As Almanack contributor Alan Wechsler reported yesterday, the big rain we had on Monday has wrecked havoc on Adirondack winter recreation. Alan noted that ice climbing, backcountry skiing, and local ski resorts were particularly hard hit (West Mountain just south of the Blue Line was forced to close), and to those we should add snowmobiling, as many trails around the region are all but impassable. Even the Saranac Lake Winter Carnival felt the pain, when rain seriously damaged this year’s Ice Palace necessitating builders to almost start from scratch. Over the past two days the region’s nearly 30,000 miles of streams, brooks, and rivers have gathered volume and strength. In Washington County the Mettawee and Hoosic Rivers have flooded their banks, and the Batten Kill is near flood stage. The Hudson and Schroon Rivers are running very high and the Boquet has topped it’s banks, but the most serious flooding has occurred in the Franklin County community of Fort Covington where flooding along the Salmon River has threatened a number of buildings and required evacuations.
Those interested in accessing information about what is happening to streams in your local area as a result of the heavy rain can access the U.S. Geological Survey’s (USGS) streamgage network, which operates a nationwide system of about 7,000 streamgauges that monitor water level and flow. Streamgages transmit real-time information, which the National Weather Service uses to issue local flood warnings, and which paddlers in the know can use to estimate conditions. Some streamgauges have been operational since the early 1900s; the gauge just upstream from the Route 22 bridge over the Boquet, for instance, has been recording since 1923.
Thanks to two new digitization initiatives there are now much larger collections of books online about the Adirondacks. The full text and images of some 140,000 books in the public domain, most published before 1923, are now available at the Internet Archive. The books come from the collections of the Library of Congress and Cornell University – many with Adirondack connections. The newly available books from Cornell cover a variety of subject areas, from American history, literature, astronomy, food and wine, engineering, science history, home economics, travel and tourism, labor relations, Native American studies, ornithology, veterinary medicine and women’s studies.
The Library of Congress collection covers the period from 1865–1922 and include many difficult to obtain works, including hard-to-find Civil War regimental histories. The oldest work from the Library of Congress is from 1707 and covers the trial of two Presbyterian ministers in New York, but many of the works relate to the Adirondack region.
Photo: Rusisseaumont Hotel, Lake Placid, c. 1900 from “The eastern slope of the Adirondacks. its mountains, lakes & springs” . The hotel was built in 1892 by the Lake Placid Improvement Company. It was destroyed by fire on July 2, 1909 and never rebuilt.
There’s a new blog from the Franklin County Historical & Museum Society. Executive Director Anne Werley Smallman has been making regular posts on county history and the collections of the society, which was founded in 1903 and is located in Malone. I asked Ms. Werley Smallman a few questions about the society and the new online presence: AA: Could you tell me about yourself? How did you come to be the Executive Director of the Society?
AWS: Although I did not do most of my growing up in the North Country, I did graduate from Franklin Academy in Malone and subsequently married a Malone boy. We lived ‘away’ for a goodly while, but have been back for a little over five years now. I’m a museum professional by training and by wont, and have been the Executive Director of the Franklin County Historical Society since we returned. In fact, the position was one of the many catalysts for our return to the North Country. My husband and I are building a log home by hand, which makes us feel very superior – and poor.
AA: What is the Franklin County Historical and Museum Society all about?
AWS: The Society was initially founded in 1903, and was reinvigorated in the 1960s. It is housed in the 1864 House of History museum in Malone, with a recently renovated carriage house behind that which is now the Schryer Center for Historical & Genealogical Research.
The collections are comprehensive and specific to Franklin County history and we are bursting at the seams with everything from silver tea service to dental equipment to wooden water pipes. We attempt to collect equally from all parts of the county, but there was an unfortunate collecting bias toward the northern end for many years, most especially on Malone, and that is reflected in our overall collection. We have an annual (print) historical journal The Franklin Historical Review that has been published since 1964.
Fourth graders from all over Franklin County have been visiting the House of History for Museum Day tours and hands-on activities (like spinning and candle-dipping) for over 35 years. We currently have one half-time staff member (me) and a strong corps of volunteers (50+). The museum and Schryer center are open Tuesday and Thursday 1-4pm (and by appointment). The Society is funded by a combination of membership dues, federal and state grants, county funding, and private donations.
