Posts Tagged ‘Lake George’

Friday, January 14, 2011

Lake George Park Commission Supports NYS Invasives Law

The Lake George Park Commission has approved a resolution supporting legislation drafted by the state’s Invasive Species Council that would make it illegal to transport an invasive species from one water body to another.

The proposed law would create regulations stronger than any currently in place on Lake George, said Mike White, executive director of the Lake George Park Commission. » Continue Reading.


Saturday, January 8, 2011

Lake George Stewards Program Receives Some Funding

The Lake George Association (LGA) has been awarded a $25,000 grant from the Lake Champlain Basin Program for the 2011 Lake Steward program on Lake George. In previous years the LGA had received funds from New York State through the Lake George Watershed Coalition to run the aquatic invasives prevention program, but state budget cutbacks have made future funding unpredictable.

The Lake Steward Program provides invasive species education and spread prevention. Lake Stewards are trained and hired in early summer, then stationed at multiple boat launches around Lake George to educate boaters about the threats of aquatic invasive species, such as Eurasian watermilfoil, zebra mussels, curly-leaf pondweed, and most recently, the Asian clam. » Continue Reading.


Friday, January 7, 2011

50 Year Old Opera Festival Severs Links to Lake George

“Lake George is rich in musical history, having been home to Marcella Sembrich, Louise and Sidney Homer, among others, and by the late 1950s, people wanted to bring the magic back,” says Tom Lloyd, recounting the origins of the Lake George Opera.

Lloyd, the owner of Adirondack Studios, is the son of the Lake George Opera’s legendary director David Lloyd, and was himself a technical director, artistic director and acting managing director when he was still in his 20s.

Earlier this fall, Lloyd addressed a gathering of Lake George Opera supporters in Clifton Park, a kick-off to the organization’s celebrations of its 50th anniversary.

Two weeks later, the company announced that it was changing its name to Opera Saratoga, severing its links to its origins on the shores of Lake George.

“For several years, the Company has considered a name change to reflect its permanent residency in Saratoga Springs. The Company has been producing opera at the Spa Little Theater for the past fourteen seasons and considers the lovely, intimate theater to be its home. The time has come, as the Opera celebrates the accomplishments of its history, to fully embrace its home and increase the public commitment to its community and surroundings,” a statement from the company said.

Lloyd acknowledged that he has mixed feelings about the change in names, but he concluded, “the organization should probably be named for the community that embraces it, and that seems to be Saratoga. Let’s hope it will lead to increased funding.”

For those who hoped that some way would be found to bring the Lake George Opera back to Lake George, its 50th anniversary was to have been an occasion to re-affirm its historic links to the lake. Instead, it’s an occasion to reflect upon the past.

Tom Lloyd provided that retrospective in his talk to the Friends of the Lake George Opera in November.

In 1962, tenor David Lloyd was in Colorado, performing with soprano Jeanette Scovotti, both names huge in the world of opera.

“Jeanette had to leave Colorado and go back to New York, where she and her husband Fred Patrick were starting the Lake George Opera,” said Lloyd. “She said something to David, David spoke to Fred, and by the next summer David had signed on as artistic director.”

Fred Patrick, born Frederick Susselman, was a baritone who had graduated from Julliard, where he had met Scovotti.

He was also a friend of Armand McLane, a singer who was familiar with Lake George and its musical associations, who believed that there was still an audience on the lake for opera.

Patrick may also have been familiar with Donald W. Johnston, who had started the Studio of Song in 1951.

“The Studio of Song didn’t make it, but Fred Patrick saw its amphitheatre in Diamond Point, and saw its possibilities,” said Lloyd.

Legend has it that the theatre, at the corner of Rt. 9N and Coolidge Hill Road, was a building in total disrepair. Patrick rebuilt it himself on summer weekends, when he wasn’t on tour or singing in New York.

Among the new company’s first productions was an English version of “Carmen,” with a libretto by Patrick himself.

In fact, when the singer scheduled to perform the role of Escamillo fell ill, Patrick sang the role.

Reporting on the Lake George Opera’s first season, the New York Times called Patrick “a jack of all trades.”

“Mr. Patrick keeps his budget down by doing the chores himself. He feels that his company must be versatile. He plans an apprentice program, which should help out backstage,” the reporter noted.

According to Tom Lloyd, the Lake George Opera’s versatility was its defining characteristic, and made membership in the company the valuable experience it was.

“The singers didn’t just sing, they did everything, including costuming, lighting and set design,” said Lloyd. “Fred always had a handful of bus tickets, and if you weren’t willing to work, he’d hand you one and put you on a bus back to New York. He was so committed, and he expected you to be, too.”

That collective spirit informed the apprentice program envisioned by Patrick. By 1967, a young singer would be taking classes in the morning, painting sets in the afternoon, and applying her own make-up in the evening in preparation for a stage appearance. The program is now the second oldest of its kind in the country, and one of the most selective.

Equally important to the future of the company was Patrick’s vision of an American company performing operas in English.

David Lloyd and many others associated with the Lake George Opera had studied with Russian-born pianist, conductor, and stage director Boris Goldovsky at Tanglwood.

Goldovsky, explains Tom Lloyd, trained artists to be actors as well as singers.

“Like stage actors, opera singers needed motivation and characterization if they were to become good performers,” said Lloyd.

