Among the new exhibits at the Lake George Historical Association Museum this summer is “The Lake George Mirror: The History of a Newspaper, the Story of a Community.” Established in 1880 , the Lake George Mirror became a medium to promote Lake George as a summer resort in the 1890s. Published to this day, the Mirror is America’s oldest resort newspaper.
The exhibit includes reproductions of covers from 1880 to the present, artifacts such as the burgee from the small steamboat in which the editor gathered news in the 1890s, books and brochures promoting Lake George and its businesses which were printed by the publishers in the 1940s and 50s and the stories of those who have owned and edited the newspaper. Tony Hall, editor of the Lake George Mirror will give a talk at the Museum on Wed July 9, at 7pm, when the Association will host a reception for this exhibit. » Continue Reading.
Editor’s Note: This tribute to Lake George’s Winnie LaRose was written by the late Robert F. Hall and republished in his 1992 collection of essays, Pages from Adirondack History. He included this piece in the collection because, he wrote, “Winifred S. LaRose, who died on December 6, 1979, was the very embodiment of the environmentalist – a person whose love of her own native place and whose determination that its beauty would not be spoiled led her to the forefront of the environmental movement, not only in Lake George, but throughout New York State.”
Governor Hugh Carey proclaimed August 21, 1980, as Winnie LaRose Day, but any day would have served because that lady was busy every day of the year for the past 30 years in battling for the environment.
The governor chose that date because it coincided with a memorial service to the late Mrs. LaRose at the Fort George Battleground Park on the Beach Road at Lake George. This was an appropriate site for the service because Winnie, more than anyone else, was responsible for turning this swampy piece of ground into a park for people to enjoy. But it was done not only for people. As Victor Glider, a good friend and now retired as director of Environmental Conservation Field Services, told the gathering, Winnie insisted on clearing away the brush so that the statue of the martyred Father Jogues would have a good view of the lake where he served his mission in the 17th century. » Continue Reading.
They’ll be spinning Adirondack legends in songs and stories, but they’re practically legends themselves. Chris Shaw, Dan Berggren, Bill Smith, and newcomer Alex Smith, will be in Bolton Landing for a free concert in Rogers Park on September 15. Adirondack Legends: a festival of new and traditional Adirondack music and stories, will be presented by the Lake George Mirror.
Adirondack Legends was organized by Chris Shaw, the Lake George native who has made a career of singing Adirondack folk songs and telling Adirondack tales. His repertoire includes some of the region’s earliest songs, and the revived interest in the Adirondack Songbook of Marjorie Lansing Porter is one inspiration for the show, he said. » Continue Reading.
A new book, Lake George Shipwrecks and Sunken History, was published this spring by The History Press. Written by Joseph W. Zarzynski and Bob Benway, the book is a collection their columns previously published in the Lake George Mirror along with additional material. Zarzynski and Benway helped establish Bateaux Below, which works to preserve shipwreck sites in Lake George.
The depths of Lake George hold an incredible world of shipwrecks and lost history. Zarzynski and archeological diver Bob Benway present the most intriguing discoveries among more than two hundred known shipwreck sites. Entombed are remnants of Lake George’s important naval heritage, such as the 1758 Land Tortoise radeau, considered America’s oldest intact warship. Other wrecks include the steam yacht Ellide, and excursion boat Scioto, and the first Minne-Ha-Ha (including some new findings). Additional stories include an explanation behind the 1926 disappearance of two hunters, John J. Eden and L. D. Greene, of Middletown, and pieces on the lake’s logging history and marine railways.
Note: Books noticed on this site have been provided by the publishers. Purchases made through this Amazon link help support this site.
The Lake George Mirror has finally found a spot on the web and has begun posting occasional selections from his archive. The paper, which holds the title of longest running resort newspaper in America, was founded in 1880 by Alfred Merrick (later Lake George’s oldest living resident). Originally the paper was published to serve the village of Lake George and had a temperance bent, a somewhat strange approach for a resort town.
Not long after founding the paper, Merrick gave it up for interest in a bowling alley, and it struggled until W.H. Tippetts came along. Tippets published the paper in order to promote Lake George as a summer resort. When he abandoned the Mirror in 1900 it was purchased by several local businessmen who turned it over to Edward Knight, editor of the Essex County News. The Knight family edited the paper into the 1960s. A short history on the paper’s new website offers a glimpse of what the paper was like under the leadership of the Knight family:
While it chronicled the changes on Lake George – the rise and fall of the great resort hotels, the destruction of the mansions along Lake Shore Drive, and the proliferation of motels and tourist cabins – the Mirror itself changed little. For the families who returned each summer, the Mirror was the newspaper of record. It announced the arrivals and departures of their neighbors, publicized their activities, and performed all the offices of a country paper: heralding births, celebrating weddings, saying a few final words over the deceased in the editorial and obituary columns. The Mirror did not, however, neglect the year round residents – the homefolks. It championed projects that would enhance daily life in the villages and towns, such as the road over Tongue Mountain, the Million Dollar Beach and the expansion of Shepard Park. As long-time editor Art Knight recalled in 1970, “Many of the improvements we have advocated over the years have become realities and we like to think that perhaps in some small way we have been responsible for their ultimate adoption.”