AA: What is your plan for the Society’s blog? How does it fit with your mission?
AWS: The blog attempts to mitigate our lack of extensive open hours and exhibit space and to provide a platform to showcase the collections of the Society by taking advantage of technology. I view the blog as a sort of ‘virtual exhibit’ — a way for the public to be able to peek into the historic collections of the museum and take away some Franklin County History in manageable bites. The collections are extensive and many wonderful items will likely not be put on exhibit soon; through the blog I hope to give access to the public to these items, at least virtually and in small measure.
Photo: The Franklin County Historical and Museum Society’s House of History, 51 Milwaukee Street, Malone.
Searching for a map of Beaver River yesterday I noticed that the raggedy roundish green shape that usually defines the Adirondack Park on Google maps had been reduced to a wedge over the Northwest Flow.
The Web site TechCrunch.com explains that Google has been incorporating user input to provide more detailed information, particularly about parks, bodies of water, roads, even bike trails. And there’s a “Report a Problem” link. At least one TechCrunch commenter has already reported the Adirondack Park shrinkage. Image: Screen capture from Google maps this morning. Adirondack Almanack added the Blue Line for context
The Adirondack Museum has launched a new online exhibit, “Common Threads: 150 Year of Adirondack Quilts and Comforters” that will share quilts and Adirondack quilting history. The online exhibit includes quilts, text, and historic photographs and is a companion piece to a special exhibition, also named “Common Threads” that will open to the public at the Blue Mountain Lake museum on May 22, 2009. The exhibit will include more than forty quilts: historic pieces from the Adirondack Museum’s textile collection, as well as contemporary quilts, comforters, and pieced wall hangings on loan from quilters in communities throughout the region. Demonstrations of handwork will accompany the exhibit throughout the summer. According to an Adirondack Museum announcement:
The Adirondack region has supported an active pieced-textile tradition for over a century and a half. From bedcovers, plain or fancy, meant to keep families warm through long Adirondack winters, to stunning art quilts of the twenty-first century, the quilts and comforters of the North Country mirror national trends and also tell a unique story of life in the mountains. “Common Threads: 150 Years of Adirondack Quilts and Comforters” explores the themes of women’s work, domestic life, social networks in a rural area, generational continuity among women, and women’s artistic response to life in the Adirondacks.
“Common Threads” will include a family-friendly discovery area where kids can explore pattern and design, try simple stitching on child-sized quilt frames, or enjoy illustrated quilt-themed children’s books. The Adirondack Museum has also developed a special “Toddler Tour” of the quilt exhibit “that will lead the smallest visitors on a fun (and fast) search for color, shapes, and animals among the quilts on display.”
Museum Curator Hallie Bond will offer an illustrated Monday Evening Lecture on July, 27, 2009 entitled “Common Threads – Adirondack Quilts Tell Their Stories.” The program will begin at 7:30 p.m. and will be held in the Auditorium.
The Adirondack Fabric and Fiber Arts Festival will be held on September 12, 2009. A celebration of traditional and contemporary fiber arts, the Festival will include demonstrations, a juried artisan’s market, and hands-on activities. In addition, folksinger, song writer Peggy Lynn will offer a special musical presentation, “A Stitch in Time: Songs Celebrating the Art and Heritage of Quilting.”
The Library of Congress has launched the beta version of a new online searchable newspaper collection, Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers, in beta at http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/. The site currently contains newspapers from 1880 to 1910 (more are coming) plus a directory for newspapers published in the United States since 1690 (a look there turns up over 11,000 New York newspapers). Results from Essex County include 85 newspapers once published there. Research Buzz has all the tips on searching, but suffice it to say that along with the Brooklyn Daily Eagle online, Northern New York Library Network’s vast online collection of Northern New York newspapers, and the Digital Librarian’s Adirondack History Links, online Adirondack research just got a whole lot better. The Library of Congress site includes papers that have heretofore been unavailable for free. These include New York City / National papers The Evening World, Horace Greeley’s The New York Tribune, and the The Sun, plus other major dailies from across the nation.
