The State of New York has announced plans to rebuild 78 miles of power transmission infrastructure in the North Country. The rebuilt transmission line, called the Moses-Adirondack Smart Path Reliability Project, is expected to help the state meet its clean energy standard mandating 50 percent of New York’s consumed electricity come from renewable energy sources by 2030 by providing better transmission through St. Lawrence and Lewis counties.
“Transmission projects like these can play a critical role in channeling power produced upstate – where increasing amounts of renewable energy is coming on line – to areas where it is needed downstate,” according to a press release issued by Governor Andrew Cuomo’s office. Construction is estimated to take four years and is slated to begin in 2019. » Continue Reading.
In early 1897, Neil and Stella Litchfield continued touring in the North Country, appearing at Canton, Chase Mills, Edwards, Lisbon Center, Oxbow, Massena, Morristown, Ogdensburg, Waddington, and other sites. For the next two years, they toured and performed while developing a new act for the future, a comedy sketch titled Down at Brook Farm. Ostensibly, it was loosely based on Brook Farm, a failed Utopian community founded in 1841 in Roxbury, Massachusetts.
The most popular characters Neil had portrayed during the past two decades — uneducated, pure-hearted rural folks — became the nucleus of the new act. Down at Brook Farm was inspired by the popularity of other plays and sketches with “uncle” characters in the title — usually Uncle Josh, at the time featured in shows as Uncle Josh Jenkins, Uncle Josh Simpkins, and Uncle Josh Weathersby. Neil himself gained great praise for portraying the lead role in Uncle Josh Spruceby, playing alongside Stella, who nabbed the second-leading role of Aunt Jerutha. Together they made the show a top hit while touring theaters and opera houses in New York City, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, and Kentucky. Sometimes they covered a venue for three consecutive nights, and at other times appeared in three or four different towns or cities during the same week. It was an exhausting schedule but provided great publicity, and allowed time to refine the rural characters for the new act. » Continue Reading.
By 1893, Neil Litchfield and his wife Hattie had resumed touring with other companies that billed Neil as “The Man of Many Faces.” After spending the year with the Vivian De Monto Company, they joined the Reno and Ford Company for the first half of 1894. In August they began touring the eastern and midwestern states with the Prima Donna Company, during which time Neil began to stand out noticeably from his fellow performers. Reviews in Ohio, New York, and Pennsylvania agreed with the Syracuse Evening Herald’s assessment that, despite great work by the show’s star, Eva Mecusker, “The most enjoyable thing of the evening was the recitation work of Neil Litchfield, whose ability as a comedian is large and could be employed more than it is with advantage.” A reporter for the Youngstown Daily Telegram wrote, “Neil Litchfield, as the ruralist, was the star of the show. His work was clever, and the reception he got was deserved.”
Late in the year, he performed with James B. Mackie’s company, The Side Show, and received rave reviews. As a budding star, he no longer needed to jump at the next offer, and instead began advertising his services to the highest bidder. In 1895, Litchfield announced his availability in major trade magazines and the entertainment sections of New York City newspapers. That summer, he toured coast to coast with Heywood’s Celebrities company, which provided ample opportunity to test new characters and refine other bits. A few months later, he joined another group, the Alhambra Vaudevilles. As reported in the New York Dramatic Mirror, “Carter, the magician, and Neil Litchfield, the character impersonator, are the leading people in the company.” » Continue Reading.
One of the most popular stars of vaudeville more than a century ago was a native of Lewis County who capitalized on peoples’ love of laughing at themselves. An eloquent speaker with perfect diction, he rose to fame portraying simple farm folks and other characters. It was humor based close to home, for he was born and raised in Turin, a township whose population today remains under 800. While traveling the United States, he returned frequently to visit friends and family, while also performing in the North Country.
He was known to all as Neil Litchfield, but some sleuthing was necessary initially to uncover his story, for he at times went by the names Allen and Cornelius (the latter of which “Neil” was extracted from). They all proved to be one and the same person — Cornelius Allen Litchfield.
He was born in April 1855, educated in Lewis County schools, and attended Cornell University in Ithaca, about 100 miles south of his hometown. College opened up a world of possibilities, and it was there that Neil discovered and developed a deep interest in elocution, defined as “the skill of clear and expressive speech, especially of distinct pronunciation and articulation.” This became his passion, and during his college years, particularly as a junior and senior, he conducted numerous public readings in northern and central New York. » Continue Reading.
New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Forest Rangers respond to search and rescue incidents in the Adirondacks. Working with other state agencies, local emergency response organizations and volunteer search and rescue groups, Forest Rangers locate and extract lost, injured or distressed people from the Adirondack backcountry.
What follows is a report, prepared by DEC, of recent missions carried out by Forest Rangers in the Adirondacks. » Continue Reading.
In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, three generations of the Crego family worked as wilderness guides in the Western Adirondacks. Along the way, they raised families, worked for prominent employers, adapted to new forms of transportation, and helped lay the groundwork for the conservation movement in New York State. » Continue Reading.
New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has announced that the final Westward Waters Unit Management Plan (UMP) outlining the improved recreational access and the management of 13 state forests, seven parcels of detached Forest Preserve, eight Fishing Access Sites, and two Fisherman Parking Areas in Lewis County has been issued.
The Westward Waters Unit Management Area includes a Demonstration Area at the Lowville Office, the Otter Creek Horse Trail Complex, Lake Bonaparte and Eatonville campsites, and several fishing access sites, including Crystal Creek, Burdick’s Crossing, Castorland, Beeches Bridge, Lowville, Glenfield, Denley Dam, and Deer River. » Continue Reading.
