Posts Tagged ‘Saranac Lake’

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Imperialist Radio Follow-Up

Here is an update on the ongoing attempt by WAMC (an Albany NPR Station) to take over North Country Public Radio’s frequency in Lake Placid which the Adirondack Almanack blogged about over the weekend.

There will be two community forums this Thursday:

Saranac Lake at 3:30 (Adirondack Artists Guild)

Lake Placid at 5:30 (Adirondack Community Church)

This morning there was an on air Question and Answer session – you can listen to the audio here.

NCPR’s website on the conflict now also includes a link to provide NCPR with your e-mail address in order for them to contact you if and when they need more and/or louder voices.

Dale Hobson, NCPR’s tech guy who blogs at Brain Clouds reports in a post on Monday that the station is being very careful how they cover the story (WAMC isn’t covering it at all):

The news was first aired in the region this morning on Saranac Lake station WNBZ, in a feature story by Chris Knight who, in addition to his duties at WNBZ, is a frequent freelance reporter for NCPR on Adirondack issues. While NCPR is committed to retaining the frequency on which it has served Lake Placid for over twenty years, we needed to find a way to cover the story in a fair and balanced way that would place the public interest ahead of the institutional interests of the station. Toward that end, the station manager and the news director sought advice from the Poynter Institute, an organization that provides training in journalistic ethics. They recommended that we use an outside editor with no connection to either of the parties to the dispute to oversee NCPR’s coverage. Suzanna Capelouto, news director of Georgia Public Broadcasting, agreed to fill that role. The reporting by Chris Knight that you will hear on NCPR tonight and tomorrow was edited by her.

An Albany Business Review story picked up by the Boston Business Journal noted that NCPR is not alone in being bullied by WAMC – apparently Vermont Public Radio (VPR) is also being driven from a frequency in its own region. All total WAMC is trying to supplant locally originated radio in eight communities:

The eight communities are Brewster; Cooperstown; Lake Placid; Norwich and Stamford in New York; Vergennes, Vt.; Manchester, Conn., and West Swanzey, N.H. There are rivals for all but the Stamford and West Swanzey frequencies.

WAMC will face its toughest battle in Vergennes. St. Lawrence also wants to serve that city, as do Vermont Public Radio and a company called Wilbur Gospel Communications.

[Alan] Chartock said the FCC will award licenses to the applicant whose signal would reach the most people, based on such factors as the location and height of the proposed tower.

“So it comes down to whose engineer did the best job,” he said. “This will take months or even years to work out.”

Apparently, according to Chartock, that’s good enough for us – it’s a single engineer who gets to decide whether we have a locally originated station or we get homogenized radio.

WAMC’s Wikipedia page notes that the current conflict is part of an ongoing assult on local radio stations:

Though the original expansion of the WAMC network starting in the mid 1980s was done to serve areas that had previously lacked NPR service, many of the station’s expansions since then have been into areas that either had service from a WAMC signal or where an established NPR network was already on the air. Two examples of this were WAMC’s purchase of WAMQ (then WBBS), a signal whose coverage area is near enveloped by other WAMC signals, and in 1992 WAMC outbid SUNY Plattsburgh for the then-WCFE-FM in 1995 to serve an area with two established NPR stations.

A number of local bloggers have stepped up with their own comments including Adirondack Musing whose post title WAMC – The North Country Doesn’t Need You, pretty much says it all.

Brian over at MoFYC calls the whole affair a “terrible decision by WAMC.” He also takes the Albany station to task for their existing deeper problem in attempting to cover such an enormous area with such disparate interests:

WAMC’s news coverage is decent but cursory. It’s a mile wide and an inch deep. This isn’t surprising because WAMC’s gargantuan coverage area means it must provide local news for people in central and southern Vermont, the Berkshires (western Massachussetts), northern Connecticut, the Hudson Valley (southeastern NY), the Mohawk Valley (Central NY) and New York’s Capital District.. WAMC also reports on state politics for those four states.

By contrast, NCPR is focused almost exclusively on the region in and around the Adirondacks. The station often runs stories that are 5-9 minutes in length and thus offer significantly more depth than WAMC’s typically brief pieces.

WAMC almost never reports on issues in Glens Falls or the Adirondacks, simply because there’s not enough time. NCPR had extensive coverage of the 2001 Finch Pruyn strike in Glens Falls, even though the station’s main headquarters is three times more distant than WAMC’s.

