Pictured here are two photos looking north on Mountain Spring Lake, our camp near Pottersville. It looks the same my entire life and before that. Though we are on a dirt road 1/2 mile off Route 9, it is an intensely peaceful place that has the feeling of Adirondack seclusion; a cocoon of continuity and stability buffering us from the outside world. We know the reality, but the FEELING of peace is real. — Bob Meyer
Editor’s note: Share what you love about your part of the Adirondacks. What makes it special? Send your “The Place I Live” commentary to Melissa Hart: email@example.com.
After a one year hiatus, Adirondack Shakespeare Company, known locally as ADK Shakes, is returning to the mountains with new experiences, a professional cast, and performances of Macbeth and A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
According to Artistic Director Tara Bradway, the professional theatre troupe is presenting six performances from July 31-August 4. » Continue Reading.
A brown, irregularly shaped hunk of fossilized dinosaur dung is circulating around the stone-floored rock shop.
The middle-school students, surrounded by shelves full of amethyst, pyrite, quartz crystals, and cracked open geodes, let their hands roam over the hunk and then pass it along. They don’t know that the mystery rock they’re scrutinizing is a chunk of prehistoric waste. Greg Beckler, owner of Natural Stone Bridge and Caves, will tell them eventually.
This game of pass the poop continues in a semi-circle as Beckler encourages the kids to really explore the fossil. Dip their fingers into its cracks and seams. Give the poop a deep, full inhale. » Continue Reading.
For the fourth year, Chestertown is bringing back the Roaring 20s. Rum Runners Weekend remembers Prohibition when bootleggers were an important part of local life.
The event kicks off Friday night at 5 pm when Federal Revenue Agents chase a band of bootleggers through local restaurants, starting at The Hub in Brant Lake, and then traveling to the Black Bear in Pottersville, OP Fredericks in Loon Lake, and the Odd Duck and The Bullhouse in Chestertown. At 9 pm, the bootleggers then move to a basement casino featuring blackjack and roulette at The Bullhouse ($25 admission), while nearby the Panther Mountain Inn is transformed into a Jazz Club. » Continue Reading.
The only certified organic farm in Warren County may be the smallest commercial farm in the county as well.
Operated by Rand Fosdick and Nancy Welch in Chestertown, the 10,000 square foot Landon Hill Estate Farm generates enough produce to stock the farm stand, provide weekly harvest baskets to subscribers and feed the couple and their friends.
Now in its second year of production, the farm is expected to register a profit next year, said Rand Fosdick. » Continue Reading.
The 1924 sign law that effectively banned billboards throughout the Adirondack Park shows how our forbearers were braver, wiser, and more prescient than we are today.
It was a bold decision that resulted, by some accounts, in the removal of over 1,400 billboards. In the Adirondack Park this law largely prevented an assault of rooftop and roadside billboards that dominate broad stretches of the U.S. – the cluttered strips of Anywhere USA. » Continue Reading.
The Warren County Historical Society will be conducting oral history interviews during the Rural Heritage Festival and Youth Fair at the Warren County Fairgrounds in Warrensburg, NY on August 10th.
The Warren County Historical Society is searching for individuals who would like to participate and are specifically interest in talking with individuals who have some knowledge in three specific areas: » Continue Reading.
Our first daily double. On Saturday, we visited two bars: the Timberwolf Pub in Schroon Lake and the Black Bear in Pottersville. Originally, we had planned to start at the Wells House in Pottersville, which is currently closed, but rumor has it that it will reopen soon. We decided to start in Schroon Lake.
The Timberwolf Pub has an interesting architectural design which I will call Bavarian style. The interior is open and well-lit, with several ceiling fans with lights. The large bar could accommodate 15 to 20 people; several tables throughout the room even more. The walls are tongue and groove pine with a shelf around the whole room displaying a multitude of ceramic houses. A brightly lit alcove over the restroom doors display a plethora of Easter decorations. Helen, the owner and bartender on duty, informed us that she decorates this area according to every occasion. In addition to this display, several stuffed wolves, a fisher and a grinning fox, stand silently, watching over the bar. Too many stiff drinks? On a chilly day, it was warm and comfortable in the Timberwolf Pub. We received a friendly greeting by a local at the bar upon entering and, believe it or not, that hasn’t been the case in our adventures so far this year. An over sized, handmade hat labeled “TIPS” sat at the end of the bar. Naturally, Kim couldn’t help remarking that someone has lofty goals. Helen chuckled and informed us that someone had volunteered to play music the night before “just for tips”. She discreetly tucked the hat behind the bar. While we were there, a patron had a package delivered to him at the bar. I had a sense of the smallness of the community and the hominess of the Timberwolf.
