an attractive place for camping while visiting the area. Several islands exist within the pond although they are merely muddy, slightly raised areas covered with semi-aquatic grasses, sedges and other vegetation. Beavers and hooded mergansers frequent this pond and its islands.
Many dead trees choke the shoreline of the pond. Along the west shore sits a large, stick nest located at the top of one of these snags near the shoreline. This nest may belong to either a great blue heron or possibly an osprey but remained unoccupied during the late summer.
An elevated area between the pond and the beaver swales along Alder Creek provides an opportunity to gain some perspective on the area. The forested cliffs provide a destination but do not expect much in the way of views. Although the hills to the east beyond the Alder Creek can be seen through the tree canopy these minimal views are merely a tease since a clear view of the Cowboy Beaver Meadow remains elusive. A better view may be available during the autumn months after most of the leaves have descended from the canopy.
The Cowboy Beaver Meadow is the main attraction of the area. This meadow is a series of beaver swales following along the Alder Creek as it meanders toward the Beaver River to the south.
The meadows range from wide and relatively dry open, shrubby areas to just a narrow corridor surrounding the creek. Most of the creek is slow moving with many pools along its length but at some points, the tannin-rich water flows swiftly over bare rock with frequent small waterfalls. Opportunities for crossing the stream and exploring to the east of the creek are plentiful in late summer.
For those wanting to experiment with bushwhacking in a seemingly remote area should consider the Cowboy Beaver Meadow area within the northwestern Pepperbox Wilderness. The area provides a beaver pond, a series of beaver swales along the Alder Creek and human artifacts from bygone days. So, saddle up and enjoy!
Photos: Beaver pond within Cowboy Beaver Meadow, unnamed pond and rocky portion of Alder Creek by Dan Crane.
The 14th Annual Central Adirondack Father’s Day Weekend Car Show will be held in Old Forge, beginning tomorrow, Friday, June 17th at 7pm with a car parade down Main Street. The annual Car Show will be held Saturday from 9am – 3pm at the Hiltebrant Recreation Center on North Street. The show will feature classic antique vehicles and modified street rods. Two cash prizes of $250 each, provided by Cooper Kia in Yorkville and Lee Buick GMC in Boonville, will be awarded to the Best of Show cars in two categories, one for antiques/classics and one for modified/street rods. Trophies will be awarded to 18 classes of vehicles, and dash plaques will be given to the first 100 registrants. Awards will also be presented for Spectators’ Choice, Oldest Vehicle, and Longest Distance Driven.
A spectator admission fee of $2 will be charged, and children under 12 will be admitted free. Anyone interested in registering his or her vehicle for this judged show can do so at the gate on Saturday morning for a fee of $12. Cars must be on the field by noon to be judged. Auto swap meet vendors are welcome to participate by completing a registration form and paying a $12 fee.
Food will be available from the Old Forge Fire Auxiliary, including chili, hamburgers, hot dogs, desserts, and drinks.
In case of rain, the event will be held inside the pavilion on a first-come, first-served basis.
More information about the weekend’s events can be obtained from the Old Forge Visitor Information Center at 315- 369-6983 or online. Photo: 2010 Best of Show – Modified.
The Arts Center/Old Forge (recently renamed View) will be holding a reception to welcome the return of their many volunteers and recruit new ones. The reception will be June 8th, from 11:30 to 1 pm and then again from 4:30 6 pm.
Visitors are welcome to celebrate the center’s volunteers in the new building with light refreshments and hors d’oeurves, and receive a guided tour of the new facility. Those interested in volunteering show let event organizers know their availability, even if that is restricted to certain months, days, or times. Volunteers are sought in all areas, including the front desk and store, data entry, mailings, and cleaning, special events set up/take down, culinary preparation, and taking photos. Volunteers can also help performances and exhibits with set up/take down as well as openings, music, and lighting. There are also options to volunteer from home. Poster distribution, picking up supplies in Utica, and/or picking up visiting artists from the airport are also areas where volunteers are needed.
The Arts Center’s grand opening gala weekend will be July 7 10.
