Posts Tagged ‘Ticonderoga’

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Adirondack Family Activities: Ticonderoga Winter Fest

Festivals abound in the winter months while towns around the Adirondack Park try to break up the winter with fun activities and a snapshot into an Adirondack life. With a lack of consistent snow, festival organizers have to be flexible with planned activities.

Saranac Lake’s Winter Carnival will finish its 10 days of winter fun this weekend while Lake George continues to host weekend activities throughout the month of February. For the third year Ticonderoga will tackle the cold with fun runs, wagon rides and even a Sunday Pan Fish Tournament.

On Saturday, February 11 from 11:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. the Ti Recreational Fields will host this event snow or no snow with a focus on area happenings. Don’t forget to walk to the nearby covered bridge and view the nearby waterfalls on the La Chute River.

Ticonderoga Area Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Mathew Courtright says, “There will be plenty of great activities that don’t depend on snow like the Fun Run and broomball. This is the third year for this event and each year the Ticonderoga Winter Fest growing. Of course, we always hope for more snow but we are prepared for anything.”

According to Courtright local businesses continue to work together to present a glimpse of the winter recreational opportunities around Ticonderoga from snowshoeing and sledding to hiking and fishing. Saturday’s one- mile Fun Run’s entry is either $2 or a canned good, both benefiting the local food pantry.

Perhaps ice fishing is more to your liking. On Sunday, February 12 from 9:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. the Ticonderoga “Best Fourth in the North” Committee is holding a Pan Fish Tournament. The winners in two categories will receive a 40% pay back split with a portion of the profits benefiting outdoor youth activities. Children under 14 will be entered to win a lifetime fishing license. The single or family (one adult and up to two siblings) each requires a $20 entrance fee.

If you are unfamiliar with the Ticonderoga area or know it solely as the location of Fort Ticonderoga, a festival such as this is the perfect opportunity to meet locals and find new favorite places to enjoy.

Diane Chase is the author of Adirondack Family Time: Your Four-Season Guide to Over 300 Activities for the Tri-Lakes (Lake Placid, Saranac Lake and Tupper Lake) and High Peaks. Her next book of family activities will come out this summer 2012 for the Adirondack Champlain Coast (Plattsburgh to Ticonderoga).


Sunday, February 5, 2012

17th Annual War College of the Seven Years’ War

Registration is now open for Fort Ticonderoga’s Seventeenth Annual War College of the Seven Years’ War May 18-20, 2012. This annual seminar focuses on the French & Indian War in North America (1754-1763), bringing together a panel of distinguished historians from around the country and beyond. The War College takes place in the Deborah Clarke Mars Education Center and is open to the public; pre-registration is required.

2012 Speakers include:

DeWitt Bailey, British author and 18th-century arms expert, on British weapons of the war.

Maria Alessandra Bollettino, Framingham State University, on slave revolts in the British Caribbean during the war.

Earl John Chapman, Canadian author and historian, on the experiences of James Thompson, a sergeant in the 78th Highlanders.

Christopher D. Fox, Fort Ticonderoga, on Colonel Abijah Willard’s Massachusetts Provincials in 1759.

Jean-François Lozier, Canadian Museum of Civilization, on the use of paints and cosmetics among Natives and Europeans.

Paul W. Mapp, College of William & Mary, on the role the vast western lands played in the battle for empire.

William P. Tatum III, David Library of the American Revolution, on the British military justice system, using ten courts-martial at Ticonderoga in 1759 as case studies.

Len Travers, University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth, on the “Lost Patrol of 1756” on Lake George.

The weekend begins Friday evening with a presentation by Ticonderoga Town Historian William G. Dolback on “Historic Ticonderoga in Pictures.” Dolback is also President of the Ticonderoga Historical Society and leading local efforts to commemorate the 250th anniversary of the first settler in Ticonderoga in 1764.

Begun in 1996, the War College of the Seven Years’ War has become one of the premier seminars on the French & Indian War in the country. It features a mix of new and established scholars in an informal setting for a weekend of presentations related to the military, social, and cultural history of the French & Indian War.

Early Bird Registration for the War College is now open at $120 for the weekend ($100 for members of the Friends of Fort Ticonderoga). Registration forms can be downloaded from the Fort’s website under the “Explore and Learn” tab by selecting “Life Long Learning” on the drop down menu and then clicking on the War College. A printed copy is also available upon request by contacting Rich Strum, Director of Education, at 518-585-6370.

Photo courtesy Sandy Goss, Eagle Bay Media.


Monday, December 5, 2011

Adirondack Canines: Doggone Good Friends

In an eight-month span in the 1930s, two Ticonderoga canines made headlines for something dogs are known for in general: loyalty. Few relationships are more rewarding in life than the human-canine experience, as anyone reading this who shares a dog’s life can attest. For those who have children as well … some might be loathe to admit it, but dogs provide many of the same positives without all the complicated baggage. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Adirondack Family Activities: A Cold Fort Ticonderoga

For the first year Fort Ticonderoga is providing a unique experience with “Hot Chocolate at a Cold Fort.” On December 3, 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m., Fort Ticonderoga will have a special opening allowing guests to witness how soldiers celebrated Christmas in 1776.

One way to snap children out of their glassy-eyed “I wants” from the onslaught of daily catalog deliveries is to experience an 18th century Christmas celebration at Fort Ticonderoga.

