Posts Tagged ‘Schroon Lake’

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Adirondack Family Activities: Schroon Lake New Year’s Eve

For the first year Schroon Lake will be offering its own version of First Night full of family-friendly activities.

According to the Schroon Lake Chamber of Commerce the Schroon Lake First Night celebration started in 2003 as part of the Schroon Lake bicentennial. The event was then held again in 2004 to end the bicentennial year. It was resurrected in 2011 as an opportunity to provide a non-alcoholic event for families.

Committee Co-Chair Sharon Piper says, “This is a nice way for families to celebrate together. There will be fun crafts for kids. They can make a New Year’s hat when they aren’t listening to the band. We really tried to provide activities to keep everyone engaged. Our event will also wrap up after the fireworks so families can get home safely.”

Sylvia Fletcher and the Magic Trunk will host three performances, 5:00 p.m., 6:30 p.m. and 8:00 p.m. There will be ongoing craft stations, face painting and refreshments.

The sock hop will be held at the Schroon Lake Central School gym and truly no shoes are allowed so wear your cutest socks and dance to the classic rock band, “Loose Connections.”

To join in the community spirit there will be a stroll from the school to the park at the conclusion of the sock hop. (It is only a few blocks walk to the park so dress appropriately for the weather.) At the Schroon Lake Town Park enjoy a luminary display, hot chocolate and a bonfire at 8:30 p.m. Fireworks will commence over the lake at 9:15 p.m.

Piper says, “We encourage everyone to come, people from out of town to the second home owner. We hope to provide an opportunity for families to enjoy some fun together.”

The cost for the event is $5.00 for adults, $2.00 for children (4-18) with children under four admitted free. There is a family rate available. The goal for the admission is to help offset the cost of the event while still keeping it affordable for families.

The Schroon Lake Chamber of Commerce hopes that this event will become an annual tradition for all. This year’s event will be hosted at two venues, the Schroon Lake Central School and the Town Park. The committee is working on light refreshments available for purchase during the event while all other activities are included with admission.

There will be a program to let participants know the schedule for all events. (Look for special offers and coupons from local businesses in the program.)

To the north will be an official First Night Celebration in Saranac Lake with a variety of activities geared toward families of all ages. To the south will be Saratoga Springs’ First Night. There will also be New Year’s Eve fireworks over Lake George at midnight.

Happy New Year! Be safe!

Photo: Fireworks (Courtesy Diane Chase)

Diane Chase is the author of Adirondack Family Time: Tri-Lakes and High Peaks Your Guide to Over 300 activities. Her second book of family activities will cover the Adirondack Lake Champlain coast and in stores summer 2012.


Wednesday, December 21, 2011

High Peaks Happy Hour:Witherbee’s Carriage House, Schroon Lake

Witherbee’s Carriage House Restaurant, on Route 9 in Schroon Lake, is a bar, restaurant and a museum of local history. From the display of various wagons and wheels surrounding the structure to the collection of wheeled conveyances inside, the title “carriage house” is an understatement. There’s even a little red Gore gondola hanging on the building! With so many antiques, farm implements, Adirondack region memorabilia and assorted other wonders, it was hard to focus on our mission.

The bar is located in the loft upstairs, and even the stairs, solid and obviously aged, spoke of times of true craftsmanship. Kim’s attention was immediately drawn to the vast collections occupying every barn-board wall, corner, crevice and rafter. Old photographs, woodworking tools and vintage advertising adorn the walls. Suspended from the beams above, unbelievably, are an antique carriage, a harness sulky, a sulky hay rake and a Victorian highwheel bicycle. The loft is open, spacious, well lighted and, while packed full with “stuff”, appears uncluttered and notably dust deficient. Witherbee’s closes for its annual Clean-up Close-down two weeks before Thanksgiving in order to give the place a thorough scrubbing and general sprucing up, something we feel more establishments should consider.

It was the drink specials board that caught Pam’s attention, boldly offering the Pamatini. She knew what she was having to drink! The Pamatini, consisting of pomegranate vodka, cranberry juice and lime, turned out to be a misspelled Pometini, but that didn’t spoil Pam’s enthusiasm or the cocky swagger in her attitude when she discovered a namesake cocktail. Two other drinks were featured, namely the Moose Milk and the Nut Cracker. The Moose Milk is made with Jameson whiskey, maple syrup and milk, and is very popular at Witherbee’s. The Nut Cracker is vodka, Kahlua, Bailey’s and Frangelico.

Patty and Bill Christian have owned Witherbee’s for four years. We had the pleasure of meeting Patty and the bartender, Amanda, who filled us in on some of the history of Witherbee’s. Converted from a barn that was part of the Edgewater Resort, the restaurant was originally known as Witherbee’s in the 1960s, then Terrio’s for 28 years. When Patty and Bill bought it, they felt a nostalgic need to restore the original name. We commented on the vast collection on display and Patty told us that they had to remove several truckloads of similar items. It was hard to imagine there having been even more.

