Posts Tagged ‘Lake George’

Wednesday, April 5, 2006

Thin Ice: Some Strange and Tragic Stories

New snow yesterday and the disappearance of another ice fisherman, this time on Middle Saranac Lake, was a reminder that Adirondack winters, sometimes brutal, can also be deceiving.

According to Paul Schneider’s The Adirondacks: A History of America’s First Wilderness, snowfalls at higher elevations can average over 100 inches a year and the western edge of the park receives well over 200 inches on average. » Continue Reading.


Monday, March 6, 2006

Warren County Convention Center – Another Round of Corporate Welfare?

Last week the Warren County Board of Supervisors voted to establish a “public” Authority which would use occupancy tax money to purchase the former Gaslight Village (who can resist humming the tune… “Gaslight Village, yesterday’s gone today). The $5.4 million property, owned by the Charles R. Wood Foundation, would be used for another convention center. Back in the day it was a railroad yard up the line from the Lake George [ahem] Spanish Colonial style D & H Train Station:

Back to 1998, the Albany Business journal, bastion of the coporate press and ignoring the more than half million dollar annual shortfall of the Glens Falls Civic Center, reported dutifully in an article entitled ” ‘Tin Box’ is all that’s needed for some conventions” that:

“Economically, the only way our community is going to grow is by lengthening the [tourist] season,” said Robert Blais, mayor of the village of Lake George. “The only way to do that is to make a suitable building to house the organizations we presently have coming to Warren County, as well as others who may want to come here.”

At his urging, Blais said, Warren County recently allocated $100,000 to the project, and a new convention center committee was charged with hiring a firm to conduct a marketing study to determine whether a center is feasible anywhere in the county. The spot favored by many interested in the project is Lake George, which already has proven itself to be a draw for the county.

Then we had:

Delays mean not only lost time, but lost money, however. “Warren County is surely losing millions every year by not having some sort of tin box–a rudimentary, simple convention center,” said William Dutcher, president of Americade Inc., a week-long motorcycle touring rally held in Lake George each year.

Dutcher pointed out that car clubs, motor home clubs, sports-oriented groups and regional conventions all would be attracted to the area if a facility were built to accommodate them.

Well that all worked out well for Blais and now we have the entirely architecturally incongruant and almost utterly useless tin box that’s design draws on Lake George’s lengthy local history of Greco-Roman vernacular architecture – the Lake George Forum – well that’s useless except for the local news fluff pieces on Zambonis, and events like Hockey, Bounce-A-Palooza, Hockey Camp, the Teen Dance and Bounce-A-Palooza Party, Hockey, another Brewfest, another Adirondack Living Show, more Hockey.

And still the convention center cowboys ride on…even in the face of the facts. Metroland this week [get it while it last – they still don’t have permalinks] is featuring a report on the proposed Albany convention center (stand back Jim Coyne):

‘Few cities learn from their own mistakes or the mistakes of any others,” says Heywood Sanders, a professor of public administration at the University of Texas at San Antonio.

In January 2005, Sanders became a focal point of frustration for many elected officials with their eyes on projects like the one in Albany, when he authored a highly critical report on the convention industry for the Brookings Institution, a public-policy think tank in Washington, D.C. Sanders found that various factors such as industry consolidation, telecommunication advances and rising energy costs have contributed to a nearly 50-percent drop in convention attendance since the late 1990s. But meanwhile, more than 100 U.S. cities completed or began construction of convention centers, increasing the supply of available exhibit space by more than 50 percent. This growing gap between supply and demand, concluded Sanders, “should give local leaders pause as they consider calls for ever more public investment into the convention business.

Pause be damned:

Sen. Elizabeth Little, R-Queensbury, who proposed the public authority operate
the Civic Center as well as the proposed convention center, said the county
could receive word from the state before legislative session wraps up in June.

Glens Falls Mayor Le Roy Akins Jr., Lake George Village Mayor Robert Blais and Town Supervisor Lou Tessier all expressed support for the idea Wednesday.

