Tag Archives: Environmental History

Journal Features Two Row Wampum Treaty Debate


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13220774-largeThe Journal of Early American History (JEAH) has published a special free issue that focuses on the Two Row Wampum treaty, a historical agreement between the Dutch and the Iroquois that purportedly took place on April 21, 1613 – a date that is based on an allegedly forged document. The treaty has been the subject of most discussion in recent months.

During the month of July and the first week of August supporters of the Two Row Wampum Renewal Campaign paddled from Onondaga Lake, and down the Mohawk and Hudson rivers to New York City to draw attention to environmental concerns and native sovereignty rights on Two Row Wampum treaty anniversary date. Continue reading

Louis Marshall: The Rise of Jewish Ethnicity in America


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louisIn Louis Marshall and the Rise of Jewish Ethnicity in America: A Biography (Syracuse University Press, 2013) M. M. Silver provides the first scholarly treatment of a the sweeping influence of Louis Marshall’s career through the 1920s. A tireless advocate for and leader of an array of notable American Jewish organizations and institutions, Marshall also spearheaded civil rights campaigns for other ethnic groups, blazing the trail for the NAACP, Native American groups, and environmental protection causes in the early twentieth century. Continue reading

Celebrating Lake George Conservationist John Apperson


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C VW 228This year marks fifty years since the passing of John S. Apperson, Jr., a celebrated Lake George conservationist. To honor his memory and accomplishments, the Lake George Land Conservancy (LGLC) held a gathering on July 21 hosted by LGLC Director Debbie Hoffman and her husband Bill, at their Bolton Landing home in the heart of “Apperson Territory”.

Over 60 people joined together for the casual event. Guests were able to walk around the property, which neighbored Bill and Kathleen Horne’s home known as the Annex, and enjoy the lakefront views. Continue reading

A Short History of Manhattan’s Water Supply


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Section of water pipe, ca. 1804. Wood. New-York Historical Society, Gift of Stoughton and Stoughton, 1953.308SMany New Yorkers say the reason you can’t get a good bagel anywhere else is because of New York City’s tap water, and indeed, we have some of the best in the country.

But that wasn’t always the case. Early 18th century inhabitants rarely had clean drinking water (in fact, beer was a more trusted drink than water), but that all changed in 1799 with the founding of the Manhattan Water Company and pipes like this. Continue reading

The Real Lake Placid: Alligators in Mirror Lake?


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In 1999, Fox 2000 Pictures released the film Lake Placid. Despite the title, the story takes place on fictional Black Lake in Maine. The folks at Fox apparently figured the name of an internationally renowned Olympic site in New York might attract more attention than Black Lake, which was, after all, placid, just like the title said. Except for those times when a giant killer crocodile was thrashing on the surface, gulping down humans for lunch.
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Public History and Debate of Public Issues


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How important is “public history?”

The essay on public history in the newly published second edition of the Encyclopedia of Local History, provides some fresh insights. The Encyclopedia, edited by Tompkins County Historian Carol Kammen, a long-time leader in the field, and Amy H. Wilson, an independent museum consultant and former director of the Chemung County Historical Society in Elmira, is  a rich source of fresh insights on all aspects of local history. Continue reading

Central Park’s Woodlands Stewardship Event Friday


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The Cultural Landscape Foundation (TCLF) and the Central Park Conservancy (CPC) will host Bridging the Nature‐Culture Divide II: Stewardship of Central Park’s Woodlands conference tomorrow, Friday, October 5, 2012, at the Museum of the City of New York (registration now open).

The one-day conference, co-curated by TCLF Founder and President Charles A. Birnbaum and CPC Associate Vice President for Planning Lane Addonizio examines the management of nature and culture in the stewardship of Central Park. The conference will feature speakers from public institutions and landscape architecture firms across the country, and follows up on the sold out, similarly themed conference held last year at the Jay Heritage Center in Rye, New York.

The conference will be followed on October 6-7 by What’s Out There Weekend New York City, featuring free expert led tours of parks and opens spaces in the city’s five boroughs (tours are free, registration is required).American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) CEUs will be available for the conference. The 843-acre Central Park, originally designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, Sr., and
Calvert Vaux, with a succession of additions and refinements by Samuel Parsons, Jr.,Michael Rapuano, Gilmore Clarke and others, is also host to 230 bird species, along with turtles, fish, and countless species of butterflies, dragonflies, and other insects. The Central Park woodlands are among the most historically significant designed landscapes in the country, providing valuable refuge for wildlife and New Yorkers alike. In the 1960s and 1970s, Central Park experienced an unprecedented decline, suffering from neglect and a lack of management. Litter filled its waterbodies; its Great Lawn was a great dust bowl; its woodlands were avoided, not celebrated. The Central Park Conservancy, a private, not-for-profit organization created in 1980, has skillfully and successfully reawakened, restored and maintained a world-class icon.