Witherbee’s attracts a variety of clientele. It’s a favorite of locals, summer people and those just passing through. Friday night bands bring in their own fan base, fundraisers draw locals, open mic night rounds them up from as far away as Lake Placid and Ballston Spa. Witherbee’s even has its own song, written by local musician and open mic night host Mark Piper, called Witherbee’s Blues. As we were concluding our observations and interview, a man and woman joined us at the bar. The man, eyeing us strangely (we get that sometimes) and with a glimmer of recognition, said he knew us. Never having been recognized in this particular role, we were pleased to finally make the acquaintance of the North Country and Hudson Valley Rambler, Joe Steiniger, local food and wine blogger extraordinaire. Joe was one of our first fans and, to show our appreciation for his support, he was crowned with one of our few remaining Happy Hour in the High Peaks hats.

Witherbee’s Carriage House Restaurant is well-known for its Big Ass steak and homemade soups, as much as for the Moose Milk, and all of the restaurant menu items are available in the loft. We shared a heaping plate of nachos, one of the most generous portions we’ve seen. The main restaurant area is downstairs and is smaller and more intimate. The bar seats 9 to 10 people, but the large upstairs has a dozen additional tables for relaxing or dining. A pool table is comfortably out of the way.

During the summer, Witherbee’s is open Tuesday through Sunday from 4 p.m. to close. During the winter, from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. on Thursday and Sunday, and 4 p.m. to 11 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. They host an open mic night every Thursday and feature live entertainment every Friday in the summer and every other Friday during winter months. Witherbee’s hosts fundraisers, holiday parties and even a Murder Mystery dinner. Happy Hour specials from 4 to 6 p.m. feature $3.00 drafts, but weekly themed drinks are available anytime. The snowmobile trail system leads right to the back door and riders have been known to fill a thermos with Moose Milk before mounting their sleds. Witherbee’s is open all year except for New Years Day, Easter, the two weeks before Thanksgiving, and Christmas. Add Witherbee’s to the list of not-to-be-missed.

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, or follow them on Facebook, and ADK46barfly on Twitter.


Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Almanack Welcomes Tourism Writer Kimberly Rielly

Please join us in welcoming our newest contributor to Adirondack Almanack, Kimberly Rielly. Rielly is the director of communications for the Lake Placid Convention and Visitors Bureau / Regional Office of Sustainable Tourism, the accredited destination marketing organization (DMO) responsible for promoting the Lake Champlain, High Peaks, Schroon Lake and Whiteface regions of Essex County.



A lifelong resident of the Lake Champlain basin, Rielly will be writing about the destination marketing and planning issues that affect the region’s tourism economy.


Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Local Program Hopes to Reduce Energy Use, Create Jobs

With the budgets of villages, towns and municipalities being slashed across the country, two (and more in future) communities in the Adirondack Park are participating in a pilot program that will identify ways they can reduce their energy consumption and carbon footprint, create or retain jobs and save money. The Community Energy Efficiency Management (CEEM) project will include the Towns of Moriah and Schroon Lake, and project managers are talking with other municipalities about participating in the two-year program.

During the program the communities will inventory energy use of municipally-owned structures, transportation and residential buildings, make a plan to identify and prioritize energy saving opportunities, explore financing options, implement energy saving projects, and track energy savings. They will share their experiences with other
communities throughout the process.

Rural communities, including the 103 towns and villages within the boundary of the Adirondack Park, suffer from a host of economic development problems. ADKCAP (the Adirondack Climate and Energy Action Plan) developed a model to support such communities with comprehensive CEEM services to address economic needs through the “low-hanging fruit” afforded by energy efficiency incentives and programs. The CEEM
project is funded through the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development and co-implemented by The Wild Center in Tupper Lake and the Community Power Network of NYS, based in Olmstedville, in Essex County.

“Green is truly the road to the future,” said Cathy Moses, Town Supervisor of the Town of Schroon Lake. “Although some of the initial green changes are costly, there are several grants available if sought. The end result is saving the future for our children – it doesn’t get much better than that!”

“The Town of Moriah Town Board decided to participate in this project for possible savings of both energy and money for our constituents,” added Tom Scozzafava, Moriah’s Town Supervisor. “As we have progressed we have found that with very little up front expenditure, we can save not only energy but also dollars that will more than pay
for the changes.”

Project advisors will support project progress, provide training, celebrate and publicize successes, and help build capacity needed to realize energy saving opportunities while guiding how to take advantage of state and federal energy and carbon reduction funds. They will also help communities invite businesses, nonprofits, schools, and residents to learn more about available energy efficiency programs.

“After my mother passed away I decided to replace the 1950s furnace in her old house,” said Cathy Robarts of Moriah, who attended a CEEM outreach meeting this summer. “I paid for a new high-efficiency boiler, which cost about $1000, and got my investment back in three years including $200 of repairs on fuel lines and related needs. The majority of the savings came in the form of oil costs.” This kind of experience will be captured and shared through the project.

“We know from energy audits and conversations with town and village elected officials that energy costs are often one of the most costly items in a budget year after year,” said Stephanie Ratcliffe, Executive Director of The Wild Center. “This project is designed to assist the towns and villages to take advantage of grants and other incentive opportunities to improve energy efficiency and save money over time. We know the motivation is there, we are just trying to help bridge the gap with technical information, grant writing assistance and tracking.”