On weekends they have a DJ on one night and karaoke on the other. Quick Draw and scratch off tickets are available for amusement as well. The Timberwolf Pub does not have a happy hour, but does offer two drink specials – Carbomb consisting of Jaegermeister and Red Bull and the Long Island Iced Tea made from a variety of liquors combined with Coke that somehow achieves the iced tea flavor. They are open year round, seven days a week, catering to locals and tourists. The menu is broad, with basic pub fare and home style dinner specials, all very reasonably priced. Although the Timberwolf Pub has been under the same ownership for ten years, it does have a fresh look.
Next stop, the Black Bear Restaurant and Bar…
Just off Exit 26 of the Adirondack Northway, the Black Bear Restaurant and Bar have occupied this corner on Route 9 for over half a century. Walking into the Black Bear is like stepping back in time.
The red and black checkerboard linoleum-tiled floor is well worn by decades of dog-tired working-class feet. The bar is no nonsense; green formica topped and wood framed, with purse hooks beneath, kind of like church, though the similarity stops there. The bar mysteriously wraps around into a large adjoining room, spacious enough to accommodate occasional performers, Friday night karaoke and, rarely, a band.
According to the North Warren Chamber of Commerce website, Quick Draw, Lottery games, OTB and EZ Bet are also available here. The decor is decidedly early garage sale: beer posters and signs, a jukebox, photo collages spanning many years, ’60’s retro “big-eyed” children prints identify the restrooms, and a stuffed black bear wearing bunny ears and carrying an Easter basket. The Black Bear bears all the evidence of a home away from home, open seven days a week.
Surprisingly, no draft beer, but 30 bottled choices and the liquor staples suffice. They don’t appear to have a happy hour but their regular prices already beat most happy hours. I had a 12 ounce bottle of Sam Adams, which the bartender poured into a pint glass. Oddly enough, it filled the glass. There were perhaps eight or ten other people in the bar; most seemed to know one another. Like most hometown bars, the Black Bear seems like a quiet, friendly place to spend a lazy afternoon watching NASCAR on the modest TV and exchanging good-natured insults with friends.
Last week’s review stirred up some controversy over the food at Flanagan’s vs. the Black Bear, so we had to eat. The bar and the restaurant are separate entities, though we were able to order and eat at the bar. Order the wings hot if you want medium, medium if you want mild, and mild if you want sweet, we were advised by the bartender. We ordered hot, which were indeed medium, but they smelled and tasted delicious. We also split a burger, which arrived clad in a soft, fresh kaiser roll, topped with lettuce and tomato, with a generous side of fries. No complaints; it was quite satisfying.
Whether it was the dreariness of the day, or the funk between seasons, our enthusiasm was lacking. In a way, it’s great to visit places when it’s the off-season, but we look forward to a having a few more people around. We know. Careful what you wish for.
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.
Warren County has a long tradition of a county fair and a meeting will be held this evening (Tuesday, April 12, 2011) to help renew that fair tradition. 7,000 people attended the fair on a single day when it was held in Pottersville in 1913, but the current Warren County Fair (since moved to the County Fairgrounds on Schroon River Road in Warrensburg), has suffered a series of setbacks that have made it one of the poorest attended county fairs in the state.
Those who attended the Warren County Fair in past still remember the carnival rides, midway, live entertainment, horse and pony pulls, and other activities and events that attracted visitors from all over the county and beyond. The Fair has changed dramatically over time due to liability insurance restrictions and funding which has hindered the current operator of the fair, Cornell Cooperative Extension (CCE), from being able to provide carnival rides, a midway, or even a simple attraction such as a bouncy house, according to John Bowe, who manages the current one-day Youth Fair for CCE.