Nevertheless, managing a park that is both a culturally significant landscape and natural habitat is delicate; this conference specifically examines sustainability, the agendas of different constituencies, diversity, the role of people, and public education.

Creating a progression of varied landscape experiences was a primary goal of Central Park’s designers. Within the landscapes themselves, horticultural diversity was also a goal. In the Ramble, both exotic and native plants were to provide a sense of lushness and intricacy, realizing Olmsted’s intended “wild garden”effect. Neglect of the Park’s woodlands over a prolonged period resulted in a lack of horticultural and social (as well as scenic) diversity. What park stewards know is “letting nature take
its course” is not sustainable. While the woodlands serve to provide the experience of escape from urban life, they are in fact designed urban landscapes that require consistent management.

The conference features two panels addressing this stewardship dilemma; the first (the morning session) focuses on “lessons learned” by public sector stewards at Prospect Park (Brooklyn), New York Botanical Garden, and The Presidio (San Francisco); the second (afternoon session) will be comprised of landscape architects in private practice with experience in urban parks (complete list below).
Speakers and Moderators:

• Eric W. Sanderson, Senior Conservation Ecologist, Wildlife Conservation
Society (moderator)
• Christian Zimmerman, Vice President for Design & Construction, The Prospect
Park Alliance, Brooklyn, NY
• Michael Boland, Chief Planning, Projects & Programs Officer, The Presidio
Trust, San Francisco, CA
• Todd Forrest, Arthur Ross Vice President for Horticulture and Living
Collections, The New York Botanical Garden
• Elizabeth K. Meyer, Associate Professor, University of Virginia, School of
Architecture, Landscape Architecture (moderator)
• Dennis McGlade, President/Partner, OLIN, Philadelphia, PA and Los Angeles,
CA
• Margie Ruddick, Margie Ruddick Landscape, Philadelphia, PA
• Keith Bowers, Biohabitats, Baltimore, MD

Registration is $150 and is available at the conference Web site.  The Central Park Conservancy is the presenting sponsor, with additional support provided by Landscape Forms and the Museum of the City of New York.

About the Central Park Conservancy

The mission of the Central Park Conservancy is to restore, manage and enhance
Central Park in partnership with the public, for the enjoyment of present and future
generations. A private, not-for-profit organization founded in 1980, the Conservancy
provides 85 percent of Central Park’s $46million park-wide expense budget and is
responsible for all basic care of the Park. Since 1980, the Conservancy has overseen
the investment of more than $650 million into Central Park. For more information on
the Conservancy, please visit centralparknyc.org.

About The Cultural Landscape Foundation
The Cultural Landscape Foundation provides people with the ability to see, understand and value landscape architecture and its practitioners, in the way many people have learned to do with buildings and their designers. Through its Web site, lectures, outreach and publishing, TCLF broadens the support and understanding for cultural landscapes nationwide to help safeguard our priceless heritage for future
generations.

One Smart Bird: The Homing Pigeon in NY History


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Unlike eagles, hawks, and others, pigeons are an Adirondack bird surrounded by neither lore nor legend. Yet for more than a century, they were players in a remarkable system of interaction between strangers, birds, and their owners. Others were tied to noted historical events, and a few were undisputed participants in major criminal activity in northern New York.
The bird referred to here is the homing pigeon. According to the Atlas of Breeding Birds in New York State, the Rock Dove is “commonly known as the domestic or homing pigeon,” and is a non-native, having been introduced from Europe in the early 1600s.

