Ever wonder how one of the hundreds of lakes and ponds in the Adirondack Mountains got its name? Around Brown’s Tract, there are lakes named from nature such as Loon, Beaver, Trout, Gull, Bear, and Moose. There are also a dozen or more lakes named for noted guides or people who lived in or frequented the area during the Sporting Era (1860 to 1890), including Mosier, Francis, Hitchcock, Beach, Tuttle, Thayer, Smith, Salmon, and Wood.
An Adirondack historian who knew some of the nineteenth century Beaver River and Fulton Chain guides, Joseph F. Grady, reported in his 1933 history of the Fulton Chain and Big Moose region that Twitchell Lake “derives its name from Charles Twitchell, an amateur sportsman of Lewis County, who frequented its shores in the mid-century period [the mid-1800s].”
The Twitchell Lake History Committee is working on documenting the story of Twitchell Lake in Big Moose, NY, and how it was named, with an account of the individual camps, hotels, and highlights down through the years. Twitchell Lake is 5 to 6 miles south of the old Champlain Road, now under the Stillwater Reservoir.
For over 12 years the Conables have hosted a social event at their camp on Twitchell Lake with a poetry competition, the winner receiving honors as “Poet Laureate of Twitchell Lake.” » Continue Reading.
According to a DEC press release, on February 22, ECOs Tim Worden and Zach Brown assisted the Lewis County Sheriff’s Department with a complaint about two young men shooting at road signs. » Continue Reading.
The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has announced they are seeking public input on the draft St. Lawrence Rock Ridge Unit Management Plan (UMP).
Located just outside the Adirondack Park, the 21,542-acre St. Lawrence Rock Ridge planning unit consists of fifteen (15) state forests, and nine (9) detached forest preserve parcels and is in a broad area of southwestern St. Lawrence County and northeastern Lewis County. » Continue Reading.
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.
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