Tag Archives: Warren County

Floyd Bennett: American Aviation Legend


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Among the rock-star personas of the Roaring Twenties were a number of aviators who captured the public’s imagination. Some were as popular and beloved as movie stars and famous athletes, and America followed their every move. It was a time of “firsts” in the world of aviation, led by names like Lindbergh, Byrd, and Post. Among their number was an unusually humble man, Floyd Bennett. He may have been the best of the lot.

A North Country native and legendary pilot, Bennett has been claimed at times by three different villages as their own. He was born in October 1890 at the southern tip of Lake George in Caldwell (which today is Lake George village). Most of his youth was spent living on the farm of his aunt and uncle in Warrensburg. He also worked for three years in Ticonderoga, where he made many friends. Throughout his life, Floyd maintained ties to all three villages.

In the early 1900s, cars and gasoline-powered engines represented the latest technology. Floyd’s strong interest led him to automobile school, after which he toiled as a mechanic in Ticonderoga for three years. When the United States entered World War I, Bennett, 27, enlisted in the Navy.

While becoming an aviation mechanic, Floyd discovered his aptitude for the pilot’s seat. He attended flight school in Pensacola, Florida, where one of his classmates was Richard E. Byrd, future legendary explorer. For several years, Bennett refined his flying skills, and in 1925, he was selected for duty in Greenland under Lieutenant Byrd.

Fraught with danger and the unknown, the mission sought to learn more about the vast unexplored area of the Arctic Circle. Bennett’s knowledge and hard work were critical to the success of the mission, and, as Byrd would later confirm, the pair almost certainly would have died but for Bennett’s bravery in a moment of crisis.

While flying over extremely rough territory, the plane’s oil gauge suddenly climbed. Had the pressure risen unchecked, an explosion was almost certain. Byrd looked at Bennett, seeking a course of action, and both then turned their attention to the terrain below.

Within seconds, reality set in—there was no possibility of landing. With that, Bennett climbed out onto the plane’s wing in frigid conditions and loosened the oil cap, relieving the pressure. He suffered frostbite in the process, but left no doubt in Byrd’s mind that, in selecting Bennett, he had made the right choice.

The two men became fast friends, and when the intrepid Byrd planned a historic flight to the North Pole, Bennett was asked to serve as both pilot and mechanic on the Josephine Ford. (Edsel Ford provided financial backing for the effort, and the plane was named after his daughter.) In 1926, Byrd and Bennett attained legendary status by completing the mission despite bad luck and perilous conditions. The flight rocketed them to superstardom.

Lauded as national heroes, they were suddenly in great demand, beginning with a tickertape parade in New York City. Byrd enjoyed the limelight, but also heaped praise on the unassuming Bennett, assuring all that the attempt would never have been made without his trusted partner. When Bennett visited Lake George, more than two thousand supporters gathered in the tiny village to welcome him. As part of the ceremony, letters of praise from Governor Smith and President Coolidge were read to the crowd.

Both men were awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor, the highest award for any member of the armed services, and rarely bestowed for non-military accomplishments. They were also honored with gold medals from the National Geographic Society. Despite all the attention and lavish praise, Bennett remained unchanged, to the surprise of no one.

The next challenge for the team of Bennett and Byrd was the first transatlantic flight from New York to Paris, a trip they prepared for eagerly. But in a training crash, both men were hurt. Bennett’s injuries were serious, and before the pair could recover and continue the pursuit of their goal, Charles Lindbergh accomplished the historic feat. Once healed, the duo completed the flight to Europe six weeks later.

Seeking new horizons to conquer, aviation’s most famous team planned an expedition to the South Pole. Tremendous preparation was required, including testing of innovative equipment. On March 13, 1928, a curious crowd gathered on the shores of Lake Champlain near Ticonderoga. Airplanes were still a novelty then, and two craft were seen circling overhead. Finally, one of them put down on the slushy, ice-covered lake surface, skiing to a halt.

Out came local hero Floyd Bennett, quickly engulfed by a crowd of friends and well-wishers. While in Staten Island preparing for the South Pole flight, he needed to test new skis for landing capabilities in the snow. What better place to do it than among friends? After performing several test landings on Lake Champlain, Bennett stayed overnight in Ticonderoga. Whether at the Elks Club, a restaurant, or a local hotel, he and his companions were invariably treated like royalty. Bennett repeatedly expressed his thanks and appreciation for such a warm welcome.