They are often mistakenly called carrier pigeons, and the confusion is understandable. There are carrier pigeons, and there are pigeons that carry things, but they’re not the same bird. Homing pigeon are the ones used to carry messages and for pigeon racing.
Racing them has proven very popular. Regionally, there is the Schenectady Homing Pigeon Club (more than 60 years old), which in the 1930s competed with the Albany Flying Club and the Amsterdam Pigeon Club.
The existence of those clubs, the carrying of messages, and other related activities are all based on a long-studied phenomenon that is still debated: how the heck do homing pigeons do what they do? Basically, if taken to a faraway location and released, they usually return to their home, and in a fairly straight line.
Flocks have been released and tracked by airplanes, and transmitters have been attached to the birds, confirming their direct routes. They use a variety of navigation methods, the most important and least understood of which involves the earth’s magnetic orientation.
In recent decades, Cornell University’s famed ornithology unit summarized their findings after extreme testing: “Homing pigeons can return from distant, unfamiliar release points.” And what did these scientists do to challenge the birds’ abilities? Plenty.
According to the study, “Older pigeons were transported to the release site inside sealed metal containers, supplied with bottled air, anesthetized, and placed on rotating turntables, all of which should make it hard for them to keep track of their outward journey.” The birds still homed effectively.
This unusual ability has been enjoyed and exploited for centuries. In 1898, in order to keep up with European military powers, the US Navy established the Homing Pigeon Service. One use was ship-to-shore communication in any conditions—when pigeons sent aboard the ship were released with a message attached, they flew directly back to their home loft.
Their use during World Wars I and II is legendary, and many were decorated with medals. In 1918, pigeon racing was temporarily banned in the United States to ensure that all birds were available for the use of the military.
In peacetime, homing pigeons were treated with near-universal respect and were weekly visitors to the North Country. Whenever one with a metal band or a message tube attached to it was found, standard protocol was followed by all citizens. The birds were immediately given water and food. If they appeared injured, the information from the leg band was given to local police, who tried to contact the owner.
Caring for the birds, whether ill or healthy, was automatic, and it continued until the journey was resumed. For more than 130 years, Adirondack weekly newspaper columns mentioned the landing of homing pigeons (but usually called them carrier pigeons). If a bird somehow appeared to be off course, the leg band information might appear in a short article or in an advertisement.
That informal system was widely used and religiously followed. To further protect the birds (and the system itself) and to confirm their importance, New York State’s Forest, Fish, and Game Commission made it law: “… No person shall take or interfere with any … homing pigeon if it have the name of its owner stamped upon its wing or tail, or wear a ring or seamless leg band with its registered number stamped thereon, or have any other distinguishing mark …”
Next week: Homing pigeons in North Country history, including multimillion dollar smuggling schemes.
Photos: Top―A Pigeon Bus in Europe during WWI (1916). Middle―WW I US troops in trench, sending messages by pigeon. Bottom―Winged members of the military.


Lawrence Gooley has authored eleven books and dozens of articles on the North Country’s past. He and his partner, Jill McKee, founded Bloated Toe Enterprises in 2004. Expanding their services in 2008, they have produced 22 titles to date, and are now offering web design. For information on book publishing, visit Bloated Toe Publishing.

Seneca Ray Stoddard Exhibit Opens at NYS Museum


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A new exhibition has opened at the New York State Museum showcasing the works of Adirondack photographer and conservationist Seneca Ray Stoddard.

Seneca Ray Stoddard: Capturing the Adirondacks is open through February 24, 2013 in Crossroads Gallery and includes over 100 of Stoddard’s photographs, an Adirondack guideboat, freight boat, camera, copies of Stoddard’s books and several of his paintings.

There also are several Stoddard photos of the Statue of Liberty and Liberty Island. These and other items come from the State Museum’s collection of more than 500 Stoddard prints and also from the collections of the New York State Library and the Chapman Historical Museum in Glens Falls.

Born in Wilton, Saratoga County in 1844, Stoddard was no doubt inspired by the Adirondacks at an early age. A self-taught painter, he was first employed as an ornamental painter at a railroad car manufacturer in Green Island, across the Hudson River from Troy in Albany County. He moved to Glens Falls (Warren County) in 1864, where he worked with sketches and paintings until his death there in 1917.

Early on he sought to preserve the beauty of the Adirondacks through his paintings but then became attracted to photography’s unique ability to capture the environment. He was one of the first to capture the Adirondacks through photographs. He used the then recently introduced wet-plate process of photography. Though extremely cumbersome by today’s standards, the technique was the first practical way to record distant scenes. It required Stoddard to bring his entire darkroom with him into the Adirondack wilderness.

His renown as a photographer quickly grew once he settled in Glens Falls, which also became his base camp for his explorations of the Adirondacks. He studied the Adirondacks intensely over a 50-year period.

Stoddard’s photos showed the challenges travelers faced in getting to the still undeveloped wilderness, along with their enjoyment of finally reaching their destination. His writings and photographs indicate that he was especially skilled at working with people from diverse economic backgrounds in a variety of settings. This was especially important as he used his photos to capture the changing Adirondack landscape as railroads were introduced and the area became an increasingly important destination for the burgeoning middle-class tourist, but also for the newly wealthy during the “Gilded Age.”

His work stimulated even further interest as he promoted the Adirondacks through his photographs and writings on the beauty, people and hotels of the region. Stoddard’s photographs showed the constancy of the natural beauty of the Adirondacks along with the changes that resulted from logging and mining, to hotels and railroads. As unregulated mining and logging devastated much of the pristine Adirondack scenery, Stoddard documented the loss and used those images to foster a new ethic of responsibility for the landscape. His work was instrumental in shaping public opinion about tourism, leading in part to the 1892 “Forever Wild” clause in the New York State Constitution.

