On Route 28 between Indian Lake and Blue Mountain Lake there is a sign about a half mile south of the junction with Route 28N in Blue Mountain Lake that marks the divide between the St. Lawrence River and Hudson River watersheds. The waters of Blue Mountain Lake flow through the Eckford Chain into Raquette Lake, north through Long Lake and the Raquette River eventually reaching the St. Lawrence Seaway. The waters of Durant Lake, only a half-mile from Blue, eventually flow into the Hudson River.
If Farrand Benedict had been successful with his grand plans for the Adirondacks from Lake Champlain to Lake Ontario, the waters of Blue, Raquette and Long lakes would today also flow to the Hudson River. » Continue Reading.
In an Almanack post last October I described the project and outlined some of the expected functionality of the new site, including what I described as “a strong mapping component, rather than the menu/catalog driven approach used by most Adirondack recreation sites.” The opportunities afforded by modern online search and mapping technologies presented an incredible chance to build a truly useful, fun-to-use, map-based virtual gateway to the Adirondacks.
Nature Conservancy field technicians this winter are doing wildlife detective work in New York’s Southern Lake Champlain Valley. This in-between zone characterized by farms and forests and crisscrossed with roads may provide a vital “land bridge” for bobcats and other critters to travel to and from large forest blocks in the Adirondacks and Vermont.
Outdoor guide and writer Elizabeth Lee, of Westport, and University of Vermont graduate student Gus Goodwin are working with the Conservancy’s Alissa Rafferty, who is based in Keene Valley. They are collecting records of animal activity that would be impossible to witness in real time. Good old-fashioned tracking skills—finding animal prints left in the snow, measuring their size, assessing the critter’s gait, and piecing together other clues—help them determine if a print belongs to a bobcat or a coyote, a fisher or a fox, a moose or a deer. They also use trail cameras to supplement these records, helping to confirm animal identification, and snapping photos 24/7 no matter the snow conditions. » Continue Reading.
A group of Adirondack Region organizations are partnering to develop an inventory of recreational opportunities in the Adirondack Park to be made available as a web portal and travel app. The new webpage and app is expected to launch at the peak of ski season in early 2014.
The Adirondack Association of Towns and Villages (AATV), in partnership with the Capital Region’s Center for Economic Growth, the Mohawk Valley’s Central Adirondack Partnership for the 21st Century (CAP-21), and the Adirondack Regional Tourism Council (ARTC) are currently working to compile an inventory of tourism amenities and opportunities available in the Adirondack Park that will form the basis of the new website and app. » Continue Reading.
I’ve often heard people say that there’s either too much or not enough public land in the Adirondacks. I thought I’d crunch some numbers and let readers explore the data for themselves:
I put together a map visualization that shows the relative proportion of public land, trails and lean-to’s around the interior hamlets of the park. The land classification figures are probably very accurate, as they are derived from the Adirondack Park Agency’s Land Classification and Land Use map. If you notice some strange numbers for biking and horse trails its because these trail types have not been as diligently classified in the DEC trails database as hiking and snowmobile trails.
I have to confess, I love Google Maps, and not just because I’m a map guy. Google Maps is my “go-to” when exploring unfamiliar territory. There’s a reason why Google Maps is the most popular smartphone app. Forget browser searches—it is far more efficient to just type in what you’re looking for into Google Maps, and presto- you have a nice interactive map showing the nearest examples complete with links and (mostly) accurate directions, not only for driving, but also bicycling, public transit and even walking.
However, you may have noticed that the usefulness of Google Maps declines as you get into the Adirondack Park. » Continue Reading.
Adirondack historians routinely state that Rhode Island merchant John Brown obtained clear title to a 210,000 acre tract of land when he paid $33,000 at a Court of Chancery mortgage foreclosure sale in December 1798. However, this transaction was not recorded in the Lewis County Clerk’s Office until February 22, 1804, more than five years later and five months after Brown’s death.
Two days later on February 24, the Assembly enacted Chapter 6, Laws of 1804 which affirmed that the Brown estate’s title to the tract could not be extinguished in any way “by reason or pretext of the alienism of any person to whom the said lands may have been conveyed” or “ by any conveyance prior to“ Brown’s 1798 payment.
John Brown’s anxiety over his title and his efforts to obtain this legislation while he was developing the tract at significant expense are evidence that his title was not perfected until 1804, the same year that two of his legal advisers fought a deadly duel. » Continue Reading.
Many famous works of literature have Adirondack links, some of them surprising. The Adirondack Center for Writing has created an Adirondack Literary Map that shows where these passages are all set. The map includes everything from a Nancy Drew novel set in Lake Placid and “The Spy Who Loved Me” in Glens Falls to classics like “The Sweet Hereafter,” celebrating the intersection of writing and place within the Park.
