On July 8, 1874, The Lowville JournalandRepublican ran an article about a party of six men who trekked to Twitchell Lake in Big Moose, NY, for a nine-day stay. They came by horse and buggy up the Number Four Road through Watson Township from some town to the west.
After a brief stay at the Fenton House in the hamlet of Number Four and an overnight at Wardwell’s on Beaver River’s Stillwater, they crossed Twitchell Creek and tramped a mile south off the Carthage to Lake Champlain Road to Wood’s Lake: » 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.
Our connection to Lowville featured a road so desolate that the disappearance of electrical service was noted for a brief period. As homes began to reappear on the 13-mile stretch of Moose River Road, we arrived at Turin. » 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.
Among the foreign issues America has dealt with many times is hostage taking. Kidnappers claimed many reasons for the action, but it was frequently done to extort money in support of a cause. Extortion kidnappings have often involved seizing of American missionaries and threatening to kill them unless ransom was paid. More than a hundred years ago, there occurred what is referred to as “America’s First Modern Hostage Crisis,” which is actually the subtitle of a 2003 book by Pulitzer Prize-winning author Teresa Carpenter.
The Miss Stone Affair is the title, referring to Protestant missionary Ellen Maria Stone. A North Country man was a key player in her story, which riveted the nation for half a year.
Charles Monroe Dickinson was born in November 1842 in Lowville, New York (Lewis County). After high school, he worked for several winters as a schoolteacher at Haverstraw-on-Hudson, about 20 miles south of West Point. The money earned helped further his education at Fairfield Seminary and Lowville Academy. During this time, Charles also explored writing, particularly poetry. At the age of 19 he produced a poem, “The Children,” that constitutes his second great claim to fame. More on that later. » Continue Reading.
At the stockholders and directors meetings of the Old Forge Company held in December, 1900 at Little Falls were Dr. Alexander Crosby, Judson J. Gilbert, Homer P. Snyder and Eugene Arthur, representing 90% of the Company’s shares. Snyder was elected vice-president and Nelson R. Gilbert was continued as treasurer, a position held since 1896.
For the first time since its founding, the Company elected a new president, Dr. Alexander Crosby, replacing Samuel Garmon, and a new secretary, Eugene A. Arthur, replacing Hadley Jones. Eugene Arthur was appointed to handle land contracts for a salary plus expenses. According to Charles Snyder, “the members of these companies have gotten into a row among themselves and that only one or two of them are financially capable of seeing things through.” » Continue Reading.
Horseback trail riders are gearing-up for another season exploring the Otter Creek Horse Trails located just outside Lowville (DEC Region 6) on both the Independence River Wild Forest Unit of the Adirondack Forest Preserve and on the Independence River and Otter Creek State Forests on the western border of the Adirondack Park in Lewis County. A group of volunteers are working to distribute maps of the area, and the water will be turned on at the Assembly Area, located in the Independence River State Forest, on May 15th according to DEC. The water is shut off the day after Columbus Day.
Visitors to the area should plan ahead to acquire a map to the more than 65 miles of trails. Two maps are currently available. A pdf version of the DEC’s map can be downloaded and printed at the DEC website. A more comprehensive color map is also available from the Lewis County Chamber of Commerce (and at the local businesses listed below). That tri-fold map includes the trail colors and names, and also shows bridges, stream crossings, water accesses, picnic areas, and tie rails as well. For emergencies, the map has GPS locations and helicopter landing zones. » Continue Reading.
Cornell Cooperative Extension (CCE) of Lewis County in conjunction with Mother Earth News is responding to the increasing numbers of people inquiring about raising backyard poultry, beef, and other livestock, food preservation, energy alternatives for homes and farms, and back-to-the-land management skills with a new educational event. A Homesteading Fair will be presented at the Maple Ridge Center in Lowville, NY, September 8 and 9, 2012.
The two-day event will offer more than 90 educational workshops, held rain or shine, under large tents, in a large, approved, kitchen and former barns, and on the expansive lawn at the Maple Ridge Center. Livestock shearing and wool spinning are among the many planned demonstrations. » Continue Reading.