There will be opportunities to learn of past traditions and the winter hardships of limited resources. Fort Ticonderoga is only open during the winter months on special occasions, so this will be an interesting treat.

Stuart Lilie, Fort Ticonderoga Director of Interpretation says, “We hope this event will demonstrate how people were celebrating Christmas in 1776. On a basic level the goal is to show what the solders’ lives were like during the American Revolution to how we celebrate Christmas now.”

“At that time people did not have all the traditions that we have now. I think that true comfort of Christmas at that time and the other saint’s holidays was the camaraderie with the people around them,” says Lilie. “It was enjoying a simple meal that was perhaps better than they were used to. It was something as simple as a nice cut of meat. There was more focus on those around them. The simplicity.”

The event starts with a tour of the historic fort and will make use of re-enactors portraying Colonel Anthony Wayne’s Fourth Pennsylvania Battalion. The English and Dutch Christmas traditions of these Pennsylvania soldiers will be demonstrated. Colonel Wayne’s soldiers will also work around the mess hall to make hot meals for the officers, the sick and to try to find ways to feed the rest of the battalion.

Museum Curator of Collections, Christopher Fox will be on hand for the tour of “The Art of War: Ticonderoga as Experience through the Eyes of America’s Great Artists” exhibit. This exhibits brings together 50 of the museum’s most important artworks with works including Thomas Cole’s “Gelyna.”

The fort tour will attempt to tackle such issues as shortage of clothing, medicine and how the long transportation from Albany, at the time, was an overwhelming challenge. Through it all the soldiers manage to make a festive gathering with very little.

Of course there will be a musket demonstration, as those soldiers need practice in case of a winter raid. There will be an opportunity to see how muskets work and learn how they were the main weapons during Colonel Wayne’s command.

So with a bit of history and a fun day at the fort we can witness how the Fort Ticonderoga soldiers appreciated what they had in a cold winter in 1776.

Throughout the weekend there will also be the 2nd annual Ticonderoga North Country Christmas with other children’s activities throughout the weekend.

Photo by Diane Chase.

Diane Chase 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), the first book of a four-book series of Adirondack Family Activities. The next book Adirondack Family Time Plattsburgh to Ticonderoga will in stores summer 2012.


Wednesday, November 16, 2011

High Peaks Happy Hour: The Pub, Ticonderoga

Thanks to Pam’s archaic GPS, we found The Pub quite by accident. The GPS just dropped us in the middle of Montcalm Street in Ticonderoga, with no immediately visible sign of The Burleigh House (which we later found), the intended destination. We found a place to park on the street and looked up to find The Pub’s welcoming sign. Though not on our list of places to review in Ti, it certainly seemed to fit the criteria by name. We peeked through the tinted glass façade to see a well-lit, rather new looking pub, then ventured in.

Several patrons sat at the bar watching college football and chatting with the bartender. We selected a few seats at what Pam determined was a “P” shaped pine bar, and queried the bartender on beer and drink options. Though the pub offered no drinks unique to their establishment, Billy the bartender was quick to come up with a flavored vodka recipe with Whipped vodka, orange vodka, orange juice and milk. Pam found it not only nutritional, but tasty too. Several selections of both draft and bottled beers are available, and reasonably priced.

Having arrived ravenous, we reviewed the menu and opted to share nachos with beer battered jalapenos and the tidier, eat-with-a-fork boneless chicken wings. Both were delicious and served appropriately with proper fixings of bleu cheese, salsa and sour cream. “If you don’t get salsa and sour cream, might as well not get nachos,” says Pam. A modest but varied pub menu offers appetizers, burgers, wings and fries. Most items are priced between $3.50 and $7.99.

The P-shaped bar, which seats about 15, is partitioned by a wall, and we realized that we hadn’t selected the best seats for a full view of the pub. Along the wall behind us were three bar height tables and two to three more on the wall on the other side of the room. With three pub tables equally dispersed, the pub appeared ready to accommodate any size crowd. Another pair of tables in the front of the room provide seating sidewalk-side for people watching. A pool table in the back corner is perfectly situated for unencumbered play; an opening in the center wall allowing contact with the bartender from the pool table without having to walk around to the bar.

The bartender, Billy, was friendly, professional and eager to answer our questions. The Pub has been owned by his brother, Jeremy Treadway, since 2009 but, interestingly, was owned by their grandfather from the 1950s to the 1980s, when it was sold, then closed for seven years. Jeremy later bought the place, bringing it back into the family. In the ‘50s it was known as Bob’s TV Bar, the first bar with a television set in Ticonderoga. It was later renamed the North Country Pub. A Native American chainsaw carving stands guard inside the front door. It came with the bar when they bought it in 2009 and the new owners felt it should stay.

The Pub is open year-round, Thursday through Sunday, and only closes for Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays. Though opening times vary, there is an obvious pattern easy to remember: 4 p.m. on Thursday, 3 p.m. on Friday, 2 p.m. on Saturday, and 1 p.m. on Sunday. Typically the pub closes at 12:30 a.m. Summer tourists and winter snowmobilers make it a favorite venue any time of year. the pub features Happy Hour on Friday with a buy 1 get 1 special until 7 p.m. and $10 buckets of beer and food specials on Sunday. Even if you miss their specials, pricing for food and drink is reasonable off Happy Hour too.

As a common meeting place for area professionals, The Pub seems to be the type of place to drop in anytime (Thursday through Sunday, of course). They offer live entertainment two to three times per month in the winter and every Saturday in spring and summer.

