Posts Tagged ‘transportation’

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Meeting Set On Wilmington Recreation Plan

There will be a meeting to discuss Wilmington’s recreation options now and in the future and to develop a Wilmington Recreation Plan on Thursday, February 24th at 7:00 PM at the Wilmington Fire Station Meeting Room. The purpose of the meeting is to gather residents to identify Wilmington’s recreation resources and determine what resources currently exist; current and future project needs; priorities; how residents can work together to develop and maintain their resources; available funding; and what kinds of information residents and tourists need to take the best advantage of local recreation resources.

Speakers will include Town Supervisor Randy Preston, who will provide an update on current recreation projects; Highway Superintendent Bill Skufka, who will discuss roadways for bikes and pedestrians; Matt McNamara on Mountain bike trails; Carol Treadwell, who will provide an update from the Au Sable River Association; Department of Environmental Conservation Forester Rob Daley, Wilmington Wild Forest’s Unit Management Plan; Josh Wilson, of Rural Action Now/Healthy Heart Network on shared roadways and a recreation plan model; and Meg Parker of the Wilmington Youth Commission, who will discuss the Park.


Wednesday, February 9, 2011

APA Meeting Thursday: Queensbury, Westport Development, More

The Adirondack Park Agency (APA) will hold its regularly scheduled monthly meeting on Thursday, February 10 at APA Headquarters in Ray Brook. The February meeting is one day only and will be webcast live. The meeting will be webcast live.

Among the issues to be considered is a boathouse variance, bridges and culverts in the Park, development in Queensbury and Westport, Green programs at the Golden Arrow Resort in Lake Placid, and a presentation on alpine meadow vegetation.

Here is the full agenda:

The Full Agency will convene on Thursday morning at 9:00 for Executive Director Terry Martino’s report where she will present the 2010 annual report.

At 10:45 a.m., the Regulatory Programs Committee will consider a request for a shoreline structure setback variance to authorize the construction of stairs onto an existing boathouse. The project site is located on First Bisby Lake in the Town Webb, Herkimer County. Jim Bridges, Regional Design Engineer, and Tom Hoffman, Structure Engineer, from the NYS Department of Transportation will then brief the committee on the status of bridges and culverts inside the Adirondack Park.

At 1:00, the Full Agency will convene for the Community Spotlight presentation. This month Town of Brighton Supervisor John Quenell will discuss issues and opportunities facing this Franklin County town.

At 1:45, the Local Government Services Committee will consider approving an amendment to revise the Town of Queensbury’s existing zoning law. The committee will also hear a presentation from the Town of Westport to utilize a Planned Unit Development (PUD) in conjunction with a linked Agency map amendment process to establish growth areas within the town.

At 3:00, the Economic Affairs Committee will hear a presentation from Jenn Holderied-Webb from the Golden Arrow Lakeside Resort in Lake Placid on “green programs.” The Golden Arrow Resort implemented unique initiatives to establish itself as an environmentally friendly resort.

At 3:45, the State Land Committee will hear a presentation on alpine meadow vegetation.

At 4:15, the Full Agency will convene will assemble to take action as necessary and conclude with committee reports, public and member comment.

Meeting materials are available for download from the Agency’s website.

The March Agency is scheduled for March 17-18, 2011 at Agency headquarters in Ray Brook.

April Agency Meeting: April 14-15 at the Adirondack Park Agency Headquarters.


Monday, February 7, 2011

The Wreck of the George W. Lee

In November 1886, Captain John Frawley of the canal boat George W. Lee reached the eastern terminus of the Mohawk River at Cohoes. Before him was the Hudson River leading south to Albany and New York City, but Frawley’s intended route was north. At this critical waterway intersection, the Champlain Canal led north from Waterford to Whitehall at Lake Champlain’s southern tip.

Access to the Champlain Canal was on the north bank at the Mohawk’s mouth, opposite Peeble’s Island. Just as there is today, at the mouth of the river was a dam, constructed by engineers to enable canal boats to cross the river. About 500 feet upstream was a bridge. Canal boats were pulled by tow ropes linked to teams of mules or horses. To cross from the south bank to the north, towing teams used the bridge, which is what Frawley did.