Singing in English made singers better actors, David Lloyd said in 1967.

When a singer knows that his words are understood, David Lloyd said, he works harder to make his gestures and expressions suit his language.

Fred Patrick died at the age of 37 in 1965. By then, David Lloyd was the company’s managing director. Under his tenure, the Company gave its first contemporary and American operas, Menotti’s The Telephone in 1965 and Robert Ward’s The Crucible in 1966, and four world premiere productions: David Amram’s Twelfth Night and Robert Baksa’s Aria da Capo, both in 1968, The Child by Jose Bernardo in 1974, and Alva Henderson’s The Last of the Mohicans in 1977.

In 1964, the company moved to the Queensbury High School.

“The disadvantages were that it was a high school, with all the stigma attached to that,” said Lloyd. “The advantages were that it was enormously accessible, classrooms could be used as rehearsal halls, there was plenty of parking and it had an 876 seat theater.”

Unlike today’s three week season, when two operas will be performed, Lake George Opera seasons in the 1960s extended for an entire summer and featured more than fifty performances of at least seven operas.

The Queensbury High School was meant to be a temporary home. Fred Patrick had dreamed of building a theater on Lake George, and working with officials in the administration of Governor Hugh Carey, David Lloyd nearly accomplished that feat.

“My Dad’s effort with Hugh Carey was inspired. He almost had the State ready to donate Green Island to the Opera when the Sagamore was in disarray. It would have become a real destination festival like Santa Fe if that would have happened,” said Tom Lloyd.

It has been said that the Opera’s board of directors, then dominated by Glens Falls residents, vetoed the idea on the grounds that Bolton Landing was too remote to attract an audience.

In 1998, the company moved to the Spa Little Theater in the Saratoga State Park.

This summer, the newly-renamed company will celebrate its 50th anniversary with performances of two operas staged in Diamond Point in 1962.

And that, so far as we know, will be the last of the Lake George Opera Festival.

Photos: Lake George Opera production of The Bartered Bride, 1996; Lake George Opera Festival founders Jeanette Scovotti and Fred Patrick (photo taken at Chalet Suisse, Warrensburg).

For more news from Lake George, subscribe to the Lake George Mirror


Tuesday, January 4, 2011

The Almanack Welcomes Naturalist Corrina Parnapy

Natural history fans will be happy to see the return of nature writing to the Almanack with the addition of our newest contributor Corrina Parnapy.

Corrina is a Lake George native who has been working and volunteering as a naturalist and an environmental research scientist for over ten years. Her love and interest in the Adirondacks led her to undergraduate degrees in Biology and Environmental Studies. Her professional focus has been on invasive species, fish and algae.

Corrina was recently invited to sit on the Lake George Land Conservancy’s Conservation and Stewardship Committee. She currently works for both the state and on a contract basis for the FUND for Lake George, while working on a forthcoming book, A Guide to the Common Algae of the Lake George Watershed.

Please join me in welcoming Corrina as the Almanack‘s 23rd regular contributor. Her columns on the environment and natural history will appear every other week.


Friday, December 31, 2010

Early Lake George Traveler’s Birch Bark Canoe Discovered

Lt. John Enys, a British officer who visited Lake George in the 1780s and whose travel journals were published by the Adirondack Museum in 1976, returned to England with an unusual souvenir: a birch bark canoe made by Native Americans.

The 250-year-old canoe not only remained stored in a barn on the family’s ancestral estate and survived; it is to be restored and ultimately returned to North America, the National Maritime Museum in Cornwall has announced

“There is a strong family story that this canoe was brought back to England by Lt. Enys,” said Captain George Hogg, an archivist at the National Maritime Museum. “Once artifacts such as this are collected by a wealthy landed family, they remain on the estate where there is plenty of space to store them and there is no pressure to dispose of them. We believe this is one of the world’s oldest Birch Bark Canoes, a unique survival from the 18th century.”

According to Hogg, the museum was contacted by a descendant of Lt. Enys, Wendy Fowler, who asked the staff to look at a canoe lying in the Estate’s barn.

“The Estate is very special to us and holds many secrets, but I believe this is the most interesting to date. I’m most grateful that my great, great, great, great, great Uncle’s travels have led to such a major chapter of boating history being discovered in Cornwall,” said Fowler.

After receiving little attention for a number of years (it may have been restored in the Victorian era, archivists say), the canoe saw daylight for the first time in decades when it was moved from its shed to its new temporary resting place at the National Maritime Museum in Cornwall.

Andy Wyke, Boat Collections Manager said, “Moving the canoe is the beginning of a whole new journey back to Canada for this incredible find.”

Lt. Enys sailed from Falmouth in a Packet Ship to join his regiment in Canada to relieve the city of Quebec, which was under siege from the Americans. He fought in the Battle of Valcour, on Lake Champlain, in 1776 and in raids against the frontiers of Vermont in 1778 and New York in 1780. Instead of returning to England in 1787, he traveled through Canada and the United States. In 1788, he sailed back to Canada, taking with him the canoe.

“It’s incredible to think its legacy has been resting in a barn in Cornwall all this time,” said Wyke.

The archivist, Captain George Hogg, said, “When we received the call from the Enys family to identify their ‘canoe in a shed’ we had no idea of the importance of the find. But we knew we had something special.”

