It seems that every big city now has a “ghost tour,” but here in the Adirondacks we have our very own ghost town. And what could be more appropriate than a Halloween tour of a ghost town?
Iron ore was discovered on the banks of the upper Hudson in 1826 and two businessmen, Archibald McIntyre and David Henderson, soon developed a mining operation that they conducted with varying success for the next three decades. To house the workers, a nearby village was built and named McIntyre, then renamed Adirondac around 1840.
McIntyre’s Adirondack Iron & Steel Company came to an end in 1858, and so did the village. Reasons for their demise include the difficulty in transporting iron from such a remote mountain location, impurities in the ore that made it difficult to process, a downturn in the global economy, a devastating flood that washed out the dams, and McIntyre’s death. The settlement of Adirondac again changed names, now being called simply “the deserted village.” » Continue Reading.
The Forest Ranger Search and Rescue Report below is issued intermittently by DEC and is not a comprehensive list of all emergencies in the back-country, these are only a few of those recently reported by DEC.
The events reported below are reminders that wilderness conditions can change suddenly and accidents happen. Hikers and campers should check up-to-date forecasts before entering the backcountry and always carry a flashlight, first aid kit, map and compass, extra food, plenty of water and clothing. Be prepared to spend an unplanned night in the woods and always inform others of your itinerary.
Usually a trip to the Upper Works in Newcomb for my family doesn’t include an extended history lesson, but I always have a few interesting facts to tell our visitors while driving this seemingly endless stretch of County Route 25 to the southern entrance of the High Peaks. We are usually there to hike, though the area’s history is just as vast and interesting as its trails.
I share that the McNaughton Cottage is where Vice President Theodore Roosevelt and his family were staying in 1901 when he took his “midnight ride” after receiving word that President McKinley had taken a turn for the worst from an assassination attempt six days before. The Roosevelt family was climbing Mount Marcy when the official word of McKinley’s fate was received via telegram.
I could even give some vague references to the McIntyre Iron Works Blast Furnace and the dilapidated condition of an old mining town called Adirondac.
But now when we go to the Upper Works, we schedule a bit more time to explore this area with the addition of interpretive signs detailing the historical significance of these buildings, the mining operation and the blast furnace that would produce iron for only two years. » Continue Reading.
Today I conclude my series on Adirondac the the McIntyre Mines. The deserted village of and the remains of the operation at Upper Works make for an evocative Adirondack destination. Though this abandoned settlement’s historically significant mining heritage is known among locals, history buffs, and High Peaks backpackers who use the Upper Works trailhead, it is by no means widely known, or even somewhat known. There are great benefits to be had if this fact changes.
When the Open Space Institute purchased the Tahawus Tract from NL Industries they put a terrific plan in place to designate the area containing Adirondac and the 1854 blast furnace as a historic district. Work began some years ago to stabilize and preserve the furnace, the one original village building, McMartin House (or MacNaughton Cottage) and the cemetery. However the work has taken years and I hear through the grapevine that funding is an obstacle. As a result the implementation of the historic district has been slow. » Continue Reading.
Today I return to my series on the McIntyre Mines, the Settlement of Adirondac and the romantic sense of the past the area embodies. Being a ghost town, and an area of historical significance dating back nearly two centuries, the remains of the works, village, and private club possess an unmistakable aura of mystery.
This sense of the unknown, of the forgotten lives and fortunes of those who partook of Archibald McIntyre’s enterprise, extends beyond the experiences of wondering visitors who are discovering it for the first time or the hundredth. Indeed, despite the fact that the history of Adirondac has been well-chronicled and that primary documents abound (mostly in the form of letters and business records) there are many things that remain legitimate mysteries to this day. For example there were several furnaces that were built or improved during the nearly thirty years the proprietors tried to make a go of it. We still do not know where all of them were located. We do not know where the original log boarding house sat, nor do we know where the great guide John Cheney lived during his many-year association with the mines. » Continue Reading.
Teddy Roosevelt is not available to recreate his historic 1901 ride from the North Creek Train Depot, but nationally recognized Roosevelt reprisor Joe Wiegand will be on hand to fill those famous shoes.
The most obvious attraction to the settlement of Adirondac in its current state is that is is a ghost town, crumbling and abandoned. It is no wonder that people find ghost towns appealing, being as they are romantic places tinged with loneliness and even sadness. Most of all they are landscapes of mystery, places where the imagination can run with little limit, wondering at the lives and stories echoed within.
Like any ghost town and perhaps even more than most owing to its wild, forbidding setting, Adirondac invites mystery. To the knowledgeable visitor some of that mystery requires little imagination, merely some history. Where was the earliest furnace? Where and what was the nature of the house in which legendary guide John Cheney resided? How many families lived in the settlement at its peak? These and many other questions have no answer.
