Posts Tagged ‘Vermont’

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Lake Champlain: An Illustrated History

The eastern edge of the Adirondack Park stretches into the middle of Lake Champlain, that great river-lake 120 miles long, four times the size of Lake George. Standing between the states of New York and Vermont, it’s the largest body of water in the Adirondacks, one that connects Whitehall and (via the Champlain Canal and Hudson River) New York City to Quebec’s Richelieu River and the St. Lawrence River. Two routes inland from the Atlantic Ocean that have had a historic impact on the entire North County, New York and Vermont. The book Lake Champlain: An Illustrated History celebrates what is unquestionably America’s most historic lake.

Four hundred years of Champlain history are conveyed in the coffee-table book’s more than 300 color photographs, drawings, maps and vintage images. Chapters on the towns along the lake, the Chaplain basin’s First Peoples, its critical military and transportation history, and the sports and recreation opportunities are eloquently contextualized by regional writers, including occasional Almanack contributor Chris Shaw who provides the book’s Prologue and Epilogue, and Russ Bellico who offers a chapter entitled “Highway to Empire”.

Published by Adirondack Life in Jay, Lake Champlain: An Illustrated History is a great book for those who love the lake, local and state history buffs, and nature lovers.

You can pick up a copy online.

You can hear an interview with the book’s editor Mike McCaskey on the Vermont Public Radio website.

Note: Books noticed on this site have been provided by the publishers.


Monday, February 28, 2011

Local History: A True Story of Sunken Treasure

Recent acts of piracy on the high seas brought to mind stories of what some call “the Golden Age of Pirates” (like Blackbeard, or Henry Morgan). That conjured images of sunken treasure, which in turn reminded me of what might well be the shallowest sunken treasure ever recovered. And wouldn’t you know it? It happened right here in the North Country.

It occurred at the southern tip of Lake Champlain, near Whitehall, already the site of many historic lake-related treasures. Arnold’s Valcour fleet was built there, and it’s also the final resting place of the ships that survived the Battle of Plattsburgh. Most of them eventually sank in East Bay, which is a vast marshy area surrounding the mouth of the Poultney River.

If you’ve never toured the lower part of Lake Champlain, you’re missing a great experience. Besides playing a critical role during centuries of regional history, the scenery is spectacular. South of Ticonderoga, the lake narrows into a 20-mile, river-like channel previously referred to as Wood Creek. It features cliffs, narrows, lush vegetation, and copious wildlife.

Just outside of Whitehall is South Bay, bound in places by high, steep, cliffs that once hosted a historic battle. It also hosts a healthy population of rattlesnakes. The long, high ridge to the west, from here to Ticonderoga, separates South Bay from Lake George. Of all the canoe trips I’ve taken, South Bay is one of the all-time best.

A little further east down the lake is a sharp bend known simply as the Elbow, a shortened form of Fiddler’s Elbow. It was here that a famed member of Roger’s Rangers, General Israel Putnam, led an attack against Marin’s forces in 1758. To the east, just past the Elbow, is the entrance to East Bay, less than a mile from downtown Whitehall, where Lock 12 provides access to the New York State Barge Canal. Like I said, this place is extremely rich in history.

The story of sunken treasure is tied to the possession of Fort Ticonderoga, about twenty miles north. In early July, 1777, General Arthur St. Clair was the US commander at Ticonderoga, but the American troops were far outmanned and outgunned by the forces of Sir Johnny Burgoyne, whose great show of strength prompted St. Clair’s decision to evacuate the fort.

Some of St. Clair’s men crossed Lake Champlain and retreated across Vermont territory. Others went south on the lake to Whitehall. Burgoyne pursued the latter group, taking control of Whitehall (known then as Skenesborough). As the patriots fled, they destroyed many boats and just about anything they couldn’t carry, lest it fall into enemy hands.

Burgoyne’s forces were involved in other battles before finally meeting defeat at Saratoga, but it’s his time at Whitehall that is a vital link to the treasure story. His men at Fort Ticonderoga and elsewhere frequently suffered the same problems as the Americans—exhaustion, hunger, and lack of pay. Many unpaid soldiers voiced their discontent, and mutiny could soon follow.

