When historians look through archival photos, it can be difficult to analyze an image’s authenticity. The question is not whether the image is genuine, per say, but how frank or candid the photo really is. This can be especially challenging when looking through photographs taken by government agencies who, understandably, have an agenda and often preserved images that were created with a certain narrative in mind. This is why, while the historic photos of Forest Rangers that graced the glossy pages of the Conservationist Magazine have become iconic, I tend to prefer to obtain photos from the rangers personal collections. » Continue Reading.
Posts Tagged ‘Stony Creek’
On December 15, 1973, Canadian Charbot Germain attempted to drive his tractor-trailer from Stony Creek to Utica on a snowmobile trail. It didn’t go well.
It started out as tales of lost Adirondack visitors often do, with directions from a local. It was suggested that Germain could shorten his trip by taking Route 8 from the Northway toward North Creek. He found himself instead in Stony Creek, headed down the rough Harrisburg Road in the dark. » Continue Reading.
I recently discovered an article written by Alexander Byron Lamberton, one of Old Forge’s earliest historical figures, that was published in Forest and Stream in March of 1876.
The article describes the first large-scale stocking of fish on Fulton Chain waters. Lamberton had only recently taken over as owner of the Forge House, and his story reads like an adventure tale: » Continue Reading.
The Wilderness Area would combine 3,925 acres of former Finch, Pruyn timberlands that the state recently purchased from the Nature Conservancy and 8,925 acres of existing Forest Preserve in the Shaker Mountain Wild Forest.
“The West Stony Creek area is rugged terrain dominated by low ridges and mountains and the meandering West Stony Creek and associated wetlands. The Forest Preserve sections have old-growth forest communities,” Protect Chairman Chuck Clusen said in a news release today.
Protect also says a Wilderness classification would offer stronger protection for a six-mile stretch of West Stony Creek that is designated a Scenic River within the state’s Wild, Scenic, and Recreational Rivers System.
The Raquette River, from Raquette Falls to the State Boat Launch on Tupper Lake, is one of the nicest stretches of flat-water anywhere in the Adirondacks. Paddling this river corridor under a clear cerulean blue sky, on a sunny autumn day with the riverbanks ablaze in orange and red, is exquisite. For me, though, the river’s history is as captivating as its natural beauty.
Countless people have traveled this section of river over the centuries. There were native peoples who hunted, fished, and trapped, the hinterlands of Long Lake and further into the Raquette Lake area, long before whites appeared on the Adirondack Plateau. There were the early farmers and families wanting to start a new livelihood. There were the guides and their wealthy “sports”, (and later the families of these sports) desiring adventure and recreation. There were people seeking better health and relief from the despair and disease of the cities. There were merchants, hotelkeepers, charwomen, day labors, ax-men, river drivers, and a host of others. There were the famous, the not so famous, and the down-and-out.
All of these people, and many others, used the Raquette ( Racket or Racquette ) River as a transportation highway. The number of footfalls on the carries at and around Raquette Falls is limited only to the imagination. In his book Adirondack Canoe Waters: North Flow, Paul Jamieson refers to the nearby Indian Carry, at Corey’s separating the Raquette River system from the Sacanac River system, as the “Times Square of the woods.” ( Note: In the Adirondacks one “carries” around rapids and waterfalls, one does not “portage.” ) » Continue Reading.
A diamond in the rough? Set back from the road, porch covered in vines, (which we later learned were hops); the dirt parking area and picnic tables are deceiving. Step onto the porch and the entrance inspires curiosity. Round tables with sprawling chairs invoke a shady retreat. No sign that we noticed, just a simple number 16, embellished with scroll work, over the front entrance-way of Tavern 16.
Enter and let your eyes adjust to the darkness. Upper walls on three sides are completely covered in various pieces of artwork, some originals, some prints (we’re pretty sure the VanGogh was a print), including a painting of the Sagamore Hotel, among other works by Elsie Soto, mother of owner Hank. Decorative panels beneath the bar, each one unique, are also creations of hers. The bar on the opposite wall is adorned with intricately detailed oak wood and mirrors, once bed headboards. Every glance reveals some now object of interest, painstakingly selected and collected by owners Hank and Toni. We take a seat at the bar and wonder where to purchase our tickets to this museum.