The State Museum purchased over 500 historic Stoddard prints in 1972 in the process of acquiring historic resources for the Museum’s Adirondack Hall. They included albumen prints from Stoddard’s own working files, many with penciled notes. Nearly all are of the landscapes, buildings and people of the Adirondacks taken primarily in the 1870s and 1880s.

An online version of the exhibition is also available on the State Museum website at http://www.nysm.nysed.gov/virtual/exhibits/SRS/ .

The State Museum will present several programs in conjunction with the Stoddard exhibition. There will be guided tours of the exhibition on September 8 and December 8 from 1-2 p.m. Stoddard will also be the focus of Family Fun Day on September 15 from1-4 p.m.

Established in 1836, the New York State Museum is a program of the State Education Department’s Office of Cultural Education. Located on Madison Avenue in Albany, the Museum is open Monday through Saturday from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. except on Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day. Admission is free. Further information can be obtained by calling (518) 474-5877 or visiting the Museum website at www.nysm.nysed.gov.

Photo: Stoddard’s “Indian Encampment, Lake George, 1872″.

Adirondack Museum Monday Evening Lecture Series Set


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The Adirondack Museum has announced the presenters and lecture topics for the annual Monday Evening Lecture Series. Join the museum for the lecture series Monday nights at 7:30 p.m. in July and August.

The first evening, July 9, will be spent with Wildlife Conservation Society senior conservationist Bill Weber. Weber will present “Out of Africa and Into the Adirondacks: A Conservation Journey” lecture.

Lectures continue on July 16 with Charles Yaple and “Foxey Brown: The Story of an Adirondack Outlaw, Hermit, and Guide” lecture; July 23 with photographer Eric Dresser and “Capturing Adirondack Wildlife in Pictures;” July 30 with Environmental Historian Phil Terrie and “Green Fire: Aldo Leopold and A Land Ethic for our Time” a film, commentary and discussion.

August begins with author Harvey Kaiser and “Great Camps of the Adirondacks: Second Edition” on August 6; August 13 with senior art historian Caroline M. Welsh and “A.F. Tait: Artist of the Adirondacks;” and will end on August 20 with rustic furniture artisan and painter, Barney Bellinger’s “Art, Furniture and Sculpture: Influenced by Nature” lecture.

The presentations will be offered at no charge to museum members; the fee for non-members is $5.00. For full descriptions of the lectures, visit www.adirondackmuseum.org.

The Adirondack Museum is open 7 days a week, from 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m., through October 14. The museum will close at 3 p.m. on August 10 and September 7 for special event preparations.

Steuben County: Walking Seasonal Roads


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Seasonal roads are defined as one-lane dirt roads not maintained during the winter. They function as connectors linking farmers to their fields, neighbors to neighbors, or two more well-traveled roads to each other. Some access hunting lands and recreational areas. Some pass by or lead to cemeteries. They can be abandoned as people move and towns fade.

Having traveled nearly every seasonal road in Steuben County, NY, Mary A. Hood finds in Walking Seasonal Roads (2012, Syracuse University Press) that they provide the ideal vantage to contemplate the meaning of place, offering intimate contact with plant and wildlife and the beauty of a rural landscape. Each road reveals how our land is used, how our land is protected, and how environmental factors have had their impact. Continue reading

Adirondack Civilian Conservation Corps Event


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The Adirondack Museum will offer its fifth event in the 2012 Cabin Fever Sunday series, the “Adirondack Civilian Conservation Corps: History, Memories and Legacy of the CCC,” in North Creek, (Warren County) on Sunday, March 11, 2012.

The Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) was a public works program that operated from 1933 to 1942 as part of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal. In the Adirondacks, enrollees built trails, roads, campsites and dams, they stocked fish, built and maintained fire towers, observers’ cabins and telephone lines, fought fires, and planted millions of trees. Learn about camp life and Adirondack projects with author Marty Podskock.

Marty Podskoch, a retired reading teacher, is the author of three other books: Fire Towers of the Catskills: Their History and Lore (2000); Adirondack Fire Towers: Their History and Lore, the Southern Districts (2003); Adirondack Fire Towers: Their History and Lore, the Northern Districts (2005). While gathering stories of the forest rangers and fire tower observers, he became fascinated with other aspects of the Adirondacks such as the logging and mining industries, the individualistic men who guided sportsmen, the hotels they stayed in, the animals, railroads, etc. Marty and his wife, Lynn, live in Colchester, CT where they are close to their family and two granddaughters, Kira and Lydia. He enjoys hiking in the nearby Salmon River Forest and is doing research on the CCC camps of the Adirondacks and Connecticut. For more information, visit http://www.cccstories.com/index.html.