A month later, while making further preparations for the next adventure, Floyd became ill with what was believed to be a cold. When word arrived that help was urgently needed on a rescue mission, the response was predictable. Ignoring his own health, Bennett immediately went to the assistance of a German and Irish team that had crossed the Atlantic but crashed their craft, the Bremen, on Greenly Island north of Newfoundland, Canada.

During the mission, Floyd developed a high fever but still tried to continue the rescue effort. His condition worsened, requiring hospitalization in Quebec City, where doctors found he was gravely ill with pneumonia. Richard Byrd and Floyd’s wife, Cora, who was also ill, flew north to be with him. Despite the best efforts of physicians, Bennett, just 38 years old, succumbed on April 25, 1928, barely a month after his uplifting visit to Ticonderoga.

Though Bennett died, the rescue mission he had begun proved successful. Across Canada, Germany, Ireland, and the United States, headlines mourned the loss of a hero who had given his life while trying to save others. Explorers, adventurers, and aviators praised Bennett as a man of grace, intelligence, bravery, and unfailing integrity.

Floyd Bennett was already considered a hero long before the rescue attempt. The selflessness he displayed further enhanced his image, and as the nation mourned, his greatness was honored with a heavily attended military funeral in Washington, followed by burial in Arlington National Cemetery. Among the pile of wreaths on his grave was one from President and Mrs. Coolidge.

After the loss of his partner and best friend, Richard Byrd’s craft for the ultimately successful flight to the South Pole was a tri-motor Ford renamed the Floyd Bennett. Both the man and the plane of the same name are an important part of American aviation history.

It was eventually calculated that the earlier flight to the North Pole may not have reached its destination, but the news did nothing to diminish Byrd and Bennett’s achievements. They received many honors for their spectacular adventures. On June 26, 1930, a dedication ceremony was held in Brooklyn for New York City’s first-ever municipal airport, Floyd Bennett Field. It was regarded at the time as America’s finest airfield.

Many historic flights originated or ended at Floyd Bennett Field, including trips by such notables as Howard Hughes, Jimmy Doolittle, Wiley Post, Douglas “Wrongway” Corrigan, and Amelia Earhart. It was also the busiest airfield in the United States during World War II, vital to the Allied victory. Floyd Bennett Field is now protected by the National Park Service as part of the Gateway National Recreation Area.

The beloved Bennett was also honored in several other venues. In the 1940s, a Navy Destroyer, the USS Bennett, was named in honor of his legacy as a flight pioneer. In the village of Warrensburg, New York, a memorial bandstand was erected in Bennett’s honor. Sixteen miles southeast of Warrensburg, and a few miles from Glens Falls, is Floyd Bennett Memorial Airport.

In a speech made after the North Pole flight, Richard Byrd said, “I would rather have had Floyd Bennett with me than any man I know of.” High praise indeed between heroes and friends. And not bad for a regular guy from Lake George, Warrensburg, and Ticonderoga.

Top Photo: The Josephine Ford.

Middle Photo: Floyd Bennett, right, receives medal from President Coolidge. Richard Byrd is to the President’s left.

Bottom Photo: Floyd Bennett Field, New York City’s first municipal airport.

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.

Lawrence Gooley: Lincoln’s Avengers


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There is a historical connection between a group of North Country men and the Abraham Lincoln story. On the downside, the men in question are linked to a dark subject, the aftermath of Lincoln’s death. On the upside, they played a positive role in the hunt for the president’s assassin. With admiration, they have been referred to as Lincoln’s Avengers.

Several men from Clinton, Essex, St. Lawrence, and Warren counties belonged to the Sixteenth New York Cavalry. Shortly after Lincoln’s death, the troop was among the military escort at the president’s funeral. An honor, surely, but not the event that would bring them a measure of fame.

In the days following the assassination, multiple search missions were conducted in Washington and elsewhere in the hopes of finding John Wilkes Booth and his accomplices. After several false alarms, important new information was uncovered, requiring a swift response.

On April 24, five days after Lincoln’s funeral, headquarters in Washington ordered Lieutenant Edward Doherty to gather 25 men of the Sixteenth New York Cavalry and report to Colonel L. C. (Lafayette) Baker, Special Agent for the War Department. Among those to step forward and answer the call were ten men from the Adirondack region.

Doherty met with his captain and later reported: “He informed me that he had reliable information that the assassin Booth and his accomplice were somewhere between the Potomac and Rappahannock Rivers. He gave me several photographs of Booth and introduced me to Mr. Conger and Mr. Baker, and said they would accompany me.