Those interested in volunteering should attend the reception or contact the Arts Center at (315) 369-6411 or email [email protected] For a printable volunteer form visit their website at www.ArtsCenterOldForge.org. Photo: Curator Linda Weal, Jim Tracy, Stephen Wick, Deb Burrington Mills hanging the Northeast National Pastel Exhibition.
The Adirondack Center for Writing’s will host a monthly open mic series starting in June, in collaboration with several venues around the Adirondack Park. The series pairs readings from a featured author or poet, as well as an open forum to share your own writing.
The Willows Bistro in Warrensburg, NY hosts Open Mic Night on the second Thursday of every month. ACW will co-sponsor those events at the Willows every June, September, December, and March. For our first collaboration, June 9th, the featured author will be Paul Pines, (author of “Last Call at the Tin Palace” and “My Brother’s Madness”), Bibi Wein (“The Way Home”) in September, and in December, Mary Sanders Shartle (“Winterberry Pine: Three Poets on Adirondack Winter”). More information is available online. The Northwoods Inn at Lake Placid will hold readings on the second Thursday in July with reader Maggie Bartley, October with Charles Watt, and next January and April with readers TBA. The Old Forge Library will host on the second Wednesday in August with reader Paula Roy, and in November, February and May.
All events are free and open to the public. If you’re interested in sharing your work email [email protected] with the subject line “OPEN MIC” followed by the venue and date you’re interested in sharing.
The 7th Annual Northeast National Pastel Exhibition has opened at the new Arts Center / Old Forge and will be on through June 25th. The exhibition is considered a highlight of the Arts Center’s annual exhibition calendar, with thousands of visitors a year from the Northeast and beyond attending. The exhibition features works from some of the nation’s foremost pastel artists. More artists than ever have submitted work in the hopes of being selected this year.
108 works were chosen by pastelist Wende Caporale, this year’s juror of selection and author of several major publications on painting with pastels. Admission to the Arts Centers exhibitions is $8/$4 members & groups of 6+/Children under 12 free.
The Adirondack Fishing Expo will be held May 21 and 22 in Old Forge. It will be at the Community Center on Park Ave, located behind Souvenir Village at the “Five Corners.” Hours are 9 – 4 daily. It is sponsored by Souvenir Village and the New York State Outdoorsmen Hall of Fame with proceeds to benefit Hall of Fame youth programs.
There has been a renewed interest in fishing the Adirondacks but many people are unaware of the potential that exists here, or the methods to take advantage of it. With exhibits, demonstrations, and seminars the attendees at the Expo can gain a better idea of where to go and how to fish for the species they desire. There will be exhibitors ranging from canoe and kayak sales, fishing tackle vendors, Adirondack guides, outfitters such as canoe rentals or seaplanes, fly tyers, conservation organizations, tourist information, wildlife artists, and craftsmen. You will have the chance to meet and talk with award winning artist and outdoorsman Tom Yacovella and hear his methods for brook trout fishing.
Throughout the day there will be seminars and presentations on Adirondack bass fishing, brook trout fishing, kayak fishing, fishing remote trout waters, trolling techniques and lures, fly fishing, and photography. Learn and sample fish cooking techniques from the masters Nick Bankert and Jim Holt. Professional photographer Angie Berchielli will share her tips for taking better fish photos.
There will be information on fishing various lakes, ponds, and rivers, as well as free “fish finder” maps available from FishNY.com. Explore the options of getting to fishing waters ranging from roadside boat launches to flying in by seaplane, packing in by horseback, or traveling by canoe. Meet the outfitters and learn from their presentations on what to take and how to pack.
There will be fly fishing demonstrations, clinics, or lessons. Participants will have the chance to meet popular authors and get autographed books.
Seminars and demonstrations will include kayak fishing (10 am), floatplane (10:30 am), Yacovella on brook trout (11 am), fly tying demo (11 and 2), fly casting clinic (11:30), back country brookies (12 noon), fish cooking demo (1 pm), bass fishing (1:30 pm), better fishing photos (2:15), pack in by canoe (2:45 pm) and trolling techniques and lures (3 pm).