Unlike eagles, hawks, and others, pigeons are an Adirondack bird surrounded by neither lore nor legend. Yet for more than a century, they were players in a remarkable system of interaction between strangers, birds, and their owners. Others were tied to noted historical events, and a few were undisputed participants in major criminal activity.
The bird referred to here is the homing pigeon. According to the Atlas of Breeding Birds in New York State, the Rock Dove is “commonly known as the domestic or homing pigeon,” and is a non-native, having been introduced from Europe in the early 1600s. They are often mistakenly called carrier pigeons, and the confusion is understandable. There are carrier pigeons, and there are pigeons that carry things, but they’re not the same bird. Homing pigeon are the ones used to carry messages and for pigeon racing.
Racing them has proven very popular. Regionally, there is the Schenectady Homing Pigeon Club (more than 60 years old), which in the 1930s competed with the Albany Flying Club and the Amsterdam Pigeon Club.
The existence of those clubs, the carrying of messages, and other related activities are all based on a long-studied phenomenon that is still debated: how the heck do homing pigeons do what they do? Basically, if taken to a faraway location and released, they usually return to their home, and in a fairly straight line.
Flocks have been released and tracked by airplanes, and transmitters have been attached to the birds, confirming their direct routes. They use a variety of navigation methods, the most important and least understood of which involves the earth’s magnetic orientation.
In recent decades, Cornell University’s famed ornithology unit summarized their findings after extreme testing: “Homing pigeons can return from distant, unfamiliar release points.” And what did these scientists do to challenge the birds’ abilities? Plenty.
According to the study, “Older pigeons were transported to the release site inside sealed metal containers, supplied with bottled air, anesthetized, and placed on rotating turntables, all of which should make it hard for them to keep track of their outward journey.” The birds still homed effectively.
This unusual ability has been enjoyed and exploited for centuries. In 1898, in order to keep up with European military powers, the US Navy established the Homing Pigeon Service. One use was ship-to-shore communication in any conditions—when pigeons sent aboard the ship were released with a message attached, they flew directly back to their home loft.
Their use during World Wars I and II is legendary, and many were decorated with medals. In 1918, pigeon racing was temporarily banned in the United States to ensure that all birds were available for the use of the military.
In peacetime, homing pigeons were treated with near-universal respect and were weekly visitors to the North Country. Whenever one with a metal band or a message tube attached to it was found, standard protocol was followed by all citizens. The birds were immediately given water and food. If they appeared injured, the information from the leg band was given to local police, who tried to contact the owner.
Caring for the birds, whether ill or healthy, was automatic, and it continued until the journey was resumed. For more than 130 years, Adirondack weekly newspaper columns mentioned the landing of homing pigeons (but usually called them carrier pigeons). If a bird somehow appeared to be off course, the leg band information might appear in a short article or in an advertisement.
That informal system was widely used and religiously followed. To further protect the birds (and the system itself) and to confirm their importance, New York State’s Forest, Fish, and Game Commission made it law: “No person shall take or interfere with any… homing pigeon if it have the name of its owner stamped upon its wing or tail, or wear a ring or seamless leg band with its registered number stamped thereon, or have any other distinguishing mark.”
“Homers” were often used for races from 100 to 500 miles. They didn’t always alight where the owner intended, usually due to stormy weather. Many of the birds that landed in the North Country came from Montreal, where their use for racing and message carrying was common.
In 1912, one Canadian visitor settled inside the walls of Clinton Prison at Dannemora. The warden dutifully cared for the bird and attempted to contact its owner.
In 1898, little Miss Gertrude Hough of Lowville received a letter by US Mail from the Los Angeles post office. It had arrived in LA attached to a pigeon that had been released by Gertrude’s father from Catalina Island, more than 20 miles offshore.
And in 1936, a homing pigeon landed on the window sill of a Malone home, where it was treated to the proper care. Well beyond the norm, the bird’s journey had begun in Montana.
