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.
When it comes to sheer number of routes one can take through the Adirondacks, rock climbing has got to have more opportunities than any other outdoor sport. Any guide that hopes to cover every single one is going to be a tome, and coming in at more than 670 pages, the newest edition of the seminal Adirondack climbing guide, Adirondack Rock, meets that description.
Adirondack Rock includes 242 cliff areas, many of which have never before been documented, and nearly 2,000 routes and variations. The guide’s authors, Jim Lawyer and Jeremy Hass, spent years visiting new and seldom visited climbs around the Adirondacks. Among the regions they turned their focus to was the Lake George basin, long neglected by regional climbing guides. » Continue Reading.
After the Gold Cup races of 1914, the Ankle Deep was loaded onto a horse-drawn farm wagon and taken up the road to a corner of Count Casimir Mankowski’s estate on Northwest Bay – a humiliating end for a splendid boat, but then again, she had just suffered a humiliating defeat.
On the final day of the races, her propeller shaft had snapped. Mankowski let go of the wheel, and was sent overboard, right in front of the Sagamore. Her rival, the Baby Speed Demon II owned by Paula Brackton of New York City, went on to establish a world’s record. The Count, apparently, was too depressed to even remove the boat from the wagon. “Just leave the wagon where it is,” he told the drover. “Send me a bill for it.” And that, more or less, was the end of both the Ankle Deep and Count Mankowski himself. The Ankle Deep caught fire and burned in a race held later that summer in Buffalo. The Count left Bolton Landing and never returned.
Nevertheless, the Gold Cup races of 1914 were a critical moment in the history of boating on Lake George. Gasoline powered boats had come to Lake George only a few years earlier. Competitive motorboating began in 1906, when the Lake George Regatta sponsored a race between boats owned by LeGrand C.Cramer, W.K.Bixby and Herman Broesel. Flat bottomed, sloping gradually toward the stern, the boats traveled at speeds of 20 miles per hour or more.
The 1914 race was the largest power boating event ever to be held in the United States; the field of starters was the largest, the boats were faster than any that had competed in previous races. The crowds too were the largest that had ever assembled in one place to watch speedboat races. Some of the spectators came by a special train from Albany. The Horicon met them at the station and took them to Bolton Landing. There, the Horicon anchored inside the race course, a 6 nautical mile ellipse that stretched from Montcalm Point to a point south of Dome Island. Throughout the races, cars lined the road from Glens Falls to the Sagamore.
The Ankle Deep was the first long distance speed boat ever built. Thirty-two feet long, she had two 150 horsepower engines, and was capable of a speed of 50 miles or more per hour. After winning the Gold Cup races on the St. Lawrence River in 1913, Mankowski brought the cup – which was made by Louis Comfort Tiffany and displayed at the Sagamore – and the races to Lake George.
The first race was scheduled for July 29th, but a northwest gale forced it to be postponed until the following day. On Thursday ,at 5:00 PM, the races began. The Ankle Deep was late getting to the starting line, and finished behind the Baby Speed Demon and two other boats.
The Count made certain that he would not repeat that mistake. Here’s how the Lake George Mirror reported the Ankle Deep’s start on the second day of the races: “But a few feet back of the line and going at almost full speed she jumped like a thing of life as the Count yanked the throttle wide open, and crossed the line a shimmering streak of mahogany, soon distancing all her rivals.” By the end of the second day of racing, however, it must have been obvious that the Ankle Deep was no longer the fastest boat in the field. The Baby Speed Demon II passed her on the second lap, retaining the lead that she had established the previous day.
The Ankle Deep now had no chance of victory unless the leaders were removed from the competition by some accident or by mechanical failures. Frank Schneider, the retired industrial arts teacher who restored boats at the Pilot Knob boat shop, wrote an account of the third day of the races for the Lake George Mirror in 1964.