There’s a lot more to what Brian has to say (including a follow-up to his original post) but he concludes with:

I used to be a member of WAMC but am not anymore. I simply found that WAMC just didn’t cover news stories that were relevant to my community or nearby ones. When NCPR added transmitters in Glens Falls and Lake George, I found a station that did. I now send money to Canton.

And frankly I’m glad I’m not a member of WAMC anymore. I wouldn’t want my membership monies to making the media less local and more homogeneous.

The Adirondack Daily Enterprise called it “dirty pool” and said:

Chartock suggested that NCPR just move to a different frequency so both stations can serve Lake Placid. That’s like demanding someone’s house and suggesting they camp out in the woods out back. Sure, we’d like to have the option of listening to WAMC, but not at a better, more local station’s expense.

We hope the FCC recognizes this injustice and puts a stop to it.

So do we.


Tuesday, September 4, 2007

End of Summer: Adirondack Travel Edition

Now that the summer tourist season is mostly over, we’ll present what has become our annual list of some of the best travel blogging of the Adirondacks we’ve seen. If you have a post you find worth sharing let us know.

One of our favorite local blogs, Adirondack Musing, took their annual trip to Saratoga for a day at the flat track, the harness track, and the racino. The posts, with some nice photos, are in four parts (Saratoga, Backstreetch Tour Parts One and Two, and Race Day).

Another local, Rebbecca Leonard, has been travelling the highways and byways of the Adirondacks all summer trying to sell her first book, Adirondack Nightmare: A Spooky Tale in the North Country, which she self published in the spring. Her journeys are interesting slices of life in the region – good and bad.

Dave Schatsky just returned from an Adirondack vacation:

We didn’t see much wildlife–local experts say the park system is so large that the bobcats, martins, and other mid-sized mammals have no motive for straying closed to humans. Black bears are not hard to encounter there, but it’s better not to and we didn’t either. We did see a salamander–my favorite amphibian–frogs, wild turkeys and deer.

Dominique shared her experiences and suggestions of camping with her toddler at Cranberry Lake in Sophia In the Adirondacks:

Make sure that your child can be very involved….when my husband went fishing, we had a small toy fishing pole so that Sophia could emulate what he was doing. Also, a variety in the level of activity is beneficial. It was great to relax for the afternoon on the beach after a busy morning of hiking and campground activities.

A Woman Obsessed took a Mini Yarn Crawl through the Adirondacks with stops in Tupper Lake and Lake Placid.

Our first stop on the yarn crawl was Lonesome Landing in Saranac Lake. Cute town, cute store, cute owner. Things were a little disorganized, but there was interesting yarn, out of print books, and a great deal on Opal sock yarn ($11!!!!) I brought home this darling, after Meg spotted me the cash to make the purchase- if you go to Lonesome Landing, be forewarned that they only accept cash and checks!

Warren D. Jorgensen left Tarrytown for An Adirondack Mountain Sojourn:

Anxious to put work-city-civilization-traffic behind, I put the hammer down on the five hour slab ride that put me off exit 30 and onto route 73 west and into the park. The weight of a thousand and one problems lifted off my shoulders with the sight of the High Peaks, and for some reason, I felt at home. I have been coming to these mountains since 1958, and the sight of mountains always warms my soul.

As the evening faded, a canoeist paddled across the lake off the rear deck of our cabin just outside Lake Placid, and we decided that in this nothingness, we would do nothing. No plans, no itinerary, but just follow the front wheel and see where it would take us on the roads that wound through this “Forever Wild” wilderness.

Kathleen at Be Still And Know spent some time at Chapel Island on Upper Saranac Lake:

The loons cry, campfires burn, birds sing, leaves begin to turn, fish jump, children splash with delight into the cold lake water, water skiers ride the wake, sailboats sail, pontoons party their way around the waters edge, eagles scream and soar, and the earth smells ever so sweet. I’m bundled up with all my sweatshirts, and strip down to my tankini, forgiving the drastic temperature change…just to be here basking in the glory of Mother Nature at her best.

Many of the posts have some outstanding photos, but be sure to check out the flickr Adirondacks photo pool for more great Adirondack vacation amateur photography.