Invariably, efficient systems like bank accounts, credit cards, the internet, and homing pigeons are usurped for other purposes. In recent years, pigeons have been used by ingenious crooks to smuggle drugs from Colombia and diamonds from African mines.
In both cases, the North Country was light-years ahead of them. In 1881, an elaborate case of diamond smuggling from Canada into St. Lawrence County was uncovered. A Rensselaer Falls farmer brought to customs authorities a dead “carrier pigeon” with part of a turkey feather, filled with diamonds, attached to the bird’s leg.
During the investigation, two more diamond-carrying birds were shot. It was discovered that baskets of birds were being mailed to locations in Canada, and other flocks were located south of the border, awaiting duty. Shipments of pigeons had originated at DeKalb Junction, Heuvelton, Rensselaer Falls, and Richville, and the value of diamonds successfully smuggled was estimated at $800,000 (equal to about $17 million today).
During Prohibition, both booze and drug smuggling were rampant. In 1930, US officials were tipped off that a number of homing pigeons were routinely being shipped north into Quebec. Upon release, they crossed back into northern New York.
Authorities at Ogdensburg were put on the case when it was found that each pigeon bore a payload of about one ounce of cocaine. At times it was literally a fly-by-night operation—some of the birds had been trained to fly under cover of darkness.
Homing pigeons also played a role in regional historical events. In 1920, a military balloon launched from Rockaway Point in New York City sailed across the Adirondacks. Last sighted above Wells in Hamilton County, it then vanished. Extended high-profile searches turned up nothing, and three men aboard the balloon were lost.
Such missions routinely carried homing pigeons for air-to-ground communication. It was believed that an injured pigeon (broken leg) found on a Parishville (St. Lawrence County) farm had been launched from the balloon, and that its message had been lost during the accident that broke the bird’s leg. It was suspected that the balloon had finally gone down over Lake Ontario.
One of the most famous kidnapping cases in American history occurred in 1932 when the Lindbergh baby disappeared. When the body was found, nearly every newspaper in the land covered the story the next day with multiple articles.
Among the first stories was one emanating from Lowville, New York, where a homing pigeon had landed at the home of Arthur Jones. The bird’s leg had a non-traditional attachment—a piece of twine holding a paper tag bearing the inscription, “William Allen, New Jersey.” It was William Allen of New Jersey who found the Lindbergh child’s corpse.
Lead investigator Colonel H. Norman Schwarzkopf (Stormin’ Norman’s father) followed up on the information and then issued a statement: “Reports from Lowville show that no registry tag was found on the carrier pigeon. This practically precludes the possibility of further tracing the pigeon unless the owner of the same voluntarily reports its absence.”
In June, 1936, before more than two dozen reporters and celebrities, former World Heavyweight Champion Jack Dempsey and his wife released a homing pigeon from the tower of the Empire State Building at 11:20 am. Less than five hours later it arrived at Scaroon Manor on Schroon Lake, bearing the first honeymoon reservation of the season.
It wasn’t for Dempsey’s honeymoon—it was just a publicity stunt to keep his name active in the media, and certainly raised the manor’s profile as well.
Photo Top: Homing pigeon with message in tube.
Photo Middle: WW I military troops in trench, sending messages by pigeon.
Photo Bottom: Winged members of the military.
Lawrence Gooley has authored nine books and many articles on the North Country’s past. He and his partner, Jill McKee, founded Bloated Toe Enterprises in 2004. He took over in 2010 and began expanding the company’s publishing services. For information on book publishing, visit Bloated Toe Publishing.
Research has taken me to more cemeteries than I can remember. Surrounded by hundreds of gravestones, I frequently remind myself that every person has a story. What often impresses me is that many people who are largely forgotten actually made a real difference in other people’s lives. Uncovering those stories from the past is humbling, carrying with it the realization that I’ll probably never approach the good works done by others.