To alleviate the problem, British authorities in Quebec dispatched a sloop. Manned by a crew of ten, it carried sufficient gold to pay Burgoyne’s thousands of soldiers. After the long trip down Lake Champlain, the sloop reached Fort Ticonderoga, only to find that Burgoyne had traveled farther south. Captain Johnson (first name unknown), in charge of the gold-laden craft, decided to deliver his goods to Burgoyne at Whitehall.

Nearing the village, Johnson was informed that Burgoyne’s men had been victorious at Hubbardton, about 15 miles northeast of Whitehall. East Bay led directly towards Hubbardton, and about 8 miles upstream was a bridge the soldiers would cross as they made their way towards Albany. Johnson entered the bay, planning to intercept the troops at the bridge and give them the gold.

The sloop traveled as far as possible, anchoring just below Carver Falls, not far from the bridge. While waiting for Burgoyne’s men, the sloop came under attack by patriot forces, (possibly men retreating from the loss at Hubbardton). Captain Johnson scuttled his ship, but the men were killed trying to escape, and the Americans quickly left the area that would soon be crawling with British soldiers. The sloop lay on the river bottom.

Years later, it was learned that England’s military had offered a reward for the capture of Captain Johnson, for it was assumed he had made off with the booty, it having never been delivered.

Fast-forward 124 years to fall, 1901. Civil Engineer George B. West, who oversaw construction of the power dam at Carver Falls, learned that raging spring torrents had left part of a watercraft exposed in the riverbed below the falls. Aided by a crew of 30 men, he diverted the river temporarily to further explore the wreck and clear it from the channel. Using tools, and then a charge of dynamite, they managed to free the hull. Inside, they found various glass items, several muskets, and an interesting iron chest in the captain’s quarters.

Imagine the excitement of the moment, opening the lid to reveal 10,000 gold sovereigns, coins that today might fetch between $5 and $10 million!

As the spoils of a long-ago war, the coins were deposited in the Allen National Bank in nearby Fair Haven, Vermont. But ownership of the money was questioned by the New York Times, Boston newspapers, and many others across New England. Some said it should be returned to Great Britain as a gesture of good faith. Others said to keep it. After all, if the soldiers had recovered the gold when the boat sank, it surely wouldn’t have been returned to the Brits.

But it wasn’t that simple. The boat sank in 1777. Previous to that, the battle between New York and New Hampshire over land grants had led to the creation of the Republic of Vermont, located between the two litigants. Neither New York nor New Hampshire recognized Vermont independence, which led to an interesting scenario: in 1777, the site at Carver Falls could have been part of New York, Vermont, New Hampshire, or British territory.

Further complicating matters, when statehood was finally settled (and before the gold was discovered), the NYS-Vermont border in that area was placed right down the center of the Poultney River. In the end, it is believed the money remained in Vermont coffers.

There is an interesting side story that was not included in published accounts about the recovered gold. It helps explain how the boat went undetected for more than a century. Above Carver Falls, seven years after the sloop sank, the river’s path was diverted, whether by natural means, man-made means, or a combination of the two. A supposed dispute over water rights may have played a role, or the river may have naturally chosen a new course through a widespread sandy area.

What’s most important is the result of the change in path. Up to 1783, East Bay was navigable by ships weighing up to 40 tons. The course diversion caused massive amounts of sand and sediment to wash over the falls, reducing the channel’s depth dramatically.

In subsequent years, though rumors of sunken treasure persisted, it hardly seemed plausible that a boat of any size could have made the journey to Carver Falls. Who could have known the river was once much deeper? It wasn’t until 124 years later that nature released a torrent strong enough to reveal the truth. And to clear the long-sullied name of Captain Johnson.

Photos: Top, map of key locations; below, sample of a British gold sovereign from the late 1700s.

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.