Thursday, February 15, 2007

Valentine’s Day Blizzard of 2007

TourPro has beaten us to the storm round-up here, so we’ll go back to shoveling – it’s time to take Adirondack Musing’s advice and get a Wovel while they are on sale.

Also, while you’re over at Adirondack Musing’s blog, take a look at his recent posts of photos of the 2007 Saranac Lake Winter Carnival’s Ice Palace; Here is our own Adirondack Almanack post about last year’s event (with some Almanack history goodness).

Musing is one of our favorite blogs so here is a list of some recent posts we’ve found interesting:

On Ticonderoga Airport Security:

One can argue that since the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center, airline and airport security have been improved significantly. It is also clear that “Homeland” security funds are not being spent in the most logical way.

For example, the Ticonderoga, NY airport is getting fenced in to the tune of $800,000 funded by homeland security funds. One reason for the fencing is to keep local drag racers off the runway. But maybe they are worried that terrorists might take over the old fort in Ticonderoga and wage war on the local populace.

Also from Adirondack Musing:

Low Frequency Noise and Wind Turbines

You Are One of the Richest People on Earth

The Past Was Better and I’m Not a Bigot

Michael Moore’s Promises to Conservatives

On Broadband Internet Penetration in The US

Musing’s Favorite Place – Crown Point on Lake Champlain

Adirondack Musing is just one of the region’s great blogs – check out the other Adirondack blogs at the right and the Bloglines Adirondack feeds here.

On a related note, it looks like the Adirondack Boys have left the room.


Tuesday, January 16, 2007

The Way Back Machine: Old Timey NCPR and More

Just stumbled on a note from one of our regular readers, christyanthemum (check out her blog, and her online bookstore), pointing us to old versions of North Country Public Radio’s web page. The Internet Archive’s Way Back Machine lets you look up old versions of web sites going back to 1996 (85 billion so far).

These are quite a blast from the NCPR past:

November 1998 (Old School Style)
April 1999 (Old But Improved Style)
June 2001 (In The “New” Style)

The Internet Archive also houses an incredible collection of moving images, live concerts, audio, and texts. Some Adirondack related examples include:

A circa 1936 educational film from the National Tuberculosis Association (founded by Edward Livingston Trudeau, described as the man who introduced “the modern method” of treating TB) entitled On The Firing Line.

A live recording of the Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey at the Adirondack Mountain Music Festival at the Moose River Campground in Lyons Falls on May 31, 2003.

“Twilight” a recording of ambient drone chaos made in the mountains.

A down-loadable copy of Seneca Ray Stoddard’s 1874 Adirondacks Illustrated.

UPDATED 1/18/07: Ellen Rocco, Station Manager for NCPR, writes to us with this comment:

As for our website, aw, c’mon, this reminds me of the question I’m often asked about our former studio space in Payson Hall on the SLU campus: “Don’t you miss that charming old building with the double open staircase and 100-year old woodwork?”

My unequivocal answer: No!

It may have appeared charming to the casual visitor, but for those of us who used the space, charming was not the way we described the cramped quarters, wall paint chips on documents and tape, noise issues–including having to stop recording when trucks passed on the street outside or someone flushed the toilet over the production studio, etc. As with the old building, I have zero nostalgia for the old website. Now, users can find thousands of archived news stories and features, 22 topical series (I know the number because Dale Hobson, our web guru, just counted them yesterday) on things like rural homelessness, land-use, the justice system…, playlists and reading lists, blogs, regional concert hall and art gallery, links to all kinds of great websites, national/international news sources and on and on.

But it’s nice to know people are visiting ncpr.org…keep coming.

Ellen


Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Adirondack Wal-Mart Moves On

An important regional blogger Adirondack Wal-Mart will be writing only occasionally until the retail giant returns for another attempt at turning the Adirondacks into a suburban strip mall. According to a recent post:

I’ve been lured over to The Writing on the Wal. Until Wal-Mart raises its ugly head in the area, I’ll probably be posting only occasionally. If you want to see how Wal-Mart pretends to sleep after a defeat, read this post. It’s a very persistent company.

The latest in Saranac Lake is the possibility of an Aldi Supermarket – but guess who won’t support it? That’s right, the big Wal-Mart supporters. Apparently it was more of a political issue for them as well and less of a matter of getting an affordable store in town. We still think a community co-op, something like Honest Weight down in Albany, is the best path for isolated communities to protect their economies and provide the goods we all need.