CCE’s Board of Directors has approved the formation of a Fair Association to take over development, promotion, insurance, and funding of the Warren County Fair, and a number of meetings have been held, but the future of the fair needs the input and support of local residents, businesses, and organizations.
It’s expected that Cornell Cooperative Extension of Warren County will continue to manage and operate the 4-H youth component of the fair and be able to concentrate on the support and achievements of local youth.
Those who have attended the meetings have expressed an interest in creating a “Great Adirondack Fair” that draws on the traditions of the Adirondacks, and which can be a signature event for Warren County and wider region.
Those who would like to see the Fair return to the grandeur of yesteryear, are needed at the next meeting of the Fair Committee on Tuesday, April 12th at 7 p.m. at the Cornell Cooperative Extension Education Center on 377 Schroon River Road in Warrensburg.
If you would like more information about the development of a Fair Association OR would like to register your support for a renewed fair, but can’t make the meeting, please call John Bowe at 668-4881 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photo: Performances at The Pottersville Fair in the early 1900s. In 1897, The Pottersville Fair advertised “a fine program of races consisting of trotting and pacing, running, bicycle, and foot races in which liberal purses and prizes are offered.” The fair lasted into the first half of the 20th century, and help convert Pottersville into a prime location for a variety of amusements, including the first incarnation of Gaslight Village.
Oral Roberts died yesterday. He was one of the founders of televangelism and the principle behind Oral Roberts University. What you may not know is that the Adirondacks had its own radio evangelist, Jack Wyrtzen, the founder of Word Of Life ministries (in 1941) and the Word of Life Bible Institute (in 1971) in Schroon Lake. Unless you’ve spent some time driving around Schroon Lake, you may not realize that there is a two-year bible school here in the Adirondacks that grew out of the same kind of public evangelism made popular by Oral Roberts.
You won’t find fraternities or sororities at the Bible Institute, no late-night poetry readings or parties, and you also won’t find a degree, at least not one recognized as collegiate. But you will find a genuinely cult-like atmosphere to immerse your children, and a highly developed indoctrination program. As the Institute’s “Philosophy Statement” says “We believe that doctrine is the foundation for all of our endeavors.” Word of Life Bible Institute’s mission is to provide students “a rigorous academic atmosphere so that he or she might receive both fully transferable course work and structured discipleship in order to live his or her life with maximum effectiveness for the Lord.” How does today’s Christian youth achieve those goals at the Institute? Through rigid control of their every waking moment, isolation from their peers, parents, and culture, and severe punishment for falling out of line.
It’s all in the student handbook, and it’s quite a read (and quite different from Oral Roberts University). Of course the standard stuff is there: Emotional exclamations such as ‘Oh, my God’ and ‘Oh, my Lord’ are a demonstration of disrespect for the name of the LORD
And sure we’ve got to figure that there is no swearing, gambling, sex, drinking, or drugs – but no physical contact? Physical contact between persons of the opposite sex is not permitted on or off campus.
Physical contact between members of the same sex must be within the bounds of biblically acceptable behavior.
There is one exception: When ice and snow present hazardous conditions, a male student may offer his arm to a female student.
In fact two people of the opposite sex cannot be trusted to be alone, period. The “Third Party Standard” assures they are not:
Two students of the opposite sex must have a third party with them at all times.
You figure it might be tough to walk to class while avoiding encounters with someone of the opposite sex? They got that covered:
Students are exempt from the ‘third-party rule’ only in the central area of the campus.
What if a good Christian couple has secured permission from their parents to marry?
Marriages are not allowed during the school year without prior permission from the Executive Dean.
What about getting engaged?
The Student Life Department must be consulted prior to any engagement during the school year. Parental/guardian permission must be given prior to the engagement.
And just to remind those who have committed the greatest marriage sin:
Divorced or separated students are not allowed to date while enrolled at the Bible Institute.
The world is filled with pesky “culture” according to the leaders of the Bible Institute. They are there to make sure you don’t experience any: Word of Life uses a content filtering and firewall system to prohibit access to Internet content that is contrary to the Word of Life Standard of Conduct. . . . All activity is logged and monitored by the Student Life Department.
Just in case a student finds a way to expose themselves to the outside world: All computer monitors must face the public and must be in clear view of supervisors.