“The collaboration within and between communities is very important. By identifying and prioritizing energy saving opportunities, we can creatively develop opportunities for our economic development problems. Rural Development is committed to building a foundation for stronger rural communities, ones that are equipped with tools to succeed. Programs such as CEEM are an example of how the Obama Administration is committed to creating a more prosperous rural America,” said USDA NY Rural Development State Director Jill Harvey.

Despite the need for improvements, there are currently only 20 fully certified energy auditing businesses serving the 6 million acre Park – according to NYSERDA’s website – to help the businesses, municipalities, and residents who want to reduce energy expenditures on their buildings by an average 30 percent and invest savings in other economic opportunities. In addition, there is currently a 2-year backlog of low-income homeowners in the region requesting weatherization assistance. Small municipalities such as those throughout this region often operate with part-time staff and less capacity than urbanized areas and therefore can have difficulty taking advantage of incentives that exist.

Managers reason that each community’s investment in the project will pay for itself quickly through energy savings.

It is anticipated that the project will help to create or retain the equivalent of three to five stable, well-paying “green” clean energy jobs. Every job created in the Adirondacks means a family can stay where many generations have been before them. Jobs such as local energy auditors and insulation installers cannot be outsourced. The project will also help to create demand for more such skilled and trained workers.
The Wild Center has modeled – through its “green” facilities, educational programming, and conferences – how science museums can help to disseminate environmental solutions.

For example, buildings use an estimated 30% of energy in the United States, thus increasing green building design and retrofits has huge potential for economic
savings and job development. The Wild Center is Silver LEED certified for its green buildings and educates visitors through a tour of its green design on site and on-line through its website.

The Community Power Network of New York State, Inc. addresses the energy needs of families and communities throughout New York. CPN has worked extensively to improve energy efficiency and affordability for low-income households. Improving the ability of North Country communities to access New York’s energy programs and opportunities is also a focus for this private consulting corporation.

“We believe that the Community Energy Efficiency Management pilot provides an important new program model for rural areas like ours,” said Sue Montgomery Corey, President of CPN. She noted that every rural community is different and finding strategies to make state and federal resource programs meet the needs of individual
communities is a critical part of implementing them successfully in rural areas.

ADKCAP is a partnership of The Wild Center and 30 other institutions in the region. ADKCAP works through existing organizations around the region to implement a proactive strategy to enable the Adirondacks, approximately 20% of the land area of New York State, to improve energy and cost savings within the region. To heat and power itself the region currently uses more than 46 million gallons of fuel oil and LPG, and 925 million kWh of electricity annually, draining $263 million a year from struggling economies of the region. Investing in local efficiency helps to keep that money in the region. The Adirondacks are nevertheless a model of conservation for the nation and are positioned to lead in establishing a “green” economy.

For more information visit www.adkcap.org and click on CEEM or contact Kara Page, kpage@wildcenter.org or Jennifer Monroe, jlmonroe@capital.net.


Friday, June 10, 2011

Shakespeare Co Launches Preservation Effort

Adirondack Shakespeare Company (ADK Shakes) is returning to the Adirondack region for its second full Summer Festival Season. The company plans to follow last summer’s presentations of As You Like It, Romeo and Juliet and Macbeth with an all-new expanded season featuring ADK Shakes’ daring and adrenaline-fueled RAW performance style which strips the Bard down to the bare bones.

This year, the company will present A Midsummer Night’s Dream and The Merchant of Venice, along with The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (abridged) by Adam Long, Daniel Singer and Jess Winfield and Theseus and the Minotaur, an original children’s production by Sean Adams.

In addition to their full season, ADK Shakes has taken on a new challenge. The company is determined to revitalize the outdoor amphitheater at Scaroon Manor Day-Use Facility (formerly Taylor’s Point). This historic landmark was once a vibrant destination for locals as well as tourists looking to take in professional theatre amidst the beauty of the Adirondack Mountains. ADK Shakes’ Artistic Board has made it their mission to get the outdoor amphitheater on New York’s list of historic sites.

“One of the reasons we are looking to establish a Shakespeare company in the Adirondacks is to save this amazing outdoor amphitheater,” says Artistic Director Tara Bradway. The company’s plans to raise awareness during the course of the season include public presentations and petitions in the Adirondack region.

The Adirondack region tour of The Complete Works will begin July 4th, while the Mainstage Season opens July 21st and will run through August 7th. Performances of the children’s show Theseus and the Minotaur are set to run from July 27th through August 6th. Performances will take place primarily at the Boathouse Theater in Schroon Lake Village, as well as the Little Theater on the Farm in Fort Edward and LARAC Gallery in Glen Falls. Weather permitting, the final weekend of performances will be held at the outdoor amphitheater at Scaroon Manor.

This event is made possible, in part, with public funds from the New York State Council on the Arts Decentralization Program, administered locally by the Lower Adirondack Regional Arts Council. For more information, a full performance schedule and to purchase tickets, visit www.adkshakes.org. Email inquiries may be sent to info@adkshakes.org.

Illustration: Postcard of the historic Sacroon Manor outdoor amphitheater, Schroon Lake, NY.


Sunday, May 1, 2011

Adirondack Ice: Local Ice-Out Contests

For many, springtime (mud-season) looms as the longest and most trying of seasons. Skating, skiing, ice fishing and other winter sports are no longer possible; hiking trips await drier footing, paddling is on hold until the ice goes out. Adirondackers, often in some desperation, look for diversions to help them survive this interminable time of year.