The bartender waits patiently while Pam surveys the liquor display. Oooh, pear flavored vodka, something she hasn’t tried yet. Ken suggests the pear with club soda and a splash of cranberry and Pam agrees. We are recognized by a long lost acquaintance and our story unfolds. Kim wishes she brought her wide angle lens for the photo shoot; there is so much to observe. Pam is eager to check out the bathroom and is not disappointed once she does. It’s a little gallery in there.
A pool table is nearly centered in the room, with maybe 50 trophies hanging above it and a few pool cues as well. We know the history of the family behind this tavern so we are not as surprised as some might be. Henry Soto, known as “Pop”, is a locally renowned pool shark. Reigning champions for at least the last decade, the Tavern 16 pool league, “Pop’s Pool League”, is reverently named for him. His son, Hank, has been a member of the Stony Creek Band for more than 30 years. Interestingly, neither Hank nor his father has aged much in those 30 years.
Pam begins her fact-finding dialogue with the bartender, Ken, and finds him extremely knowledgeable about the history and the everyday details of Tavern 16 – more like a curator than bartender. When she eventually learns that he was just filling in for the day, she is even more impressed. He is, in fact, more a patron than curator. In either role, Ken seems genuinely fond and proud of the establishment and its owners. The patrons, too, are quite proud of Tavern 16, its history, and the history of Stony Creek.
On a follow-up visit, it seemed everyone in the place had a story or morsel of trivia they wanted to share: “You don’t need a tattoo to fit in here.” “The jukebox has the most eclectic collection of music in the Adirondacks.” “Stony Creek has the highest number of single men per capita in Warren County.” And so on. Tavern 16 served as the Grange Hall in the 1940’s, but judging from newspapers used as insulation in the walls and dated 1865, Hank concludes that it was built in the mid-1800’s.
Ken modestly reveals that he has an interest in drink creation and shared an unnamed blend with us, which we have dubbed Ken’s Creekside Cooler until something better comes up. Jennifer, Tavern 16’s longest-standing bartender has a list of her own drink creations as well, including Sex in the Creek and the Jen-Garita, though her recipes are secret and she didn’t want to share. You’ll have to see her personally for that.
Ken’s Creekside Cooler
1 part tequila
1 part Absolut Citron
Tavern 16 is open every day, year round, from 2 p.m. to 10 p.m. (or later) and closes ONLY on Thanksgiving Day. Though they don’t serve food, in winter months a crockpot of something tasty and comforting is always simmering.
During the summer months, Tavern 16 hosts a cookout every Tuesday evening in conjunction with the town sponsored Stony Creek Music in the Park series of concerts. The first of this season is on July 5 at 7:00 p.m., rain or shine. They fire up the grill at about 5:30 at the Tavern 16. Food is free, but you can bring along something to share. One day a year, a Customer Appreciation Day cookout is held as well. We apparently just missed that event. Drink prices are in the low to average range, but a Saranac Pale Ale pint was a little pricier than most places we’ve reviewed. Don’t let that stop you though. Just experiencing this tavern is worth it.
Several bikers came in while we were there and Pam couldn’t resist a little friendly taunting. Yes, Pam would have to taunt the bikers! They offered some information about other bars in the Adirondacks that we must visit, gave her more insight about Sporty’s Tavern in Minerva, and eventually headed out. Probably wanted to get to a WiFi hotspot to check out our blog on their iPhones or Blackberries.
This is a “must see” tavern. Next time you are in Stony Creek, stop in, but put your transition lens glasses in your pocket for a few minutes before entering. You’ll find a warm, welcoming staff, a friendly bunch of locals who like to tell stories, and probably a visitor or two. And be sure to mention Happy Hour in the High Peaks if you run into Ken or Hank.
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.
Our most frequently frequented bar since the start of our drinking careers, something about the Stony Creek Inn just keeps luring us back year after year. As winter surrenders to spring, we count down the days until reopening, marking our calendars to keep the date free of other conflicts, and reminding our friends to save the day. This year’s opening party featured Jeff Gonzales warming the gathering crowd with his country-blues, finger-pickin’ solo acoustic sets. The Stony Creek Band, an Adirondack music icon, is as grand a feature act as can be found in the Adirondack Park; Sunday’s Mexican menu a festive feast befitting the occasion.
