Last fall a rusted old military bayonet was unearthed on private property just east of Loon Lake in Warren County. It was taken to David Starbuck, a noted local historical and industrial archeologist who has written extensively on Fort William Henry on Lake George.
Coincidentally, on that day Jesse Zuccaro, a student who has focused his studies on early bayonets, happened to be visiting Starbuck. Together they inspected this new find. After careful examination they concluded it was French in design and probably dated between 1728 and the 1740s. Twenty thousand of these bayonets were made and sent to New France prior to the American Revolution. » Continue Reading.
William Seward Webb’s company began building the Adirondack & St. Lawrence Railroad in the spring of 1891. A year later, the line had not been completed when Webb made a promise to President Benjamin Harrison he was not sure he could fulfill. He promised the President and First Lady, Caroline Scott Harrison, they could ride his train to the Loon Lake House so she could spend the summer there to recover her health.
Near the end of Harrison’s term in 1892, Caroline’s tubercular condition worsened. The Harrisons and her physician considered a stay for her in the North Woods in a desperate move to improve her prospects. They contacted Ferd Chase of the Loon Lake House who offered a cottage for the summer. Learning this, Webb offered his assistance since Caroline’s condition limited her ability to withstand stage travel. He promised a ride by rail for most of the distance but Mrs. Harrison’s condition would determine the timing of the trip. » Continue Reading.
In the summer of 1892, the wife of President Benjamin Harrison, Caroline Scott Harrison, became extremely ill. She primarily suffered from tuberculosis, but experienced complications from pleurisy and the accumulation of fluid in her chest. Medical treatment of T. B. at the time mainly amounted to having the patient rest. For this reason, it was felt that a stay in the Adirondacks offered the best chance for restoring the First Lady’s health.
Early in July, the journey from Washington, D.C. to Loon Lake was undertaken, via a special train. The Troy Daily Times dutifully reported on the train’s progress. It arrived in Troy in the wee hours of the morning on July 7, then proceeded to White Creek, Rutland, Vermont, Rouse’s Point, and Malone, reaching the latter place at 10:30 am. There, a crowd that included some local officials met the two-car train, but the President asked that they refrain from cheering, so as not to disturb his sick wife. » Continue Reading.
Mid to late September in the Adirondacks is marked by hints of bright autumn colors, a lack of biting bugs, the reappearance of the grayish-brown coat of dense winter fur on the white-tail deer, and the greatly increased chance of seeing a moose. Although moose are massive in size and might appear to be easy to spot, these giants of the Great Northwoods mostly confine their activities to densely wooded areas in which visibility is low and human travel is severely limited. Additionally, moose prefer to forage during periods of twilight, when their chocolate-brown coat causes them to blend into a dark background.
Around the time of the autumn equinox, moose experience an awakening reproductive urge. This powerful drive often causes individuals to abandon the setting in which they routinely forage and begin to seek out members of the opposite sex. While these long-legged beasts are known to travel a dozen miles or more during a single morning or evening when on the search for food, moose periodically wander much further in the weeks between Labor Day and Columbus Day as they try to locate breeding partners. » Continue Reading.
Yet another gem was unearthed while mining the Adirondacks for the 46 best bars and taverns. Located at the backwater of Loon Lake near the intersection of routes 8 and 9 in Chestertown, O.P. Frederick’s Restaurant and Tavern is a year-round destination highly worthy of a visit. Much of their clientele are seasonal residents of Loon Lake, snowmobilers, and skiers from Gore Mountain, but many locals enjoy the tavern in the off-peak seasons as well. Noting the (working) phone booth as we entered the tavern on a wintry Saturday afternoon, we were greeted by the warmth of the ancient and ornate parlor stove in the corner. Though the portly cast iron stove was grand in scale, the heat was significant yet never overwhelming. The lighting and the music that played in the background were equally subtle.
Preliminary digging at O.P. Frederick’s website promised an assortment of martinis and Pam already knew she was going to try the apple, ordering immediately as Kim reviewed the beer menu. Barely able to contain her anticipation, Pam pondered whether her martini would be a green apple martini or a sweet, apple-pie-like martini. As expected, it was sour green apple in a Jolly Rancher flavor and color. She launched into the verbal design of an apple pie martini as she sipped.
Kim, equally enthused with the beer selection, decided on Brooklyn Brewery’s black chocolate stout, a Russian imperial stout, rich, dark and aromatic, revealing new and subtle flavors with each swig. In addition, Lake Placid Ubu Ale and LaBatt Blue are always available on tap, along with a rotating pair of regional beers – two Magic Hat seasonals at the moment – and Blue Moon. Among the 15 bottled beers listed, Kim discovered Franziskaner Weissbier, assorted domestics, and Beck’s dark. Though not the motherlode, the beer choices are appealing and well selected. Drink prices are a little on the high end for the area, and O.P. Frederick’s does not have a Happy Hour.
We introduced ourselves to the friendly and easygoing bartender, Leana, and soon launched into a barrage of fact-finding questions. Leana has been at O.P. Frederick’s for eight years. We soon discovered that our paths had crossed years before at the former Colonial Arms in Warrensburg. We briefly reminisced about mutual acquaintances from those early days in our drinking careers as Leana tended to other patrons and the wait staff.