With the arrival of March, temperatures start to swing wildly from 5º to 65º. Water drips, brooks babble and lake ice slowly dwindles away; not sinking as some would believe, but rather becoming porous and water filled until finally it melts completely and disappears. This happens bit by bit in different parts of lakes and over a period of many days. Ever resourceful, residents take advantage of this phenomenon to provide entertainment in the form of ice-out contests. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, April 20, 2011

High Peaks Happy Hour: Timberwolf and Black Bear

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.


Thursday, April 14, 2011

New Online Resources for Schroon Lake Region

The Schroon Lake Chamber of Commerce has announced the launch of two new websites it hopes will serve to promotes the region.

Schroonlakechamber.org offers a business directory, membership application and benefits listing, a chamber events and meeting calendar and relocation resources.

The redesigned schroonlakeregion.com promotes the region as a destination, showcasing the visitor experiences available in the communities that comprise the Schroon Lake Region; Schroon Lake, Newcomb, North Hudson and Minerva. The site offers information for visitors including attractions, events, dining, shopping, lodging packages and specials as well as business listings and real estate.

The dual-website project was undertaken by the Chamber in partnership with the Regional Office of Sustainable Tourism, Essex County’s destination marketing organization.


Wednesday, April 13, 2011

High Peaks Happy Hour: Flanagan’s in Schroon Lake

The trip to Schroon Lake was much shorter than I expected, even though we took the scenic route. It was the first really nice Spring day of the season. Schroon Lake was bustling, for April. People were out walking. Just seeing people on the streets is as much a sign of spring as the crocuses blooming.

Tucked amid a small group of Main Street storefronts in Schroon Lake, Flanagan’s Pub and Grill is well-kept and very attractive with a stone facade. Its hand-painted signs promising a family restaurant atmosphere, we accepted the invitation. » Continue Reading.


Monday, March 28, 2011

Warrensburg’s Own Dick Whitby, Notable Musician

Obituaries vary widely in their historical value. Sometimes they’re elaborate; at times they are understated; some leave out important facts; and some, well … some are just hard to explain. Like this one from March, 1952: “Richard A. Whitby, a native of Warrensburg, died on Wednesday of last week at his home in Albany. Survivors are his wife, Mrs. Kathryn M. Waring Whitby; two sisters, Mrs. Frank Chapman and Miss Kate Whitby of Yonkers.”

That notice appeared in his hometown newspaper. Accurate, no doubt, and surely succinct, but brevity isn’t always a good thing. In this case, the inattention to detail is stunning, and it’s quite a stretch from what’s true to what’s important. I’d like to take a crack at bridging that gap. Richard Augustus Whitby (not Richard E. or other variations that appear in many records) was born to Louisa and Richard James Whitby on January 22, 1879. The family’s background played an important role in Richard’s legacy. Once established, the Whitby surname remained prominent in the Warrensburg-Glens Falls area for decades.

In 1872, the Whitbys (they had two young sons) emigrated from Yeovil, England where Richard J. had operated a cloth manufacturing business employing 61 laborers. He pursued the same work in America, first at Leeds in Greene County and then at Salem in Washington County, finally settling in Warrensburg, where he was superintendent of the woolen mill.

Financially sound, Mr. Whitby was able to pursue his interests, which were family and music. He managed to combine the two in remarkable fashion, and mix work in as well. Each family member learned to play a musical instrument, and as they entered adulthood, each was employed in the family business. By 1899, son Percy was managing the mill with his father, while Eloise, Eustace (salesman), Kate (stitcher), and Richard (buttonhole maker) toiled for Whitby & Co.

As good as they were at making clothing, it was in the world of music that the family excelled. The Whitby dance band played countless gigs and was in great demand, but the family performed solos and joined other musical groups as well. In 1895, the GAR Band and the Citizens’ Band ended an ongoing competition by merging into the Warrensburg Military Band. Among the dozens of members were several Whitbys—Percy, clarinet and Musical Director; his father, Richard J., cornet; Eustace, saxophone; and young Richard A., baritone horn.

After a performance on baritone by Richard in 1893, one prescient local reviewer said Whitby’s effort “… would have done credit to a professional player.” Besides the baritone horn, Richard also played two related instruments, the euphonium and the trombone. By the mid-1890s, his euphonium solos were known far and wide, and highly praised.

During the next several years, he performed at dozens of graduations, church events, and the like, routinely accompanied by his mother, Louisa, on the piano. In the summer of 1895, Mr. and Mrs. Whitby and son Richard were the star attraction at the Leland House in Schroon Lake.

In 1896, the 17-year-old was hired by Scribner & Smith’s Circus to play slide trombone during the summer. In 1899 he signed with a traveling comedy and music act, followed by several years as trombonist for the Broad Street Theater in Richmond, Virginia.

Word of his ability spread, and in 1910, “Dick” Whitby was the trombone soloist for Carl Edouarde’s 60-piece band, a top act in Philadelphia and New York City. (Edouarde, who later composed film scores, conducted the music for Steamboat Willie, the first sound cartoon.)