Blais, however, conditioned his support on the inclusion of the Lake George Forum on the list of venues the public authority could operate, saying he’s concerned the Forum could suffer from competition with the authority-run venues.

“The Forum could suffer from competition” – do you think so Mr. Blais? According to Metroland:

Recently built or expanded convention centers in major cities (and tourist destinations) including Baltimore, San Francisco, St. Louis and Portland, Ore., all have failed to approach the number of booked conventions proposed in their initial feasibility studies, while new facilities scheduled to open in Boston, Omaha, Neb., and various other cities across the nation have struggled to prebook enough events to fulfill expectations. Like gamblers who refuse to leave the table, many of these cities have found themselves locked in one expensive, risky convention-related investment after another as they try to make up for their earlier losses.

Across the nation, the cycle has followed a similar course: New facilities are built when consultants report that the existing facilities are outdated, existing facilities are expanded when consultants determine that the current facilities are no longer adequate (the standard life cycle of a convention center is only 15 to 20 years) and massive hotels are constructed when neither of the two former plans generate the predicted financial windfalls.

So folks… does Warren County join the bandwagon – again? Maybe this time it can have publicy funded classic Adirondack Egyptian architectural details.

UPDATE 4/5/06: Maury Thompson at The Glens Falls Post Star (get it while you can) reports, in one of the most blatant examples of advocacy journalism we’ve seen in a long time, that even though convention centers are in the works for Lake Placid, Plattsburgh, Glens Falls, Lake George, Saratoga Springs, Albany, and who knows where else, well, they are just a good idea. Thompson asked the opposition – well – nothing – they didn’t figure in his idea fair and balanced reporting.

UPDATE 4/24/06: Another entry from the folks at the Post Star – this time from a more balanced Madeline Farbman. The jist? Warren County is moving ahead despite long held desires from the local water quality folks to return the Gaslight Village site to a filtering wetland (get it while you can).


Friday, December 30, 2005

Hops Around. Hops Around. Get Up and Get Down.

A while back (a long while back) William Dowd’s Hops To It post got us thinking about doing a nice piece on the history of hops in New York and the Adirondacks; Especially now that the Beer Hawkers have returned to the Glens Falls Civic Center.

Over at the Northeast Hop Alliance, there is a nice recent NY hop history. While hops was a staple crop of New York farmers in years past it, only last year was the first beer brewed with all New York hops.

Hops, once a leading specialty crop in New York state, suffered from plant disease and insect pests. Prohibition in the 1930s also helped spell the crop’s demise, and 50 years ago, production ceased.

The last beer made entirely from New York-grown hops was brewed in the 1950s.

In the Adirondacks hops were an important supplemental crop for many farmers and hop picking provided income to many women and children as well. In Merrilsville George Lamson hired local women to pick his hops every year – Mrs. Henry Fadden wrote a poem about her hop-picking experience:

I went picking hops and though I worked with a will,
I had to go back with my box half filled.

To find my house in disorder, my dishes unwashed.
The children were sleepy, my husband was cross;

And because I didn’t get the supper before I swept the floor,
He kicked the poor dog and slammed the back door.

And said that if I would leaving picking hops alone,
He would give me a job of picking stone.

His advice was unheeded, I refused with disdain,
And resolved the next day to try it again.

Convinced if only I would do my best,
I could pick hops as fast as the rest.

But the weather was cold and I almost froze.
My fingers were numb and cold were my toes.

Thus for five long days I labored and toiled,
My work was neglected, my temper was spoiled.

And though you may think my experience funny,
I am resolved in the future to let the men earn the money.

The last reference I could find regarding the growing of hops in the Adirondack region was a 1949 notice of the arrival of “400 pounds of Bavarian beer hop roots” in Malone where “local growers hope to revive a once-flourishing New York industry.” Unfortunately, the importers were not mentioned by name, and how the experiement went was never revealed.

And who knew? Hops are good for you!