Except on rare occasions, the Mirror had little interest in political controversy. It was, however, a fierce advocate for the protection of Lake George. During World War II, for instance, Art Knight editorialized: “There is one battle in which there can be no armistice …the battle of Lake George. The enemy are those thoughtless and selfish people who, with only their immediate profit in view, will take advantage of any laxity in our guards in order to save themselves a dollar.” Art Knight recognized that the lake’s shores would continue to be developed. But he also recognized that care would have to be taken if the development was to enhance and not detract from the lake’s beauty. “If we fail, then our detractions from the natural beauties… will earn for all of us the antipathy of future generations.”
Robert Hall took over the Lake George Mirror in the late 1950s. Hall had been a Washington and European correspondent for the Communist newspaper the Daily Worker and its Sunday edition editor. During a time when the FBI was conducting illegal operations against suspected leftist (including burglaries, opening mail, and illegal wiretaps) Hall grew tired of radical politics and moved his family to the Adirondacks where he eventually purchased the Warrensburg News, the Corinthian, the Indian Lake Bulletin and the Hamilton Country News. He established Adirondack Life magazine as a supplement to his his weekly papers in 1962.
In 1968, New York Governor Nelson Rockefeller appointed Hall to the Temporary Commission to Study the Future of the Adirondacks, whose recommendations led to the establishment of the APA. Hall later sold the Mirror, and his other weeklies, to Denton Publications and took a job as editor of the New York State’s Conservationist magazine.
The Mirror went from owner to owner until Tony Hall, Robert Hall’s son who was raised in Warrensburg, bought the paper with his wife Lisa in 1998. Of course regular readers of the Adirondack Almanack will also recognize Tony’s name on our list of contributors.
By the end of 1969, more than forty thousand American soldiers had been killed in the war in Vietnam. Despite Richard Nixon’s pledge in 1968 that his election would bring “peace with honor,” and after a year of peace talks in Paris, it was clear that the killing would continue. That’s the background of this editorial that my father, Rob Hall, wrote and published in his Warrensburg-Lake George News in December, 1969. On this Christmas, with wars underway in Iraq and Afghanistan, I thought it might find resonance with Adirondack Almanack readers. Our dream went like this:
It was my first full day in heaven and the day-room orderly told me that the Archangel Michael wanted to see me. I found him behind a golden desk in his office. “The Chief suggested that in view of your long career as a newspaperman you might like to publish a little weekly newspaper for us up here,” he said.
“I suppose it would occupy my time for me,” I said. “What shall we name it? The Heavenly Tidings, perhaps?”
He said any name would do and I remarked that I’d need a staff of two or three. I named several newspapermen I had known who had recently passed over the Great Divide. “Nope,” said the Archangel, looking over the big book on his desk, “they’re not registered HERE.”
“Well,” I said, “could you spare me an angel?”
“I should think so,” said Michael, “but will yours be a good news newspaper or a bad news newspaper?”
“Is there any bad news up here?” I asked.
“Only the tidings of wickedness from down below,” he said, “but we like to keep informed.”
In that case, I said, the Heavenly Tidings would be a mixture of both. “But what about my angel?”
“I can let you have Gabriella,” Michael said. “She’s a sister to Gabriel but as much the opposite as any sibling you’ve ever known. Gabriel is the one with the trumpet which he will blow on Doomsday. But Gabriella is so constituted that she is incapable of bringing anything but good news. If it’s bad news, forget it. She absolutely won’t handle it.”
“How odd,” I commented, and noticed that Michael seemed disposed to continue the conversation. He leaned back in his golden chair and adjusted his wings to the apertures in the backrest.
“It was a long time ago that we first became aware of Gabriella’s hang-up,” he said. “It was about this time of year and we had word from the Chief to keep an eye on the road from Galilee to Bethlehem. I gave Gabriella the assignment and thought no more of it until I came into the observation post and found her in tears.”