Thanks again Adirondack Wal-Mart for all the great posts and for keeping us informed in a far more in-depth way that any of our local newspapers could (or would).

Check out the Adirondack Almanack’s previous Wal-Mart posts.


Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Adirondack Architectural Heritage 2007 Awards

Adirondack Architectural Heritage has announced awards for six local property owners and partnerships for “sensitive restoration, rehabilitation and long-term stewardship.” Unfortunately, their website does not include the most recent winners. From what we’ve gathered from the Press Republican, they are:

Bob Reiss and Doug Waterbury for stewardship of Santa’s Workshop, founded in 1949 in Wilmington.

Fred Schneider, Web Parker, and Chris Covert of Renaissance Development for restoration of the circa 1906 Stark Hardware Building in Saranac Lake.

Robert Mayket, Tim Maloney, Todd Kemp, and Brian Boyer for a sensitive restoration of the Twin Pines boathouse on Loon Lake (circa early 1900s).

Bill Zullo for long-term stewardship the 1870 Bed & Breakfast in Indian Lake.

Gary Heurich for restoration and relighting of the Split Rock lighthouse, in Essex on Lake Champlain. The lighthouse was established in 1838 and replaced in 1867.

Paul and Shirley Bubar for appropriate restoration of the Wells House in Pottersville (built in 1845).

From their website, where they maintain a list of endangered properties in the Adirondacks:

Adirondack Architectural Heritage (AARCH) is the nonprofit historic preservation organization for New York State’s Adirondack Park. AARCH was formed in 1990 with a mission to promote better public understanding, appreciation and stewardship of the Adirondack’s unique and diverse architectural heritage. This legacy includes not only the nationally recognized “Great Camps” and other rustic buildings but also the many other structures that embody the whole range of human experience in the region. These other structures include: a wide variety of homes and farmsteads; the churches, commercial buildings, town halls and libraries that make up most Adirondack settlements; bridges, railroad buildings, lighthouses and other transportation related structures; and industrial sites related to the region’s important iron, wood, quarrying and tanning industries.


Friday, October 13, 2006

APA Approves Ticonderoga Lowe’s

The APA has bent over once again to big business and approved the Ticonderoga Lowe’s out of character and proportion big box store and sign. According to the Adirondack Daily Enterprise, New York Legislators for the Adirondacks Theresa Sayward and Betty Little took the opportunity to pander to the local corporate boosters:

Still, state Sen. Betty Little, R-Queensbury, and Assemblywoman Teresa Sayward, R-Willsboro, have been critical of the APA’s handling of this case, saying it shouldn’thave jurisdiction over this project.

But several commissioners pointed out that Lowe’s could build a store less than 40 feet in height and away from the wetland, and it would have not fallen under APA jurisdiction. Lowe’s could have moved the building, “and the sign issue would have never been here today,” Whaley said. APA spokesman Keith McKeever said Wal-Mart, which is located next to the proposed Lowe’s site, built a store 39 feet in height and avoided the APA permitting process.

Lowe’s will be permitted to build a 245-square-foot illuminated sign 30 feet in height. The APA limitations for such signs are 15 square feet and 20 feet in height. The only limitation set on the Lowe’s sign at the meeting was that Lowe’s has to turn off the illumination when the store closes.

We’ve discussed Lowe’s and Ticonderoga and Essex County’s failures here before, but we’d like to point readers again to the Adirondack Wal-Mart Blog, a leader in regional big box development information. Recently, they took a trip to the Ticonderoga Wal-Mart, held a discussion of Ticonderoga’s plight, blogged on the Wal-Mart funded Citizens for Economic Opportunity, self-loathing in Saranac Lake, the Sound Adirondack Growth wiki-war, and the proposed Saranac Lake community store [more at Adirondack Musing on that].

The Lowe’s debacle is the latest effort by the anti-zoning unrstrained development folks, who found their latest voice is State Senate candidate Tim Merrick, who, according to NCPR ” is proposing to remove the permitting and enforcement authority of the Adirondack Park Agency.”

Check out what Brian had to say recently.


Friday, August 11, 2006

This Just In: Saranac Lake Wal-Mart Will Pull Out

The Adirondack Daily Enterprise is reporting that:

Wal-Mart’s bid to build a 121,000-square-foot Supercenter on three Lake Flower Avenue parcels is over, and the company has terminated purchasing agreements with the owners of Carcuzzi Car Care Center and Tri-Lakes Auto Mall, Wal-Mart spokesman Philip Serghini said Friday.