An information sheet on the bar indicated that a dart league was forming for the winter. If darts aren’t your thing, there’s always pool, foosball, jukebox music, trivia night and Spin-the-Wheel Fridays for entertainment. Four TVs should cover your viewing needs during any sports season.

If on street parking is limited, the pub has a parking lot behind the building for patron use. Several general public parking areas are also nearby.

Whether visiting The Pub on purpose or by accident, for drink, for food or for entertainment, you shouldn’t be disappointed in the clientele, the atmosphere or the staff. Though we can’t speak for the entertainment, the food and drink are good too. After you’ve liked Happy Hour in the High Peaks on Facebook, be sure to visit the pub Ticonderoga, NY and like their facebook page too.

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.


Monday, October 17, 2011

History’s Criminals: Ticonderoga’s Bernard Champagne

After impersonating Walter W. Baker, heir to the Baker chocolate fortune, and bilking his Richmond fiancée’s mother out of $15,000 in 1928 (equal to $190,000 in 2011), Ticonderoga’s Bernard Frederick Champagne was sentenced to ten years in a Virginia prison. He was paroled after serving more than six years, but the gates had hardly closed behind him when Champagne was at it again.

Shortly after his release, the US Department of Justice was tracking him across the North Country. As he had done for years in the past, Bernard managed to move quickly and stay a step ahead of his pursuers.

In retrospect, it probably wasn’t the best idea to leave prison after conviction on charges of impersonation and then return home to pass himself off as a federal officer, but that’s exactly what Champagne did. He also left Ticonderoga for several weeks with a vehicle that didn’t belong to him, prompting the town police force to join the feds in seeking his arrest.

Initially, their search efforts covered from the Albany area to southern Quebec. It was then expanded statewide, and finally extended across the Northeast. Two weeks later, Champagne was in Elizabethtown’s Essex County jail, facing local and federal charges.

What had he done? After arriving home from the prison in Virginia, Bernard needed transportation to execute his latest scam. At the automobile dealership of Charles Moore in Ticonderoga, he tried out a large Oldsmobile and expressed an interest in purchasing it. Moore accepted his promise to return with the car and pay for it when some expected funds arrived.

Champagne then visited stores, restaurants, and bars across the region, presenting himself as a representative from Washington. Presenting his official federal credentials, including a badge, Bernard saved them money by accepting a smaller direct payment of the liquor tax, which relieved them of paying the regular rate to county alcohol officials.

When local liquor authorities made their normal rounds, they viewed the receipts left by Champagne and knew immediately that something was amiss. By that time, he had scammed businesses across the region and then vanished.

An investigation failed to locate Bernard, but certain savings accounts were discovered. No one knew for certain where the money came from, but in banks located in Burlington and Saratoga, Champagne had $56,000 ($890,000 in 2011).

He was traced as far as Maryland, and then officially listed as “whereabouts unknown.” A week later, Champagne was arrested in Hyattsville, Maryland (still driving the Oldsmobile), and was brought north to face charges.

Five months later (in October), an Essex County jury found him not guilty of stealing the car. Their reasoning was simple: he had promised to return it, and with no firm timeframe in place, he hadn’t actually reneged on that promise.

As he had done earlier in the Richmond case, Bernard presented no defense on the federal charges. He pled guilty in Albany to three counts of impersonation and was sentenced to one year and one day in the US Penitentiary at Lewisburg, Pennsylvania.

In December 1936, Champagne walked out of prison once again a free man, and immediately proved himself an incorrigible lawbreaker. Without hesitation, he returned to criminal activity, and for the next several years left few traces of his whereabouts. (It was very difficult tracking his story today through newspaper archives and public records. Gaps were unavoidable. After all, seven decades ago, the FBI chased him for seven years before achieving any success.)

Having already served two prison sentences, Champagne had proven catchable, but the third time wouldn’t be easy for his pursuers. He worked multiple scams at the same time in a particular city, but when the heat was on, he slipped away to a new location. And there’s no denying that Bernard Champagne was one slippery customer.

His exploits out West provide a fine example. After several impersonations in San Francisco, he was indicted there by a federal grand jury in May 1942. But Champagne was already long gone, posing as a secret service agent in Salt Lake City, where he found at least six more victims. He was particularly adept at securing small cash amounts, which tended to attract less attention.

To make the process profitable, he worked several targets simultaneously. They were nearly always women, and many of them were widows. In Salt Lake City, impersonating a secret service agent netted him $5,000 from six targets. As if to intentionally taunt his pursuers, in two of those cases Bernard also claimed to be a special agent with the FBI.

This especially annoyed Bureau Director J. Edgar Hoover, who was very protective of the agency’s image. He turned up the heat on Bernard, but despite the intensified effort, their quarry from the North Country remained elusive.

The charges at San Francisco were followed by several other federal indictments: in Salt Lake City, June and November 1942; Danville, Illinois, September 1942; New York City, January 1943; and Cleveland, April 1943. Complaints had also been filed against Bernard in Omaha, Nebraska; Kankakee, Illinois; Daytona Beach, Florida; and in Maine.

FBI agents described Champagne as “a prolific impersonator,” but the true extent of his success is unknown. Because so much of his fakery escaped detection, it’s unclear how many identities Bernard actually assumed. One agent said he had “at least 50 aliases,” and at one point, there were 34 names documented. It was the list of professions, however, that really impressed them.