Sounds simple, and usually, it was. But the Mohawk was badly swollen from several days of rain. Traveling at night, Frawley was perhaps unaware that the normally strong current had intensified. Water was fairly leaping over the nine-foot-high dam.

Accompanying the captain were his mother, around 60 years old; his ten-year-old son; and the boat’s steersman, Dennis Clancy. To help ensure that things went okay, Frawley left the boat to assist the team driver during the crossing of the 700-foot-long bridge. They moved slowly—the rope extended sideways from the bridge downstream towards the boat, which was much more difficult than pulling a load forward along the canal.

Below them, the George W. Lee lay heavy in the current, straining against the rope. All went well until the bridge’s midpoint was reached, when, with a sound like a gunshot, the rope snapped. Horrified, they watched as the boat swung around, slammed sideways into the dam, and plunged over the edge. Nothing was left but darkness.

Shock and grief enveloped them at such a sudden, terrible loss. Within minutes, though, a light appeared on the boat’s deck. It had held together! At least one person had survived, but no one knew how many, or if any were injured. The roar of the river drowned out any attempt at yelling back and forth. With the boat aground, there was nothing to do but sit and wait until morning.

With daylight came great news. All were okay! But, as had happened the previous evening, great elation was followed by great uncertainty. How could they be saved? The river remained high and dangerous. The boat, resting on the rocks below the dam, could not be reached. And the November chill, heightened by cold water pouring over the dam all around them, threatened the stranded passengers with hypothermia.

A rescue plan was devised, and by late afternoon, the effort began. The state scow (a large, flat-bottomed boat), manned by a volunteer crew of seven brave men, set out on a dangerous mission. Connected to the bridge by a winch system using two ropes, the scow was slowly guided to the dam, just above the stranded boat.

The men began talking with the passengers to discuss their evacuation. Then, without warning, disaster struck. Something within the winch mechanism failed, and again, with a loud cracking sound, the rope snapped. Over the dam went the scow, fortunately missing the canal boat. Had they hit, the results would have been catastrophic.

Briefly submerged, the scow burst to the surface. A safe passage lay ahead, but the drifting scow was instead driven towards nearby Buttermilk Falls by the swift current. Two men leaped overboard and swam for shore in the icy water. The rest decided to ride it out.

In one reporter’s words, “The scow sped like an arrow toward Buttermilk Falls. It seemed to hang an instant at the brink, and then shot over the falls. It landed right side up and soon drifted ashore.” Incredibly, everyone survived intact. Chilled, wet, and shaken, but intact.

Meanwhile, still stuck at the base of the dam was a canal boat with cold, hungry, and frightened passengers. A new plan was needed, but darkness was descending. The stranded victims would have to spend another night on the rocks.

On the following day, Plan B was tried. According to reports, “A stout rope was stretched from the Waterford bridge over the dam to a small row boat at Peeble’s Island [a distance of about 1800 feet.] Two men stood on the bridge and pulled the skiff upstream until it came alongside the canal boat Lee. The party embarked and the boat was allowed to drift back to the island.”

What an amazing, fortuitous outcome. Two boats (one at night) over a dam; three people trapped for more than 36 hours in a raging river; two men swimming for their lives in icy water; and five men and a boat over a waterfall. All that potential for tragedy, and yet all survived unscathed.

Photo Top: The dam at Cohoes, looking west from Peeble’s Island.

Photo Bottom: A canal boat scene at Cohoes.

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


Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Travelling by Ice: Ice Bridges and Short-Cuts

Ice sports bring us out on frozen lakes for the sheer pleasure of being there. But through the years, folks have traveled our “winterized” lakes and rivers for a number of more practical reasons such as visiting friends and relatives, or hauling food, hay, coal, firewood, furniture, logs, milk and just about everything else imaginable.

In the late 19th to the early 20th century, the term “bridge” was commonly used to refer to the ice which allowed for these crossings. Note the following report from the Plattsburgh Sentinel, 2 March 1923: “The ice bridge between Willsboro and Burlington is quite extensively used, many visiting the city for both profit and pleasure.”

