Adk Museum Presents ‘The Adirondack Mining Village’


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Mining was once a major industry in northern New York State. Small iron mines and forges appeared along Lake Champlain in the late 1700s. In the 1820s, the industry began to grow rapidly, reaching its peak in the mid-to-late 1800s. The story of mining is much more than minerals found and ores extracted. This Monday, July 13, 2009 Dr. Carol Burke will explore human aspects of Adirondack mining in an illustrated program entitled “The Adirondack Mining Village” at the Adirondack Museum at Blue Mountain Lake, New York.

Part of the museum’s popular Monday Evening Lecture series, the presentation will be held in the Auditorium at 7:30 p.m. There is no charge for museum members. Admission is $5.00 for non-members.

Burke’s presentation reflects an ongoing project that documents accounts of the daily lives or ordinary people who lived and worked in the now abandoned mining villages of Tahawus and nearby Adirondac (known in the 1950s as “The Upper Works”). Dr. Burke will share photographs and recollections of everyday life in these former company towns.

Carol Burke, a Professor at the University of California at Irvine, is a folklorist and journalist whose ethnographic work has produced books that document the lives of Midwestern farm families, female inmates in our nation’s prisons, and most recently, members of the armed services. Six months ago she was embedded with an army unit in northern Iraq.

Dr. Burke spends her summers in the Adirondacks and is currently documenting the everyday life of the once-flourishing mining village of Tahawus. Before joining the faculty at the University of California at Irvine, Professor Burke taught at Vanderbilt University, Johns Hopkins University, and the United States Naval Academy.

The broad story of mining in the Adirondacks is one of fortunes made and lost, of suicide, madness, and ambition, and the opening of one of America’s last frontiers. Mining shaped the physical and cultural landscape of the Adirondack Park for generations. The Adirondack Museum plans to open the completely revitalized exhibit “Mining in the Adirondacks” in 2012 to share this incredible history.

Photo: Adirondack Village, Near the Upper Works. From Benson J. Lossing’s The Hudson, from the Wilderness to the Sea, 1859.

2 thoughts on “Adk Museum Presents ‘The Adirondack Mining Village’

  1. Anonymous

    I lived in Tahawus from 1950 until 1961 when we, the rest of the residents, and the town itself was moved. My father worked there as an electrician until he retired from NL Industries and lived out his days in Minerva, NY, which was about 20 miles from Tahawus. Rode my bike to the Upper Works many times & later on access the trail head to hike up Mt. Marcy. Carol Burke was my neighbor and classmate in Tahawus and a couple of years in Newcomb. Not the same as the author but equally intellectual and last I knew she was writing poetry and teaching at Cornell in Ithaca, NY. Wild coincidence! NL Industries (“National Lead” originally) published a newsletter for many years titled “Cloudsplitter” which is a great source of insight into life in a remote mining town. The town had it’s own YMCA and we spent many hours there at the bowling alley and b-ball court. Later in the 60′s I worked at the mine, after the town had been moved, and watched as the waste rock trucks dumped huge boulders on our little elementary school 100 feet below. Brought tears to my eyes then, as well as now. I have much more I could tell, including “escapades in DDT.”Yes, we used to run in the stuff! Leave a note here if you wish to hear a few more “Lake Tear in the Clouds” tales.

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  2. charles kelso jr.

    I ALSO LIVED THERE IN THE VILLAGE. 1946 TO 1954 . LOVED EVERY DAY OF IT. AFTER I FINISHED SCHOOL WENT IN THE NAVY AND NEVER RETURNED EXCEPT TO VISIT . IT WOULD BE NICE TO HAVE A PICTURE OF THE YMCA. . I AM ONE OF THE KELSO”S CHARLES KELSO JR.

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