Sunday, December 19, 2010

Tories: American Revolution and Civil War

In 1777, as General John Burgoyne’s army marched south having taken Fort Ticonderoga, a temporary loyalist enclave was created in Rutland County, Vermont. While many rebel Americans fled before the British Army, a few stayed on. In Rutland Nathan Tuttle, a rebel known locally for hating and taunting loyalists, was one of them.

Tuttle’s decision to stay behind was not a very good one at a time and place when the American Revolution was a full-scale Civil War. As Burgoyne’s army passed through Rutland, Tuttle disappeared. Ten years later it was revealed by a local Tory that Tuttle had been bayoneted, his body weighted with stones and thrown into a creek. Nathan Tuttle was an American, and so were his murderers, likely men associated with the notorious Loyalist and close confidant of John Burgoyne, Philip Skene of Whitehall.

Under the grand story of the fight for American independence are finer threads, stories of people who are often assigned a mere footnote in the Revolutionary narrative. Offering a fresh look at the lives of those who sided with Britain during the American Revolution, TORIES: Fighting for the King in America’s First Civil War, by Thomas Allen, weaves a provocative and unsettling picture of a bloody and savage civil war that divided America and sent more than 80,000 Tory Americans — Loyalists, as they called themselves — fleeing to Canada, the United Kingdom and other parts of the world.

For Loyalists, America was home; yet, when they sought to preserve allegiance to the Crown and protect their homes from the rebels, many Loyalists found themselves in a civil war raging in the midst of a Revolution. Hatred between Tories and Patriots divided families, friends, and communities. This war was vicious and personal, forcing many Loyalists to flee America. Those who chose to stay quickly realized that if they had any chance of survival, the British had to win.

Incorporating firsthand documents from archives in the United Kingdom and Canada, TORIES gives voice to little heard and Americans. TORIES also explores little known facts about Loyalists, such as: New York City and Philadelphia were Tory strongholds throughout the Revolution; at times, Georgia and the Carolinas had more trained and armed Tories than British Redcoats; Lord Dunmore, a Virginia royal governor, offered freedom to any slave that joined the British fight, creating thousands of black Loyalists; Scottish Highlanders, though onetime foes of the British, fought for the Crown in exchange for land grants; and William Franklin, son of Benjamin Franklin, led a brutal Tory guerrilla force that terrorized New Jersey.

While historical accounts portray the Revolution as a conflict between the Patriots and the British, there is another narrative: the bloody fighting between Americans, a civil war whose savagery shocked even battle-hardened Redcoats and Hessians. From mudslinging and rhetorical sparring to water-boarding, house-burning, and lynching, here is the rarely chronicled war-within-the-war that adds a new dimension to the history of the American Revolution. TORIES introduces readers to the forgotten Americans who chose the British side—and paid dearly for their choice.

THOMAS B. ALLEN is the author of numerous history books, including George Washington, Spymaster and Remember Valley Forge. A contributor to Smithsonian Magazine, National Geographic, Military History Quarterly, Military History Magazine, Naval History, Naval Institute Proceedings, and other publications, he lives in Bethesda Maryland with his wife, artist Scottie Allen.

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


Tuesday, October 19, 2010

The Lake Champlain Bridge: A Year Later

New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT) Acting Commissioner Stanley Gee and Vermont Agency of Transportation Secretary David Dill marked the one year anniversary of the Lake Champlain Bridge closure on Saturday. The temporary ferry service is still in place providing round-the-clock transportation across the lake at no cost to passengers, and the underwater structures for the new bridge are nearly completed. » Continue Reading.


Thursday, October 14, 2010

Champlain History Project Wins Prestigious Award

A partnership of state and non-profit entities has won an important award for its project to educate Vermonters about the history and archeology of the Lake Champlain area as part of the Lake Champlain Quadricentennial.

At its recent annual conference, the American Association for State and Local History awarded the Lake Champlain Voyages of Discovery project a 2010 Leadership in History Award of Merit.

“This is a special honor, and I’m grateful for the opportunity to accept the award on behalf of the partnership,” said project director Elsa Gilbertson, Regional Historic Site Administrator for the Vermont Division for Historic Preservation, which collaborated with Vermont Public Television; the Bixby Memorial Free Library in Vergennes; Broadwing Productions; and the University of Maine at Farmington Archaeological Research Center.