Throughout the 1800s, horse-drawn sleds and stagecoaches carried paying passengers on regularly scheduled trips back and forth across Lake Champlain between New York and Vermont. As recently as 2010, when the worn Crown Point bridge had to be destroyed, folks again took advantage of the ice to commute across Lake Champlain to their jobs.

Milda Burns of North River said her father told her that from 1890 until 1930, he bridged the Hudson River by “brushing” it. This meant laying tree branches and twigs across a shallow part of the river to damn up the ice flowing downstream. In this way, ice built up to a depth sufficient to make a road strong enough to support horses and wagons crossing to the other side.

Ice crossings were also carried out for military reasons. By the 1600s, Indians, French Canadians and the English traversed Lake Champlain, most often to do battle with one another. One of the more famous crossings was that of Rogers’ Rangers, a British scouting force, which in the 1750s, retreated from the French by snowshoeing some thirty miles down the length of Lake George.

In 1870, Thomas H. Peacock accompanied his father on a trip from Saranac Lake to Tupper Lake to bring supplies to several lumber camps. As the road would have been long and hilly, they cut the distance in half by traveling over the frozen Saranac Lakes, pulling a sled full of 25 to 30 bushels of potatoes, two or three quarters of beef, a large load of horse hay and eagerly anticipated mail. The trip took eighteen hours.

Loggers also followed frozen lake routes to shorten trips and bring logs out onto the ice where they were dumped and left waiting until spring. When the ice thawed, the timber was floated downriver to the sawmills.

An extraordinary variety of “freight” has been moved across the ice. Some folks still live year-round on road-inaccessible lakeshores or islands. In the winter, they must pull their groceries home using skis, snowshoes or snowmobiles.

Contractors and caretakers take advantage of the frozen lakes to move equipment and materials to road-inaccessible construction and camp sites. There was even an occasion in the early 1920s when rock-loaded sleds were pulled across Lake George by skaters holding sails, the stone used to rebuild the eroded shoreline of Dome Island. To reach remote ice fishing locations, sportsmen cross ice with snowmobiles, ATVs or trucks.

In earlier days the term “freight” included any number of things, not the least of which were houses! That moving buildings across the ice was not so unusual is demonstrated by a real estate advertisement found in the Essex County Republican of 10 September 1915 offering a 141′ long building which “could be moved over the ice to any point on the lake for trifling expense.”

Sometimes overlooked, ice serving as a bridge, has had a major influence on the North Country’s transportation history.

Caperton Tissot is the author of Adirondack Ice, a Cultural and Natural History, published by Snowy Owl Press.


Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Public Input Sought for Bridge Re-opening Celebration

The Lake Champlain Bridge Coalition has announced the formation of the Lake Champlain Bridge Community (LCB Community). The New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT) has entrusted the Coalition and LCB Community to create, plan and lead the public festivities that will celebrate the replacement and re-opening of the Lake Champlain Bridge. The celebration will also showcase the reunited regional communities of Addison, Vt. and Crown Point, N.Y. » Continue Reading.


Monday, January 17, 2011

Studley Hill Road: The Waterloo of All Cars

There are many well known automobile testing sites—Utah’s Bonneville Salt Flats and Colorado’s Pikes Peak come to mind—and some lesser knowns, like Michigan’s Packard Proving Grounds, built in the 1920s. Dozens of official and unofficial testing grounds have been used, and by now, you’ve probably guessed it. Yep … the Adirondacks once had their very own.

While it didn’t have a national profile, Franklin County’s Studley Hill was widely reputed as the most difficult road in the north—unevenly surfaced, extremely steep, and with several sharp curves. Because hill-climbing ability was primary in determining a car’s quality, events and competitions became important to manufacturers and very popular with the public.

Studley Hill is historically significant for many reasons, but the most unusual is the irresistible challenge it presented to some of the top car manufacturers of the early 20th century.

Well, the lure actually was resistible for a while, and for one good reason: fear of failure. Salesmen wished to brag that their product could achieve wonderful things that other cars couldn’t, but it was best to first try Studley on the sly. If you didn’t conquer the hill, you didn’t talk much about it. That made for a lot of quiet car salesmen in the North Country.