The collection includes reports from Adirondack travelers, social notes from local resorts, and hundreds of advertisements like the one above by the Delaware & Hudson Railroad from 1908. Genealogists are going to find a lot of great stuff here, as well as political historians, and folks interested in the creation of the Adirondack Park, the 1903 and 1908 fires, and a lot more like a long report on the 1900 New York Sportsman Show, including the Adirondack Guide exhibit photo shown here.
Take a look at Adirondack Almanack’s Adirondack History Search Tools more more online sources of local history. All of our stories about history can be found here, and those interested in New York History should take a look at my “other project,” New York History.
The Adirondack North Country Association (ANCA) will launch the a new website for the Adirondack North Country Region Scenic Byways program and release the 2008 Scenic Byways Visitors Survey. Both will be formally presented to the public on June 4, 2009 at the Adirondack Museum. The Adirondacks includes 13 designated scenic byways.
During the program, ANCA will introduce what they are calling a “state-of-the-art website that will increase state, national, and international exposure for the 45 towns along the Adirondack Trail, Central Adirondack Trail and Olympic Scenic Byways.” ANCA will also present the results of a comprehensive visitor survey (based on face-to-face interviews) conducted in 2008. “Comprehensive trip planning information about the area, including community features about arts, history and cultural resources, services, the natural environment, outdoor recreation, and special events will be featured,” the ANCA said in a letter to supporters. “The site will serve as a companion resource to Chamber and tourism websites and will profile Byway communities by promoting the unique experiences and quality of life sought after by leisure travelers.”
Those who would like to attend the June 4th program should complete and return the Reservation Form [doc] by mail, e-mail or fax. There will be a $10.00 registration fee to cover the cost of lunch. At the close of the program, guests will have the option to tour the museum at their leisure and ANCA’s Board will host a director’s meeting.
Murderers, slaves and the future of the weekly newspaper. What could these ideas possibly have in common? They were all topics of articles published in St. Lawrence County within a 30-year time span. The Hammond Advertiser and the Madrid Herald are the latest additions to the Northern New York Historical Newspapers website. The Hammond paper has a run from 1886-1947, and the Madrid paper runs from 1904-1918. These two newspapers join over 40 others with a total of more than 1,366,000 pages on the NNY Historical Newspapers site. There are over 14 newspapers from St. Lawrence County. The site is provided free of charge to the public by the Northern New York Library Network (NNYLN) in Potsdam.
The June 16, 1904 edition of the Madrid Herald had the following notices under its “News of the Week” section:
“Tyson Taken to Auburn – James Tyson, the boy murderer, was taken from Lockport to Auburn State Prison to begin serving a term of twenty years for manslaughter. He was in charge of Under Sheriff Spaulding. Tyson stabbed Joseph Callahan, a waiter, in the Falls View Hotel, on the morning of February 10.”
It also reported, “Old Slave Dies – Henrietta Moore, colored, aged 103 years, died at Binghamton. She was born in slavery in Maryland, but escaped and served as a nurse for the Northern troops during the Civil War.”
A story in the June 15, 1939 edition of the Hammond Advertiser noted the following:
“WEEKLY PAPERS GAIN – The idea that weekly newspapers are on the way out is entirely wrong, according to Professor Bristow Adams of Cornell, who points to figures in the current issue of Ayers’ Newspaper Directory. About 20 years ago there was some pessimism about the future of the country weekly, he says, and much was written about the competition of the daily papers, the difficulty of getting national advertising for small newspapers, and similar drawbacks to success in the weekly field. Time has proved, he says, that the well managed, thoughtfully edited weekly is more of a rival to the daily than the daily is to the weekly, largely because the weekly can and does print strongly localized personal news which the daily paper is unable to get.”
The NNY Library Network is currently working on additional years of the Adirondack Daily Enterprise, Saranac Lake; and the Press-Republican, Plattsburgh.
The New York State Library has been digitizing significant parts of its extensive collection, and some of the new online records pertain to our own Adirondack region.
We noted last August the availability of orderly books of Captain Amos Hitchcock’s Connecticut provincial companies during the French and Indian War. Now the library has a new blog, and it reported yesterday that staff are in the process of digitizing the Reports and Surveys of the Adirondack Mountains compiled by Verplanck Colvin. When they are done, the collection will include 17 books and hundreds of rare 19th century Adirondack maps and plates, like the one above of Lower Saranac Lake and its environs in Townships 21 and 24 (Macomb’s Purchase). It will be an outstanding collection of local maps. When it’s finally online we’ll let you know and add it to our Adirondack Map Round-Up.