“He directed me to scour the section of the country indicated thoroughly, to make my own disposition of the men in my command, and to forage upon the country, giving receipts for what was taken from loyal parties.” In other words, move now. There was no time to prepare. Food and other needs would have to be secured from sympathetic US citizens, who would later be reimbursed.

For two days the troop pursued leads almost without pause, finally ending up at the now infamous Garrett farm in Caroline County, Virginia. Inside the barn was perhaps the most wanted man in American history, Booth, and one of his conspirators, David Herold.

The men of the Sixteenth surrounded the barn while negotiations and threats were passed back and forth between Booth and Lieutenant Doherty. Booth refused to leave the barn despite warnings he would be burned out. He even offered to shoot it out with Doherty’s men if they would pull back a certain distance from the barn.

Realizing he faced almost certain death, David Herold decided to surrender. After leaving the barn, he was tied to a tree and questioned. He verified for Doherty that it was indeed Booth inside the barn. The original plan, he said, was to kidnap Lincoln, but Booth instead killed him, and then threatened to do the same to Herold if he didn’t help Booth escape.

Doherty again turned his attention to the barn and its lone desperate occupant, who refused to come out. Finally, Everton Conger, one of Lafayette Baker’s detectives who accompanied the troops, set fire to the barn around 3 am. The idea was to force their quarry out, but things didn’t go as planned.

Due to the rapidly spreading blaze, Booth could be seen moving about inside the barn, and one of the men, Boston Corbett, decided to act. Claiming he could see that Booth was about to shoot at Doherty, Corbett fired. His shot hit Booth in the neck, coincidentally only an inch or two from where Booth’s own bullet had struck Lincoln.

Their captive was dragged from the barn, still alive, but he died about three hours later. Shortly after, his body and the prisoner, Herold, were taken to Washington. The most famous manhunt in American history was over.

Within several months, the men of the Sixteenth were discharged, carrying with them the pride (and the attending glory) for delivering what many felt was justice. Most of them returned to humble lives, sharing their story with family and friends over the years.

Six of the ten North Country men who participated lived at one time or another in the Saranac area. They had connections to many regional communities, having been born, lived in, or died in: Bangor, Beekmantown, Brushton, Cadyville, Chester (Chestertown), Elizabethtown, Minerva, Norfolk, Olmstedville, Plattsburgh, and Schuyler Falls.

As often happens, the spelling of names varies widely in census records, military records, and newspapers. This admired group of North Country heroes included: David Baker, William Byrne, Godfrey Phillip Hoyt, Martin Kelly, Oliver Lonkey (or Lompay), Franklin McDaniels (or Frank McDonald), John Millington, Emory Parady, Lewis Savage, and Abram Snay (Abraham, Senay, Genay).

In 1865, Congress voted reward money to those involved in the capture of many individuals. Among those so honored were the men of the Sixteenth New York Cavalry, the envy of all others for killing the man who himself had murdered a legend.

Photo Top: Actor and assassin John Wilkes Booth.

Photo Middle: Conspirators at the ends of their ropes. Hanging, from left to right: Mary Surratt, David Herold, Lewis Powell, and George Atzerodt at Washington, DC, on July 7, 1865.

Photo Bottom: Congressional award list for Lincoln’s Avengers. The North Country men received the modern equivalent of $28,000 each.

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.

D&H Rail Fair Slated for North Creek Depot


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The North Creek Depot Preservation Association will pay tribute to “The oldest continuously operated transportation company”, The Delaware & Hudson Railroad and it’s Adirondack Branch, on October 15 and 16, 2011.

North Creek is home to one of the last complete and original D&H Terminals, fully restored to it’s turn of the of the century condition. The event feature exhibits on the the D&H and it’s operations on the Adirondack Branch including one-of-a-kind rare pieces of railroad history. There will also be vendors showcasing D&H merchandise, a slide show featuring passenger and freight operations on the Adirondack Branch and much more.

The exhibits will be open Saturday October 15, from 10:00 am to 6:00 pm, and Sunday, October 16, 11:00 pm to 6:00 pm. For more information, email director@northcreekdepotmuseum.com or call Justin Gonyo at (518) 251-5345.

Illustration courtesy North Creek Depot Museum.

Chapman Museum Program on Sherman Island Dam


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On Thursday, September 15 at 7 pm at the Chapman Historical Museum, Director Tim Weidner will present an illustrated talk on construction of Sherman Island (Parklap) Dam in on the Hudson River in Moreau in the early 1920s. Members of the public are invited to bring and to share their clippings, photos or other research materials relating to Hudson River dams. Of particular interest is information about the “IP train track” that ran from the Finch, Pruyn & Co. mill along the north side of the river and the small settlement of kit houses built for workers at the dam site.