The automobile was still a new-fangled contraption that few people could afford, and folks traveling south from Malone on the Duane Road occasionally provided great amusement to those living on or near the hill. Some motored there for the challenge, and others came on joy rides, but from 1910 to around 1920, no one made it up Studley Hill’s steep northern slope. Only horse- or oxen-drawn vehicles could pull it off.

Tradition so often gives way to technology, and that’s what finally happened. Improvements in performance led to the inevitable, and in July, 1920, Studebaker dealer J. Franklin Sharp of Ogdensburg officially became the first to make the climb in an automobile. The real trick was to do it while keeping the car in high gear for the entire run.

It was said that Packards had climbed Studley in the past, and that may have been true. Prohibition had been in effect for nearly a year, and the Packard was a favorite of bootleggers. The Duane Road was a route they commonly used.

Sharp’s feat was easily achieved, but was not without drama. As one reporter put it, “The eyes of the motor world between Utica and the St. Lawrence River were turned this afternoon toward Studley Hill, the steepest grade in the northern country.” This was considered the first official test drive at Studley Hill, and looking at a map of the wilds south of Malone, one might argue that getting 159 people to such a remote location was the biggest accomplishment of the day.

The wagering (men will make a game out of anything and then bet on it) was described as heavy. On the very first attempt, Sharp’s Studebaker Big Six (named for its six cylinders) sped across the flat road to a running start of 55 mph. As quickly as it began the steep ascent, the speedometer plunged. All the while, spectators cheered wildly. Difficult curves slowed the car, but after about a mile, it crested the hill. The car’s lowest speed was said to have been 15 mph.

With Melville Corbett (Sharp’s garage foreman) behind the wheel, the trip was made in high gear four more times, carrying passengers that included Syracuse Post-Standard writers based in Malone and Saranac Lake.

Meanwhile, Frank Sharp wasn’t finished for the day, deciding to attempt the hill in a lighter model, the Studebaker Special Six. Much to the surprise of himself and everyone else, the car climbed ably to the top. It was a great endorsement of the Studebaker brand for dealers across the North Country when headline stories later told the tale.

Just as hiking down a mountain can sometimes be as difficult as climbing up, descending Studley Hill offered its own unique challenges. Many accidents there involving cars or horse-drawn vehicles prompted some unusual signage. Drivers approaching the steep descent to the north were cautioned by roadside warnings, the first of which offered the standard Drive Slow. A second suggested the harrowing drop that awaited: Keep Your Head.

A third and very large sign was unofficially posted by someone with a wonderful sense of humor. And who would dare question its effectiveness? In large, hand-written, red lettering, it said simply, Prepare to Meet Thy God.

In 1921 there were two successful assaults on the hill. A huge touring car, the Paige Lakewood 6-66 (11 feet distance between the centers of the front and rear tires) accomplished the feat to great fanfare. (A Paige had won at Pikes Peak the previous year.)

Paige representatives from Malone and Rochester were on hand, proud to point out that, unlike the climb by Studebaker in 1920, their car did it without aerodynamics—the top and the windshield were up, and two passengers occupied the back seat. The wind drag and extra weight (the car alone weighed 3,500 lbs.) were handled on several successful attempts.

Six months later, an Olds Four climbed the grade in high gear. Successful tries were often touted by the manufacturer as some type of “first.” The Olds people said theirs was the first “closed car carrying three passengers” to climb the hill in high gear.

In 1922, a Durant Touring Car climbed Studley, “ … the steepest and worst hill in the Adirondacks, and considerably harder to climb than the famous Spruce Hill at Elizabethtown on account of the abrupt incline and many turns.” Four men made the trip in what was claimed as the first ascent in high gear at all times under certain conditions (four passengers and much wind).

The driver claimed he was going so fast at the third curve, he was forced to brake hard. The car lost most of its momentum but still completed the run. Again, the story was used in newspapers to advertise the wonders of the Durant.

Technological changes led to even more impressive feats. In April, 1924, a Flint Six (made in Flint, Michigan by a Durant subsidiary) tackled what one writer called “the Waterloo of all cars.” This time there would be no running start. With the car parked at the base of the hill, high gear was engaged, and remained so throughout the climb. Despite sections of tire-sucking mud and slippery snow, the Flint crested Studley Hill without dropping below 15 mph.