There’s more over at the Adirondack Wal-Mart Blog.

UPDATE 8/16/06: The Adirondack Wal-Mart Blog wonders “Has Wal-Mart Really Given Up?” and North Country Public Radio has a full report.


Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Ticonderoga Lowe’s – Another Lesson in Poor Planning

On the heals of the Saranac Lake WalMart debacle comes the latest planning ignorance from our elected officials. Lowe’s Home Improvement will be using their immense size along with lame and out of proportion architectural [ahem] design, to further erode downtown Ticonderoga. The Plattsburg Press Republican is reporting on the Lowe’s project. Lowe’s operates over 1,225 stores in 49 states (excepting Vermont) and is number 42 on the Fortune 500 list – it’s the second largest hardware chain in the country.

Ti could have a nice downtown, which although filled with numerous abandoned shops and empty lots, still has much of its Victorian character and walkability. Unfortunately local and regional planners are eager to abandon the downtown in favor of ugly, automobile access only, strip development about a mile away. So far a Wal-Mart SuperCenter, a Super 8 Motel, a McDonald’s, a Subway and a Dunkin’ Donuts have all located on what was once farmland at the edge of town. All these businesses could have located downtown. Think of it! Imagine the ability to shop at several stores within walking distance downtown, maybe stop at the Post Office, or for coffee at a local coffee shop, maybe at the library.

Instead, Lowe’s, along with Congressman John McHugh (R-Pierrepont Manor, Vietnam draft-dodger), Ticonderoga Town Supervisor Robert C. Dedrick, and a number of other small-minded corporatist want to see Lowe’s build a 53 feet high 124,000 square foot store with, and get this, a 245 square foot sign! The standard APA park sign size is 60 square feet and the building is already designed a full story above the park limit. Apparently Lowe’s thinks that the Adirondack Park is just like any other place on earth.

Dedrick said a 60-square-foot sign was put up as a test at the proposed Lowe’s site.

“You could barely see the sign. You certainly couldn’t read the letters.”

Ah… yeah… sure Dedrick, maybe that’s because most reasonable people believe that a building and its sign shouldn’t be designed as an eyesore on purpose and that a 53 by what 2 or 3 hundred foot building is visible enough – especially when it’s designed to be entirely incongruent with its surroundings.

Dedrick said a busload of Ticonderoga citizens will be going to APA headquarters in Ray Brook for the meeting when the vote will be taken.

“We have had extreme support on this. APA, here we come.”

Supervisor Joyce Morency (R-St. Armand) said that as many members of the Essex County Board of Supervisors as possible should also attend.

Folks, take the time to counter these fools and save Ticonderoga from their lengthy tenure at destroying one of America‘s most important historic towns.

Vote them out!

Attend the public hearing on the sign variance on either July 17 or 24 at the Ticonderoga Armory Community Building (now that’s some nice scheduling work from the local officials).

UPDATE 7/13: The Press Republican accurately describes the current situation in an editorial July 11:

Ticonderoga Supervisor Robert Dedrick says the APA has assured him the process will be conducted fairly and without bias.

At this stage, that appears unlikely, for it will be difficult for the agency to rule against Lowe’s now, no matter how much sense it might make to do so. If the agency decides the store must settle for the 60 square foot sign, the charges of obstinacy and absence of fairness will fly in earnest. It will take more guts than normal to rule against the company.

In government, appearance is often more important than reality. In this case, it appears the APA has been backed into a ruling it will be hard pressed to deny.

The simple fact remains – the size of their store is a more than big enough sign. By trying to muscle the agency whose job it is to defend the character of the Adirondacks they prove themselves to be the enemy of the New York Constitution and the people its represents.

UPDATE 7/20: The Adirondack Park Agency issued a permit approving construction of a 153,000 square foot Lowe’s including a 124,051-square foot building and attached 28,829-square foot garden center, a parking lot for 441 vehicles, signage, lighting and landscaping. Municipal water supply, wastewater treatment and stormwater facilities will serve the Lowe’s Store. Once the permit is recorded in the Essex County Clerk’s Office, the developer is free to begin construction. The permit includes a condition that sign for the proposed store must conform to the size and height limitations required by the Agency’s “Standards for Signs Associated with Projects.” Agency regulations limit signs on jurisdictional projects to 40 square feet (15 square feet for luminous signs) and limit the total sign area of two signs on a project site to 60 square feet.