What about music? After students have completed their first semester, have written “their biblical principles for entertainment” and have provided the Institute with a copy, they can listen to approved music, but only in electronic format, and only by headphones:
Radios, televisions, clock radios, etc are not permitted at the Bible Institute. They are to be sent home immediately.
All music played publicly at the Bible Institute [a privilege permitted Institute staff] must be screened and approved.
What about movies?
No movies of any kind (DVD, downloaded, streamed, burned, or otherwise) may be played in the dorm rooms at any time, nor may they be kept in the dorm room.
There is to be no attendance at a movie theater.
What about leaving campus?
Special Permission is needed from the Student Life Deans for any of the following:
To travel home or anywhere that would involve an overnight stay. To drive more than 100 miles away from school, (ie. Canada or New York City).
What about the Second Amendment?
All rifles, handguns, bows & arrows, knives, wrist-rockets, BB/Pellet guns, airsoft guns, etc. are not permitted in the residence rooms, in vehicles or on the person while on campus. If you bring them, you will be required to return them to your home.
The “Code of Honor” provides the general atmosphere and restricts:
The use of traditional playing cards
Participation in oath-bound secret organizations (societies), from social dancing of any type, from attendance at the motion picture theater and commercial stage productions.
Christian discretion and restraint will be exercised in all choices of entertainment, including radio, television, audio and visual recordings, and various forms of literature.
Furthermore, it is expected that associates will actively support a local Bible-believing church through service, giving, and allegiance.
That last one doesn’t always work out so well, readers will remember 20-year-old Caleb Lussier, a student at the Word of Life Bible Institute in 2006 who “actively supported” a local church, the 77-year-old Christ Church, just across the street from the Institute in Pottersville.
Only his idea of active support was to burn it to the ground, though he did remove the bibles for safe keeping before lighting the gas. Caleb also threatened three other houses of worship, plus the one he set to the torch in his hometown.
According to local news reports, “Warren County Sheriff Larry Cleveland said Lussier thought the members of Christ Church were hypocrites who deviated from the teachings of the Bible and the word of God. He allegedly robbed the church twice in May. On one occasion he left behind a message written in a Bible: ‘You’ve been warned.'”
Lussier was arrested in his dorm room after a member of another local church saw him at their services and warned the Warren County sheriff’s office that something wasn’t right.
“He didn’t think they were following the Bible the way he thought they should,” Cleveland told the press at the time, “He holds to the principle, but he said he went about it in the wrong way.”
Those traveling on the Adirondack Northway (I-87) between Exits 26 and 27 probably don’t realize they are passing literally over Pottersville, the northern Warren County hamlet that borders lower Schroon Lake. From the 1870s into the early 1960s the tiny village was home to amusements that drew thousands. The most remarkable of them, the Pottersville Fair, drew 7,000 on a single day in 1913. Later it hosted a large dance hall, roller skating rink, and the Glendale Drive-in, while nearby Under the Maples on Echo Lake was host to circus acts and an amusement park that was a forerunner of Gaslight Village. Today only the long abandoned Drive-in screen remains, a silent sentinel to Pottersville’s past as an amusement Mecca. It’s no surprise that the tiny hamlet could host such remarkable amusements. The Town of Chester was on the early stage coach road north of Warrensburgh and Caldwell (as Lake George was then known). It was home to two main villages, Chestertown and Pottersville, and several smaller ones (Starbuckville, Darrowsville, Igerna, Riverside – now Riparius, and Haysburg). In the years after the Civil War Chester became a center for summer visitors and hotels and boarding houses sprung up to welcome them. Early travelers made their way from the D & H Railroad to Riverside (where the first suspension bridge across the Hudson River was built) and then by coach to Chestertown, Pottersville, and Schroon Lake. From a dock at the south end of Schroon small steamers plied the lake. Numerous summer camps were established for children and adults in and around Pottersville. Cottages, colonies, and motels were added with the coming of motor transportation – until recently the Wells’ House was a stop on the Adirondack Trailways bus line. It was all ended with the construction of the Adirondack Northway which diverted traffic over the historic hamlet.
