In spring 1903, more than a thousand men were at work on the final stages of the Spier Falls hydropower project. A large number of skilled Italian masons and stoneworkers were housed in a shantytown on the Warren County (north) side of the river.
Most of the remaining work was on the Saratoga County (south) side, which they accessed by a temporary bridge. But the company feared that the high waters of springtime had made the bridge unsafe. To avert a potential catastrophe, they destroyed it with dynamite. » Continue Reading.
Remember when New Yorkers approved an Adirondack land swap to keep a mine in business and its employees on the job?
It hasn’t exactly worked out as planned so far.
Five years ago voters approved a constitutional amendment allowing NYCO Minerals to pursue a mine expansion onto the Adirondack Forest Preserve on the east side of the Jay Mountain Wilderness. Local politicians backed it for its potential economic boost, while some environmentalists got on board because of a proposed land swap that could grow the preserve.
Others feared the precedent of permitting resource development in a wilderness.
As it turns out, none of it has happened. The company’s new owners never pursued the swap and have laid off workers. » Continue Reading.
TAUNY, Traditional Arts in Upstate New York, has invited the public to a presentation of Skydancer, a film about the Mohawk iron-workers who regularly commute from Akwesasne to New York City to work on the “high steel,” building the skyscrapers of Manhattan.
This 2011 film by Academy Award-nominated director Katja Esson follows iron-workers Jerry McDonald Thundercloud and Sky Fox as they shuttle between the hard drinking Brooklyn lodging houses they call home during the week and their family lives, a grueling drive six hours north back home to Akwesasne, NY, on the weekends. Through archival documents and interviews, it also explores the broader history of the Mohawk skywalkers, presenting the nuanced and visually stunning stories of these renowned men who, over six generations, have been traveling to New York City to work on some of the biggest construction jobs in the world. » Continue Reading.
The Tahawus Center in association with the Hollywood Theater, will present episodes from the new Mohawk Ironworkers documentary on Monday, August 7, 7 pm at the Hollywood Theater, 14232 Rt 9N, in Au Sable Forks.
This film celebrates the determination of the Mohawk ironworkers of Kahnawake, Akwesasne and Six Nations. Mohawk Ironworkers was produced by Paul M. Rickard, George Hargrave, and Au Sable Fork’s Margaret Horn, who interviewed many of the characters as researcher and associate producer. The series features a team of Indigenous directors including Jeff Dorn, Margaret Horn, Courtney Montour, Paul M. Rickard, and Michelle Smith.
During this event, four episodes will be introduced by Horn, one of the directors, and one whose family has been involved in the trade for several generations. » Continue Reading.
Forest Ranger Rob Praczkajlo covers the district just east of the High Peaks Wilderness, namely the towns of Jay, Elizabethtown, and part of North Hudson. Due to the high rate of search and rescue operations in the adjacent High Peaks, he is just as likely to be found there as he is patrolling his own district.
The High Peaks district had more than 100 emergency incidents in 2015 and they do not occur in a vacuum. They are not handled exclusively by the half dozen rangers stationed there. Rangers from all parts of the Adirondacks, and the Forest Preserve they protect, are affected by the drain from so many incidents. The following chronicles one week in July for Ranger Praczkajlo. » Continue Reading.
DEC has openings for lifeguards at campgrounds in the Adirondacks. Full and part time positions are available paying $13.27 an hour.
DEC is offering a free Waterfront Lifeguarding Course on April 17 through April 21 in Hudson Falls. Potential lifeguards must pre-register for the course by calling (518) 457-2500 Ext 1. » Continue Reading.
The Department of Civil Service has announced the upcoming Professional Career Opportunities (PCO) exam, a State exam that provides individuals with access to a wide array of job opportunities in New York State government.
The PCO exam, scheduled to be held this year on April 8, 9, and 15, is one exam that is used by State agencies to fill more than 100 entry-level professional jobs across a range of disciplines, including health and human services, environmental conservation, human resources, administrative analysis, and transportation. » Continue Reading.
While researching a pair of books on North Country iron mining, I unexpectedly became privy to tragedies that many families faced. Mining accidents were frequent and involved excessive violence, often resulting in death. Victims were sometimes pancaked — literally — by rock falls, and their remains were recovered with scraping tools. Others were blown to pieces by dynamite explosions, usually as the result of, in mining parlance, “hitting a missed hole.”
