It was the first time Grant had battled Lee. The two armies blundered into each other in deep woods just west of Fredericksburg, Virginia in early May of 1864. It would be known as the battle of the Wilderness. Grant’s Federal forces totaled over 101,000 to Confederate General Lee’s 61,000. Fighting in the deep woods with their opposition obscured by acrid black powder smoke, the casualties were horrendous.
Only by the flash of the volleys of the forming line could they know their enemy. The woods lit up with flashes of musketry and according to one observer, the incessant roar of the volleys sounded like the crashing of thunderbolts. Brave men tumbled to the ground like autumn leaves in a windstorm. Through all this the 93rd New York continued to advance over a mile through a tangled forest, underbrush, and swamps – all while facing rifle and artillery fire.
Adding to the horror was that the woods caught fire. It had not rained for weeks and the explosions of the battle set the dry undergrowth on fire. Wounded men, unable to escape, were burned alive. Those that escaped the fires were placed at quickly established aid stations. Some recovered; many did not. » Continue Reading.
Left the farm at 11:15 am; reached Kibby Pond at 12:30. There were some reroutes since the last time I was here, but I can’t blame my hiking time on those. I blame winter and junk food.
Ice is not out. And it’s a good thing because I am not prepared to fish. I didn’t expect the ice to be out. I came here for reconnaissance. Of course I got myself worked up on the hike in. What if the ice is out?I’m not ready. Then, as I crested the hill and saw the outline of the pond below, my heart stopped. It is out. I stood there in disbelief for half a second. Through the trees, ice looks the same as the reflection of an overcast sky on open water. But the sky isn’t overcast enough. Ice. I started down the hill and could make out a darker outline along the shoreline. That’s what open water looks like today. My heart slowed with my relief and my decent.
I came here on a whim. I was hemmin’ and hawin’ this morning over whether and where to hike. I’m farm-sitting for my cousin in Sodom. Do I leave the animals for a little while? There’s a lot going on at work right now, too. I should stay and get some stuff done. But I heard and saw my first loons of the season this morning, a pair of them, and that made my decision easy. » Continue Reading.
Adirondack summers for the Zahniser clan on Edwards Hill Road in Johnsburg were wonderfully and inextricably bound up with the Schaefer clan. Even these 40 years hence, memories of those years play, as Cub Schaefer told me in July 2000, like videotapes.
Many of those scenes come from summer in Bakers Mills in the 1950s with The Rainmakers, our young band of avid trout anglers that included Cub, Matt and Ed Zahniser, Johnny Hitchcock, Tommy Senate, and Tommy Taylor. We named ourselves The Rainmakers part way through the summer, realizing that every time we all went fishing, it rained.
The story opens with the whole troupe of us strung out along the diminutive stream through Johnny Robbins old place across Route 8 from Johnny Steve’s farm just beyond the road into the Oehser’s camp east of Bakers Mills. We are all looking for likely holes, meaning a pool deep enough to keep a trout’s dorsal fin from drying out. Willows overarch parts of the stream. All is idyllic until Matt Zahniser, the senior Rainmaker, comes crashing down the middle of the stream below some willows shouting “Bull! Run!” He wasn’t talking Civil War reenactment. » Continue Reading.
The Adirondack Region of New York State is known for not only for its scenic beauty, but also for the strength and stubbornness of its people. This is especially true of its women. The early years of its history featured women who were particularly strong and resilient.
Phebe Cary was not only a woman, she was a full-blooded Abenaki. The story goes that at age 13 she was sold off by her father to William Dalaba. It is unclear if she was sold off by her father or whether William just paid her father a dowry. What is clear is that after William left money with her father, she was sent off – against her will – with a new husband to the 1857 wilderness of Bakers Mills, N.Y. » Continue Reading.
“The story of the Adirondacks is more than the history of great camps, guide boats and environmental protectionism. It is, ultimately, the story of a people and their relationship to the land,” Pearsall begins the book. He calls this a book of cultural history, and it is, but it also draws much from environmental history, although more in the vein of “on the ground historians” like William Cronon and Alfred Crosby than the political approaches of Roderick Nash or Frank Graham. » Continue Reading.
Some people just see clouds. Others see all sorts of things—funny little poodles, wrinkly faces, continents. And once the shapes define themselves in the minds of the beholders, they become real and clear. “What do you mean, you can’t see it?” the visionary might ask. “It’s as plain as the nose on my face.”
Such was my impression when I first looked up at the wooded slopes of Crane Mountain. My host, Jay Harrison, was pointing up. “Those are the Summit Cliffs. Way over there is Beaverview Wall. Down and to the right, that’s the Slanting Cracks Wall.”