When I first became obsessed with Adirondac in the 1980’s I entered into a mystery adventure of my own. I assumed that there must be a cemetery associated with the settlement and I resolved to find it. It was more than fifteen years before my wife Amy succeeded. » Continue Reading.
Those who visit the Upper Works trailhead pass through the remains of the most notable ghost town in the Adirondacks. The ruined village is known by various names: Adirondac, the Deserted Village, Tahawus (mistakenly), Upper Works, McIntyre.
All of these names (some more historically valid than others) hearken back to the original settlement carved out of the wilderness more than a hundred and eighty years ago by prospectors eager to capitalize on the massive veins of iron ore to which they had been guided by Abenaki Indian Lewis Elijah Benedict in 1826.
However, the collapsing structures lining the old village street and ranging back into the woods date from a more modern era, most around the turn of the twentieth century and into the 1920’s (though the foundations of some are original to the mining village). The last of them was abandoned as recently as the 1960’s. Now the Adirondack forest is reclaiming them at its usual unrelenting pace. » Continue Reading.
It was early afternoon of a warm, windless July day, eight years ago. Bits of sunlight flecked the ground, filtered by the dark foliage of the forest stand in which I found myself. Minutes before I had been with my family, gathered together in conference along a faint trail. Now I was alone, off trail, pushing through a phalanx of young hardwood growth dotted with cedar, hemlock and spruce. Though my wife and three sons were spread out in the woods somewhere within shouting distance, the only sound I could hear was that of my own labor, of leafy branches pushing past my ears as I forged up a steep and uneven rise.
As I have so many times in the Adirondacks I felt a deep sense of loneliness. No doubt due in part to the nature of my quest I experienced that disconcerting and enchanting feeling of being unmoored from time, as though I might next encounter Alvah Dunning or Mitchell Sabattis at the top of the ridge… or more to the point, David Henderson. I imagined that my explorations might channel me back in time more than a century, never to see my family again, instead to have to live a life out of any generation I have known, perhaps as a guide or trapper of old. » Continue Reading.
Protect the Adirondacks has come up with a vision for the former Finch, Pruyn lands that is at odds with the management plan proposed by the state Department of Environmental Conservation.
Essentially, Protect wants more land classified as Wilderness.
The biggest difference is that Protect wants the Essex Chain of Lakes to be included in a 39,000-acre Upper Hudson Wilderness Area. The Wilderness Area would encompass lands that the state owns or intends to acquire over the next several years, including OK Slip Falls and the Hudson Gorge.
As I reported here this week, DEC proposes to classify the Essex Chain Wild Forest. Given this classification, DEC intends to keep open several interior roads, permit floatplanes to land on Third Lake in the Essex Chain (only during mud season), and allow mountain bikers to ride on a network of dirt roads in the vicinity of the chain—all of which would be banned under a Wilderness designation. » Continue Reading.
A June 14 decision by the federal Surface Transportation Board’s (STB) Director of Proceedings awarding common carrier status to the Saratoga and North Creek Railway (SNCR), owned by Iowa Pacific Holdings, for freight operations on the 30-mile Tahawus industrial rail spur was appealed June 25 to the full Board by Charles C. Morrison, Project Coordinator for the Adirondack Committee, Atlantic Chapter of the Sierra Club and Samuel H. Sage, President and Senior Scientist of the Atlantic States Legal Foundation (ASLF). » Continue Reading.
News comes this week that the Saratoga & North Creek Railroad (Iowa Pacific Holdings) has gotten federal go-ahead to extend commercial rail uses to and from the former mine at Tahawus, Newcomb. I extend the company and the towns through which the spur line passes a thumbs-up and good luck, not just for its rail rehabilitation and future commercial success, but for its educational success.
That said, the State of New York, by failing to hold public hearings to share information and hear opinion about the complicated issues behind re-extending the line from North Creek to Newcomb, failed its responsibilities for the Forest Preserve. » Continue Reading.
Memorial Day weekend is over. It was beautiful weather, the campground was full, and I’m exhausted. After working three fourteen hour days in a row, I’m glad the campers are gone, even though we didn’t really have any problems with the crowd. Lots of guys talking about fishing, wondering where to get ice and firewood, and wondering how long they can extend their weekend.
I like working in the campgrounds, even though dealing with the public is often unnecessarily stressful. Drive slow, be quiet and keep your dog on a leash. It’s not that much to ask, but many people find it difficult to follow those simple rules. But what I love about my job is the chance to be on the trail crew. They pay me to hike, and I have to pinch myself every time. » Continue Reading.
Of all the deep, wild urges rooting around in my head (god knows there is a subject that could turn away scores of readers), said urges being imbued in every way with the powerful, primeval pull of the Adirondack landscape, the strongest has always been trailblazing.
The fantasy of traveling on foot into parts unknown, marking a path like a scout of lore, has been the adventure that has most fired my imagination and passion. It is simply the most romantic thing of which I can conceive. » Continue Reading.
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