Adirondack Guide Smith Brett Lawrence passed away on Thursday, June 30, every bit as much an icon of Keene, NY as Giant Mountain, Noonmark Diner, and the old red barn at the bottom of Spruce Hill (at the junction of routes 73 and 9N).
His full white beard and his red truck from which he flew the American flag gave Brett presence. He was also one of the last visages of an era that stretches back to the early days of the 19th century, and of a family that for four generations made their living as a guide and caretaker. » Continue Reading.
The New York State Department of Transportation has begun work this week on a project to create a parking and scenic viewing area at the intersection of Routes 73 and 9N in Keene, Essex County.
The estimated $40,000 project at the southwest corner of the intersection will create an area to parallel park eight cars, along with an approximately 35-foot long gravel walking path leading to an approximate 20-foot diameter viewing area. Boulders will be placed at the rear of the parking area to help define the space. » Continue Reading.
On a clear night stargazers can often be found at the heights of Norton Cemetery in Keene looking up.
A recent weekend provided stellar nights for gazing. Not perfect as high cirrus clouds shaded a few assets, but four great ones were clear: Jupiter and its four moons, Mercury, the Moon in its pocketed glory, and space lab whizzing by. » Continue Reading.
How can the Adirondack Region be more welcoming to refugees in a time when the need is acute but the political atmosphere is often hostile? On Dr. Martin Luther King Day, the Keene Valley Congregational Church (KVCC) hosted a Refugee Summit for area faith communities to begin a discussion about how to open hearts and homes to refugees in a time of international crisis. Conceived by the KVCC Steering Committee and Minister Milton Dudley, the three-hour event was attended by about seventy people from nearly a dozen churches and faith organizations from throughout the North Country and as far away as Saratoga Springs.
Speaking of the high turnout and the immediate sense of purpose in the room, Reverend Dudley said the gathering went “way above and beyond” his expectations. “I think the spirit here is ‘We want to do something, so let’s go.’ The analysis will come later.” » Continue Reading.
The state attorney general is seeking dismissal of a lawsuit brought against the state Department of Environmental Conservation in a long-running feud over the status of Old Mountain Road in the towns of North Elba and Keene.
The state is also seeking to transfer the case from State Supreme Court in Essex County to the Appellate Division of State Supreme Court in Albany.
The Old Mountain Road is a dirt thoroughfare, often flooded by beavers, that runs through the Sentinel Range Wilderness. It is part of the Jackrabbit Ski Trail, which stretches from Keene to Saranac Lake. » Continue Reading.
Thirteen years after he was first ticketed for driving a snowmobile on Old Mountain Road, Jim McCulley is still fighting the state Department of Environmental Conservation.
In his latest legal action, McCulley claims DEC Commissioner Joseph Martens violated his civil rights when Martens overturned earlier decisions in the case and ruled that Old Mountain Road is part of the Forest Preserve, not a town road.
“It’s like beating your head against the wall, over and over. Why do they keep coming back?” said Lake Placid attorney Matt Norfolk, who represents McCulley.
If you love Adirondack legend and lore, you’ll love this gem of a poem that first appeared in 1846. Since then it has appeared in print several times, often with revisions, and with the removal of certain stanzas. It’s the exciting story of a man-versus-bear encounter. The man was Anson Allen, whose colorful past included a fifteen-year stint as owner/editor of the Keeseville Herald, the village’s first newspaper. After moving to Westport in the early 1840s, he edited the Essex Co. Times and Westport Herald for four years.
He later published a monthly titled The Old Settler, covering stories and reminiscences from the region’s earliest history. The paper literally defined him, for Allen became known widely as “the old settler.” » Continue Reading.
Keene Valley was, the first time I saw it, jaw-droppingly astounding. All those peaks and ridges, jagged, monumental, stretching high into the sky, more and more dramatic as we drove up from the south.
It was a beautiful day, many years ago, and a friend and I had a vague idea about scaling a mountain or two. Maybe we’d go over The Brothers to Big Slide and down.
Well, we hiked and climbed a long way, but we were greenhorns, rather unprepared, and we never made it all the way around. One of us injured a leg; the other had an unfortunate encounter with a toxic plant. We had to turn around and go back the way we came. » Continue Reading.