Among his successful impersonations were: a graduate of Columbia University; a doctor employed by the US Public Health Service; a secret service agent; an FBI agent; a member of the US diplomatic corps; and the nephew of noted politician Hamilton Fish, a ruse that allowed him to pass $600 worth of bogus checks ($8,000 in 2011).

On a grander scale were his military personas: an army medical officer; aide to General Arnold, who was chief of the nation’s air forces; a member of military intelligence; a lieutenant colonel in the army (good for another $8,000 in 2011); a lieutenant commander in the US Navy; and a nephew of General Dwight D. Eisenhower, who was commanding the Allied forces in Europe.

At times he claimed to have lost three brothers in the Battle of the Coral Sea; that his brother-in-law was an admiral; and that his grandfather was a navy captain. Those lies, offered convincingly, gave him legitimacy in the eyes of an intended victim. It was an important factor leading up to the payoff scheme: ensuring that he could secure the release of relatives in Germany. By carefully selecting his marks (victims), Bernard achieved continued success.

An FBI memo from summer 1943 notes that Champagne’s proclivity for “victimizing women, especially widows” was featured in a radio broadcast by the legendary Walter Winchell. Hoover, passionate guardian of the FBI’s reputation, felt that publicly citing a longstanding, unsolved case made the Bureau look bad. It was his baby, and he felt the need to respond.

The same memo confirmed that increased attention was now focused on Bernard: “An identification order was issued on Champagne during the past week, and a very active fugitive investigation looking to his apprehension is in progress.”

Less than two months later, Hoover had his man. Bernard’s modus operandus was well known, and information detailing it was disseminated to scores of law enforcement agencies. Anything remotely resembling his style was looked at, and a case in Ohio proved his undoing.

In the small village of Dalton, Bernard had targeted a widow, Gladys Mohn, in a real estate scheme. Presenting himself as Allen Steven Klein, a navy surgeon, he convinced Mrs. Mohn to invest $4,312 ($55,000 in 2011) in some Florida property, land that he said the government was going to purchase for airport development. The return promised by Champagne on her investment was $22,000 ($277,000 in 2011).

A glitch developed when Mohn went to Florida with Champagne to look the site over. After several excuses “prevented” him from showing her the property, which of course didn’t exist, Bernard finally abandoned her and vanished.

Mohn’s subsequent complaint to authorities, with details on how her “partner” operated, suggested that Allen Steven Klein may well have been Bernard Frederick Champagne.

On April 10, a warrant was issued for his arrest, adding to the list of previous indictments, but also triggering an intensified FBI manhunt. And this time, Bernard’s luck finally ran out when several FBI agents from the Cleveland branch arrested him in Dalton. At his arraignment the next day in Canton, Ohio, Champagne did what he had always done in the past—pleaded guilty.

Hoover addressed the media, mentioning several of the personas Bernard had assumed, including that of FBI agent. The Director noted, “Champagne operated from coast to coast, leaving a trail of disillusioned women who gave him sums ranging up to $4000 [$50,000 in 2011].”

Though his documented crimes may have been the proverbial “tip of the iceberg,” an aura of mystery surrounded Champagne’s incarceration, much as it had his life of crime. After pleading guilty, he was held under $10,000 bond ($120,000 in 2011) at Cleveland for federal grand jury action. At that point, he seems to have vanished.

Perhaps the FBI avoided publicizing his story any further once he was captured. Champagne had defrauded hundreds of victims out of untold thousands of dollars—certainly the equivalent of millions of dollars today. To the embarrassment of lawmen, he had gotten away with most of it during the past seven years. Heavily redacted records limit our knowledge of his activities.

Despite the vast number of charges pending against Bernard in at least nine cities (for fraud and for impersonating federal officials), the Cleveland grand jury settled on a puzzling set of indictments: “Violation of the Mann Act, in transporting a waitress from Orrville [Ohio] to California via Winter Haven, Florida; violation of the Selective Service Act for not having his registration card with him; and posing as a lieutenant commander in the US Navy with intent to defraud.”

It appears that he served approximately 18 years in prison and was released in the early 1960s, returning to the North Country. Champagne passed away in 1977 at the age of 73.

Lawrence Gooley has authored ten books and dozens of articles on the North Country’s past. He and his partner, Jill McKee, founded Bloated Toe Enterprises in 2004. Expanding their services in 2008, they have produced 19 titles to date, and are now offering web design. For information on book publishing, visit Bloated Toe Publishing.


Monday, October 10, 2011

Bernard Champagne: Ticonderoga Chocolate Shyster

Fort Ticonderoga’s connection to the world of chocolate has been well documented in recent years. Several additions and improvements were funded by Forrest Mars, Jr., husband of Deborah Adair Clark of Ticonderoga (they are now divorced). Forrest is worth approximately $10 billion as one of the heirs of the Mars candy company.

Eighty years ago, another famous name in chocolate—Baker—was bandied about in Ticonderoga, and it again involved mention of great wealth ($80 million at the time, equal to $1 billion in 2011). But for the village, the story left in its wake embarrassment, as bitter as the company’s most famous product (Baker’s bittersweet chocolate).

In 1928, a young man arrived in Richmond, Virginia, and responded to an advertisement offering a room rental in the exclusive Ginter Park section of the city. Finding the home magnificent and much to his liking, he paid a month’s rent in advance.