The program is presented in connection with the museum’s exhibition, Harnessing the Hudson, which will be on display through September 25th. The Chapman Historical Museum is located at 348 Glen Street, Glens Falls, NY. Public hours are: Tuesday – Saturday from 10 am to 4 pm, and Sunday from noon to 4 pm. For more information call (518) 793-2826 or go to www.chapmanmuseum.org.

Photo: Workers laying track to the Sherman Island Dam site, 1921.

Adirondacks Goes To War: 1861-1865


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Understanding and appreciating the events of the Civil War will come alive the weekend of September 9-11 in North Creek (Johnsburg, Warren County, NY in the Adirondacks) as the Johnsburg Historical Society commemorates the 150th anniversary of the start of that war in 1861.

Saturday, September 10th at 7:30 pm and on Sunday, September 11th at 2:00 pm local author Glenn L. Pearsall will present “Johnsburg Goes to War: 1861-1865” in the auditorium of the Tannery Pond Community Center. During this special two hour “one man show” with extras, Glenn will share his two years worth of research on the 125 men from Johnsburg who went off to war.

Pearsall’s talk will feature over 100 historic photographs including some pictures of those men from Johnsburg and the places they fought as they look today. Re-enactors in uniform will read from the diaries and journals that Pearsall has discovered to give a real sense of what the war meant to small Adirondack hamlets like Johnsburg in 1861. His talk will cover army life in the 22nd, 93rd, 96th and 118th NY Regiments who recruited men from Warren, Washington, Clinton and Essex Counties here in the Adirondacks.

From August 26 to September 21st the Widlund Gallery of Tannery Pond Community Center in North Creek will feature a display of pictures of some of the men from Johnsburg who went off to war including historical photographs, period flags and a display on Mathew Brady, noted Civil War photographer born in Johnsburg.

On September 10 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and on September 11 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. a dramatic living history re-enactment will take place at the town Ski Bowl on NYS Rt 28. (The re-enactors will not be open for business Friday). Several professional re-enactment groups will represent the lives of men in the 118th NY, the 123rd NY, 95th NY and 76th NY. The park’s ideal location offers spacious grounds, fresh water, restrooms, and ample parking.

Jim Hunt, contact for the re-enactors, indicates that “The camp setup will be a living history. All items used are authentic reproductions. We will camp in canvas tents, cook over an open fire and dress in period correct attire. We will converse with the public and answer questions about life 150 years ago. We will have display items for people to look at and touch. We will conduct ourselves in camp as they would have done. We will do firing demonstrations all day long so people can see and hear what a musket sounds like. The public will be able to hold the muskets but not fire them. We will conduct a military drill and manual of arms (probably at 1:00 p.m. Saturday and Sunday) and we will be having a Civil War wedding. This will be an actual wedding of two of our members. The camp will be open from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Saturday and 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. Sunday.”

For more information or to reserve a ticket for Glenn Pearsall’s program on either Saturday at 7:30 p.m. or Sunday at 2 p.m., call 518-251-5788 and leave a message. Tickets must be picked up by ten minutes before the programs. Adult tickets are $10 and children’s tickets are $6 for the benefit of the Johnsburg Historical Society. This entire Civil War commemoration is made possible by the Rivendell Foundation, Stewart’s Shops and friends of the Johnsburg Historical Society.

Photo: Monument to the War Dead of the Town of Queensbury, Warren County, New York. Located at the intersection of Glen, Bay and South Streets in Glens Falls, New York.

Family Paddle History Tour on the Hudson


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In conjunction with its summer exhibit, Harnessing the Hudson, the Chapman Historical Museum is sponsoring a Family Paddle Tour on the Hudson River in collaboration with Moreau Lake State Park. The program will take place on Saturday, August 27th at 10 am and last about three hours. Guided by a Moreau Lake State Park Naturalist, the program will explore the history and ecology of the Spier Falls hydroelectric dam built in 1903.



Members of the public are invited to bring their own canoe or kayak; lifejackets are required. Moreau Lake State Park has a limited number of kayaks available to rent at $15. Food and water are recommended. Advance reservations are required to participate. Cost is $3/person. For additional information and reservations call Moreau Lake State Park at 793-0511.

Photo: Participants in Hudson River Paddle Tour, July 9, 2011. Courtesy Chapman Historical Museum.