This program will be held at the Tannery Pond Community Center, North Creek, N.Y., and will begin at 1:30 p.m. Free to members and children; $5 for non-members. For additional information, please call (518) 352-7311, ext. 128 or visit www.adirondackmuseum.org.

Adks: Howling Wilderness to Vacation Destination


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The Adirondack Museum third 2012 Cabin Fever Sunday series, “Nature: From Howling Wilderness to Vacation Destination” will be held on Sunday, February 12, 2012. The event will be offered free of charge.

Drawing on landscape painting, photography, traveler’s accounts, and other sources, this presentation by Dr. Charles Mitchell will explore the evolution of American attitudes towards nature. Beginning with perceptions of the American landscape as a howling wilderness, a wasteland to be tamed and transformed, the lecture will trace the social, cultural and economic forces that led to the perception of wild nature as something of value to be experienced and preserved. Key topics and figures along the way include the sublime, romanticism, Henry David Thoreau, Thomas Cole and the Hudson River School, John Muir, Ansel Adams, and the Lorax.

Dr. Charles Mitchell is Associate Professor of American Studies at Elmira College. Mitchell has been on the faculty of Elmira College since 1993. Born in Brooklyn and raised in Lynbrook (on Long Island) he still occasionally refers to everything north of Yonkers as “upstate.” He teaches a side variety of courses in American cultural history, with specific
interests in environmental history, the history of ideas about nature, and the representation of the landscape in literature and art.

This program will be held at the Adirondack Lakes Center for the Arts at Blue Mountain Lake, and will begin at 1:30 p.m. For additional information, please call (518) 352-7311, ext. 128 or visit www.adirondackmuseum.org.

Stoddard Views Coming to Chapman Museum


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Long considered beautiful photographs of the Adirondack landscape, Seneca Ray Stoddard’s views also serve well as documents of the plants that inhabited the region in the 19th century. The Chapman Historical Museum’s summer exhibit, S.R. Stoddard’s Natural Views, which will run from May 4 through September 2, will feature fifty enlarged photographs of different Adirondack settings – lake shores, marshes, meadows, riverbanks and mountainsides. Highlighted in modern color images will be examples of the plants discovered in Stoddard’s photographs — from small flowers to shrubs and trees.

Since he was rediscovered in the late 1970s, Stoddard’s work has been featured in numerous exhibits that explored the history of 19th century life in the Adirondacks. A survey of the 3000 images in the Chapman archives, however, revealed hundreds of images that are purely natural landscapes. The subject matter is the Adirondack environment – not great hotels, steamers, camp scenes or other obvious evidence of human activity.

The summer 2012 exhibit will examine these photographs as documents of the history of ecological habitats, providing an opportunity to compare the present environment with the past. To address this issue the museum is consulting with Paul Smith’s College biologist, Daun Reuter, who will identify botanical species in Stoddard’s photographs, and exploring 19th century biological fieldwork records housed at the New York State Museum.

By bringing attention to a group of Stoddard photographs that have been overlooked but are significant examples of his work, the exhibit will give visitors the opportunity to discover and reflect on the changing environment – a topic of urgent concern in the region. Through their experience visitors will gain greater understanding not only to Stoddard’s photographic vision but also of the natural world of the Adirondacks.

Photos: Above, Silver Cascade, Elizabethtown by S.R. Stoddard, ca. 1890. Below: modern color photo of Wild Raisin by Dawn Reuter, Biology Dept., Paul Smith’s College.

Adirondack Land Use and Ethics Symposium


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The SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry’s Northern Forest Institute At Huntington Wildlife Forest invites submissions for a symposium of interdisciplinary scholarship in land use and ethics, to be held at Huntington Wildlife Forest, Newcomb, Essex County, NY on June 1-3, 2012.

Research is welcomed from across professions and disciplines on topics related to balancing individual and community priorities with respect to land use and the associated expectations for human and ecosystem stewardship and social and environmental ethics. Submissions should generate conversation around a variety of approaches to land use, the moral implications of these approaches, as well as the ways that they influence the ongoing debate over how to achieve social and environmental justice. Submissions from a range of disciplines and professional fields are encouraged.

All submissions must be submitted as a Word document via e-mail to Symposium Coordinator Rebecca Oyer according to the guidelines below. Acceptance notifications will go out by the first week of January 2012 along with detailed travel and accommodation information (preliminary information is below).