Prior to her arrival at the Museum, the canoe was digitally recorded by the curatorial team and during the canoe’s time at the Museum, teams will be researching her history, conserving the remaining wood and preserving what’s left as well as preparing her for the trip back home and representing what she might have looked like over 250 years ago.

In September, 2011 the Native American canoe will be repatriated to Canada where the Canadian Canoe Museum will conduct further research to see where the boat may have been built and by which tribe. The canoe will be displayed in Cornwall, England from January through September.

Enys visited Lake George in 1787. According to his journals, Enys set sail for Fort George, at the head of the lake, from Ticonderoga on November 10.

He spent the night in a “House or Rather Hovel” at Sabbath Day Point, where his sleep was disturbed by hunters who were arguing about the best method of collecting honey from the hives of wild bees.

“So very insignificant was their information that altho deprived of my rest I could learn nothing by it,” he wrote.

On November 11, Enys passed through the Narrows, rowing rather than sailing. “Tho the wind was fair it was not in our power to make use of it, the Lake being here very Narrow and enclosed between two high ridges of mountains; the wind striking against them forms so many eddy winds that unless the wind is either in a direct line up or down it never blows five minutes in the same direction,” he wrote.

Near Fourteen Mile Island, the boat’s sails were hoisted and Enys sailed on to Fort George, arriving in time for dinner.
He then left for Albany and proceeded to New York, Philadelphia and Mount Vernon, where he visited George Washington.

The American Journals of Lt. John Enys, edited by Elizabeth Cometti and published by the Adirondack Museum and Syracuse University Press in 1976, is out of print but available through rare and used book dealers.

Photos: Lt John Enys; Removing the canoe from a storage shed in Cornwall, England

For more news and commentary from Lake George, subscribe to the Lake George Mirror


Friday, December 24, 2010

Boating Before Gasoline: Kenneth Durant and the Naphtha Launch

In the 1880s Frank Ofeldt invented a small engine powered by a petroleum by-product called naphtha, which proved to be a very useful means of water transport when attached to 16 or 18-foot launches. For a while, these naphtha launches flourished on the Adirondack lakes, transporting passengers and freight between camps, hotels and settlements.

By the turn of the century, naphtha launches were common on Lake George. Some were excursion boats, such as those owned and operated by the father os onetime Lake George Supervisor Alden Shaw. The majority, however, belonged to summer residents. Dr. Abraham Jacobi of Bolton Landing owned one. Harry Watrous, the perpetrator of the Hague Monster Hoax, owned two, as did Colonel Mann, the New York magazine editor who was the butt of the hoax. (Mann’s own magazine, by the way, poked fun at the rich for taking the accoutrements of soft living into the Adirondack wilderness, naphtha launches included.)

The Eva B, the launch portrayed here, was owned by Charles Barker, a gentleman who spent one summer on Lake George in 1892. Barker sailed the craft from New York City to Troy and then came up the Champlain Canal through the locks. The launch was brought overland from Glens Falls to Lake George, where it was paraded in the Water Carnival. When Barked departed Lake George at the end of the season, he announced that he would sill down Lake Champlain to the St. Lawrence River, then on to Alexandria Bay and the Thousand Islands.

The naphtha launch, unlike the steamboat which it replaced, was light and easy to handle. No special license was required to operate it. Thus, the naphtha launch became popular very quickly. Just as quickly, however, it disappeared, supplanted by the gasoline-powered motorboat, which was much faster than the naphtha launch and, or so it was said, much safer.

“It is eighty years or more since the naphtha launch came into the woods. They are gone and the steamboats with them. Handled with good manners, the launch was no threat to anyone and a pleasing service to many,” Kenneth Durant wrote in his monograph on the naphtha launch, published by the Adirondack Museum in 1976. Durant’s monograph remains the single best source of information on the naphtha launch.

Durant himself is best known for his pioneering studies of the Adirondack guide-boat. He had originally intended to incorporate the material which he had gathered on the naphtha launch into his book on the guide-boat, but then decided that it would be too much of a digression. After his death in 1972, his widow, Helen Durant, edited the manuscript and produced the pamphlet that is still available through the museum.

Durant’s knowledge of the naphtha launch, like his knowledge of the guide-boat, was rooted in his own experience. His father, Frederick C. Durant, was the developer of the Prospect House on Blue Mountain Lake, the first luxury hotel in the Adirondacks. To accommodate his own family, Durant built a camp on Forked Lake, a tributary of Racquette Lake, in the style made popular by his relative, William West Durant, which they called “Camp Cedars.” Warren Cole, the Long Lake guide-boat builder, was the family’s guide, and Durant spent much of his youth in the guide-boat that Cole built for him.

The family also maintained a naphtha launch, called the Mugwump. For sport and pleasure, there was always the guide-boat, Durant said. The naphtha launch was essentially a service boat. “It transported busts who might have been timid or clumsy in a guidebook. It towed the scow with loads of lumber from the mill or stone cut from the quarry at the head of the lake. It towed the freight boat with a load of fresh balsam for the open camp, or a string of guide-boats for a fishing party to the far end of the lake. Now and then one might make a leisurely cruise along the evening shore, with engine muted.”

Durant’s interest in the evolution of the guide-boat brought him to Lake George in 1960 to study the bateaux that had just been discovered at the bottom of the lake, and he and Helen visited my family often in Warrensburg, usually when traveling from their home in Vermont to Hamilton County, which Durant always called “the woods” and which he believed was the true Adirondacks.