UPDATE 7/26: A well-organized group of ill-informed locals gave the APA a hard time at the hearing over the sign. Here’s a nice tidbit:

Moriah Town Supervisor Thomas Scozzafava is a longtime foe of the APA.

“We have suffered economic hardship in the Adirondack Park since the creation of the Adirondack Park Agency. We have been forced to live like second-class citizens.”

Sure Scozzafava – you live like a second class citizen.


Monday, February 20, 2006

Taylor’s On Schroon Lake – Anti-Semitism of Days Gone By

Over at eBay, there is a unique item of Adirondack history for sale. A 24-page advertising pamphlet from 1910 for Taylor’s on Schroon (photo above). And there it is, one simple line: “Gentile trade solicited” – in other words Jews need not apply. In the first decades of the 1900s anti-Semitism and nativism were rampant in the Adirondacks as in the rest of the country. The Ku Klux Klan worked hard from its local base in Schenectady to establish Klan groups in Ticonderoga, Glens Falls, Saranac Lake, and elsewhere – some were quite successful. This tidbit, written by C.F. Taylor Jr., is one of the more rare blatant examples. » Continue Reading.


Thursday, February 9, 2006

Another Wal-Mart On The Way – To Saranac Lake in the Adirondacks

The rumors were persistent, probably a sign that the deal was already done behind closed doors. Wal-Mart is coming to Saranac Lake and it’s going to be a big Supercenter: 121,000 square feet. “The Wal-Mart Supercenter would be considerably larger than the building Ames used to occupy ­– larger even than the entire plaza in which the building sits,” reports the Plattsburgh Press Republican:

In a news release, Philip Serghini, the retail giant’s public affairs manager, said, “Wal-Mart very much wants to become part of the Saranac Lake community so that consumers in the area can benefit from everyday low prices.

“We hope to design a store that is in keeping with this unique community.”

Whether Saranac Lake is as eager for Wal-Mart to join the community depends on who you ask.

Some cheered the news Wednesday evening, saying the arrival of Wal-Mart would finally bring to Saranac the kind of low-cost retail store it has been without for too long.

Others fretted, saying it could cripple local businesses and, in doing so, ruin the character of the community.

Saranac Lake and Lake Placid have both fended off Wal-Mart in the past. The nearest Wal-Mart stores are in Plattsburgh and Ticonderoga.

There will be a fight:

Mayor Tom Catillaz learned of Wal-Mart’s announcement from a reporter [a-hem… sure he did]. He, too, balked at the size.

“I really need to wait to see what their plans are,” he said. “Hopefully they’ve got plans for a smaller store.”

Mark Kurtz, whose Sound Adirondack Growth Alliance has kept a close eye on the issue, said the organization would have to learn more about the proposal before issuing a strong opinion.

Oddly enough, Carcuzzi car-repair co-owner Bob Bevilacqua (an owner of land that Wal-Mart is looking at) actually believes that “having a Supercenter here will keep tax dollars in the community.”

Who exactly is he kidding, beside himself? Apparently he’s done NO research on the costs of these Supercenters – goodbye local business, hello low wage jobs supplied with benefits from county services, hello New Jersey like development, goodbye tourism.

Good luck Saranac Lake – some resources are here.

UPDATE: An anonymous reader points us to a new blog: Adirondack Wal-Mart. A recent excerpt:

Does Saranac Lake need a large retailer? Sure it does. Do we need 121,000 sq ft of stuff for sale? Well it seems that could be a point of compromise. Would a downtown location for a retailer be a better option? Certainly a question deserving of an answer. Can the people of Saranac Lake, it’s towns and counties work together to find the answers? One would hope so.


Friday, February 3, 2006

Saranac Lake Winter Carnival Kicks Off Today

Since 1897 the people of Saranac Lake have been throwing a midwinter party – the 109th Saranac Winter Carnival begins today. According to their website:

The Winter Carnival’s origins can be found in Saranac Lake’s history as a world-famous health resort. In 1897, the first year of the event, the village was already a thriving community nestled deep in the Adirondack wilderness, its pristine setting providing rejuvenation for hundreds of tuberculosis sufferers drawn from all over North America. In the course of “taking the cure” here, many patients experienced a renewed passion for life, and took every opportunity – in every season – to explore the natural beauty that surrounded them.