See the New York State Outdoor Writers Association Hall of Fame website for more information.
The Taste of Home Cooking School show, supported by the Arts Center/Old Forge, will be presented live at the North Street Recreation Center in Old Forge, NY on Saturday, May 14; doors open at noon, show begins at 3pm.
General Admission Tickets are $15 and may be purchased in person from the Arts Center/Old Forge and DiOrio’s Supermarket and online at www.ArtsCenterOldForge.org. New this year, VIP Packages are available for $45. Contact the Arts Center/Old Forge for more details. » Continue Reading.
The Adirondack Park Agency (APA) will hold its regularly scheduled monthly meeting on Thursday, February 10 at APA Headquarters in Ray Brook. The February meeting is one day only and will be webcast live. The meeting will be webcast live.
Among the issues to be considered is a boathouse variance, bridges and culverts in the Park, development in Queensbury and Westport, Green programs at the Golden Arrow Resort in Lake Placid, and a presentation on alpine meadow vegetation. Here is the full agenda:
The Full Agency will convene on Thursday morning at 9:00 for Executive Director Terry Martino’s report where she will present the 2010 annual report.
At 10:45 a.m., the Regulatory Programs Committee will consider a request for a shoreline structure setback variance to authorize the construction of stairs onto an existing boathouse. The project site is located on First Bisby Lake in the Town Webb, Herkimer County. Jim Bridges, Regional Design Engineer, and Tom Hoffman, Structure Engineer, from the NYS Department of Transportation will then brief the committee on the status of bridges and culverts inside the Adirondack Park.
At 1:00, the Full Agency will convene for the Community Spotlight presentation. This month Town of Brighton Supervisor John Quenell will discuss issues and opportunities facing this Franklin County town.
At 1:45, the Local Government Services Committee will consider approving an amendment to revise the Town of Queensbury’s existing zoning law. The committee will also hear a presentation from the Town of Westport to utilize a Planned Unit Development (PUD) in conjunction with a linked Agency map amendment process to establish growth areas within the town.
At 3:00, the Economic Affairs Committee will hear a presentation from Jenn Holderied-Webb from the Golden Arrow Lakeside Resort in Lake Placid on “green programs.” The Golden Arrow Resort implemented unique initiatives to establish itself as an environmentally friendly resort.
At 3:45, the State Land Committee will hear a presentation on alpine meadow vegetation.
At 4:15, the Full Agency will convene will assemble to take action as necessary and conclude with committee reports, public and member comment.
Meeting materials are available for download from the Agency’s website.
The March Agency is scheduled for March 17-18, 2011 at Agency headquarters in Ray Brook.
April Agency Meeting: April 14-15 at the Adirondack Park Agency Headquarters.
Bob Sullivan, of the Schenectady Digital History Archive, has announced that the first two (historical) volumes of Nelson Greene’s four-volume history of Fulton, Herkimer, Montgomery, Oneida, Schenectady and Schoharie Counties, History of the Mohawk Valley: Gateway to the West 1614-1925 is now online.
Included are more than 300 photos and maps, and a biographical section – more than 2000 pages so far. Greene’s History joins the Hudson-Mohawk Genealogical and Family Memoirs, a four-volume set with more than 1300 family entries from Albany, Columbia, Fulton, Greene, Montgomery, Rensselaer, Saratoga, Schenectady, Schoharie, Warren and Washington Counties.
McCauley Mountain and the Polar Bear Ski Club will hold their annual Season Ski Pass Sale and Consignment Sale this Saturday, November 6, 2010 from 9 am until Noon at McCauley Mountain Ski Area in Old Forge. From 10 am until Noon the Ski Patrol will be demonstrating chair lift evacuation. Spectators are welcome.
There will be new equipment vendors on site for the event, as well as used equipment by consignment. Items for the consignment sale should be at the McCauley Mountain Chalet between 8 am and 9 am on Saturday morning.