(He once wrote to his friend, canoe authority Paul Jamieson: “When I was half as old as I am now we could say unctuously, ‘There are no venomous snakes in the Adirondacks,’ reciting a bit of nature lore: ‘Rattlesnakes do not advance beyond the oaks.’ Then, when I was not looking, someone moved the Blue Line around Lake George and took in oaks and rattlesnakes–and worse.”)

While he may have been harsh on Lake George, I remember Kenneth as the gentlest of men. And he managed to impart to many, through his books, his conversation and his example, something of his passionate interest in wooden boats and their history on the lakes of the Adirondacks. Those of us who have learned from him had had richer lives as a consequence.

Photos: The Eva B; Kenneth Durant.

For more news and commentary from Lake George, subscribe to the Lake George Mirror


Sunday, December 19, 2010

Adirondack Stats: Christmas

Year Pope Julius I and other religious leaders specified December 25th as the official date of the birth of Jesus Christ: 320 AD

Year in which the Christmas Tree is introduced at Strasbourg Cathedral: 1539

Year Alabama became the first state in the US to make Christmas a legal holiday: 1836

Estimated number of copies of Bing Crosby’s version of Irving Berlin’s “White Christmas” – the best selling single of all time – has sold: in excess of 50 million copies worldwide

Probability of one inch or more of snow on the ground on December 25th in Old Forge: 97%

Year in which F. M. Chapman proposed the first a Christmas bird census: 1900

Number of Christmas Bird count participants in 2000: 50,000

Year in which Santa’s Workshop theme park in Wilmington, NY opened: 1949

Approximate number of daily newspapers who reported on the opening of Santa’s Workshop: over 700 dailies in the U.S. and Canada

Approximate number of movie theater-goers introduced to Santa’s Workshop via a Pathe Newsreel: 30 million

Number of visitors on opening day, July 1, 1949: 212

Number of visitors on September 2, 1951: over 14,000 perhaps as many as 20,000

Year Robert Reiss closes Santa’s Workshop, Wilmington, following a failed business deal: 2001 (it was reopened the following year by Northpole Associates who purchased the facilities in 2005

Year in which Arthur Gillette opened Christmas City, USA theme park on Rt. 9 near Lake George: 1963

Year in which Christmas City, USA changed its name to Magic Forest: 1965

Photo: ABC Sportscaster Jim McKay with Santa at Santa’s Workshop in 1980.


Sources: Adirondack Chronology (pdf), Santas.Net, Guinness Book of World Records, Northeast Regional Climate Center, Santa’s Workshop.


Friday, December 17, 2010

Bolton High School Speedboat Racer Makes History

Johnny Saris, a Bolton Central School Senior, became the youngest speed boat driver in history to win a sanctioned World Championship race when he and Jason Saris competed in the Offshore Powerboat Association’s Orange Beach, Alabama meet in October.

“Johnny raced against the best drivers in the country and he held his own, as the results show,” said Jason Saris, the team’s throttle man and Johnny’s father.

Johnny Saris has been driving powerful offshore boats for years, but usually for recreation or in local poker runs. “There’s nothing like racing; once the green flag is waved, your mind is entirely focused,” said Johnny Saris. “And you never slow down for a wave.”

Racing a new boat custom-built by Performance Marine, the team placed first in their class in the first race, held on Friday, October 15.

To be named the 2010 Offshore Powerboat Association’s World Champions, the Sarises needed only to place third in Sunday’s races, but mechanical problems prevented the team from entering the boat in the second race, said Johnny Saris.

The races, held on an oval course about 150 yards off shore from beachfront hotels, attracted thousands of spectators. 40 boats, including a 50’ boat capable of 200 mile per hour speeds and a Lamborghini-powered 43’ catamaran owned by Sheikh Hassan Bin Jabor Al‐Thani, took part in the event.

Known as “Thunder on the Gulf,” the event was not expected to take place; the Offshore Powerboat Association removed the race from its schedule after last summer’s oil spill.

But according to Jason Saris, Alabama officials, anxious to revitalize tourism along the Gulf coast, persuaded the OPA to re-instate the event. “We didn’t see any ill-effects of the oil spill, and they put on quite a show for us,” said Jason. “Bon Jovi and Brad Paisley played concerts on the beach, there were good crowds and the weather was perfect.” “We had as much fun spending time with the other racers as we did racing,” said Johnny.

As one of the youngest racers on the OPA circuit, Johnny Saris attracted some of the limelight, said Jason . “When an event is covered as widely as this was, some extra attention is expected,” said Jason. “There’s another racer close in age to Johnny, and people like to play up a rivalry.”

The Sarises began racing as a team in May, 2009, when they converted a recreational powerboat and competed in the first in a series of off shore races throughout the country. “Until 2008, no one under 18 was eligible to compete,” said Jason, himself a national offshore champion racer not so many years ago. “But fortunately for us, the OPA Racing Organization, changed the rules so that someone as young as 14 can compete as long as he’s accompanied by a parent or guardian. ”

Johnny Saris’s skills as a driver have increased exponentially during his first two seasons as a professional racer, said Jason. “He has a confidence that he’s earned through experience; that makes him a smoother, better racer; he’s not apprehensive, he knows what to expect,” said Jason. And he’s won the respect of the other racers.