In October, 1911, Whitby married Bertha B. Lancaster (yes, Bert Lancaster) of Peekskill, and the couple moved to New York City. All the while, Richard’s fame continued to grow.

Though he had made steady progress over the years, his rise now seemed meteoric. Outstanding performances in Edouarde’s band were soon followed by a stunning announcement in 1913: Richard had been offered the second chair in John Philip Sousa’s band, which for decades had featured some of the world’s finest musicians. Second chair meant the number two position, but Whitby was also promised first chair upon the lead trombone player’s imminent retirement.

It was a tremendous honor and highly regarded confirmation of his great talent, but there was a problem: Richard was still under contract to Carl Edouarde, who had no intentions of releasing him from a prominent run at New York’s Palace Theater.

He continued as lead trombonist for Edouarde’s concert band, and it seemed like the opportunity of a lifetime had passed. But such was the talent of Richard Whitby that Sousa was willing to wait. When he became a free agent in 1915, Sousa signed Richard to an 8-month contract, beginning on April 1, 1915.

The timing was fortuitous. After three years of playing one main venue and going on only a short tour each season, Sousa’s band was suddenly once again a hot property. When Richard joined the orchestra, it was for an extraordinary tour reaching all the way to the West Coast.

San Francisco was hosting a major event, the Panama-Pacific International Exhibition (the World’s Fair), celebrating the opening of the Panama Canal and the city’s own recovery from the horrific 1906 earthquake. Sousa’s band played on opening-day and performed for an extended run through May and June, allowing untold thousands to enjoy Whitby’s great solos.

The band might have played longer but for a telegram from New York, requesting their services for an upcoming extravaganza at the world’s largest theater, the Hippodrome.

Leaving San Francisco, the band toured the Northwest to great acclaim. Notable was a July concert before 17,000 attendees at a high school stadium in Tacoma, Washington. From there, the band toured through the Midwest and then played before large crowds in Pennsylvania, including a month at famous Willow Grove Park and two weeks at the Pittsburgh Exhibition, before finally arriving in New York.

Those were heady days for one of the world’s most famous bands, now performing at the 5,200 seat Hippodrome for an 8-month run. Critics raved, as did Theatre Magazine: “The astonished and delighted spectator feels like cheering all the way through the really wonderful program.” It was a smash success, but Whitby remained for only half the run (about 215 performances).

When his contract with Sousa expired at the end of the year, Richard returned to more familiar haunts. In 1916, he opened with a slide trombone solo for a Warrensburg concert by students of the famed Oscar Seagle. Whitby’s rendition of Patriot Polka was a tribute to his friend and former instructor, Arthur Pryor, author of the tune and acknowledged for decades as one of the world’s premiere trombonists.

Richard’s preference was to remain in the North Country, but no matter where he was, his talent and fame kept him in high demand. A renowned soloist who tested the limits of his instrument, Whitby starred for several years on Atlantic City’s Boardwalk. The main venue he played there was the famed Steel Pier, which extends 1000 feet over the ocean and today sits directly across the Boardwalk from Trump’s Taj Mahal Resort and Casino.

He also did stints at New York’s Palace Theater, and in the 1920s was soloist with the Paramount Symphony Orchestra at the Paramount Theater.

When he was upstate, he played with Noller’s Band of Troy and the Schenectady Symphony Orchestra. Whitby lived in Albany for many years, and through the 1930s and 1940s was one of the city’s and the region’s most sought-after musicians. He was widely acknowledged as one of the greatest trombone players in the country.

Obituaries normally mention one’s accomplishments, and when Richard Whitby died in 1952, his hometown obit noted only two events: “… native of Warrensburg … died … at his home in Albany.” It suggests an innocuous existence marked largely by his entrance into and exit from life. Being born and dying are surely significant, but as you can see, there was some other stuff in between.

Photo Top: The John Philip Sousa Band performing at the Panama-Pacific Exhibition (World’s Fair) in 1915.

Photo Middle: A euphonium, one of the instruments mastered by Richard A. Whitby.

Photo Bottom: The famed Steel Pier on Atlantic City’s Boardwalk.

Lawrence Gooley has authored nine books and many articles on the North Country’s past. He and his partner, Jill McKee, founded Bloated Toe Enterprises in 2004. He took over in 2010 and began expanding the company’s publishing services. For information on book publishing, visit Bloated Toe Publishing.


Tuesday, March 22, 2011

A Short History of Hoffman Notch Wilderness

The 38,500 acre Hoffman Notch Wilderness Area in the towns of Minerva, Schroon, and North Hudson (Essex County) is part of a giant swath of mountain wilderness you see along the west side of the Northway between Schroon Lake and North Hudson. It’s the kind of land the state has traditionally owned in the Adirondacks, rocky and mountainous, with little development potential. Most of the area is located in the Town of Schroon (21,593 acres), and North Hudson (15,280).

Once slated to be New York’s third state run ski area (more on that later) Hoffman Notch lies between Boreas Road (Blue Ridge Road Scenic Byway) on the North and developed areas west of Schroon Lake on the South (Loch Muller). On the east lies the Northway and Route 9, on the west Minerva Stream and the motorized Vanderwacker Wild Forest.