The small town of Turin in Lewis County has some interesting historical connections to the Civil War. Among them is native son Selden Clobridge, who was born in January 1846 in the hamlet of Houseville. In official records, his enlistment age is 21, which means he would have joined the army in 1867, two years after the war ended. It’s no surprise that he’s among the thousands who lied about their age in order to join the fight.
When he joined the army in summer 1862, Selden was actually just 16 years old. For perspective, consider yourself at age 16. What were you doing? Perhaps chasing boyfriends or girlfriends, goofing around a lot, and maybe beginning to consider your future after leaving high school in a couple of years.
At age 18, a time typically characterized by major life decisions — getting a job, going to college, joining the military — Selden was already a hardened veteran whose active army career had been ended by enemy fire. After two years of long marches, terrible living conditions, and dozens of battles where friends and compatriots were killed by his side, he was a survivor of war’s horrors—not completely intact, but a survivor nonetheless. » Continue Reading.
Long ago, in the Lewis County town of Denmark – just a few miles south of Fort Drum, coincidentally – lived a family famous for its drumming skills. The Clarks’ unusual abilities began with the father, Orrin Clark, who served five years as a militia drummer.
Among his many children were sons George (born in 1844), John (1853), and Hiram (1856). Less than three weeks after his seventeenth birthday, George enlisted in the army, joining an infantry regiment. Displaying a musical talent similar to his father’s, he served as a drummer (the official military rank was Musician) for the next three and a half years. » Continue Reading.
The New York State Public Service Commission has approved the addition of a new area code overlaying the 315 area code region, which includes all or parts of Fulton, Hamilton, Herkimer, Jefferson, Lewis, St. Lawrence and 12 other New York counties.
The new area code, 680, will affect new phone numbers – all existing telephone users in the region will be able to keep their current phone numbers, including the 315 area code. » Continue Reading.
Two hundred years ago this week, Napoléon Bonaparte was defeated at the Battle of Waterloo. With the collapse of his army, Bonaparte abdicated and made his way to the French port of Rochefort where he was met by his oldest brother, Joseph Bonaparte.
At Rochefort Joseph had dinner with Jacques-Donatien Le Ray de Chaumont (known in America as James LeRay de Chaumont, founder of the Town of LeRay, NY), who had been in Paris promoting his land development scheme in the Adirondacks. » Continue Reading.
The snows are gone and mud season has begun on the Otter Creek Horse Trails. Those hearty folks that stay North for the winter have been enjoying snowshoeing, cross country skiing, and even trekking with Alpacas, and now look forward to another season on the trails.
The Otter Creek Horse Trail system is located just outside Lowville on the Independence River Wild Forest, and the Independence River and Otter Creek State Forests along the western border of the Adirondack Park in Lewis County.
In April 1900, the 24-piece Brasher Falls Military Band was organized, with Benny Rolfe as leader. He also served as manager of the Rolfe family business. Life was looking pretty good for the Boy Trumpet Wonder of Brasher Falls.
Within a month, he received an offer of $30 a week ($860 in 2014) to lead the famous military band of Lowville, about 100 miles southwest of Brasher Falls. For the time being, Benny remained in his hometown, performing locally, playing solos in appearances with area town and city bands, and perfecting the laundry business.
But in early January 1901, it was announced that Benny had purchased the Lowville Steam Laundry, and would soon become the leader of Lowville’s popular band. What’s more, his father, mother, and Nellie Morse were all accompanying him and would be welcome additions to the band. After moving some laundry equipment to Lowville, Benny sold the Brasher Falls business and completed the move in April, becoming the most famous bandleader in Lewis County at the grand old age of 21. » Continue Reading.
Local government leaders in Lewis and St. Lawrence counties have tried for years to rapidly expand the use of public roads and public lands for All Terrain Vehicle (ATV) recreational use. This has been controversial and has resulted in a series of legal challenges. The most recent action was in the Town of Colton, where the Town just announced it plans to withdraw its local ATV law passed in August after a legal challenge by affected property owners was filed.
For more than a decade in the western Adirondacks and Tug Hill, local residents have repeatedly gone to court to stop aggressive local and county governments from illegally opening public roads to ATV riding. These same local governments also seek access to nearby Forest Preserve, state forests and conservation easement lands for ATV use. Three ATV law related lawsuits are currently pending in Lewis County. » Continue Reading.
The colors of the fallen foliage and the rustling the leaves under foot heighten the enjoyment of fall trail riding on horseback. Among the most popular riding areas is the Otter Creek Horse Trails located just outside Lowville on the Independence River Wild Forest, and the Independence River and Otter Creek State Forests along the western border of the Adirondack Park in Lewis County.
Mary Misek, a regular rider and volunteer, wrote the Almanack recently to remind riders of a few dates users of the Otter Creek area will want to be aware of. The water will be shut off at the Assembly Area, located in the Independence River State Forest, around the 15th of October. Additionally, early bow hunting begins September 27th, followed by the Youth Firearms Season (Oct. 12), and Muzzleloading season (Oct. 19), meaning beginning this week riders are likely to encounter hunters in the woods. » Continue Reading.
The Adirondack Almanack's contributors include veteran local writers, historians, naturalists, and outdoor enthusiasts from around the Adirondack region. The Almanack is the online news journal of Adirondack Explorer. Both are nonprofits supported by contributors, readers, and advertisers, and devoted to exploring, protecting, and unifying the Adirondack Park.
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