Bradford B. VanDiver, president of the ADK Laurentian Chapter four decades ago, had a deep impact on my life, which is not surprising because he was a lifetime teacher. But the truth is, I never met him — at least not in person. His passion for many pursuits was first revealed to me through the pages of one of several books he authored. What I discovered was a native New Yorker and eventual North Country transplant who was truly a Renaissance Man.
At a young age, innate curiosity across many fields of science drove my quest to know more about animals, plants, rocks, and “bugs” that were routinely encountered on all sorts of outdoor expeditions. When VanDiver’s book, Rocks and Routes of the North Country, New York (1976) was released in 1976, I immediately obtained an autographed copy, which still resides on my desk to this very day. He presented a wealth of knowledge supported by scientific terms, but written for the layman as a practical guide to discovery. The book accompanied me on hundreds of hours of exploration across the Adirondacks, and in part led me to write my own first book.
But VanDiver was much more than a professional rock hound — professional as in a Ph.D. in geology from the University of Washington. He also taught at universities in Colorado, Idaho, Oregon, Washington, and for a year in Munich, Germany, during a sabbatical from Potsdam State, where he spent 24 years as professor of geology. Continue reading
Recently my son Adam and his seven-year-old daughter Mckenna were canoeing on the Hudson River above the Feeder Dam in Glens Falls when they noticed a small tree growing atop an old stone pier about 30 feet from shore – and something more. Tangled in the roots, they found a large old rusted chain with links 4 inches wide by 6 inches long.
Sharing pictures with Richard “Dick” Nason, the unofficial Finch Pruyn historian and an authority on river log drives, it appears likely the chain was left over from the heyday of log drives on the Hudson River. The chain was found in the Big Boom sorting area. Logs were released from the Big Boom upriver and floated down to the sorting area where they were tallied by owners, identified by the owner’s mark stamped on the butt end of each log. The sorting area was used from 1851 to 1929. Dick suspects the chain may be from the late 1800s. Continue reading
An excellent pair of articles published here recently by Mike Lynch (Beyond Peak Capacity and Group of 67 People Ticketed on Algonquin) resurrected some memories from the 1970s and ’80s, when avid (or zealous, rabid, insatiable … just pick one) hikers like me lived in constant fear that access to the mountains would soon be restricted. That anxiety was based on frequent newspaper headlines touting plans to alleviate trail damage attributed to hordes of newcomers to the Adirondacks.
Like now, the problems back then were intensified by successful efforts aimed at raising public awareness about the wonders within the mountains, and thus boost the region’s tourism-based economy. The result: more people, more spending, and greater profits, but also more boots on the ground, more worn trails, and more poop in the woods. The problems intensified so quickly that organizations and politicians offered all sorts of solutions, most of which left hikers fearful that the freedom to roam would be restricted. Continue reading
After more than a 25 years of protecting New York State’s alpine zone, the Adirondack High Peaks Summit Stewardship Program is being recognized in a new publication.
Adirondack Archangels: Guardians of the High Peaks, (Adirondack Mountain Club, 2016), is a collection of essays by and about individuals who have worked to protect the Adirondack Park and its highest peaks.
The collection is a tribute to the late Edwin H. “Ketch” Ketchledge, Ph.D., who in 1989 led the creation of the Summit Stewardship Program. It comprises thirty-nine essays and includes a foreword by celebrated writer Bill McKibben and over 250 photographs. Continue reading
This week on “The Historians” podcast Leader Herald history columnist Peter Betz has two stories about elephants in Fulton and Montgomery Counties plus the tale of a failed effort to keep a Northville summer theater going in the 1960s. Listen to the podcast here. Continue reading
On Sunday, July 24, 2016 at 1 pm, J. Stephen Casscles will present The History of Fruit Growing in the Mid-Hudson Valley and Local Breeding of new Varieties of Grape, Raspberries, and Strawberries. He will offer for sale and sign copies of his book, Grapes of the Hudson Valley And Other Cool Climate Regions of the United States and Canada. A wine tasting of local vintages follows the presentation. Continue reading
Owen Chase was the first mate on the ill-fated American whaling ship Essex, which was attacked and sunk by a sperm whale in the southern Pacific Ocean in 1820.
The crew spent months at sea in leaking boats and endured the blazing sun, attacks by killer whales, and lack of food. The men were forced to resort to cannibalism before the final eight survivors were rescued. Continue reading
While the tourism industry has prospered in Sullivan County, New York for more than 150 years now, the concept of fall foliage as a tourism tool is relatively new.
The idea of promoting the changing colors of the leaves on the trees to encourage tourists to visit an area did not exist much at all before the late 1930s, and although both the Berkshires in Massachusetts and the Poconos in Pennsylvania were promoting fall foliage tours as far back as the 1940s, the Catskills did not begin to cash in on the idea until the 1950s. Continue reading
The Thomas Cole National Historic Site will host five Hudson River School Art Trail hikes.
These guided hikes go to the painting sites of the 19th-century artist Thomas Cole and his contemporaries including Frederic Church, Jasper Cropsey, Sanford Gifford, and Asher B. Durand. Participants will be able to see the same views that appear in famous landscape paintings. Continue reading
The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has issued a Draft Lake Champlain Islands Management Complex Unit Management Plan (Draft UMP) in compliance with the Adirondack State Land Master Plan. The plan includes a number of historic and recreational sites.
Public comments on the plan are being accepted through September 18, 2015. A Public Meeting on the Draft UMP will be held August 20th in Plattsburgh. Continue reading