Besides the sense of achievement, one other award awaited at the top—a view of the flats to the east, ringed by mountains and featuring several streams leading into the Salmon River. Among those waterways near the base of Studley Hill is Hatch Brook, one of my all-time favorite canoe trips. It twists and winds through the valley for miles, and I paddle upstream until the shores actually brush against both sides of the canoe. The next time I go, I’ll be thinking back to those days of the automobile hill climbs, but content with plenty of peace and quiet.

Photo Top: A Studebaker Big Six.

Photo Middle: Advertisement for Frank Sharp’s Studebaker dealership.

Photo Bottom: The Packard Proving Ground (1925), which did have a hill climb, but nothing the likes of which Studley Hill provided.

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


Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Dave Gibson: Common Road Salt is Toxic

Outside my house, and in the forest back beyond the land is carpeted with crystalline beauty, affording quietude, serenity, thermal shelter for critters, and some nice ski runs. Out on the county road, just two hours after the recent storm the pavement is bare – right on schedule with transportation departments’ standard for road maintenance and safety. To accomplish it, a corrosive pollutant will be laid down in quantity – 900,000 tons of road salt will be used across the state this winter according to the Department of Transportation (DOT) website. » Continue Reading.


Friday, December 31, 2010

Early Lake George Traveler’s Birch Bark Canoe Discovered

Lt. John Enys, a British officer who visited Lake George in the 1780s and whose travel journals were published by the Adirondack Museum in 1976, returned to England with an unusual souvenir: a birch bark canoe made by Native Americans.

The 250-year-old canoe not only remained stored in a barn on the family’s ancestral estate and survived; it is to be restored and ultimately returned to North America, the National Maritime Museum in Cornwall has announced

“There is a strong family story that this canoe was brought back to England by Lt. Enys,” said Captain George Hogg, an archivist at the National Maritime Museum. “Once artifacts such as this are collected by a wealthy landed family, they remain on the estate where there is plenty of space to store them and there is no pressure to dispose of them. We believe this is one of the world’s oldest Birch Bark Canoes, a unique survival from the 18th century.”

According to Hogg, the museum was contacted by a descendant of Lt. Enys, Wendy Fowler, who asked the staff to look at a canoe lying in the Estate’s barn.

“The Estate is very special to us and holds many secrets, but I believe this is the most interesting to date. I’m most grateful that my great, great, great, great, great Uncle’s travels have led to such a major chapter of boating history being discovered in Cornwall,” said Fowler.

After receiving little attention for a number of years (it may have been restored in the Victorian era, archivists say), the canoe saw daylight for the first time in decades when it was moved from its shed to its new temporary resting place at the National Maritime Museum in Cornwall.

Andy Wyke, Boat Collections Manager said, “Moving the canoe is the beginning of a whole new journey back to Canada for this incredible find.”

Lt. Enys sailed from Falmouth in a Packet Ship to join his regiment in Canada to relieve the city of Quebec, which was under siege from the Americans. He fought in the Battle of Valcour, on Lake Champlain, in 1776 and in raids against the frontiers of Vermont in 1778 and New York in 1780. Instead of returning to England in 1787, he traveled through Canada and the United States. In 1788, he sailed back to Canada, taking with him the canoe.

“It’s incredible to think its legacy has been resting in a barn in Cornwall all this time,” said Wyke.

The archivist, Captain George Hogg, said, “When we received the call from the Enys family to identify their ‘canoe in a shed’ we had no idea of the importance of the find. But we knew we had something special.”

Prior to her arrival at the Museum, the canoe was digitally recorded by the curatorial team and during the canoe’s time at the Museum, teams will be researching her history, conserving the remaining wood and preserving what’s left as well as preparing her for the trip back home and representing what she might have looked like over 250 years ago.

In September, 2011 the Native American canoe will be repatriated to Canada where the Canadian Canoe Museum will conduct further research to see where the boat may have been built and by which tribe. The canoe will be displayed in Cornwall, England from January through September.