“I saw this race from a small motor launch. Beecher Howe of Glens Falls and I, from Pilot Knob, proceeded to go diagonally across the lake to where we could see. As we got past Dome Island, going at a speed of approximately five miles per hour, our engine stopped and we found ourselves plumb on the regatta course, stalled, while two of the contestants, Baby Speed Demon II, and the Buffalo Enquirer were bearing down on us. One of those speedsters passed us on one side and the other on the other side, and after they had long gone by us, a patrol boat approached us and hollered, ‘Get off the course!’ We finally got the engine started again, and headed for the Sagamore dock, to watch the rest of the race. We did not see the Ankle Deep in action as it had broken down at the beginning of the third heat.”
When the scores of each boat were calculated after three days of racing, the Ankle Deep was in third place, behind Baby Speed Demon II and Buffalo Enquirer.
Gold Cup boats did not disappear from Lake George, of course. Albert Judson of Bolton Landing, a president of the American Power Boat Association, which sponsored the Gold Cup Races, owned the Whipporwhill Jr. That boat raced in Minneapolis, the Thousand Islands, Detroit, Lake Ontario, and in 1920, in England, where it competed for the Harmsworth Trophy. The driver in that race was George Reis. Reis himself brought the Gold Cup races to Lake George in 1934 ,35 and 36. Melvin Crook had the Betty IV built as a Gold Cup boat, but did not race her, although she achieved a speed of 111 miles per hour in a qualifying trial for the Hundred Mile Per Hour Club.
The Ankle Deep, however, retains pride of place as our first Gold Cup boat. As the editor of the Lake George Mirror noted after it was learned that she had been destroyed by fire on the Niagra River, “To Count Mankowski and the Ankle Deep belongs the honor of creating a new epoch in motor boatdom, and no matter how fast the boats may go in the years to come,Lake George will always remember with pride the name of the beautiful queen that carried her flag to victory on the St. Lawrence.”
Photo: Count Casimir Mankowski, center, on Lake George in 1914.
The Pilot Knob Ridge Preserve, which was protected by the Lake George Land Conservancy in large part through the efforts of the late Lynn Schumann, was re-dedicated in honor of the conservancy’s former director on August 9.
“We’re here as an act of living love,” said Mark Johnson, a founding trustee of the Lake George Land Conservancy who served as a master of ceremonies. According to Johnson, the re-dedication of the Pilot Knob Ridge Preserve was an act of love for both a particular place and a particular person, whose names will be permanently linked. “A preserve is as close to perpetuity as anything we can know of,” said Johnson.
The Reverend Bruce Tamlyn, the Silver Bay chaplain who officiated at the wedding of Lynn and Kurt Schumann, said in his invocation, “the beauty of this place will be forever joined with the beauty of Lynn.”
Lynn Schumann, who died in March at the age of 46, served as the Lake George Land Conservancy’s executive director from 1999 to 2006.
She resigned the post to become the Land Trust Alliance’s northeast director, where she helped guide the work of 650 land trusts throughout New York and New England. Prior to joining the Conservancy, Schumann was the Wilton Wildlife Preserve’s first director. She was a graduate of Emma Willard and St. Lawrence University.
During Schumann’s tenure as the Lake George Land Conservancy’s executive director, membership increased from 250 to 1,171. At the time of her departure, the organization had protected nearly 5,000 acres of land and 11,000 feet of shoreline.
According to Sarah Hoffmann, the Conservancy’s communications co-ordinator, Schumann regarded the preservation of Pilot Knob Ridge as her greatest achievement on Lake George.
Before being acquired by the Conservancy, Pilot Knob Ridge was the site of a house and road visible from the lake, the west shore, Assembly Point and Kattskill Bay. “It was a gross insult upon the landscape,” said Lionel Barthold, one of the speakers at the dedication ceremony.
Pilot Knob Ridge was the first parcel acquired by the Conservancy that was already developed. The visibility of the cleared portions of the property from the lake, and the danger that it would be developed further, helped persuade donors that acquiring this piece was critical for protecting the character of the eastern shore, Schumann said in 2000, when the 223 acre parcel was purchased.
“Protecting Pilot Knob Ridge set a precedent; it showed that we could un-do an offense upon the landscape,” Barthold said at the dedication ceremony.