A Driving Tour of Historic Hudson Dam Sites


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A guided driving tour of historic dam sites on the Hudson River, organized by the Chapman Historical Museum, will take place on Saturday, August 13, from 9 am to 1 pm. The tour, which will be lead by Jeanne Williams, will include stops in Schuylerville, Mechanicville, Cohoes and Troy. Participants will learn about Victory Mills, the Mechanicville hydroelectric dam built in 1898, the great falls at Cohoes and the Burden Iron Works on the Poestenkill.



Jeanne Williams, who also is Director of the Feeder Canal Alliance, was a consultant for the Chapman Historical Museum’s summer 2011 exhibit, Harnessing the Hudson, a history of the development of hydro power on the upper Hudson River. For each site she will share background information and historic photos collected in the course of her research for the project.

Participants will gather at the Cooper’s Cave parking area in South Glens Falls at 8:30 and start the tour promptly at 9 am. Participants are expected to provide their own vehicles; carpooling is encouraged. A brochure with driving directions and other necessary information will be supplied. A bag lunch is recommended, but should people wish to eat out at the conclusion of the tour, a list of suggested restaurants in Troy will be provided.

For reservations or more information, call the Chapman Historical Museum at (518) 793-2826.

Photo: The Federal Dam at Troy, the first obstruction to shipping on the Hudson River. Photo courtesy The Center for Land Use Interpretation.

Catalog Features Glens Falls Insurance Co. Sign


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The Glens Falls Insurance Company agent’s trade sign, which served as the model for the reproduction currently available from Pottery Barn, is now on display at the Chapman Historical Museum. Shaped in the form of a fireman’s helmet shield, the five foot tall sign, which dates from around 1877, proclaims the company’s solid assets under its logo, “Old and Tried.” The original sign, part of the museum’s Glens Falls Insurance Company Collection, has been reproduced through a licensing agreement between the museum and Williams Sonoma.

The Glens Falls Insurance Company was founded in 1849 by Russell M. Little, a former Methodist minister, to provide fire insurance for residents of his small upstate New York community. The company grew rapidly, and in a few years operated branch offices across the United States. “Old & Tried” became well known for sound business practices and the ability to pay claims after the disastrous fires that plagued American cities a century ago. The company’s motto proved well deserved. In response to the 1906 earthquake and fire that destroyed San Francisco, Glens Falls Insurance Company paid out $1.5 million from its surplus without suffering financial setback.

In spite of research, the exact identity of the agent, C.H. Barber, is not known. Leads from the public are welcome.

For more information call the Chapman Historical Museum at (518) 793-2826. The museum is located at 348 Glen Street, Glens Falls, NY. Public hours are Tuesday – Saturday, 10 am to 4 pm, and Sunday, Noon to 4 pm.

Warren County: Rare Covered Bridge Talk Tuesday


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This Tuesday, August 2, Jim Ligon will present a free program “Rebirthing Covered Bridges” at the Thurman Town Hall in Warren County (near Warrensburg).

Ligon, whose work for Alpine Construction has been principally centered around restoration and reconstruction of old covered bridges in Vermont, New Hampshire and New York, will talk about the work and the challenges of balancing historical authenticity with contemporary codes and materials. He will also display some bridge parts that exemplify historic craftsmanship, as well as treasures he has unearthed at bridge sites. A slide show of bridges he has worked on will run in the background as he speaks. Questions will be welcomed. Continue reading

New S. R. Stoddard Exhibit: New York Harbor


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The Chapman Historical Museum in Glens Falls (Warren County) has opened a new exhibit of Seneca Ray Stoddard photographs featuring views of New York Harbor. Taken in the 1880s on his visits to New York City, the fifteen photographs include images of sailboats and steamers in the harbor, people bathing on the beach at Coney Island, the Brooklyn Bridge and other landmarks. A highlight is Stoddard’s famous night-time photo of the Statue of Liberty, captured using magnesium flash powder. The exhibit, planned to coincide with The Hyde Collection’s exhibit, “NY, NY,” will be on view through September 4th.

The Chapman Historical Museum is located at 348 Glen Street, Glens Falls, NY. Hours are Tuesday – Saturday, 10 am to 4 pm, and Sunday, noon to 4 pm. For more information call (518) 793-2826.