Season Passes purchased on the day of the sale include a free lunch. Season Ski Passes will be processed and issued immediately. Season Pass sale prices are $239 for an adult, $179 for juniors ages 18 and under, $99 for seniors ages 60-69. There is a special maximum family price of $836. There is also a Five-Day Pass good for any five days for $119 each. November 6th is also a volunteer workday to help prepare the slopes for the upcoming winter ski season. Participation of area youth is requested, and all volunteers are welcome. For additional information, call McCauley Mountain at 315-369-3225.
Those looking for an area with outstanding bushwhacking potential in the Adirondacks would be well rewarded by checking out the Pepperbox Wilderness Area, located in the northwestern Adirondack Park just northwest of Stillwater Reservoir.
At only 22,560 acres, the Pepperbox is one of the smallest of the Adirondack’s designated Wilderness Areas. It is bordered roughly by the West Branch of the Oswegatchie River to the north, the Herkimer County border on the west, the Beaver River to the south and Raven Lake Road to the east. What it lacks in size, it more than makes up with in its remoteness, containing mostly forested rolling hills and extensive wetland complexes. The few state trails here are all located in the northern portion. The Pepperbox is named after one of its many scattered unproductive water bodies, which total about 270 acres. The remoteness, lack of marked trails and limited use makes the Pepperbox a bushwhacker’s paradise. The Pepperbox’s western half is characterized by extensive beaver meadows and small beaver ponds while its eastern half contains larger water bodies such as Sunshine Pond and the Moshier Ponds. The central part contains extensive unbroken forest with Moshier Creek roughly bisecting the wilderness down the middle. The northern portion, with its two miles of trails and in-holding access roads, is a more recent addition to the wilderness area and can be considered its “civilized” part. The bushwhacking opportunities here are less due to these trails and roads and therefore this part of the Pepperbox is given less mention in this article.
There are several points of access into the Pepperbox Wilderness. From the north there are several trails which enter the Pepperbox and allow access to the few water bodies located there. Such small lakes as Jakes Pond, Spring Pond, Tied Lake or Greigg Lake are all accessed via foot trail or dirt road mostly from Bear Pond Road. Trailhead parking is available for access from the east out of Stillwater Reservoir, in the west from Sand Pond Road near the county boundary (Lewis/Herkimer) and from the south via Moshier Falls Road. With a canoe one could access the southern border via the Moshier Reservoir along the Beaver River.
The northeastern portion of the wilderness area is characterized by a plentiful number of larger water bodies. This area is best accessed from a parking area at the end of Necessary Dam Road via the hamlet of Stillwater Reservoir. A trail register is located here for recording your planned trip, which is an excellent idea when bushwhacking through a trackless wilderness like the Pepperbox. Although the road continues over the Beaver River as a well-maintained dirt road, it is gated at the bridge and available for driving by the owners of an in-holding on Raven Lake only. The road, now referred to as Raven Lake Road, is a convenient jumping off point for bushwhacking adventures into the Pepperbox from the east. Raven Lake Road acts as a border separating the Pepperbox from the southern portion of the extensive Five Ponds Wilderness (the southern Five Ponds offers outstanding bushwhacking opportunities in its own right).
A perfect way to access the Pepperbox off of Raven Lake Road is an old hunting trail situated between the first main stream crossing and where the road turns east. Although this trail is unmarked it is easily followed along its southern end. It passes just south of a large beaver vly and then turns north following along the eastern side of the same stream crossed back on the road. The trail passes to the east of the beaver pond feeding the stream before taking a sharp turn to the northwest. At this sharp turn it is very easy to lose the trail as many dummy trails at this point can testify. While navigating over a bog along the south shore of a beaver pond south of Sunshine Pond watch for chicken wire nailed between two logs on the bog mat to avoid wet feet and guide you to the trail again on the opposite side. After several attempts I have yet to be able to follow the trail after reaching the western shore of this beaver pond. Despite the lack of a trail beyond this point a bushwhacker is well situated to explore the many water bodies in this portion of the Pepperbox. Sunshine, Deer, Moshier, Duck and Pepperbox Ponds and the surrounding area will provide days of exploring for the intrepid bushwhacker. Click here, here, here and here for my trip report in this area back in May 2010.