Excellent food, always cooked to order at an amazingly low price, world-class musicians, a variety of friendly, happy patrons whose camaraderie and grinning faces are contagious, and a dance floor packed with uninhibited, twirling, foot-stomping glee. The scrumptious smells from the kitchen follow you inside and outside – there is no escape – you will have to eat something while you’re here. Drinks are straightforward. No fancy martinis or clever shots. A modest variety of bottled and draft beers, simple mixed drinks and an occasional margarita are the norm, priced a little on the high side. With only two bartenders on a busy night, expect to wait a little while to quench your thirst. Just relax. Listen to the music. Look around. Plying customers with excessive quantities of alcohol is not high on the proprietors’ list of goals.
And let’s not forget our outstanding hosts, Dot Bartell and John Fickel, owners and curators of this exhibit for over 31 years. Diminutive Dotty can be spotted darting throughout the dining area – meeting, greeting and seating diners. John is in the kitchen but makes frequent appearances, usually wearing a stained apron over shorts, a bandanna covering his head.
A visit with Dottie reveals a strong sense of pride in the history of the Stony Creek Inn. Built in 1905 with locally milled lumber, before electricity made its way to Stony Creek, the interior has changed little over the years. With characteristic Adirondack thrift and ingenuity, materials are often reused in new and creative ways. A door becomes a window, perhaps; siding serves as ceiling. The hardwood floor is mostly concealed by layers of wax that has blackened over the century; the only area of bare wood is the dance floor, worn too thin by countless shuffling, stomping feet to even sand one more time. A sense of community within the walls of the Stony Creek Inn is reflected in the collection of artwork, posters, photos and memorabilia hanging on the walls. An original poster, now framed and signed by local musicians was given in thanks for “Dot and Johnstock”, an annual fundraiser now in its fourth year, with proceeds to benefit Cindy’s Retreat and the Southern Adirondack Musicians Fund.
The local regulars typically occupy the barstools furthest from the action, where they have a wide-angle view of the activity taking place around them. The pool table is always occupied and clusters of people ebb and flow with the tide of more and more bodies. The dining room closest to the stage tends to hold those who are really there to hear the band and to dance. There’s a back room behind it, nicknamed the “Yuppie Room”, which accommodates up to 35 people who can still see and hear the band and dance floor. One table of folks brought to mind The Fockers at a rehearsal dinner.
Yuppies and hippies, young and old, bikers and beatniks, artists, musicians, professionals (buttoned-down and buttoned-up), intellectuals, locals, and vacationers populate the Inn throughout its season, which currently begins in mid-May and continues through the last Sunday of hunting season, this year falling on December 4. Hunters and outdoor sports enthusiasts often inhabit the upstairs rooms, rented nightly for $35.00. A step above camping, the accommodations offer no cell phone reception, no TV’s or even room keys, but clean sheets and plenty of hot water.
Slipping out to the spacious front porch, recently rebuilt with the help of volunteers, offers a place to escape the din, cool off after bumping bodies on the dance floor, have a conversation, or just hear yourself think. We met a group of gentlemen who, once they inquired about Kim’s camera, were eager to share a book called Nickel City Drafts: a Drinking History of Buffalo, NY. Odd they should carry it around with them.
What the Inn lacks in ambience is compensated in enthusiasm and diversity. It’s loud, crowded, and just a whole lot of fun. There is a common misconception that the Stony Creek Inn is in the middle of nowhere. In reality, the picturesque drive to Stony Creek is just 15 minutes from Warrensburg and the Hadley/Luzerne area, 20 minutes from Lake George, and 30 minutes from Queensbury. People drive a lot further for a lot less. Like the sign says, “The road to a friendly town is never long”.
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.
North Creek’s annual Whitewater Derby is an event which deserves proper recognition – of the drink persuasion. We spent some time on “research” last week, creating the Whitewater Rushin’, and an interesting variation; its subtle maple flavor and frothy finish a tribute to spring in the northeast. It’s been some time since we were at Whitewater Derby – back when it was just a great excuse to party, camping at the ski bowl, an inch of snow on the roof of the VW bus, and no watercraft in sight. Considering our current livelihood, it was high time we returned, so we had our own private, mini pub crawl in North Creek on Saturday.