And while we’re at it:

Alan over at Gen X at 40, has our region on his mind – he’s looking forward to a trip to the Adirondacks, and at his Good Beer Blog, he has spotlighted Saratoga’s He’Brew 9 and declared his pick for Best Pub of 2005… drum roll please… is…..

Adirondack Pub & Brewery in Lake George

Have a great new year!


Suggested Reading

The Homebrewer’s Garden: How to Easily Grow, Prepare, and Use Your Own Hops, Malts, Brewing Herbs


Friday, December 23, 2005

Need Something Worth Saying?

We’re on record regarding the inadequacy of our region’s media, but today just seems weird. First we have Rick Brockway, the Oneonta Star’s Outdoors Columnist, who gave us a strangely rambling an incoherent rant on, well, we guess it’s something along the lines of build more roads into the Adirondacks to protect them.

Here’s a gem of nonsense:

The Adirondack back-country was put out of reach for the majority of the people. The APA closed the wilderness lakes and ponds to aircraft. Float planes were prohibited from landing, thus making the only access into those areas by foot. I still backpack into that great land, but so many others can’t.

Today, the old growth forests are rotting away and falling down, and most of the lakes are dead or dying from acid rain.

There is no push to reclaim these areas, primarily because so few people use the land and water. Their faint voices are never heard.

Out of reach of most people? Maybe this outdoor columnist hasn’t been paying attention. Otherwise he might recall one recent controversy in the region – the overwhelming numbers of large hiking and camping parties, some arriving by Canadian buses, that led to restrictions on group size in the back-country. Forget about his amazing assertion that “the old growth forests are rotting away and falling down” – ah… yeah… where is that exactly?

Then there is a classic from none other than George Farwell, chairman and education program director of the Iroquois Chapter of the Adirondack Mountain Club in Utica. It seems that he is concerned, forget about the whole lot of more important issues on the Adirondack table, that people using the backcountry are relying on rescue services far too frequently. Hey we might even agree, but for this:

These “incidents” (not really accidents, as “accident” infers circumstances beyond one’s control), have become more commonplace.

Ahhh… they have? By what standard Mr. Farewell? A simple search of local newspapers reveals that Adirondack history is loaded with search and rescue operations, when the Adirondacks was a more remote place it was a lot easier to get lost or hurt. There were a lot more people in the region in the 19th and 20th centuries. Today there are a lot more search and rescue organizations, it’s highly doubtful there are more people getting into trouble in the woods. They’re just more widely reported.

When a coasting (sledding) accident happened in Keeseville one Thursday night in 1902 “Wilfred Graves, aged twenty-three years was almost instantly killed, and his sister Miss Rachel Graves, and Miss Edith Bulley were crushed so that it is feared they cannot recover. Among the others hurt were: Harry Miles, broken leg; John King, arm broken; George La Duke, arm dislocated.” It was no wonder the newspaper carried the headline “Frightful Coasting Accident.” Getting the seriously injured to a hospital in a timely manner in 1902 was all but impossible – not so today from even the most remote areas.

Travel over the ice in the days of fewer bridges meant for more accidents. Albert Rand with his wife and three children were crossing Lake George on the ice in February 1860 when their horse and sleigh “suddenly went through a crack in the ice” just a short distance from the shore. They cried out in vain for help as Rand struggled to drag himself onto good ice and then saved his wife and one of his children – the other two were drowned.

J. M. Riford, a merchant from Moriah in Essex County loaded his wife and their two children into their sleigh and set out to visit his father across Lake Champlain in Warren, Vermont on January 11, 1884.The family had a good team of horses and was expected to make the trip over in one day – they never arrived and were never heard from again. “Their friends fear that they are at the bottom of Lake Champlain or frozen to death
under the snow in the Green Mountains,” the New York Times reported.

These are just a couple of stories that indicate the kind of dangers people faced in the region, that they simply don’t face anymore. A little bit of research would easily dispel the myth that somehow the Adirondack region is a more dangerous place today. A short visit to the remaining (and recently reborn) stands of Old Growth would put an end to the notion that our forests are “rotting away.” We’re not saying the Adirondacks are not dangerous, they are, always have been. A little research, that’s all we ask from our local media, a little research, a little investigation.