A parking area at the end of Sand Pond Road allows access to the northwestern portion of the Pepperbox. This area appears to get little use, evidenced by the lack of a register here. A short old logging road from the parking area provides access to a brushed-out state property boundary that can be followed east over a hill and through a fern-dominated wet area to the border of the Pepperbox’s western boundary.
This part of the Pepperbox is dominated by a single unnamed pond and the Cowboy Beaver Meadow. The Cowboy Beaver Meadow is a series of old beaver vlys along the Alder Creek with little evidence of human activity. There are numerous places to cross the Alder Creek if one wishes to explore the steep rise on the opposite side. Between the pond and Cowboy Beaver Meadow is a hill with some steep cliffs to the east which should provide impressive views into the Cowboy Beaver Meadow below during the autumn and winter months when the tree foliage is absent. Keep an eye on the Bushwhacking Fool this winter for a trip report on my adventure through this area on Labor Day 2009.
The southwestern portion of the Pepperbox contains the extensive Threemile Beaver Meadow, numerous unnamed beaver ponds and a series of unusual glacial ridges. A parking lot and trailhead register are available here along Moshier Falls Road. Although the sign in the parking lot implies the trail to the Pepperbox leaves the parking lot, the true trail is across the street where it crosses bridges on both the Sunday Creek and the Beaver River.
The trail continues across the Beaver River and through a power line right-of-way before reaching the Pepperbox’s southern border where a sign warns that there are no marked trails beyond. As if mocking this official sign there is a well-used trail marked with gray paint slashes winding north into the unbroken forest. This trail remains easy to follow all the way to a large beaver vly east of the largest pond in the Threemile Beaver Meadow. North of this vly the trail loses its gray slashes and becomes less distinct though rumor has it one can follow it all the way to Bear Pond. I have tried this myself in the past with only limited success though I did manage to reach Bear Pond by bushwhacking a significant amount of the way.
Along the trail before reaching the large beaver vly there are several side trails to the west which gives access to the extensive Threemile Beaver Meadow. The Threemile Beaver Meadow is a beautiful and extensive series of beaver ponds and meadows well worth exploring.
A good bushwhacker can find many old herd paths in the Threemile Beaver Meadow area and there are even a few hunters’ camps scattered about, some recently used and others vacant for many years. This area appears to be heavily used during hunting season, and for good reason, as I have never seen a higher density of deer in the Adirondacks. Click here for a trip teaser about my recent bushwhack through the Threemile Beaver Meadow in September 2010.
To the north and west of the Threemile Beaver Meadow are a series of beaver ponds scattered about giving a bushwhacker numerous opportunities for exploration. For those interested in glacial landforms there is a series of steep and narrow ridges to the west of the beaver meadow. These ridges tend to end abruptly so one should use caution to avoid getting stuck out on one. The remnants of an old fire tower exists on one the highest ridges. The site of this fire tower, now merely the foundation and a few scattered boards, makes an additional interesting destination while trekking through this area.
The combination of hunting trails and unbroken wilderness makes the Pepperbox an excellent area for the beginning and experienced bushwhacker. So if you are looking for an interesting area to explore via bushwhacking then you cannot go wrong with the Pepperbox Wilderness Area in the northwestern Adirondacks.
Photos: Alder Creek along Cowboy Beaver Meadow, Sunshine Pond and Threemile Beaver Meadow by Dan Crane.
Dan Crane blogs about his bushwhacking experiences at Bushwhacking Fool.
On May 9, 1903, a seemingly minor error led to a terrible catastrophe near Old Forge in the southwestern Adirondacks. About seven miles south on Route 28 was Nelson Lake siding (a side rail, or pullover) on the Mohawk & Malone Railroad (an Adirondack branch of the New York Central). A little farther down the line from Nelson Lake was the village of McKeever.
That fateful day started like any other. From Malone, New York, about 90 miles northeast of Nelson Lake, train No. 650 (six cars) was heading south on its route that eventually led to Utica. At around 8:00 that morning and some 340 miles south of Malone, train No. 651 of the Adirondack and Montreal Express departed New York City. At 1:05 pm, it passed Utica, beginning the scenic run north through the mountains. The original plan called for the northbound 651 to pass through McKeever and pull off on the siding at Nelson Lake, allowing the southbound 650 to continue on its way. It was a routine maneuver. On this particular trip, the 651 northbound (normally a single train) was divided into two parts. The intent was to pull both parts aside simultaneously at Nelson Lake siding.