On Nov. 1, 1933, Mrs. Bruce Reid recorded seeing both a male and female ivory-billed woodpecker in Texas. And on May 28, 1938, Oscar McKinley Bryans observed a ruby-throated hummingbird in Michigan, noting that the birds were most common when apple trees were blooming.
These are just two of more than 6 million personal observations scribbled and preserved on notecards in government files. The cards record more than a century of information about bird migration, a veritable treasure trove for climate-change researchers because they will help them unravel the effects of climate change on bird behavior, according to Jessica Zelt, coordinator of the North American Bird Phenology Program at the USGS.
That is — once the cards are transcribed and put into a scientific database. And that’s where citizens across the country come in – the program needs help from birders and others across the nation to transcribe those cards into usable scientific information.
“These cards, once transcribed, will provide over 90 years of data, an unprecedented amount of information describing bird distributions, migration timing, and migration pathways and how they are changing,” said Zelt. “There is no other program that has the same historical depth of information that can help us understand the effect that global climate change has on bird populations across the country. When combined with current information, scientists will better understand how birds are responding to climate change and how to develop tools to help manage that change, especially for at-risk species.”
The millions of hand-scribbled cards sit in row upon row of federal green filing cabinets of ancient vintage in a modest and fittingly old office dating from before WWII. The cards contain almost all of what was known of bird distribution and natural history from the Second World War back to the later part of the 19th century, said USGS senior scientist Chan Robbins, who kept track of the cards’ whereabouts in attics and basements during the intervening years.
“When I go through the files, it is just amazing some of the stories that are recorded there,” said Jessica Zelt, who is an avid birder herself. “For example, one of our online participants recently wrote to tell me she had transcribed a migration card on purple martins by American ornithologist Margaret Morse Nice from 1926. It is exciting to see people today being linked to a piece of birding history.”
Participants recorded their name, locality and year, along with arrival and departure dates, date of abundance, and whether it was a species common in that area. Personal observations on the cards often caught the enthusiastic joy of a birder sighting a rare bird.
The collection, said Zelt, includes information on about 900 species, including some sightings of rare, extinct, or nearly extinct birds, such as the giant albatross, ivory-billed woodpecker and Carolina parakeet, birds whose very names make the hearts of avid birders go pitter-patter.
The BPP is joining efforts with the USA National Phenology Network, which has just kicked off a national program to recruit citizen scientists and professional researchers to monitor plant and animal life cycles, or phenology. The two efforts will complement each other flawlessly, with the BPP combining its expertise on historical bird data with the USA-NPN’s ongoing work to document changes in flowering, fruiting, migrations, reproduction, hibernation, and other plant and animal phenological events.
The BPP was started in 1880 by Wells W. Cooke, who wanted to broaden knowledge and understanding of migration. Eventually, famed scientist C. Hart Merriam expanded the volunteer network to include the entire United States, Canada and part of the West Indies. By the late 1880s the program had 3000 volunteers. Although the program was actively maintained by the federal government, in 1970 the program closed, until it re-opened again last year.
This program relies heavily on the participation of citizen scientists, said Zelt. It currently houses 6 million cards, which need to be scanned onto the website and then converted, solely by volunteers, into a database. Birders who want to concentrate on one particular group of birds can select that group or even a particular species.
To date, volunteers have scanned about 184,000 cards on hooded orioles, barred owls, spotted owls, scarlet tanagers, American redstarts, rose-breasted grosbeak and many other species. That leaves about 5,816,000 cards to go.
If you’d like to volunteer, visit the website. Remember that you can follow current sightings by Northern New York birders here.
More and more consumers are looking for local foods. Community leaders are increasingly supportive of developing farmers markets and other venues for regional farmers to sell their products locally. A new website developed by the North Country Regional Foods Initiative – www.nnyregionallocalfoods.org – provides information on how to find regional foods and resources to help communities support and expand local food marketplaces.
The new website includes links to online tools designed to connect producers and consumers, research-based publications about North Country local foods, a calendar of local food events, and links to ongoing local foods work in the North Country. Publications on the new website range from how to find money to strengthen local food systems and guides to increase the consumption of local farm products to cookbooks, advice on how to serve local foods at events, and economic analysis of farmers’ markets and other community-based food systems.