Photo: Coney Island bathers by Seneca Ray Stoddard, ca. 1880

A Stoddard Adirondack Waterfalls Photo Exhibit


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A new exhibit featuring twenty original Seneca Ray Stoddard photographs of waterfalls in the Adirondacks is now on view at the Chapman Historical Museum. Included are popular falls located on the Hudson, Raquette and Ausable Rivers, as well as lesser known falls in remote locations in the central Adirondacks — places that today still are accessible only by foot. Examples are Roaring Brook Falls on Giant, Buttermilk Falls on the Raquette, Surprise Falls on Gill Brook near Lower Ausable, and Silver Cascade in Elizabethtown. The photos will be on display until July 3rd.

In 1864, when Seneca Ray Stoddard relocated to Glens Falls from Troy, NY, he first worked as a sign painter, but soon took up landscape photography. Several times Stoddard made treks through the Adirondacks to photograph the sights that drew tourists to the region. Abundant waterways and the steep terrain made for many scenic cascades and falls, which became popular destinations for travelers. For the next 50 years he sold his images of these falls to tourists visiting the region.

The Chapman Historical Museum is located at 348 Glen Street, Glens Falls, NY. Public Hours are Tuesday – Saturday, 10 am to 4 pm, and Sunday, noon to 4 pm. For more information call (518) 793-2826.

Photo: Silver Cascade, Barton Brook, Elizabethtown, ca. 1880.

History of NY Hydroelectric Power Event Wednesday


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This Wednesday, June 22 at 7 pm, National Park Service Historian Duncan Hay will speak at the Chapman Historical Museum in Glens Falls, Warren County, on The History of Hydroelectric Power in Northeastern New York. The lecture is the third in a series funded by a grant from the New York Council for the Humanities and presented in conjunction with the museum’s summer exhibit, Harnessing the Hudson. The program is free and open to the public.

The speaker, Duncan Hay, works for the National Park Service as an historian and hydroelectric licensing specialist in the Rivers, Trails, and Conservation Assistance Program. He advises license applicants and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission regarding protection of historic and archeological properties and outdoor recreation at hydroelectric projects.

Duncan also works as a cultural resources and museum specialist on planning teams for proposed new units and heritage areas of the National Park Service. Previously he worked for the Museum of American Textile History, and the New York State Museum as curator of industrial history. Duncan earned a Ph.D. from the University of Delaware’s Hagley Program in the History of Industrial America.

The author of Hydroelectric Development in the United States, 1880-1940, Mr. Hay will speak about the significance of Spier Falls dam and other early hydroelectric generators in the region. He also will address the rapid growth and consolidation of the industry during the first three decades of the 20th Century, leading ultimately to the formation of Niagara Mohawk.

The Chapman Historical Museum is located at 348 Glen Street, Glens Falls, NY. The exhibit Harnessing the Hudson will be on display through September 25th. Public hours are Tuesday – Saturday, 10 am to 4 pm , and Sunday, noon to 4 pm. For more information call (518) 793-2826 or go to www.chapmanmuseum.org.

Environmental Historian Cumbler at Chapman Museum


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This Wednesday, May 25, at 7 pm, noted environmental historian John Cumbler will present a talk entitled Mills, Water Power Dams and the Transformation of the Environment at the Chapman Historical Museum in Glens Falls. The lecture is the first in a series of programs, funded in part by a grant from the New York Council for the Humanities, which expand on the themes of the Chapman’s current exhibit, Harnessing the Hudson: Waterwheels & Turbines, a history of waterpower on the upper Hudson River. The program is free and open to the public.

John T. Cumbler, who earned his Ph.D. at the University of Michigan, has taught at the Univ. of Louisville since 1975, specializing in United States Environmental History and Economic History. Professor Cumbler is the author of numerous books including: Northeast and Midwest United States: An Environmental History (2005) and Reasonable Use: The People, The Environment, And The State, New England 1790-1930 (2001). In his talk he will explore the impact of industrialization on rivers and the history of how people have responded to that degradation.

The Chapman Historical Museum is located at 348 Glen Street, Glens Falls. The exhibit Harnessing the Hudson will be on view through September 25th. Public hours are Tuesday – Saturday, 10 am to 4 pm, and Sunday, noon to 4 pm. For more information call (518) 793-2826 or visit www.chapmanmuseum.org.

Chapman Opens ‘Harnessing the Hudson’ Exhibit


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The Chapman Historical Museum in Glens Falls has opened a new major exhibition, Harnessing the Hudson, which explores the history of how people in the region have harnessed the renewable energy of the Hudson River from early sawmills to hydroelectric generators.

In 1903, the Spier Falls hydroelectric dam, located on the Hudson eight miles upstream from Glens Falls, began to produce electricity. Touted at the time as the largest dam of its type in the United States, the dam supplied electricity not only to surrounding communities but also to the large General Electric plant in Schenectady 50 miles away. The dam quickly became part of a network of power plants and transmission lines that supplied power for factories, transportation and lighting in the Capital region.