Although Hoffman Notch lies in the Upper Hudson Watershed, its primary waterways are the Boreas River (designated a scenic river) and the Schroon River (designated recreational). The Schroon was an important location for early native American travel and likely some small settlements. Minerva Stream flows into Trout Brook along with Rogers Brook, while Platt Brook and The Branch flow directly into the Schroon. There are about 3,000 acres of wetland and 155 acres of open water, including Big Pond (57 acres) in the south near North Pond (25 acres) and the smaller Marion (10 acres), and Bailey (18 acre) ponds to the west. Long-established camping areas and trails around these ponds get very little use and are almost never by promoted by local tourism efforts. One small pond, Big Marsh (13 acres), lies in Hoffman Notch itself, near the middle of the Wilderness Area.

Major mountains include those in the Blue Ridge Range: Hoffman Mountain, Blue Ridge Mountain, and the Peaked Hills to the east. Hayes Mountain lies in the southwest. Mount Severence (or Severence Hill), the most popular spot in the Hoffman Notch Wilderness is located in the southeast corner, accessed via a trail from Route 9 that travels under the Northway.

Thomas Cole painted Hoffman Mountain, then called Schroon Mountain, from a sheep field now covered by forest and later, Grace Hudolowski drew inspiration from the view of Hoffman from her east side of Schroon Lake camp, the Boulders.

There has been almost little historical development of the area beyond the late 1800s when the softwoods were logged along Minerva Stream, and the Boreas and Schroon rivers. Logging began with mostly pine, and then shifted to spruce and hemlock used in local tanneries. Because there was little market for hardwoods and they couldn’t be floated to mills, these trees were generally left behind.

The Hoffman Notch Wilderness was mostly (60%) acquired by the State from logging companies for back taxes before 1900. State law at the time, until the creation of the Forest Preserve, required the State to bid for lands at tax sale that had no other bidders. A smaller portion of Hoffman Notch (25%) was acquired between 1891 and 1900 by purchase. A section to the west was acquired in a settlement with George Finch that provided Finch Pruyn and Company the right to dam waters and flood land in order to drive logs to the Hudson, to cut some trees to build and repair dams and driving camps, a ten‐year logging easement (called then a “timber reservation”) and a right‐of way for an east‐west railroad, which was never built. The small balance of lands were acquired from timber companies and private citizens during the Great Depression. In 1959 Finch, Pruyn and Company gave the “People of State of New York” the last large piece located in the north central part of Hoffman Notch.

There were early tanneries nearby which likely drew hemlock bark from what is now the Wilderness Area. One was at Olmstedville, four were located a couple miles apart west of Schroon Lake, two on The Branch, and one west of North Hudson. These tanneries could consume 15,000 cords of bark per year, but most were out of business by the 1870s.

Jacob Parmeter built a forge in 1857 on the north bank of the West Branch (today The Branch) of the Schroon River and a sawmill and gristmill were also located there. The forge, sometimes called the Schroon River Forge, was owned by John Roth between 1861 and 1881, it was destroyed by fire in the very early 1880s. Roth’s Forge, was said to have had two or three fires, an 1,800 pound hammer and two wheels that produced blooms, billots and slabs and used ore brought from nearby Paradox Lake and Moriah. The tiny settlement of mostly workers was recreated as Roth’s Forge Village at Frontier Town in the 1950s.

Once most of the Hoffman Notch land had been acquired by the state, the Bailey Pond Inn was built in the late 1890’s in the hamlet of Loch Muller to the south by Paschal (Pasco) Warren. Begun as a simple boarding house, but later known as Warrens Inn, the location’s primary selling point was its access to the ponds, streams, and mountains in the Hoffman Notch area. The hotel was purchased by the Gadjo family in 1947. The Loch Muller white pine is located nearby, said to have been planted in 1845 by Paschal Warren, when he and the tree were both 12 years old. In 1920, Warren put a plaque on the tree with the inscription “Woodsman Spare That tree, Touch Not a Single Bough, In Youth It Protected Me, And I’ll Protect It Now.” Arthur Warren’s granddaughter, Marion is believed to have given her name to Marion Pond.

In 1967 there was a proposal to build a ski resort with lifts and 30 miles of trails
on Hoffman Mountain and two of the Peaked Hills. The plan was sponsored by the Schroon – North Hudson Winter Sports Council . Among the local proponents were M. Leo Friedman, a Schroon Lake attorney and realtor; Arthur Douglas, Town of Jay Supervisor and Essex County Chair; members of the Essex County Fish and Game League; the Town Supervisors of Schroon, North Hudson and Ticonderoga; and several local newspaper editors. Despite opposition by the Adirondack Mountain Club, the Forest Preserve taking passed the state legislature, but was defeated by voters by a margin of nearly 3 to 1.

Today, Hoffman Notch is little used. The historic route through the Notch is the
Hoffman Notch Trail, which was designated a snowmobile trail until the adoption of the Adirondack Park State Land Master Plan in 1972 made it a non‐conforming use and it became a foot trail, and perhaps more famously, a cross country ski trail. The Bailey Pond Trail was once a town road but was abandoned and Big Pond Trail (from Hoffman Road to junction of Hoffman Notch Trail) was once a logging road but now sees mostly cross country skiers.