The bottom line these days seems to be, if your beat is supposed to be the Adirondacks, if you can’t find a ship run-aground, and you can’t be bothered with the real issues like backhandedly opening the region to ATVs, or running your town like an old boys club, then just make something up – rotting ancient forest, silly people in the woods, whatever you like.


Thursday, December 1, 2005

A Lake Champlain Invasive Turns Out To Be A Native

The Burlington Free Press (Vermont) is reporting that the dreaded Sea Lamprey is a species native to Lake Champlain, at the eastern edge of the Adirondacks:

A team of Michigan State University researchers has established that Lake Champlain lamprey are a genetically distinct population old enough to be defined as native. The eel-like fish probably swam up the St. Lawrence and Richelieu rivers from the Atlantic Ocean and became landlocked in Lake Champlain as long ago as 11,500 years, the researchers concluded.

And in other invasive species news, peak-bagger Ted Keizer (a.k.a. Cave Dog) is busy making a ridiculous sport out of wilderness experience. No doubt, he energies in this regard will encourage thousands more to further erode the trails in the High Peaks as they run through at top speed – thanks [a-hem] Cave Dog.

Finally today, one last item – the elimination of a non-native species that actually had a positive impact in the park and on the environment. The bus line Greyhound is eliminating its routes north from Syracuse and closes its stops in the North Country. Another regional public transportation system goes down. And speaking of going down, check out the Post Star’s special on the 1969 crash of a Mohawk Airlines regional flight on Pilot Knob near Lake George. And, if you haven’t seen our piece on Adirondack regional airlines, it’s here; our piece on that suspected airplane murder-sucide is here.


Sunday, October 2, 2005

Lake George Cruise Boat Ethan Allen Tragedy

Ethan AllenThe 40-foot tour boat Ethan Allen has capsized on Lake George. It happened at 3 pm; 49 passengers were on board.

Update: The Associated Press is reporting 20 were killed, making it the deadliest such tragedy in the history of Lake George and the Adirondack Region. We’ve been told that the emergency room at Glens Falls Hospital was overwhelmed and forced to send patients to Saratoga Hospital. The AlbanyEye is reporting on the reporting. » Continue Reading.


Friday, September 9, 2005

Boycott Nextel – Send Your Visitors to Climb Pilot Knob

The phone company Nextel has disregarded the spirit of the Adirondack Park by insisting, for their own profit only, that Lake George needs a cell tower that will be seen from the entire southern half of the lake.

We get lots of visitors here in our mountain paradise, but one ten year old we had just last week demonstrates how we got where we are and maybe where we’re going.

This ten-year-old, was complaining that she couldn’t get cell service while on vacation. Who did she need to call? Her friends. Did she have a good time at the lake? Well, no.

She cited the two things that tourists complain about the most – right after the question: What do you do in the winter? [Gee… duh… nothing… usually stay in bed and wait for spring to come and you louder-mouthed tourons and citidiots to get back]

The bugs are always a top annoyance for visitors who are so ensconced in their air-conditioned generic sterile vanilla McMansion homes in the south that they can’t even imagine that there are bugs outside, let alone that one might encounter a few.

The second annoyance is increasingly becoming the cell service. We’ve decided that when we suggest a hike for our cell phone packing tourists who ask next year – and few seem to actually bother to hike, most seem to be glad to stay in the house, pull down the shades and watch TV – but when they do, we’ll be sending them to Pilot Knob to see the really big pine.

And while we’re on the subject of immigration – those fascist Minutemen are headed our way in order to protect us from illegal immigrants. Too bad we can’t set up our own vigilante force at Warrensburg and keep them (and their neighbors) down where they belong.


Friday, August 12, 2005

James Kunstler Speaks… A Few Adirondackers Listen

A quick (and belated) report on James Kunstler‘s appearance at the Rock Hill Bakery Cafe in Glens Falls.