Once the property was owned by the Lake George Land Conservancy, the house on the ridge was removed. At a farewell party in 2006, Schumann said the razing of the house was a highlight of her career.
“The organization made a significant decision to remove the house situated prominently on the hillside,” she said. “It was a sunny spring morning when the wrecking crew began the process of demolishing the house. I peered out over the ridge and saw some 40 boats anchored along the shoreline cheering as the house came down.”
While Schumann loved the waters of Lake George and was dedicated to protecting water quality, she was especially passionate about protecting wooded uplands like Pilot Knob Ridge, said Kurt Schumann.
“These breath-taking views, the wild life, these are the things Lynn fought to protect,” said Schumann. “We have all lost a conservation champion.”
Among other speakers at the ceremony were Chris Navitsky and Susan Darrin. Rick Bolton and Tim Wechgelaer performed some of Lynn’s favorite songs, and Lake George Land Conservancy chairman John Macionis raised a cup of champagne in Schumann’s honor, officially declaring the slope and summit the Lynn LaMontagne Schumann Preserve at Pilot Knob Ridge.
“She’s smiling, humbled and grateful,” said Kurt Schumann.
Photo of Pilot Knob Ridge Preserve by Carl Heilman, courtesy of Lake George Land Conservancy
Photo of Lynn Schumann from Lake George Mirror files
Rain usually accompanied our hikes out of YMCA camp at Pilot Knob, on Lake George, in the late fifties and sixties, sometimes hard rain. We camped without tents, lying on the bare ground under the sky if the lean-to were occupied or none availed. Often we got wet. Mosquitoes and no-see-ems dined on us at their will. It gave me both a taste for and an aversion to discomfort.
The camp transported us, cattle-like, to Crane Mountain, Sleeping Beauty, the High Peaks, Pharoah Lake, the Fulton Chain and points as distant as the White Mountains, in the back of an ancient Ford ton-and-a-half rack-bed truck with benches on the sides that looked like something out of a WWII movie. We loved that truck, the open-air freedom and daring of it, its antique cantankerousness, though as often as not we huddled together in ponchos against the cab out of the wind and the cold rain or sleet biting our cheeks. » Continue Reading.
Yesterday’s crash of a Greyhound bus near Elizabethtown reminds us of some of the tragic events that have occurred in the Adirondack region. Here is a list of the ten we believe were most tragic:
October 2, 2005 – Ethan Allen Sinking Twenty-one people drown when the Lake George excursion boat Ethan Allen flips and sinks while turning against a wave.
1903 – Spier Falls Dam Ferry Capsizes Sixteen men and a young boy were drowned when a ferry carrying workers capsized on the Hudson River near the Spier Falls Dam (then under construction) in Moreau between Lake Luzerne and Mount McGregor. The ferry was overloaded when high water made a temporary bridge too dangerous to use.
November 19, 1969 – Crash of Mohawk Airlines Flight 411 A twin prop-jet commuter plane (a Fairchild-Hiller 227, a.k.a. Fokker F-27) flying from La Guardia Airport in NewYork to Glens Falls crashes on Pilot Knob killing all 14 onboard. The accident is blamed on downdrafts on the leeward side of of the mountain.
August 3, 1893 – Sinking of the Steamer Rachel The Lake George excursion steamer Rachel, chartered by more than twenty guests of the Fourteen Mile Island Hotel to take them to a dance at the Hundred Island House, is steered by an inexperienced Captain out of the channel and into an old dock south of the hotel. the old peir tears a large hole in the side of the boat below the water line and twelve were killed – many caught on the shade deck as the boat listed and almost immediately sinks.
July 30, 1856 – Burning of the John Jay The 140-feet long Lake George steamer John Jay, loaded with 70 passengers, catches fire near the Garfield House about ten miles south of Ticonderoga on Lake George. Five die trying to swim to shore to escape the flames. The fire is blamed on an overburdened soot-clogged smokestack – the crew had kept a large hot fire in the boiler in order to make up lost time.