To me, it looked like a steep woodlot, punctuated by a scattering of small, rocky areas. To Jay, it was the next Adirondack rock-climbing mecca. » Continue Reading.
A “Notice!” was placed in the June 22, 1949 issue of the North Creek News by the Water District Superintendent Kenneth Davis and Supervisor Charles Kenwell informing local residence about the drought situation facing them over 60 years ago. » Continue Reading.
One hundred fifty years ago this country was torn apart by a great civil war. The Adirondack Museum will host a weekend dedicated to remembering the Civil War in the Adirondacks, the men who fought it and their loved ones at home, this Saturday, July 21 and Sunday, July 22. Visitors will be able to meet the members of the 118th Volunteer Infantry (the “Adirondack” Regiment”) and President Lincoln at a Civil War Encampment and learn the fate of Adirondack Civil War soldiers of the 118th themselves at a specially produced presentation by author Glenn Pearsall on Saturday (7:00 p.m.) entitled “The Adirondacks Go To War: 1861 – 1865.”
In the Adirondacks many young men, boys really, left their hard scrabble farms and small towns for the first time in their lives to enlist. Learn what their thoughts were as they marched off to war and how they reacted to the horrors of war. Hear what it was like for the wives, children, mothers and father that they left behind, as well as the lasting impact of the war on the small towns in the Adirondacks following the war. » Continue Reading.
Gore Mountain is introducing new activities and installing several new attractions for visitors this spring, with a Grand Opening slated for Saturday, July 7. Several amenities have become available during June weekends, including “The Rumor Climbing Wall,” the “Wild Air Bungee Trampoline,” disc golf, and daily hiking excursions.
Other attractions coming soon include a huge inflatable obstacle course, base area and Bear Mountain interpretive walks, several educational opportunities featuring cooking classes, yoga retreats, photography camps, and jewelry workshops, and Friday evening Happy Hours. The Northwoods Gondola Skyrides and downhill mountain biking will also be open. » Continue Reading.
Glenn L. Pearsall’s Echoes in these Mountains, is subtitled “Historic Sites and Stories Disappearing in Johnsburg, an Adirondack Community,” but thanks to Pearsall, a tireless advocate for local history, those historic sites and stories are being remembered.
The geography of Johnsburg, the largest township in New York State, is central to Echoes in these Mountains. The book is arranged in chapters highlighting various historic sites, all with handy maps to help locate them on the landscape. That approach – locating historical stories around town on the landscape – is part of what drives Pearsall’s personal exploration of his town’s history, and what led to the answer to an interesting historical question. » Continue Reading.
The Black Mountain Lodge is a motel, restaurant and bar located just minutes from Gore Mountain on Route 8 in Johnsburg and just around the corner from Peaceful Valley Road. The restaurant and tavern are located in the center of the strip of motel rooms, with plenty of parking. Built in 1953, the unassuming chalet exterior reflects that history, but the warm Adirondack lodge style of the restaurant and bar reflect recent updates. Kip MacDonald has owned the Black Mountain Lodge for the last six years and can be credited with the tasteful improvements.
Tiffany style lights and sconces add an air of sophistication and the heavy weave of the textured moose-themed curtains enhance the Adirondack flavor. Three-quarter pine paneled walls are accented by painted upper walls in a muted persimmon shade. An upended canoe suspended above the bar serves as overhead glassware storage. The stone fireplace, centered between the restaurant and bar, adds warmth to all patrons. Rustic pub tables provide seating beyond the dozen barstools at the bar. The angular, C-shaped bar is made from a pine slab with rough bark edges and occupies the back end of the restaurant. A deck off the back of the bar offers outdoor seating for up to 12 people in the summer season. A collection of 50 or so caps adorns the wall and ceiling near the bar. The story goes that one person tacked their cap on the ceiling and it just snowballed. Not to be excluded, we left a Happy Hour in the High Peaks hat for the collection. Tasteful outdoor-themed signs and beer advertising adorn the walls, accented by a display of antique woodworking tools.
The Black Mountain Lodge is a favorite among winter skiers and spring and summer rafters. A seasonal homeowner we interviewed describes it as reasonably priced, good food and family friendly, but did note that the bar and restaurant can get very busy during ski season. No official happy hour is offered, but some drink specials are available throughout the year. A selection of flavored vodkas inspired Pam to try something new suggested by the bartender, Sarah. A few draft brews are normally available, though the taps weren’t working at the time of our visit. Kim was disappointed, but chose something from the long list of the reasonably priced domestic bottled beers. The restaurant menu includes sandwiches, burgers, seafood and home-cooked favorites like chicken pot pie and meatloaf and, for the more sophisticated, duck and prime rib.