1 oz. Sapling Maple Liqueur
1/2 oz. Amaretto
1 oz. vanilla vodka
2 oz. cream or milk
Shake with ice or use a blender
Beginning with Trapper’s at the Copperfield Inn, Pam ordered a “Snow Bunny Martini”, a delicious grape-flavored concoction that set the tone for the afternoon. We met a newcomer to North Creek, Michael, who had just begun the arduous task of tearing down an existing home and putting up a camp. Good luck with that, Michael. We couldn’t stay long; we had planned to visit five of the local pubs, including Laura’s which we have yet to review. As we headed out, under the gaze of Teddy Roosevelt’s moose, bedecked in his own derby number, Pam remarked that Trapper’s has, by far, the very best outdoor ashtray we have yet seen.
Snow Bunny Martini
3 Olives grape vodka
Whipped cream vodka
Off we went to the Barking Spider. We hadn’t been there since February and were pleased to find it quite crowded and noisy and we managed to grab a couple of seats at the bar. Pam couldn’t decide which direction her next cocktail should take from the grapes of Trappers and, ironically, the bartender suggested the Grape Crush. A theme was emerging. It was even more delicious than the previous drink.
Pam went outside to see what was happening on the deck (perhaps “landing” more aptly describes it) and talked to some nice people about the Derby – the Kentucky Derby. Two kayaks paddled by on the Hudson, lending a feeling of being a part of the Whitewater Derby! That’s more than we’ve ever seen in our history of attending. Hmmm, what if OTB got involved in whitewater racing??? When it was time for the ladies on the deck to order, they advised their companions that they wanted what Pam was having. She must have had “delicious” written all over her face as she sipped her beverage because she hadn’t commented on it. Upon further reflection, perhaps it was the pint sized glass the drink came in that attracted their attention.
Splash of craberry juice
Top off with Sprite
And we’re off…to do a review of Laura’s. We popped in and found it totally empty; even the bartender was missing. So we scooted out undetected, planning to stop at barVino. With the grape theme going, that would have been an obvious choice, but Pam didn’t think their grapes would complement the grapes she had already consumed. So, it was decided, one last stop at Basil & Wicks, then home.
Basil & Wick’s trail marker themed sign indicated we were on the right trail. From our parking space we could see into the dining room, where Jane, the owner, was waving us in. She even came out onto the porch to greet us, making us feel really special. Pam once said, “A good tavern is one that makes strangers feel they are in their own home town.”
Basil & Wick’s is like going home. Jane proudly showed Kim her newest museum piece – a barstool from the original Basil & Wick’s, hermetically sealed in its own plexiglass case. The bar was fairly full and we actually knew a few people, among them local music legend Hank Soto, of Stony Creek Band fame. We will actually be reviewing the Stony Creek Inn next week, celebrating its reopening on Sunday, May 15, featuring the Stony Creek Band. You know ’em, you love ’em… Hope to see some of you there!
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
July 17th marked the beginning of Upper Hudson River Railroad’s two-train Saturdays, when both morning and afternoon trains are scheduled, taking passengers northward in the morning to enjoy not only the scenic excursion by rail, but also allowing them to enjoy an outing in one of the First Wilderness Heritage Corridor communities along the route. These Saturday offerings will continue through August 21st. » Continue Reading.
This week you can check out some bluegrass, Beartracks and the Gibson Brothers are gigging. Mecca Bodega is a fun band to dance to – I really enjoyed them the last time the passed through the area. There’s also a good open mic to remember in Canton and if you didn’t get the chance Armida is being shown once again in Lake Placid. I’m also curious about the JUNO award winner playing in Lowville. Please let me know if you find out anything about the bands where there is no information to be found online.
Thursday, May 6th:
In Canton, Open Mic at the Blackbird Cafe with host Geoff Hayton. Sign up is at 6:30 and show starts at 7, it runs until 9 pm. Best performances are picked to be part of a CD released later this year. For more information email: firstname.lastname@example.org .
In Plattsburgh, Beartracks, which consists of Junior Barber, Tom Venne and Julie Venne Hogan will perform at the Universalist Unitarian Fellowship of Plattsburgh. The doors open at 7 pm and admission is $10. For more information,
Friday, May 7th:
In Ellenburg, the Gibson Brothers are in concert at The Northern Adirondack HIgh School. Doors open at 6 pm. For more information email:email@example.com or call (518) 497-6962.