During a conversation with his new landlady (a widower), it was revealed that her new tenant was none other than 25-year-old Walter W. Baker, heir to the Baker family fortune of $80 million. He had come to Richmond to escape the busy life in New York City.

Walter settled in and soon developed a closeness with the family, particularly the woman’s daughter, Miss Lucille Fields. They dated regularly and were involved in the city’s social scene, joining exclusive clubs and spending money like … well, like he had $80 million. Baker bought a luxurious car, flashed big bills wherever he went, and lavished thousands of dollars worth of expensive jewelry and other gifts on Lucille, who became his fiancée.

The family soon learned that Baker was a member of the New York Stock Exchange. Taking advantage of his skills, abilities, and connections, his future mother-in-law entrusted $15,000 ($190,000 in 2011) to Baker for investing on her behalf.

Several months after his arrival in the city, Baker was roused from bed one Friday night by some unexpected visitors—six members of the Richmond police. The officers said he was an impostor, but Mrs. Fields was outraged, and Baker’s fiancée protested vigorously on his behalf. Ignoring their appeals, the lawmen searched his room, found $7,000 ($90,000 in 2011) hidden in a gramophone, and escorted to him to jail.

During questioning, police intimated they were privy to his background, and Baker finally relented, confessing that he was an impostor. He was, in fact, Bernard Frederick Champagne of Ticonderoga, New York.

The ruse had worked well for a while, but excessive flamboyance, wild spending sprees in subdued Richmond, and frequent flaunting of $1000 bills had aroused suspicions. Authorities investigated behind the scenes, seeking confirmation of his prominent “Baker’s Chocolate” lineage.

They soon learned that Walter W. Baker had died well prior to 1900, and that no members of the original Baker family survived. And that’s when Richmond detectives paid the surprise visit to Champagne’s Ginter Park residence, arresting him in his bedroom.

A court delay on Bernard’s case was imposed, allowing time for further investigation into his past. Champagne had been secretive for years, leaving many gaps in his trail, but enough was uncovered to prove he had been a first-class shyster. Authorities in four other cities, including Detroit and Omaha, sought further information on Richmond’s mysterious prisoner.

An honor-roll student in his Ticonderoga youth, Bernard left school at age sixteen and worked at the mill (International Paper Mill). Several years later, he left the North Country for Canton, Ohio, where he married and had a child (both were now living in Ticonderoga).

He then surfaced in Kentucky, where he met a schoolteacher from his hometown, Ticonderoga (perhaps not by coincidence). Passing himself off as Bernard Cunningham, a representative of Universal Film Corporation, Champagne became engaged to the teacher and made off with $600 of her money ($10,000 in 2011). It remained unclear how much money he bilked from other victims while using that persona.

He next turned up in Richmond, where his latest deception had been discovered. No matter what he had gotten away with in recent years, Champagne was now in a heap of trouble.

Less than two months after his arrest, Bernard appeared in a Richmond courtroom on charges of defrauding his future mother-in-law of $15,000 ($190,000 today) and promising “huge returns” on her investments. His fiancée, Lucille, described as “a prominent Richmond society girl,” did not testify, but her mother and sister did.

Champagne pleaded not guilty, but employed no attorney and presented no testimony on his own behalf. For that reason, the state’s case was pretty much open-and-shut. Bernard’s sentence was the maximum allowed by law—ten years in a Virginia prison.

After serving more than six years, he was released, hopefully somewhat humbled by the experience of being arrested and imprisoned. But this was one case where incarceration provided no deterrent.

Coming soon: Champagne spawns a national FBI manhunt.

Photo Top: Walter W. Baker, the man Champagne claimed to be.

Lawrence Gooley has authored ten books and dozens of articles on the North Country’s past. He and his partner, Jill McKee, founded Bloated Toe Enterprises in 2004. Expanding their services in 2008, they have produced 19 titles to date, and are now offering web design. For information on book publishing, visit Bloated Toe Publishing.


Monday, July 11, 2011

The Long and Fruitful Life of Ticonderoga’s Enos Dudley

Card of Thanks entries were routine fare in newspapers of years past. They were commonly used by families acknowledging those who provided aid and comfort during times of bereavement. The “Cards” shared a standard format—citing doctors, nurses, and friends, followed by the names of the immediate family who were doing the thanking—but some stood out as unusual. The death of Crown Point’s Enos Dudley in 1950 is a case in point.

Shortly after he passed, a Card of Thanks noted “the death of our beloved father, Enos J. Dudley” and featured the names of seven family members. Below it was a second Card of Thanks referring to Enos as “our beloved husband and father.” It ended with the names of six other family members. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Vintage Fire Equipment Show July 23rd

This year Chilson Volunteer Fire Department will celebrate its 50th anniversary with an antique-and-classic firefighting equipment show at the department’s annual barbecue.

The event, which is open to the public, takes place on July 23rd at the department’s headquarters, 60 Putts Pond Road in Ticonderoga. Festivities begin at noon and the barbecue will be served beginning at 2:00 p.m. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Fort Ticonderoga’s King’s Garden Opens

The King’s Garden at Fort Ticonderoga opens for the season today, June 1 with the colors of the bearded iris and other early blooming perennials and annuals. The garden celebrates the history of agriculture on the Fort Ticonderoga peninsula with tours, programs and special events throughout the season. Opportunities include hands-on family programs, adult learning, daily guided tours and quiet strolls through the scenery, volunteer initiatives, and a garden party.