Enys visited Lake George in 1787. According to his journals, Enys set sail for Fort George, at the head of the lake, from Ticonderoga on November 10.

He spent the night in a “House or Rather Hovel” at Sabbath Day Point, where his sleep was disturbed by hunters who were arguing about the best method of collecting honey from the hives of wild bees.

“So very insignificant was their information that altho deprived of my rest I could learn nothing by it,” he wrote.

On November 11, Enys passed through the Narrows, rowing rather than sailing. “Tho the wind was fair it was not in our power to make use of it, the Lake being here very Narrow and enclosed between two high ridges of mountains; the wind striking against them forms so many eddy winds that unless the wind is either in a direct line up or down it never blows five minutes in the same direction,” he wrote.

Near Fourteen Mile Island, the boat’s sails were hoisted and Enys sailed on to Fort George, arriving in time for dinner.
He then left for Albany and proceeded to New York, Philadelphia and Mount Vernon, where he visited George Washington.

The American Journals of Lt. John Enys, edited by Elizabeth Cometti and published by the Adirondack Museum and Syracuse University Press in 1976, is out of print but available through rare and used book dealers.

Photos: Lt John Enys; Removing the canoe from a storage shed in Cornwall, England

For more news and commentary from Lake George, subscribe to the Lake George Mirror


Thursday, December 30, 2010

Lack of Funding Closes Northway Welcome Center

The official I Love New York Gateway Welcome Information Center, located near the Canadian border in Beekmantown, is closed to the public until further notice; another victim of New York State’s budget crisis.

Operated by the Adirondack Regional Tourism Council (ARTC) with funding from the State since it opened in 1991, the Center has welcomed millions of visitors to the Adirondack Region and New York State. Funding for the Center was eliminated from the State’s 2010 budget, and the ARTC can no longer afford to operate the facility, according to ARTC Executive Director Ron Ofner.

With the favorable Canadian currency exchange rate, visitors from Canada have been heading south in record numbers, Ofner said. “It’s certainly frustrating that no one will be at the center to help direct visitors to Adirondack destinations,” Ofner added. “Instead of pointing people to Plattsburgh, Lake Placid, and Lake George, visitors will pass through the region, and we miss the opportunity to have them stop and spend money in our area.”

Ofner remains optimistic that the Center will be able to provide services to visitors to New York State again in the near future.

“It’s a question of priorities, and obviously, keeping the Center open has not been a priority for the State at this time.” According to Ofner, some funding for the Center is making its way through the system, though when it will arrive is unknown.


Sunday, December 26, 2010

Adirondack Stats: Deer-Car Collisions

Number of deer-vehicle accidents per year in the US: approximately 1.5 million

Months when deer-related accidents are most likely to occur: October and November

Number of people in the US killed in crashes involving animals (mostly deer) in 1993: 101

That number in 2007: 223 » Continue Reading.


Sunday, December 26, 2010

Bicycle Technology: Then and Now

Bicycles have come a long way. They are one of the most important methods of transportation ever created. Millions of people all over the world rely on them and enjoy them as both a primary means of transport and as a personal means of recreation.

Lifelong bicycle aficionados Rob van der Plas and Stuart Baird have indulged their passion for cycling and created a richly illustrated compendium dedicated to the technology and engineering that goes into the modern bicycle and its key historical components.

Their new book, titled Bicycle Technology, covers every detail and aspect of the bicycle, from the frame materials to the drivetrain, gears, to the wheels, suspension lights, bells and whistles, and more. They have shared their technical know-how and love of the history and the developments of the bicycle from its inauspicious beginnings to the use of space-age materials, and the incorporation of electronic innovations of today.

The book is a thorough and up-to-date treatment of the technical aspects of the modern (and historic) bicycle, illustrated with 800 photographs and other illustrations. This new, 2nd edition was completely rewritten, with up-to-date material and numerous clear illustrations, covering bsoth the modern bike itself and its components in a historical context.