“They take racing very seriously, and initially they were apprehensive about racing 80 miles per hour with someone who, for all they knew, was an inexperienced amateur,” said Jason. “Now, they treat him like a colleague.”

“The racing circuit is like family; once you’re in, you’re in,” said Johnny.

For Jason Saris, the pleasure in returning to the racing circuit lies largely in the fact that’s now able to race with his son. “We’re both enthusiasts and we’ve always wanted to do this together. A father and son who enjoy the same thing, getting to do it together: it doesn’t get any better than that. By the time most kids are sixteen, they’re out of their families’ lives. Even the time spent in the truck trailering the boat to races is quality time, as far as I’m concerned,” said Jason.

Racing may be a father and son activity for the Sarises, but it’s also good for Performance Marine, the business Jason established twenty years ago with his partner, Rick Gage. Tucked between the lake and Bolton Landing’s Main Street, Performance Marine is the place where racers from all over the country come to have custom built engines and drive systems made.

“If nothing else, the race circuit is a venue where we can demonstrate our competence, ” Jason says. “Customers are confident that we know our business.” Performance Marine also builds power systems for recreational boats and maintains boats for local customers. It’s a business that Johnny Saris hopes to run himself one day. “I’ll be going to college next year, and that may cut into racing. But a good education will allow me to continue what my father started. That would be even better than racing,” he said.

Photos courtesy of Saris Racing.

For more news and commentary from Lake George, subscribe to the Lake George Mirror.


Saturday, December 11, 2010

Grant to Help Protect Lake George’s English Brook

The Lake George Association has been awarded a $25,000 grant from the Lake Champlain Basin Program to help protect the English Brook Watershed on Lake George.

One of the eight major streams entering Lake George, English Brook has been of high concern to the Association for over a decade. Land development in the English Brook watershed has increased the volume and velocity of stormwater runoff, leading to increased pollution entering the brook. The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) lists the brook as sediment impaired, and its delta is one of the largest on the Lake. According to National Urban Runoff Program reports conducted during the 1980s, English Brook has high levels of total phosphorus, chlorides, total suspended sediments, lead and nitrate-nitrogen.

The grant will partially fund the installation of a $48,400 Aqua-Swirl hydrodynamic separator on the east side of Rt. 9N at the Lochlea Estate in the town of Lake George. The system will collect previously untreated stormwater runoff from both the east and west sides of Rt. 9N, as well as the bridge between the two exits at Exit 22 on Interstate 87. The majority of the runoff in the 48-acre watershed will be captured and treated.

Other stormwater solutions requiring a larger footprint were explored but were not possible due to the shallow soil depth and high bedrock found throughout the site. The Aqua-Swirl unit has a small footprint and a suitable location was found near existing stormwater infrastructure.

The project is also taking the opportunity to capture untreated stormwater runoff from the west side of the road. By installing some additional infrastructure, stormwater from both sides of the road will be directed to the new unit.

The cost of the entire project is estimated at $117,000. In addition to the Lake Champlain Basin Program grant, funding for this project has been secured from the Lake George Watershed Coalition and the Helen V. Froehlich Foundation. The village of Lake George will maintain the structure and clean out the system using the LGA’s Catch Vac.

How does an Aqua-Swirl Hydrodynamic Separator work?

Stormwater enters an Aqua-Swirl unit through an inlet pipe, producing a circular flow that makes contaminates settle. A swirl concentrator removes the gross pollutants; a filtration chamber then removes fine sediment and waterborne pollutants. A combination of gravity and hydrodynamic forces encourages solids to drop out of the flow and migrate to the center of the chamber, where velocities will be lower. The Aqua-Swirl also retains water between storms, allowing for settling of inorganic solids when the water is not flowing.

Additional work protecting the English Brook Watershed

Significant work in the English Brook watershed has already been completed by the LGA in conjunction with Warren County Soil and Water Conservation District (WCSWCD). In 2009, design work for a 150-foot-long sediment basin at the mouth of the brook was completed. Permits for this project have been submitted to the appropriate agencies. The basin will be about 6 feet deep with a capacity to trap over 700 cubic yards of material. Further upstream, at the Hubble Reservoir, the LGA hired Galusha Construction to remove a non-functioning sluice gate and valve that were making it difficult to maintain the site. The site was dewatered and almost 600 cubic yards of sediment were removed. The LGA acquired funding for both projects through grants from the Helen V. Froehlich Foundation and the New York State Department of State and the Environmental Protection Fund.

Once this important upland work is completed, the culminating step is to remove the sediment that has built up in the delta over the course of generations. The nutrient-rich sediment in deltas supports invasive plant growth, hampers fish spawning, and harbors nuisance waterfowl. By removing the delta, safe navigation is restored, the health of the Lake’s fisheries improves, the Lake returns to its original bottom, and property values are retained.

Photo: The English Brook delta in Lake George taken by the LGA in November 2010.


Friday, December 10, 2010

Ankle Deep: Lake George’s First Gold Cup Race Boat

After the Gold Cup races of 1914, the Ankle Deep was loaded onto a horse-drawn farm wagon and taken up the road to a corner of Count Casimir Mankowski’s estate on Northwest Bay – a humiliating end for a splendid boat, but then again, she had just suffered a humiliating defeat.