Electronic submissions require the following:
o Submission Title
o Submission Type (including required abstract/proposal as noted below):
o Paper
o Panel discussion
o Poster presentation
o Author(s) Information:
o Affiliation (independent scholars are welcome)
o Full name
o Daytime phone
o E-mail
o Mailing address

Anonymity: Abstracts will be sent via email to the Symposium Coordinator who will respond with an e-mail acknowledgement of receipt. Abstracts will be distributed anonymously to the Symposium Chair and selection committee.

A conference fee of $75 will include housing and meals beginning with dinner on Friday, June
1 and ending with lunch on Sunday, June 3 plus a wine and cheese reception at Huntington Lodge on the evening of Friday, June 1. Coffee and refreshments will be available throughout the day on Saturday and Sunday of the symposium. (Note: This is an estimated rate that may increase by $5-$10).

Accommodations: Rustic accommodations will be provided on Huntington Wildlife Forest.

Traditional Papers: The symposium welcomes work in progress. One aim of this meeting is to
provide a collegial environment for new and in-process work and ideas to be offered for comment and critique. Submissions must include a 250 word abstract. Accepted papers/research in progress will be presented by the author followed by a fifteen minute period of open discussion. Panel Discussion: A panel discussion with at least two presenters should examine specific problems or topics from a variety of disciplinary and professional perspectives on land use and ethics. Panel proposals should include a description of the issue that the panel will address, an explanation of the relevance of the topic to more than one discipline/field and an indication of how each paper in the panel addresses each issue. Panel Discussion proposals should include an abstract of 600 words for the panel as a whole.

Poster Presentations: Proposals for Poster Presentations should be in the form of a description of the research project not longer than 1000 words including a brief outline of the problem or topic presented and its relationship to land use and ethics. Posters will be on display throughout the symposium, with presenters available in the display area for a designated time during the symposium.

Session Chairs: If you would like to serve as a Session Chair, please send a CV to the Symposium Coordinator including your areas of research interest/expertise so that we can place Chairs in the most appropriate session.

Confirmation: Anyone making a submission will receive confirmation of receipt within 48 hours. If you have not received confirmation of receipt and/or notification regarding the Program Committee’s decision about your submission by January 1, please contact Symposium Coordinator Rebecca Oyer.

Scheduling: The Program Committee assumes that it may schedule a paper or session at any time
between Saturday, June 2 at 9am and Sunday, June 3 late afternoon.

For all correspondence regarding submission and/or program content, contact Symposium Chair
Marianne Patinelli-Dubay at mpatinelli@esf.edu

For submission questions, presentation/IT needs contact Symposium Coordinator Rebecca Oyer at
royer@esf.edu

For information on fees, lodging and accommodations contact Business Manager Zoe Jeffery at
aechwf@esf.edu

Photo of Arbutus Lodge, compliments of Huntington Wildlife Forest, Newcomb, NY.

What A Wonderful Life:Lowville’s Erwin Eugene Lanpher


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Research has taken me to more cemeteries than I can remember. Surrounded by hundreds of gravestones, I frequently remind myself that every person has a story. What often impresses me is that many people who are largely forgotten actually made a real difference in other people’s lives. Uncovering those stories from the past is humbling, carrying with it the realization that I’ll probably never approach the good works done by others.

Sometimes those good works seem to escape notice, and that was the sense that engulfed me as I read the obituary of Erwin Eugene Lanpher of Lowville. It reminded me of George Bailey from It’s A Wonderful Life, a regular guy who, as it turned out, was darn important to a lot of people.

Lanpher’s life seemed accomplished, but average—born in 1875; schooled at Lowville Academy, Union College, and Cornell; a year working as a government surveyor on the Panama Canal; working as an engineer for the Atlantic City water bureau; and a twenty-six-year career in the engineering department caring for Pittsburgh’s water system.

The Lanpher family was remarkable in at least one sense: Erwin’s great-great-grandfather moved from Rhode Island to Lowville in 1801, so they were among the earliest settlers of the region. Otherwise, Erwin appeared to have led the life of an average man who excelled at his job. In fact, Lanpher was revered in Pittsburgh for his long-term dedication to developing the city’s water system. In performing at such a high level, he affected the lives of thousands in a very positive way.

But Erwin Lanpher’s reach went far beyond developing an adequate system of delivering water to a city of over a half million people. Evidence reveals that the tremendous effect of his work is undeniable, yet incalculable. After all, who can measure the changes in the world from saving one life, let alone hundreds, or even thousands?

Lanpher was a stickler for quality. Besides designing an efficient system of distributing water to thousands of homes and businesses, he developed revolutionary methods of purification that drastically improved the process. The results were indisputable.

In 1904, at the age of 29, he began working on Pittsburgh’s water system. One of the main issues affecting water quality was the frequent turbidity of the Allegheny River, causing tons of mud to enter the city’s water system on a regular basis. Disease was a major consideration, and typhoid was a prime enemy, spread by ingesting contaminated water.