Saturday, May 8th:
In Lowville, Stephen Fearing who is part of Blackie & The Rodeo Kings a JUNO winning trio from Canada. This is part of the Black River Valley Concert Series and will be held at the Lewis County Historical Society. The doors open at 7:45 and admission is $15/18.
In North Creek, Mud Party at Laura’s Tavern.
Sunday, May 9th:
In Glens Falls, The Glens Falls Symphony concert will begin at 4 pm in the Glens Falls High School. They will perform Mahler and J.S. Bach. Phone (518) 793-1348 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
In Stony Creek, The Von Bulows will play at the Stony Creek Inn. Music starts at 6 pm.
Tuesday, May 11th:
In Lake Placid, The Met Live in HD Encore Presentation of “Armida” will be shown at LPCA. The opera starts at 5:30 pm and runs 4 hours and 20 minutes with intermissions.
Wednesday, May 12th:
This weekend one has the opportunity to see Renee Fleming in the title role of “Armida” the Rossini opera now playing at the Met in NYC. Now, not only can you see this spectacular show in Potsdam but LPCA has jumped on the Live in HD experience and I, for one, can’t wait to check it out.
A calendar of upcoming events follows:
Thursday, April 29th:
In Canton, Best of Open Mic CD Release Party at the Blackbird Cafe. The show runs from 7 – 9 pm.
Friday, April 30th:
In Lowville, Bruce Robison, a “Texas songwriter”, gives a concert at the Lewis County Historical Society. This is presented as part of the Black River Valley Concert Series and starts at 8 pm. Tickets are $18/22 at the door. For more information email: email@example.com .
Saturday, May 1st:
In Lake Placid, The Metropolitan Opera: Live in HD’s, “Armida” is being shown at LPCA. See and listen to Renee Fleming in the Rossini opera. It begins at 1 pm and runs for 4 hours and 20 minutes with intermissions.
In Blue Mountain Lake, a Student Recital and Art Exhibit will be given at the Adirondack Lakes Center For The Arts. The reception will begin at 6:30 pm. This is a family friendly event and tickets are $3.
In Whallonsburg, Gary Finney and the Upstate Boys will be hosting a Square Dance at the Whallonsburg Grange Hall. The dance will be held from 7 – 9 pm.
There is $5 cover and children under 12 are free. Call (518) 963 – 4179 for more information.
In Tupper Lake, the Adirondack Singers Spring Concert is at the Holy Name Church. The concert runs from 7:30 – 9 pm for a suggested donation of $5/3. Please call (518) 523 – 2238 or 891 – 5008 for more information.
In North Creek, Fingerdiddle at Laura’s Tavern at 9 pm.
Sunday, May 2nd:
In Saranac Lake, the Adirondack Singers Spring Concert will be held from 2 – 4 pm at St. Bernard’s Roman Catholic Church. Suggested donations are $5/3. Please call (518) 523 – 2238 or 891 – 5008 for more information.
In Queensbury, the Lake George Chamber Orchestra will be performing Beethoven’s 9th at 9 pm. This concert will be held at the Queensbury Campus of the Adirondack Community College. The theater is in the Humanities building.
Wednesday, May 5th:
Photo: Renee Fleming in “Armida”
In the mid-fifties, when I was four or five, I started visiting an old bootlegger’s hideout in the woods of Thurman with my friend Dinah, Dinny, who was a year and a century older than I was, and infinitely wiser, and whom I admired and adored.
The place belonged to her father, a surgeon who was our landlord in Schenectady. You reached it down a narrow track that opened into a long oval drive surrounding two or three acres of Arcadian white pines. The house stood at the end of the long oval, atop a bluff surrounded by a 180 degree bend in Patterson Brook. A wide screened flagstone porch supported by large pine logs gave way to a central frame structure two stories high, with one-story lean-tos built off the sides housing another bedroom, bathroom, and the kitchen.
A balcony surrounded the central hall and led to the upstairs bedrooms, which were small and rough, the bathrooms wainscoted and tiled. From the balconies you looked down on a large living room of cozy bamboo couches and chairs, coffee tables, lamps and magazine racks filled with Life, Look, National Geographic, The Conservationist, Field and Stream, and Superman comics. A bear rug covered the floor in front of the fireplace, another decorated a wall, and a moose head hung over the wide, open hearth fireplace.