“I’m very proud of the Voyages project and pleased to see the work of so many people in Vermont being recognized at the national level,” said AASLH Council President David Donath, CEO of the Woodstock Foundation and member of the Vermont Advisory Council on Historic Preservation.

The two-and-a-half year project was funded by a $250,000 grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) as well as matching resources from the partnership, and used the 400th anniversary of Samuel de Champlain’s arrival in Lake Champlain as an opportunity to explore and bring to life the little known but internationally significant area and its peoples from 1609 to the 1760s.

“This project was a multi-disciplinary effort using archeology, historic research, film-making, museum and library outreach, and extensive local and regional participation,” said Giovanna Peebles, State Historic Preservation Officer and head of DHP. “I think it did a terrific job of portraying the Native American and other peoples and their contributions to regional and world history during this critical period in the Champlain Valley.”

It included:

* An archeological investigation with professional archeologists, educators, and volunteers at the DAR State Park in Addison to look for traces of the French colonial past;

* A Lake Champlain Voyages of Discovery publication for the general public about this early history and archeological results;

* A one-hour documentary, Champlain: The Lake Between, by film maker Caro Thompson and Broadwing Productions with Vermont Public Television, which won a New England Emmy;

* Public programs and exhibits at the Chimney Point State Historic Site and Bixby Memorial Free Library;

* A special edition Champlain: The Lake Between, with “Classroom Connections” educational activities and resources distributed to schools in the Lake Champlain Basin of Vermont and New York;

* Educational kits and new books and other resources at the Bixby Memorial Free Library;

* A website with information about the project.

The AASLH Leadership in History Awards, now in its 65th year, is the most prestigious recognition in the United States for achievement in the preservation and interpretation of state and local history.

“The winners represent the best in the field and provide leadership for the future of state and local history,” said AASLH President Terry L. Davis.

DVDs of the Champlain: The Lake Between are available from Vermont Public Television by calling (802) 655-5307 and the special educational edition and the publication, Lake Champlain Voyages of Discovery, are available from the Chimney Point State Historic Site.

Educational kits are available in the local area on loan from the Bixby Memorial Free Library. For more information, visit: www.historicvermont.org/imls/lakechamplainvoyageshomepage.html

“VPT is proud to be part the Voyages of Discovery project, making this valuable content available to classroom teachers, students and lifelong learners,” said Vermont Public Television president John King.

Vermont Public Television will re-air Champlain: The Lake Between on Monday, Oct. 18, at 10:30 p.m.


Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Local Museums, History Scaled Back Over Economy

The Adirondack Museum in Blue Mountain Lake has announced that it will close it’s satellite retail store in Lake Placid on October 30th. The store, which opened in 2003, was an initial step in the museum’s long-range plan to reach out to communities in the Adirondack Park. Lake Placid was considered by museum officials to be the best place to begin.

“The subsequent and continuing economic downturn have forced a strategic re-thinking of the museum’s plans,” Adirodnack Museum spokesperson Katherine Moore told the press in a recent announcement. “At the present time it is no longer feasible to operate two retail operations and maintain a growing online sales presence.” The museum will concentrate its efforts and financial resources on the Blue Mountain Lake campus Moore told the press.

It’s the second set-back for the Adirondack Museum in Lake Placid. In June of 2008, the museum ended its plan to erect a building on Main Street to house a new branch of the museum and its existing store. That decision was made “very reluctantly” museum officials said, citing a strained economic situation.

Last year, Adirondack Museum Marketing Director Susan Dineen told WNBZ that they were feeling the effects of the recession. “Like many large nonprofit institutions, our endowment has seen a downturn,” she told Chris Morris, “It’s unavoidable.” Dineen said today that the museum has not yet instituted a museum-wide hiring freeze or any layoffs. However, three employees at the Lake Placid store have been notified that their positions will be eliminated.