The long, cold Adirondack winters offered an array of snow-covered mountains and ice-covered lakes, begging to be enjoyed on skis, sleds and skates. Thus, to break winter’s chill and to promote “outdoor sports and games”, the Pontiac Club was formed in 1896, and a year later, they sponsored the first “Mid-Winter Carnival”.

The first Winter Carnival was a two-day affair that sponsored skating races, a parade and an “ice tower” – features that have been, in one form or another, part of every Carnival since.

This coming week (Feb. 3-12, 2006) will feature the “The Roaring 20’s” theme (that’s the decade, not the band) and will include two parades and two displays of fireworks along with:

Sports: Innertube, skating, and nordic and alpine ski races at Dewey Mountain and Mount Pisgah, skating races, snow volleyball, broomball, hockey, and snowshoe softball

Culture: Dramatic presentations by the Pendragon Theatre, a murder-mystery dinner theater, “an old-time amateur revue in the historic Harrietstown Town Hall, a Main Street Festival, a bevy of dinners, dances, receptions and concerts, and a slide show presentation.”

There will also be a display of traditional logging in the Adirondacks at the Saranac Lake Civic Center, but the centerpiece is the Ice Palace built using many of the old ice harvesting techniques:

The palace was an outgrowth of the village’s ice industry, which, in the days before electric refrigerators, harvested ice from local lakes for use in ice boxes across the country and around the world. Despite some refinements in machinery, the Palace is still constructed in much the same manner as it was in 1898, the first year it was built.

Legend has it though that the Palace was created to house the Winter Carnival Mascot Sara the Snowy Owl.

About six weeks before the Carnival, an ice field is marked off on Pontiac Bay on Lake Flower; once a suitable ice thickness has been achieved, cutting with long ice saws begins. The blocks taken from the lake are two feet wide and four feet long, are anywhere from one-and-a-half to three feet thick, and weigh between four and eight hundred pounds!

These are moved onshore via a conveyor belt, and are maneuvered into place with “peaveys” – metal-tipped poles with hinged metal hooks – and ice tongs. The blocks are secured to one another with a “mortar” made of slush. While designs may vary from year to year, each palace has, on average, over 1500 blocks in it, and ranges from 70 to 90 feet in length and 40 to 60 feet in height. Within each design is an array of colored lights, that each night transforms the Palace into a vivid sculpture of ice and light!

Here are some links:

Early Ice Palace Postcard

Winter Carnival Profile from North Country Public Radio

Photo Gallery from the Saranac Lake Area Chamber of Commerce

Photo Gallery from WNBZ Saranac Lake (2003)

Ice Palace, a children’s book by Deborah Blumenthal

Flickr Ice Palace Search (Includes Others Beyond Saranac Lake)

UPDATE 2/8/06: Adirondack Musing is posting some photos of the construction of this year’s Ice Palace.


Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Wal-Mart Inside The Adirondack Blue Line?

The great debate is on. Will Walmart be welcome if they come to Saranac Lake? The Adirondack Daily Enterprise is offering a chance to vote and the opposition has the advantage (so far). Adirondack Musing has put a couple of the key arguments up today. The Adirondack Live Journal also has a discussion going.

Balogh Blog has a nice rundown of the reasons why Wal-Mart sucks and CNY ecoBlog has recently put together some links to various reviews and pages related to the new movie. Screening locations are listed here.

As for Adirondack Almanack – you know where we stand on the big box.

The question is, just what is it in the water at Saranac Lake that brings out all this?


Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Adirondack Winter Begins With A Vengence

As predicted, we’re already headed for a tough winter [recent photos from Saranac Lake], and there is more to come.


Friday, October 21, 2005

More Tops Supermarkets in the Adirondacks Sold

Tops has sold a few more stores to it’s suppliers [report].

C&S Wholesale Grocers of Keene, N.H., has agreed to buy the two Tops Markets stores in Saranac Lake and the stores in Elizabethtown, Bolton Landing, AuSable Forks, Schroon Lake, Peru, North Creek, Corinth, Warrensburg and Chestertown.

Now we can only hope they actually do something worthwhile with these stores instead of just using them to exploit locals without other supermarket options.