Erwin Lanpher attacked the problem, and in retrospect, his incredible value to society can be summed up in three simple lines. The third line reveals statistics from Lanpher’s tenure.
1873: Pittsburgh population—133,000. Deaths from typhoid fever, 191 (143.6 per 100,000).
1907: Pittsburgh population—535,000. Deaths from typhoid fever, 648 (125.2 per 100,000).
1927: Pittsburgh population—665,000. Deaths from typhoid fever, 12 (1.8 per 100,000).

Another important set of statistics addresses the overall illness rate. In 1907, the Pittsburgh area had 5,652 cases of typhoid fever; in 1927, the population had risen by 130,000, but the total cases of typhoid fever had declined to 78 due to Lanpher’s work. Many cities sought his guidance to duplicate the results and dramatically enhance the quality of life.

The numbers are astonishing. Imagine the huge negatives that were avoided—the physical pain, the financial cost to patients, the pressure on the health care system, and the grieving for the deceased—all of it diminished as a result of Lanpher’s efforts. A decline in deaths from 648 to 12 during a 20-year period, with hundreds, perhaps thousands, of lives saved along the way. Amazing—and that’s just in one city.

Erwin died in 1930 at the age of 55. Seven months later, the city of Pittsburgh recognized and honored his legacy, unveiling a stone marker at one of the reservoirs he built and re-christening it the Lanpher Reservoir. Eighty years later, it still bears the same name.

Pittsburgh’s mayor and all the top city officials joined the Lanpher Memorial Committee for the ceremony, noting that, “… the city has published an official memorial book containing Mr. Lanpher’s speeches and public record. Mr. Lanpher was nationally known as a water works engineer and was consulted frequently by directors of water systems from all over the country.”

Now there’s a man who made a difference.

Photo Top: Erwin Eugene Lanpher.

Photo Bottom: Location of the Lanpher Reservoir in Pittsburgh.

Lawrence Gooley has authored ten books and dozens of articles on the North Country’s past. He and his partner, Jill McKee, founded Bloated Toe Enterprises in 2004. Expanding their services in 2008, they have produced 19 titles to date, and are now offering web design. For information on book publishing, visit Bloated Toe Publishing.

Frederick Law Olmsted:Abolitionist, Conservationist, Activist


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Da Capo Press has recently published Genius of Place: The Life of Frederick Law Olmsted by Justin Martin, the author of biographies of Alan Greenspan and Ralph Nader.

Frederick Law Olmsted is arguably the most important historical figure that the average American knows the least about. Best remembered for his landscape architecture, Olmsted was also an influential journalist, early voice for the environment, and abolitionist credited with helping dissuade England from joining the South in the Civil War.

Frederick Law Olmsted is best remembered as the pioneer of landscape architecture in the United States. From the US Capitol grounds and Boston’s Emerald Necklace to Stanford University’s campus and New York’s Central Park, Olmsted was an artist who painted with lakes, shrubs, and wooded slopes. His stature and importance as an architect has been paramount in previous biographies, but his role as a social visionary, activist, and reformer has been frequently overlooked until now.

Justin Martin’s research shows Olmsted’s life to be a striking blend of high achievement, prodigious energy, and personal tragedy. He played a crucial role in the early efforts to preserve Yosemite and Niagara Falls, and designed Boston’s Back Bay Fens not only as a park, but also as America’s first wetlands restoration. As a former sailor, scientific farmer, and failed gold-miner, Olmsted brought wildly varied experiences to his works and career. His personal achievements were shadowed however by misfortune — a strained marriage, tense family life, and psychiatric institutionalization.

Olmsted accomplished more than most people could in three lifetimes. As a park maker, environmentalist, and abolitionist he helped shape modern America. At a time when open space is at a premium, he’s left a green legacy in city after city across North America. His early understanding of our need for open spaces, as well as spiritual and physical restoration in nature, has been a significant motivator for generations of environmental conservationists since.

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Call for Papers: Land Use and Ethics Symposium


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The SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry’s Northern Forest Institute At Huntington Wildlife Forest invites submissions for a symposium of interdisciplinary scholarship in land use and ethics, to be held at Huntington Wildlife Forest, Newcomb, Essex County, NY on June 1-3, 2012. The deadline for submissions is November 30, 2011.

Research is welcomed from across professions and disciplines on topics related to balancing individual and community priorities with respect to land use and the associated expectations for human and ecosystem stewardship and social and environmental ethics. Submissions should generate conversation around a variety of approaches to land use, the moral implications of these approaches, as well as the ways that they influence the ongoing debate over how to achieve social and environmental justice. Submissions from a range of disciplines and professional fields are encouraged.