The “missed hole” nomenclature refers to unexploded dynamite charges accidentally detonated later by another miner when his drill made contact with the material or caused a spark. The resulting blast was often fatal, but not always. Those who survived were usually blinded, burned badly, or maimed in some fashion.
In 1878, in Crown Point’s iron mines at Hammondville, near Lake Champlain, a young laborer, Billy Richards, was tasked with holding a star drill (basically a hand-held chisel with a star point) against the ore face while his partner — his step-father, Richard George — struck it with a sledge hammer. Through this commonly used teamwork method, a cadence developed whereby the star drill was struck and the holder then turned it slightly before it was struck again. » Continue Reading.
The colorful name Devil’s Kitchen has been used in numerous book titles, restaurant names, and for hiking destinations in at least seven states. Close to home in upstate New York, we have a Catskill version, described here as “quite possibly the most hellacious [bicycle] climb in New York State.” The same area, with cliffs, numerous waterfalls, and slippery slopes, has seen many hiker deaths as well.
But there’s another Devil’s Kitchen farther north, located about midway on Route 9 between Chestertown and Warrensburg. Despite lacking the cliffs and stunning landscapes featured at other identically named places, deaths have occurred at the Adirondack site—which today exists in name only. » Continue Reading.
The word Adirondack calls to mind many things — natural beauty, family playground, sporting opportunities, colorful history — but nothing so dark as prisoner-of-war host.
Yet during the last world war (let’s hope it was the last), followers of Hitler and Mussolini populated the North Country. Volumes have been written about the suffering endured in POW camps, but for countries adhering to the Geneva Conventions, there was a clear set of rules to follow. Among them was that prisoners must receive adequate provisions and supplies (food, clothing, living quarters), and if put to work, they must be paid. » Continue Reading.
In observing National Women’s History Month 2016 (March), the National Women’s History Project (NWHP) has adopted the theme, “Working to Form a More Perfect Union: Honoring Women in Public Service and Government.” Among the women specifically cited is Judy Hart (1941–present), whose 27-year career with the National Park Service included a stint as the first superintendent of the Rosie the Riveter/World War II Home Front National Park in Richmond, California, a facility she helped create.
As the NWHP notes, “over 9,000 Rosies have contributed their stories to the park, and more than 2,000 have donated their personal items and mementos.” It’s fortunate that the Rosies are so well represented, but unfortunate that their World War I counterparts, who laid the groundwork for the Rosie movement, are largely overlooked. » Continue Reading.
Labor Day honors the labor movement and the contributions of America’s workers, concepts that have been driven home for me many times through interviews with old-timers who helped build this country. Typical among them was Floyd Bracey, a proud Lyon Mountain iron miner who passed away in 1993. Referring to my factory job back then as “work” seemed unfair after learning about Mr. Bracey’s daily routine of more than three decades.
What follows are excerpts from our conversation in 1980 at the Bracey home in Lyon Mountain, about ten minutes west of Dannemora. » Continue Reading.
The recent pursuit of prison escapees near Mountain View and Owl’s Head in northern Franklin County ignited for me a few memories from the area, both related to iron ore. Lyon Mountain, a few miles northeast of Standish, produced the world’s highest-grade iron ore for a century. Standish was home to the iron company’s blast furnace, and the village is linked to Mountain View by an unsurfaced, 11-mile stretch of the Wolf Pond Road.
When I interviewed old-timers back in the early 1980s for a couple of books about Lyon Mountain’s history, they told me of how the blast furnace stood out several decades earlier for residents of Franklin County, south of Malone, especially in the Mountain View area. Across the valley where the Salmon River flows parallel to the Wolf Pond Road, there was a nightly bright glow on the eastern horizon. At times the furnace, which ran 24/7, looked like a giant torch in the distance. The effect was powerful when nights were truly dark, before everyone decided that floodlights were a great idea. » Continue Reading.
The idea of programs to provide public sector jobs for the unemployed reaches back deep into American history. To alleviate the unemployment accompanying the Panic of 1893, Coxey’s Army – a popular protest campaign – called for the creation of government jobs, and this demand was voiced increasingly during the early twentieth century. In the midst of the Great Depression, New Deal government officials developed programs to provide public employment for millions of Americans who had been thrown out of work. Under the Works Progress Administration, the federal government hired the unemployed to build hospitals, schools, museums, roads, city halls, bridges, and numerous other public facilities, as well as to work in theater and in the arts. » Continue Reading.
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