The electricity came from a generator in a log shed located out of earshot at the far end of the driveway, a big Chrysler six that ran only in the evening, used enormous amounts of gas and had to be frequently coaxed into life by the caretaker, Ken Bonner, whom I knew twenty years later as an old-time fiddle player in Stony Creek. The kitchen had gas appliances, and they burned gas and kerosene lamps in the rest of the house when the generator was on the fritz, which it usually was.
A concrete ramp outside led downstairs under the kitchen into the “cool cellar,” where the family stored vegetables and beer, and which had originally been the liquor vault. In bootlegging days cars backed down the ramp, loaded up and made the quick shot to Saratoga, Albany and points south. Sometimes Dinny’s older brother Jeff trapped porcupines and raccoons there.
At first the deep woods’ sensory field disoriented me. Lying alone in my bedroom, with animals prowling sometimes audibly outside, I felt even at five or six connected to a greater if more uncertain and more thrilling reality than the one on the street and in the yards of downtown Schenectady and along the Mohawk. Waking in the night I couldn’t identify or locate the sound that came from the wind in the trees, which reminded me of the bodies and pews rustling together in church and seemed to come from everywhere. The creek roaring below after a night of rain brought a similar far-off echo of white noise, a gigantic hush that drowned out the noise going on in your head. Perhaps that was the first time I noticed the world slapping me into attention.
The place generated other patterns. The days had a morning adventure and an afternoon adventure—catching frogs, rock hopping in the creek, fishing. We played on the sawdust mountain outside the mill at the end of the driveway and came home with its rich piney smell on our bodies. Cool evenings by the fireplace, the doctor or his brother, also a doctor and a jazz clarinetist, told stories. They were not sportsmen themselves, but their colleagues nearby were, and we heard a lot about fishing, hunting and wildlife.
With Jeff we crawled through the alders to the edge of clear pools in Patterson Brook and spied on wild brookies hovering on their fins as if in midair, magnified in the water’s lens. One evening at dusk, driving home from the rodeo at 1000 Acres, we skinny-dipped like trout in Stony Creek. That was interesting and the last time the adults allowed it to happen.
The Hudson braided under the Thurman Bridge a couple of miles from camp among green islands supporting rare ice-meadow flora, the consequence of jagged bergs scouring the wide low banks each spring, which we knew nothing of at the time. Beef cattle grazed on the bigger, grassier islands downstream.
On the Thurman side a cut-bank fifty feet high ran along the river, nesting habitat for a huge colony of bank swallows, thousands swirling in the evening light for mayflies hatching off the broad shallows when we drove back to camp with ice cream cones.
After I moved to Hadley in the summer of 1969, I would cross the bridge and turn right into the maze of dirt roads that ran among the knobby mountains between there and The Glen, trying to find the camp and measure it against my memory. Usually I got lost, but more than once I made my way down an overgrown path in the woods to the broken down generator shack and bare concrete cellar hole. The ramp to the booze vault was still intact but the house a pile of ash. The chimney survived. How could such a thing have happened? Dinny’s father had lost the place in a bad real estate deal, it had changed hands and been left uncared for. It burned. The next time I found it nothing remained of the huge pines but a few redwood-sized stumps.
Much else had changed in the ten years since I had stayed there. When I heard that Dinny had died of cancer a few years ago I remembered the last time I’d seen her, when she and her father had driven into the four corners of Stony Creek on a summer afternoon in the mid-seventies at the precise moment when I happened to be crossing the street from one bar to another with a beer in my hand. The doctor had retired. Dinny was married, a nurse, employed and mainstream. They had been cruising the old roads and visiting their former haunts.
The doctor followed me to our rented farmhouse five miles from the town center at the headwaters of the creek and I made them tea. It seemed wrong to him, I could tell, that I had turned up uncertainly employed and rough in such a place, a counter-culture outcast. Dinny and I talked awkwardly about their attempt to find the cellar hole and recreate in their minds the way the place had felt back when the pines and house still stood.
But what struck her the hardest, she said, was the swallow colony, wiped out by Ddt, sand mining or some combination of both and whatever other outrage we couldn’t imagine. It was the last such profusion of animals, almost Serengeti-like, we remembered in the Adirondacks. “It’s so sad,” she said, mourning we weren’t even sure what. I know now that it was the beginning of the long sorrow, the realization that no elsewhere existed for us any more that would somehow keep alive the expressions of an earlier reality in the sounds of wind and water, and the whirr of thousands of tiny wings.