The site also includes the North Country Regional Foods Initiative’s series of research briefs, fact sheets and recommendations intended for other farmers, food business owners/operators, consumers, policymakers and community & economic developers working to enhance and sustain agriculture in Northern New York.
The report includes social and economic impact data generated by local/regional foods operations and the Northern New York-based organizations that support them and a summary of the spring 2008 conference on the role of Adirondack North Country foods in community and economic development.
The initiative was developed through a partnership of the Cornell Cooperative Extension Associations of Clinton, Essex, Franklin, Hamilton, Jefferson, Lewis and St. Lawrence counties and the Economic Development Administration University Center at CaRDI and designed to document how local food businesses and activities benefit the northern New York region and identify strategies for enhancing those benefits.
According to CaRDI’s Ag Economic Development Specialist, Duncan Hilchey, consumer surveys, in particular the Empire State Poll conducted by the Cornell University Survey Research Institute in 2007, show that 78.5% of the New York State residents age 18 and older buy local foods and 37.4% of that group said they go out of their way to buy local food.
Partnerships between producers, consumers, community and economic developers and local officials can serve as a model for bringing community members together to support other regional development efforts. Those interested in learning about and supporting local food activities in the North Country may now join a regional electronic network.
To activate entry into the [email protected] listserv, send an email to [email protected] with “Add me to the NNY Local/Regional Foods List” in the Subject line. More information on local and regional food initiatives is available from members of the Northern New York Regional Agriculture Program Direct Marketing/Local Foods team and the Community and Rural Development Institute (CaRDI):
Franklin County: Bernadette Logozar, (518) 483-7403, bel7[AT]cornell.edu
Clinton County: Anne Barlow-Lennox, (518) 561-7450, alb326[AT]cornell.edu
Adirondack Harvest – a community organization focused on expanding markets for local farm products so consumers have more choices of fresh farm products and on assisting farmers to increase sustainable production to meet the expanding markets; www.adirondackharvest.com
Adirondack North Country Association – a 14-county association committed to economic improvement. Since incorporation in 1954, ANCA has worked to create a greater sense of regional identity and pride through advocacy and promotion; www.adirondack.org/
Community and Rural Development Institute (CARDI) – Since 1990, the Institute at Cornell University has responded to current and emerging needs in community and rural development; works with Cornell faculty and staff, Cornell Cooperative Extension, and other state and regional institutions; http://devsoc.cals.cornell.edu/outreach/cardi/
Cornell Farm to School Program – provides resource development, educational programs, and evaluation to support efforts to increase the amount of locally produced food served in NY’s schools, colleges, universities & other institutions; http://farmtoschool.cce.cornell.edu/
Farmers’ Market Federation of New York – a grassroots membership organization of farmers’ market managers, market sponsors, farmers and market supporters, offering services to increase the number and capacity of farmers’ markets in NY, develop the scope of professionalism in farmers’ market management and improve the ability of markets to serve their farmers, their consumers and their host communities; www.nyfarmersmarket.com/
FoodRoutes – a project of FoodRoutes Network, a national nonprofit organization that provides communications tools, technical support, networking and information resources to organizations nationwide that are working to rebuild local, community-based food systems; www.foodroutes.org
GardenShare – a non-profit organization working to end hunger in northern NY; focuses on local foods; harvest sharing; farm-to-school; food security; home gardening; and public policy; publishes free quarterly newsletter and St. Lawrence County Local Food Guide; and operates the EBT terminal for Food Stamp Program participants at the Canton Farmers Market; www.gardenshare.org
MarketMaker – interactive mapping system locates businesses and markets of agricultural products in NY, providing an important link between producers and consumers; http://nymarketmaker.cornell.edu/
Pride of NY Member Search – The New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets Pride of NY Program promotes and supports the sale of agricultural products grown and food products processed within New York State; http://www.prideofny.com/
USDA Community Food Systems – A Nutrition Assistance Program through USDA, contains general resources and information from farm to table and links to specific topics such as eating in a community food system; food entrepreneurship; and, community food systems research; http://fnicsearch.nal.usda.gov/fnicsearch.
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