“I can’t do it. I can’t do it,” she sobbed. And when I asked her what was the matter, she said:
“Why that poor woman down there, riding that little donkey. And the kind old man with her. They are on their way to Bethlehem to pay their taxes. Not only are their taxes out of this world, there’s no inn that will give them a bed. I just can’t make out my report. Every time I try to write, the tears get in my eyes and I can’t see to write.”
“I told her that it was her duty to report the bad along with the good, but it didn’t seem to matter. She just kept crying like her heart would break.”
I peeked through the observation window and I said, “Look, Gabriella, they’ve got a place in that inn.”
“Yes, but look at the accommodations,” she said. “Just a pile of straw in the barn.”
“Now Gabriella,” I said. “People who love each other can be happy under the most adverse circumstances.”
“But she’s going to have a baby,” said Gabriella. “And there’s not even a midwife around to help. Oh, this is terrible.”
I really couldn’t figure out any way to comfort Gabriella, but I noticed a beautiful bright star moving toward Bethlehem.
“Take a look at the star, Gabriella,” I said. “That surely means something.”
“How beautiful,” said Gabriella, and she smiled through her tears. “And look, it’s stopped right over the barn where those poor people are staying.”
The intercom bell rang for me and I knew it was the Chief.
“It’s come,” the Chief said. “I have a Son. Send down an angel and some heavenly hosts, the ones with the most beautiful voices. This is not an occasion to be minimized.”
I started to ask where, but the star gave me the answer. “Gabriella,” I said, “there’s great, good news, tidings of real joy. Get down to that barn right away, and I’ll send you some help. Are you in good voice?”
“You can bet I am,” said Gabriella, and she laughed joyfully, because she had got the message.
“On your way,” I said and patted her on the back. And with that Gabriella opened her wings and swooped down.
She was the first one there, and I tuned in to hear her song.
“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace and goodwill to men.”
Gabriella was happy when she returned to headquarters. “A beautiful baby lying in a manger,” she said. “Oh the good news that I’ll be reporting from now on.”
“And,” said Michael, “that has been her assignment ever since.”
I told Michael I understood, and that Gabriella would be assistant editor in charge of good news. I said I’d try to handle the bad news myself.
“And speaking of bad news,” I said to Michael, “what’s going on with Vietnam?”
“One of these days, that will be a proper assignment for Gabriella,” Michael said, “but not, repeat not, in this week’s issue.”
Why, in a time of newspaper shrinkage — in circulation, ads, staff, content — are local papers creating new vehicles for fluff? The Adirondack Daily Enterprise this month launched an outdoor-oriented bimonthy (it’s possible some stories were missed by one, two, three or four of the park’s other outdoor-oriented bi/monthlies). The 16-page tabloid is called Embark. Now we hear that around Memorial Day the Glens Falls Post-Star will begin publishing a new weekly called the Edge, for the Lake George area. Here’s what an Edge staffer blogged that the thing (not magazine, not quite shopper, not newspaper) will be covering: “It will be around 16 pages of light-hearted feature stories such as weekly Q and As with bartenders.” The dailies are not hiring new reporters or investing in high production values for these throw-away publications. They take staff away from covering issues and redirect them to hike Mount Marcy or flab about how crazy their friends got at Lemon Peel the other night. That’s not news. It’s killing trees to put the most trivial of blog content to paper.
Admittedly blogs should have better things to do than dogpile on print media in a time of hardship (here, here, here and here are some of the dailies’ own accounts of budget cuts). I don’t aim to join that pack. Most online news sources would be nothing without the hustle and dig that real reporters give them to link and amplify; herein should be the strength and future of newspapers. Anyone with an opinion and a laptop can have a blog, but it takes a business plan, structure and a good staff to provide timely, well-edited coverage of courts, cops, public policy and yes sports on a multicounty level.
I subscribe to the Adirondack Daily Enterprise and depend on it for a lot of information. It needn’t care what I think, but the fact that only two out of sixteen pages of Embark are covered with ads while the front page of the paper has been filling space with photographs of tree branches and worms should tell the publisher something.
I also like the Post-Star. It has some of the best journalists in the North Country and Capital Region and did especially solid reporting on the Lake George Ethan Allen tragedy. The paper gets competition from the alternately interesting and weird weekly the Chronicle, whose publisher’s personality comes through loud and clear, giving it kind of a bloggy voice. But the Chronicle is nowhere near as informative. It’s unfortunate to see the Post-Star moving in that direction. Edge, a crayon-font attempt to take ad share away from the excellent but shoestring real community newspaper Lake George Mirror, seems ill-advised at best, mercenary at worst, wasteful either way. If the Post-Star will be editorializing about how important the existence of newspapers is to our democracy, I hope it will then explain why it’s squandering diminishing resources to cannibalize a colleague.