However, the 2nd unit heading north was traveling much slower than the nine cars of the 1st unit, prompting a change in plans. Because of the distance between the two units, it was ordered that the train from Malone (the 650) would meet the 1st section of 651 at Nelson Lake. Three miles down the line, it would meet the 2nd section at McKeever.
The actual written order said “2nd 651 at McKeever.” An official investigation later determined that the order was read to the engineman and then handed to him. But, when later reviewing the note, his thumb had covered the “2nd” on the order. All he saw was “651 at McKeever.” As far as he knew, he would pass both parts of the 651 at the McKeever side rail.
When the southbound 650 train approached Nelson Lake, the engineer believed there was no reason to reduce speed. He passed the Nelson siding at between 50 and 60 miles per hour. Just 1,000 feet past the side rail, the 650 suddenly encountered Unit 1 of the northbound 651. It was traveling at about 10 to 15 miles per hour, slowing for the upcoming turn onto the side rail at Nelson Lake. It didn’t make it.
The 650’s whistle blew and the emergency brake was engaged, slowing the train slightly before the tremendous collision. A newspaper report described “a roaring crash, a rending of iron and wood, a cloud of dust and splinters, and the trains were a shattered mass. The locomotives reared and plunged into the ditch on either side of the track.”
The impact had the least effect on the last occupied car of each train, but even those passengers were thrown from their seats, suffering minor injuries. The two trains had a total of 16 cars, half of which were splintered and piled atop each other.
While all the cars were badly damaged, it was the front of both trains that suffered most. Several of the lead cars were completely destroyed. Others telescoped within each other, causing horrific injuries. Screams of pain drew help from those who were less impaired.
The two trains carried more than 200 passengers. Nearly everyone suffered some type of injury from flying bits of glass and metal. Some victims were pinned within the wreckage, and a few were thrown through windows. Thirty-seven (mostly from the 650) required hospitalization.
Three passengers suffered critical injuries, including at least one amputation. There were dozens of broken bones and dangerous cuts. When some of the damaged cars ignited, passengers and railroad employees joined forces to extinguish the flames. Others performed rescue missions, removing victims and lining them up side-by-side near the tracks for treatment.
Three men were killed in the accident. Frank Foulkes, conductor of the northbound train (651), was later found in a standing position, crushed to death by the baggage that surged forward from the suddenness of the impact. John Glen, Union News Company agent on the southbound train (650), was killed when he was caught between two cars. William Yordon, fireman on the 650, died in his engine, scalded to death by the steam, like the hero of the song “Wreck of the Old 97.” Another report said that Yordon’s head was crushed.
A surgeon and a few doctors arrived from Old Forge, tending to the wounded. Trains were dispatched from Malone and Utica to haul the injured passengers both north and south. Another train set forth from Utica, carrying several more doctors to the scene.
The northbound 651 wasn’t only carrying human passengers that day. A theatrical company, performing A Texas Steer at various theaters and opera houses, was on board, including a variety of animals. Identified as the Bandit King Company, the troupe had a special horse car for animals belonging to the show.
When the collision forced the door open, a horse leaped out and ran off. Others weren’t so lucky. A passenger reported that the trained donkey, the pigs, and most of the other animals were killed. Amidst the chaos and their own losses, the men and women performers provided first aid for the injured until doctors arrived. They were later praised effusively for their efforts.
It took a 40-man crew four days to clear the wreckage from the massive pileup. The official report to the New York State Senate by the superintendent of the Grade Crossing Bureau in 1904 cited the engineman’s finger as the probable cause of the accident.
Top Photo: 1912 map of the Nelson Lake area 7 miles southwest of Old Forge. The extra tracks at Nelson Lake indicate the siding.
Bottom Photo: Unfortunate thumb placement inadvertently led to tragedy.
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.
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