Monday, March 21, 2011

Comments Sought on Hoffman Notch Wilderness

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has announced the release of the draft unit management plan (UMP) for the Hoffman Notch Wilderness. The unit consists of 38,500 acres in the Towns of North Hudson, Minerva and Schroon Lake in Essex County.

“The release of the draft unit management plan for the Hoffman Notch Wilderness is another significant milestone in our efforts to improve public access and ensure the protection of the Adirondacks for future generations,” DEC Commissioner Joe Martens said. “The public’s participation has been extremely valuable throughout the planning process to date, providing the Department with important information and recommendations incorporated into the draft plan.”

A public meeting will be held at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday, April 26, at the Town of Schroon Town Hall in Schroon Lake. The meeting will provide the public with an opportunity to learn more on the proposed management actions in the draft UMP and to provide comment on the proposals. DEC will accept comments on the draft UMP until May 13, 2011. The meeting facility is wheelchair accessible. Please provide any requests for specific accommodation to 518-623-1200 at least two weeks in advance.

The Hoffman Notch Wilderness, southern Essex County, is situated near the communities of Newcomb, North Hudson, Schroon Lake, Minerva and Olmstedville. The unit is generally bounded on the north by the Boreas Road, on the east by the Adirondack Northway, on the south by Hoffman Road, and on the west by the boundary of Vanderwhacker Mountain Wild Forest.

The Hoffman Notch Wilderness offers many recreational opportunities, including but not limited to hiking, cross country skiing, camping, canoeing, hunting, trapping and fishing. With over 18 miles of marked trails available, the public can easily reach a variety of natural attractions such as Hoffman Notch and Mt. Severance, as well as popular fishing locations at Bailey Pond or Big Pond. Other scattered water bodies providing additional recreational uses include Big Marsh, North Pond, Sand Pond, and Marion Pond.

Recommended management actions in the draft UMP include:

• Designate and sign the herd path south of Big Pond as a DEC trail connected to the Big Pond Trail to create a loop hiking and cross country skiing trail system from Hoffman Road and connected to Loch Muller road.

• Construct foot bridges over Hoffman Notch Brook near north end of Hoffman Notch Trail and over East Branch on the Big Pond Trail.

• Reroute 1/4 mile portion of Hoffman Notch Trail north of Big Marsh to west side of Hoffman Notch Brook.

• Construct an improved parking lot along the Blue Ridge Road to serve as the northern trailhead for the Hoffman Notch Trail.

• Designate two primitive tent sites on Big Pond.

A UMP must be completed before significant new recreational facilities, such as trails, lean-tos, or parking areas, can be constructed. The plan includes an analysis of the natural features of the area and the ability of the land to accommodate public use. The planning process is designed to cover all environmental considerations for the unit and forms the basis for all proposed management activities for a five-year time period.

UMPs are required by the Adirondack Park State Land Master Plan for each unit of State land in the Adirondack Park. The plans integrate the goals and objectives of the Master Plan, related legislation, and resource and visitor use information into a single document.

The draft UMP will be available for public review beginning next week at DEC headquarters in Albany, DEC Region 5 headquarters in Ray Brook and the DEC Region 5 office in Warrensburg. CDs of the plan will be available at these same locations, as well as the offices for the Towns of North Hudson, Minerva and Schroon Lake, and the Schroon Lake Public Library. The complete document will be available on DEC’s Unit Management Plan website at http://www.dec.ny.gov/lands/22600.html.

Public comments will be accepted until May 13, 2011, and may be sent to Ben Thomas, Senior Forester, NYSDEC, 232 Golf Course Road, Warrensburg, NY 12885 or emailed to r5ump@gw.dec.state.ny.us.


Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Adirondack Family Activities with Diane Chase: Seagle Music Colony

By Diane Chase, Adirondack Family Activities
Jack and the Beanstalk may be considered a children’s story but the undertones of the Seagle Music Colony’s operatic rendition leaves anyone with an appreciation for music with his/her own interpretation. The giant does get his in the end, but it is not the end one is expecting. For adults there is the rich performance of the four gifted students and children listen in awe to a magical story. The bonus is being able to meet the fairytale characters, come-to-life, after the show.

Founded in 1915 by world-renowned baritone Oscar Seagle, Seagle Music Colony draws the most talented singers from around the country for its summer training program. Open to only 32 individuals the auditions are rigorous.

Artist Director Darren Woods says,“ I was a child from a small town with no exposure to opera and went on to perform as a professional. When I started managing various companies it was important to me to incorporate some kind of free children’s offering.”

Woods, currently the General Director of Fort Worth Opera as well as Artistic Director of Seagle Music Colony understands that this select group of gifted singers attending the Seagle Music program will at some point in their careers perform operatic educational outreach.

“We have been doing free children’s operas at Seagle Music Colony for the past twelve years,” says Woods. “ The first year we did Little Red Riding Hood at the Boathouse Theatre (Schroon Lake) and couldn’t have squeezed another person in. We have now branched out to 10 performances around the North Country. Part of our mission is to provide quality entertainment to those living in the Adirondacks and that includes children.”

The children’s performance is not the only offering at Seagle. This year the schedule is full with the staged musical comedies of Hello Dolly and Carousel as well as The Marriage of Figaro performed in Italian with performances of Romeo and Juliet in French. There are also a “Salute to the Tony Awards” and “Vespers” concerts.