The first program in the King’s Garden Workshop Series on herbs takes place on Wednesday, June 8th at 1:00 PM – Nature’s Wild Herbs Discovery Walk with local herbalist Nancy Wotton Scarzello. » Continue Reading.


Thursday, May 26, 2011

Fort Ticonderoga Offers ‘Art of War’ Exhibiit

Fort Ticonderoga’s newest exhibit, The Art of War: Ticonderoga as Experienced through the eyes of America’s Great Artists brings together for the first time in one highlighted exhibition fifty of the museum’s most important artworks. Fort Ticonderoga helped give birth to the Hudson River school of American Art with Thomas Cole’s pivotal 1826 work, Gelyna, or a View Near Ticonderoga, the museum’s most important 19th-century masterpiece to be featured in the exhibit. The Art of War exhibit will be through October 20 in the Deborah Clarke Mars Education Center exhibition gallery.

The Art of War exhibit includes paintings, prints, drawings, photographs and several three-dimensional artifacts selected for their historical significance and artistic appeal. Artists whose works are featured include Thomas Cole, Asher B. Durand, Charles Wilson Peale, and Daniel Huntington among many others. As reflected in the exhibit, 19th-century visitors to Fort Ticonderoga included some of the greatest artists of the period who found inspiration in Fort Ticonderoga’s epic history and exquisite landscape.

Regional photographic artists such as Seneca Ray Stoddard recorded Ticonderoga’s ruins and landscapes over the course of twenty years. Many of his photographs were published in area travel guides and histories during the last quarter of the 19th century, keeping alive Ticonderoga’s place in American history while documenting early heritage tourism.

The Art of War uses the artworks to present the story of the Fort’s remarkable history and show how its history inspired American artists to capture its image and keep Ticonderoga’s history alive. The exhibit will graphically tell the history of the site from its development by the French army in 1755 through the beginning of its reconstruction as a museum and restored historic site in the early 20th century.

The Art of War: Ticonderoga as Experienced through the eyes of America’s Great Artists is organized by Christopher D. Fox, Curator of Collections.

Illustration: Gleyna, or A View Near Ticonderoga. Oil on board by Thomas Cole, 1826. Fort Ticonderoga Museum Collection.


Friday, May 6, 2011

Lake George Marine Railway Headed to Historic Registers

To the casual observer, the Lake George Steamboat Company’s marine railway near the foot of the lake is unlikely to conform to any preconceived notion of a historic site.

Built in 1927 by Crandall Dry Dock Engineers, it’s a utility, used to haul vessels in and out of Lake George for repair, maintenance and storage.

But in the 19th century, almost every harbor on the eastern coasts of the United States and Canada had similar railways, almost all built by Crandall Dry Dock Engineers; the Crandall railway at Hart Bay is, according to New York State’s Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, among the few that remain intact and in operation today.

The New York State Board for Historic Preservation has, therefore, recommended that the railway be added to the State and National Registers of Historic Places.

The Board cast its votes when it met in March in New York, where it recommended adding thirty nine sites to the registers, including Fort George in Lake George.

“These nominations reflect many of the varied commercial, agricultural, political and social movements that have shaped New York State,” said Rose Harvey, Commissioner of the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation. “Bringing recognition to these properties will help us to preserve and illuminate important components of New York State history.”

According to Bill Dow, president of the Lake George Steamboat Company, the entire marine railway complex, which includes 390 feet of track under water, the cradle and the gears in the small frame head house, was nominated for the registers.

“Without the marine railway, the Lake George Steamboat Company could not have continued to operate through the Depression and the post-War eras,” said Dow.

According to Dow, the railway was constructed to haul the Sagamore from the lake for repairs.

On July 1, 1927 the Sagamore rammed the point of Anthony’s Nose, and began to sink. The captain, John Washburn of Ticonderoga, ordered that the hole in the hull be stuffed with mattresses. He then sailed her into Glenburnie, where she discharged her passengers, and then beached her in a small cove. After repairs were made at Hart Bay, she was refurbished, launched again in May 1928, and sailed for another five years.

According to the State Board of Historic Preservation, the Crandall Marine Railway complements the Lake George Steamboat Company’s Mohican, which was placed on the registry of Historic Places two years ago.

“Together, the railway and the excursion boat recall the nearly two century history of pleasure boating on one of the Adirondack Regions’ largest and most popular and accessible tourist destinations,” the State Board noted.

The Lake George Steamboat Company is now preparing an application to place the former Lake George train station on the registers of historic places.

Like the Steamboat Company, the station was owned by the D&H railroad, which built the station in 1909 in the same Spanish Colonial Revival style of architecture as its nearby hotel, the Fort William Henry.

“The Lake George Steamboat Company represents America, or the America of the past, as few companies do,” said Bill Dow. “We feel a responsibility to honor that past by preserving our legacy.”

Photo: Mohican at marine railway.

For more news from Lake George, subscribe to the Lake George Mirror or visit Lake George Mirror Magazine.


Friday, April 22, 2011

The Sinking of the Steamer ‘Sagamore’

Not long ago, a few lakeshore residents commemorated a one hundredth anniversary – that of the launching of the steamboat Sagamore.

The event took place at Pine Point in Lake George Village, and according to contemporary accounts, it drew the largest crowds to the village since the introduction of the trolley in 1901. Local schools were closed for the day so that children and their teachers could attend the great event.