On the final day of the races, her propeller shaft had snapped. Mankowski let go of the wheel, and was sent overboard, right in front of the Sagamore. Her rival, the Baby Speed Demon II owned by Paula Brackton of New York City, went on to establish a world’s record. The Count, apparently, was too depressed to even remove the boat from the wagon. “Just leave the wagon where it is,” he told the drover. “Send me a bill for it.”

And that, more or less, was the end of both the Ankle Deep and Count Mankowski himself. The Ankle Deep caught fire and burned in a race held later that summer in Buffalo. The Count left Bolton Landing and never returned.

Nevertheless, the Gold Cup races of 1914 were a critical moment in the history of boating on Lake George. Gasoline powered boats had come to Lake George only a few years earlier. Competitive motorboating began in 1906, when the Lake George Regatta sponsored a race between boats owned by LeGrand C.Cramer, W.K.Bixby and Herman Broesel. Flat bottomed, sloping gradually toward the stern, the boats traveled at speeds of 20 miles per hour or more.

The 1914 race was the largest power boating event ever to be held in the United States; the field of starters was the largest, the boats were faster than any that had competed in previous races. The crowds too were the largest that had ever assembled in one place to watch speedboat races. Some of the spectators came by a special train from Albany. The Horicon met them at the station and took them to Bolton Landing. There, the Horicon anchored inside the race course, a 6 nautical mile ellipse that stretched from Montcalm Point to a point south of Dome Island. Throughout the races, cars lined the road from Glens Falls to the Sagamore.

The Ankle Deep was the first long distance speed boat ever built. Thirty-two feet long, she had two 150 horsepower engines, and was capable of a speed of 50 miles or more per hour. After winning the Gold Cup races on the St. Lawrence River in 1913, Mankowski brought the cup – which was made by Louis Comfort Tiffany and displayed at the Sagamore – and the races to Lake George.

The first race was scheduled for July 29th, but a northwest gale forced it to be postponed until the following day. On Thursday ,at 5:00 PM, the races began. The Ankle Deep was late getting to the starting line, and finished behind the Baby Speed Demon and two other boats.

The Count made certain that he would not repeat that mistake. Here’s how the Lake George Mirror reported the Ankle Deep’s start on the second day of the races: “But a few feet back of the line and going at almost full speed she jumped like a thing of life as the Count yanked the throttle wide open, and crossed the line a shimmering streak of mahogany, soon distancing all her rivals.” By the end of the second day of racing, however, it must have been obvious that the Ankle Deep was no longer the fastest boat in the field. The Baby Speed Demon II passed her on the second lap, retaining the lead that she had established the previous day.

The Ankle Deep now had no chance of victory unless the leaders were removed from the competition by some accident or by mechanical failures. Frank Schneider, the retired industrial arts teacher who restored boats at the Pilot Knob boat shop, wrote an account of the third day of the races for the Lake George Mirror in 1964.

“I saw this race from a small motor launch. Beecher Howe of Glens Falls and I, from Pilot Knob, proceeded to go diagonally across the lake to where we could see. As we got past Dome Island, going at a speed of approximately five miles per hour, our engine stopped and we found ourselves plumb on the regatta course, stalled, while two of the contestants, Baby Speed Demon II, and the Buffalo Enquirer were bearing down on us. One of those speedsters passed us on one side and the other on the other side, and after they had long gone by us, a patrol boat approached us and hollered, ‘Get off the course!’ We finally got the engine started again, and headed for the Sagamore dock, to watch the rest of the race. We did not see the Ankle Deep in action as it had broken down at the beginning of the third heat.”

When the scores of each boat were calculated after three days of racing, the Ankle Deep was in third place, behind Baby Speed Demon II and Buffalo Enquirer.

Gold Cup boats did not disappear from Lake George, of course. Albert Judson of Bolton Landing, a president of the American Power Boat Association, which sponsored the Gold Cup Races, owned the Whipporwhill Jr. That boat raced in Minneapolis, the Thousand Islands, Detroit, Lake Ontario, and in 1920, in England, where it competed for the Harmsworth Trophy. The driver in that race was George Reis. Reis himself brought the Gold Cup races to Lake George in 1934 ,35 and 36. Melvin Crook had the Betty IV built as a Gold Cup boat, but did not race her, although she achieved a speed of 111 miles per hour in a qualifying trial for the Hundred Mile Per Hour Club.

The Ankle Deep, however, retains pride of place as our first Gold Cup boat. As the editor of the Lake George Mirror noted after it was learned that she had been destroyed by fire on the Niagra River, “To Count Mankowski and the Ankle Deep belongs the honor of creating a new epoch in motor boatdom, and no matter how fast the boats may go in the years to come,Lake George will always remember with pride the name of the beautiful queen that carried her flag to victory on the St. Lawrence.”

Photo: Count Casimir Mankowski, center, on Lake George in 1914.


Friday, December 3, 2010

Lake George Invasives Fight Costs in The Millions

Eurasian milfoil was discovered in Lake George in 1985; since then, approximately $3.6 million dollars have been spent to control the spread of the invasive aquatic plant.

Add to that the value of the time spent administering programs and writing grants, as well the cost of educating the public about the dangers of spreading invasives, and $3.6 million becomes a figure that easily exceeds $7 million.

