Tag Archives: Adirondacks

The Mystery of William Johnson’s ‘Fish House’


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47One of the real pleasures in researching and writing When Men and Mountain Meet was exploring the actual sites of the historic places mentioned in my book: the little town of Castorland on the Black River, the LeRay Mansion at Fort Drum, Gouverneur Morris’ Mansion at Natural Dam and David Parish’s house, now the Remington Art Museum, in Ogdensburg. And then there was finding Zephaniah Platt’s grave in the Riverside Cemetery in Plattsburgh, in Lake Placid the site of the 1813 Elba Iron and Steel Manufacturing works , Charles Herreshoff’s flooded iron ore mine in Old Forge and the complex of building foundations that made up John Thurman’s 1790 development at Elm Hill.

There was one site, however, that was a little harder to locate than the others; Sir William Johnson’s fishing camp “Fish House”. Continue reading

Prison History Lectures Planned For Adirondacks


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moriah-prison-600x381The freedom education and human rights project John Brown Lives! (JBL!) is sponsoring a series of summertime lectures by prison historian C. Jefferson Hall on the historical backdrop, the role of nature, and some of the broader implications of the June 2015 escape of Richard Matt and David Sweat from Dannemora’s Clinton Correctional Facility.

Hall’s talks are part of The Correction, JBL!’s ongoing series of programs and events designed to engage North Country communities in conversation about the impacts of mass incarceration and the need to re-imagine the criminal justice system and local economies. Continue reading

Ella Lynch: Learning How to Learn


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2aEFLynch1925Ella Frances Lynch – well spoken, thoughtful, and passionate in defining the problems with America’s public school system – refused to back down from proposed reforms. She was right and she knew it. Newspapers featured Ella’s editorials regularly, but the biggest attention-getter was a series of articles she wrote for Ladies Home Journal beginning in 1912. The title: “Is the Public School a Failure? It Is; the Most Momentous Failure in Our American life Today.”

Said Lynch, “Can you imagine a more grossly stupid, a more genuinely asinine system tenaciously persisted in to the fearful detriment of over 17 million children, and at a cost to you of over $403 million each year—a system that not only is absolutely ineffective in its results, but also actually harmful in that it throws each year 93 out of every 100 children into the world of action absolutely unfitted for even the simplest tasks of life? … The public school system is not something to be proud of, but a system that is today the shame of America.” Continue reading

Ella Frances Lynch: Adirondack Maven of Early Education


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1aEFLynchBeginning here is the story of an unknown but truly remarkable woman, an educator from Adirondack history. But first, some related information is helpful for perspective. For starters, here’s a sampling of complaints about our educational system: low graduation rates; undeserved diplomas; graduates lacking in real-world skills; students woefully unprepared for college; students without self-discipline, and more. Those are all issues today, but the very same items were also cited in 1970.

Since that time, our spending on education has risen by about 85 percent, but we’ve improved very little, still stymied by the same problems. In the meantime, we’ve fallen far behind many other countries, while still spouting that we’re the greatest country in the world. If we don’t find the answers soon, the hollow ring of that claim might well become deafening. Continue reading

Adirondack Philosophers’ Camp Talk In Saratoga Springs


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The Story of the Philosophers CampIn 1858 some of the leading lights of American art, literature, and science camped together on Follensby Pond near Tupper Lake at what is now known as the Philosophers’ Camp.

The gathering was organized by Willam James Stillman, artist and editor of acclaimed art magazine of the time, The Crayon. It included transcendental philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson, the poet James Russel Lowell, Harvard scientist Jean Louis Agassiz, and others.

The meeting at Follensby was widely covered in the popular press of the time and fueled an interest in the Adirondacks and retreating into the wilderness to write, make art and discuss the issues of the day. Continue reading

This Week’s New York History Web Highlights


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Adirondack Architectural Heritage Celebrating 25 Yrs


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Stone Mill VisionsAdirondack Architectural Heritage (AARCH) will transform its historic 1849 National Register-listed Stone Mill with lights, linens, great food, and music to host its 25th Anniversary “rustic-elegant” Gala event on Saturday August 1, 2015.

Located behind AARCH’s office building, this 11,000-square-foot mill overlooking the Ausable River once produced horseshoe nails for the Ausable Horse Nail Company and was at the center of the village’s economy for more than eighty years. The company’s success resulted from a number of forces and factors that all came together here. Iron from local mines, smelted with local charcoal, provided the raw material for the nails. Keeseville blacksmith Daniel Dodge invented a machine to mass produce horse nails and the Ausable River provided the power to run the mill’s machinery. After the company closed in 1923, the building became part of the R. Prescott and Sons complex, a furniture company that made radio and television cabinets in the 20th century. That company closed in the 1960s. Continue reading