The first bicycle was invented in 1817 by Carl Von Drais (no, not three centuries earlier by Leonardo Da Vinci, as has sometimes been claimed). Drais viewed it as a substitute for a horse, which was in very short supply at the time due to a very harsh winter. His earliest machine was protected by a patent, which was soon copied by many people, some under license, some simply pirated. However, interest soon diminished, and by 1830, they were all but forgotten relics of a short-lived craze.

The pedal-drive was first introduced in the 1950s for use on a workman’s tricycle powered by means of cranks on the front wheel, and later found use on Michaux’s two-wheel velocipeds. Tension wire spokes were introduced in 1869, making it possible to build very large wheels of the iconic high-wheel, or “ordinary” bicycle of the 1870 and 1880s.

The first chain-driven bicycle was patented in 1879. Within a few years of their introduction the safety bicycle, with chain-drive and two equal-sized had superseded the high-wheel bicycle.

During much of the 20th Century, bicycle developments were confined to “tweaking” the details rather than the overall re-design of the bicycle as a whole. The most important development of the 20th Century was the introduction and perfection of gearing systems. A modern bicycle derailleur gearing system in the process of changing gear by literally “derailing” the chain to a smaller or larger rear cog

Technical developments in bicycles continue to undergo subtle refinements. There have been, and continue to be, significant developments in areas like brake systems, gearing, suspension, and frame materials. High-tech, lightweight materials, including carbon and titanium, sometimes in combination, are now used in the frames and components of high-end bicycles.

Many bicycles are now available with full suspension and hydraulic disk brakes. Fully equipped urban commuter bikes are available with carriers for a briefcase or laptop, effective lights for night riding, and other electronic and mechanical accessories.

In recent years, electric-assist bikes, or “E-bikes” have gained popularity amongst casual riders and utility cyclists. There are four E-bike categories: CEBs, which are conventional electric bikes; SABs, or simple assisted bikes; EHBs, or electro-hybrid bikes; and SHBs, or Synergetic Hybrid Bicycles, which can be seen as pedal-powered equivalent of hybrid cars.

Modern lighting systems of course, now use ultra-bright multi-light LEDs with rechargeable battery packs and on board generators. Modern audio warning systems are also electronic.

No matter what advances in technology we may see, some people may still choose on installing an old-fashioned bell or horn.

Note: Books noticed on this site have been provided by the publishers. Purchases made through this Amazon link help support this site.

Photo: Early High-Wheel or Ordinary Bicycle (c 1872).


Tuesday, November 23, 2010

SL: New Coalition Forms to Improve Accessibility

Often, people think accessibility is all about wheelchairs. That is until they confront a set of stairs on crutches or experience an impairment that can’t overcome physical obstacles.

“It’s been challenging to get my mother back to her active community involvement since a car accident impaired her walking,” said Saranac Lake resident and business owner Susan Olsen. “Getting her into places isn’t always possible.”

Despite recent projects that have provided improved accessibility in the Village of Saranac Lake, some residents still experience access and mobility problems because of physical barriers on sidewalks and in buildings, businesses and other places. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Local Students Get Revved Up for ATV Safety

During the last week of October, the seventh and eighth grade students of North Warren Central School participated in a 4-H ATV Safety program provided by staff from Cornell University Cooperative Extension. The main focus of the sessions was to educate youth
regarding safety practices, sound decision making, and taking responsibility when using an ATV. According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission some 44,000 children under the age of 16 were seriously injured in ATV accidents in 2007 and 150 were killed. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, November 10, 2010

New Map Highlights State’s Scenic Byways

Traveling New York State’s scenic roads just got easier; thanks to a new map that brings them all together for the first time. The Adirondack North Country Association and the New York State Department of Transportation have teamed up to produce the map, which gives visitors a chance to see all 21 designated Scenic Byways spanning more than 2,000 miles of roads in one convenient, folded map. One side highlights the 14 routes in Northern New York, including the Adirondack Trail Scenic Byway, which travels North and South on routes 30 and 30A for 188 miles through the center of the Adirondack Park. The other side shows all the Byways statewide.

This first statewide scenic byways map identifies each byway route and provides useful information and tourism contacts. Byways offer an alternative travel routes to major highways, while telling the stories of New York State’s heritage, recreational activities and natural beauty.