Though the tavern at O.P. Frederick’s has an official capacity of 40 persons, the bar itself seats eight. Three pub tables along the wall can accommodate nine more and a wall bar toward the back has seating for four. Two TVs are strategically located for watching whatever big game may be on. A modest deck out back offers picnic table seating in warmer months, overlooking the backwater edge of Loon Lake. Plaid tablecloths adorn the dining tables, with matching valances on the windows. A pair of snowshoes, mounted fish and game trophies and wildlife prints grace the pine walls, but we were more captivated by old black-and-white photographs and the nostalgic 1950’s era framed Winchester Rifle posters depicting a winter scene with a rabbit and another of a deer in flight.
O.P. Frederick’s is a restaurant and tavern and also offers accommodations at the adjacent Alp Horn Motel featuring five units. The complex has been owned by Robert and Vivian Frederick for the past 20 years, but the location has plenty of history as the Loon Lake Colony before that. We had an opportunity to meet Bob Frederick (wearing cargo shorts on this January day) during our visit and found him to be a very gracious host, proud of his establishment and eager to share history and memorabilia.
The dinner menu includes appetizers (smoked trout and duck burritos among them) from $5.99 to $9.95. Entrees from seafood and steaks to sandwiches and pasta range from $6.95 for a basic burger to $24.95 for surf and turf. Dinner and drink specials such as early bird and $5.00 burgers are featured throughout the week, and coupons can be retrieved and printed from their website. Show your Gore Mountain ski pass and get 10% off your meal. The tavern and restaurant open at 4 p.m. with dinner served until 9 p.m.
The bar closes between 11 p.m. and 1 a.m. depending on the season. O.P. Frederick’s is closed on Mondays all year. They are known to close for a few weeks or the whole month of December and again in April.
O.P. Frederick’s is a warm, congenial place with affable and welcoming patrons. Whether prospecting for food, drink, or both, you’ll find a vein of hometown friendliness, good food and a variety of liquid refreshment.
Kim and Pam Ladd’s book, Happy Hour in the High Peaks, is currently in the research stage. Together they visit pubs, bars and taverns with the goal of selecting the top 46 bars in the Adirondack Park. They regularly report their findings here at the Almanack and at their own blog, or follow them on Facebook, and ADK46barfly on Twitter.
Northern New York history buffs will enjoy the upcoming discussion of the history of Loon Lake in Franklin County, on Friday September 3 at 6:30 pm. The presentation and discussion of Loon Lake history, especially the era of the famous Loon Lake House hotel and resort, will feature Joseph LeMay, who is writing a book on the subject. Admission is free and the public is encouraged to attend. Members of the greater Loon Lake community are invited to share their memories and photographs and participate in the discussion, which will be held at the Schryer Center at the Franklin County Historical & Museum Society, 51 Milwaukee St., Malone. The House of History museum is housed in an 1864 Italianate style building, most recently the home of the F. Roy and Elizabeth Crooks Kirk family. A museum since 1973, the House of History is home to the headquarters of the Franklin County Historical & Museum Society and its historic collections pertaining to the history of Franklin County. The recently renovated carriage house behind the museum is the beautiful Schryer Center for Historical & Genealogical Research, which opened in 2006. The Schryer Center contains archival materials and a library of family history information and is open to the public. FCHMS is supported by its members and donors and the generous support of Franklin County.
The House of History is open for tours on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 1-4pm through December 31, 2010; admission is $5/adults, $3/seniors, $2/children, and free for members. The Schryer Center for Historical & Genealogical Reseach is open for research Tuesday-Friday from 1-4pm through October 8, 2010 and Wednesday-Friday from 1-4pm October 13-May 1, weather permitting. The fee to use the research library is $10/day and free to members.
Information about Franklin County History, the collections of the museum and links to interesting historical information can be found on the Society’s blog.
Contact the Historical Society with questions at 518-483-2750 or [email protected]
Photo: Loon Lake Hotel Staff, ca. 1896. From the collection of the Franklin County Historical & Museum Society.
Adirondack Architectural Heritage has announced awards for six local property owners and partnerships for “sensitive restoration, rehabilitation and long-term stewardship.” Unfortunately, their website does not include the most recent winners. From what we’ve gathered from the Press Republican, they are:
Bob Reiss and Doug Waterbury for stewardship of Santa’s Workshop, founded in 1949 in Wilmington.
Fred Schneider, Web Parker, and Chris Covert of Renaissance Development for restoration of the circa 1906 Stark Hardware Building in Saranac Lake.
Robert Mayket, Tim Maloney, Todd Kemp, and Brian Boyer for a sensitive restoration of the Twin Pines boathouse on Loon Lake (circa early 1900s).
Adirondack Architectural Heritage (AARCH) is the nonprofit historic preservation organization for New York State’s Adirondack Park. AARCH was formed in 1990 with a mission to promote better public understanding, appreciation and stewardship of the Adirondack’s unique and diverse architectural heritage. This legacy includes not only the nationally recognized “Great Camps” and other rustic buildings but also the many other structures that embody the whole range of human experience in the region. These other structures include: a wide variety of homes and farmsteads; the churches, commercial buildings, town halls and libraries that make up most Adirondack settlements; bridges, railroad buildings, lighthouses and other transportation related structures; and industrial sites related to the region’s important iron, wood, quarrying and tanning industries.