June 3, 1927 – Chazy Lake School Picnic Drownings Five students, one quarter of the Dannemora High School senior class, drown when their rowboat is swamped in a squall on Chazy Lake during an interclass picnic. The only survivor is their teacher Emma Dunk, whose hand was caught in the boat keeping her above the cold water after she lost consciousness.
August 28, 2006 – Greyhound Interstate Bus Crash Five passengers are killed when a Greyhound Bus Company’s bus No. 4014, traveling from New York City to Montreal, and making midafternoon stops in Albany and Saratoga Springs, overturns on the Northway (I-87) just before Exit 31 near Elizabethtown.
1995-2005 – Drownings at the Starbuckville Dam A dangerous backflow whirlpool kills five swimmers at the Starbuckville Dam on the Schroon River over the course of ten years. The dam is finally rebuilt in 2005-2006.
August 12, 2003 – Split Rock Falls Drownings Four teenagers, all ages 18 and 19, drowned at Split Rock Falls near Elizabethtown while on their day off from their jobs as camp counselors for a Minerva camp. When one fell into the water the other three tried to rescue him.
February and September 2004 – Border Patrol Checkpoint Accidents In two separate accidents four are killed and more than 60 injured (four critically) when Canadian based buses fail to see a US Border Patrol checkpoint on Interstate 87 in Elizabethtown – poor signage is blamed.
The Burlington Free Press (Vermont) is reporting that the dreaded Sea Lamprey is a species native to Lake Champlain, at the eastern edge of the Adirondacks:
A team of Michigan State University researchers has established that Lake Champlain lamprey are a genetically distinct population old enough to be defined as native. The eel-like fish probably swam up the St. Lawrence and Richelieu rivers from the Atlantic Ocean and became landlocked in Lake Champlain as long ago as 11,500 years, the researchers concluded.
And in other invasive species news, peak-bagger Ted Keizer (a.k.a. Cave Dog) is busy making a ridiculous sport out of wilderness experience. No doubt, he energies in this regard will encourage thousands more to further erode the trails in the High Peaks as they run through at top speed – thanks [a-hem] Cave Dog.
Finally today, one last item – the elimination of a non-native species that actually had a positive impact in the park and on the environment. The bus line Greyhound is eliminating its routes north from Syracuse and closes its stops in the North Country. Another regional public transportation system goes down. And speaking of going down, check out the Post Star’s special on the 1969 crash of a Mohawk Airlines regional flight on Pilot Knob near Lake George. And, if you haven’t seen our piece on Adirondack regional airlines, it’s here; our piece on that suspected airplane murder-sucide is here.
The phone company Nextel has disregarded the spirit of the Adirondack Park by insisting, for their own profit only, that Lake George needs a cell tower that will be seen from the entire southern half of the lake.
We get lots of visitors here in our mountain paradise, but one ten year old we had just last week demonstrates how we got where we are and maybe where we’re going.
This ten-year-old, was complaining that she couldn’t get cell service while on vacation. Who did she need to call? Her friends. Did she have a good time at the lake? Well, no.
She cited the two things that tourists complain about the most – right after the question: What do you do in the winter? [Gee… duh… nothing… usually stay in bed and wait for spring to come and you louder-mouthed tourons and citidiots to get back]
The bugs are always a top annoyance for visitors who are so ensconced in their air-conditioned generic sterile vanilla McMansion homes in the south that they can’t even imagine that there are bugs outside, let alone that one might encounter a few.
The second annoyance is increasingly becoming the cell service. We’ve decided that when we suggest a hike for our cell phone packing tourists who ask next year – and few seem to actually bother to hike, most seem to be glad to stay in the house, pull down the shades and watch TV – but when they do, we’ll be sending them to Pilot Knob to see the really big pine.
And while we’re on the subject of immigration – those fascist Minutemen are headed our way in order to protect us from illegal immigrants. Too bad we can’t set up our own vigilante force at Warrensburg and keep them (and their neighbors) down where they belong.