Carl Thomas of Stony Creek, like his neighbor and Warrensburg First Baptist Church preacher Roger Richards, are regular writers to the Adirondack Journal. There’s a sense that both men believe they have it all pretty-well figured out. They know that evolution and global warming are a bunch of bull and they have no trouble lecturing their neighbors as to why. They don’t use words like “I think” because they prefer “the bible says.”
This past week, as nearly 1,500 communities across the county are preparing to meet together to teach and learn from each other and to renew a call for our nation’s leaders to make some progress – in Bill McKibben’s words, “to Step It Up” – in reducing our emissions of greenhouse gases, Carl Thomas thought it important to write a letter to the editor to say that there was “one major problem with McKibben’s idea: God’s Word.” Then he cited his proof from Matthew, Luke, Mark, and Psalms.
Based on what he calls “simple math” Stony Creek Carl believes that about 2030 is when the world will end, and there is nothing we can do about it – reducing carbon emissions, conserving energy, protecting the environment – it’s all in vain. “To the believer this is what we have been waiting for through the years,” Thomas wrote this past week, saying that “all scholars agree” that 1948 signaled the re-establishment of Israel and, since Psalms it says that most people live to be 70 or 80, “simple math mean[s] by2028…this age will end.”
Stony Creek Carl is one in a long line of true believers with apocalyptic math-bible obsessions. William Miller, of Low Hampton in Washington County, was recently notable for his own widely adopted math-bible obsession.
Miller was one of the earliest and most renowned proponents of what is now called Adventism – a belief held by the present 7th Day Adventist, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and others that the second advent (second coming) of Christ was imminent. Miller, and the Millerites who accepted his teachings, believed the world would end in 1843. This was based on Miller’s “simple math” and supported by Daniel 8:14, which notes that “it will take 2,300 evenings and mornings; then the sanctuary will be reconsecrated.” You can figure out for yourself how that theory worked out.
Like Stony Creek Carl, William Miller did some figurin’ and decided that “2,300 evenings and mornings” actually meant 2,300 years. And since the 2,300 years started in 457 B.C. when Artxerxes I of Persia (that’s basically Iran/Iraq/Syria) allowed the rebuilding of Jerusalem, Miller’s “simple math” determined that Christ would return, and the world would end, in 1843. “I was thus brought” Miller wrote, “to the solemn conclusion, that in about twenty-five years from that time 1818 all the affairs of our present state would be wound up.”
Among Millers earliest believers was a man who Miller described as his “best friend on earth,” Chester Baptist Church pastor Truman Hendryx. Letters between William Miller and Hendryx reveal a close friendship, and a firm belief the world would soon end with Christ’s arrival, albeit with some question as to whether they had the time of his arrival correctly calculated. When the first biography of the William Miller was written in the 1870s, it included reprints of the two men’s correspondence.
Hendryx, Miller, and Stony Creek Carl are united in the belief that the world is going end soon – unfortunately for them (or fortunately, depending on your view) they didn’t have the same bible-math teacher.
There are however, glaring difference in the beliefs of the three men. During Hendryx and Miller’s time a debate regularly raged in Warren County about whether something should be done about slavery. Hendryx and Miller believed that slavery was awful, that it didn’t matter much whether or not slaves were free or not because, well, the world was going to end anyway. Still, they opposed slavery, and spoke passionately about its evils. They did something about slavery because they believed it was wrong. They believed they and their neighbors to the south could do better. Better for the humans held in bondage, and better in terms of their own (and their neighbors) sense of right and wrong.
It’s too bad Stony Creek Carl (and others like him) don’t feel the same way about global warming, one of the more important debates of our own time.
On Saturday, there will be at least a dozen Step It Up events inside the Adirondack Park. We received a number of invitations to local events, but we hope to split our own time between the event at Garnet Hill Lodge near North Creek (with hopes of enjoying the “Adirondack vegetarian buffet lunch” from 12 to 1) and an evening at Bolton Landing where Big Tuna and Blues Highway will be playing at 5 pm, at The Conservation Club (on Edgecomb Pond Road).