The house was full, the coffee flowed; after some technical difficulties with the cafe’s new video projection system Kunstler showed some great photos, many from the area, that clearly demonstrated one of his primary points: Developers need to stop “dishonoring the public realm” with poor design that makes places like strip malls, blank walls with sidewalks in front, etc., and start “showing generosity to the public realm.” As Kunstler put it: It’s not that Queensbury and places like it are “like everywhere else in America” – Tuscan villages are all alike and no one complains about them – it’s that everything in Queensbury and places like it is “uniformly crappy.” It’s hard to disagree with that.

Part of it is the Big Lie that we’re living. The next time someone tells us they live in Queensbury or some place like it, we’ll be asking why? Have you no sense of aesthetic? Do you enjoy living in a place you won’t even hang out in? Kunstler believes that because of a number of factors their suburban hell is on its way out – as he put it in the understatement of the night “we’re going to have to make other arrangements.”

About 70 people were in attendance including at least one Lake George area developer (he was sleepy and left early, a victim of intellectual laziness) and Glens Falls Post Star Maury “I’m a nice guy, I just have no spine” Thompson (example), who was recently heard arguing that it’s proper that the Post Star is hosting a mayoral “debate” with only the two most conservative candidates allowed to attend. Independent mayoral candidate Esmond Lyons was there with plenty of intelligent things to say about the local situation – apparently none of the other candidates thought the opportunity to hear one of America’s foremost and insightful writers on development, a man who lives in Saratoga Springs and was using specific local examples, was even worth spending a few minutes hearing out.

Thankfully, Adirondack Progressives is engaging the Warren County community in serious intellectual and exploratory dialogue. Word has it, that Matt, the owner of Rock Hill and an active member of the Green Party and Adirondack Progressives, is about to accept a position on the National Green Party Committee.

More as we know more…

Also:

baloghblog had this to say this week about Americans with their heads in the Sand regarding another of Kunstler’s main point – the peak oil situation and the coming emergency.

CNY ecoBlog explored the sell-off of Exxon-Mobil’s upstate NY properties and what it means for us.

Glens Falls blogger Brian, the (Fairly) Young Contrarian also reported on Kunstler this week.

And just as a reminder that they lie, we have:

Hundreds of Truckers Protesting Gas Prices

US Trade Deficit Nears New High As Oil Imports Surge


Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Adirondack and New York State Map Round-Up

Ever since Alan McLeod (host of A Good Beer Blog) turned us on to NYCO’s map of upstate bloggers, (and yeah, he likes maps too) and its recently inspired CNY ecoBlog’s local ecology news map, we’ve been wanting to do a really cool map round-up – so here goes:

If you don’t have Google Earth yet – you are missing out. Terra Server is great for a pay site that’s slow but provides nice printing capabilities, but Google Earth is just plain cool. The detail is amazing, just zoom in to Lake George and take a look at the sedimentation and you’ll see what we mean. Will this level of satellite photography and mapping eventually let us discover all those illegal camps and illicit dumps as well? We can only hope so – of course if we can see the world from space with a few clicks, can you imagine what big brother is doing?

It’s really something that Google Maps can give us a good idea of who dies first in a nuclear attack, but we’re more interested in the old stuff right? So here is:

And More Generally:

Yeah… maps are neat-o.



Suggested Reading

The Adirondack Atlas


Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Remembering Veterans

There’s always plenty of loud-mouths who demand respect for veterans. The question is, where are they when something actually needs to be done to show respect for people who have served American causes. Certainly not in Schuyler Falls where the grave of a veteran from one of America’s most important wars, the American Revolution, was recently [re]discovered. How long before the graves of Korean, Vietnam, Gulf and Iraq War veterans are forgotten – apparently not too long if a recent [re]discovery of a graveyard abandoned in the 1880s in Rutland County VT is any indicator.

A question for readers: From what other wars are their abandoned memorials in the region?