Live entertainment on a small solo or duet scale is occasionally provided. The Black Mountain Lodge is closed for Thanksgiving and Christmas, but otherwise is open 7 days a week year-round, serving dinner from 3 p.m. until 9 p.m. If you’re staying in the area, the motel boasts 25 no-frills, clean, comfortable rooms at a fair price.
Well known by Gore Mountain skiers, the Black Mountain Lodge almost escaped us. We’re glad it was recommended to us. With friendly, welcoming patrons and staff, it is an Adirondack venue worth a visit any time of year.
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, or follow them on Facebook, and ADK46barfly on Twitter.
There’s a great deal weighing on people’s minds this early November, starting with how they’ll get through another Adirondack winter, keep their family healthy, and earn a living. Some are wondering if they’ll be elected on Tuesday, others confused about who they’re going to vote for. One town supervisor I spoke with in July informed me that four of his town’s five rural post offices would be shuttered in 2012, and asked me if the fate of local post offices concerned me. I said it did.
My Adirondack Wild colleague Dan Plumley and his neighbors lost their Keene Valley local post office this year. I do recall a citizen campaign waged decades ago to keep the only small post office in Hallowell, Maine – near where I was born. It succeeded. Hope is always a crucial part of any early November day. Some lose their immediate November worries and thoughts in the fall hunt, or adventure. My conservation mentor Paul Schaefer was in hunting camp this time of the year, beginning in 1931 when as a 23-year old he first guided the Cataract Club into the Siamese wilderness until the mid 1980s when his bad knee finally gave out on him. Often, Paul and other members of the Cataract Club would climb Cataract Mountain which stretches for miles above the East Branch of the Sacandaga River valley in Bakers Mills. That’s not the mountain’s designated name. On maps it is Eleventh Mountain.
Paul wrote in his book Adirondack Cabin Country (Syracuse University Press, 1993) that “Half a century ago a number of us who hunted that mountain and were enthralled by its magnificence, decided to give it a more fitting name. ‘Cataract Mountain’ it has been, and it is for us, U.S. Geological Survey maps notwithstanding. Five crystal streams tumble off the thickly forested peak that stretches 3, 249 feet in elevation. Some of the cataracts that form are spectacular.”
This past weekend I bushwacked up Cataract Mountain with my friend Herb. I think we were going to find something, not to lose our thoughts or troubles, relatively light as those may be – perhaps to find a coyote standing tall on that peak, yipping and yelping and looking out on their wild domain. Despite the slow, tough climb around boulders, birch, beech and balsam thickets, Herb said he was determined to summit.
When we finally reached one of the mountain’s five summits, we rested and looked out at the valley of the East Branch of the Sacandaga glimmering 900 feet below us, Rt. 8 winding to its left. We gazed on Black, Harrington and other mountains in the blue distance. Suddenly Herb exclaimed, jumped up and found coyote scat not 20 feet from where we were eating our lunch. Look, Herb said, a coyote did survey his domain from this very spot! As had Paul Schaefer, many times.
Paul writes in Adirondack Cabin Country: “There are numerous spots where I can stand on a rocky ledge above the precipitous forested slopes dropping off to the valley far below and experience a solitude so wonderful that it causes emotions I can not describe…Here on Cataract Mountain – protected by the ‘forever wild’ covenant – the work of the Divine Artist is all about us, from the lichens clinging to the bare rocks to the hawk wheeling in the sky far above.”
It was true. The rock, lichen, ferns, shining, soaking moss had a luminous intensity during Herb’s and my adventure. We checked our watch. Fleeting thoughts of home and of gathering darkness found its crevice and latched on. We’d better go. Picking our way down the steep slope, we reached the trail in good shape as the sun was setting, pleased with ourselves. A mile away on the other side of the mountain, the Cataract Club was settling into their camp, now in its 80th fall season. As for their quarry, the sagacious white-tailed deer, it was long gone – like that coyote.
Photos: Above, Paul Schaefer at his Adirondack cabin below Cataract Mountain; Below, Herb at the summit of Cataract, or Eleventh Mountain.
The North Creek Depot Preservation Association will pay tribute to “The oldest continuously operated transportation company”, The Delaware & Hudson Railroad and it’s Adirondack Branch, on October 15 and 16, 2011.