Sometimes those good works seem to escape notice, and that was the sense that engulfed me as I read the obituary of Erwin Eugene Lanpher of Lowville. It reminded me of George Bailey from It’s A Wonderful Life, a regular guy who, as it turned out, was darn important to a lot of people. » Continue Reading.
This week you can check out some bluegrass, Beartracks and the Gibson Brothers are gigging. Mecca Bodega is a fun band to dance to – I really enjoyed them the last time the passed through the area. There’s also a good open mic to remember in Canton and if you didn’t get the chance Armida is being shown once again in Lake Placid. I’m also curious about the JUNO award winner playing in Lowville. Please let me know if you find out anything about the bands where there is no information to be found online. Thursday, May 6th:
In Canton, Open Mic at the Blackbird Cafe with host Geoff Hayton. Sign up is at 6:30 and show starts at 7, it runs until 9 pm. Best performances are picked to be part of a CD released later this year. For more information email: [email protected] .
In Plattsburgh, Beartracks, which consists of Junior Barber, Tom Venne and Julie Venne Hogan will perform at the Universalist Unitarian Fellowship of Plattsburgh. The doors open at 7 pm and admission is $10. For more information, email:[email protected] .
Friday, May 7th:
In Ellenburg, the Gibson Brothers are in concert at The Northern Adirondack HIgh School. Doors open at 6 pm. For more information email:[email protected] or call (518) 497-6962.
Then on Saturday, I think the Natalia Zuckerman and Andy Friedman concert looks like a very good bet. They both have strong guitar and vocal styles. I’m also intrigued by Gordon Stone‘s banjo playing – having checked some of it out on line – his music is complex and can get really exciting. If one is feeling ambitious it should be possible to catch both of those shows, missing only an hour of one.
Another thing I’ve noticed while looking around the Park schedules this week, are the number of orchestras giving performances, surely an indication of the warmer weather to come. Thursday, April 22nd:
In Saranac Lake, Open Minded Mic Night at BluSeed Studios. Sign up at 7 and starts at 7:30pm. There is a $3 cover. Fantastic audience and fantastic talent.
In Saranac Lake, “An Evening of Operetta and Broadway” will be presented by the High Peaks Opera Studio. This concert will be held at Saranac Village at Will Rogers at 7:30 pm. A donation of $5 is suggested. Call Debbie Kanze at (518) 901 – 7117 for more information.
In Saranac Lake, a new Chamber Musical “At Saranac” will be performed for the first time by Phil Greenland and Tyler Nye. The show starts at 8 pm in the John Black Room of the Saranac Laboratory and a $5 donation is suggested. For more information, call (518) 891 – 4585.
In Lake Placid, a Open Mic will be held from 8 – 10 pm at the Cabin of The Northwoods Inn. Special guests are poets; Paul Pines and Theo Hummer. For more information call (518) 523 – 1312.
In Lake Placid, David Knopfler at LPCA. Concert starts at 8 pm and tickets are $16. Call (518) 891 – 2512 for reservations.
In Queensbury, Coffee House & Open Mic will be held at the UU’s Church on 21 Weeks Road. a $4 donation includes fruit, desserts, tea and coffee.
In Lowville, The Black River Valley Concert Series presents “Zen Is For Primates”. Doors open at 7:45 and the concert starts at 8 pm and will be held at the Lewis County Historical Society. For more information email; [email protected] .
Sunday, April 25th:
In Long Lake, the 19th Annual Spring Blossom Fiddle Jam starts back up at noon. The event is held at the Long Lake Town Hall.
In Lake George, a benefit “Spring Fling” will be held at the Adirondack Pub & Brewery. Tickets are $20, for more information call (518) 668 -2616.
In Canton, The Best of The Classics: String Orchestra will be held at the Gunnison Chapel from 2 – 3:30 pm. Free admission.
Tug Hill, the 2,100-square-mile uplift west of the Adirondack Park, gets so much snow that camps are said to have entryways on the second floor in case the first floor gets snowed in. Tug Hill gets so much snow that driving through can be like traveling into a snow globe while skies remain clear north and south of the bubble. Tug Hill gets so much snow that plow drivers “plant” ten-foot-tall saplings every fall so they can see where the side of the road is.