The brainchild of Glens Falls attorney, Eugene Ashley, Spier Falls was a project that captivated the interest of people far and wide. They were familiar with water power, but electricity was a very new phenomenon at the beginning of the 20th century, and many people were not convinced of its potential. Little did they suspect how much it would change their lives.

The exhibit features archival materials and artifacts principally from the Chapman’s Spier Falls collection but also from other regional archives. Of particular note are photographs provided by the Schenectady Museum and Science Center, which houses thousands of images that document the history of GE and the development of electricity. For those unfamiliar with the physics of water power, a hand-cranked generator and other interactive elements provide greater understanding of the science involved.

In conjunction with the exhibit, which will run through September, the museum plans to hold a series of public programs relating to the theme of Harnessing the Hudson. These will include talks about the history of hydropower on the upper Hudson, the development of the electric grid, a driving tour of mill sites, and kayak tours that explore the river ecology around Spier Falls.

This project is supported by: Brookfield, The Leo Cox Beach Philanthropic Foundation, the Waldo T. Ross & Ruth S. Ross Charitable Trust Foundation, National Grid, the New York Council for the Humanities and general operating support from the New York State Council on the Arts, a state agency.

The exhibit will be on display at the Chapman Historical Museum through September 25, 2011. The museum is located at 348 Glen Street, Glens Falls, NY. Public Hours are Tuesday – Saturday, 10 am to 4 pm, and Sunday, noon to 4 pm. For more information call (518) 793-2826

Photo: Construction workers installing a 12’ diameter penstock at Spier Falls Hydroelectric Dam, 1901.

Hyde’s Rembrandt on Loan to Louvre


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The Hyde Collection in Glens Falls has announced that its prized Christ with Folded Arms by Rembrandt van Rijn is now on display in the Louvre in Paris as part of a landmark exhibition titled “Rembrandt and the Face of Jesus.”

The Hyde masterwork plays a key role in shaping the thesis of the exhibition, which will be seen in three major museum venues. When the exhibition closes at the Louvre, it travels to the Philadelphia Museum of Art where it will be shown from August through October, 2011 and then to the Detroit Institute of Arts for exhibition beginning in February, 2012. Continue reading

Champlain Canalway Trail Plan Unveiled


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At the Historic Saratoga-Washington on the Hudson Partnership meeting yesterday, Hudson Crossing Park announced the release of the Champlain Canalway Trail Action Plan for the 62-mile corridor between Waterford and Whitehall in Saratoga and Washington
Counties.

The Action Plan is intended to help focus and coordinate locally-based efforts to complete the Champlain Canalway Trail. It uses narrative, maps and photographs to describe the existing conditions, issues and opportunities along the proposed trail route. Each segment of the Action Plan can be used as a stand-alone by an individual community, to help focus attention and prompt constructive dialog.

The 62-mile Champlain Canalway Trail, together with the 9-mile Glens Falls Feeder Canal Trail, comprise one leg of the planned statewide Canalway Trail system. The 348-mile Erie Canalway Trail between Albany and Buffalo is the longest trail in the system. Now more than three-fourths complete, it is actively used by people in local communities, and is rapidly becoming a world-class recreational trail, attracting visitors from across the country as well as from abroad.

In the Champlain Canal corridor, about 17 miles of trail are complete, and another 14 miles are either in planning stages or expected to be completed within the next few years. Similar to the Erie Canalway Trail, the Champlain Canalway Trail is envisioned as an off-road trail wherever possible, with some on-road linkages. Once completed, the trail will provide connectivity between residential areas, business districts,
schools, parks and communities while reducing emissions and fuel consumption.

The Champlain Canalway Trail will be used by bicyclists, walkers, historical tourists, cross-country skiers and others. Sections will also be used seasonally by snowmobilers.

The completed Action Plan was produced by the LA Group of Saratoga Springs. It was funded by a grant awarded to Schuylerville-based Hudson Crossing Park, Inc, (www.hudsoncrossingpark.org) from the Rails to Trails Conservancy, a national organization that supports trail development.
Planning assistance was provided by the Rivers, Trails and Conservation Assistance Program of the National Park Service.