The granddaughter of the Steamboat Company ‘s general manager, George Rushlow, was selected to christen the Sagamore. Someone suggested that the boat be christened with water from the lake – after all, it was said to have been exported to Europe for use as holy water – but that idea was vetoed on the grounds that old sailors believed that it was unlucky to christen a vessel with the same water in which the boat was to sail. Rushlow said that he did not want to “Hoo-doo the boat in the mind of any person.” So the traditional method of cracking a bottle of champagne on the bow was used instead.

Elias Harris was the captain. At 74 years of age, the Sagamore was to be his last boat. (His son, Walter, was the pilot; Walter Harris became one of the first motorboat dealers on the lake; his Fay and Bowen franchise was the largest in the country.) Elias Harris began his career as a fireman on the Mountaineer, the boat that carried James Fenimore Cooper on the journey down the lake that inspired The Last of the Mohicans. He graduated to the post of pilot on the John Jay, which burned in 1856, killing six of the 70 passengers on board. On the deck of the Sagamore that day was a small anchor that had belonged to the John Jay, a memento Harris always kept with him.

The Sagamore was built to succeed the Ticonderoga, which burned at the Rogers Rock Hotel pier in August, 1901. The Ticonderoga was the last steamboat to be constructed entirely of wood, and the 1,25 ton Sagamore was the first steel-hulled steamer on Lake George. She was commonly regarded as the most luxurious boat ever to sail these waters; her saloon was finished in hazel with cherry trimming, corridors were paneled with mirrors and her furnishings were plush.

The Sagamore was almost an exact replica of Lake Champlain’s Chaeaugay and was powered by the same boilers and coal burning engines. (The engines were built by the Fletcher Company, which had a reputation for making engines fine enough to be preserved under glass.) The Chateaugay, which was launched in 1888, was the very first of the iron-hulled vessels. Later she would carry among her passengers a young Franklin D. Roosevelt, whose father, James Roosevelt, served for a time as president of the Champlain Transportation Company and the Lake George Steamboat Company, and become the first boat to ferry automobiles between New York and Vermont.

But whereas the Chateaugay sailed for more than forty years without any alterations, the Sagamore sailed for little more than six months before she was withdrawn from service. The builders of the Sagamore had given the boat more headroom between decks than the Chateaugay possessed, and that additional headroom made the Sagamore top heavy. The boat was put into dry dock and there she was cut in half amidships and lengthened by 200 feet. A set of ballast tanks was also installed forward of the wheelboxes. From then on, steamboatmen praised her for her easy handling. (In 1999 we would see another Lake George steamboat – the MinneHaHa – cut amidships and lengthened by 34 feet.)

The Sagamore could accommodate 1,500 passengers and traveled at a speed of 20 miles per hour. She left Lake George every day at 9:40 am and arrived at Baldwin three hours later, where it met the train for Fort Ticonderoga. She would berth at the Rogers Rock Hotel for three hours, and then return up the lake and deliver passengers to the 7:00 pm train to New York.

The late Dr. Robert Cole of Silver Bay recalled in the pages of the Mirror last summer that the Sagamore ferried the automobiles of travelers to points down the lake.

On July 1, 1927 the Sagamore rammed the point of Anthony’s Nose, and began to sink. The captain, John Washburn of Ticonderoga, ordered that the hole in the hull be stuffed with mattresses. He then sailed her into Glenburnie, where she discharged her passengers, and then beached her in a small cove. After repairs were made, she was refurbished, launched again in May 1928, and sailed for another five years.

Although no one knew it at the time, the early twenties would be the last prosperous years for the steamboats until they were revived as excursion boats for tourists after World War II. As America entered the Depression, operating deficits climbed into the hundreds of thousands.

The Sagamore was withdrawn from service in September 1933 but was not scrapped for another four years. In the meantime, she lay at Baldwin, falling into ruin. The George Loomis, superintendent of the Steamboat Company wrote that he went on board to salvage one of the mirrors but that the quicksilver had flaked off most of them. Karl Abbot, the general manager of the Sagamore resort, thought of tying her up to a wharf and turning her into a restaurant but apparently changed his mind. In the fall of 1937, the Sagamore was stripped of her gold leaf, wood paneling and rich furniture (upholstered arm chairs were sold for $5 a piece) and finally dismantled. With the destruction of the Sagamore, an era came to an end. People would continue to travel the lake on steamboats, but as tourists rather than as passengers bound for one of the great hotels, and never again in such stately luxury. After the Sagamore was scrapped, George Loomis committed suicide. The two events, friends said, were not unrelated.

Photos: The Sagamore after striking a rock at Glenburnie. The Sagamore at Cleverdale.

For more news from Lake George, subscribe to the Lake George Mirror.


Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Former Military Rifle Range Inspections Set

The National Guard Bureau will surveying old National Guard rifle range in Ticonderoga, Malone, Glens Falls, and Saratoga Springs for the presence of environmental poisons this summer. The ranges are among 23 former New York Army National Guard training sites used between 1873 and 1994.

The program is being conducted worldwide to address human health, safety, and environmental concerns at former non-operational defense sites. This includes over 400 sites in 48 states and two territories formerly used by the National Guard. The training sites in New York vary in size from 3.7 to 939 acres.

Currently, the New York National Guard has three training sites located in Guilderland, Youngstown and at Camp Smith, near Peekskill. Soldiers also train regularly at Ft. Drum, near Watertown.