And last week was planting time throughout Lewis County, when the “whips,” as the young limb-stripped hardwoods are called, were spaced along windswept roadsides. » Continue Reading.
It appears that most towns in the Adirondacks like throwing Fall Festivals. Makes sense given how lovely trees look in all their colorful glory—the weather is usually pretty cooperative too. That said, I was still surprised to find out how many are on this weekend. Music and food—can’t beat that combination as far as I’m concerned.
It all starts today with the last Art Walk of the season in Saranac Lake, starting at 4:30 pm. Galleries will be open late. There will be music and artists on the street. The Stoneman Blues Band will be playing on The Waterhole patio from 6 pm until no one wants to hear ’em anymore—in other words, until quite late. With two very interesting guitarists, strong vocals and a solid rhythm section I find it hard to stay seated when they have the stage. On Saturday there will be a Pig Roast, Apple Festival and Concert in Willsboro. What more could one want? It will be held at the 1812 Homestead Farm and Museum I don’t eat pig and I don’t even know anything about the concert but it still sounds like a good time. Try calling Jack Swan at 963-4071 for more information.
Inlet is having their annual Fall Festival. Saturday 10 am – 5 pm and Sunday from 10 am to 3 pm. It takes place in Fern Park and features crafts, food, with music provided by Dave Ruch and Fritz’s Polka Band. Any band with lyrics like “Grab my accordion and stretch it out” obviously knows how to party.
In Lake George from 1 to 6 pm on both Saturday and Sunday; Jazz At The Lake will be under way. With three groups a day I’m sure jazz fans will be satisfied. It’s going to be held at Shepherd Park and admission is free.
Also on Saturday the 19th in Saranac Lake, the popular Jamie Notarthomas returns. He starts at 7pm. He’s a one-man band with large repertoire of originals and covers. This also happens to be the last patio show of the season at the Waterhole, which pretty much guarantees a rockin’ party.
A quick mention goes out to Lowville – holding their Cream Cheese Festival on Saturday from 11 am – 6 pm. There will be live music all day and the “World’s Largest Cheesecake”! I checked out some tunes from the Bad Weather Blues Band, who play at 2:30 pm. Their lead singer, nicknamed “Hop”, is quite good and they sound super tight in their recordings.
On a sad note: The Ten Dollar Radio Show has been cancelled. Their blog will continue for now but this is truly a blow for our local listeners and even a few in NYC and LA. They weren’t even given a chance to have one last show. I don’t get it and will write more on this upsetting turn of events later. At least, for now, we have the archives.
Two soldiers from Lowville have been killed while serving in Iraq. Seamus Davey, 25, and Kelly Cannan, 21. Two more lives lost, two more families damaged. The son’s and daughters of the rich and powerful are avoiding the military like the plague and Iraqi veterans are suffering from plagues of their own.
Some facts from the last Gulf War according to the Department of Veterans Affairs (as of March 1, 2001): 696,661 U.S. troops served in the Gulf War between August 2, 1990 and July 31, 1991 — these are considered “Gulf War Conflict” veterans by the VA
Of the 696,628, 504,047 are separated from service and eligible for benefits through the VA
As of December 1999, more than 263,000 sought medical care at the VA
Of the 504,047 eligible veterans, 185,780 (36%) filed claims against the VA for service-related medical disabilities
Of the 171,878 VA claims actually processed, 149,094 (80%) were approved in part (note — most claims are made up of multiple issues, if any one issue is granted, VA considers it approved)
Of the 504,047 eligible for VA benefits, 149,094 (29%) are now considered disabled by the VA eleven since the start of the Gulf War; and
Another 13,902 claims against the VA still pending.
More than 9,600 Gulf War veterans have died.
Conflict veterans are 51% more likely to have their claims denied than “theater” veterans (those who served in the Gulf since August 1, 1991)