The Adirondack Museum’s economic travails are part of wider trend for local historical organizations. First Fort Ticonderoga faced financial ruin after Deborah Mars, a Ticonderoga native married to the billionaire co-owner of the Mars candy company Forrest Mars Jr., bailed on her long-time support for the fort just before completion of a new $23 million Deborah Clarke Mars Education Center. The Mars paid for nearly all of the new building’s construction but left before it was finished leaving Fort Ti about two million dollars in debt.

Then there was the well-publicized New York State Historic Site closure debacle that threatened the John Brown Farm in Essex County and the Macomb Reservation State Park and Point Au Roche State Park, both in Clinton County.

The long-awaited preservation of Rogers Island in Fort Edward is on hold after preservation funds dried up in July. Earlier this month, Governor David Paterson vetoed a bill that would have funded the celebration of the 200th Anniversary of America’s Second War of Independence, the War of 1812.

The news about the Adirondack Museum’s retreat was not the only troubling local museum news this week. The Lake Champlain Maritime Museum (LCMM) abandoned its plan to occupy a 7,000 square foot former generating plant on the Burlington waterfront. The LCMM had planned an installation of the museum’s collection of historic shipwrecks.

“The City of Burlington has done an outstanding job putting together a sound plan for redeveloping the Moran site, but the Maritime Museum has significant concerns about our ability to raise sufficient funds to participate in the project and the long-term financial sustainability of a future Moran maritime museum site. We felt our continued participation in the project, given our funding concerns, was not helpful to the City in meeting their overall goal of redeveloping the Moran site,” Art Cohn, Executive Director of the Lake Champlain Maritime Museum, announced.

Photo: The Adirondack Museum’s store on Main Street in Lake Placid. Photo courtesy Sarah and Marc Galvin, Owners of The Bookstore Plus in Lake Placid.


Sunday, August 15, 2010

Junior Waterfowl Hunting Program Announced

The Missisquoi National Wildlife Refuge Junior Waterfowl Hunter Training Program is being offered to young hunters who want to learn more about the sport of waterfowl hunting and experience a high quality waterfowl hunt on Saturday, August 28th, 2010 in St. Albans Vermont. The program is offered to youngsters 12 to 15 years of age who have an adult waterfowl hunter to serve as a mentor.

The Junior Waterfowl Hunter Training Program is a joint educational effort of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service at Missisquoi National Wildlife Refuge, the Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department, the Vermont Chapter of Ducks Unlimited, and volunteers to teach young hunters about waterfowl hunting. The program instructs beginning hunters in the knowledge and skills necessary to become responsible, respected individuals who strive to learn all they can about the species being hunted and to become knowledgeable in firearms safety, hunter ethics and wildlife conservation.

Mentors and youths who would like to participate in this year’s program must pre-register with the Refuge by Monday, August 23. Participation in the program will be limited to 50 enrollees.

All mentors and young hunters must attend the one-day training session on Saturday, August 28, with instruction beginning at 8:00 AM at the Franklin County (Vermont) Sportsman’s Club on Route 36 (Maquam Shore Road) in St. Albans. The training session will be held rain or shine, so participants should dress appropriately.

Junior Hunters and their mentors, once they complete the training, are awarded exclusive use of several premier hunting areas at Missisquoi National Wildlife Refuge for the first four weekends of the waterfowl hunting season, however, only the Junior Hunter may shoot. Blind sites and hunting dates for the Jr. Hunters are determined by a lottery conducted at the annual training session.

To register for this year’s program, call refuge headquarters at 802-868-4781. Please include the mentor’s and youth’s name, address and telephone number.

Waterfowl hunters of all ages are welcome to attend the training on Saturday, August 28. It is a great opportunity to improve waterfowl identification and other waterfowl hunting skills for the coming season. Children under the age of 12 are welcome to come for the day to learn about the program but will not be allowed to participate in the hunt until they are 12 years old.

If you have any questions about the program, please contact David Frisque, Park Ranger, at 802-868-4781.


Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Champlain Bridge Business Assistance Center Established

The Albany regional Small Business Development Center (SBDC), an affiliate of the University at Albany’s School of Business, is establishing the Champlain Bridge Business Assistance Center, an “emergency outreach office” to assist small businesses that have been adversely affected by the closing and demolition of the Champlain Bridge. The Center opened Feb. 18, at 3259 Broad Street in Port Henry.

The Champlain Bridge Business Assistance Center will help interested business owners plan how to transition and maintain the viability of their businesses during construction of the new bridge. The SBDC, along with strategic partners, will offer assistance to dislocated workers who cannot afford the long commute around Lake Champlain to jobs in Vermont and may be interested in starting a business. The Albany SBDC is collaborating with the North Country SBDC located at SUNY Plattsburgh to provide staff for the counseling and outreach efforts.

Services offered will include assessment of impact, identification of NYS Champlain Bridge Relief Programs, application assistance for these programs, market research, cost analysis/financial management, identifying sources of capital and business growth strategies.

The bridge, which crossed Lake Champlain between Crown Point, NY and Chimney Point, VT, was demolished in December, cutting off a vital connection. Construction of a new bridge is expected to be complete in late summer 2011.

The SBDC program is funded through the Small Business Administration, New York State, and the State University of New York.


Thursday, December 17, 2009

Crown Point Bridge Design Recomendation Made

New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT) and Vermont Agency of Transportation (VTrans) announced today both a public survey and the agencies’ Public Advisory Committee (PAC) agree on what the new Crown Point – Chimney Point bridge (officially known as the Lake Champlain Bridge) should look like. The survey and PAC recommendation “will be one of many factors considered” according to officials in choosing a replacement bridge design. The co-lead agencies on the project (VAOT, NYSDOT, and FHWA) have not yet made an official decision and cannot do so until after January 11, 2010 when the comment period for Consulting Parties officially ends. » Continue Reading.


Thursday, November 19, 2009

Moby Dick and the Adirondacks

Long ago there were whales at the edge of the Adirondacks, but it wasn’t till last year that I saw one myself—the same day our trail was blocked by a bull moose, another creature I’ve yet to see here. This wild kingdom was on Gaspe peninsula, Quebec. The whale left a huge impression, as did Moby Dick. I can’t pretend to have read this engrossing however longass 1851 book, but I listened to it on tape during that trip, and it took another week to finish it. So it was as unexpected as a water spout to spy a poster announcing that Pendragon Theatre, in Saranac Lake, is staging the story this weekend.

Pendragon’s Web site has an explanation. “Moby Dick Rehearsed is a play that attempts to turn the 800-page novel into a two-hour play,” says director Karen Kirkham of Dickinson College. “That in itself is a feat to admire. Orson Welles’s 1955 play is little known. Even less known is Welles’s repeated opinion in interviews later in life that the play ‘is my finest work—in any form.’”

The show is at 7:30 Friday and Saturday, November 20 and 21, at and 2 p.m. Sunday, November 22. Tentative performances in December are Dec. 4 at 7:30 and Dec. 6 at 2 p.m. The production will tour schools and arts centers around the region until March. Tickets are $20 for adults and $16 for seniors and students; $10 for age 17 and under. Pendragon is at 15 Brandy Brook Avenue. For information and reservations, contact Pendragon Theatre (518) 891-1854 or [email protected]

A 1930 edition of Moby Dick illustrated by Rockwell Kent, who lived in Ausable Forks, is credited as a factor in the novel’s rediscovery. You can see Kent’s powerful pen and ink drawings at this link to the Plattsburgh College Foundation and Art Museum, to whom many of Kent’s works were bequeathed by his widow, Sally Kent Gorton. The 1930 printing was first offered as a limited edition of 1,000 copies in three volumes held in metal slipcases. AntiQbook is offering a set for $9,500—something for the Christmas list.

Cover of the 1930 Chicago, Lakeside Press edition of Moby Dick, illustrated by Rockwell Kent


Thursday, March 5, 2009

400 Years of The Champlain Valley Event

Rich Strum, Director of Interpretation and Education at Fort Ticonderoga, will offer a program entitled “Conquest, Commerce, and Culture: 400 Years of History in the Champlain Valley” at Saranac Village at Will Rogers in Saranac Lake on Sunday, March 8, 2009.