When Sylvia Plath broke her leg skiing at Mount Pisgah in Saranac Lake, she sent this telegram home to her family: “BRINGING FABULOUS FRACTURED FIBULA NO PAIN JUST TRICKY TO MANIPULATE WHILST CHARLESTONING.” Whether this was before or after she wrote scenes of “The Bell Jar” from the Adirondacks is up for debate. » Continue Reading.
The artist Sheri Amsel has created a beautiful map of the Champlain Valley with illustrations of the region’s wildlife and habitats. It also shows the region’s many hiking trails. I suppose a hiker could fold it and put it in a backpack, but I’ll bet more people will frame it and put in on their wall.
Amsel, a resident of the town of Essex, made the map to draw attention to the natural history and beauty of the valley. “I think the Champlain Valley is an untapped resource,” she said.
The 24-by-37-inch map shows roads, hiking trails, lakes, wetlands, peaks, boat launches, fishing-access spots, and state campgrounds in the Champlain region between Ticonderoga and Willsboro Point. The map differentiates between dirt and paved roads. The trails are numbered and cross-referenced in a table that names the trails and gives the hiking distances. Although the map can be used for planning trips, for serious hikes, you should pack a topographical map. » Continue Reading.
Dave Cilley’s waterproof “Adirondack Paddler’s Map” has been a big hit since he first published it in 2004. It covers a lot of territory, which is both its virtue and its vice.
I consulted the map often while researching my guidebook Adirondack Paddling: 60 Great Flatwater Adventures. The amount of detail is impressive: it shows the locations of lean-tos, campsites, trails, and put-ins and identifies just about every peak, pond, island, and stream that would be of interest to paddlers. » 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.
Today I bring to a close my long series on surveying. In doing so I have the pleasure of returning to Lost Brook Tract and its abiding magic.
As I described four weeks ago, in 1812 Judge John Richards determined the northern boundary line of Lost Brook Tract as part of his survey of the Old Military Tract, when it and all its surroundings were unexplored wilderness. Here’s the romantic part for me: history shows definitively that after Richards’ survey no one else mapped or explored any part of the tract for another hundred and thirty-six years. That’s all the way until 1948. » Continue Reading.
The Raquette River, from Raquette Falls to the State Boat Launch on Tupper Lake, is one of the nicest stretches of flat-water anywhere in the Adirondacks. Paddling this river corridor under a clear cerulean blue sky, on a sunny autumn day with the riverbanks ablaze in orange and red, is exquisite. For me, though, the river’s history is as captivating as its natural beauty.
Countless people have traveled this section of river over the centuries. There were native peoples who hunted, fished, and trapped, the hinterlands of Long Lake and further into the Raquette Lake area, long before whites appeared on the Adirondack Plateau. There were the early farmers and families wanting to start a new livelihood. There were the guides and their wealthy “sports”, (and later the families of these sports) desiring adventure and recreation. There were people seeking better health and relief from the despair and disease of the cities. There were merchants, hotelkeepers, charwomen, day labors, ax-men, river drivers, and a host of others. There were the famous, the not so famous, and the down-and-out.
All of these people, and many others, used the Raquette ( Racket or Racquette ) River as a transportation highway. The number of footfalls on the carries at and around Raquette Falls is limited only to the imagination. In his book Adirondack Canoe Waters: North Flow, Paul Jamieson refers to the nearby Indian Carry, at Corey’s separating the Raquette River system from the Sacanac River system, as the “Times Square of the woods.” ( Note: In the Adirondacks one “carries” around rapids and waterfalls, one does not “portage.” ) » Continue Reading.
Last week we left Charles C. Brodhead in Indian Pass, he having arrived almost fifty years prior to David Henderson’s well-documented venture. As he chained through the pass Brodhead was slightly less than halfway through a survey of the line marking the boundary between the Totten and Crossfield Purchase, the Old Military Tract and the Macomb Purchase, the third and largest of the three great early Adirondack Tracts.
We have not previously encountered the Macomb Purchase and we will only touch upon it now. The Macomb purchase lay to the west of the Military Tract and its southern boundary was supposed to be the northern boundary of Totten Crossfield. But as we have seen there was no completed northern boundary for Totten Crossfield, thus the extent of the Macomb Purchase could not be properly calculated. It was Brodhead’s job to rectify that and to connect to Archibald Campbell’s unfinished line. As we will see, as astonishing as his High Peaks survey was, in the end he failed in this task. » Continue Reading.
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