For further information contact:

Southern Champlain Canalway Trail representative:
Nelson Ronsvalle – nronsvalle@townofhalfmoon.org

Central Champlain Canalway Trail representative:
Marlene Bissell – info@hudsoncrossingpark.org

Northern Champlain Canalway Trail representative:
Jeanne Williams – jpw.fca@gmail.com

The New York State Canal System is comprised of four historic waterways, the Erie, the Champlain, the Oswego and the Cayuga-Seneca Canals. Spanning 524 miles across New York State, the waterway links the Hudson River, Lake Champlain, Lake Ontario, the Finger Lakes and the Niagara River with communities rich in history and culture.

Former Northern NY Military Rifle Range Inspections Set


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The National Guard Bureau will surveying old National Guard rifle range in Ticonderoga, Malone, Glens Falls, and Saratoga Springs for the presence of environmental poisons this summer. The ranges are among 23 former New York Army National Guard training sites used between 1873 and 1994 that the National Guard Bureau will be inspecting for potential environmental hazards.

The program is being conducted worldwide to address human health, safety, and environmental concerns at former non-operational defense sites. This includes over 400 sites in 48 states and two territories formerly used by the National Guard. The training sites in New York vary in size from 3.7 to 939 acres.

Currently, the New York National Guard has three training sites located in Guilderland, Youngstown and at Camp Smith, near Peekskill. Soldiers also train regularly at Ft. Drum, near Watertown.

Current property owners are in the process of being asked to allow contractors on their property to conduct this check which although mandated by the Department of Defense Military Munitions Response Program, will only include soil samples from a depth “less than two to three inches.” The survey will also a visual inspection and checks with hand-held metal detectors. According to a press release issued by the Guard, “the inspectors will collect the samples with disposable plastic spoons, which are about the size of an ice cream scoop.”

A preliminary assessment to identify locations, research historical records, land usage and past incident(s) in the area was completed in 2008; this summer’s site inspections are expected to collect additional information, data and samples necessary to determine if following actions are warranted.

About the sites:

The Malone Small Arms Range was used from about 1895 to 1985. The range was approximately 43 acres; the range layout and boundary are unknown, as are the types of ammunition used there. The former range is located on state land, redeveloped for a correctional facility, northwest of Malone.

An older Ticonderoga Small Arms Range measured about 406 acres and was used from about 1950 to 1973; the newer one measured 105 acres and was used from about 1986 to 1994. The layouts and boundaries of the ranges are unknown, as are the types of ammunition used at them. The former ranges are located between Vineyard Road and Corduroy Road.

The Glens Falls Small Arms Range was used from about 1878 to 1955. The range was approximately 876 acres; the range layout has been verified, but the types of ammunition used there are unknown. The former range is located on forested, municipal property north of Peggy Ann Road.

The Saratoga Springs Small Arms Range was used from about 1878 to 1951. The range was approximately 100 acres; the range layout has been verified, but the types of ammunition used there are unknown. The former range is located on residential properties and forested land east of Weibel Avenue.

Anyone who has documents, records or photographs of the range are encouraged to contact Master Sgt. Corine Lombardo at corine.lombardo@us.army.mil or (518) 786-4579.

Photo: New York Army National Guard Soldiers from the 2nd Battalion, 108th Infantry, conduct weapons training at the Guilderland Weekend Training Center.

Hyde Collection to Present Still Life Talk


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The Hyde Collection in Glens Falls has announced that on Thursday, March 17, 2011, the Museum will hold a lecture on still life by David F. Setford, the Museum’s executive director.

Titled “Fish, Fowl, and Flowers: 20th Century Still Life from the Norton Museum,” the talk will be held in conjunction with the current exhibition at Hyde – Objects of Wonder: Four Centuries of Still Life from the Norton Museum of Art. Continue reading

Museum to Exhibit Stoddard Images of Glen’s Falls


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Many times in the late 19th century Adirondack photographer Seneca Ray Stoddard turned to the falls of the Hudson at Glens Falls for subject matter. He focused on the cascades, pools and rock formations that he found in the river bed as well as the bridges and factories above. Stoddard returned often to photograph the events that occurred there. Included in his work are images of floods, fires, and new mills along the river banks.

Until May 8th the Chapman Historical Museum will exhibit a selection of fifteen original Stoddard’s photos of “The Falls under the Bridge.” The show will be followed this summer by a second series featuring Stoddard’s photos of other falls in the Adirondacks.

The Chapman Historical Museum, located at 348 Glen Street, Glens Falls, is open Tuesday to Saturday, 10 am to 4 pm, and Sunday, noon to 4 pm. For info call (518) 793-2826.

Photo: Glens Falls, View from the South Side of the Bridge, ca. 1875. Courtesy Chapman Museum.