The next free performance of Jack in the Beanstalk is slated for July 16th in Bolton Landing. The tour continues to Glens Falls, July 17; North Creek, July 20; Ticonderoga, July 21; Chestertown, July 24; and Lake Placid on July 28.

The Children’s Opera is free but reservations are requested. Please call 518- 532-7875 for more information.

Photo of the Seagle Colony performance of Jack in the Beanstalk at the Boathouse Theatre and content © Diane Chase, Adirondack Family Activities ™. Diane is the author of the Adirondack Family Activities Guidebook Series including the recent released Adirondack Family Time: Tri-Lakes and High Peaks Your Guide to Over 300 Activities for Lake Placid, Saranac Lake, Tupper Lake, Keene, Jay and Wilmington areas (with GPS coordinates) This is the first book of a four-book series of Adirondack Family Activities. The next three editions will cover Plattsburgh to Ticonderoga, Long Lake to Old Forge and Newcomb to Lake George. 


Thursday, July 1, 2010

New Study: Visitors Are Younger, More Affluent

Visitors to Lake Placid and Essex County in 2009 were younger and more affluent than in 2008 according to the latest travel and tourism study. For the seventh year in a row, the Technical Assistance Center (TAC), based at SUNY Plattsburgh, was contracted by the Lake Placid CVB/Regional Office of Sustainable Tourism (LPCVB) to conduct an independent, third party Leisure Travel Information Study.

According to the report, the average household income of 2009 respondents was $93,211, which is slightly higher than in 2008 and the 5-year average of $91,610. The average age was 49.9 years, slightly lower than in 2008, with a 5-year average of 48.9 years.

Respondents live primarily in the Northeast. Hotels remain the most common type of lodging respondents used during their stay. When asked to select the activities which attracted them to the region, the top three were consistent with the 5 year average: outdoor activities, relax/dine/shop and sightseeing.

The results affirm many of the findings from previous years according to the study’s authors. Although there are seven years of data, the 2009 report compares to a five year rolling average to smooth out anomalies.

The LPCVB promotes the Schroon Lake, Lake Champlain, Whiteface, Saranac Lake and Lake Placid regions. The study is based on a survey of the LPCVB’s 2009 trackable leads database. New leads are added on a constant basis; walk-in visitors, phone and mail inquiries, bingo cards from magazine advertising, and web signups provide a snapshot of the respondents to the 2009 overall marketing efforts.

Although lakeplacid.com alone receives millions of unique visitors, the survey takes only these trackable leads into consideration. In order to calculate the economic impact of the LPCVB’s marketing efforts exclusively, the results do not include any standard economic multipliers, such as the impact from group visitation, staff expenditures, sales tax or events.

In addition to valuable demographic data and trends, the study’s intent is to determine the effectiveness of the LPCVB’s marketing programs, to measure the return on investment (ROI) ratio for public marketing expenditures and the conversion rate factor, or the number of those leads who actually visited the region.

The report found that the percent of visitors who stated that the information or advertisements viewed influenced their decision to visit the region was 79%, which is near the five-year average of 82%. And, for every occupancy tax dollar the LPCVB spent on marketing, visitors to Essex County spent $89, which is slightly higher than in 2008, and lower than the five-year average of 99:1.

The 2009 report, additional CVB research and more is available for download at a new online resource developed specifically for local tourism-related businesses at www.lakeplacidcvb.com.


Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Adirondack Shakespeare Company’s Season Announced

The Adirondack Shakespeare Company (ADK Shakes) will present its first full Summer Festival Season at the Boathouse Theatre in Schroon Lake Village with As You Like It, Romeo and Juliet, and Macbeth. Last year, the company presented Hungry Will’s Variety Hour at the outdoor amphitheater at Scaroon Manor, formerly Taylor’s Point.

This summer, a company of twelve professional actors will present the three plays in repertory over the course of three weeks using ADK Shakes’s trademark, adrenaline-fueled “RAW” performance style. This method – “Shakespeare in The RAW” – strips away all extraneous elements of production, and has yielded the company success, selling out its latest production of Richard III in New York City.

With only Shakespeare’s words remaining, the actors and the audience build the world of the play together in their imaginations. In performance, the audience is let in on that rare moment when the acting company discovers the play for the very first time. Greg Davies, who played the title role in Richard III, calls his experience with the RAW method “the most energy and the most excitement I have ever felt on stage.” The company considers THE RAW as much an extreme sport as it is an art form.

ADK Shakes presents As You Like It on July 16, 22, and 30; Romeo and Juliet on July 18, 23, and 31; and Macbeth on July 25 and 29 and August 1. All performances are at 2:00 p.m. In case of rain, performances will take place inside the Boathouse Theatre in Schroon Lake Village. Weather permitting, performances will be held outside the Theatre at the Bandstand in Schroon Lake Town Park.

For more information and to purchase tickets, visit www.adkshakes.org.

Photo: Tara Bradway as Helena, Collin Ware as Demetrius in a scene from A Midsummer Night’s Dream. In Hungry Will’s Variety Hour produced by The Adirondack Shakespeare Company in 2010.



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