The project was funded by a grant to the NYS Scenic Byways Program, at the New York State Department of Transportation, through the Federal Highway Administration and the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century.

“This project builds on a long history of Scenic Byways corridor management planning with New York State Department of Transportation. The map is a direct response to community requests to gain visibility for the region,” said Sharon O’Brien, Adirondack North Country Association (ANCA) Byways Program Coordinator. ANCA and DOT have collaborated on an Adirondack North County Region Scenic Byways map that, now in its sixth printing, is referred to as “The Map” by both visitors and locals.

In ANCA’s service region, the new state maps will be available at five key locations: 1000 Islands Tourism in Alexandria Bay, Warren Country Tourism office in Lake George, Regional Office of Sustainable Tourism in Lake Placid, Hamilton County Tourism office in Lake Pleasant, and the Oneida County Convention and Visitors Bureau in Utica. Statewide, 300,000 copies will be distributed.

Organizations that wish to become a distributor can contact Mark Woods, NYSDOT Scenic Byways Coordinator at ScenicByways@dot.state.ny.us and (518) 457-6277. More information on the Adirondack’s Byways can be found at www.adirondackscenicbyways.org.


Thursday, October 21, 2010

DEC Re-Opens More Forest Preserve Roads

Four additional Forest Preserve roads closed this spring, when budget cutbacks restricted the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation’s (DEC) ability to repair, maintain and patrol them, have reopened in time for big game hunting season.

Hamilton County and the Towns of Inlet and Indian Lake had partnered with DEC earlier to reopen and maintain roads and nearby recreational facilities in the Moose River Plains Wild Forest including Moose River Plains Road (Limekiln Lake-Cedar River Road), Otter Brook Road up to the Otter Brook Bridge, and Rock Dam Road.

“Big game hunting brings much needed economic activity to Hamilton County during the fall,” said William Farber, Chairman of the Hamilton County Board of Supervisors. “We
appreciate DEC’s willingness to work with us to reopen the roads in the Moose River Plains. “Commissioner Grannis deserves praise for his determination to open the roads despite the significant reduction in resources DEC has for maintaining roads and other recreational facilities in the Adirondacks,” he said.

DEC also utilized $250,000 of Environmental Protection Fund monies to replace
inadequate culverts on the main Moose River Plains Road with bridges over Sumner Stream and Bradley Brook this past summer. This is continuation of major rehabilitation work in the Moose River Plains over the past several years. Over one million dollars has been invested in roadway improvements based on the findings of an engineering study of the Moose River Plains road system.

The additional newly reopened roads include:

Lily Pond Road in the Lake George Wild Forest in the Town of Horicon, Warren County. The Town of Horicon Highway Department provided assistance with grading and fill
material and the Town will continue to provide assistance with garbage removal, cleanup and inspection for the remainder of the year.

Gay Pond Road in the Hudson River Special Management Area (aka the Hudson River
Recreation Area) in the Lake George Wild Forest in the Town of Warrensburg, Warren County. The South Warren Snowmobile Club covered the cost of several new culverts to
replace ones that had failed and been crushed under the road. DEC staff is undertaking the work to replace the culverts and to provide fill and grade the road, with completion expected by this weekend.

Indian Lake Road and Otter Brook Road (between the Otter Brook Bridge and the Otter
Brook Gate) in the Moose River Plains Wild Forest in the Town of Inlet, Hamilton County opened last week. The highway departments from Hamilton County and the towns of Indian Lake and Inlet replaced culverts, filled holes and graded the road.

Barry Hutchins, Supervisor of the Town of Indian Lake, praised DEC saying that “The Town looks forward to continuing the great working relationship we have developed with DEC and make the Moose River Plains a premiere Adirondack recreational destination for campers, hunters, anglers, wildlife watchers, hikers, mountain bikers and others.”

The Adirondack Almanack monitors and reports road and trail closings, along with other backcountry conditions, in its weekly Adirondack Outdoor Conditions Report.

Photo: The new Sumner Stream crossing on the Moose River Plains Road (Limekiln Lake-Cedar River Road) in the Moose River Plains Wild Forest (courtesy DEC). Additional photos of work done to the road are available online.



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