The grave of Ephraim Williams (who died at 42 at the Battle of Lake George on September 8, 1755) was only recently resurrected by a group of Williams College students. Williams left money in his will – made out just before he left for battle – to Williamstown for the establishment of a school, now Williams College.


Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Kill your car – before it kills you

When the next oil crises hits… our region will suffer. First, as we’ve discussed before at the Almanack – there’s the miles we have to drive. Then, there’s the complete lack of public transportation. The high percentage of income that Adirondackers spend on fuel. The failure of automakers to make fuel efficient and alternative fuel cars. Housing prices that are driving people farther out and into rural poverty. The list goes on.

But some people still don’t get it. Over in Middlebury Vermont blogger Greg Dennis wants to bypass town to make a ten minute crawl through town a five minute drive around town… apparently he’s never been to Warrensburg, Pottersville, Schroon Lake, or any of the other small Adirondack towns that have were destroyed in the 1960s with the completion of the Northway. So great, now you can get from Albany to Montreal in three hours… and you don’t have to see a single small town or local business along the way. Take the Wells House for example, if someone else hadn’t recently it would probably be rubble by now – the turn and intersection it’s on needs widening after all.

James Howard Kunstler stopped by the New York International Auto Show to see first hand what kind of fools are leading our most significant (in terms of impact) transportation issue – what we drive. The results were amazing and with the reactions he got, you’d think he was at an Adirondack pub, not one of the premiere auto shows in the country.

It’s kind of strange… oil and water both come out of a hole in the ground, and both are finite. Yet they’re only just now getting around to privatizing water. Here’s a strange phenomenon – one Leche Roja, drives to Lake George from Queens to learn about “biodiversity conservation and protecting people’s rights from threats to their livelihoods and environment by centralized systems of monoculture” in the Third World! If gas isn’t a “centralized system of monoculture” that is going to threaten “livelihoods and environment” of the Adirondacks… I’ll kill my car.

In related news:

Steve Balogh argues that Syracuse will be the place to be when the peak oil crisis happens.

The Post-Star fosters the big lie. Thanks to higher gas prices there will be higher tax revenues. They want to know what should “we” spend it on?

Even as they make commuting by train more miserable, Republican State Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno carries on a fantasy (or is it a lie) about high-speed rail.

It’s been said that there are forty roads that enter the Adirondack Park. So when the oil hits the fan they’ll be plenty of room for walking to walking trails. We’ll see you there.


Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Why bother?

The recent storms that washed nearly all access to Bolton Landing by road have brought into focus the failure of our local media. Sure, they told us who, what, and where, but failing to meet even the most basic level of journalism, they have simply avoided the why. TV8‘s Eye on Lake George is the only outlet to consistently ask the most important questions related to Lake George – what impact does the now excessive over-development, much of it upland from the lake, have on water quality. Of course Eye on Lake George is driven by advocates, not journalists. Today, News Channel 9 reports not on the source of the poisonous runoff into the lake – but that someone else is investigating it!

Hey, but don’t worry… if it bleeds… it leads – and fast.


Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Historic Crimes

Regular readers know that ADK Almanack likes history, especially since we’re doomed to repeat it. That’s why we simply can’t believe that the powers that be will allow the historic Adirondack Railroad to be ripped up for scrap by corporate killer NL Industries (NCPR Report). Actually, we can believe it. Just take a look around – everywhere there are historic sites destroyed for little profit (if any). On Schroon Lake in the 1970’s the State of New York simply burned down the historic Scaroon Manor, there’s nothing left of that great historic hotel except what remains of the abandoned beach.

Cemeteries really get our blood boiling, like the Old Burying Ground in Keeseville that has been abandoned and vandalized over the years – or the Dresden Station Cemetery on Route 22 in Washington County that has been so neglected and overgrown that while hacking through the brush on a recent visit we noticed a buried stone, completely buried, face down, and when we turned it up, we discovered it was the grave of a Revolutionary War Veteran – we wonder what the graves of Vietnam or Iraq War vets will look like when they become history. » Continue Reading.


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