All submissions must be submitted as a Word document via e-mail to Symposium Coordinator Rebecca Oyer according to the guidelines below. Acceptance notifications will go out by the first week of January 2012 along with detailed travel and accommodation information (preliminary information is below).

Electronic submissions require the following:
o Submission Title
o Submission Type (including required abstract/proposal as noted below):
o Paper
o Panel discussion
o Poster presentation
o Author(s) Information:
o Affiliation (independent scholars are welcome)
o Full name
o Daytime phone
o E-mail
o Mailing address

Anonymity: Abstracts will be sent via email to the Symposium Coordinator who will respond with an e-mail acknowledgement of receipt. Abstracts will be distributed anonymously to the Symposium Chair and selection committee.

A conference fee of $75 will include housing and meals beginning with dinner on Friday, June
1 and ending with lunch on Sunday, June 3 plus a wine and cheese reception at Huntington Lodge on the evening of Friday, June 1. Coffee and refreshments will be available throughout the day on Saturday and Sunday of the symposium. (Note: This is an estimated rate that may increase by $5-$10).

Accommodations: Rustic accommodations will be provided on Huntington Wildlife Forest.

Traditional Papers: The symposium welcomes work in progress. One aim of this meeting is to
provide a collegial environment for new and in-process work and ideas to be offered for comment and critique. Submissions must include a 250 word abstract. Accepted papers/research in progress will be presented by the author followed by a fifteen minute period of open discussion. Panel Discussion: A panel discussion with at least two presenters should examine specific problems or topics from a variety of disciplinary and professional perspectives on land use and ethics. Panel proposals should include a description of the issue that the panel will address, an explanation of the relevance of the topic to more than one discipline/field and an indication of how each paper in the panel addresses each issue. Panel Discussion proposals should include an abstract of 600 words for the panel as a whole.

Poster Presentations: Proposals for Poster Presentations should be in the form of a description of the research project not longer than 1000 words including a brief outline of the problem or topic presented and its relationship to land use and ethics. Posters will be on display throughout the symposium, with presenters available in the display area for a designated time during the symposium.

Session Chairs: If you would like to serve as a Session Chair, please send a CV to the Symposium Coordinator including your areas of research interest/expertise so that we can place Chairs in the most appropriate session.

Confirmation: Anyone making a submission will receive confirmation of receipt within 48 hours. If you have not received confirmation of receipt and/or notification regarding the Program Committee’s decision about your submission by January 1, please contact Symposium Coordinator Rebecca Oyer.

Scheduling: The Program Committee assumes that it may schedule a paper or session at any time
between Saturday, June 2 at 9am and Sunday, June 3 late afternoon.

For all correspondence regarding submission and/or program content, contact Symposium Chair
Marianne Patinelli-Dubay at mpatinelli@esf.edu

For submission questions, presentation/IT needs contact Symposium Coordinator Rebecca Oyer at
royer@esf.edu

For information on fees, lodging and accommodations contact Business Manager Zoe Jeffery at
aechwf@esf.edu

Photo of Arbutus Lodge, compliments of Huntington Wildlife Forest, Newcomb, NY.

The Epidemic: Power, Privilege, and Public Health


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The Epidemic: A Collision of Power, Privilege, and Public Health by David DeKok tells the story of how a vain and reckless businessman became responsible for a typhoid epidemic in 1903 that devastated Cornell University and the surrounding town of Ithaca. Eighty-two people died, including twenty-nine Cornell students.

Protected by influential friends, William T. Morris faced no retribution for this outrage. His legacy was a corporation—first known as Associated Gas & Electric Co. and later as General Public Utilities Corp.—that bedeviled America for a century. The Three Mile Island nuclear accident in 1979 was its most notorious historical event, but hardly its only offense against the public interest.

The Ithaca epidemic came at a time when engineers knew how to prevent typhoid outbreaks but physicians could not yet cure the disease. Both professions were helpless when it came to stopping a corporate executive who placed profit over the public health. Government was a concerned but helpless bystander.

For modern-day readers acutely aware of the risk of a devastating global pandemic and of the dangers of unrestrained corporate power, The Epidemic provides a riveting look back at a heretofore little-known, frightening episode in America’s past that seems all too familiar. Written in the tradition of The Devil in the White City, it is an utterly compelling, thoroughly researched work of narrative history with an edge.

David DeKok is the author of Fire Underground: The Ongoing Tragedy of the Centralia Mine Fire (Globe Pequot Press), which previously appeared as Unseen Danger. A former award-winning investigative reporter for the Patriot-News in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, he has been a guest on Fresh Air and The Diane Rehm Show.

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