“We’ve been conducting a milfoil management program since 1995, when the state’s Department of Environmental Conservation turned the program over to us,” said Mike White, the executive director of the Lake George Park Commission. “We’ve employed methods like hand harvesting, suction harvesting and laying benthic barriers over the plants, but we’ve only had enough resources to contain milfoil, and not enough eradicate it.” » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Open Space Institute Preserves Historic Wilderness Camp

The Open Space Institute (OSI) has announced the acquisition of Camp Little Notch, a 2,346- acre former Girl Scout camp in the southeastern corner of the Adirondack Park in the Town of Fort Ann. The Open Space Conservancy, OSI’s land acquisition affiliate, purchased the property from the Girl Scouts of Northeastern New York (GSNENY) “to ensure its long-term protection, and continued use for wilderness recreation and education” according to the OSI’s Communications Coordinator Jeff Simms.

OSI is partnering with the Friends of Camp Little Notch, a new nonprofit created by former Little Notch campers, counselors and supporters from around the U.S. and abroad that intends to operate the camp as an outdoor education facility, according to Simms. » Continue Reading.


Friday, November 26, 2010

Tom Tom Shop: A Lake George Village Institution

Of all the businesses in Lake George Village, only a few have been owned and operated by the same family for fifty years or more.

That short list includes Fort William Henry, the Lake George Steamboat Company, the Stafford Funeral Home and Mario’s.

Those businesses were joined this year by the Tom Tom Shop, the Canada Street gift and souvenir shop founded in 1960 by Sam and Dorothy Frost and owned today by their son, Doug Frost.

“To have survived fifty years, that’s something to be proud of,” said Doug Frost. “Of course, I’m proud that I’ve been able to carry on a business started by my family. And I’m even more proud of what got us here. You don’t survive for fifty years without earning the trust of your customers, your vendors and the community.”

Those relationships begin with the customers, many of whom visited the shop in its early years and still return, first bringing their children and now returning with their grandchildren.

“The same families come in to shop summer after summer, generation after generation,” says Doug’s sister, Dorothy Muratori, who works in the store in the summers.

A gift shop in a resort village is unlike anything found in a suburban mall or on a city street, says Frost.

“People want something that will remind them of the experience of being on Lake George,” he said

Shopping at the Tom Tom Shop, he said, becomes a memorable experience in itself, one that draws people back.

“We’re here to make people happy,” he said.

Although the Tom Tom Shop sells a variety of gifts and souvenirs, it’s best known for its Native American jewelry, art, crafts and clothing.

“That’s part of our identity, but it’s also what appeals to people. Maybe people connect with Native American arts and crafts because it compensates them for the lack of connection with environment,” said Frost.

The Frosts’ interest in Native American arts and crafts began with Sam Frost’s mother, Loretta Frost.

She made annual trips out west to collect pottery and jewelry. In 1952, she helped Sam and Dorothy Frost start Indian Village, a Lake George attraction on Bloody Pond Road.

“Every summer, we brought entire families of Hopi, Chippewa or Sioux Indians to Lake George, where they would live until Labor Day,” said Sam Frost.

Rather than a theme park, Indian Village was an encampment that people could visit, watch ritual dances and ceremonies and listen to Native Americans discuss their history and lives, Sam Frost explains.

Indian Village burned in 1958. In 1955, the Frosts opened a souvenir shop called the Indian Trading Post on Route Nine.

Before the Northway was built, Route Nine was, of course the gateway to Lake George and the Adirondacks, and the Trading Post’s Teepee was a famous roadside attraction.

But according to Sam Frost, owners of attractions on Route 66 told him that the approaching interstate would divert most of his traffic, and he began looking for a shop in Lake George Village.

The Mayard Hotel burned in 1959, and in 1960 Lake George’s first mall opened on the site.

The Frosts leased the mall’s largest and most prominent store, the one fronting Canada Street. (Doug Frost now owns the mall and the adjacent parking lot.)

“Customers’ tastes haven’t changed that much since the store first opened,” said Sam Frost. “We used to sell a lot of Reservation jewelry, but that’s become too expensive.”

“I don’t buy what I want, but what I know my customers will want,” said Doug Frost.

“The most difficult thing in the retail business is the ability to make changes, to be able to look at something and know if it will appeal to your customers. If I know what I’m doing, it’s because I learned it from my parents,” Doug Frost said.

Frost has worked at the store from the moment he could be of use, he said.

“I grew up in the business; my father said I should learn the business from the bottom up, and I did, working in the stock room, marking merchandise, stocking the shelves. I learned every aspect of the business. Once you put every aspect together, you can run a business successfully,” he said.

Frost also learned from his father that running a business is a full-time commitment.

“Dad always said, you have to be there, in the shop, or you’ll discover you have partners you didn’t know existed,” he said.

But however committed Frost is to his business, he recognizes the value of the slower-paced off-season.

“We’re blessed,” he said. “We stay open year round, but I still have time for my family and the community. And we’re on Lake George, the most beautiful place on earth.”


Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Adirondack Family Activities:Diane Chase: Lake George’s Prospect Mountain

By Diane Chase, Adirondack Family Activities™
Driving to and past Lake George on Route I-87 I’ve often wondered where the footbridge crossing over the Northway leads. There are always signs or flags hanging over or people waving as we pass underneath. After being able to spend a day in Lake George, we discover the footbridge is one start to Prospect Mountain.