Current property owners are in the process of being asked to allow contractors on their property to conduct this check which although mandated by the Department of Defense Military Munitions Response Program, will only include soil samples from a depth “less than two to three inches.” The survey will also a visual inspection and checks with hand-held metal detectors. According to a press release issued by the Guard, “the inspectors will collect the samples with disposable plastic spoons, which are about the size of an ice cream scoop.”

A preliminary assessment to identify locations, research historical records, land usage and past incident(s) in the area was completed in 2008; this summer’s site inspections are expected to collect additional information, data and samples necessary to determine if following actions are warranted.

About the sites:

The Malone Small Arms Range was used from about 1895 to 1985. The range was approximately 43 acres; the range layout and boundary are unknown, as are the types of ammunition used there. The former range is located on state land, redeveloped for a correctional facility, northwest of Malone.

An older Ticonderoga Small Arms Range measured about 406 acres and was used from about 1950 to 1973; the newer one measured 105 acres and was used from about 1986 to 1994. The layouts and boundaries of the ranges are unknown, as are the types of ammunition used at them. The former ranges are located between Vineyard Road and Corduroy Road.

The Glens Falls Small Arms Range was used from about 1878 to 1955. The range was approximately 876 acres; the range layout has been verified, but the types of ammunition used there are unknown. The former range is located on forested, municipal property north of Peggy Ann Road.

The Saratoga Springs Small Arms Range was used from about 1878 to 1951. The range was approximately 100 acres; the range layout has been verified, but the types of ammunition used there are unknown. The former range is located on residential properties and forested land east of Weibel Avenue.

Anyone who has documents, records or photographs of the range are encouraged to contact Master Sgt. Corine Lombardo at corine.lombardo@us.army.mil or (518) 786-4579.

Photo: New York Army National Guard Soldiers from the 2nd Battalion, 108th Infantry, conduct weapons training at the Guilderland Weekend Training Center.


Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Local Sites Suggested for Historic Registers

The New York State Board for Historic Preservation recommended the addition of 39 properties to the State and National Registers of Historic Places, including a Clinton County lumber company and a Saratoga County grain and feed store, a Lake George marine railway, Fort George, a home in Lowville, and more.

Listing these properties on the State and National Registers can assist their owners in revitalizing the structures, making them eligible for various public preservation programs and services, such as matching state grants and state and federal historic rehabilitation tax credits.

The State and National Registers are the official lists of buildings, structures, districts, landscapes, objects and sites significant in the history, architecture, archeology and culture of New York State and the nation. There are 90,000 historic buildings, structures and sites throughout the state listed on the National Register of Historic Places, individually or as components of historic districts. Property owners, municipalities and organizations from communities throughout the state sponsored the nominations.

Once the recommendations are approved by the state historic preservation officer, the properties are listed on the New York State Register of Historic Places and then nominated to the National Register of Historic Places, where they are reviewed and, once approved, entered on the National Register.

Local sites recommended for inclusion in the State and National Registers of Historic Places. Past recommendations are available here.

Clinton County
Heyworth-Mason Industrial Building, Peru – the 1836 structure is an example of an early stone industrial building that housed A. Mason and Sons Lumber Company, a firm that operated for 90 years and greatly impacted the building industry in Clinton and Essex Counties.

Essex County

Crandall Marine Railway, Ticonderoga – the rare and remarkably intact 1927 railway dry dock facility was, and still is, used by the Lake George Steamboat Company to haul its excursion boats in and out of Lake George for maintenance and storage.

Fulton County

Hotel Broadalbin, Broadalbin – originally built in 1854 as a specialty store selling gloves manufactured at the local Northrup & Richards glove factory, it was greatly enlarged in 1881 for use as a hotel for the growing numbers of tourists visiting the Adirondacks.

Herkimer County

Frankfort Hill District #10 School, Frankfort Hill – constructed in 1846, the vernacular building retains a high degree of architectural integrity and remarkably served as an active public school for 110 years until 1956.

Lewis County

Stoddard-O’Connor House, Lowville – built in 1898, the Queen Anne/Colonial Revival-inspired home is adjacent to the commercial heart of Lowville, which was experiencing ample growth during the turn of the last century.

Mary Lyon Fisher Memorial Chapel, Lyonsdale – the late Gothic Revival masonry chapel in Wildwood Cemetery was built in 1921 by the children of Mary Lyon Fisher in honor of their mother, and is an important reminder of the philanthropy of the Lyon family, a preeminent family of the region.

St. Lawrence County

Young Memorial Church, Brier Hill – built 1907-1908, the church is an intact example of the Shingle style, featuring a two-story square Gothic bell tower and decorative windows of opaque glass and stained glass medallions and portraits made by a local artisan.

Saratoga County

Smith’s Grain and Feed Store, Elnora – constructed in 1892, the store served the local farm community for generations by selling feed, grain, coal, fertilizers and other goods that were transported to the store by the railroad, which unloaded at the store’s own siding.

Warren County

Fort George, Lake George – archaeological investigations at the French and Indian War site have provided rare insights into New York’s colonial wars and it reflects early and successful public initiatives in land conservation and commemoration.

Also included was the Caledonia Fish Hatchery in Livingston County, significant for its association with Seth Green, who established the first fish hatchery in the western hemisphere there in 1864, creating what has been acclaimed nationally and internationally as the world’s largest and most productive fish plant in continuous use. A roadside souvenir stand modeled after a 1954 tepee on Route 20 in Cherry Valley, Otsego County, was included as an example of popular roadside architecture.



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