Undoubtedly early religious camp meetings were held at the grove where The Pottersville Fair was established by the Faxon family in 1877. The Faxons were the town’s leading industrial family, owner of Chester’s largest employer, a tannery. The fair was immediately popular, not so much for its agricultural exhibits – there generally weren’t any – but for its gambling opportunities. For thirty years gambling was the main attraction at the fair, and horse racing the main event. In 1897, the fair advertised “a fine program of races consisting of trotting and pacing, running, bicycle, and foot races in which liberal purses and prizes are offered.”
By 1906 anti-gambling forces were applying pressure and the Ticonderoga Sentinel reported that year that “The fair in Pottersville drew good crowds, the feature being the horse races. There were no exhibits made.” “It is the purpose of the management,” the paper suggested “to reorganize the Glendale Union Agricultural Society and devote the exhibition entirely to sports, giving large purses for the racing events.”
The anti-gambling crusade was part of a larger backlash against the free-spirited Gay Nineties. Throughout the country society’s moral guardians railed against the liberties and license of the period and chief among them was drinking and gambling. The heaviest attacks were leveled at the racetracks like the Glendale. Newspapers depicted horse bettors as dupes of a crooked alliance of track management, bookmakers, owners and politicians who continued to allow horse racing. Across the country state after state made tracks like the Glendale illegal. Only Kentucky, Maryland, and New York refused to join them in outlawing the popular sport. That was until the anti-gambling forces secured one of our own local boys Charles Evans Hughes, born in Glens Falls in 1859, as Governor of New York.
Soon after taking office in 1907 Hughes began pushing a bill to eliminate gambling at the state’s racetracks. Although resistance was formidable, the Agnew-Hart Bill [pdf] passed in June 1908 and it became illegal to openly quote odds, solicit gambling, or stand in a fixed place and record bets. Police detectives worked themselves into the crowds at the tracks and arrested those violating the law, the penalty for which was jail. The result was the near death of horse-racing in New York – including at the Pottersville Fair, although gaming and horsebetting continued there underground. In 1914, for example, it was reported to members of the state legislature that the Pottersville Fair “has long been famous… for the great variety of wide open gambling and lottery schemes.” If you want to read how the whole thing affected the horse racing stock, and more about how horseracing survived, take a look at the Thoroughbred Times “Racing Through the Century: 1911-1920.”
As local citizens and summer tourists began fearing arrest and imprisonment for gambling – they weren’t really there for the horses – gate receipts dropped and the Glendale Union Agricultural Society went bankrupt. In 1910, the Pottersville Fair Association took over the fair. The Ticonderoga Sentinel described the newly reopened fair grounds of 1910:
The Pottersville Fair, it is frankly admitted, is conducted solely for the amusement of its patrons. The exhibits of products of farm and factory, beautiful specimens of feminine handiwork, art subjects and curios found at other fairs are her conspicuous by their absence. The association makes no effort to get them and does not believe that the majority of people who go to the fair want them. Nobody would want them anyhow, for all over the grounds, in the midway, on the race track, on the stage in front of the grandstand, and in the dance hall, there is every minute something doing to amuse and interest the crowd.
In addition to the racing, gaming, dancing, and carnival and stage acts the renewed fair in 1910 featured “an areoplane flight, which is positively guaranteed, and which will mark the first appearance in these parts of an airship.”
In the 1920s the dance hall at what was then called Glendale Park featured dancing every Thursday, 9 pm to 1 am (later expanded to Friday and Saturday as well). Among the bands who played there were Val Jean and His Orchestra, Domino Orchestra, Guy LaPell’s Orchestra, and the James Healey Band. The park’s skating rink was reported in 1945 to be “almost too crowded to skate.” Eventually a drive-in movie theater would be installed. A neighbor of mine who worked in the kitchen at the Glendale reported that the bar there was staffed by seven bartenders at once.
A legacy of the Pottersville Fair was its stable of acrobats and stage shows. Under The Maples, an emerging resort of sorts on Echo Lake just south of the Wells House, carried on the carnival atmosphere with acrobats and tightrope walkers. General amusements were installed at Echo Lake and the new amusement park operated late into the 1950s, eventually under the name Gaslight Village as it still retained much of its Gay Nineties theme. In about 1958 Charley Woods purchased the whole kit and kaboodle and moved it to Lake George where the 1890s were relived until about 1990 at his own Gaslight Village. You can read about that here.
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