We’ve been told the 1.5-mile trail is steep and can be difficult. We are only wearing sneakers but decide it is worth the attempt if to only cross the footbridge. I am terrified. My children skip across as if huge trucks were not speeding beneath their feet. They gesture to the drivers to beep their horns. They finally look back, realize I am not following and come back to retrieve me.
The path is relatively steep and follows the old Incline Railway that had been used for guests to reach the once thriving Prospect Mountain Inn. The Inn was destroyed by fire, twice. Now all that remains are pictures, a partial fireplace and the cable gears.

The hiking trail follows the railway lines. No remnants remain as any usable metals were removed and repurposed during World War I. The trench that remains is rocky and wet. The slightest rain can cause a washout so we end up skirting the gully for higher ground. We cross the toll road twice before reaching the summit.

Hiking in the fall can be tricky. Fallen leaves can hide ice making for a slippery path. Be cautious. Everyone should be familiar with his/her own comfort level. I had read reports that this trail is not suitable for children of all ages. My seven and ten-year-old had no difficulties. Their only complaint was a desperate need to grill hot dogs at the summit.

For those not wishing to walk, from May – October the Prospect Mountain Veterans Memorial Highway is open for an $8 per car fee. There are three designated stops along the 5.5-mile drive to pull over and enjoy the view. Once on top picnic tables, grills and bathrooms (in season) are available.

For us, we climb to the summit arriving on a platform that used to house part of the Prospect Mountain Inn. My family does not wait for me to start exploring the various levels and sights.

A beautiful view of Lake George is to the east with Vermont visible in the distance. The Adirondack High Peaks are off toward the northwest. Some visitors say you can see New Hampshire on a clear day.

To get to Prospect Mountain from Route 9, turn west onto Montcalm Street and continue to the end. One entrance to the trail starts here. This short path has information regarding the funicular railway and other fun facts. Walk this brief path to Smith Street, turn south and walk on the street for about 200’ to a metal staircase that marks the highway overpass. There is some parking on Smith Street near the staircase. The trailhead register is on the west side of I-87.
Happy Thanksgiving!

photo and content © Diane Chase, Adirondack Family Activities ™. Diane is the author of the Adirondack Family Activities Guidebook Series including the recent released Adirondack Family Time: Tri-Lakes and High Peaks Your Guide to Over 300 Activities for Lake Placid, Saranac Lake, Tupper Lake, Keene, Jay and Wilmington areas (with GPS coordinates) This is the first book of a four-book series of Adirondack Family Activities. The next three editions will cover Plattsburgh to Ticonderoga, Long Lake to Old Forge and Newcomb to Lake George. 


Saturday, November 20, 2010

Adirondack Events and Holiday Festivals

The Adirondack Winter Season is a traditional time of celebration and fun-in-the-snow. While others are shivering and groaning about shoveling driveways, Adirondackers and their visitors are enjoying hundreds of miles of cross-country ski trails, full moon ski parties and a variety of winter festivals.

The 2010-2011 winter season is just weeks away, and towns and villages throughout the Adirondacks will soon be hanging lights, grooming ski trails and looking forward to fireworks, parades and the annual winter festivals. VisitAdirondacks.com offers a guide to Adirondack winter events.

February 2011 marks the 50th anniversary of the Lake George Winter Carnival and this year’s month-long celebration features racer Glenn Brittian’s attempt to break the record for the fastest speed on ice in a rocket sled. The record is 253mph, and Glenn will attempt to reach a speed of 300 mph to break the record on February 20th. Every weekend in February holds a carnival highlight, including the Polar Bear Plunge where more than 800 swimmers jump into the chilly waters of Lake George, outhouse races, a historical encampment of the 1700s, cook-off competitions, a Mardi Gras parade and fireworks. Check out LakeGeorgeWinterCarnival.com for a complete schedule of events.

Saranac Lake will host it’s Winter Carnival on February 4-13, 2011. Hundreds of revelers are expected to celebrate the 114th anniversary of the Saranac Lake Winter Carnival. As the longest running event of its kind in the eastern U.S., visitors and residents both look forward to the annual Gala Parade on Saturday, February 12th, the Ladies’ Fry Pan Toss, ski races at Mount Pisgah and the lighting of the Ice Palace.

Additional Adirondack winter events:

Adirondack Holiday Stroll in Speculator, November 26. Holiday shopping specials and promotions.

Holiday Village Stroll in Lake Placid, December 10-12. Children’s activities, free skating, holiday movies, craft workshops, holiday performances, special promotions in stores and restaurants.

Great Adirondack Snow Dance in Speculator, December 4. Dance at dusk, dinner, fireworks, live entertainment and children’s activities.

Annual Winter Carnival in Long Lake, January 15, 2011. Sports contests with cash prizes, free ice-skating and sledding.

Frozen Fire & Lights in Inlet, February 19, 2011. Bonfire and fireworks, free sledding, ice-skating and cross-country skiing, treats and cocoa.

Winter Carnival in Raquette Lake, February 19, 2011. Ladies’ fry pan toss, men’s golf drive, tug of war, bonfire and fireworks.

Photo: “Oxygen” just before reaching 247.93 mph (to break the record at that time) at the Lake George Winter Carnival on Lake George on February 15, 1981. The event was lined with thousands of people spread along on both sides of the 2300′ long course. Photo Courtesy Venture Enterprises.



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