Cornell Cooperative Extension has announced an intergenerational snowshoe trip has been set for Tuesday, January 7th in Stony Creek.
This event is the first of Cornell’s 2020 intergenerational Wellness Through the Generations events. This guided easy and short snowshoe event is open to people of all ages and abilities, and will be the first of many similar opportunities throughout the year. » Continue Reading.
The Town of Johnsburg is set to host a Broadband Symposium on March 15th at 6:30 pm in The Tannery Pond Community Center, to review the results since February 2018 of the new NY Broadband Program in Warren County.
The presentations will focus on customers connected, new customer connections being made, and future plans by Frontier Communications, Slic Network Solutions, and HughesNet. » Continue Reading.
The Dot & Johnstock Annual Fundraiser to benefit Cindy’s Cancer Retreats and the Southern Adirondack Musicians Fund (SAM) has been set for Saturday, June 16, from 1 to 5 pm at the Stony Creek Inn.
The original Dot & Johnstock in 2008 raised funds and hope for Stony Creek Inn owners Dot Bartell and John Fickel when beginning their cancer journey. Since then, the fundraiser has benefited Cindy’s Cancer Retreats and the SAM fund. » Continue Reading.
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.
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.
Protect the Adirondacks is urging the state to create a 12,850-acre West Stony Creek Wilderness Area in the southern Adirondacks.
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 Pineapple juice
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.
Whitewater Rushin’ 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.
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.
Grape Crush Grape vodka Chambord 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.
Saying the agency was “acting to protect natural resources and to curtail illegal and unsafe activities,” the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has announced it has relocated six campsites closer to main roads and will not reopen the gates at the Hudson River Special Management Area (HRSMA) of the Lake George Wild Forest. The gates, only recently installed to limit the area’s roads during spring mud season, will remain closed until further notice. “Unfortunately, due to funding reductions resulting from the state’s historic budget shortfall, DEC is, as previously announced, unable to maintain many of the roads in HRSMA and must keep the gates closed until the budget situation changes,” a DEC statement said. Also known as the “Hudson River Rec Area” or the “Buttermilk Area,” the HRSMA is a 5,500-acre section of forest preserve located on the eastern shore of the Hudson River, straddling the boundary of the towns of Lake Luzerne and Warrensburg in Warren County. Designated “Wild Forest” under the Adirondack Park State Land Master Plan, HRSMA is a popular location for camping, swimming, picnicking, boating, tubing, horseback riding, hiking, hunting and fishing. The Hudson River Rec Area has been a popular spot for late-night parties, littering, and other abuses.
Six campsites (# 6-11) have been relocated due to vandalism and overuse. Campsites #6, 7, 8, and 10 and 11 are relocated in the vicinity of the old sites and just a short walk from the parking areas. Parking for each of these sites is provided off Buttermilk Road. Site 9 has been relocated to the Bear Slide Access Road providing an additional accessible campsite in the HRSMA for visitors with mobility disabilities. Site 11 is located off Gay Pond Road, which is currently closed to motor vehicle traffic.
Signs have been posted identifying parking locations for the sites and markers have been hung to direct campers to the new campsite locations. Camping is permitted at designated sites only – which are marked with “Camp Here” disks.
Gay Pond Road (3.8 mi.) and Buttermilk Road Extension (2.1 mi.) are temporarily closed to all public motor vehicle access. Pikes Beach Access Road (0.3 mi.) and Scofield Flats Access Road (0.1 mi.) may still be accessed by motor vehicle by people with disabilities holding CP3 permits. As in the past, the Bear Slides Access Road and Darlings Ford are closed to motor vehicle use by the general public but will remain open for non-motorized access by the general public and motorized access by people with disabilities holding a CP-3 permit.
Currently eight campsites designed and managed for accessibility remain available to people with mobility disabilities. All of the designated sites are available to visitors who park in the designated parking areas and arrive by foot or arrive by canoe.
DEC Forest Rangers will continue to educate users, enforce violations of the law, ensure the proper and safe use of the area, and remind visitors that:
* Camping and fires are permitted at designated sites only;
* Cutting of standing trees, dead or alive, is prohibited;
* Motor vehicles are only permitted on open roads and at designated parking areas;
* “Pack it in, pack it out” – take all garbage and possessions with you when you leave; and
* A permit is required from the DEC Forest Ranger if you are camping more than 3 nights or have 10 or more people in your group.
Additional information, and a map of the Hudson River Special Management Area, may be found on the DEC website.
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: [email protected] .
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, email:[email protected] .
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 protected] 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.
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 protected] .
Saturday, May 1st:
In Potsdam, see and listen to Renee Fleming in ” Armida”, The Metropolitan Opera: Live in HD at The Roxy Theater. 1 – 5:15 pm and tickets are $18/15/12/9.
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 SingersSpring 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 SingersSpring 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 Potsdam, Encore Performance of ” Armida”, The Metropolitan Opera: Live in HD at The Roxy Theater. 1 – 5:15 pm and tickets are $18/15/12/9.
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.
O swallows, swallows, poems are not The point. Finding again the world, That is the point….
From “The Blue Swallows,” Howard Nemerov
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. » Continue Reading.
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