North Creek is home to one of the last complete and original D&H Terminals, fully restored to it’s turn of the of the century condition. The event feature exhibits on the the D&H and it’s operations on the Adirondack Branch including one-of-a-kind rare pieces of railroad history. There will also be vendors showcasing D&H merchandise, a slide show featuring passenger and freight operations on the Adirondack Branch and much more. The exhibits will be open Saturday October 15, from 10:00 am to 6:00 pm, and Sunday, October 16, 11:00 pm to 6:00 pm. For more information, email email@example.com or call Justin Gonyo at (518) 251-5345.
Understanding and appreciating the events of the Civil War will come alive the weekend of September 9-11 in North Creek as the Johnsburg Historical Society commemorates the 150th anniversary of the start of that war in 1861.
Saturday, September 10th at 7:30 pm and on Sunday, September 11th at 2:00 pm local author Glenn L. Pearsall will present “Johnsburg Goes to War: 1861-1865” in the auditorium of the Tannery Pond Community Center. During this special two hour “one man show” with extras, Glenn will share his two years worth of research on the 125 men from Johnsburg who went off to war. Pearsall’s talk will feature over 100 historic photographs including some pictures of those men from Johnsburg and the places they fought as they look today. Re-enactors in uniform will read from the diaries and journals that Pearsall has discovered to give a real sense of what the war meant to small Adirondack hamlets like Johnsburg in 1861. His talk will cover army life in the 22nd, 93rd, 96th and 118th NY Regiments who recruited men from Warren, Washington, Clinton and Essex Counties here in the Adirondacks.
From August 26 to September 21st the Widlund Gallery of Tannery Pond Community Center in North Creek will feature a display of pictures of some of the men from Johnsburg who went off to war including historical photographs, period flags and a display on Mathew Brady, noted Civil War photographer born in Johnsburg.
On September 10 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and on September 11 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. a dramatic living history re-enactment will take place at the town Ski Bowl on NYS Rt 28. (The re-enactors will not be open for business Friday). Several professional re-enactment groups will represent the lives of men in the 118th NY, the 123rd NY, 95th NY and 76th NY. The park’s ideal location offers spacious grounds, fresh water, restrooms, and ample parking.
Jim Hunt, contact for the re-enactors, indicates that “The camp setup will be a living history. All items used are authentic reproductions. We will camp in canvas tents, cook over an open fire and dress in period correct attire. We will converse with the public and answer questions about life 150 years ago. We will have display items for people to look at and touch. We will conduct ourselves in camp as they would have done. We will do firing demonstrations all day long so people can see and hear what a musket sounds like. The public will be able to hold the muskets but not fire them. We will conduct a military drill and manual of arms (probably at 1:00 p.m. Saturday and Sunday) and we will be having a Civil War wedding. This will be an actual wedding of two of our members. The camp will be open from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Saturday and 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. Sunday.”
For more information or to reserve a ticket for Glenn Pearsall’s program on either Saturday at 7:30 p.m. or Sunday at 2 p.m., call 518-251-5788 and leave a message. Tickets must be picked up by ten minutes before the programs. Adult tickets are $10 and children’s tickets are $6 for the benefit of the Johnsburg Historical Society. This entire Civil War commemoration is made possible by the Rivendell Foundation, Stewart’s Shops and friends of the Johnsburg Historical Society.
Photo: Monument to the War Dead of the Town of Queensbury, Warren County, New York. Located at the intersection of Glen, Bay and South Streets in Glens Falls, New York.
A proposed regulation that would limit motorized boating on Thirteenth Lake to electric motors only has been released for public comment by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC). Interested parties have until July 2 to provide comments on the proposed regulation.
Thirteenth Lake lies in the northeastern portion of the Siamese Ponds Wilderness Area in the Town of Johnsburg, Warren County. The lakeshore is predominately state-owned lands classified as wilderness. Some privately owned parcels adjoin the lake. During the development of the Unit Management Plan for the Siamese Ponds Wilderness Area, DEC received numerous comments from private homeowners on the lake and from other users requesting that motorboats be prohibited on Thirteenth Lake due to noise, air pollution and water pollution issues. In response to these concerns, the Siamese Ponds Unit Management Plan calls for limiting motorized boating on the lake to electric motors only. This regulation implements that directive.
The use of electric motors will allow anglers to troll for trout and people with mobility disabilities to access the lake and adjoining wilderness lands.
The full proposed regulation and additional information regarding the purpose of the regulation can be viewed on the DEC website.
Comments will be accepted until July 2, 2011. Comments or questions may be directed to Peter Frank, Bureau of Forest Preserve, Division of Lands & Forests, by mail at 625 Broadway, Albany, NY 12233-4254; e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by telephone at 518-473-9518.
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