Samuel de Champlain first saw the great expanse of Lake Champlain, the Green Mountains to the east, the Adirondacks on the west in 1609. New York State, Vermont, and the Province of Quebec are commemorating the 400th anniversary of Champlain’s explorations this year through a variety of programs and events.

Strum will provide an illustrated overview of four centuries of the Champlain region’s history. He will discuss military contests for control of the vital Champlain corridor, the role the lake has played in economic growth and expansion, the lasting impact of 150 years of French dominance in the 17th and 18th centuries.

The presentation will begin at 2:00 p.m. and is offered at no charge to member sof the Adirondack Museum and children of elementary school age or younger. Free admission will be extended to all residents of Saranac Village at Will Rogers. The fee for non-members is $5.00. For additional information, please call the Education Department at (518) 352-7311, ext. 128 or visit the museum’s web site at www.adirondackmuseum.org.

Rich Strum has been the Director of Interpretation and Education at Fort Ticonderoga since 1999. He serves as North Country Regional Coordinator for New York State History Day. He is the author of Ticonderoga: Lake Champlain Steamboat, as well as two books for young readers: Causes of the American Revolution and Henry Know: Washington’s Artilleryman. He lives in Ticonderoga, N.Y. with his wife and daughters.


Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Vermont Reports Maple Syrup Price Increase

According to a story in yesterday’s Burlington Free Press, Vermont maple producers are seeing a 16% increase in the price of syrup since last year. A poor sugaring season in Quebec, increased fuel, shipping and container costs and increased demand are cited as reasons for the increase.

In 2008, New York State surpassed Maine as the second largest maple syrup producer in the United States with 322,000 gallons. Vermont remained on top, yielding 500,000 gallons. By comparison, the province of Quebec produces over six million gallons per year.

The twelve counties which constitute the Adirondack Park account for nearly one third of New York’s maple syrup production, though most of the sugar bush lies outside the Blue Line.


Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Best Bets – Adirondack County Fairs Guide

Local fairs start this week, so here is a full list of Adirondack County Fairs, listed according to opening date. I’ve included a few of the most important regional fairs as well. Enjoy!

Lewis County Fair
7/15 through 7/19; Lowville, NY
http://www.lewiscountyfair.org/

Saratoga County Fair
7/15 through 7/20; Prospect Street, Ballston Spa, NY
http://www.saratogacountyfair.org/

Jefferson County Fair
7/15 through 7/20; Coffeen Street, Watertown, NY
http://www.jeffcofair.org/

Booneville-Oneida County Fair
7/21 through 7/27; Adirondack High School, Booneville, NY
http://www.frontiernet.net/~boonvillefair/index.htm

Clinton County Fair
7/22 through 7/27; Morrisonville, NY
http://www.clintoncountyfair.com/

Warren County Youth Fair
8/2 (only); Schroon River Road, Warrensburg, NY
http://counties.cce.cornell.edu/warren/

Franklin County Fair
08/02 through 08/10; East Main St., Malone, NY
http://www.frcofair.com

St. Lawrence County Fair
8/4 through 8/10; East Barney St., Gouverneur, NY
http://www.gouverneurfair.com/

Herkimer County Fair
8/12 through 8/17; Frankfort, NY
http://www.herkimercountyfair.org/

Essex County Fair
8/13 through 8/17; Main St., Westport, NY
http://www.essexcountyfair.org

Washington County Fair
8/18 through 8/24; Route 29, Greenwich, NY
http://www.washingtoncountyfair.com/

New York State Fair
8/21 through 9/1; State Fair Blvd., Syracuse, NY
http://www.nysfair.org/fair/

Champlain Valley Exposition
8/23 through 9/1; Pearl St., Essex Junction, VT
http://cvexpo.org/

Vermont State Fair
8/29 through 9/7; S Main St., Rutland, VT
http://www.vermontstatefair.net/