Stream restoration work has begun at the popular Keene Town Beach on the Ausable River, across from Marcy Field. With storm recovery funds provided by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) the old wood and concrete weir, damaged by Tropical Storm Irene, is being removed and replaced.
In its place a natural rock weir and vane is expected to restore the stream’s hydrologic function, provide habitat for native fish, and improve the quality and safety of recreational opportunities. The new weir will maintain the long popular swimming hole. » Continue Reading.
In one of his last acts as the state’s environmental conservation commissioner, Joe Martens overturned a predecessor’s finding that part of the Jackrabbit Ski Trail was still a town road and therefore could be open to snowmobiles, ATVs, and other vehicles.
Martens, who left his post last week, wrote in a July 22 decision that the road had long been abandoned and so the state had the power to close it to vehicular use. The road in question — known as the Old Mountain Road — cuts through the Sentinel Range Wilderness between Keene and North Elba.
Last Wednesday was the day that my wife Amy and I finally closed on our Adirondack house in Keene. The morning of the closing I awoke to a cloudy, fogged-in day and an overwhelming need to get my head right and reconnect to this place I have so come to love. I decided to hike up Big Crow, a substantial promontory that rises from one of the ridges of the Hurricane Mountain complex, directly behind our new house. Big Crow has a lot of open rock and a rise of several hundred feet facing the Keene Valley, promising a huge view of the High Peaks beyond. As I began my ascent visibility was a few dozen yards at best. This circumstance is my favorite for an Adirondack climb: I knew the clouds would break as the morning progressed, to spectacular effect. I determined to take in the theater from the summit no matter if it took all morning. » Continue Reading.
Robin and Anitra Pell were passionate collectors of local and regional artists from 19th century members of the Hudson River School such as Roswell Morse Shurtleff and Conrad Bozenhart (who often painted in Keene Valley) to such contemporary artists as painters Frank Owen and Paul Matthews, and photographer Nathan Farb.
As a means of raising funds for local cultural organizations, and ideally keeping the art in region, as per her wishes, the Estate of Anitra Pell will be exhibiting and offering for sale their collection of prints, drawings, painting, photographs and other works of art – nearly 100 pieces in all. » Continue Reading.
More or less around this time, three years ago, I started to train for the 2012 Boston Marathon. Something like 117 degrees on the pavement, 95 or so ambient temp, that race was one of the hottest on record. It was the year before the dreadful bombing. And it took me practically six hours to complete. (I had trained to do it in four and a half.) Needless to say, I run slow and steady. Notwithstanding the suffocating heat of April 2012, I run a 10-minute mile—no matter what. When I think I’m sprinting: 10-minute mile. When I feel like I’m dragging: 10-minute mile. When I’m just perfect, trouncing along at a comfortable clip with a wacky spring in my step, dancing hands, and a bobbing head: 10-minute mile.
I enjoy the leisurely pace, most often because I run through rural landscapes, soaking in their (to me) intrinsic and needed sublimity while also stepping up and down and up and down into quickening challenges. Also, because I have very little drive for social, human-to-human competition. I compete only with myself or the raven croaking overhead, with how far that next tree or bend in the road or rocky outcropping appears on the horizon. Overcrowded, organized races are an anomaly for me, typically run because my brother asked me to or because I feel the notorious tug of the “I ought to’s” as part of a community or simply because I could bring a free beer back for my husband! I’m a self-described recluse (albeit along with said husband and three dogs); I choose solitude over socializing, introspection over conversation. Thus I choose to run… alone. » Continue Reading.
Late spring of 1845 found Gerrit Smith, a leader of the Liberty Party, touring the North Country in search of disaffected “Whigs and Democrats, whose intelligence and Christian integrity will not permit them to remain longer in their pro-slavery connections.”
Smith, from Peterboro, in Madison County, traveled from Saratoga Springs, through Glens Falls and then into Essex and Clinton counties on his quest to build a credible third party, a devoted anti-slavery party. His report, printed in the Albany Patriot in late June, details the villages his visited, the people he met, and the difficulties he faced. » Continue Reading.
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